BuiltWithNOF
Prayer
  • [Jer 33:3] Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
     
  • [1 Th 5:17] Pray without ceasing.
     
  • [Isa 45:11]  Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
     
  • [Psa 2:8]  Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
     
  • [Mat 21:22]  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
     
  • [Mat 7:7]  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
     
  • [Mat 28:18]  And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
     
  • [1 Tim 2:8]  I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
     
  • [Eph 3:20-21]  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
     
  • [1 John 3:22]  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Prayer is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, privilege of the child of God.  Imagine the privilege of being ushered into the oval office to have a conversation with the President of the United States.  Yet, we have a standing invitation to come before the throne of the Ruler of the Universe, through the merits and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ:  [Heb 4:16] ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’.   With all due respect to the President, consider:

  • God is holy, infallible, and eternal (Isa 57:15); The President is fallible and mortal.
     
  • Nothing is impossible with God (Mt 28:18); The President is limited in power.
     
  • God is always ready to listen (Psa 34:15); The President’s time with you would be limited.

But prayer is more than a privilege for the Christian; it is a necessity.  If the Lord Jesus had to spend hours on His knees in order to complete His mission down here in the flesh, it is insanity for us to think that we can get by with a few minutes of superficial praying.

Beyond spending significant time on our knees, we are enjoined to ‘pray without ceasing’.   The Lord told His disciples to ‘abide in Me’. David said that he lived constantly in the presence of the Lord.  Moses told the children of Israel to ‘cleave unto the Lord’, or ‘cling’ or ‘hold fast’ to Him.  Pastor Jim Cymbala says that word -- ‘cleave’ -- implies two things: intimacy with the Lord, and continuance -- ‘24x7’ as he puts it. That should be a goal in our prayer life. 

Because pastor and author E M Bounds has written extensively on this subject, and much better than I could, the rest of this article consists mainly of excerpts from his works. I would urge you to study the books from which they are drawn (see Links for one source).  He was a man that practiced what he preached, habitually rising at 4 am to seek God.

    What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use -- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men -- men of prayer.  (Power 1)

    Do not we rest in our day too much on the arm of flesh? Cannot the same wonders be done now as of old? Do not the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth still to show Himself strong on behalf of those who put their trust in Him? Oh that God would give me more practical faith in Him! Where is now the Lord God of Elijah? He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him. —James Gilmour of Mongolia   (Purpose 1)

    Our Lord Jesus declared that "men ought always to pray and not to faint," and the parable in which His words occur, was taught with the intention of saving men from faint-heartedness and weakness in prayer. Our Lord was seeking to teach that laxity must be guarded against, and persistence fostered and encouraged. There can be no two opinions regarding the importance of the exercise of this indispensable quality in our praying.

    The wrestling quality in importunate prayers does not spring from physical vehemence or fleshly energy. It is not an impulse of energy, not a mere earnestness of soul; it is an inwrought force, a faculty implanted and aroused by the Holy Spirit. Virtually, it is the intercession of the Spirit of God in us; it is, moreover, "the effectual, fervent prayer, which avails much."   (Necessity 6)

    A lack of fervency in prayer, is the sure sign of a lack of depth and of intensity of desire; and the absence of intense desire is a sure sign of God's absence from the heart! To abate fervor is to retire from God. He can, and does, tolerate many things in the way of infirmity and error in His children.  He can, and will pardon sin when the penitent prays, but two things are intolerable to Him -- insincerity and lukewarmness. Lack of heart and lack of heat are two things He loathes, and to the Laodiceans He said, in terms of unmistakable severity and condemnation:

      "I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth."   (Necessity 4)

    The Holy Spirit animating every element within us, with the energy of His own striving, is the essence of the importunity which urges our praying at the mercy-seat, to continue until the fire falls and the blessing descends. This wrestling in prayer may not be boisterous nor vehement, but quiet, tenacious and urgent. Silent, it may be, when there are no visible outlets for its mighty forces.

    Nothing distinguishes the children of God so clearly and strongly as prayer. It is the one infallible mark and test of being a Christian. Christian people are prayerful, the worldly-minded; prayerless. Christians call on God; worldlings ignore God, and call not on His Name.  But even the Christian has need to cultivate continual prayer.

    Prayer must be habitual, but much more than a habit. It is duty, yet one which rises far above, and goes beyond the ordinary implications of the term. It is the expression of a relation to God, a yearning for Divine communion. It is the outward and upward flow of the inward life toward its original fountain. It is an assertion of the soul's paternity, a claiming of the sonship which links man to the Eternal.  (Necessity 6)

    Spiritual desire, carried to a higher degree, is the evidence of the new birth. It is born in the renewed soul:

      "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby."

