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AN EXPERIMENT IN PRAYER

AN EXPERIMENT IN PRAYER

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’
John 6:1-9

Once when Albert Einstein was on the faculty at Princeton, a graduate assistant who was pursuing a doctorate in physics approached the eccentric genius asking for direction in his studies.  “Dr. Einstein,”  he said, “I am supposed to research a topic upon which no one else has written, but it seems that every area of inquiry has been taken, what should I write about?”  Einstein thought for a moment and replied, “Find out about prayer.  Someone needs to find out about prayer.”  

Though this great physicist had ventured farther than anyone else into the mysteries of time, matter, and the cosmos, he longed for someone to find out about prayer.  Einstein felt an ignorance of the mysteries of prayer and wanted to know more.  Most people I know also say they want to find out about prayer, how it works, how it affects and gives shape to their lives. 

So for all who long to know more about prayer, I propose an experiment!  I propose an empirical test to explore the relationship between time and prayer.  I propose this experiment into time and prayer because I am not satisfied with the amount of time I give to prayer.  Others also tell me that they too are not satisfied with the amount of time they pray.  We all wish we had more time to pray.

Now here is the hypothesis that I am asking you to help me test:  that the time we give to prayer expands the amount of time that we have.  Just as Einstein’s work forever changed the way we think about time and matter, so there is another way for us to think about time and prayer.  Consider that we have time and prayer backwards.  We have imagined that our lack of time is the cause of our lack of prayer, when it is our lack of prayer that is the cause of our lack of time. 

It was Martin Luther who first led me to this novel way of thinking about time and prayer.  On an especially busy day Luther was heard to say: “I have so much to do today that I’m going to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done”.  Luther saw prayer as a way of expanding the amount of time available to him.  That’s why the man who led the church in reformation, translated the entire Bible into German, wrote numerous hymns, books, and commentaries, spent two hours a day in prayer. 

I find that today’s Scripture about the Feeding of the Five Thousand helps in thinking about time and prayer.  Here is a miracle story about lack and scarcity, and a little boy who gives his whole lunch to Jesus.  It was all the boy had, but he gave it to Jesus and watched Jesus multiply it and give it back to him.  Give time to Jesus in prayer and see if He doesn’t bless it, multiply it, and give it back to you in ways you could not have imagined!

I note that every one of the world’s religions is based on the idea of sacrifice, of giving up something to deity.   Prayer will involve the sacrifice of our time. But as we sacrifice time to pray we find ourselves amazingly gifted and blessed.  “Coincidences”  start to happen, and we accomplish some things we could not have dreamed, just because we prayed. 

To repeat, here again is the hypothesis I am asking you to join me in testing:  that the time we give to prayer expands the amount of time we have.  In order to test this, first calculate the amount of time you spend each day in watching television, browsing the internet, and consuming the world’s media.  Next, calculate how much of that time spent you want to give to God in prayer and communion with Him.  Then, go ahead and “just do it!” Pray! Be with God! And see if good doesn’t happen.  See if God doesn’t bless, multiply, and give back to you!

I would be very interested in knowing what you discover!

Grace and peace,
Tim

photo by weeklydig

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