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Strength in Prayer

Greetings All,
      I sent these 'thoughts' out last week to encourage those here in my church in Perkasie who are engaged in The Lord's Watch (Prayer Watch), where we have over 44 participants covering 77 hours a week in prayer.  
      Yet, since praying at scheduled times often involves persevering in prayer (or praying when you don't necessarily feel like it), I thought these thoughts might encourage all who have tried to make prayer a regular spiritual discipline.
      It's no new struggle.  The struggle to pray when tired, distracted or not in the mood is a struggle that dates back to the first disciples who fell asleep twice after being told by Jesus to pray and watch. Whenever we seek to establish the habit of scheduled prayer, there will be obstacles and we will all go through the inevitable ups and downs involved.  I myself have had to wrestle through them, though it's been a good discipline to stick to it.
      Thus I write to encourage all of you (like those in my church) to press on in prayer! The Lord waits to meet with you. Your prayers do have an impact. The Lord listens, hears, and responds. And yes, sometimes He tests our resolve. So keep those appointments, and pray so long as you have breath, letting no thwarted attempt or failure to be disciplined discourage you from picking up where you left off!
I include a few encouragements to pray. They are by well-known pray-ers of the past. I trust their words will inspire you to persevere and press on in the ongoing fight to "bring every thought captive to Christ" (II Cor. 10:5). Enjoy.

The Seven Steps to Strength in Prayer (as seen in Christ's determination to pray in the garden prior to his crucifixion).  Adapted from J. Doyle Masters.

1.)  Have a special place to pray - "Jesus went to the Mount of Olives..."
2.)  Develop a regular practice of prayer - "as was His custom."
3.)  Let it be a private place -
"He withdrew about a stone's throw from them..."
4.)  Have a comfortable yet reverent posture -
"He knelt down and prayed."
5.)  Have a submissive, selfless, willingness to pursue obedience - 
"nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done."
6.)  Pray with earnest purpose remembering that prayer is not a performance but a godly impulse to fight self-will and embrace God's will - "And being in agony He prayed all the more earnestly, and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground." 
7.)  Be prepared to be filled with power - "There appeared to Him an angel from heaven to strengthen Him." 
Persistence in Prayer by Sir Francis Drake (c.1543-1596 A.D.)
    "O Lord God, when Thou callest Thy servants to endeavor in any great matter,
     Grant us to know that it is not the beginning,
     But our continuing on with it until it be thoroughly finished,
     Which yields the true glory,
     Through Him that to the finishing of Thy great work,
     Laid down His life."
What is Needed To Pray Aright by Benedict of Nursia (480-547A.D.)
"O gracious and holy Father,
      Give us wisdom to perceive Thee,
Intelligence to understand Thee,
Diligence to pursue Thee,
Patience to wait for Thee,
Eyes to behold Thee,
A heart to meditate upon Thee,
And a life to proclaim Thee;
Through the power of the Spirit,
Of Jesus Christ the Lord."
A Right Attitude in Prayer by John Donne (1572-1631)
"O Lord, never suffer us to think,
that we can stand by ourselves,
and not need Thee."
The Reasons Why by... Unknown
"Not till the loom is silent And the shuttles cease to fly,Shall God unfold the canvas, And reveal the reasons why, The dark threads are as needful, In the Weaver's skillful hand, As the threads of gold and silver, In the pattern He has planned."
     Should you lose the desire to pray, you need simply persevere and pray for it to be restored. Because it is true -- we are even dependent upon Him for that!  Do all that you must, and whatever you must, but don't give up!  For as Richard Sibbes reminds us: "When we go to God in prayer, the devil knows we go to fetch power against him, and therefore he opposes us all he can."
     Prayer is not just a spiritual activity or discipline, as Richard Baxter points out, it is, "The breath of the new creature."  "It is," says Hooker, "the first thing with which the righteous life begins, and the last thing with which it ends." Few things are as important to our spiritual life or our relationship with God as prayer. 
In His Service, Pastor Jeff