This is the second question we put to Joel Beeke, upcoming speaker at our 2011 Conference for Pastors. (Read his answer to our first question.)
You wear many hats: seminary president, publisher, author, pastor, husband, father, etc. Such a heavy load must make prayer a difficult thing to fit into your schedule. What has been your experience? And what counsel would you give to those who feel too busy to pray?
Like every other Christian, I suppose, my experience has been that the more I am given to truly pray in my prayers the more keenly I feel how little I truly pray.
My mother is the greatest prayer warrior I know; for decades, she has regularly spent two or more hours per day in earnest prayer. When she turned 85, I asked her, “Mother, if you had your entire life to live over, what would you do differently?” “Oh dear,” she said immediately, “I’d pray more, of course.”
For very busy lives, I would counsel:
- Keep prayer as the priority of your life. Don’t do anything without praying about it first. Bunyan reminds us that we can do more than pray after we have prayed, but we cannot do more than prayer until we have prayed.
- Cultivate a spirit of prayer. Pray your way through your day. To “pray without ceasing” certainly means at least this much: to pray as you work, as you drive, as you think—in whatever you do. The closer you live to God, the more fruitful and rich this will become for you.
- Focus on intercessory prayer—both in private and with people. Pray much with your family; never skip family worship. And view prayer as the most important thing you can do for others.