My life purpose statement is, “Be a man devoted to prayer, and convince as many others to become people devoted to prayer as is possible in my lifetime.”
I wrote that for myself way back in February of 1989 at the conclusion of the first ever 4 day “Pastor’s Prayer Summit” held at Cannon Beach Conference Center. 1980 through 1988 were very tough years as a pastor for me as it seemed that I could do nothing right and I was always in trouble with someone or a group of people at JBC. I was sure that more people wanted me gone as the pastor than wanted me to stay.
I went to the Prayer Summit having made up my mind that I had made a mistake when I thought God was calling me to be a Pastor, and that I needed to get back into dairy farming where I had some idea of what I was supposed to be doing. My 4 days of continuous prayer with 63 other pastors changed that emphatically in my mind and heart. I committed to God that I would continue as a Pastor and that I would stay at Jefferson Baptist Church until I died. I became convinced that every problem that I had experienced was because of a lack of prayer, and that I could change anything, rather God would as a result of prayer, not a little prayer, but much prayer, devoted prayer.
Over the last 30 years since I wrote that purpose statement for myself I have pursued a lifestyle of prayer. I continually write new and bigger goals for myself in regards to the discipline of prayer, I have written a book on prayer and have preached and taught on the topic of prayer all over the world.
It is interesting to me that prayer has never gotten easy. My flesh hates to pray as much now as it did when I first started this journey. If I don’t make goals, keep track of my time in prayer, write out many of my prayers, keep lists of prayer requests and the names of people that I am praying for, my devotion to prayer begins to fade.
Over the last 30 years the most important part of my prayer life has been the time that I spend in prayer with other people in our church. The more time that I have spent in corporate prayer the hotter my devotion to prayer has become, and the less time that I have prayed with others the colder my devotion to prayer has become. It is a very simple principle to understand, but so very true.