The grandest benefactors of the church!
(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)
"By running and exercising every day, you are the fitter to run in a race. Just so, the oftener you come into God's presence — the greater confidence, and freedom, and enlargement it will bring to your soul."
No doubt by praying we learn to pray; and the more we pray — the oftener we can pray, and the better we can pray. He who prays by fits and starts is never likely to attain to that effectual, fervent prayer which avails much.
Prayer is good,
the habit of prayer is better,
but the spirit of prayer is the best of all.
It is in the spirit of prayer, that we pray without ceasing.
It is astonishing what distances men can run, who have long practiced; and it is equally marvelous for what a length of time they can maintain a high speed after they have once acquired stamina and skill in using their muscles.
Just so, great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have interceded so successfully for Sodom, if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God. Jacob's all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord's most choice and wonderful prayer with His disciples before His Passion, as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.
A man who becomes a great runner has to put himself in training, and to keep himself in it; and that training consists very much of the exercise of running. Those who have distinguished themselves for speed have not suddenly leaped into eminence, but have long been runners.
Just so, if a man dreams that he can become mighty in prayer just when he pleases, he labors under a great mistake. The prayer of Elijah, which shut up Heaven and afterward opened its floodgates — was one of a long series of mighty prevailings with God. Oh that Christian men would remember this!
Perseverance in prayer is necessary to prevalence in prayer!
Those great intercessors, who are not so often mentioned as they ought to be in connection with confessors and martyrs, were nevertheless the grandest benefactors of the church. But it was only by abiding at the mercy-seat, that they attained to be such channels of mercy to men.
O Jesus, by whom we come to God, seeing You have Yourself trodden the way of prayer, and never turned from it — teach me to remain a suppliant as long as I remain a sinner, and to wrestle in prayer so long as I have to wrestle with the powers of evil. Whatever else I may outgrow, may I never dream that I may relax my supplications.
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2