What follows is the foreword written by Colin S. Smith to my new book When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer (P&R, 2021). If you’ve benefited from my writing in the past, consider pre-ordering a copy of the book that comes out August 25, 2021. That will help me successfully launch the book and get it into more hands over the long-term.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your prayer life?
If yours is a 10, you probably don’t need this book. You must already be seeking God with passion, persistence, and persuasion on behalf of your family, your church, and our world.
This book is for the rest of us.
Since you have opened this book, I assume that you are not a 10—and that you are interested in getting help with your prayer life. You are not alone.
One of the privileges and responsibilities entrusted to a pas- tor is that of meeting with members of his congregation to offer them practical help and encouragement. But here’s what I found, through doing this: sometimes when people meet with a pastor, they don’t know what to say, and so they fill the time with general conversation. How could I, as a pastor, open the door to an inter- action that would be of lasting spiritual value?
Some years ago, I devised a list of topics that I thought people might like to discuss with their pastor. I wrote out questions on the front of envelopes, which I then filled with cards that offered various possible answers to them.
Now when I meet with a member of my congregation, I sometimes begin by saying, “We have an hour together, so let’s make the best use of this time. If you have something you’d like to talk about, we can do that. If not, I have some suggestions written on these envelopes. You could choose one that might interest you.”
Most times, people ask to see the envelopes.
The issues that are marked on the front of them include doctrine, effective witnessing, growth in Christian maturity, relation- ships with other believers, and Christian ministry. But there is another envelope that has been, without question, the most popular. I reckon that over the years, 80 percent of the people who have looked at the envelopes have chosen the one that asks, “How would you describe your prayer life?”
When they open this envelope and pull out the cards inside, each bears a word or two that might describe a person’s prayer life: Enjoyable, Hard Work, Valuable, Irregular, Unstructured, Aimless, A Failure.
It is fascinating to watch how people process these cards. Spreading them out on the table, most people go through a pro- cess of elimination. “Well, it’s not a failure. But I wouldn’t say it’s enjoyable, either. . . .” Most often, they choose two of the cards: “Irregular” and “Aimless.”
People are looking for help—and if you are one of them, this book is for you. Kevin Halloran has brought together a treasure chest of wise and practical counsel that will deepen your prayers.
Kevin will help you bring structure and purpose to your prayer life. He will show you how to use any sense of failure you feel so that it helps, rather than hinders, your prayers. This book will expand your horizons and give you a new vision for how you can engage more effectively in prayer.
May God use it to bless and encourage you.
—Colin S. Smith
Senior Pastor, The Orchard
President, Unlocking the Bible