Last updated on June 19, 2014
At the outset of New Year 2013, let me take this time to give thanks to the God Almighty for the way in which He is leading each of us in a tremendous way.
Also I am taking this opportunity to express my gratitude to all my readers and visitors for their relentless support by visiting and expressing their feelings through the comment columns. I continue to seek my Lord’s guidance and help in to go forward in this sin stricken world.
Let me begin this year’s writings with an important or vital issue all of us need to note. That is nothing but PRAYER.
Here is a must read article written by the 20th century Christian writer E M Bounds.
This is an adaptation from the book “A TREASURY OF PRAYER”—The Best of E M Bounds, compiled and condensed by yet another famous Christian writer Leonard Ravenhill.
|Pic. Credit: mpbonline.org
The Reality of Prayer
“Non-praying is lawlessness, discord, anarchy. Prayer, in the moral government of God, is a strong and far reaching as the law of gravitation in the material world, and it is necessary as gravitation to hold things in their proper atmosphere and in life.
The space occupied by prayer in the Sermon on the Mount bespeaks its estimate by Christ and the importance it holds in His system. Many important principles are discussed in a verse or two. The sermon consists of one hundred and eleven verses, and eighteen are about prayer directly, and other indirectly.
Prayer was one of the cardinal principles of piety in every dispensation and to every child of God. It did not pertain to the business of Christ to originate duties, but to recover, to recaste to spiritualize, and to re-in force those duties which are cardinal and original.
With Moses the great features of prayer are prominent. He never beats the air nor fights a sham battle. The most serious and strenuous business of his serious strenuous life was prayer. He is as much at it with the earnestness of his soul.
Intimate as he was with God, his intimacy did not abate the necessity of prayer. This intimacy only brought clearer insight into the nature and necessity of prayer, and led him to see the greater obligations to prayer, and to discover the larger results of praying. In reviewing one of the crises through which Israel passed, when the very existence of the nation was in peril, he writes: “I fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights.” Wonderful praying and wonderful results! Moses knew how to do wonderful praying, and God knew how to give wonderful results.
The whole force of Bible statement is to increase our faith in the doctrine that prayer affects God, secures favor from God, which can be secured in no other way, and which will not be bestowed by God if we do not pray. The whole canon of Bible teaching is to illustrate the great truth that God bears and answers prayer. One of the great purposes of God in His Book is to impress upon us indelibly the great importance, the priceless value, and the absolute necessity of asking God for the things we need for time and eternity. He urges us by every consideration, and presses and warns us by very interest. He points us to His own Son, turned over to us for our good, as His pledge that prayer will be answered, teaching us that God is our Father, able to do all things for us and to give all things to us, much more that earthly parents are able or willing to do for their children.
Let us thoroughly understand ourselves and understand, also, this great business of prayer. Our one great business is prayer, and we will never do it well unless we fasten to it by all binding force. We will never do it well without arranging the best conditions of doing it well. Satan has suffered so much by good praying that all his wily, shrewd and ensnaring devices will be used to cripple its performances.
We must, by all the fastenings we can find, cable ourselves to prayer. To be loose in time and place is to open the door to Satan. To be exact, prompt, unswerving, and careful in even the little things, is to buttress ourselves against the evil one.
Prayer, by all the fastening we can find, cable ourselves to prayer. To be loose in time and place is to open the door to satan. To be exact, prompt, unswerving and careful in even the little things, is to buttress ourselves against the evil one.
Prayer, by God’s very oath, is put in the very stories of God’s foundations, as eternal as its companion. “And men shall pray for him continually.” This is the eternal conditions which advances His cause, and makes it powerfully aggressive. Men are to always pray for it. Its strength, beauty and aggression lie in their prayers. Its power lies simply in its power to pray. No power is found elsewhere but in its ability to pray, “For my house shall be called the house of prayer for all people.” It is based on prayer, and carried on by the same means.
Prayer is a privilege, a sacred, princely privilege. Prayer is a duty, and obligation most binding, and most imperative, which should hold us to it. But prayer is more than a privilege, more than a duty. It is a means, an instrument, a condition. Not to pray is to lose much more than to fail in the exercise and enjoyment of a high or sweet privilege. Not to pray is to fail among lines far more important than even the violation of an obligation.
Prayer is the appointed condition of getting God’s aid. This aid is a manifold and illimitable as God’s ability, and as varied and exhaust-less is this aid as man’s need. Prayer is the avenue through which God supplies man’s wants.
Prayer is the channel through which all good flows from God to man, and all good from men to men. God is the Christian’s Father. Asking and giving are in that relation.
