His arm is not shortened that it cannot save: but He cannot stretch forth His arm unless we pray more -- and more really. We may be assured of this -- the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer. If God "wondered" in the days of Isaiah, we need not be surprised to find that in the days of His flesh our Lord "marvelled. But we must remember that those who were guilty of this unbelief saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him, or believe on Him. What then must His "marvel" be today, when He sees amongst us who do truly love and adore Him, so few who really "stir themselves up to take hold of God" Isa.
Surely there is nothing so absolutely astonishing as a practically prayerless Christian? These are eventful and ominous days. In fact, there are many evidences that these are "the last days" in which God promised to pour out His Spirit -- the Spirit of supplication -- upon all flesh Joel ii. Yet the vast majority of professing Christians scarcely know what "supplication" means; and very many of our churches not only have no prayer-meeting, but sometimes unblushingly condemn such meetings, and even ridicule them.
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The Church of England, recognizing the importance of worship and prayer, expects her clergy to read prayers in Church every morning and evening. But when this is done, is it not often in an empty church? And are not the prayers frequently raced through at a pace which precludes real worship? And what of those churches where the old-fashioned weekly prayer-meeting is retained? Would not "weakly" be the more appropriate word? Spurgeon had the joy of being able to say that he conducted a prayer-meeting every Monday night "which scarcely ever numbers less than from a thousand to twelve hundred attendants.
If you still hold your weekly gathering for prayer, is it not a fact that the very great majority of your church members never come near it? Yes, and never even think of coming near it.
Why is this? Whose fault is it? How many of those reading these words really enjoy a prayer-meeting? Is it a joy or just a duty? Please forgive me for asking so many questions and for pointing out what appears to be a perilous weakness and a lamentable shortcoming in our churches.
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We are not out to criticize -- far less to condemn. Anybody can do that. Our yearning desire is to stir up Christians "to take hold of" God, as never before. We wish to encourage, to enhearten, to uplift. We are never so high as when we are on our knees. Who dare criticize another? When we look back upon the past and remember how much prayerlessness there has been in one's own life, words of criticism of others wither away on the lips. But we believe the time has come when a clarion call to the individual and to the Church is needed -- a call to prayer. Now, dare we face this question of prayer?
It seems a foolish query, for is not prayer a part and parcel of all religions? Yet we venture to ask our readers to look at this matter fairly and squarely. Do I really believe that prayer is a power? Is prayer the greatest power on earth, or is it not? Does prayer indeed "move the Hand that moves the world"?
Do God's prayer-commands really concern Me? Do the promises of God concerning prayer still hold good? We have all been muttering "Yes -- Yes -- Yes" as we read these questions. We dare not say "No" to any one of them. And yet --! Has it ever occurred to you that our Lord never gave an unnecessary or an optional command? Do we really believe that our Lord never made a promise which He could not, or would not, fulfil? Are we obeying Him? How often His command, "Do this," is reiterated by our preachers today!
One might almost think it was His only command! How seldom we are reminded of His bidding to "Pray" and to "Go. Unless we pray aright we cannot live aright or serve aright. This may appear, at first sight, to be gross exaggeration, but the more we think it over in the light Scripture throws upon it, the more convinced shall we be of the truth of this statement. Now, as we begin once more to see what the Bible has to say about this mysterious and wonderful subject, shall we endeavor to read some of our Lord's promises, as though we had never heard them before.
What will the effect be? Some twenty years ago the writer was studying in a Theological College.
One morning, early, a fellow-student -- who is today one of England's foremost missionaries -- burst into the room holding an open Bible in his hands. Although he was preparing for Holy Orders, he was at that time only a young convert to Christ. He had gone up to the University "caring for none of these things. He accepted the Lord Jesus as a personal Savior, and became a very keen follower of his Master. The Bible was, comparatively, a new book to him, and as a result he was constantly making "discoveries. Is it really true?
Matthew xxi. Is it true? Why don't we pray more? I had never looked at those verses quite in that way. As the door closed upon that eager young follower of the Master, I had a vision of my Savior and His love and His power such as I never had before. I had a vision of a life of prayer -- yes, and "limitless" power, which I saw depended upon two things only -- faith and prayer. For the moment I was thrilled.
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I fell on my knees, and as I bowed before my Lord what thoughts surged through my mind -- what hopes and aspirations flooded my soul! God was speaking to me in an extraordinary way. This was a great call to prayer. But -- to my shame be it said -- I heeded not that call. Where did I fail? True, I prayed a little more than before, but nothing much seemed to happen. Was it because I did not see what a high standard the Savior requires in the inner life of those who would pray successfully?
Was it because I had failed to measure up my life to the "perfect love" standard so beautifully described in the thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians? For, after all, prayer is not just putting into action good resolutions "to pray. And the inspired words of the Apostle of Love need to be heeded today as much as ever before: "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God; and [then] whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him" I John iii.
And our Lord "marvels" at our unbelief.
But if we could only read the Gospels for the first time, what an amazing book it would seem! Should not we "marvel" and "wonder"? And today I pass on that great call to you. Will you give heed to it?
Will you profit by it? Or shall it fall on deaf ears and leave you prayerless? Fellow-Christians, let us awake! The devil is blinding our eyes. He is endeavoring to prevent us from facing this question of prayer. These pages are written by special request. But it is many months since that request came. Every attempt to begin to write has been frustrated, and even now one is conscious of a strange reluctance to do so.
There seems to be some mysterious power restraining the hand. Do we realize that there is nothing the devil dreads so much as prayer?
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His great concern is to keep us from praying. He loves to see us "up to our eyes" in work -- provided we do not pray. He does not fear because we are eager and earnest Bible students -- provided we are little in prayer. Someone has wisely said, "Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. If not, then failure must dog our footsteps, whatever signs of apparent success there may be. Let us never forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for man is to pray.
For we can accomplish far more by our prayers than by our work. We must work. If, then, God has left many things dependent upon humanity's thinking and working, why should He not leave some things dependent upon humanity's praying? He has done so. Hendrickson Christian Classics Every Christian library needs the classics--the timeless books that have spoken powerfully to generations of believers.
Hendrickson Christian Classics allow readers to build an essential classics library in affordable modern editions. Each volume is freshly retypeset for reading comfort, while thoughtful new introductions place each in historical and spiritual context. Attractive, classically bound covers look great together on the shelf. Best of all, value pricing makes this series easy to own.
Planned to span the spectrum of Christian wisdom through the ages, Hendrickson Christian Classics set a new standard for quality and value. Almost Incredible Promises. Since its first publication, The Kneeling Christian has helped hundreds of thousands of believers discover the key to God's treasure house of blessing. This classic book on prayer, written by "An Unknown Author" sometime before the 's, answers the most basic and often-asked questions Christians have about prayer: "How shall I pray?
Did not our Lord pray that His disciples might behold His glory? John And why is "the whole earth full of His glory"? The telescope reveals His infinite glory. The microscope reveals His uttermost glory.