The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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      In the midst of our Convention-wide “Covering Mississippi in Prayer” focus several years ago, I was asked to facilitate a break-out session entitled “Faithful Praying” for a statewide Senior Adult retreat sponsored by the MBCB Discipleship and Family Ministry Department. My assignment led me to ask “What is faithful praying?” “Can faithful praying be identified, defined, or measured and, if so, how should faithful praying be understood?”
     “Faithful praying” might be understood as a function of the:
  • Consistency of your prayer life. For instance, you recognize the importance of and need to pray in every situation for everything inasmuch as nothing is too big or too small for God. The words to a hymn remind us “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer.”  Do you faithfully carry everything to God in prayer?  
  • Regularity of your prayer life. Paul issued the divine imperative to “Pray without ceasing” to the Christians in Thessalonica (1 Thess.5:17). Similar to consistent praying, regular and continuous prayer involves an attitude of openness to God in all situations and a practice of talking to God about all situations throughout the day. How regular are you in your prayer life?
  • Intensity of your prayer life – in terms of both your focus and emotional involvement. While multi-tasking may be commended in certain aspects of life, prayer is not a multi-tasking opportunity. Rather, the pray-er is focused and completely engaged in the art, activity, and action of prayer. Insights from Scripture regarding intensity in praying include “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16) and that in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus’ sweat was “as it were great drops of blood…” (Luke 22:44). Is your prayer life intense and intentional or haphazard?
  • Frequency of your prayer life -in terms of the continual and repetitive manner in which someone or something receives your intercession. Do you offer only a single prayer for an individual and/or a specific need or do you offer prayers of intercession continually on behalf of others?
  • Quantity of your prayer life – not in terms of the length of specific prayers but rather the amount of time in which the pray-er is engaged each day in prayer. Some studies indicate that 5 or fewer minutes spent in daily prayer is more the norm than the exception. Preachers surveyed indicate that they spend approximately 30 minutes daily in prayer. Why do Christians not spend more time in prayer? A familiar hymn is entitled “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” D. L. Moody declared “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” How much time do you spend talking to God each day?
  • Sincerity of your prayer life – in terms of the genuine and earnest nature of “taking it to the Lord in prayer.” Emphasizing sincerity, an unknown source asserted “There is a vast difference between saying prayers and praying” while a message displayed on a church marquee offered “Prayer is Power Released At Your Earnest Request.” Are you genuine and sincere when you pray or is your praying merely a spiritual check mark on your “To Do” list?
  • Humility in your prayer life – in terms of your humble recognition of God as your creator, redeemer, and sustainer. In prayer, we should approach God clothed in humility (1 Peter 5:5) as we humble ourselves before Him (James 4:10). Why? Because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Prov. 3:34; 1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). Do you pray with a spirit of humility?
      While one’s prayer life may be highlighted by all of these aspects and more, perhaps the most basic understanding of “faithful praying” is praying that is “faith-filled.” Jonathan Edwards asserted, “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life.” William Van Horne offered, “Prayer is the voice of faith.” Prayer that is faith-filled – even when such faith is small relative to the challenge – has the capacity to move mountains (Matthew 17:20) because “Prayer + Faith = Change.”
      The apostle Paul admonished Christians in Rome to be “faithful in prayer” (12:12). Similarly, may faith and faithfulness characterize you and your prayer life this year!