The famous piano player, Paderewski, surely had some natural gifts. But he also would have understood Thomas Edison’s old line that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
As a boy, Paderewski sat at the piano for three hours every morning and three hours every evening. Throughout his brilliant career, he kept up a rigorous schedule of daily practice. It was said that if he missed a single day, he noticed it. If he missed two days, his critics noticed it. If he missed three days, the public noticed it. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Christian Yelich and Aaron Rodgers would get it.
Prayer is something like that. In one way, nothing is easier than prayer. It is simply talking to God. It is part of our sanctification, our grateful growth in Christian living. The new nature, the Christian within us, delights to pray. It is one of the vital signs of faith in Christ. The Christian who does not pray is like a lung that does not breathe or a heart that does not beat. The moment the Holy Spirit brought us to faith in Christ, our hearts “went on line” with God.
But our sinful nature, the “Old Adam,” sabotages our conversation with God. Our sinful side suggests all kinds of reasons not to pray, such as: “I’ll pray when things settle down. I’ll pray when I’m in a more religious mood. I’ve prayed before and nothing happened. It probably doesn’t help anyway. As soon as I get through the next few days on my calendar, I’ll take time to cultivate this quiet time with God. I’ll have time for prayer and, yes, for Bible reading too when I get to the nursing home.”
It’s kind of like that scene in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Indy (alias Harrison Ford) complains to his father that they never talked while he was growing up. Finally, the old Dr. Jones (alias Sean Connery) puts down his paper and says to his son: “OK, what is it you want to talk about?” And Indy can’t think of a single thing.
After that many years of lousy communication, there wasn’t much to talk about. Our sinful nature can kick us “off-line” with our Father in heaven. We may even forget how to “log back on” so that our Father can talk to us in His Word and we can talk to Him in prayer. We ought always to pray, said Jesus, and never lose heart, never give up.
Friends talk, don’t they? Friends listen, don’t they? We learn from Abraham, “the friend of God,” what Jesus meant. “Never give up!”