We are in the third message of our series The Circle Maker. The title of today’s message is Pray Hard. In standardized math tests Japanese children consistently score higher than American children

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Pray Hard

We are in the third message of our series The Circle Maker. The title of today’s message is Pray Hard. In standardized math tests Japanese children consistently score higher than American children. And some people think that the Japanese just have a natural tendency to be better at math. The researchers wanted to find out what the difference was. So what they did was they got a puzzle that was pretty hard for your average first grader to solve, and then brought in a group of Japanese first graders, and a group of American first graders, and gave them the puzzle. They didn’t care whether the kids could solve the puzzle or not. In fact, they kind of hoped they couldn’t solve the puzzle because what they wanted to see was how long would they try. And what they found out was American children lasted just about 9.5 minutes before they gave up. Japanese children lasted almost 14 minutes; 47% more. The reason that Japanese children do better on math tests is not because they are smarter, they try harder. They are willing to work longer. It has less to do with an intelligent quotient and more to do with a persistence quotient.

This study has been repeated numerous times in various ways. Another famous one was when Anders Ericcson and his colleagues at Berlin’s elite Academy of Music divided violinists into three groups. Those who were unlikely to perform professionally. Good violinists and the top tier elite violinists, the soloist. They all started playing violin about the same age. They all practiced about the same amount until age 8, and then their practice habits began to diverge. What they found by age 20 the people that were unlikely to play professionally but were pretty good players had put in about 4,000 hours of practice time. The good violinists that could play professionally, they would be in an orchestra or something, professional violinists, had put in 8,000 hours of practice time, double the amount. The top tier elite performers, first chair had put in 10,000 hours of practice.

Now one can argue that some people are better at music than others, and that is true but generally it has a whole lot less than your natural tendency, and whole lot more to do about how hard you work at it. This 10,000 hours’ time has been found to be true in many fields; basketball players, ice skaters, concert pianist, chest players and even master criminals. Hard to think of them practicing 10,000 hours, isn’t it? But the picture that emerges is people that are persistent who keep after it. I am not going to ask you David how many hours you have put in on the piano yet; 6,000 or 7,000. Okay so David is getting there. I haven’t put in that many on the guitar and so that is part of the problem. Is prayer any different? Now I do not want to suggest that our prayer should be reduced to hours long, and let’s just keep track of how much time because that is not what it is about. But is it no wonder that the people who seem to be prayer warriors, who seem to be able to talk to God, and get answers to their prayers, and get directions from God, put more time and effort into the practice of prayer.

Open your Bibles with me to Luke, chapter 18; Luke, chapter 18. I am just curious real quick, how many people are using an electronic device to read your Bible? Let me see your hands. The number is growing. The number is growing. That’s cool. That’s cool. Luke, chapter 18. What page is that in the black pew Bible? 1038. We’re going to look at verses 1 through 5. It says Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. This pray hard thing is not Mark Batterson’s idea or Bill Aumack’s idea. It is God’s idea. Verse 2, He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” This is a very interesting story. The judge doesn’t care about her at all. He doesn’t care what she thinks. He doesn’t care about what anybody else thinks. He doesn’t care what God thinks. Why does he give her justice? So she will quit bothering him.

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