Monday, March 16, 2009

Jesus will not hear us better

Reading through Jerram’s book on prayer, I hear his kind voice intoning this advice. Good for the soul like crusty bread and fine cheese. I’m often corrupted by either pride or despondency, so in hearing this I say to self, “Now, EAT this.”

“…discipline in prayer has to do with reminding ourselves, moment by moment, how much we truly need the Lord. It is a matter of developing a consistent mealtime pattern of saying “thank you” to the Lord; a habit when we rise in the morning of telling him we love him and need him; a routine when we walk by the way (or drive along the way) that we long for him to guide and direct us; a custom of when we meet people of asking him what we should say or do; an instant recognition that when we face temptation we must turn to him for strength; a glad remembrance at the end of each day, when we lie down at night that we are thankful for his support and sorry for our failures. This is the discipline we need.

“…Yet a word of caution is needed. Personal discipline in any area of our life has value. But legalism (making a set of rules that measure how well we are doing in praying regularly) because it almost always leads to either pride or despondency: pride because we are keeping the rules and we congratulate ourselves and become puffed up about how spiritual we are compared with others or with our previous practice; or despondency because we are not keeping our rules, and so we feel unspiritual, useless, and condemned. The Lord desires neither pride nor despondency from us.

“We are always to remember that the Lord will not hear us better because we have observed our disciplines. This is a truth we need to have engraved on our hearts and minds. Nor will the Lord hear us less well because we have not kept to the letter of our disciplines for prayer. He is our completely loving Father who does not condemn us or turn us away because of our lack of spiritual discipline. [my emphasis] It is just because he loves us that he desires that we set aside time for prayer…he longs for us to show him how much we love him and how much we are aware that we need him. [from The Heart of Prayer: What Jesus Teaches Us by Jerram Barrs]


Ed Eubanks said...

It's so true-- and as you said, the value of Jerram's tone and pastoral spirit is as valuable in this advice as the words themselves.

Memphis is a long way from Rochester-- but it would be so great if you and Denis could come for our Spiritual Life Conference in October (23-25). Jerram will be here teaching on prayer.

Margie Haack said...

Awfully tempting!

nancy said...

As a spiritual slug, I so appreciated reading this! I'm speaking to a group of women in Orlando Thursday night and I'm fretting as I always do prior to speaking--"I haven't prayed enough. I haven't read my Bible enough. I think Leviticus is boring! God's gonna smite me," etc.

He might smite, but not because I didn't pray enough.

Margie Haack said...

nancy, ah yes. There's no better time in which to strike a bargain with our inner sluggard.

Anonymous said...

Hey: I'm a new reader at your blog and website. I love it and really appreciate your ministry. I have also e-mailed you to ask for your newsletters. Could you let me know if you received my message? God bless you guys. Ron

Margie Haack said...

Hannah, we're looking forward to seeing you again when you join those guys this summer.