He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.
The fewer the words, the better the prayer. To have prayed well is to have studied well.
In Ivan endures all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he is praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner notices him and says with ridicule, "Prayers won't help you get out of here any faster." Opening his eyes, Ivan answers, "I do not pray to get out of prison but to do the will of God."
Our Daily Bread, December 29, 1993
A friend of mine took his small son with him to town one day to run some errands. When lunch time arrived, the two of them went to a familiar diner for a sandwich. The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and lifted the boy up to the seat beside him. They ordered lunch, and when the waiter brought the food, the father said, "Son, we'll just have a silent prayer." Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but he just sat with his head bowed for an unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, "What in the world were you praying about all that time?" With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied, "How do I know? It was a silent prayer."
Our Daily Bread, December 12
When Robert Louis Stevenson was a boy he once remarked to his mother, "Momma, you can't be good without praying." "How do you know, Robert?" she asked. "Because I've tried!" he answered. This brings to mind a story about another little fellow -- one who had been sent to his room because he had been bad. A short time later he came out and said to his mother, "I've been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer." "That's fine," she said, "if you ask God to make you good, He will help you." "Oh, I didn't ask Him to help me be good," replied the boy. "I asked Him to help you put up with me."
Our Daily Bread, June 15.
When we pray, remember:
1. The love of God that wants the best for us.
2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
3. The power of God that can accomplish it.
William Barclay, Prodigals and Those Who Love.
"...Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons -- but they are helpless against our prayers."
Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you.
Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told the following story. "A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister. One of the girls responded. 'Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won't feel so lonely.' That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, 'If God sent that, I'm sure He also sent a doll!' And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child's sincere requests, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies' group to include both of those specific articles."
Attending church in Kentucky, we watched an especially verbal and boisterous child being hurried out, slung under his irate father's arm. No one in the congregation so much as raised an eyebrow -- until the child captured everyone's attention by crying out in a charming Southern accent, "Ya'll pray for me now!"
Jean McMahon (Dyer, Ind.) in Reader's Digest, April 1980.
Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass grows on your path."
Today in the Word, June 29, 1992.
God can pick sense out of a confused prayer.
"There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as prayer for him.
If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.
When Luther's puppy happened to be at the table, he looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes; he (Martin Luther) said, 'Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish or hope."
What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use--men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.
He that cannot pray, let him go to sea, and there he will learn.
God never denied that soul anything that went as far as heaven to ask for it. John Trapp
I fear John Knox's prayers more than an army of ten thousand men.
Mary, Queen of Scotland
While very ill, John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, called to his wife and said, "Read me that Scripture where I first cast my anchor." After he listened to the beautiful prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17, he seemed to forget his weakness. He began to pray, interceding earnestly for his fellowmen. He prayed for the ungodly who had thus far rejected the gospel. He pleaded in behalf of people who had been recently converted. And he requested protection for the Lord's servants, many of whom were facing persecution. As Knox prayed, his spirit went Home to be with the Lord. The man of whom Queen Mary had said, "I fear his prayers more than I do the armies of my enemies," ministered through prayer until the moment of his death.
Our Daily Bread. April 11
I had rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer fetched the angel.
Christ went more readily ad crucem (to the cross), than we do to the throne of grace.
When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy words without heart.
You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.
Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer."
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
A tale is told about a small town that had historically been "dry," but then a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that "no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not."
J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 129.
Mr. and Mrs. Moody often had guests in their Chicago home. One evening, fter a very demanding day, Moody asked a visiting Christian to lead in family devotions. The man waxed eloquent as he expounded the symbolism in a difficult chapter of the Bible. Then he prayed at great length. When the worship was over, Mrs. Moody and the guest got up from their knees, but Moody remained bowed in prayer. The guest thought that he was praying, but Mrs. Moody soon detected that her husband was--asleep!
W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 206.
When I cannot pray I always sing.
Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray--to really pray. Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight--all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word 'concern' out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.
Robert E. Lee.
What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more.
Robert Murray McCheyne.
Among those in the court of Alexander the Great was a philosopher of outstanding ability but little money. He asked Alexander for financial help and was told to draw whatever he needed from the imperial treasury. But when the man requested an amount equal to $50,000, he was refused--the treasurer needing to verify that such a large sum was authorized. When he asked Alexander, the ruler replied, "Pay the money at once. The philosopher has done me a singular honor. By the largeness of his request he shows that he has understood both my wealth and generosity."
