Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flash Prayers

This is pretty simple.  I've been reading Prayer : The Mightiest Force in the World by Frank Laubach for breakfast.  It's been fairly irregular since I've only eaten a breakfast a couple of days over the last two weeks.  Irregular but good.  Laubach was a missionary to the Philippines and maybe Indonesia.  He's probably best known for his emphases on literacy and prayer.  I came to Laubach via (the late and very much lamented but now very much blessed) Dallas Willard.  Willard quotes Laubach often in his book Hearing God.  Anyway, Frank Laubach took Paul's injunction that we pray without ceasing very seriously.  He talks about "flash prayers," short, direct prayers that we can always be praying for those around us or whomever God brings to mind (my NIV Student Bible called these "arrow prayers").  When we see someone, pray for them.  When we think of someone, pray for them.  Don't waste time thinking about it or forming a deep eloquent prayer just commit the person to Jesus and move on unless something compels you to keep praying.  I think the following is very solid advice regarding prayer:

     Time and again, as you have read these pages, you have probably stopped and prayed.  From now on, you must NEVER fail to pray whenever you think of it, if only for a second.  Habit forming is a process of starting and sticking to it.  If you begin to refuse, refusal becomes habitual, and soon checkmates the habit of prayer.  Then you become the victim of an inner conflict between two impulses.  The habit of praying is simple and unstrained unless you allow it to be complicated by exceptions and refusals.  If you keep sending flash prayers every time you think about it, without ever an exception, after a while you will find it is second nature.  Any normal person can develop a habit of making every glance at another a gentle pressure of prayer, until, at last, the whole day is as full of little prayers as the sky is full of stars.  There develops a sweet flowing into us from God, and an endless flowing out toward humanity.  The quiet rhythm of heaven can be ours in the midst of a crowded, troubled, and desperate world.  And the terrible world itself gradually changes around us when we live in His peace.
Our prayer may seem to be weak at first, but as we practice with thousands and thousands of these flash prayers, we feel them grow in power, we feel them COME BACK TO US like radar.  When that happens our hearts skip a beat with the thrill of it, for we know that we are learning to be channels for God, and, what is more, that we are children of God, working with Him for His kingdom plan. (67-68)

     I've been very encouraged reading the book and have found that Laubach has many helpful reminders about our need to be lifting others up in prayer.  It's a great encouragement for intercession.  The book was written in 1946 and some of the emphases are definitely dated (or outright weird) but there's a lot more wheat than chaff.

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