Chapter 3: A Man and Prayer
NOTE: In conjunction with the release of my new book, A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines, I am going to publish an excerpt or two from each chapter. We’ve created a web site location where you can obtain numerous additional audio, video, and print resources on the Spiritual Disciplines.
Prayer as a Powerful Use of Time
Learn to see prayer as the most powerful and efficient use of your time. In the physical world, ideas are more powerful than labor, because ideas propel motion. Once the energy is released, it can’t be contained. Prayer also is more powerful than labor, because it also releases forces that will not be contained. Martin Luther is famous for commenting, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” So why is it so hard to accept that prayer is the most powerful investment of time? The answer is simple—it doesn’t look as if it works. We don’t always get what we pray for. When we work, we earn a specific reward. The equation goes like this:
effort + work = reaching my goal
On the surface, human effort seems more profitable than prayer. For a lot of us, prayer seems spiritual and mystical. We don’t understand it. We don’t want to risk not getting what we pray for. So we pray a little and work a lot.Summers are financial agony for anyone in ministry, because contributions naturally fall off in that season. That’s as true for us at Man in the Mirror as it is for the next ministry. One summer in particular, finances were really tight. I started praying, and I ran across two key Scripture passages. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Then Matthew 6:31–32 records Jesus saying, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.” Then it says we are to seek God’s kingdom first and quit worrying. In the practical world, that’s hard to do. The ministry I serve has thirty staff members. They have mortgage payments, rent payments, and car payments. They have to buy groceries and pay for childcare, gasoline, and doctor bills. Those staff members depend on their salaries. One week in that particular summer, we had absolutely nothing to cover payroll. We had some meetings, and I went home, and I wrote in my journal, “God, I feel like You have failed me. I don’t believe that You failed me, but that is how I feel.”
You might have already guessed that God did meet that need, and He’s met every other need. But we all have moments when life just doesn’t work the way we expect it to. In those moments we must be confident that prayer is the most powerful and efficient use of time.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.
P.S. You can order this book through Man in the Mirror by going to www.maninthemirror.org/spiritualdisciplines.