Man is the one, more immediately concerned in this great work of praying. It ennobles man’s reason to empty it in prayer. The office and work of prayer is the divinest engagement of man’s reason. Prayer makes man’s reason to shine. Intelligence of the highest order approves prayer. He is the wisest man who prays the most and the best. Prayer is the school of wisdom as well as of piety.
Prayer is not a picture to handle, to admire, to look at. It is not beauty, coloring, shape, attitude, imagination, or genius. These things do not pertain to its character or conduct. It is not poetry or music; its inspiration and melody come from heaven. Prayer belongs to the Spirit, and at times it possesses the spirit and stirs the spirit with high and holy purposes and resolves.
The possibilities and necessity of prayer are graven in the eternal foundations of the Gospel. The relation that is established between the Father and the Son and decreed covenant between the two has prayer as the base of its existence, and the conditions of the advance and success of the gospel. Prayer is the condition by which all foes are to be overcome and all the inheritance is to be possessed.
These are axiomatic truths, though they may be very homely ones. But these are the times when Bible axioms need to be stressed, pressed, iterated and reiterated. The very air is rife with influences, practices and theories which sap foundations, and the most veritable truths and the most self-evident axioms go down by insidious and invisible attacks.
More than this: the tendency of these times is to an ostentatious parade of doing, which enfeebles the life and dissipates the spirit of praying. There may be kneeling, and there may be standing in prayerful attitude. There may be much bowing of the head and yet there may be no serious, real praying.
Prayer has in its keeping the very heart of worship.
Who can approach into God’s presence in prayer? Who can come before the great God, Maker of all worlds, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who holds in His hand all good, and who is all-powerful and able to do all things? Man’s approach to this great God—what lowliness, what truth, what cleanness of hands, and purity of heart is needed and demanded!
Definition of prayer scarcely belongs to Bible range at any point.
Everywhere we are impressed that it is more important and urgent that men pray, than that they be skilled in the homiletic didactics of prayer.
This is a thing of the heart, not of the schools. It is more of feeling than of words.
Praying is the best school in which to learn to pray, prayer the best dictionary to define the art and nature of praying.
We repeat and reiterate. Prayer is not a mere habit, captivated by custom and memory, something which must be gone through with, its value depending upon the decency and perfection of the performance. Prayer is not a duty which must be performed, to ease obligation and to quiet conscience.
Prayer is not mere privilege, a sacred indulgence to be taken advantage of, at leisure, at pleasure, at will, and no serious loss attending its omission.
Prayer is a solemn service due to God, an adoration, a worship, an approach to God for some request, the presenting of some desire, the expression of some need to Him, who, as a father, finds His greatest pleasure in relieving the wants and granting the desires of His children.
Prayer is the child’s request, not to the winds, nor to the world, but to the Father.
Prayer is the outstretched arms of the child for the Father’s help.
Prayer is the child’s cry calling to the Father’s ear, the Father’s heart, the Father’s ability, which the Father is to hear, the Father is to feel, and which the Father is to relieve.
Prayer is the seeking of God’s great and greatest good, which will not come if we do not pray.
Prayer is an ardent and believing cry to God for some specific thing. God’s rule is to answer prayer by giving the specific thing asked for. With it may come much of other gifts and graces.
Strength, serenity, sweetness, and faith may come as the bearers of the gifts. But even they come because God hears and answers prayer.
Revelation does not deal in philosophical details, nor verbal niceties and hair-splitting distinctions. It unfolds relationships, declares principles, and enforces duties. The heart must define, the experience must realize.
Paul came on the stage too late to define prayer. That which had been so well done by patriarchs and prophets needed no return to dictionaries. Christ is himself the illustration and definition of prayer. He prayed as man had never prayed.
He put prayer on a higher basis, with grander results and simpler being that it had ever known.
He taught Paul how to pray by the revelation of himself, which is the first call to prayer, and the first lesson in praying.
Prayer, like love, is too ethereal and too heavenly to be held in the gross rams of chilly definitions. It belongs to heaven, and to the heart, and not to words and ideas only.
Prayer is no petty invention of man, a fancied relief for fancied ills.
Prayer is no dreary performance, dead and death dealing, but is God’s enabling act for man, living and life-giving, joy and joy-giving.
Prayer is the contact of a living soul with God. In prayer God stoops to kiss man, to bless man, and to aid man in everything that God can devise or man can need.
Prayer fills man’s emptiness with God’s fullness. Prayer fills man’s poverty with God’s riches. Prayer puts away man’s weakness with the coming of God’s strength.
