G-d is One, and this goes beyond divisions, and reconciles them in Unity; do not be surprised if I, a Shomer Shabbat and Mitzvot Jew, quote here a Christian scholar, because he is in essence, despite the details which regrettably divide our paths saying here the same things I say, and deserves to be heard.

Donald Arthur (D. A.) Carson is an evangelical Christian scholar. He is currently a research professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which is based in Deerfield, Illinois, United States. Carson’s academic qualifications include a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from McGill University and a Doctor of Philosophy in the New Testament from the University of Cambridge. He has written or edited more than 45 books.

What is surprising and depressing is the sheer prayerlessness that characterizes so much of the Western church. It is surprising because it is out of step with the bible that portrays what Christian living should be; it is depressing, because it frequently coexists with abounding Christian activity that somehow seems hollow, frivolous, and superficial. Scarcely less disturbing is the enthusiastic praying in some circles that overflows with emotional release but is utterly uncontrolled by any thoughtful reflection on the prayers of Scripture. . . .

Writing a century and a half ago, Robert Murray M’Cheyne declared:

“What a man is alone on his knees before God, that he is, and no more.”

But we have ignored this truism. We have learned to organize, build institutions, publish books, insert ourselves into the media, develop evangelistic strategies, and administer discipleship programs, but have forgotten how to pray.

Most pastors testify to the decline in personal, family, and corporate prayer across the nation. Even the recent organized “concerts of prayer” are fairly discouraging from an historical perspective: some of them, at least, are so blatantly manipulative that they are light years away from prayer meetings held in other parts of the world that have tasted the breath of heaven-sent revival. Moreover, it is far from clear that they are changing the habits of our churches or the private discipline of significant numbers of believers.

Two years ago at a major North American seminary, fifty students who offered themselves for overseas ministry during the summer holidays – were carefully interviewed so that their suitability could be assessed. Only three of these fifty (that’s 6 percent!) could testify to regular quiet times, times of reading the scriptures, of devoting themselves to prayer. It would be painful and embarrassing to uncover the prayer life of many thousands of evangelical pastors…

Are we better at organizing than agonizing? Better at administering than interceding? Better at fellowship than fasting? Better at entertainment than worship? Better at theological articulation than spiritual adoration? Better – God help us! – at preaching than praying?

What is wrong? Is not this sad state of affairs some sort of index of our knowledge of God? Shall we not agree with J.I. Packer when he writes:

“I believe that prayer is the measure of the man, spiritually, in a way that nothing else is, so that how we pray is as important a question as we can ever face”

Can we profitably meet the other challenges that confront the Western church if prayer is ignored as much as it has been? (D. A. Carson, A Call To Spiritual Reformation)

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