At the moment I’m reading a book called “Transforming Grace” by Jerry Bridges. I’m only a couple of chapters in but I’ve already found it really helpful. I’ll write a proper review of it when I finish it, but I just wanted to mention for now one thing which has struck me.
It struck me when reading a tweet by Rick Warren (who wrote “The Purpose Driven Life”): “Much prayer=much power. Little prayer=little power. No prayer=no power.” (Thanks to Simon for re-tweeting, by the way).
The first thing I thought of when I read this was of the dangers of ungrace (as Philip Yancey calls it). Essentially the issue is we stop seeing ourselves in relation to God’s grace, and start seeing ourselves as somehow meriting favour. This can work in two ways. The first is, when we’ve done something wrong we think “God could never anything good for me now, I’m too bad.” The second, and probably more subtle, is “Well, I’ve done lots of good things today! God should listen to me.”
Both are flawed. God deals with us in relation to his grace, not in terms of our merit or demerit. If God dealt with us according to what we deserve, we’d be in a pretty poor state!
So, in terms of what Rick Warren actually said, I think it’s true in the sense that, God wishes us to pray regularly and persistently. We are exhorted several times by Jesus himself to pray, and this is echoed in many of the apostolic letters. That said, we must never think that God will listen to us because we’ve “put our hours in”. God deals with us on the basis of grace, not our merit. A good prayer life should flow from a response to the grace that God has already bestowed on us in Christ Jesus.