If someone wrote a story of my prayer life, it would probably be titled, A Confused Mix of Wandering and Worrying.
Fortunately, Miller also provides several helpful ways out of our prayer haze. Here are four of the biggest takeaways from A Praying Life.
The Christian’s labor is infused with Kingdom purpose. Whether vocational ministry or neighbor-loving “secular” work, the Christian is compelled to work harder than his unbelieving coworker, and for nothing less than the glory of God as his aim.
But should hard work for the Christian and hard work for the unbeliever be different? Should the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus inform and affect our hard work? What’s different?
Since then, I have been reading this Bible each morning and as I do I come across underlined verses and notes. As I read these verses they ring the bell in my heart. I may not remember the circumstances in my life when I underlined the verse or wrote an observation next to it, but my heart sings with a sanctified reflex. Sometimes I’ll read the verse and an observation will bubble up to the surface, and then I look and see something very similar written in the margin. It’s as if the Holy Spirit is a skilled craftsman who pushes the mortar deep into the cracks and crevices of my heart. The verses are precious to me not in a general sense but in a particular sense. In other words: my mind may not remember the details of my life at the time, but my mind and heart have retained the preciousness of the truth contained in the text.
Preaching for sixteen years in established churches afforded me priceless experience. Years of grinding out three sermons per week taught me how to prepare efficiently and how to comfortably communicate. In preaching, like most other disciplines, there really is no substitute for experience. For that, I am and always will be thankful.
However, I also developed a bad habit of using insider language.
You cannot walk without legs, and you cannot lead without credibility. Impossible. As credibility increases, so does a leader’s ability to influence and move others in a direction. As credibility diminishes, so does the leader’s ability to accomplish work through others because the others are losing trust in the person. So how does a leader build credibility, either when credibility has been lost or when more credibility is needed for future assignments and responsibilities?
In the midst of trials, we vary between the escape mechanisms of burying our head in the sand and ignoring our trials, or focusing our energy on having them end as soon as possible. Consider, for example, the way in which you pray. When a trial comes into your life, is your first impulse to pray that it would end, or to pray that you would find it to be a source of joy? That, of course, is a rhetorical question.
Avoidance and escape. These are our defaults.
But James is inviting us to actually consider the trials of our lives as sources of joy.
A favorite from the archives:
None of us particularly like authority. That is, in large part, because we are sinners prone to wanting to be our own authorities. But some of us also have a habit of being so concerned about our human authorities that we forget that they are also under God’s authority.
Yes, respect and obey the earthly authorities—whether parents, pastors, police or presidents—but don’t forget: they’re not the primary authority. God is.