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When I entered ministry at the age of twenty-five, I determined to be the most methodist Baptist any methodical young minister could be. I made elaborate plans for each day's activities: a certain time to rise and an allotted time for prayer, Bible study, visiting, letter writing, and so on.

Alas, it seemed as though "the stars in their courses" fought against my well-meaning methodicalness. As I became enmeshed in a busy pastorate, my prayer times and Bible study became less regular. When I did pray, my attempts seemed devoid of any power or reality.

That unhappy state continued much too long, but eventually a crisis arose. I was still struggling to maintain some semblance of a system, and one morning the time came to spend an hour in prayer. On my desk, however, lay a pile of unanswered letters. A voice within me seemed to say, Your first duty is not prayer but the answering of those letters. You have no right to neglect such a plain duty.

I vacillated. Just then a velvety voice reasoned, ...

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