Dr. Moody Stuart, a great praying man of a past generation, once drew up a set of rules to guide him in his prayers. Among these rules is this one: “Pray till you pray.” The difference between praying till you quit and praying till you pray is illustrated by the American evangelist John Wesley Lee. He often likened a season of prayer to a church service, and insisted that many of us close the meeting before the service is over. He confessed that once he arose too soon from a prayer session and started down the street to take care of some pressing business. He had only gone a short distance when an inner voice reproached him. “Son,” the voice seemed to say, “did you not pronounce the benediction before the meeting was ended?” He understood, and at once hurried back to the place of prayer where he tarried till the burden lifted and the blessing came down.
The habit of breaking off our prayers before we have truly prayed is as common as it is unfortunate. Often the last ten minutes may mean more to us than the first half hour, because we must spend a long time getting into the proper mood to pray effectively. We may need to struggle with our thoughts to draw them in from where they have been scattered through the multitude of distractions that result from the task of living in a disordered world.
Here, as elsewhere in spiritual matters, we must be sure to distinguish the ideal from the real. Ideally we should be living moment-by-moment in a state of such perfect union with God that no special preparation is necessary. Actually, there are few who can honestly say that this is their experience. Candor will compel most of us to admit that we often experience a struggle before we can escape from the emotional alienation and sense of unreality that sometimes settle over us as a sort of prevailing mood.
Whatever a dreamy idealism may say, we are forced to deal with things down on the level of practical reality. If when we come to prayer our hearts feel dull and unspiritual, we should not try to argue ourselves out of it. Rather, we should admit it frankly and pray our way through. Some Christians smile at the thought of “praying through,” but something of the same idea is found in the writings of practically every great praying saint from Daniel to the present day. We cannot afford to stop praying till we have actually prayed.
“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organizations do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” A. W. Tozer
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Thanks so much. But how do i know that my prayer is ended before i end it?
Personally I ask the holy spirit at the very start of my prayer time to place a burden on my heart for what he would like me to pray about that day. Then I just stay in prayer with God until I can sense that the burden has been lifted. I do the same thing the next day and often will have the same burden given to me, so again I pray until the burden has been lifted.
This may go on for weeks months or years until God’s will in that area has been done and the holy spirit no longer puts that burden on my heart in the morning. It can take a little practice to sense what a burden feels like to you and again what it feels like when it’s been lifted so just ask God to help you to learn this and he will. Hope that helps. Keep on praying! It is a difficult but high calling and our world desperately needs more praying men and women of God right now.
love this article,
I simply like, even in the midst of the clamor: This posture of heart-be still and know!