Friday, January 22, 2016
Lord, Teach Us to Pray, by Tom Harmon
Prayer is the new key topic in many Christian ministries for this coming year. Revive Our Hearts has the theme Cry Out, and this month they're doing an excellent radio series on personal petitions Christians should make. (I was privileged to be at the studio recording last year, and I am so excited it's out now.) Other big churches are also studying prayer. Last year War Room came out, prompting a variety of study groups and movie showings. I think people recognize we have problems, and there's less and less we can do about them. Perhaps now, more than ever, we're recognizing the vital part of prayer in moving the hand of God. This is the year of a presidential election, and the year where we'll be facing many of the aftereffects of a lot of sobering legislation in the United States.
It's time to pray.
It's a year where I think many people are waking up, drawing lines, getting serious about their faith. And in a culture that is increasingly a battlefield, our two main weapons are prayer and knowledge of the Word of God.
In the midst of all these themes on prayer cropping up in my life, I wanted to end my 2015 reading year in a meaningful spiritual way. I didn't have time for a long book, but the Lord brought to mind a thin little volume on prayer, that I had bought and still needed to read, by Tom Harmon. He's an amazing speaker on Christian living, and he wrote a series of seven booklets to pass on to his children and grandchildren as a legacy. The one I own is Lord, Teach Us to Pray.
The Book (from Amazon)
It took me ten years to learn to pray, and as I have been praying the Lord has been teaching me how. I have come to learn that prayer is acknowledging my absolute dependence on God. Prayer is the greatest expression of my faith. Prayer is contact with deity. Prayer moves God to do things he otherwise wouldn’t do. Prayer is taking out of my hands that which I cannot do and placing into God’s hands that which only He can do. Is it any wonder that Charles Spurgeon said that he would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach. It is my prayer that God would use this small effort to aid in someone’s journey of learning to pray, especially my descendants.
I'm the moderator of a private online prayer community, in which I post daily prayer requests and the members pray for one another. We've prayed over everything from test deadlines to illness to life milestones to wisdom in a variety of situations. And we've seen the Lord answer an incredible array of things. It's a record of his faithfulness and his caring.
For a few years now, I've had the habit of praying every morning with devotions, before I start my day. I like to use the ACTS model (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) so I can have a balanced prayer time. This year I'm trying out a prayer journal for the first time, and while I don't choose to use it every day, I'm really appreciating the added structure and depth it brings to my prayers.
So when I came to Tom Harmon's book, I wasn't new to prayer, but it was a vital part of my Christian walk, and one I wanted to breathe fresh life into. His book does just that. It's chock full of Scripture references, lists of ideas on requests to pray for, and Bible verses on the importance of prayer in the Christian life. If you feel like you're stuck in a rut praying for the same things, this book is a perfect collection of hundreds of requests that Christians can pray for themselves and those around them. Harmon talks about prayers for your children, prayers in times of temptation, prayers for cleansing, and preventative prayer that prays against things before they happen. He even talks about how to have an hour of prayer, and what that looks like. It sounds overwhelming, but I've done it with my mom before, and when you break it up into segments, you end up having way more things to pray about than you can fit in the hour. It goes by fast.
I was encouraged by Tom Harmon's thoughts on prayer, and even more the humility of his journey in admitting that he's still learning, and he's always encountering new struggles of the flesh to overcome. I don't know how long this book will be available, so if it sounds interesting I really encourage you to pick up a copy at his website.