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“Prayer—Just Do It”

“I remember you in my prayers….pray…for all God’s people.  And…me….” -Ephesians 1:16b; 6:18,19

Someone once said, “Ask a Baptist for $50—he’ll say, “let’s pray.”‘
‘”Call on a Methodist to pray—he’ll say, “here’s $50.”‘

The reason that is funny is that Methodists (at least the modern ones) are not noted for their praying.  Most of us will certainly acknowledge the need to pray but look on it a little like the little boy who one day asked his grandmother to take him to the circus.

She replied, “I can’t, I’ve got  to go to go to Prayer Meeting.”
He thought for a minute and said, “Grandma, if you’d go to the circus just once, you’d never want to go to prayer meeting again.”

Even preachers are not immune to a certain reluctance to pray.  One Sunday morning, a preacher went to visit a neighboring church.  The pastor called on him to pray and he replied, “Pray yourself, I’m on my vacation.”

Prayer is problematical.  Even many who say that believe in prayer see it as getting in touch with your deepest self, or visualizing what you want and then doing it.  It is associated with all kinds of strange notions, ideas, and even drugs.   Timothy Leary (psychedelic drug guru) once said, “to pray properly you must be out of your mind.”

R. Gregor Smith says that a majority of “even conscientious church members” have given up the habit of private prayer in the conventional sense.  If he is right and certainly there is evidence he is, we are in serious trouble.   Because James Montgomery was right, when he echoed John Wesley, calling prayer the Christian’s “vital breath.”  Prayer is the most distinctive Christian act.  Biblically and historically, Luther was on solid ground when he said if one does not pray then he is not Christian.

In the Ephesian letter Paul begins by assuring the believers that he is praying for them.  He closes by urging them to pray for each other and for him.  All that he has called them to do is to be done in prayer.

“I find I am better or worse as I pray more or less…I can never be better in life than I am faithful in prayer…when prayer lags, life sags…If you know how to pray, you know how to live.” (E. Stanley Jones)

If we want renewal, if we want to be Christian, to be better Christians, then we must pray.  There is no option.

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