This week I read a lengthy, thirty-page article called “The Parish Priest and The Life of Prayer” by Evelyn Underhill. This document was recommended for a meeting I attended. However, I found myself drawn to the title because I wanted to understand further my role as a minister and the importance of prayer. Here is the link if you are interested in reading it.
The original document was a series of two talks delivered to the Worcester Diocesan Clergy Convention at Oxford, England, in September 1936.
What was interesting to me was that the truth that Evelyn presented still rings true today. Prayer is THE thing that is central to our faith. She writes, “The person [she uses man, in the original document] whose life is colored by prayer, whose loving communion with God comes first, will always bring people to Christ: because they show them in their own life and person the attractiveness of reality, the demand, the transforming power of the spiritual life.”
Ironically, this sounds counter-culture to what the “business” structure is to building a church. I believe the church would put programs, a clear vision, inspirational communicator, passionate staff, relevant sermon series, strong leadership, etc higher on the list than prayer. After all, these are all the things we hear about or what the so-called experts tell us we should do in order to have a growing and thriving church.
However, that is not Evelyn’s point. That is not what she is saying. Evelyn goes on to say, “our intellectual powers and the rest will not, comparatively speaking, matter much. The point is that we stand as a witness to that which we proclaim. The most persuasive communicator, the most devoted and untiring social worker, the most up-to-date theologian —unless loving devotion to God exceeds and enfolds these activities —will not lead people to Christ.”
Wait, stop. Is what she is saying prayer is the essential thing to living out our faith? The answer is yes. “We are required to represent the peace of God in a troubled society, but that is impossible, if they have not the habit of resorting to those deeps of the spirit where His Presence dwells.”
Now Evelyn explains this all-important view that prayer is essential to our faith and living out our faith, which we do not have the time to unpack. However, this is a great segway for me to encourage you to think through, dare I say pray through this idea of the importance of prayer, and if you would like to learn more, I encourage you to sign up to one of our community groups that are studying prayer this fall.
What if prayer were the key to unlocking that next step in going deeper with the Lord. Would you take it? Would you do it?
If you want to take that next step in prayer consider joining The Prayer Course or one of our other community groups starting up in September.