The Necessity of Prayer :: 04
Welcome back to part 4 in my series on E.M. Bounds’ book about “The Necessity of Prayer.”
This part gets takes us away from the consideration of faith and trust, and focuses us instead on the idea of “Desire.”
The chapter starts out: “Desire is not merely a simple wish; it is a deep seated craving; an intense longing, for attainment.” From here, he goes on give more examples of desire, of what it is, and what it isn’t. But I think the opening lines covered it quite well. To desire something is to want it more than you want other things. It is not a passing fancy, something to which you’d shrug your shoulders and think “oh, well. I guess I can deal without it.”
No, the difference between want and desire is the simple matter of need. If you stand in need of a thing, you’re desire will not diminish over time. You will not suddenly decide that you don’t really mind going without food, or clothing and shelter to protect you from the elements. And, at this need, you will have a strong desire to see the need fulfilled.
Out of this need, this desperation, then, comes intensity of prayer. And, conversely, a lack of intensity was suggested to be a sign of coldness, or worse, lukewarmness! “Lack of heart, and lack of heat are two things he loathes…” I found this idea personally troubling at first. I was thinking, “I have no real desires. I don’t NEED anything at all. I am well provided for. All my family is healthy. I have a job. I have a home. My bills are paid.” And yet, when I pray, I find that, for the most part, my prayers are matter-of-fact, and if not devoid of passion, they are characterized by a lack of passion.
Now, I want to take a moment aside, to relate to any readers who are along with me on this journey. I am learning to “Pray”, where previously, I had only “prayed.” Its arbitrary, perhaps, but the distinction in my own mind is quite clear. Before, I prayed as most do. I would offer up a quick thought, of desire or gratitude, and that would be it. If you were to ask me if I prayed, I’d certainly have said “yes”. But, in the greater context, where a Prayer is supposed to be able to tell a mountain to cast itself into the sea, would I say I “Prayed” ? No. And that is the journey I am now on. I am actively cultivating my prayer life. I have set aside time for it, at the expense of much enjoyed sleep. I have begun to read, and, to write, about the subject. I am also running a ‘study’ concurrent with this series. Everything about what I am doing is pointing the way forward to a different, empowered, future. So, when I mention things about “where I am right now”, I beg you to take them with a grain of salt. I’m not teaching you what I know, but rather, what I myself am yet learning. In time, hopefully, you’ll be able to ask me about my prayers, and I will respond, “they are deeply passionate and modestly effective”, and still be able to look you square in the eye.
So, I was concerned about the lack of need in my life, which might drive that passion. What I realize was that there is another side. I HAVE been blessed with (presently) no needs, at least as far as my physical being goes. But, there is another side to me! I have a spiritual being as well, and that part of me does have needs, and, consequently, desires. I am not yet where I sense that I am supposed to be. I am still too much a prisoner of my flesh. I still do the things I don’t wish to do, while letting the ones I do wish, to lay un-touched.
This then, is my source of desire. I can at least have something to ask for.
Finally, on to practical matters of prayer and praying. This week I found two nuggets. With the first, I begin to detect a pattern. Bounds suggests that if we haven’t the desire, we should still pray, but that our prayer ought to be for DESIRE! The second one was this: Pray for things individually and specifically, don’t glom them all into a single hurried utterance.
Until next time….