    The absence of this holy desire in the heart is presumptive proof, either of a decline in spiritual ecstasy, or, that the new birth has never taken place.

      "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."

    These heaven-given appetites are the proof of a renewed heart, the evidence of a stirring spiritual life. Physical appetites are the attributes of a living body, not of a corpse, and spiritual desires belong to a soul made alive to God.  And as the renewed soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness, these holy inward desires break out into earnest, supplicating prayer.   (Necessity 4)

    The spirit of a pilgrim greatly facilitates praying. An earth-bound, earth-satisfied spirit cannot pray. In such a heart, the flame of spiritual desire is either gone out or smoldering in faintest glow. The wings of its faith are clipped, its eyes are filmed, its tongue silenced. But they, who in unswerving faith and unceasing prayer, wait continually upon the Lord, do renew their strength, do mount up with wings as eagles, do run, and are not weary, do walk, and not faint.  

    We need constantly to be reminded that faith is the one inseparable condition of successful praying. There are other considerations entering into the exercise, but faith is the final, the one indispensable condition of true praying. As it is written in a familiar, primary declaration: "Without faith, it is impossible to please Him."

    Yet faith is narrowed down to one particular thing -- it does not believe that God will reward everybody, nor that He is a rewarder of all who pray, but that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Faith rests its care on diligence in prayer, and gives assurance and encouragement to diligent seekers after God, for it is they, alone, who are richly rewarded when they pray.  (Necessity 2)

    The person of Jesus Christ must be central, to the eye of trust. This great truth Jesus sought to impress upon Martha, when her brother lay dead, in the home at Bethany.  Martha asserted her belief in the fact of the resurrection of her brother:

      "Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

    Jesus lifts her trust clear above the mere fact of the resurrection, to His own Person, by saying:

      "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."     (Necessity 3)

    God draws mightily near to the praying soul. To see God, to know God, and to live for God -- these form the objective of all true praying. Thus praying is, after all, inspired to seek after God. Prayer-desire is inflamed to see God, to have clearer, fuller, sweeter and richer revelation of God. So to those who thus pray, the Bible becomes a new Bible, and Christ a new Savior, by the light and revelation of the inner chamber.   (Necessity 4)

For more on prayer, see the article on the Links page from ‘Operation World’ about prayer and world evangelization.

William Walford nicely expressed the preciousness of our privilege of prayer in verse:

    Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    That calls me from a world of care,
    And bids me at my Father’s throne
    Make all my wants and wishes known.

    In seasons of distress and grief,
    My soul has often found relief
    And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
    By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

    Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
    Of those whose anxious spirits burn
    With strong desires for thy return!

    With such I hasten to the place
    Where God my Savior shows His face,
    And gladly take my station there,
    And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

    Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    Thy wings shall my petition bear
    To Him whose truth and faithfulness
    Engage the waiting soul to bless.

    And since He bids me seek His face,
    Believe His Word and trust His grace,
    I’ll cast on Him my every care,
    And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

    Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
    May I thy consolation share,
    Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
    I view my home and take my flight:

    This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise
    To seize the everlasting prize;
    And shout, while passing through the air,
    “Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”

What kind of a man was it that wrote those lines?  Let me close with this story as found on the www.cyberhymnal.org web site.  The words of the hymn “appeared in The New York Observer, September 13, 1845, accompanied by the following, written by Thomas Salmon:”

    During my residence at Coleshill, Warwickshire, England, I became acquainted with W. W. Walford, the blind preacher, a man of obscure birth and connections and no education, but of strong mind and most retentive memory.  In the pulpit he never failed to select a lesson well adapted to his subject, giving chapter and verse with unerring precision and scarcely ever misplacing a word in his repetition of the Psalms, every part of the New Testament, the prophecies, and some of the histories, so as to have the reputation of “knowing the whole Bible by heart.”

    He actually sat in the chimney corner, employing his mind in composing a sermon or two for Sabbath delivery, and his hands in cutting, shaping and polishing bones for shoe horns and other little useful implements.

    At intervals he attempted poetry.  On one occasion, paying him a visit, he repeated two or three pieces which he had composed, and having no friend at home to commit them to paper, he had laid them up in the storehouse within. “How will this do?” asked he, as he repeated the following lines, with a complacent smile touched with some light lines of fear lest he subject himself to criticism. I rapidly copied the lines with my pencil, as he uttered them, and sent them for insertion in the Observer, if you should think them worthy of preservation.”

One final comment on this important subject of prayer. We all know that an important component of prayer is thanksgiving.  Please see Thankfulness for some thoughts on that subject.
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