Today in the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 19.
If the request is wrong, God says, "No."
If the timing is wrong, God says, "Slow."
If you are wrong, God says, "Grow."
But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, "Go!"
Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not To Pray, IVP, p. 74.
In its early days, Dallas Theological Seminary was in critical need of $10,000 to keep the work going. During a prayer meeting, renowned Bible teacher Harry Ironside, a lecturer at the school, prayed, "Lord, you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of those cattle to help us meet this need." Shortly after the prayer meeting, a check for $10,000 arrived at the school, sent days earlier by a friend who had no idea of the urgent need or of Ironside's prayer. The man simply said the money came from the sale of some of his cattle!
Today in the Word, MBI, January, 1990, p. 36.
Prayer is surrender--surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.
E. Stanley Jones, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, K Hughes, Tyndale, 1988, p. 73.
Sir George Adam Smith tells how he and his guide were climbing the Weisshorn in the Swiss Alps. It was stormy and they were making their climb on the sheltered side of the peak. When they reached the summit, they were filled with the exhilaration. Sir George forgot about the fierce winds, leaped up and was nearly blown over the edge to the glacier below! The guide grabbed hold of him and exclaimed: "On your knees, sir. You are safe here only on your knees!"
When our children were small and we were trying to teach them to pray, we had three kinds of prayer: "Please prayers," Thank you prayers," and "Sorry prayers."
S. Briscoe, Getting into God, p. 55.
How important is faithfulness in prayer? Dr. Wilbur Chapman often told of his experience when, as a young man, he went to become pastor of a church in Philadelphia. After his first sermon, an old gentleman said to him, "You're pretty young to be pastor of this church. But you preach the Gospel, and I'm going to help you all I can." Dr. Chapman thought, "Here's a crank." But the man continued: "I'm going to pray for you that you may have the Holy Spirit's power upon you. Two others have covenanted to join with me in prayer for you." Dr. Chapman said, "I didn't feel so bad when I learned he was going to pray for me. The 3 became 10, the 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, the 50 became 200 who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of those who had faithfully prayed for me. It was a joy to preach! The result was that we received 1,100 into our church by conversion in three years, 600 of whom were men. It was the fruit of the Holy spirit in answer to prayer!"
Eighteen-year-old Hudson Taylor wandered into his father's library and read a gospel tract. He couldn't shake off its message. Finally, falling to his knees, he accepted Christ as his Savior. Later, his mother, who had been away, returned home. When Hudson told her the good news, she said, "I already know. Ten days ago, the very date on which you tell me you read that tract, I spent the entire afternoon in prayer for you until the Lord assured me that my wayward son had been brought into the fold."
Daily Bread, July 19, 1989.
When people do not mind what God speaks to them in His Word, God doth as little mind what they say to Him in prayer.
William Gurnall (a saying of a Puritan preacher).
Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then, my dear brother; pray, pray, pray.
Edward Payson, Preacher and Prayer, E.M. Bounds, 1907, p. 32.
Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn't want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.
Our Daily Bread, April 24.
I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.
The story goes that one time when Bill Moyers was a special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was asked to say grace before a meal in the family quarters of the White House. As Moyers began praying softly, the President interrupted him with "Speak up, Bill! Speak up!"The former Baptist minister from east Texas stopped in mid-sentence and without looking up replied steadily, "I wasn't addressing you, Mr. President."
Don Oberdorfer in Washington Post. Reader's Digest, April 1980.
It is strange that, while praying, we seldom ask for change of character, but always a change in circumstance.
Baptist Challenge, December 1981.
Dear Pastor, I know God loves me but I wish He would give me an "A" on my report card so I could be sure. Love, Theresa. (Age 8, Milwaukee)
Dear Pastor, Could you say a special blessing for my Aunt Beatrice? She has been looking for a husband for 12 years and still hasn't found one. Yours sincerely, Debbie. (Age 9, Duluth)
Dear Pastor, Do I have to say grace before every meal? Even when I am only having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Wesley. (Age 9, Baltimore)
Dear Pastor, Thank you for your sermon on Sunday. I will write more when my mother explains to me what you said. Yours truly, Justin. (Age 9, Westport)
Dear Pastor, Please pray for all the airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie. (Age 10, New York City)
Dear Pastor, We say grace every night before we eat dinner even when we have leftovers from the night before. Yours truly, Jacki. (Age 9, Chicago)
Dear Pastor, I say my prayer before I eat my supper but my mother still makes me finish my spinach and drink my milk. Julie. (Age 9, Buffalo)
Dear Pastor, 1980 by Bill Adler Books, Inc.
