A few years ago, in front of a packed coliseum of hockey fans, a young hockey player skated off the ice, collapsed beside the player's bench, and went into violent convulsions. His heart had stopped—sudden cardiac death syndrome.
Emergency personnel jumped into action. They slashed open his hockey jersey and began to administer CPR. The crowd watched in silence as two of his teammates skated in panic to bring over a stretcher and as doctors strapped him to the gurney and rushed his lifeless body across the ice and into the back of an ambulance. The whole episode was so frightening that the game was postponed and 20,000 fans sent home.
It's scary to witness an emergency like this. This young man was resuscitated with CPR, but most people whose hearts stop are not nearly as fortunate. Tragically, many die. What's equally frightening and tragic is those whose physical hearts are beating but who experience an emotional or spiritual cardiac death syndrome. On the outside they look just fine—but inwardly, their spirits are convulsing, grasping for that last breath of life.
I believe that the state of a person's prayer life is an indicator of the condition of that person's heart for God. A healthy prayer life is a sign of a healthy heart. A weak prayer life is a sign of a heart that's weak or faltering. When that's the case, it's a good idea to administer some Prayer CPR.
CPR works best when it's administered at the first sign of trouble. If you wait too long, it can be too late. Take this quiz to check your prayer pulse and see if it's weak or faltering. Then add up your results. How did you do?
0–10 Hanging by a thread
11–20 Weak and irregular
21–30 Starting to miss a beat
31–40 Heartbeat is steady (but some cardiovascular weakness—could be better)
41–49 Prayer warrior
50 Can I have your autograph?
Do you need some Prayer CPR? Don't be discouraged. Most of us do. Here are three simple steps to help strengthen your prayer heartbeat!
Prayer is an act of the will. It's not dependant on feelings. The first step to improve your prayer life is to make a commitment to do so.
First Peter 4:7 says, "The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers." Prayer requires a clear mind and self-control. If you want to pray more, you need a plan to set aside some time to do so.
Do you need to roll back your alarm by a few minutes? Or could you use that half-hour before your child's sporting event to pray in the car? Or do you walk your dog every day? That would be a good time to pray.
Maybe you need some ideas, resources, and helps to spur you on. Come up with a plan. It can be a very simple one, but a plan will help you stay on course.
- Rely on the Word: John 15:7 says "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." So the more you are in the Word and have the Lord's Word abiding in you, the more effective your prayers will be.
- Rely on the Spirit: The Spirit helps us in our weakness. "For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26). The Holy Spirit prompts us what to pray (Eph. 6:18) and helps us with self-control (2 Tim. 1:7). We pray well when we LISTEN to the Holy Spirit and pray what the Spirit prompts us to pray.
- Rely on God's promises: God has promised to hear us when we pray. "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him" (1 John 5:14–15). He may not answer in exactly the way we want or when we want, but He will answer. And the more we pray, the more answers we'll see.
Do you have any CPR tips to share? How do you make prayer a habit in your life? Can you recommend any helpful prayer resources?