I am still thinking about my lack of disciplined prayer. I am not saying I don’t pray, but it is far from a discipline.
There are 209 occurances of the forms of the word pray in the King James Old Testament, and 159 in the New Testament. That is a bit unbalanced, since the OT is between three and four times the length of the NT, but then we already knew prayer was one of the expected disciplines of the early Church.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 [emphasis added]
I like the use in the King James of steadfastly, which I take to equate to discipline.
I had never looked at prayer in the OT before and I was immediately struck by Abraham’s servant, who when going in search for a wife for Isaac, made prayer the foundation of the search process.
Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” Genesis 24:12
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. Genesis 24:15
Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, “Please give me a drink.” Genesis 24:45
And then later, still connected to Rebekah, Isaac prays.
Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. Genesis 25:21
Prayer figures in important events throughout the Scriptures and in the NT it is considered as part of the discipline of the Church. Most of us, myself included, pray around important events. However, for how many of us is prayer a real discipline? If you are athletic or excerise, do you pray as regularly and intensely as you work out or practice? If you are a musician, do you pray as diligently as you pursue your music? Do you have a favorite sports team? Do you pray as regularly as you watch your team, read about them, watch Sports Center to see highlights or scores? Those are but three of many possible examples.
I am not sure about your life, but in mine prayer is not anywhere what it should be, and considering it is one of four disciplines of the early Church, I think my failure in this regard is something God wants me to deal with. It will not be easy, but more on that next time.
Grace and peace to your day and may God open all of our hearts to the discipline of prayer, teaching us to exerecise that most important of spiritual muscles. Amen.