Do you indeed ACT as you pray?

(John Angell James, "Prayer and Practice")

I need not prove to you that prayer, as a duty, is
essential to Christian conduct; and, as a privilege,
is equally indispensable to Christian enjoyment. All
Christians give themselves to this devout exercise.
Their petitions are copious, comprehensive, and
seemingly earnest.

What solemn professions they make to God!

What ardent desires they express!

What numerous blessings they seek!

What strong resolutions they form!

If we so pray--how ought we to live? What kind of
people must we be--to live up to the standard of our
prayers? And ought we not, in some measure at least,
to reach this standard? Should there not be a harmony,
a consistency, a proportion--between our practice and
our prayers?

Do you indeed ACT as you pray?
Do you understand
the import, and feel the obligation of your own petitions?
Do you rise from your knees where you have asked and
knocked--to seek? Do you really want, wish for, and
endeavor to obtain an answer to your prayers? Are you
really intent upon doing, and being--what you ask for
in prayer?

Our prayers are to act upon ourselves; they have,
or ought to have, great power in the formation of
character and the regulation of conduct.

It is plain, therefore, that much of prayer is mere
words. We either do not understand, or do not
consider, or do not mean--what we say.

Do we go from praying--to acting, and to live for
salvation, for heaven, for eternity?

How common is it for professors to pray for victory
over the world; to be delivered from the lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; to be
enabled to set their affections on things above, and
not on things of the earth; and to be dead to seen
and temporal things. And yet all the while they are
as obviously eager to amass wealth, to multiply the
attractions of earth, and to enjoy as much luxurious
gratification as possible!

'Spirituality of mind' is the subject of innumerable prayers
from some who never take a step to promote it! But, on the
contrary, who are doing all they can to make themselves
carnally minded! How many repeat that petition, "Lead us
not into temptation," who, instead of most carefully keeping
at the utmost possible distance from all inducements to sin,
place themselves in the very path of sin!

How often do we pray to have the mind of Christ, and to
imitate the example of Jesus. But where is the assiduous
endeavor, the laboring effort, to copy this high model, in .  . .
  its self-denying condescension,
  its profound humility,
  its beautiful meekness,
  its indifference to worldly comforts,
  its forgiving mercy,
  its devotedness to God?

How often do we pray to be delivered from evil tempers
and irascible feelings. And yet we indulge them on every
slight provocation, and take no pains to subdue them!

It is unnecessary to multiply the illustrations of the
inconsistency between our prayers and our practice.