My Creed leads me to think that prayer is efficacious, and surely a day’s asking God to overrule all events for good is not lost. Still there is a great feeling that when a man is praying he’s doing nothing, and this feeling makes us give undue importance to work, sometimes even to the hurrying over or even to the neglect of prayer.
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
The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil everywhere. Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventive. It purifies the air; it destroys the contagion of evil. Prayer is no fitful, shortlived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. It is a voice which goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things.
God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.
That man is the most immortal who has done the most and the best praying. They are God’s heroes, God’s saints, God’s servants, God’s vicegerents. A man can pray better because of the prayers of the past; a man can live holier because of the prayers of the past, the man of many and acceptable prayers has done the truest and greatest service to the incoming generation. The prayers of God’s saints strengthen the unborn generation against the desolating waves of sin and evil. Woe to the generation of sons who find their censers empty of the rich incense of prayer; whose fathers have been too busy or too unbelieving to pray, and perils inexpressible and consequences untold are their unhappy heritage. Fortunate are they whose fathers and mothers have left them a wealthy patrimony of prayer.
The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon earth. The great throes and mighty convulsions on earth are the results of these prayers. Earth is changed, revolutionised, angels move on more powerful, more rapid wing, and God’s policy is shaped as the prayers are more numerous, more efficient.
It is true that the mightiest successes that come to God’s cause are created and carried on by prayer. God’s day of power; the angelic days of activity and power are when God’s Church comes into its mightiest inheritance of mightiest faith and mightiest prayer. God’s conquering days are when the saints have given themselves to mightiest prayer. When God’s house on earth is a house of prayer, then God’s house in heaven is busy and all potent in its plans and movements, then His earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory and His enemies defeated on every hand.
God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer. The condition was put in the very existence of God’s cause in this world. Ask of Me is the one condition God puts in the very advance and triumph of His cause.
Men are to pray—to pray for the advance of God’s cause. Prayer puts God in full force in the world. To a prayerful man God is present in realised force; to a prayerful Church God is present in glorious power, and the Second Psalm is the Divine description of the establishment of God’s cause through Jesus Christ. All inferior dispensations have merged in the enthronement of Jesus Christ. God declares the enthronement of His Son. The nations are incensed with bitter hatred against His cause. God is described as laughing at their enfeebled hate. The Lord will laugh; The Lord will have them in derision. “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion.” The decree has passed immutable and eternal:
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said unto Me, Thou art My Son;
This day have I begotten Thee.
Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance,
And the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron;
Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Ask of Me is the condition a praying people willing and obedient. “And men shall pray for Him continually.” Under this universal and simple promise men and women of old laid themselves out for God. They prayed and God answered their prayers, and the cause of God was kept alive in the world by the flame of their praying.
Prayer became a settled and only condition to move His Son’s Kingdom. “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened.” The strongest one in Christ’s kingdom is he who is the best knocker. The secret of success in Christ’s Kingdom is the ability to pray. The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one in Christ’s Kingdom. The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.
Prayer is the keynote of the most sanctified life, of the holiest ministry. He does the most for God who is the highest skilled in prayer. Jesus Christ exercised His ministry after this order.