Pray continually. —1 Thess. 5:17 (NIV)
e hear it all the time, don’t we? If you are really serious about your faith, if you want to be more than merely a nominal Christian, a really spiritual person, then you must be a man or woman of prayer.
Warren Wiersbe, author and speaker, put it this way: “No Christian rises any higher than his or her prayer life.” And, “The hidden life of prayer is the secret of an open life of victory.”
“This is the testimony of saints through the ages,” wrote William Carey, the missionary pioneer. “Prayer—secret, fervent, believing prayer—lies at the root of all personal godliness.”
Nineteenth-century pastor E.M. Bounds, who wrote extensively on the subject, noted,
God’s acquaintance is not made hurriedly. He does not bestow His gifts on the casual or hasty com-er and go-er. No man can do a great and enduring work for God who is not a man of prayer, and no man can be a man of prayer who does not give much time to praying.
Yes, prayer is important; it is essential.1 Considering this, Paul exhorts us to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17 NIV).
But I confess, as a pastor, I don’t. Prayer is a subject that haunts me; it convicts me; it draws forth feelings of regret, guilt, even grief. For I know about myself (as you know about yourselves) that I do not pray as I ought. I would be ashamed for the world to know how little I pray. But here I am writing on the theme “How to grow in prayer.” So as I write these words, I say, “Lord, teach me to pray.” How can I more fully enter into this world that all too often I glimpse only from afar? I know that I’ve only waded in the shallows of a vast ocean that lies before me—an ocean than others have experienced far more deeply than I.
I write aspirationally, as when we sing hymns that speak of Christian experience far beyond us. A life of prayer is something to which we are all called and to which we should all aspire. What would it mean for me to “devote myself to prayer,” to “pray continually”? How can we grow in prayer?
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