The powerful humility of prayer

Recently I’ve been reading Douglas Bond’s excellent The Mighty Weakness of John Knox. Here Bond offers a brief look at the life and impact of Knox’s ministry, with a special focus on his spiritual disciplines Knox was a powerful preacher, though he would often suggest otherwise. He was a gifted and insightful writer and theologian, despite never having completed his formal education.

But most significantly, he was a man who steadfastly relied on God’s enablement an empowerment through prayer. I love the way that Bond puts it here:

Humble Christian that Knox was, he knew his great need of divine enabling, so he both prayed and sought the prayer support of others, something men in the flesh rarely do. Americans, schooled in Emersonian self-reliance, find asking for prayer an awkward, maybe even unnecessary, task. . . . seeking prayer is a tacit admission that we are not capable in ourselves, that we are desperately needy, that the arm of flesh is weak and ineffectual. Men don’t like owning up to these realities, but prayer itself, and awareness of our need of it from others, requires an honest admission of the facts. Knox was one who owned up to the facts about himself. Because of his candid acknowledgment of his great need, he sought the aid of the God of the universe, and one way he sought it was through the prayers of fellow believers. Empowered by the Almighty, Knox became the single most significant force to be reckoned with in an entire country.

Reading of Knox’s keen awareness of his own shortcomings, his need for God to truly come to his aid, forced me to really look at how my own prayer life has been of late. Too often I’ve found my prayers to be perfunctory and cool, though I know this ought not be the case.

We have been dealing with some pretty serious health concerns at the Armstrong house of late, and that has been, like Bond’s assessment of Knox, a powerful impetus for me to ask God to strengthen my prayer life. But I don’t want to be satisfied with a healthy prayer life when everything’s going sideways. I want my prayer life to be equally strong and consistent when things are great – because that’s when I really need it most.

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