Monday, September 08, 2008

Prayer

I begin this week with my mind focused on prayer.  I pray regularly -- several times a day.  And yet, I feel weak in this spiritual discipline.  I desire the kind of prayer life I read about in the lives of others who have authored books, etc.  

I feel such a connectedness with Philip Yancey.  He is a man who is on the road of faith -- but doesn't claim to have arrived.  He doesn't have all the "answers" -- but he is brave enough to share his struggles, and admit that he has them.  In books like Disappointment with God and Prayer, he is very honest as he seeks answers.  His struggles are similar to the ones I have.

He shares the following story in his book on prayer.  It is the story of Ben Patterson, a preacher who had ruptured a disc and was ordered to 6 weeks of total bed rest.  Reading was virtually impossible.  While in that condition, he learned some important lessons about prayer.  

   I was helpless.
   I was also terrified.  What was this all going to mean?  How was I to take care of my family?  What about the church?  I was the only pastor it  had, and I could do nothing for it.  Out of sheer desperation I decided to pray for the church.  I opened the church directory and prayed for each member of the congregation, daily.  It took nearly two hours, but since there was nothing else I could do for the church, I figured I might as well pray for it.  It was not piety that made me do it, it was boredom and frustration.  But over the weeks the prayer times grew sweet.  One day near the end of my convalescence, I was praying and I told the Lord, "You know, it's been wonderful, these prolonged times we've spent together.  It's too bad I don't  have time to do this when I'm well."
   God's answer came swift and blunt.  He said to me, "Ben, you have just as much time when you're well as when you're sick.  It's the same twenty-four hours in either case.  The trouble with you is that when you're well, you think you're in charge.  When you're sick, you know you're not."   

Maybe our problem is that we are too WELL-off?

4 comments:

Kyle R. said...

God has His ways of reminding us how much we need Him--sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it's a kick in the eye.

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Jeff said...

How quickly we forget we are sick and never fully healed. The illness of sin is like a cancer that can go away but can return quickly if we don't stick to prayer - our treatment for sin.

I have found that my prayers are often the most heart-felt and heart-wrenching at the same time. I am trying to remind myself daily that I am never too far away from sin if I don't stay in close contact with THE healer.

Clyde said...

Yancey is a gift. He has blessed me very much. Thanks for the reminder.