A woman went to Andrew Murray with the problem of feeling she couldn't pray. He said, "Why then, do you not try this? As you go to your inner chamber, however cold and dark your heart may be, do not try in your own might to force yourself into the right attitude. Bow before Him, and tell Him that He sees in what a sad state you are, and that your only hope is in Him. Trust Him, with a childlike trust, to have mercy upon you, and wait upon Him. In such a trust you are in a right relationship to Him. You have nothing -- He has everything." The woman later told Murray that his advice had helped her. She discovered that her trust in Christ's love for her could help her pray, even when prayer did not come easily.
Our Daily Bread, November 13.
Keep praying, but be thankful that God's answers are wiser than your prayers!
Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of His mercies.
Westminster Shorter Catechism.
When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller's reply was, "Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming."
True story. A Christian leader -- we'll call him Steve --was traveling recently by plane. He noticed that the man sitting two seats over was thumbing through some little cards and moving his lips. The man looked professorial with his goatee and graying brown hair, and Steve placed him at fifty-something. Guessing the man was a fellow-believer, Steve leaned over to engage him in conversation. "Looks to me like you're memorizing something," he said. "No, actually I was praying," the man said. Steve introduced himself. "I believe in prayer too," he said. "Well, I have a specific assignment," said the man with the goatee. "What's that?" Steve asked. "I'm praying for the downfall of Christian pastors." "I would certainly fit into that category," Steve said. "Is my name on the list?" "Not on my list," the man replied.
Common Ground, Vol. 10 No. 7.
Things looked bleak for the children of George Muller's orphanage at Ashley Downs in England. It was time for breakfast, and there was no food. A small girl whose father was a close friend of Muller was visiting in the home. Muller took her hand and said, "Come and see what our Father will do." In the dining room, long tables were set with empty plates and empty mugs. Not only was there no food in the kitchen, but there was no money in the home's account. Muller prayed, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it, there stood the local baker. "Mr. Muller," he said, "I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at 2 o'clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is." Muller thanked him and gave praise to God. Soon, a second knock was heard. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. He said he would like to give the children the milk so he could empty the cart and repair it.
An Iranian invented a compass-like device engraved with the names of 150 cities, in Arabic. The devout Muslim turns the instrument until the needle indicates north, twists a dial to the name of the city he is in -- and the arrow points the way to Mecca, which Muslims face to pray five times a day.
Martin J. Shannon, The Wall Street Journal.
The prayer of Jabez moved the heart of missionary John Hyde to pray with great faith, expecting answers to his prayers. As a result, he became known as Praying Hyde and the world still feels the impact of his powerful life.
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman once wrote to a friend, telling of Praying Hyde's influence on him. He had been holding meetings in England, but the attendance had been disappointingly small. Then he received word that Praying Hyde was going to pray down God's blessing upon him and his work.As a result of Hyde's powerful praying, the tide soon turned and the meeting hall became packed with people. At Chapman's first public invitation, fifty men received Christ as their Savior.
Relating the story, Chapman said: As we were leaving I said, "Mr. Hyde, I want you to pray for me." He came to my room, turned the key in the door, and dropped to his knees, and waited five minutes without a single syllable coming from him lips. I could hear my own heart thumping, and his beating. I felt hot tears running down my face. I knew I was with God. Then with upturned face, down which the tears were streaming, he said, "O God." Then for five minutes at least he was still again; and then, when he knew that he was talking with God, there came from the depths of his heart such petitions for me as I had never heard before. I rose from my knees to know what real prayer was."
Roger F. Campbell, You Can Win!, SP Publications, 1985, pp. 17-18.
James Duncan, preaching with great unction and power, was asked what was the secret of such powerful preaching. "The secret," he said, was "thirteen hours of consecutive prayer."
When asked the secret of his spiritual power, Charles Spurgeon said: "Knee work! Knee work!"
Livingston of Shotts, on two different occasions, preached with such power that in each service 500 were converted. Both sermons were preceded by a night of prayer.
