“Ceasing from prayer is sin against God.”
Andrew Murray makes that bold assertion in his book, The Ministry of Intercession: A Plea for More Prayer.
And my response?
For a little more context, let me add the biblical quote prior to Murray’s statement. Speaking to a wayward people, the prophet Samuel said, “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you …” (I Samuel 12:23a).
As an author, I cruise the Internet pubs where writers hang out and talk. One issue writers struggle with is time to write. My friend Susie, when she started writing, had to hole herself up behind a closed door and tell her children, “Mommy needs her writing time.” With four young children, she truly had her faith tested.
A lot of authors carve out writing time by staying up later at night or rising earlier in the morning.
I don’t have that problem because, other than “walk the dog,” I don’t have a commute to work, small children to feed, or anything else on my daily to-do list. I can write (or, more likely, avoid it) all day, any day.
On the other hand, I love to play basketball. And, if I want to enjoy that activity, I must rise before the sun, which is exactly what I do.
Okay, so here’s what I’m thinking.
People talk about finding time to do something like write, play basketball, read, or whatever. The solution usually involves extending the day one way or the other—rise earlier, stay up later.
But not until last year, did I include the idea of finding time to pray. Prayer was, for me, a nice idea, something I should do but usually talked more about than actually did. You can read my original thoughts on this issue here.
Some things I’ve discovered since posting that article:
If I put prayer at the front end of my day, I pray. If I don’t, I might or might not pray, but usually lean toward the might not side of the ledger.
I’m such a creature of habit that one simple change can throw me off (and, please, my dear wife, refrain from rolling your eyes and snickering). Just today I opened the front room closet and found a favorite baseball cap I thought I’d lost.
Why did I think I’d lost it? Because I always put that cap in the washroom with all my other caps. And, yesterday, the darn thing wasn’t in its usual place.
If I don’t keep prayer in its usual place, then I don’t think about it later and, by the time I get tucked into bed, I’ve forgotten prayer entirely. On the other hand, if I begin with prayer, it creeps into the rest of my day.
If I concentrate on two things, God and others, during prayer, I stay focused and energized. When I concentrate on God, I consider His attributes and His provision in my life. Scriptures that speak of God’s character help me realize to whom I’m speaking.
When I concentrate on others, I consider two types of people—those who have specific needs (financial concerns, illness, loss, etc.) and those who have yet to meet the Lord Jesus Christ.
When praying for people, I like the comment Kari Scare made in my last post. “I just pray for what I might need if I were in the person’s position or situation.” My wife Ellen says she concentrates on seeking God’s will for those she prays for.
If I start out distracted, I stay distracted. And I often start out distracted. A few things though help me break the pattern of distraction. I do have to be intentional in order to derail my mind’s penchant to trot off to my pressing daily schedule (which is, I remind you, “walk the dog”—and, yes, I am pathetic).
Following the pattern of a familiar prayer or verse helps. For me, the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm tend to bring my mind back into the present. I meditate on the words then I expand on their general theme, trying to apply them to my current circumstances.
Concentrating on who God is and what He’s done also helps. I draw from Scripture, personal experience, and the stories of others.
Coming back to Murray’s words, “Ceasing from prayer is sin against God,” I’m curious as to what you think. Is he right?
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