Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Prayerlessness is Sleeping With the Enemy

The incredible "Carmine's" restaurant, Manhattan, NYC
James Houston's The Transforming Power of Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship with God. It's a beautiful, gentle, challenging book. Houston asks, Why do so few Christians pray?

Over one hundred years ago James Ryle said: "I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of professing Christians do not pray at all." (In Houston, 16) Houston suggests that  Ryle "would say the same thing of the church in the West today." (Ib.)

I know from teaching over 1500 seminary students (Master's and Doctoral) that most Western pastors do not have much of a prayer life. 80% don't; that's my estimate. So when Houston (himself a seminary professor) writes that "one of the most prayerless spheres can be a seminary or even a church," I know he is correct. Being assigned to actually pray at a theological seminary is mostly unheard of (except for, e.g., the students of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; and except for Payne Theological Seminary and Faith Bible Seminary and a few other places).

Following Dallas Willard, I define "prayer" as talking with God about what we are doing together. Houston calls prayer "keeping company with God." If these definitions are accurate, then one who says they believe in prayer or desire to pray but "cannot find time to pray" is in denial. If to pray is to meet with and keep company with an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving Being who is responsible for all creation, to include you, and who came to rescue you out of your depravity, then who could, reasonably, "not find time" to pray? If the President of the United States called, right now, and asked "Can I have an hour of your time?", would we be too busy for this? How much more so it should be with the Living God.

Prayerlessness indicates disbelief. Houston writes:

"To live without prayer is ultimately to disbelieve in God and to lose the most important human values, such as faith, hope and love. Living without prayer is the result of going to bed with all the attitudes of a modern secular society." (15)

Prayerlessness is sleeping with the enemy. Prayerlessness renders us ineffective in the things that matter most. To be "too busy to pray" is to remain spiritually asleep. It is to choose to be in a raging battle without the omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent presence and resources of our Leader.

I don't think writing stuff like this motivates people to keep company with God and begin to daily consult with the Captain of All Things. Laying on guilt won't lift a person out of a prayerless groove. Prayerless people need a revelation from God himself. Something like an inner brokenness experience, such as I had, and which caused my whole life turned around in 1977. I've been meeting with God consistently ever since.

I have seen this happen to others. It can happen to you. God desires it to happen in you.