I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray. Torrey outlines a practical strategy for living life in conversation with God. Moody Classics Of all the factors influencing our spiritual growth and development, pivotal books play a key role. Learning from those who have walked the path and fought the fight brings wisdom and strengthens resolve. And hearing the familiar chords of kingdom living sung by voices from other times can penetrate cultural barriers that limit our allegiance to the King.
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I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray. How seldom we pray things through! How often the church and the individual get right up to the verge of a great blessing in prayer and just then let go, get drowsy, quit.
I wish the whole verse might burn into our hearts. But why is this constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer so needful? He is cunning, he is mighty, he never rests, he is ever plotting the downfall of the child of God; and if the child of God relaxes in prayer, the devil will succeed in ensnaring him. This is the thought of the context. Then Paul brings all to a climax in the 18th verse, telling us that to all else we must add prayer — constant, persistent, untiring, sleepless prayer in the Holy Spirit, or all else will go for nothing.
You have not because you ask not. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. All the mighty men of God outside the Bible have been men of prayer. They have differed from one another in many things, but in this they have been alike.
But there is a still weightier reason for this constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer. Turn, for example, to Mark Evidently prayer took much of the time and strength of Jesus, and a man or woman who does not spend much time in prayer, cannot properly be called a follower of Jesus Christ. His atoning work was finished then, but when He rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father, He entered upon other work for us just as important in its place as His atoning work. It cannot be divorced from His atoning work; it rests upon that as its basis, but it is necessary to our complete salvation.
What that great present work is, by which He carries our salvation on to completeness, we read in Heb. Praying is the principal thing He is doing in these days. It is by His prayers that He is saving us. If we then are to have fellowship with Jesus Christ in His present work, we must spend much time in prayer; we must give ourselves to earnest, constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer. I know of nothing that has so impressed me with a sense of the importance of praying at all seasons, being much and constantly in prayer, as the thought that that is the principal occupation at present of my risen Lord.
I want to have fellowship with Him, and to that end I have asked the Father that whatever else He may make me, to make me at all events an intercessor, to make me a man who knows how to pray, and who spends much time in prayer.
This ministry of intercession is a glorious and a mighty ministry, and we can all have part in it. The man or the woman who is shut away from the public meeting by sickness can have part in it; the busy mother; the woman who has to take in washing for a living can have part — she can mingle prayers for the saints, and for her pastor, and for the unsaved, and for foreign missionaries, with the soap and water as she bends over the washtub, and not do the washing any more poorly on that account; the hard driven man of business can have part in it, praying as he hurries from duty to duty.
But of course we must, if we would maintain this spirit of constant prayer, take time — and take plenty of it — when we shall shut ourselves up in the secret place alone with God for nothing but prayer. Verses 14, Mercy is what we need, grace is what we must have, or all our life and effort will end in complete failure. Prayer is the way to get them. There is infinite grace at our disposal, and we make it ours experimentally by prayer.
The measure of our appropriation of grace is determined by the measure of our prayers. Who is there that does not feel that he needs more grace? Then ask for it. Be constant and persistent in your asking. Be importunate and untiring in your asking. What little streams of mercy and grace most of us know, when we might know rivers overflowing their banks! Who is there that does not wish his joy filled full? Well, the way to have it filled full is by praying in the name of Jesus.
We all know people whose joy is filled full, indeed, it is just running over, is shining from their eyes, bubbling out of their very lips, and running off their finger tips when they shake hands with you.
Coming in contact with them is like coming in contact with an electrical machine charged with gladness. Now people of that sort are always people that spend much time in prayer. Why is it that prayer in the name of Christ brings such fullness of joy?
In part, because we get what we ask. But that is not the only reason, nor the greatest. It makes God real. When we ask something definite of God, and He gives it, how real God becomes! He is right there! It is blessed to have a God who is real, and not merely an idea. I remember how once I was taken suddenly and seriously sick all alone in my study. I dropped upon my knees and cried to God for help. Instantly all pain left me — I was perfectly well.
It seemed as if God stood right there, and had put out His hand and touched me. The joy of the healing was not so great as the joy of meeting God. There is no greater joy on earth or in heaven, than communion with God, and prayer in the name of Jesus brings us into communion with Him.
