It is well known among pastors that Martin Luther spend about two hours each day in prayer. The exception for Luther would be particularly busy days, on which he would pray three hours. Robert Murray McCheyne devoted several periods of the day to prayer. It is well known to pastors that the great ones prayed. Unable to attend the Desiring God conference, I decided to spend the week looking at prayer. I listened a little online to the conference and pulled E.M. Bounds’ classic, Power through Prayer off the shelf.

Reading Power Through Prayer is both refreshing and challenging. It is much more of a devotional work than a scholarly work. I believe I am reading E.M. Bounds’ heart on prayer as I read these pages. His passion covers his work and it is very refreshing.

On the other hand, it is very challenging. I don’t know that anyone can truly read such a discourse on prayer and think “I pray enough.” Yet, time spent in prayer is not the true challenge I am left with.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength. I have learned some lessons on strength and endurance lately as I have tried to become a runner. In that regard, I have pushed myself to a new limit each week and have seen that growth surpasses pain. Such could be said of enduring in my walk with Christ. As to loving God with my mind, I have spend most of the past year with this challenge. I have studied more, read more, and sought to convey more in preaching. This has been rewarding in many ways. Yet, prayer is not about loving God with my mind, but with my heart. It is a necessary in a relationship with God as romance is in marriage. All manner of endurance and study seems to lack until there is heart-felt worship and prayer.

I find that two things tend to get in the way of prayer. First is pure idleness. As a product of my culture, I find it terribly difficult to turn off the need to be stimulated through the senses. It is hard not to watch something, listen to something, experience something, and imagine something without my mind quickly wandering to something. I find that “be still and know that I am God” may be the most difficult verse to obey.

Second, I find it difficult to rely on something other than myself. To love God with strength, I need will power. To love God with my mind, I need to learn and listen and read. To love God with my heart, I need God. For sure, the others don’t go far without Him either, but prayer requires a sort of helplessness that does not come easy. Most would rather do than pray and most would rather figure things out for themselves rather than ask for prayer.

Yet, when we realize our true helplessness, then something else happens. The love of God in our heart becomes like the love of a child. Our prayers well up and pour out naturally. Our mind desires more and we feel a renewed strength for the race.

Lord, let me learn to rely on you. Let me pray as my love for you bursts at the seams. This will be my prayer today.

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