Friday, June 6, 2008

Practice makes a perfect pray-er

One of the best pieces of practical writing advice I ever received said, "If you want to be a good writer, you have to write something every day." It's good advice, but a little hard to follow since I sometimes sit down at my computer and stare at the screen thinking, "Okay - now what am I going to write?"

Another writing mentor suggested writing a daily devotional which is especially good because there are formulas and rules for writing a proper devotional. They are usually short and to the point with a Bible thought, a life application and a prayer. What a great way to start the day!

For me, I've found blogging works well as a practice tool (Sorry, I bet you didn't know you were all my guinea pigs as I hone my writing craft, did you? LOL!) I try to have a topic for each day of the week to jump start the creative juices, though I don't always use them.

Like today - on Fridays I was sharing some family history through old recipe books I found among my mom's stuff. However, today, another thought stood out to me as I read my Bible over a cuppa coffee.

It's the idea of practicing to become a good pray-er. Like a writer improves her skill by writing daily, a person who prays becomes a better pray-er by learning the how-tos and praying every day. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

But the thing is, writing isn't easy. At times I agonize over just the "right" word to make a sentence clear and concise. I am working on my second novel which has almost 60,000 of those words in it so far. That's a lot of agony!

There are rules to good writing to catch and hold a reader's attention; to bring the reader full circle so they have seen the full 360 degrees of the topic the writer is addressing whether it's fiction or non-fiction. It takes time and skill to do that. Writer's don't just sit down at the computer and let the words flow out perfectly.

I never really thought about it much until I read it in my current morning devotional book Experiencing God Day-By-Day by Henry and Richard Blackaby. To become a good pray-er (a.k.a. an intercessor) is hard work that often requires agonizing over one lost soul. Considering the fact that there's several billion souls on earth, that's a lot of agony!

Effective praying takes time and laboring love. It's more than just a quick arrow prayer aimed heavenward. "God bless so and so today amen." It also involves relationship - a willingness on my part to learn to care about the person I'm praying for.

Paul wasn't kidding when he said the "effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much." But it takes time, willingness, commitment and love, to become that kind of effectual fervent pray-er.

Father help me care enough to invest the necessary love, time and energy into others in prayer. Teach me to be an effective, fervent pray-er! Amen.

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