By Melvin Twigg Mason
The “Disciplines Of A Godly Man,” by R. Kent Hughes, is not a book about a bunch of legalistic do’s and don’ts to be performed by a man (you!) to look godly. It’s about seeing/walking a clear path and process of habits that moves a man onward and upward in his spiritual life and growth. Of course the first step in the process is for the man to engage or connect himself to the source of spirituality, which according to this author is, unequivocally, Jesus Christ. By definition, to be a godly man, one must first be coupled with God! Then, having accomplished that step, a key component to maintaining one’s connection is the Discipline of Prayer.
Hughes compares prayer to the process of photography: “Our souls function like the photographic plates, and Christ’s image is the light. The more we expose our [souls] to the white-hot sun of His righteous life [e.g. through 5, 10, 15, or even 60 minutes a day of prayer), the more His image is burned into our character — His love, compassion, integrity, and humility.”
The effective prayer life of a godly man has five aspects to it: in-spirit, continual, varied, persistent, and intercessory.
This basically means to pray “in the Spirit.” A godly man desires for his prayers to be empowered by the Holy Spirit of God so that they accomplish the purpose for which they were intended. And we know that prayers that are in line with the Lord’s will are guaranteed to be fulfilled (1 John 5:14-15).
Hughes declares that the second aspect of effective prayer is that it’s continuous. He doesn’t mean that in the sense of droning on and on in your prayers, but that you are always in a perpetual state of prayerful connection with your Creator. Moment by moment, hour after hour, you are never more than a thought away from seeking the Lord’s input on a matter, or bending His ear about the events of your day.
The third ingredient for effective prayer is variety. As you maintain a continual state of prayer with your Creator, Hughes says you should also find yourself touching on various topics throughout your day. From clothing to conflicts, needing some humor to needing His help, variety in your prayers shows that you really are seeking God in every aspect of your daily life.
Again, the author says this doesn’t mean nagging the Lord into doing your bidding. Instead, though our Father may say “No” or “Wait” in response to an immediate request, this should not dissuade you from continuing to talk to Him about everything. Persevere!
This fifth element in the Discipline of Prayer is “others”-oriented. Hughes stresses the importance of praying for other believers in particular, citing the apostle Paul’s command to pray for all the saints (Eph. 6:18 TLB/NIV). “Praying for others brings grace into their lives.”
Once you put these five elements into practice, Hughes says you will have a prayer list, you will set aside a regularly scheduled time and place (outside of the continual state mentioned earlier), and you will allow for enough time to pray, preparing your heart and mind for this effort, with the intent of being focused and direct in your prayers. So c’mon, are you ready to put in the spiritual sweat?