In Abundant Living, a daily devotional by E. Stanley Jones, he talks about three steps in the art of prayer: (1) Listen; (2) Learn; (3) Obey. And he explains without all three, prayer will be “a farce instead of a force. If we spent half the time in learning the art of prayer as we do in learning any other art we would get ten times the results.”
In Matthew 6:5-13 (which is part of the sermon on the mount that I am studying in my bible study–cool how God ties everything together), Jesus teaches us to pray. As I read the Lord’s prayer with fresh eyes, I identified with the earnest desires for the Father’s will to be done, for our needs to be provided for, and for the Lord God to redeem us.
Recently, I decided to learn about the art of bread making. Yesterday, I made sourdough bread bowls (they turned out a little hard and the bread didn’t rise as much as I expected–I haven’t figured out our quick-cooking oven yet or the art of bread rising). This morning I baked this sourdough cinnamon raisin bread for breakfast. It took four hours to rise yesterday evening (it rose well), after more kneading it required 8 more hours to rise overnight (it didn’t rise as well the second time), and finally it took 30 minutes to cook. It took a lot of waiting, and it still wasn’t perfect. Through these experiments with bread, I am learning more about the art of bread making, and though I have improving to do, I still ended up with good-tasting, edible bread. So, I return to the thought of the art of prayer. If I would only spend half as much time learning to pray…
Jones finished this morning with a prayer that resonated with me, and so I share it with you in hopes that it can encourage you as you seek our hallowed Lord Jesus today.
“Patient Christ, my feet stumble on this pathway of prayer. I am learning to walk–help me over the hard places. For I would learn this art. This is life, and I must learn it. I begin to feel I can do anything in and with Thee. My liberties are dawning. I thank Thee. Amen.”