We HAVE to Pray

Good morning. It is Thursday, June 25, 2015.

There were several good choices for word of the day. I chose futile, from Merriam-Webster. Futile is an adjective, meaning, “serving no useful purpose : completely ineffective,” or, “occupied with trifles : frivolous.” I had to choose that word, you know, because . . .

Today is Global Beatles Day, celebrating those four young men from England, who changed the face of music forever. Goo goo ga joob.

All of the road-closing around Grapevine, due to flooded roads, is really messing up my drive home. Getting to work in the mornings is more difficult than usual, but not as bad as getting home, for some reason. Yesterday, my GPS once again took me to places I had never been before. The trip took about an hour and a half (including about 5 minutes at a Sonic to get our obligatory drinks). It was scenic, at least. 😀

Tonight is Christi’s Huddle night. I will spend that time preparing for Saturday’s prayer and worship service, which will be different than our normal worship gathering. We have had one similar, before, and will be spending the time alternating between praying and singing. I will be leading the prayer portion of the service. I’m always nervous about this, as I believe it to be very important, and want to do it well. For this service, we will be praying through the different aspects of the Model Prayer from Matthew 6.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.

Psalm 78:5-7

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

As Timothy Keller concludes the introduction to his book, he summarizes the purpose of the book, and what he has concluded in the introduction, that “prayer is both conversation and encounter with God.” There are traditional forms of prayer with which we are all familiar–adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. These are “concrete practices as well as profound experiences.” We should not let the familiarity of these forms create a shallowness in our prayers. “We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.”

The aspects of awe and intimacy, struggle and reality, will not occur each and every time we pray. It’s much like what we call those “mountaintop experiences” that we have, throughout life. Every single time we pray will not be profound. But we should make sure that those aspects are present in our prayers “over the course of our lives.”

Keller cites a book written by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, called Praying: Finding Our Way through Duty to Delight. He specifically likes the subtitle to the book, saying, “That is the journey of prayer.”

Part One of the book is called “Desiring Prayer.” The first chapter is “The Necessity of Prayer.”

In the fall of 1999, Timothy Keller was teaching a Bible study course on the Psalms, when it became obvious to him that he was “barely scratching the surface of what the Bible commanded and promised regarding prayer.” Then came 9/11. Keller is pastor of a large church in Manhattan. He describes the atmosphere in the city as “a kind of corporate clinical depression, even as it rallied.” His wife suffered with Crohn’s disease, and Keller, himself, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

In the middle of all of this, his wife asked him to pray with her every night. They had never managed to be disciplined enough to do this. I can identify with that, myself. Here is what she said to him:

Imagine you were diagnosed with such a legal condition that the doctor told you that you would die within hours unless you took a particular medicine–a pill every night before going to sleep. Imagine that you were told that you could never miss it or you would die. Would you forget? Would you not get around to it some nights? No–it would be so crucial that you wouldn’t forget, you would never miss. Well, if we don’t pray together to God, we’re not going to make it because of all we are facing. I’m certainly not. We have to pray, we can’t let it just slip our minds.

This was more than twelve years ago, and Keller can’t remember missing a night since then, even if it had to be by phone, even when they were in different parts of the world. This led Keller into a deep search to improve his prayer life. He found that he was not alone in his search.

Father, we have to pray. Even pseudo-spiritual rapper MC Hammer recognized that, decades ago, when he sang, “We’ve got to pray, just to make it today.” There is so much going on in our world that we cannot afford not to pray. We have to pray. Teach me to pray. I’ve read this book once, already, and am now reading it more slowly, paying more attention to every detail. I want to learn from Tim Keller, and from anyone else I can get my hands on, who has studied this necessity of life. Most of all, I want to learn from Jesus. So, Father, point me to Jesus, point me to anyone else who can teach me all I can learn about prayer and how it can strengthen us and empower us in our lives.

I pray for this day, that our trip to work would be smooth and safe. I pray for the road conditions in Grapevine and surrounding areas to improve. May you decrease the drama that Christi continues to experience in her job. May you help us both to be good representatives of your Kingdom at our jobs. May you show your overwhelming love to Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and my mother. I pray this every day, but I mean it. I also give you thanks for this new opportunity to be involved in music again.

Your grace is sufficient.

It cannot be emphasized enough. We have to pray. If we say we believe in Jesus, we simply cannot make it without prayer. If Jesus, himself, needed it, consistently, how much more do we?

Grace and peace, friends.

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