Dear CRI Partner:
I know of few things more important to Christians.
In fact, I now can’t imagine how we could live without it.
I’m talking about prayer.
Sadly, the current state of our world indicates that this vital lifeline — and source of awesome transformational power — is chronically undervalued and underpracticed by most Christians.
While in closing this letter I’ll want to share with you something that has been of great value to me personally, let me say that when it comes to the life, vitality, and fruitfulness of Christians, focusing on the essentials is as critical as it has ever been.
And few things are as essential as prayer.
In fact, prayer is primary among spiritual disciplines in that it marshals us into continuous communion with the lover of our souls.
For me that has made a world of difference. During my battle with cancer over the past two years, it has been my own deeply embedded prayer practices that have not only sustained me but have given me great peace in the midst of the storm.
In short, if I could offer only one piece of counsel to fellow Christians that could radically improve their spiritual life and walk, it would be this one word: pray!
I’m clearly not talking about the casual practice of just shooting up occasional “sky-grams.” And I’m not referring to the shallow habit of rote, semiconscious petitions that are oblivious to the true power available to us in deep prayer.
Rather than just snorkeling with a burnt back, perpetually paddling on the surface of the shallows, true prayer invites us into the glorious depths of communion with God. As Calvin Miller has put it,
“Deep is where the noisy, trashy surface of the ocean gets quiet and serene.” The tragedy, he accurately notes, is that most believers “spend their lives being whipped tumultuously through the surface circumstances of their days. Their frothy lifestyles mark the surface nature of their lives. Yet those who plumb the deep things of God discover true peace for the first time.”
While I dedicate an entire section to prayer in my forthcoming book Truth Matters, Life Matters More (including a F-A-C-T-S Prayer Guide and an explanation of how the Prayer of Jesus and the Jesus Prayer have been transformational in my own life), here are just a couple reminders and a heartfelt suggestion. First, as E. M. Bounds once noted,
“Those who are little with God will be little for God.”
In a nutshell, if we think we can be fruitful in our walk and witness without spending significant time in prayer, we’re kidding ourselves. The life of our Lord Himself demonstrated the extraordinary importance He placed on regular, deep communion with our Father.
Second, because an infinite vault of heavenly riches lies constantly open to us in prayer, why on earth would we not access its treasures throughout each day?
While the reasons are multiple, here’s a simple one: although we set regular reminders to ourselves for dozens of less important tasks, few of us have reminders to pray regularly.
That’s why I have a special cross hanging in a specific place in my house: I can’t pass it without it serving as a reminder to pray.
In fact, this cross has a prayer that is enormously meaningful for me on a daily basis.
Each time I look at the cross, I meditate not only on the prayer but also on the eternal significance of Calvary’s cross to millions throughout the ages. It was through the cross that death and sin were conquered, and through that cross and Christ’s subsequent Resurrection that we have received the unspeakable riches of eternal life.
In addition to these brief but moving meditations, I find continuing practical reminders of things to daily reject — a spirit of sloth or laziness, idle curiosity, a love of power, and useless chatter. But the prayer also reminds me daily to embrace a spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love.
And because it is always much easier to find fault in others rather than in oneself, this prayer reminds me to strive to see my own faults, rather than those of my brothers and sisters.
Because I’ve found this particular cross and prayer so meaningful in my own life, I’d like to send it to you (see picture) as my thanks for your support this month.
While most of our monthly resources are books aimed at equipping you and other believers to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15), this cross and prayer are different in that they are profoundly personal to me. I’ve internalized this prayer in a way that I feel its transformative power throughout the day.
Because this cross and prayer have had such a deep and enduring impact on my own life, I feel led by the Holy Spirit to share it with you.
My heartfelt hope is that this cross and prayer might become as meaningful to you as it is to me.
As you pray this month, I covet your prayers for my personal health and continuing energy to “fight the good fight.” Please also pray for the fruitfulness of all of CRI’s outreaches in which your partnerships continue to play such a vital role.
With deepest thanks for all that your partnership means to this ministry and to me personally…
Because Life and Truth matter…
Host, Bible Answer Man Broadcast
P.S. You no doubt agree that life and truth both matter. But what we need to be reminded of is the truth that, without the transforming power of prayer, our lives, our walk, and our witness will never be what they could be.