A Habit of Prayer

A good friend of mine who has a real gift for tracking down little-heard-of Christian books that turn out to be total gold dust recently presented my wife and I with a copy of “The Upper Room” by J.C.Ryle, the one-time Bishop of Liverpool (a bishop who believed the gospel – they do exist!!) He had bookmarked a carefully chosen chapter titled “The Duties of Parents”, which so far has been inspiring and daunting in equal measures. One duty in particular stood out as especially germain to this blog: “VI. Train them to a habit of prayer”. Allow me to quote:

Prayer is the very life-breath of true religion. It is one of the first evidences that a man is born again… Prayer was the distinguishing mark of the Lord’s people in the day that there began to be a separation between them and the world. “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord” (Gen 4v26).

Prayer is the peculiarity of all real Christians now. They pray,-for they tell God their wants, their feelings, their desires, their fears; and mean what they say. The nominal Christian may repeat prayers, and good prayers too, but he goes no further.

Prayer is the turning-point in a man’s soul. Our ministry is unprofitable, and our labour is vain, till you are brought to your knees. Till then, we have no hope about you.

Prayer is one great secret of spiritual prosperity. When there is much private communion with God, your soul will grow like the grass after rain; when there is little, all will be at a standstill, you will barely keep your soul alive. Show me a growing Christian, a going forward Christian, a strong Christian, a flourishing Christian, and sure am I, he is one that speaks often with his Lord. He asks much, and he has much. He tells Jesus everything, and so he always knows how to act.

Prayer is the mightiest engine God has placed in our hands. It is the best weapon to use in every difficulty, and the surest remedy in every trouble. It is the key that unlocks the treasury of promises, and the hand that draws forth grace and help in time of need. It is the silver trumpet God commands us to sound in all our necessity, and it is the cry He has promised always to attend to, even as a loving mother to the voice of her child.

Prayer is the simplest means that man can use in coming to God. It is within reach of all,- the sick, the aged, the infirm, the paralytic, the blind, the poor, the unlearned, -all can pray. It avails you nothing to plead want of memory, and want of learning, and want of books, and want of scholarship in this matter. So long as you have a tongue to tell your soul’s state, you may and ought to pray. Those words, “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4v2), will be a fearful condemnation to many in the day of judgement.

I for one feel really challenged by all that. But also really encouraged that prayer doesn’t have to be this really complicated thing- it’s just a talking to God and asking him for the things we need. Let’s resolve to be people who pray. And if you’ve not tried it already, may I recommend to you a handy little app for iOS called PrayerMate which you might find useful in getting going in a habit of prayer!

A startup that believes in something

Almost a year ago now, I took what felt at the time like a big risk by accepting a job as a web developer at Hubbub, a delivery company with a difference currently based in London. I’m not generally a big fan of risk, and pretty much by definition, when you take a job at a startup you’re not entirely sure if they’re going to sink or swim. That, combined with the horror stories you hear about people burning themselves out working all hours of the day and night for startups, meant that I was a little uncertain whether this was exactly the adventure I wished to embark upon just as I was getting married.

But ten months later, I can honestly say I am so glad I took that chance. There’s all sorts of reasons that Hubbub give you about why it’s an awesome place to work – the free lunches sourced from some really unique shops, the generous staff discount, and not to mention the year’s supply of free bacon you get as a recruitment bonus.

Above all, however, I think there’s one key attribute of Hubbub’s culture that really makes it stand out – it’s a company that really believes in something. The driving force behind Hubbub’s very existence is the belief that local independent shops make our communities a  better place. As the government sets up the Future High Streets Forum, it’s clearly not just us who recognise it either. The local butcher, baker and candlestick maker – they add a richness and a vibrancy to community life that a big, faceless, corporate conglomerate like Tesco could never offer. But the sad reality is that they’re under enormous pressure in today’s economic climate, and Hubbub gives them a real boost by allowing them to pool their resources and extend their reach to people who would love to get there in person if they could, but for whatever reason find it more convenient to do their shopping online.

I’ve worked for companies before where the only thing that ultimately mattered was squeezing every possible penny from our visitors to our site, even if it made their experience worse in the process. I’ve worked for companies where we had a lot of fun doing cool stuff, but which at the end of the day hardly made much of a lasting dent in the universe. There’s something so much more satisfying about going to work and knowing that you’re contributing towards a larger picture, helping make people’s lives a little better and serving a loftier goal than mere profit alone.

As a Christian, and especially as one in the middle of reading Every Good Endeavour by Tim Keller, I know that saving the local high street isn’t the ultimate goal in life. However hard we fight, there will come a day when the high street is gone forever – because I believe this world itself won’t be around for ever either. But as the original job ad that first attracted me to Hubbub stated, a business that helps save the local high street sure beats working for another social cat coupon website.

Our work really matters. We spend a huge proportion of our lives at work. Wouldn’t you much rather devote that time and energy contributing towards something that made the world a little better in the process?

Did I mention that Hubbub is hiring?