|Dead flowers in my backyard|
I had just preached a Sunday morning sermon at Faith Bible Church in New York City. FBS is a Chinese church, and my message was translated into Mandarin. When I was done a man came up to ask me to pray for him. He was a government worker from China. China's government is atheist, and does not encourage its workers to have religious inclinations. He could not speak English, so an interpreter told me: "He wants you to pray for him."
"I would be glad to. What can I pray for him?"
"He wants you to pray that he would believe in God."
I have never had a prayer request like that before. It was clear to me that God was pursuing this man, that very moment.
A.W. Tozer wrote: A. W. Tozer writes, “We pursue God because and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.” (In Richard Foster, Prayer, 71)
The urge within spurs us on to the pursuit. Those that desire, pursue. On that morning in New York City this Chinese government worker was going after God.
This is how it is with prayer. Those that desire God, have time to converse with him. A person whyo heart-wants to pray, actually prays. That's how it is with urges and desires.
This is why I don't think we can make people pray. Making people feel guilty that they don't have a prayer life will not result in them having a prayer life. This is because it's all about desire, or what Tozer called the "urge." You can't command or force this.
In my seminary classes and seminars I do assign people to pray. I have seen, occasionally, that while doing this assignment someone gets a prayer life, for life. A desire is placed within them for relationship with God. And when you desire relationship with someone you find time to meet with them. You just do. That's the way it is with anything you love.
"Here is the beautiful thing: finding God only deepens and heightens the pursuit. One taste of obedience and we want more. “O taste and see that the LORD is good,” invites the Psalmist (Ps. 34:8). (Foster, Prayer, 71-72)
Pray that you would pray.