Prayer is priming

By Dave Henning / February 13, 2016

“Prayer is priming.  Prayer puts us in a spiritual frame of mind.  Prayer helps us see and seize the God-ordained opportunities that are around us all the time.”- Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson continues Chapter 13 of The Circle Maker by telling us on of his summer jobs during college was painting.  Although he only lasted a week before he was deservedly downsized, Mark learned one very important thing: priming is essential to painting.  One might think using a primer is time-consuming hard labor.  In actuality, priming increases quality while decreasing the quantity of work.

New York University psychologist John Bargh has conducted a series of priming experiments over the last few decades.  In one experiment involving a five-minute scrambled-sentence test, the first test group had sentences sprinkled with rude words.  The second test group had sentences sprinkled with polite words.  Following the test, each student group was asked to talk to the person running the experiment.  When the students arrived, the examiner strategically was engaged in conversation with an actor.

Bargh found that the group primed with rude words interrupted after five minutes of waiting, while 82% of those primed with polite words never interrupted at all (ten minute maximum wait).  Pastor Batterson observes that our minds subconsciously are constantly primed by everything that is happening.  As Christians, we need to be good stewards of what we allow ourselves to see and hear.  Mark explains why he believes in starting the day with God’s Word:

“It [God’s Word] doesn’t just prime our senses; it also primes our hearts.  It doesn’t just prime us spiritually; it also primes us emotionally and relationally.  When we read the words that the Holy Spirit inspired, it tunes us to His voice and primes us for His promptings.”

Today’s question: How does the concept that “prayer is priming” help structure your day?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Establish a daily rhythm”

About the author

Dave Henning


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