Peter and I went to the lovely UP earlier this week to Cedar Campus, a retreat center run by InterVarsity. While we were there we discovered that their book selection is excellent, and we both bought a new book as our “souvenir,” even though they really are more like investments into our lives, rather than a piece to spur nostalgia.
I choose “Too Busy Not To Pray” by Bill Hybels. Whenever I have thought about advancement in my spiritual life for the past year or more, I have been drawn to focused prayer time and the fact I need more of it in my life. Though I have taken small steps in the past to pursue this, I really haven't done much since I graduated and got married—for the understandable (but not excusable) reason that wedding preparation tends to swallow your entire schedule! In the past month, of course, life truly hasn't slowed down at all. I have felt too busy to pray as much as I feel like I should, so this book seemed like a good place to start.
Let me tell you, it has been a fantastic place to start! This book in one word: solid. Currently I am almost halfway through it, and I have learned so much about prayer and been so encouraged to push into it more!
The first three chapters are all about God—how He is the God of peace and power, how He is willing to answer our prayers, and how He is able to answer our prayers. They really set the stage for entering into prayer with the right foundational ideas in place, and I was so encouraged by his testimonies and the scriptural truths Hybels shared.
The next three chapters, which is where I am, are about the actual act of prayer—the importance of building good prayer habits, “Praying like Jesus” (an outline of the Lord's Prayer), and finally, “A Pattern for Prayer” which has been the most impacting so far personally. I have been learning practical ways to pray and to stay focused. One of the biggest things that struck me is the fact that if we want to get good at something we must make it nonnegotiable, and we must exercise good habits to obtain it. For example, take exercising or eating well—if we slack off at any point and/or don't have a solid structure for obtaining our goals, they don't happen. If we can't get fit without a structured schedule, its isn't likely we can pray powerfully and consistently without structure in our prayer life.
A specific pattern for structure in prayer that Hybels shares about is called ACTS. Because it was so helpful and impacting, I'm going to share in more detail about it in an upcoming post. For now though, have you read anything recently that encouraged you in your prayer life?
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