The Disciplined Life- Prayer

Did you know that ODG’s could also be girls?

One of our favorite authors is the delightful and prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction (also the brilliant editor of her husband Peter Marshall’s sermons) Catherine Marshall. She has a lot to say to us about what it means to really know and walk with the Lord, and one of my favorite books is her Adventures in Prayer.

Prayer is something that Christians talk about all the time. We tell each other we will pray and ask one another to pray, we pray over our food, we pray before sporting events, we pray when things seem to be going wrong – but what is prayer, and why is it such a big deal?

Simply stated, prayer is important because God desires to have fellowship with us…

and wants us to learn to trust Him as the source of everything we need. He is all good, all-powerful and all-knowing, and through prayer we begin to develop the habit of looking to Him in all situations. In Luke 11: 9-13, we read Jesus’ words, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Prayer, in essence, is a conversation between you and God.

You speak to Him, pour you heart and cares out to Him, bring your needs and desires to Him – and the most beautiful thing is that God will also speak to you! Prayer is a spiritual discipline. It is a healthy part of every Christian’s day. It is not just something that we do at a worship service or at the dinner table, but a discipline that we can put into practice anytime and any place. In fact, in I Thessalonians 5: 16-18, Paul exhorts believers to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
More than just a conversation, prayer is a conduit through which the wisdom, blessings and power of God can flow in and through your life. Prayer is not to be just an afterthought or a life preserver in times of trouble, it can actually become our sustenance. But to get there, we must begin somewhere. If you are new to prayer, or would like to further develop this discipline in your life, Adventures in Prayer is a great place to start. Please read the following excerpt…

“Admittance to the School of prayer is by an entrance test with only two questions. The first one is: Are you in real need? The second is: Do you admit that you are helpless to handle that need?
Whatever I have learned about prayer has come as the result of times when I could answer a resounding yes to both questions. Looking back over my life, those times of need stand out like mountain peaks rather than, as one might suppose, valleys of despond. Peaks — because each time I learned something important about God — how real he is and how gloriously able to answer prayer.
In childhood one of those times of learning came through my desperate fear of the dark. In my teens, there was the dire need of funds for college. What I learned then I share in “The Prayer that Helps Your Dreams Come True.”

At twenty-seven the need was a serious illness. There the mountain-peak learning was “The Prayer of Relinquishment.”

The peak of my thirties was the gigantic one of my husband Peter Marshall’s sudden death, along with lesser hills of need: how to rear a son without his father, how to find a career for myself at this point in life and without any specialized training. During that era I was taught “The Claiming Prayer.”
Years later, after my marriage to Leonard LeSourd and the taking on of three young children, it was back to the School of Prayer again. As usual, there was no problem about passing the entrance test; my need was great, my inadequacy obvious. Out of these years came “The Prayer of Helplessness.”
More often, of course, the situation that drove me to my knees was not so intensely personal. The need might be a friend’s – or one I had only read about somewhere in our war-torn and hungry world. But always the criteria held: great needs and insufficient resources of my own with which to meet them. …
Of course, no lifetime and no book, even one many times the length of this one, can do more than skim the surface of a subject so vast and all-encompassing as prayer. In this volume I have nowhere mentioned even the little I know about prayer as adoration – thanksgiving – praise – contemplation – meditation – or simply the lifting of the human heart in silent communion with the Lover of our souls. This is not because I consider such dimensions of prayer unimportant – quite the contrary – but because down through the centuries writers far more qualified than I have left us classics of instruction in their use.
What I have found strangely lacking in my own times of need are guidelines to prayer at its humblest and most basic: prayer as asking. The prayer of a child quite simply running to its father for help. This is what we would discover in an age of perplexity – how do we run to the Father?
The halls and classrooms of the School of Prayer are crowded as never before because our needs press upon us with a new urgency: world-wide economic crises, marriage problems on the rise, a widening generation gap, drug addiction, alcoholism, cancer of almost epidemic frequency. No wonder we rush to school! Our thirst is deep, our eagerness to learn is enormous.
What good news it is that our very inadequacy is the master key swinging wide the door to His adequacy. Forever and forever our thirst and hunger drive us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Who but Jesus could ever have thought of a plan like that!”

-Catherine Marshall