EXPOSE | “Quick” Morning Prayer?
“If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”– Martin Luther
EXPLORE | What is First, is Foremost
I don’t think he was joking. He was a monk, and monks don’t play.
It was E. M. Bounds that said “God’s acquaintance is not made by quick visits.” I’m pretty sure he was thinking of Martin Luther praying when he said that. He knew how to make prayer a priority.
Praying is still a pretty big deal in America. In 2014, Pew Research found that 55% of us pray every day. However, they didn’t ask how many people pray for at least 2 hours a day. You don’t need a survey to ask a question you already know the answer to.
If you’ve every wondered, “How do we apply wisdom in all things?” This would be your answer: make prayer a priority.
I like this definition of priority: “the right to take precedence…”
Prayer certainly has that right. Because of its value and benefit, it is set apart, above and before all things.
Pat Morley reminds of this in his devotional “The Charge To Put Prayer First”, that “as Paul gave Timothy his charge to serve God, he simultaneously said, “First of all…pray.””
“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child… First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior…” (1 Timothy 1:18, 2:2-3)
Putting prayer in its proper place, gives light to our path, and the ability to navigate its twists and turns. Now, to put it in its proper place.
EXECUTE | Finding the Inspiration to Make Prayer a Priority
If Martin Luther felt that his life required 3 hours of prayer every day back then, I wonder what he would recommend if he were living today? When I think about making prayer a priority, that is where my mind goes. What will it look like to make prayer a priority? I found six points of inspiration to help inch prayer towards the top of our list of things that ‘have the right to take precedence’:
Our method is madness.
It may be time for disruption. Not anything too creative or fancy, just a solid change up on how we approach this labor of love each day.
“…the problem isn’t that we pray about the same old things; the problem is that we tend to say the same old things about the same old things.” The solution? “Pray the Bible. In other words, slowly read a passage of Scripture and pray about all that comes to mind as you read.” – Don Whitney (professor of biblical spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky)
Careful who you listen to.
Self-talk can be useful, however, it also means we can easily become our own worst enemy. This may also be true when we pray.
“The two most important personal spiritual disciplines are the intake of the Word of God and prayer — and in that order. For it is much more important for us to hear from God through his Word than for God to hear from us in prayer.” – Don Whitney
The best time to pray best.
A sermon from Allistar Begg on 1 Peter 4:7 puts a point on our need to be at our best when praying at this point in time. The worse things get, the better we need to be at how we go about praying.
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” – 1 Peter 4:7
Pray before we do it. Pray as we do it. Pray for those we’re doing it for.
If we truly want what is best, and what is best for others, we will necessarily ‘surround it with prayer.’ Before, during, and after.
“Bunyan reminds us that we can do more than pray after we have prayed, but we cannot do more than prayer until we have prayed. To “pray without ceasing” certainly means at least this much: to pray as you work, as you drive, as you think—in whatever you do… And view prayer as the most important thing you can do for others.” – Joel Beeke (pastor and theologian)
Do you have good ‘prayer posture’?
As our bodies are positioned for prayer, so goes our souls. I wonder if this was part of what Paul meant by his ‘buffeting his body’? We don’t want what our body is saying to contradict what our heart intends to communicate.
“Kneel, stand, close your eyes, look to the heavens — when your body is focused, it’s often easier for your soul to follow. If able, pray out loud. I’ve found that just softly whispering during my private prayer time is quiet enough that it doesn’t inhibit the flow of my praying, but loud enough that it keeps my mind from wandering. As C.S. Lewis observes, “The body ought to pray as well as the soul. Body and soul are both better for it.”” – Bonnie McKernan
Having the right expectation of prayer.
God gives us His best. That is, Himself. We get ahead of ourselves when we go to Him in prayer expecting anything more than Him.
“If we never gained anything from prayer but the communion with God that prayer really is, that should be sufficient to make prayer a constant thing. Imagine the reality when you pray of entering into the very throne room and communing with the living God of the universe… True prayer brings the mind into the immediate contemplation of God’s character and holds it there until the believer’s soul is properly impressed.” – Chrysostom (early Church father)
It helps to pray in order.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. If we don’t get any further than seeing Him for who He is, then we would do well to stay there, at least for a while.
“...before you ever begin to pray for you, you begin by praying on Gods behalf. “Hallowed be Thy name.” That’s the first petition. The second petition is, “Thy kingdom come.” The third petition is, “Thy will be done.” And then you can say, “Give us,” “forgive us,” “lead us”… “Hallowed be Thy name”… opens up a whole dimension of respect and reverence and awe and appreciation and honor and glory and adoration and worship for God.” – John MacArthur
Making prayer a priority, means our “priorities” will be prioritized. That is, what we think is important will get the scrutiny of God’s loving, eternal, fatherly knowledge and will. Through prayer, we stand the chance of knowing what is truly a priority.
“...prayer is God’s way of bringing our priorities into line with his. God wills to make great things the consequence of our prayers when our prayers are the consequence of his great purposes.” – John Piper
The priority of prayer (Grace to You)
The priority of prayer (InTouch)
The priority of prayer (Truth for Life)