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Vital Signs - Sunday, February 23, 2020

No matter how simply and honestly we pray it’s easy to lose heart and it's tempting to give up. That’s why it’s not enough just to keep it simple and keep it real, Jesus also says that we must "always pray, and not give up."

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:1‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

But how do we do this when our initial enthusiasm fades or God doesn’t seem to be answering?

Prayer can be a lot like stacking dominoes. We pray the same thing we’ve prayed one hundred times before, until suddenly, the whole lot comes down. The breakthrough occurs. The miracle happens. It’s not that we finally found the right formula. It’s simply that we didn’t give up praying one prayer too soon.

I’ve found that one of the most important keys to "keeping it up" in prayer is to develop the discipline of a daily "quiet time". Jesus once invited his friends, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest", (Mark 6:31 ) and millions of his followers, ever since, have allocated a little time each day to retreat with Jesus to a quiet place.

As someone who struggles with all kinds of self-discipline— going to the gym, declining the chocolate cake, going to bed before midnight, bothering to floss my teeth and, yes, even maintaining regular times of prayer—I hesitate to advocate the rigidity of any such routine. I don’t want to put anything heavy or unsustainable on you as you seek to grow in prayer.

But here is a great and immutable truth, taught in Scripture, modelled by Christ and advocated, without exception, by all the heroes of our faith: you cannot grow in prayer without some measure of effort and discomfort, self-discipline and self-denial. Just as you cannot get physically fit without regular exercise and a healthy diet, so your spiritual growth will be determined, to a very significant extent, by the prayer exercises you choose (or do not choose) to establish and sustain.

Make it easy (set yourself an achievable target) and keep it up. Take a moment now to reflect on your daily schedule and make a fresh surrender to prayer.

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