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Talk with him at any time about anything. On Encouraging Prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the bestselling Prayers for Prodigals and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray. And now, here's James. Well, you forgot to do it. Have you ever had that happen? Well, honestly, I know I have. And James, today we're going to talk about why this happens and what really we can do about it.
Yeah, and I'm so glad we are, Robby, because I've had that happen to me, too. And I've been reading a good book this week, Paul Miller's Praying Church, and this book is about the importance of prayer and praying together. And he makes some really good points in it.
One of them is about a recent survey he did. He writes, in hundreds of seminars, we found out about 15% of Christians in a typical church have a rich prayer life. So when someone says, I'll keep you in my prayers, 80% of the time, it's just words. When I heard that, I thought, ouch, you know, because I think of those times when I've told someone I pray for them, and then I just forgot to. And even though that may seem a little harsh, it really underscores the importance of how important it is to just pray on the spot. I mean, we tell someone that, you know, to pray for them, even as we're walking away.
Wow. I mean, that makes perfect sense. And it seems like the remedy would be to pray for someone as soon as they tell you that we will.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think that really is a remedy. And, you know, do it immediately.
That way, you won't forget to do it later. And you don't have to pray with them at that moment unless you think it's something they'll accept. Because for some people, you know, praying with them in the moment could just be overwhelming.
We'll talk about that in just a moment. But just listen to how God is leading you and go with that. So besides forgetting to pray, what are some of the other things that really keep us from prayer? Well, Miller tells this story, first told by Ben Patterson, who's another author I like, about an East Indian evangelist who went to his first American prayer meeting. And he was at this megachurch, and the pastor whom he respected was talking about 3,000 people there that morning, and told them that they had a prayer meeting that night at seven, and he shared with them something that was heavy on his heart for prayer. And so, you know, the man from India shows up early to make sure that he gets a good seat, because he's used to prayer meetings really being an important part of the Church. And the meeting was supposed to start at seven, but no one was there.
7.15. Nobody's there. 7.30, a few people, including the prayer leader, showed up. Seven people come to the meeting at all.
But you know what? The pastor didn't show. And the prayer leader showed up 45 minutes late. And the man from India was amazed at this, because again, he's used to prayer meetings being such an important part of the Church.
Wow, what an indictment, right? So the pastor invites everyone, but then he isn't there? And out of a church of thousands? Only seven? Really? Yeah, but honestly, if you think about it, you've got to wonder about the size of prayer meetings in many churches today, percentage-wise, with the Church.
I mean, are you full in 10%? If so, that's pretty good for a lot of churches. But again, if you think about it, it's not unusual. And yet in our churches today, we talk about the power of prayer, we talk about how much prayer matters, but does it? What this all comes down to is the importance of a relationship with God, because that's what prayer really is. And we should know that instinctively, and if we don't, there's a problem. And the truth is, it's a hard truth, but we're sometimes just too busy to feel like we need to pray. Our lives are so filled with other things. So let's be honest about it, because if we're not, how can we make any change?
Yeah, that's exactly right. You know, often it seems like we only pray when we have a difficulty, or at least that's when we get serious about prayer and ask others to pray for us as well. I know I used to function that way for many years, and if I'm not careful, you know, it could slip back that way pretty quickly.
Me too. Probably the funny thing is, it's much easier to talk about prayer than just actually do it sometimes, or at least we make it out to be this difficult thing. And I don't think it has to be that way. Miller makes this point about the prayer meeting that really stuck with me. He wrote, if you doubt something, you don't think it works, so you don't use it. No one here thought prayer works.
Unbelief is as practical as faith. Ouch. Yeah, that's... Exactly, but isn't that true?
I mean, Miller also explained the reason why. The name of the chapter that he writes in chapter 2 is, Who Killed the Prayer Meeting? And he points out that years ago, you know, Wednesday night prayer meetings were a regular part of the church, but we've gotten so busy. And if the truth be told, when we pray, it feels like we're sitting around.
We're so focused on making things happen that we miss the opportunity to just be with God. And Miller points out that our modern focus on mass media is controlled by people for whom prayer doesn't matter much at all. You know, very few television shows have anything to do with God, but they have a lot to do with the devil.
You know, there's even a popular show called Lucifer. So Miller concludes, endlessly portraying the world without God and without meaning, it created a new normal. And I think that's right, but that's not what's normal for Christians. And yet this is why prayer is something that seems a little too spiritual, something that makes us uncomfortable, because we're just not used to it. Wow, so who killed the prayer meeting? Well, we did, by being so busy and talking so much and doing so much, instead of just being merry, you know, choosing what is better. And this is where I appreciate Jim's symbolizing insight.
Jesus didn't say, my house shall be called a house of preaching. And don't we have to ask? Have we really made inroads into changing our culture since we've stepped away from prayer? I mean, we know the answer to that.
So what if we took more time to pray, to focus not on prayer, really, not on prayer as an end in itself, but on being with Jesus, on our relationship with Abba Father, talking to him, because that's what prayer really is, just being in that relationship with him. Oh, wow. What a great joke, by the way.
I never heard that. It cracked me up. But, you know, really, if we did that, I mean, if we really saw it change lives, you know, because it was working in God's strength instead of our own, I mean, seriously, if you were at that meeting and you felt God's presence in your own time with him, you know, as actually, honestly, I feel every morning when I'm with him, I can't imagine my life without it, James. Well, I guess we better pray. Oh, Lord, help us to find that place where we really commune with you and the importance of prayer from a standpoint of our relationship.
Lord, help this to be a lesson to us to push into you and to find that relationship that makes it what it really is. And Lord, I thank you for James' insight on this, and I pray that we would all take it to heart. In Jesus' name I pray. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website, jamesbanks.org, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-25 14:10:20 / 2023-02-25 14:14:08 / 4