If you’ve not come across it already, can I commend to you an excellent little book by Mike Reeves called “Enjoy Your Prayer Life“? It’s super short (genuinely! only 46 pages) so that even I managed to read it in just two sittings, but it packs so much encouragement into such a small space!
As the developer of a prayer app, there was one little chapter near the beginning that leapt out at me. Mike says this:
“It’s very easy to think and speak about prayer as if it’s some abstract exercise – one of those ‘things Christians “do”‘”
As a consequence we fall back on all sorts of tips and techniques to help us do prayer “better”:
“So, for example, you sort out a prayer diary, get a prayer list app for your phone, use Operation World, try praying out loud, and have your quiet time first thing in the morning.”
Mike says that advice like this can be helpful… “in its place”.
“However, that’s not the heart of prayer. Furthermore, if those techniques are what hold together ‘prayer’ for you, then it’s going to be a burdensome duty – or perhaps something that even veers towards magic, whereby you can get what you want by saying the right ‘spell’.”
He cites the chilling example of the Israelites in the book of Isaiah, who come near to God with their mouths but their hearts are far from him – “Thus prayer is not an abstract ‘thing to do’, for clearly you can ‘do’ prayer and get it all wrong”
Yikes! That’s a serious health warning to people like me!
So what is prayer? Mike turns to John Calvin for a definition, who calls prayer “the chief exercise of faith”.
“In other words, prayer is the primary way true faith expresses itself. This also means that prayerlessness is practical atheism, demonstrating a lack of belief in God.”
So if you’re a fan of apps like PrayerMate, then good! But take heed:
WARNING! Regular use of this app does not guarantee good standing before God