O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. (Isaiah 62:6)
Relate: I tend to read a lot. If there is such a thing as reading too much, I skirt that line awfully close. It isn’t just fluff that I like to read either. Some of my recent titles would be Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam (it would be incredibly controversial if it weren’t so dry so few people will ever read it), Is Jesus God (a collection of 100 year old essays that are still relevant today), Ex Muslim (Mosaic pastor combines his testimony with a long-form sermon), and An Unfinished Life (bio of JFK that tries to play up the good he did, exaggerate the physical difficulties he suffered, and gloss over the negatives).
Goodreads says I have read ninety-two books so far this year. That means I am quite a few books ahead of my 100 book goal but and since I will probably be finishing up I am “N” tonight, and A Short History of Nearly Everything tomorrow, I’m not doing all that bad. I have read between seventy-five and a hundred books a year every year since I started keeping track in ’06 (and probably about the same but unrecorded before that). The most common question people like to ask on hearing this is, “What is your favorite book?” That is a tough one to answer. There are just so many. This year is a tough one, but I would probably say The Insanity of Obedience. Last year would be much tougher to decide and I think Primal, The Day the Revolution Began, Cross Vision, and The Pursuing God are all excellent choices.
All In by Mark Batterson is probably the most influential book I have ever read outside the Bible but another book that joins it on my shortlist of all-time favorites has got to be Practising the Presence. It is one of the shortest and easiest reads I have ever picked up. It probably takes less than an hour to go from cover to cover. But it is also one of the hardest, most challenging reads I have ever read. Brother Lawrence was an illiterate monk who served in the kitchens half his waking life and spent his other half in prayer. Over time, his discipline and devotion were such that, wherever he was, whatever he was doing, the man was in steady constant prayer.
React: I have my devotions in the morning. Then, by the time I have stepped out the door to start my day, my mind has run in a thousand directions. Someone shoves their way to the front of the queue to get on the bus or subway, and I’ve got words running through my mind that certainly not prayer. Little things throughout the day, some good, others… not, tend to pull my mind in a thousand directions.
God has called me to be an intercessor. I have no doubt about this. It is stronger a stronger pull in my life than that to be a writer, or a teacher, or a witness, or a… “worker for Daddy” on foreign soil. (We don’t use the “M” word around here. More than any of these, my primary calling is that of an intercessor. So why is it so difficult for me, for us to live up to the directive given here in Isaiah? “I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord.” Why can I not follow Paul’s directive to “pray without ceasing”? I know it can be done. God does not call us to the impossible. Brother Lawrence is evidence of how it can be, but the discipline in getting there is…
I come to You again in prayer. Let me never leave. Even though I have to step from this moment to continue forward in my life, please go with me. Help me to develop the discipline of constant and consistent communication with You every moment of every minute in my life. Help me to practice the presence of living a life that is ever surrendered to You. Keep my mind from wandering. Give me a touchstone, or a reminder point that will constantly pull my mind back to You no matter where I am and no matter what I am doing.