While going through another box of my Dad’s books the other day, I ran across a couple of his “Preaching Bibles.” It would be difficult to add up how many different Bibles Dad used through the years. He had “study Bibles” and “Preaching Bibles." This particular Bible is a small New Testament that also had the Psalms. Dad loved those little New Testaments. He would preach with them and he would us them most of his life. Only after he got older did he start using large print Bibles:)
This Bible is covered up with notes that Dad used. There were a number of his sermon outlines in this Bible. He had written out a few of his favorite sermons including his sermon on “Kindness,” his sermon on “Priesthood Evangelism,” and his sermon on, “A Man With a Burning Heart.”
Each of these sermons is outstanding. I was blessed to hear him preach them on a number of occasions in my life and every time I heard them my heart was full of gratitude. Dad’s preaching always made me extremely happy that I was a preacher and he always made me want to be a better preacher.
However, what impressed me most among all the notes in this Bible was a prayer Dad had written. I remember hearing him pray this prayer and the sentiments in the prayer still move me.
Dad had received as a gift a large number of written prayers from the library of brother James Fowler. Many of you who read this will not recognize his name. He was the much loved, outstanding preacher for the Central church in Birmingham, Alabama for many years. I believe the prayer in this Bible was one of those prayers. Dad may have added a thought or two. I give you this prayer with the thought that it would become the prayer of your heart.
“O Lord, each time we come into Thy presence we are made to realize we are aging more than we are maturing. We are growing more in information than we are in wisdom. We are increasing our skill in communication but not in understanding. We are quick to place our trust in man’s hands, but hesitate to put our trust in Thee, our Creator, our Sustainer, in all things. Help us O Father to realize Thou art our help in ages past and our hope in years to come.”
The truths and the thoughts in this prayer are remarkable. If we could pray this prayer and mean it, we would be drawn closer to our Father every day. Dad often talked about what is sometimes called, “The Five Finger Prayer.” I know he didn’t come up with it, but he used it often.
Your Thumb Is Nearest You
Begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you (i.e. family, close friends, etc). They are the easiest to remember. C.S. Lewis said, to pray for loved ones is a “sweet duty.”
The Next Finger is the Pointing Finger
Pray for those who teach, instruct, and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and preachers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.
The Next Finger Is the Tallest Finger
It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for leaders in the church, our President, government leaders, leaders in business, and administrators. These people shape our lives in many ways. They need God’s guidance.
The Fourth Finger Is Our Ring Finger
Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak (physically and spiritually), those who are hurting, and those who are in trouble.
Last Is Our Little Finger
The smallest finger helps remind us where we should place ourselves in relation to God and to others. We should pray for ourselves after we pray for others. When we have prayed for the other four groups, our own needs will be placed in proper perspective. We will then be able to pray for ourselves more effectively.
These suggestions may not work for you, but they have worked for many. It is not my intention to cause you to use a certain formula or pattern. It is my prayer that these thoughts will cause all of us to spend more time in prayer.
Dear Father, help us to realize how much we need You. Help us to spend more time approaching Your throne. Help us dear God to never grow tired of coming into Your presence. We thank You that we have Jesus to represent us when we pray. Thank You Father for hearing the desires of our heart. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.