George Muller began each day with several hours of prayer. Bishop Lancelot Andrews allotted five hours per day to prayer. Charles Simeon woke at 4 A.M. to pray for five hours. Nuns of “The Sleepless Ones” order pray in one hour shifts for 24 hours, every day, every week, every month. Martin Luther devoted three hours daily to prayer and wrote we should do it as naturally as a shoemaker makes shoes. Jonathan Edwards wrote of “sweet hours” of prayer on the banks of the Hudson River.
What has happened to Christians (us) that prayer is no longer viewed with such joy and devotion?
Philip Yancy in his book, “Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference” suggests several reasons. Contemplate these and see if he is not accurate in his assessment of why we falter in our prayer life.
Reason 1: Science and Technology. Today we study weather trends, maps, and pressure fronts to predict the weather. In the past the farmer looked to heaven and pleaded with God to bring rain and end a drought. We rely on physician’s assessments and MRIs rather than praying to God for healing.
Reason 2: Modern Skepticism. We wonder if prayer will do any good against nuclear threats, climate change, terrorism, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
Reason 3: Prosperity. Christians in developing countries more time praying than contemplating prayer. There is more reliance on talent, resources, retirement plans, and insurance policies to provide than on The One who provides.
Reason 4: Time Pressures. With texting, email, facebook and the internet we are used to speedy connectivity and social interaction. The idea of hours spent in meditation, contemplation, and reflection seem like a waste of time.
Reason 5: Psychotherapy. We prefer the immediate feedback of someone with a degree to help us with our problems than an invisible God who may or may not answer our inquiry with the speed we desire. What was once reserved for God alone is now placed in the hands of others.
Prayer should be as natural to Christians as breathing. Prayer should be the spiritual discipline that we devote the majority of our time to. We ought to crave “face time” with God and protect it with a holy jealousy. After all, the God who answers prayer IS all powerful. He can do more in 1 second than we can with five years of planning and organization. He is the only one who can change men’s hearts and redirect the course of nations.