It banishes man’s littleness with God’s greatness. Prayer is God’s plan to supply man’s great and continuous need with God’s great and continuous abundance.
What is this prayer to which men are called? It is not a mere form, a child’s play. It is serious, difficult work, the manliest, the mightiest work, the divinest work which man can do.
Prayer lifts men out of the earthliness and links them with the heavenlies. Men are never nearer heaven , nearer God, never more God-like, never in deeper sympathy and truer partnership with Jesus Christ, than when praying. Love, philanthropy, holy affiances, all of them helpful and tender for men—are born and perfected by prayer.
Prayer is not merely a question of duty, but of salvation. Are men saved who are not men of prayer? Is not the gift, the inclination, the habit of prayer, one of the elements or characteristics of salvation? Can it be possible to be in affinity with Jesus Christ and not be prayerful? Is it possible to have the Holy Spirit and not have the spirit of prayer? Is it possible to have the new birth and not be born to prayer? Is not the life of the Spirit and the life of prayer coordinate and consistent? Can brotherly love be in the heart which is unschooled in prayer?
We have two kinds of prayer named in the New Testament—prayer and supplication.
Prayer denotes prayer in general. Supplication is more intense and more special form of prayer. These two. Supplication and prayer, ought to be combined. Then we would have devotion in its widest and sweetest form, and supplication with its most earnest and personal sense of need.
“Prayer gives us eyes to see God. Prayer is seeing God.” The prayer life is knowledge without and within. All vigilance without, all vigilance within. There can be no intelligent prayer without knowledge within. Our inner condition and our inner needs must be felt and known.
It takes prayer to minister. It takes life, the highest form of life, to minister. Prayer is the highest intelligence, the profoundest wisdom, the most vital the most joyous, the most efficacious, the most powerful of all vocations. It is life, radiant, transporting, eternal life. Away with dry forms, with dead, cold habits of prayer! Away with sterile routine, with senseless performances and petty playthings in prayer!
Let us get at the serious work, the chief business of men, that of prayer. Let us work at it skillfully.
Let us seek to be expert in this great work of praying. Let us be master-workmen in this high art of praying.
Let us be so in the habit of prayer, so devoted to prayer, so filled with its rich spices, so ardent by its holy flame, that all heaven and earth will be perfumed by its aroma, and nations yet in the womb will be blessed by our prayers. Heaven will be fuller and brighter in glorious inhabitants; earth will be better prepared for its bridal day, and hell robbed of many of its victims, because we have lived to pray.
Poverty of spirit enters into true praying. “Blessed are the poor in sprit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “The poor” means paupers, beggars, those who live on the bounty of others, who live by begging. Christ’s people live by asking. “Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath.” It is his affluent inheritance, his daily annuity.
In His own example, Christ illustrates the nature and necessity of prayer. Everywhere He declares that he who is on God’s mission in this world will pray. He is an illustrious example of the principle that the more devoted the man is to God, the more prayerful will he be. The more divine the man, the more of the Spirit of the Father and of the Son will he receive.
In the great events and crowning periods of the life of Jesus we find Him in prayer—at the beginning of His ministry, at the fords of the Jordan, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him; just prior to the transfiguration, and in the Garden of Gethsemane. Well do the words of Peter come in here: “Leaving us an example that ye should follow in his steps.”
There is an important principle of prayer found in some of the miracles of Christ. It is the progressive nature of the answer to prayer. Not at once does God always give the full answer to prayer but rather progressively, step by step. Mark 8:22 describes a case which illustrates this important truth, too often overlooked.
What are the limitations of prayer? How far do its benefits and possibilities reach? What part of God’s dealings with man and with man’s world, is unaffected by prayer? Do the possibilities of prayer cover all temporal and spiritual good? The answers to these questions are of transcendental importance. The answer will gauge the effort and results of our praying. The answer will greatly enhance the value of prayer, or will greatly depress prayer. The answers to these important questions are fully covered by Paul’s words on prayer: “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6).
“Christ is all. We are complete in Him. He is the answer to every need, the perfect Saviour. H needs no decoration to heighten His beauty, no prop to increase His stability, no girding to perfect His strength. Who can gild refined gold, whiten the snow, perfume the rose, or heighten the colors of the summer sunset? Who will prop the mountains or help the great deep? It is not Christ and philosophy, nor Christ and money, nor civilization, nor diplomacy, nor science, nor organization. It is Christ alone. He trod the wine press alone. His own arm brought salvation. He is enough. He is the comfort, the strength, the wisdom, the righteousness, the sanctification of all men.” —C. L. Chilton
Source: Bethany House Publishers
A Freelance writer from Secunderabad India
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