Discipline

I’ve been thinking about discipline lately – in prayer we consider discipline to be an important part. For good reason to. It is hard to hang in there often. Particularly late at night or after many days of the same routine.

As a result of this need for discipline we sometimes make the assumption that the resulting prayer isn’t genuine. I can hear myself years ago suggesting that authentic prayer should spring from the overflow of our heart and shouldn’t be dragged out of us – I don’t think I would be so flippant now. The heart is fickle and if we want to continue in prayer we will need discipline. This same type of argument arises with the quality versus quantity debate. We assume that the quality of our prayer is much more important that the quantity of our prayer. I agree – I think the state of our heart is what the Lord discerns – the cry of the heart of the widow as she drops her last penny into the offering, the wails of the tax collector in the temple believing himself unworthy of the Lord’s forgiveness and grace – these broken and contrite hearts God will not turn away.

That being said – there is something to be said for quantity and for discipline. Let’s look at a marriage analogy – if I said to my wife, “really it’s all about quality time, not quantity time,” I don’t think I’d be married for long! Quantity time leads to quality time. I can’t assume quality time with my wife if I only spend little bits of time with her. The same is true for discipline. I can remember saying to some of my close friends, “hold me accountable, I really want to stay connected, I want to connect with you each week to encourage you and to be encouraged by you.” We might argue that having to be reminded or keeping a record, being disciplined in my connecting makes it unauthentic – or you could argue that I am wanting to be governed by my deep desires and not the fickleness of my feelings.

In prayer – I want to spend quantity and quality with the Lord – I want to be disciplined with my prayer life. I think maybe I’ll work out the rest later.


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