Wednesday, December 28, 2011

become a yoda of prayer?

It is a habit to be cultivated. It is a discipline to be developed. It is a skill to be practiced. And while I don’t want to reduce praying hard to time logged, if you want to achieve mastery, it might take ten thousand hours. This I know for sure: the bigger the dream the harder you will have to pray.
Zondervan, (2011-12-13). The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears (Kindle Locations 1209-1211). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. Mark Batterson

In this section or subsection, as it looks to be only a couple or three pages if it were in print, Batterson writes some things about people mastering things like playing a musical instrument, writing, some athletic things, and so one. He writes that the thing the people who master these things have in common is that they have put in over ten thousand hours of practice.

So, to understand what Batterson is saying in the paragraph above, you have to keep that in mind--he is likening prayer to a natural endeavor, one that can be practiced and mastered.

Sickening, isn't it.

What, for example, constitutes prayer "mastery"? To look at Jesus' parable of the prayers of the Pharaisee and the publican, the Pharisee had no doubt logged in many hours of prayer. It was a part of the job. The publican, being rather a social outcast due to his occupation, likely didn't pray all that much, certainly not as much as the person whose job was religious leadership. Yet, it was the prayer of the publican, who simply begged God for mercy, that was acceptable, and the publican who left justified.

I'm not sure where the Bible says that God keeps some kind of a clock, and when we've reached 10,000 hours God levels up our prayers, and we get a "Prayer Master Jedi" plaque to put on the wall, or maybe a black belt in prayer. And we can look with kindly condescension on those who have only put in about, oh, 1,734 hours. They're trying, they'll get there, while we get busy going up to 50,000 hours and leveling up even further.

For most of my life, it seems I've heard about these people who have been called "prayer warriors". I've come to where I'm no longer convinced there are such people. Oh, there may be people whose prayer rhetoric gives the impression of being authoritative, that they come off like God is or should be listening especially closely to them. But simply because someone can sound like that doesn't mean that their prayers have a special line to God, that they can get God to answer their prayers when He doesn't seem to be listening to anyone else you ask for prayer.

Nor is there such a thing as prayer "mastery". All of us who believe begin in the same place, repenting of our sins, and we continue to do that until the time we die. We all thank God for His blessings, we all bring our petitions to Him.

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