Charles Finney, after spending a day in the woods in prayer and fasting, preached that night in a phenomenally irreligious congregation. The sermon was accompanied by such divine power that the whole congregation, except one man, fell
prostrate upon the floor, and voiced their agony under conviction of sin, in such loud outcries that the preacher was forced to stop.
Of "Uncle" John Vassar, The Tract Society colporteur, his pastor says: "He absolutely prayed day and night -- prayed about everything, prayed for almost everything, prayed with almost everybody he met. He prayed when he went out and when he came in. He prayed before every religious service, and then prayed all the way through it. I have occupied the same room with him night after night, and rarely went to sleep without hearing him in prayer, or awoke without finding him in prayer."
Christ Life Newsletter.
Lengthy IllustrationsRoger Simms, hitchhiking his way home, would never forget the date--May 7. His heavy suitcase made Roger tired. He was anxious to take off his army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sign to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. "Going home for keeps?" "Sure am," Roger responded. "Well, you're in luck if you're going to Chicago." "Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?" "I have a business there. My name is Hanover." After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness to this fifty-ish, apparently successful businessman about Christ. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat, "Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important." He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior. To Roger's astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."
Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him five years before. In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. "You knew my husband?" Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. "Can you tell me when that was?" "It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army." "Anything special about that day?" Roger hesitated. Should he mention giving his witness? Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge. "Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day." Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, "I had prayed for my husband's salvation for years. I believed God would save him." "And," said Roger, "Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?" "He's dead," she wept, struggling with words. "He was in a a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see--I thought God had not kept His promise." Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, "I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!"
J. Kirk Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, pp. 39-41.
The phone rang and I greeted a young pastor friend from Arlington, Virginia.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Studying," I replied. "Nothing special."
"Are you sitting down?"
"Your father just trusted Christ this evening."
"He what? You've got to be kidding!" I blurted out.
Such an inappropriate response grew out of long detours in our father-son journey. Ever since I received Christ as a boy my concern has been for the salvation of my family and loved ones. On repeated occasions I had broached the subject of the gospel with dad, but his response was less than excited.
My father has always been a very important person to me. Not that I approved of everything he said or did or that I imitated him consciously in any way. We weren't really close friends, either. But he was important in my life because of the indirect impact he made upon me.
Dad was a military man. He had seen action around the world. During the periods when he was embroiled in battle, I would become very sensitive to his spiritual need. I and my family prayed for him, but at times I'm afraid my faith sputtered. His response was always the same: Son, don't worry about me. I'll work it out with God (as if God could be manipulated like a Pentagon official).
God brought a man into my life, a man with a passion for men. His name was Butch Hardman. One day before we knew each other Butch was boarding a plane in Detroit when a friend handed him a cassette tape. "Ever hear Hendricks? Here's a tape you should listen to." On that tape I related my father's spiritual need.
Butch listened and something about the anecdote reminded him of his own father with whom he had shared Christ shortly before he died. He began to pray for this unknown man, George Hendricks. Some months later Butch attended a pastors' conference in Philadelphia where I was the speaker. He shook my hand afterward. That was the only time our paths crossed before a remarkable incident in Arlington.
Butch was driving the church bus down the street, having discharged all his passengers. He saw a man standing on the corner who reminded him uncannily of Howard Hendricks. Could it possibly be...? He backed up the bus, stopped, got off, and went over to the man.
"Are you by any chance Howard Hendricks' father?"
It is easy to imagine the startled response. "Er-ah (I can envision my father's critical once-over with his steely blue eyes) yeah -- you a student of my son?"
"No, I'm not, but he sure has helped me. Got time for a cup of coffee?"
That encounter began a friendship, skillfully engineered by the Spirit of God. Butch undoubtedly sensed dad's hesitancy when he discovered he had met a preacher. For a long time Butch did not invite him to attend his church. He simply suggested that dad drop by the office of coffee. Patiently he endured dad's cigars and his endless repertoire of war stories. Before long he also learned that dad had been diagnosed as having a terminal throat cancer.
Months later Butch was at his bedside. "Mr. Hendricks, I'll be leaving shortly for a Holy Land trip. Instead of my listening to you tonight, would you let me tell you a story?" Butch had earned his hearing and he began simply to relate the interview of Jesus Christ with Nicodemus as recorded by the Apostle John. At the conclusion dad accepted Butch's invitation to receive Jesus Christ as his own personal Savior. Then dad got up out of bed, stood, and saluted with a smile. "No I'm under a new Commander-in-Chief!" That night Butch called Dallas.
