“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
“Prayer is irksome.” So admits C.S. Lewis in writing to his brother about prayer. He says, “An excuse to omit it is never unwelcome. We are reluctant to begin. We are delighted to finish. While we are at prayer, but not while we are reading a novel or solving a crossword puzzle, any trifle is enough to distract us…”
Why is this? Is it that you have a very real Enemy who wants nothing more than for you to stop praying altogether? Is it that your nature is wearied by the very activity, the very labor of prayer? Is it it that you feel something much, much more is needed to solve a problem than mere words offered up to an unseen God? Prayer, unlike anything else you do, is a discipline which requires the utter commitment of your will no matter how you feel about prayer at the moment, that you will do it, and you will always take the time to do it, until it becomes like breathing; especially when you do it first and always, because what else could you ever do before it? Quite a conundrum! It is irksome, yet, absolutely essential. It is the one thing you can never give up.
Today is the National Day of Prayer. Do we need a special day for this? The very reason a special day is planned for, advertised, and set aside is that prayer must be so encouraged and cajoled else it might never happen. And, even then, how many who claim to believe in prayer will never enter into prayer on this particularly planned day of national prayer? Or, enough other days in the course of a year? How much of your 24-hour day is normally devoted to prayer?
In the course of everyone’s life there is a great deal of time involving personal, private thought; far more than you can imagine. If one took seriously the Spirit directed admonition of Paul in 2 Corinthians to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ, all private thought would be in conversation with Christ and His interests, which, of course, always involves your own interests, for He cares for you. The difference is, as you think of your relationships, your work, your desires, your history, your present, your future, you converse with your Savior in connection with all those things, praying for your and His interaction with each thought. This is the nature of the Apostle Paul’s guidance to pray without ceasing. Your thought life practicing the presence of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the nature of the never ending prayer life of a genuine believer.
But then the Lord Jesus also set before you the example of His own discipline, observed in His frequent practice while in this world of going to private places to spend concentrated time with His Father in prayer. There are two types of prayer to practice; unceasing, an intentional part of your constant thought life, and also a set-aside time for concentrated communion with your Father, a time of prayer focused on worship and specific intercession for yourself and others.
We are all by nature accustomed to immediately think, “I am too busy with my necessary responsibilities to afford that.” But the fact is, you can not only afford it, you can’t afford not to. Such prayer discipline will make all the difference in the course of your life and in your affairs. Prayer is irksome because we live in a fallen world, and our sin-nature is still in a battle with our process of sanctification. But overcoming the world, as we are directed to do in all of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, requires the power of God in your life which is fueled by none other than the vitality and frequency of your prayer life.
“O may my hand forget her skill, my tongue be silent, cold, and still, this bounding heart forget to beat, if I forget the mercy seat.”
(6th verse of Hugh Stowell’s hymn, “From Every Stormy Wind That Blows,” 1828)
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