Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Longing for the Joy of Secret Prayer

Some years ago I acquired a little book written by an anonymous author entitled, The Kneeling Christian (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids: 1971). I finally got around to reading it this summer and it made such an impact on my life that I have decided to read it again, only this time at a slower pace. I am more concerned that the principles of the book take root in my life than that I hurry to make it to the end.

As I mentioned, the author of the book is anonymous. He informs us in the Preface that he wrote it “by request, and with much hesitancy” and that it went forth “with much prayer” (7). He does not provide us with any clues as to who persuaded him or why he had to be persuaded, but having read the book I imagine that it was because he hesitated to issue such a piercing rebuke when he himself was a sinner.

It is not difficult to perceive in his writings that he was both a humble man and a prayerful man, neither is it difficult to perceive that he carried a great burden for the body of Christ. The longing of his heart is well captured by the final words of the Preface, “May He Who said, ‘Men ought always to pray, and not to faint,’ ‘teach us to pray’” (7). In other words, his passion was not so much to teach us about prayer as to persuade us to pray, or better put, to be a vessel through which the Lord himself would teach us to pray.

Therefore, my prayer as I begin my second journey through this little book is that I would humble myself before the Lord, and his appointed vessel, and allow him to teach me the joy of secret prayer. For as our author writes, “It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life—all victory over temptation, all confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God—depend on the practice of secret prayer” (7).

He did not say that these things depend on a right understanding but rather on “the practice” of secret prayer. If his assertion is correct—and I think it is—then, indeed, may we join him in saying, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Longing for the joy of secret prayer,

Pastor Charlie

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