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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Prayer - Time to Re Plug In

By Ray Dudley

The truth is are prayers are killing us. Actually, it's the quality of our prayers that are killing us. Did you know (and there are many that don't) that it's possible to pray all night for someone or something? Have you ever heard of David Brainerd? How is it that were not ashamed of our anemic approach to the throne? Where are those that believe in approaching the throne of God with authority? Can we really be so void of our position in Christ that we almost have to back up to the throne hoping for an audience with the King? "The violent take it by force" I believe is the correct quote (and it's not taken out of context).

Forgive me for the lengthy quote about to follow from E.M. Bounds, but, I feel it's necessary for us to see what CAN be done if we actually wanted to do it. Here, from "Power through Prayer": "BISHOP WILSON says: "In H. Martyn's journal the spirit of prayer, the time he devoted to the duty, and his fervor in it are the first things which strike me." Payson wore the hard-wood boards into grooves where his knees pressed so often and so long. His biographer says: "His continuing instant in prayer, be his circumstances what they might, is the most noticeable fact in his history, and points out the duty of all who would rival his eminency. To his ardent and persevering prayers must no doubt be ascribed in a great measure his distinguished and almost uninterrupted success." The Marquis DeRenty, to whom Christ was most precious, ordered his servant to call him from his devotions at the end of half an hour.

The servant at the time saw his face through an aperture. It was marked with such holiness that he hated to arouse him. His lips were moving, but he was perfectly silent. He waited until three half hours had passed; then he called to him, when he arose from his knees, saying that the half hour was so short when he was communing with Christ. Brainerd said: "I love to be alone in my cottage, where I can spend much time in prayer." William Bramwell is famous in Methodist annals for personal holiness and for his wonderful success in preaching and for the marvelous answers to his prayers. For hours at a time he would pray. He almost lived on his knees. He went over his circuits like a flame of fire. The fire was kindled by the time he spent in prayer. He often spent as much as four hours in a single season of prayer in retirement. Bishop Andrewes spent the greatest part of five hours every day in prayer and devotion. Sir Henry Havelock always spent the first two hours of each day alone with God.

If the encampment was struck at 6 A.M., he would rise at four. Earl Cairns rose daily at six o'clock to secure an hour and a half for the study of the Bible and for prayer, before conducting family worship at a quarter to eight. Dr. Judson's success in prayer is attributable to the fact that he gave much time to prayer. He says on this point: "Arrange thy affairs, if possible, so that thou canst leisurely devote two or three hours every day not merely to devotional exercises but to the very act of secret prayer and communion with God. Endeavor seven times a day to withdraw from business and company and lift up thy soul to God in private retirement. Begin the day by rising after midnight and devoting some time amid the silence and darkness of the night to this sacred work. Let the hour of opening dawn find thee at the same work. Let the hours of nine, twelve, three, six, and nine at night witness the same. Be resolute in his cause. Make all practicable sacrifices to maintain it. Consider that thy time is short, and that business and company must not be allowed to rob thee of thy God."

It's a subject full of controversy. How to pray, when to pray, what to pray, where to pray and to who to pray. All things which come up in the normal course of discussion about such an important subject. Sadly, one could reasonably say that more time and effort is given in the discussion of prayer than is put forth into the endeavor itself. Over the years I've encountered too many "gimmicks" in Christianity geared toward prayer. Things such as prayer clocks, prayer stones, prayer oil, prayer cloths and so on just gives me headaches. So much money and time lost for something so simple and yet so profound. The weight of the doing keeps many of us from rendering the time it requires. E.M. Bounds again wrote: " Praying is no light and trifling exercise. While children should be taught early to pray, praying is no child's task. Prayer draws upon the whole nature of man. Prayer engages all the powers of man's moral and spiritual nature. It is this which explains somewhat the praying of our Lord described as in Hebrews 5:7: "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared." What a mouthful! Childlike and yet no child's task.

We're given the privilege and honor to come before God Almighty and intercede for others, but, so many of us stumble over such a task. It's an awesome commandment to fulfill and yet so few of us actually understand it or even do it. And when we do we spend so much time on frivolous items such as material goods that the greater tasks of prayer for lost souls goes undone. Given the requirement to pray, it would do us well to spend as much time in the task as possible. One of the downsides to too little prayer is that we end up not fully understanding our relationship with God. Reading through epistles such as Romans and Ephesians should be extremely helpful helpful to us in our comprehension of who we are in Christ. Especially the Book of Ephesians. And I'm not talking here in any way about personal gain such as is in the "prosperity gospel" being preached in so many corners. Even a cursory look at the early forefathers and Christian before us would and should give us pause as to how and why we pray today. Men like George Mueller and David Brainerd should convict us and convict us deeply about how shallow we are in this 21st century. Our prayers reflect it.

Our government reflects it. So do our schools and neighbor hoods. Do you know of anyone that weeps and travails for their neighbors? Or for their city? Forgive me for what I'm about to say, but most pastors spend more time and effort on fund raising than they do engaged in prayer for the souls around them that are dropping off into eternal flames never to return. I repeat, never to return. No second chances. No "Oops I made a mistake". No "do overs". So go on. Prayer for a new car, new home, better job, nicer furniture. But while you do I'll be praying that God burns a desire so deep in our hearts that they have to tear us from our prayer closets. By the way, there seems to be plenty of room in the prayer closet so don't worry about it getting over crowded. Such is the task set before us. Weighty, but in it, joy. Somber and yet a task to be relished. I'll write more about prayer in upcoming articles. Until then, strive for a powerful, prayerful life.

Ray is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, actor, writer and minister.


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