As we penetrate the idea of deeper living with an emphasis on prayer, the obvious keeps coming to the surface: prayer can only be studied so much. Then you just have to do it. In fact, you can talk about a great many things in the Christian life, like gospel preaching or good works, but there’s a line that’s crossed where without practice, those things begin to take on an academic and then a theoretical feel. Without actually doing them, you end up with baseball card theology–that is, a back pocket full of cool, inspirational principles and quotes that you can swap with others. I’ve been there. I once read a thick book on prayer by a writer whose forte was depth. It was packed with profound teachings. But the more I read, the more I didn’t want to pray. I had plenty of clarity, but no practice. One way to get out of the realm of theory is simply to practice what you’re learning. I suppose it’s the difference between reading a book about karate and learning it at the studio. Even further, there’s a difference between what you learn in the karate studio in a controlled environment and having to use it in an emergency situation. By doing, you find out that things are not as ideal as what you’ve seen in books or heard from others.
Paul said “unceasingly pray.” That isn’t learning and then doing. It is learning by doing.