The last time I saw dad alive I could not believe he was the same man I had known. His frame was wasted, but his spirit was more virile than I had ever known.
In accordance with dad's specific provision in his will, Butch Hardman conducted the crisp military funeral in Arlington cemetery where the gospel of Jesus Christ was presented to the small group of family and military attendants. As the guns saluted their final farewell, I knew God had vindicated forty-two years of prayer.
Howard & Jeanne Hendricks, Footprints, Multnomah Press, 1981, pp. 16-19.
CommentaryIn general we must hold that whenever any religious controversy arises, which either a council or ecclesiastical tribunal behoves to decide; whenever a minister is to be chosen; whenever, in short any matter of difficulty and great importance is under consideration: on the other hand, when manifestations of the divine anger appear, as pestiliece, war, and famine, the sacred and salutary custom of all ages has been for pastors to exhort the people to public fasting and extraordinary prayer.
Calvin, Institutes, IV, 12, 14.
When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do, and so on. Nor am I disposed to undervalue any of these things in their proper place, but when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.
A.C. Dixon, Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 108.
The central significance of prayer is not in the things that happen as results, but in the deepening intimacy and unhurried communion with God at His central throne of control in order to discover a "sense of God's need in order to call on God's help to meet that need"
E.M. Bounds, The Weapon Of Prayer.
Far away from the Bible's example are most people when they pray! Prayer with earnestness and urgency is genuine prayer in God's account. Alas, the greatest number of people are not conscious at all of the duty of prayer. And as for those who are, it is to be feared that many of them are very great strangers to sincere, sensible, and affectionate-- emotional--pouring out of their hearts or souls to God. Too many content themselves with a little lip-service and bodily exercise, mumbling over a few imaginary prayers. When the emotions are involved in such urgency that the soul will waste itself rather than go without the good desired, there is communion and solace with Christ. And hence it is that the saints have spent their strength, and lost their lives, rather than go without the blessings God intended for them.
John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Prayer Book.
For more than half a century, I have never known one day when I had not more business than I could get through. For 40 years, I have had annually about 30,000 letters, and most of these have passed through my own hands. I have nine assistants always at work corresponding in German, French, English, Danish, Italian, Russian, and other languages. Then, as pastor of a church with 1200 believers, great has been my care. I have had charge of five orphanages; also at my publishing depot, the printing and circulation of millions of tracts, books, and Bibles. But I have always made it a rule never to begin work till I have had a good season with God. George Mueller
Richard Mayhue, Keys to fruitful prayer--Divine Healing Today, Moody Press, p. 104.
The pulpit of this day is weak in praying. The pride of learning is against the dependent humility of prayer. Prayer is with the pulpit too often only official--a performance for the routine of service. Prayer is not to the modern pulpit the mighty force it was in Paul's life or Paul's ministry. Every preacher who does not make prayer a mighty factor in his own life and ministry is weak as a factor in God's work and is powerless to project God's cause in this world.
E.M. Bounds, Preacher and Prayer, 1907, p. 13.
It was your Lord who put an end to longwindedness, so that you would not pray as if you wanted to teach God by your many words. Piety, not verbosity, is in order when you pray, since He knows your needs. Now someone perhaps will say: 'But if He knows our needs, why should we sate our requests even in a few words? Why should we pray at all? Since He knows, let Him give what He deems necessary for us.' Even so, He wants you to pray so that He may confer His gifts on one who really desires them and will not regard them lightly.
Spurgeon once said: "There is no need for us to go beating about the bush, and not telling the Lord distinctly what it is that we crave at His hands. Nor will it be seemly for us to make any attempt to use fine language; but let us ask God in the simplest and most direct manner for just the things we want...I believe in business prayers. I mean prayers in which you take to God one of the many promises which He has given us in His Work, and expect it to be fulfilled as certainly as we look for the money to be given us when we go to the bank to cash a check. We should not think of going there, lolling over the counter chattering with the clerks on every conceivable subject except the one thing for which we had gone to the bank, and then coming away without the coin we needed; but we should lay before the clerk the promise to pay the bearer a certain sum, tell him in what form we wish to take the amount, count the cash after him, and then go on our way to attend to other business. That is just an illustration of the method in which we should draw supplies from the Bank of Heaven." The Kneeling Christian, Clarion Classics, 1986, Zondervan Publishing House, Page 79-80
Herbert Lockyer, Christ & Prayer, Fairest of All, Eerdmans, 1936, p. 43ff.
