“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1) That passage is titled “The Parable of the Persistent Widow” and it’s all about perseverance when it comes to prayer.
And that is what this blog is about as well. But to get to that punch line I need to take you on a journey, one that was inspired by what I read in a phenomenal book on prayer: The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. Here goes…
In the early 1990s a psychologist named K. Anders Ericsson championed a study at the Academy of Music in Berlin. Violinists in the school were divided into three groups. The “A” group were the students who had the potential to become world-class soloists while those in the “C” group were still quite skilled but would most likely never play professionally. And the “B” group was somewhere in between.
The question these psychologists wanted to answer: how did the violinists in the “A” group become world-class? After doing a ton of research, the key variable they discovered wasn’t natural ability. It was practice. Lots and lots of it.
Upon interviewing every student from all three groups, here is what they discovered: every student started playing around 5-years-old. And during the first few years they all practiced around the same amount: about 2 to 3 hours per week. But just a few years later their practice habits shifted dramatically. Those in the “A” group didn’t just practice a bit more. They practiced 2x to 5x more hours per week as compared to those in the “B” and “C” groups.
By the time they reached their 20th birthday, the researchers estimated that those in the “A” group had totaled 10,000 hours of practice, those in the “B” group logged 8,000 hours of practice and those in the “C” group clocked in at 4,000 hours of practice.
Practice is the key. To the tune of 10,000 hours. And 10,000 isn’t just the magic number when it comes to becoming a virtuoso violist. Here is what neurologist Daniel Levitin wrote: The emerging picture from such studies is that 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything. In study after study — of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, and what have you — this number comes up again and again . . . No one has yet to find a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.
According to these researchers it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become elite at a sport, a job, a musical instrument, and every other activity under the sun.
Here is the key question: is prayer any different?
If you want to become “world-class” when it comes to prayer… if you want to become a prayer warrior of prayer warriors… then take what Jesus said in Luke 18:1 to heart.
Batterson writes, “Prayer is a habit to be cultivated. It is a discipline to be developed. It is a skill to be practiced. And while I don’t want to reduce praying hard to time logged, if you want to achieve mastery, it might take 10,000 hours. This is know for sure: the bigger the dream the harder you will have to pray.”
May you treat prayer just like you’d treat any other skill or ability you’d love to become great at. Read books about prayer. Lots of them. Get mentored by a seasoned prayer warrior, starting today and continuing on for years into the future.
And practice practice practice.
*** “Doing What Jesus Did.” That’s the title of my sermon this Sunday as we are in Week 2 of our series on The Holy Spirit. Jesus said we’d do what He did… and even greater things than He did (see John 14:12). The question is: do we believe Him? And how exactly are we supposed to do what He did? June 29. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***