How much do you pray?
Okay, before anyone gives up on this post or journeys into a guilt trip where I don’t intend to lead you, let’s all admit that we could all pray more. We could (and probably should) seek God more. But that’s not my intent in asking the question.
Instead, I want to consider the why behind our actual tendency and discipline. Why don’t we pray more?
What Started My Question
For years I’ve sought a prayer journal. Yes, I know the market is flooded with them, but they weren’t exactly what I wanted.
Truthfully, I’m fighting an uphill battle here. While I love the concept of journaling and I’ve experienced wonderful things when I push myself to be disciplined about it, I’m horrible at it. I know it’s good for me, yet I hate taking the time to do it.
Additionally, I’m a practical kind of girl. I like to have things neat and orderly, and I’ve yet to find a journal that allows me to file prayers and updates together. You see, on the rare occasion I go back to gain encouragement from my prayer journal, I don’t want to see my requests. I want to see God’s answers to those requests.
Back to my practical side, it seems a waste of time and effort to have to re-write my prayer just to record an answer I received a few days or weeks later. Yet, without the request, it’s somewhat inefficient to only have the answer. How do I know how thoroughly God provided? How do I know how faithful He was if I do not also see the original weight on my shoulders?
A New Project
Not too long ago, I was discussing all of this with my daughter, and a picture flashed in my mind. Nothing grand and glorious, but I believe God gave me a concrete idea of what I sought. I quickly sketched it out and showed it to both her and my assistant. We all thought it was a tangible idea that others would also like.
But I didn’t want to just put some lines on a paper and tell you it was worth spending money on! So, I began to think about devotions and thoughts on prayer.
- What could I write that would challenge all of our thoughts about prayer?
- How could I encourage not just more prayer, but deeper prayer?
- And how would I come up with not just enough to fill one 12-month journal, but future journals? After all, if you like my layout, you don’t want to read the same devotions over and over again from one year to the next.
So, I went shopping for a book. What else would an author do?
E.M. Bounds: The Necessity of Faith to Pray
I was first introduced to E.M. Bounds several years ago when I wrote The Warrior’s Bride with Kathy Barnett. At that time, I looked him up and did some surface research. Born in 1835, he practiced law for five years before he started preaching. He lived through the American Civil War, serving as a Chaplain in the Confederate Army. He returned to the location of one of the most severe battles, the Battle of Franklin, to pastor the Franklin Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
He married in 1876 and had three children over eight years before death claimed his wife. Two years later, he remarried and had six more children, soon losing two of his children to death. He spent the last nineteen years of his life actively learning about and engaging in prayer, typically rising at 4:00 a.m. every morning to spend three hours with God before starting his day.
With a life and discipline like that, it’s easy to conclude that the man knew something about prayer.
His Books and Teachings
Only two of his books were published before his death in 1913, but two of his friends worked to bring seven more to publication.
I chose to purchase a combined work of seven of those nine books. Within the first chapter of the first book, God reminded me again that no matter how much I learn, I still have lots to learn.
My Original Question
Which brings me back to my original thought. Why don’t we pray more? Could the answer simply be that our lack of prayer displays a weakness in our faith?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to lay guilt or blame. I do not intend to propose that God hasn’t answered your prayer because you didn’t have enough faith.
But we need to wrestle with the undeniable link between faith and prayer.
E.M. Bounds says, “Prayer is simply faith, claiming its natural yet marvelous prerogatives” (page 13). Do we have trouble believing this? Fully and completely, deep in our hearts?
Perhaps we don’t have as much a problem with prayer as we think we do. Perhaps our bigger problem is faith.
If You Are Interested . . .
. . . in my new prayer journal, please let me know by commenting ‘Yes!’ below.
My assistant and I are working on it, and hope to have it ready by June! It will be formatted to fit in a mini-binder (5.5″ x 8″), and only available from my store! More details coming soon!
Bounds, Edward M. The complete works of E.M. Bounds on prayer: experience the wonders of God through prayer. Peabody, MA: Prince Press, 2000. Print.