No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.
Poverty-stricken as the church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organisers, but few agonisers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.
The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer. The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer – the highest ministry of all human offices – is open to all. Spiritual adolescents say, “I’ll not go tonight, it’s only the prayer meeting.” It may be that Satan has little cause to fear most preaching. Yet past experiences sting him to rally all his infernal army to fight against God’s people praying. Modern Christians know little of “binding and loosing,” although the onus is on us – “Whatsoever you shall bind …” Have you done any of this lately? God is not prodigal with his power, but to be much for God, we must be much with God.
This world hits the trail for hell with a speed that makes our fastest plane look like a tortoise us; yet alas, few of us can remember the last time we missed our bed for a night of waiting upon God for a world-shaking revival. Our compassions are not moved. We mistake the scaffolding for the building. Present day preaching, with its pale interpretation of divine truths, causes us to mistake action for unction, commotion for creation, and rattles for revival.
The secret of praying is praying in secret. A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning. We are beggared and bankrupt, but not broken, not even bent.
Prayer is profoundly simple and simply profound. “Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try,” and yet so sublime that it outranges all speech and exhaust man’s vocabulary. A Niagara of burning words does not mean that God is either impressed or moved. One of the most profound of the Old Testament intercessors had no language – “her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.” No linguist here! There are “groanings which cannot be altered.”
Are we so substandard to New Testament Christianity that we know not the historical faith of our fathers (with its implications and operations), but only the hysterical faith of our fellows? Prayer is to the believer what capital is to the businessman.
Can any deny in the modern church setup the main cause of anxiety is money? Yet that which tries the modern churches the most, troubled with the New Testament Church the least. Our accent is on paying, their’s was on praying. When we have paid, the place is taken; when they had prayed, the place was shaken!
In the matter of New Testament, Spirit-inspired, hell-shaking, world-breaking prayer, never has so much been left by so many to so few.
That this kind of prayer there is no substitute. We do it – or die!
Leonard Ravenhill, “Why Revival Tarries” (1959)
A religion of mere emotion and sensationalism is the most terrible all curses that can come upon any people. The absence of reality is sad enough, but the aggravation of pretence is a deadly sin. – S. Chadwick
It is well to get rid of the idea that faith is a matter of spiritual heroism only for a few select spirits. There are heroes of faith, have faith is not only for heroes. It is a matter of spiritual manhood. It is a matter of maturity. – P. T. Forsyth
When God intends a great mercy for his people, the first thing he does is set them a-praying.– Matthew Henry
Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, are things Christ unsparingly condemned. Destitute of fire, they are nothing more than a godless philosophy, an ethical system, and a superstition. – S. Chadwick
The call of the cross, therefore, is to enter into this passion of Christ. We must have upon us the print of the nails. – Gordon Watt
My need and Thy great fulness meet,
And I have all in Thee. – Unknown
Fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord. – Paul