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Illustration: Prayer

In his book Falling in Love with Prayer (NexGen), Mike MacIntosh writes: "When I was a teenager I wanted so much to be accepted by my peers, and I decided that a foul mouth was a way to act like a man. I noticed that most men swore and told dirty stories. So by the time I was 20 years old, I had developed an extensive vocabulary of swear words. There were not many filthy stories I didn't know either, and those I knew I repeated as often as possible. If there had been an Environmental Protection Agency in those days, I am sure my mouth would have been quarantined for the safety of society.

"In the spring of 1970, I had just accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Right from the start, I knew that daily prayer and Bible reading were imperative for me. One morning as I was praying and having my devotions, I suddenly felt as if a lightning bolt had hit me in the center of my mind. I realized I had gone seven days without saying a swear word or telling a dirty story or thinking of anything filthy. It had only been a week since I dedicated myself to Jesus, but my prayers and the purifying work of the Holy Spirit had already made a dramatic changed in my life. From that day until this one, the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed my mind and mouth. I found it refreshing to know that I am growing in the Lord. Gentleness replaced anger and wrath. Joy and peace dispelled the party spirit. Self-control took away the drunkenness and drugs. 

"Just as we can look at our past failures and wrongs and see them in the light of God's love and grace in our spiritual lives, so we must see growth in our prayer lives. We must grow beyond rote and repetitive prayers such as "Now I lay me down to sleep" and "Bless this food." Our prayer life should become ever richer, fuller and more joyful as we learn to talk with our heavenly Father.

"You don't need a prayer monitor to watch over your growth. Just take my challenge and listen to your own prayers, and you will see that you are growing in prayer. The more your prayers turn from self to others, the more you can count on spiritual growth. As God removes issue after issue from your life, you will see that you are praising God more than begging God. You will grow in prayer; and as you do, your spirit will grow along with your relationship with God. 

"My point is this: One of the best ways to develop your prayer life is to be attentive to the changes and growth that are occurring in your life as a result of prayer. The more you grow, the more you will want to pray." (Click here to learn more about the book Falling in Love with Prayer.)