But some one will say, Does He not know without a monitor both what our difficulties are, and what is meet for our interest, so that it seems in some measure superfluous to solicit Him by our prayers, as if He were winking, or even sleeping, until aroused by the sound of our voice? Those who argue thus attend not to the end for which the Lord taught us to pray. It is not so much for His sake as for ours. He wills indeed, as is just, that due honor be paid Him by acknowledging that all which men desire or feel to be useful, and pray to obtain, is derived from Him. But even the benefit of the homage which we thus pay Him rebounds to ourselves.
Statistics and ResearchResearch at San Francisco General Hospital has revealed that victims of heart attack, heart failure and other cardiac problems who were remembered in prayers fared better than those who were not. Cardiologist Randy Byrd assigned 192 patients to the "prayed-for" group and 201 patients to the "not-prayed-for" group. All patients were in the coronary intensive care unit. Patients, doctors and nurses did not know which group patients were in. Prayer group members were scattered around the nation and given only the first names, diagnoses and prognoses of patients. The researcher said that the results were dramatic. The prayed-for group had significantly fewer complications than the unremembered group. And fewer members of the former died. The latter group was five times more likely to develop infections requiring antibiotics, and three times more likely to develop a lung condition, leading to heart failure. These findings were published in the American Heart Association.
Adopted From Chicago Sun-Times.
According to a poll on prayer for Newsweek (3/31/97), the following percentage said:
They ask for health or success for a child or family member when they pray -- 82
They ask for strength to overcome a personal weakness -- 75
They never ask for financial or career success -- 36
God answers prayers -- 87
God doesn't answer prayers -- 51
They believe God does not play favorites in answering prayers -- 82
God answers prayers for healing someone with an incurable disease -- 79
Prayers for help in finding a job are answered -- 73
They believe that when God doesn't answer their prayers, it means it wasn't God's will to answer -- 54
They don't turn away from God when prayers go unanswered -- 82
Princeton Research Associates.
Types of Prayer
- 42% ask for material things when they pray; of this group, 59% are evangelicals. 66% are black.
- Meditative prayer increases with age: 45% of 18 to 24 year olds pray meditatively; 70% of 65 year olds do so.
- Of those who say God exists, 70% pray daily, as do 10% of those who don't believe in God.
- 91% of women pray, as do 85% of men.
- 94% of blacks, and 87% of whites
- 32% regularly feel a deep sense of peace. 12% never experience this.
- 26% regularly sense the strong presence of God: 21% never do.
- 15% regularly receive a definite answer to a specific prayer, 27% never have, 25% have once or twice.
PoetryThis poem by Adam Baum expressed the need for perseverance in prayer:
Pray on, when rough and dark your pathway,
And you cannot see the light;
When every spark of hope has vanished,
And bright day has turned to night.
Pray on, for God doth surely hear you,
Noting well each sad request;
Pray then in faith, truly believing
That He always gives what's best."
Our Daily Bread, October 23.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked God for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for--but everything I had hoped for...
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.
An unknown Confederate soldier.
Speak to Him then, for He hears,
And spirit with spirit can meet;
Closer is He than breathing,
And nearer than hands or feet.
Alfred Lord Tennyson.
HumorSomeone has vividly expressed this in a humorous little poem that reads as follows:
"The proper way for man to pray," said Deacon Lemuel Keyes; "The only proper attitude is down upon his knees."
"Nay, I should say the way to pray," said Reverend Doctor Wise, "Is standing straight with outstretched arms with rapt and upturned eyes."
"Oh, no, no, no," said Elder Snow, "such posture is too proud." A man should pray with eyes fast-closed and head contritely bowed."
"It seems to me his hands should be austerely clasped in front. With both thumbs pointing to the ground," said Reverend Doctor Blunt."
"Last year I fell in Hodgkin's well headfirst," said Cyril Brown. "With both my heels a-stickin' up, my head a-pointing' down; And I done prayed right then and there; best prayer I ever said, The prayin'est prayer I ever prayed, a-standin' on my head."
Our Daily Bread , March 10.
Two men were talking together. The first challenged the other, "If you are so religious, let's hear you quote the Lord's Prayer. I bet you $10.00 you can't." The second responded, "Now I lay my down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." The first pulled out his wallet and fished out a ten dollar bill, muttering, "I didn't think you could do it!"