O the unutterable joy of those moments when in our prayers we really press into the presence of God! Does some one say. Do you really give yourself up to prayer in the time which you do take? To many this seems at the first glance, the picture of a life that is beautiful, but beyond the reach of ordinary mortals; not so at all.
Just keep in constant touch with God, and when any trouble or vexation, great or small, comes up, speak to Him about it, never forgetting to return thanks for what He has already done. What will the result be?
That is glorious, and as simple as it is glorious! Thank God, many are trying it. Perhaps he is a very stormy man by his natural make-up, but troubles and conflicts and reverses and bereavements may sweep around him, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding guards his heart and his thoughts in Christ Jesus.
We all know such persons. How do they manage it? Just by prayer, that is all. Those persons who know the deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace that passeth all understanding, are always men and women of much prayer.
Some of us let the hurry of our lives crowd prayer out, and what a waste of time and energy and nerve force there is by the constant worry! One night of prayer will save us from many nights of insomnia.
Time spent in prayer is not wasted, but time invested at big interest. Upon this point the Bible is very plain. What could he answer? It is plain as day in the Word of God that before Pentecost and after, the first baptism and the subsequent fillings with the Holy Spirit were received in answer to definite prayer. Experience also teaches this. Doubtless many have received the Holy Spirit the moment of their surrender to God before there was time to pray, but how many there are who know that their first definite baptism with the Holy Spirit came while they were on their knees or faces before God, alone or in company with others, and who again and again since that have been filled with the Holy Spirit in the place of prayer!
I know this as definitely as I know that my thirst has been quenched while I was drinking water. Early one morning in the Chicago Avenue Church prayer room, where several hundred people had been assembled a number of hours in prayer, the Holy Spirit fell so manifestly, and the whole place was so filled with His presence, that no one could speak or pray, but sobs of joy filled the place. Others went out into the city with the blessing of God upon them.
This is only one instance among many that might be cited from personal experience. Many and many a man who once worked unmistakably in the power of the Holy Spirit is now filling the air with empty shoutings, and beating it with his meaningless gesticulations, because he has let prayer be crowded out. One of the most interesting and solemn passages upon prayer in the Bible is along this line.
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell in the face of the whole earth. The world tends to draw us down by its gratifications and by its cares. There is only one way by which we can rise triumphant above these things-by constant watching unto prayer, that is, by sleeplessness unto prayer. But we may be ready. Much has really been said upon that already, but there is much also that should be added.
It is through prayer that my sin is brought to light, my most hidden sin. In answer to prayer, God washes me from mine iniquity and cleanses me from my sin Ps. Each day of true prayer life finds me liker to my glorious Lord. John Welch, son-in-law to John Knox, was one of the most faithful men of prayer this world ever saw.
He counted that day ill-spent in which seven or eight hours were not used alone with God in prayer and the study of His Word. His prayer life explains the mystery. If we wish power for any work to which God calls us, be it preaching, teaching, personal work, or the rearing of our children, we can get it by earnest prayer.
I asked if she had made his conversion and his character a matter of definite, expectant prayer. She replied that she had not been definite in the matter. She began that day, and at once there was a marked change in the child, and he grew up into Christian manhood. How many a Sunday-school teacher has taught for months and years, and seen no real fruit from his labors, and then has learned the secret of intercession, and by earnest pleading with God, has seen his scholars brought one by one to Christ!
How many a poor preacher has become a mighty man of God by casting away his confidence in his own ability and gifts, and giving himself up to God to wait upon Him for the power that comes from on high!
How To Pray
That is the difficulty with many an unanswered prayer to-day: the one who offers it is not obedient. If we would have power in prayer, we must be earnest students of His Word to find out what His will regarding us is, and then having found it, do it. One unconfessed act of disobedience on our part will shut the ear of God against many petitions. There are many things which it would be pleasing to God for us to do which He has not specifically commanded us. A true child is not content with merely doing those things which his father specifically commands him to do. So it is with the true child of God. He does not ask merely whether certain things are commanded or certain things forbidden.