The Privilege of Prayer
George Everard, 1885
"Wait on your God continually." Hosea 12:6
"Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
None can tell the privilege of prayer — if only it is real and true.
Prayer is the great feeder and sustainer of the Divine life.
Prayer fans the flame of grace, and makes it burn brighter and brighter.
Prayer counterplots the devil, and confounds all his devices.
Prayer gives force and power to every effort for the good of others.
Pray in sincerity.
Never, never grow weary of prayer.
Do you remember when Hagar cast her son down under the shrubs on the way to Egypt? He had no water, and it seemed that he must die. But what is told us afterwards? "God heard the voice of the lad;" and the angel of God called to Hagar out of Heaven and said unto her, "What ails you, Hagar? Do not be afraid — God has heard the voice of the lad where he is" (Genesis 21:17).
I am not sure whether it is meant that Ishmael prayed, or that God heard the cry of his distress and need. In either case it is a great encouragement to a lad to pray; for if it were but the cry of his distress that God heard — how much more will He hear and regard the earnest cry of faith and prayer! And God heard him "where he was," under the shrub. And God will hear you wherever you pray. It may be in the school or the dormitory, or during a stroll in the playground, or during a walk along the road; but wherever you pray in your heart, if it is but a word, but a sigh toward Heaven, an upward look — there is an eye to notice it, and an ear to receive it.
Perhaps you ask — How shall I pray?
Remember that the words, "You shall worship the Lord your God," are as plain a command as "You shall do no murder." Prayer and praise are the bounden duty of man towards the Creator who formed him capable of worship. Do not slight this duty. Do not permit the society of the careless to hinder your performance of it. Do not neglect prayer, or hurry over it, or be content with a few words in bed. Look upon a day without prayer as a positive sin, a robbery of your own soul, an injury to those connected with you, and a dishonor to God Himself.
Make a reality of your prayers. Think over them beforehand. Shut the door of your chamber against your dearest friend, and the door of your heart against all intruding thoughts. Beware of lip prayers, for God searches the heart. Beware of mere formal, unfelt prayers, for "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth." Speak to God as to a kind Father or a loving Friend.
Be particular in asking what you really need and desire. Ask for things that you really wish for to add to your daily happiness, as well as for spiritual blessings. Confess, one by one, the sins of which conscience accuses you. Name before God your parents, your brothers or sisters, and ask a blessing for each. Think of the daily mercies you receive, and heartily thank God for them. Be very real in every prayer you offer. Whether it is short or long, only let it be the genuine expression of your desires, and it will not be lost.
Make a pleasure of your prayers. There are many who know that prayer is a duty, but there they stop. They do not take any delight in prayer. It is a dull routine they try to get through, and are glad when it is over. But try to rise far above this. Do not say to yourself, "I must pray," but rather say, "Thank God, I am allowed to pray!"
If a rich man, and one worthy of your highest regard, one who could counsel you in difficulty, and whose society was always pleasant and profitable — if such a man were to ask you to his house whenever you liked, and then you found he was always ready to give you a little pocket-money, or perhaps an interesting book, or some other token of his affection — you would scarcely say, "I must go and call on Mr. So-and-So," but when you could, you would go with all your heart.
Now think of your Father in Heaven. Oh, if only you knew Him! If only you knew one half of His kind thoughts toward you, and His willingness to help you! Why, if you did, twenty times a day you would rejoice to come to Him, if it were but for a moment's prayer. You would find a real pleasure in every season for prayer. Do you wish to experience this? I will give you one or two further hints.
Consider this: God delights in the true-hearted prayers of His children. He delights to listen to them, and then to give the most appropriate answer to their petitions, in His infinite wisdom. Now, if God delights to hearken and to give — then should not you delight to ask and receive? If He is so bountiful that it is a pleasure to Him to open His hand wide in giving — then surely it should be a joy to you to go and tell Him your needs and necessities.
Give God credit for His tender Fatherliness. Remember His heart of love towards those who seek Him. Remember, too, the channel through which your prayers arise to Heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ is ever pleading at the Father's right hand, and He gives you His name as the ground of your confidence. His name is an all-sufficient plea, and you can never use it in vain before God.
Remember, too, that the Holy Spirit is ever ready to assist you in prayer. He will prompt and suggest that for which you should pray. When you feel dead and cold in prayer, He is ready to come and quicken your heart that you may desire spiritual things, and realize that the Father is near to hear you.
Think, too, of the great promise given at the head of this chapter to those who wait on God. While even the young and the strong who depend on their own strength or resolution will utterly fall — if you depend on God you will renew your strength. Upward, higher and higher, you shall mount in faith and hope. Onward in the heavenly race you shall run with patience and perseverance. You shall neither faint nor grow weary until you reach the City of the Living God. Oh, that you would pray, and pray perpetually!
"Whatever the care that breaks your rest,
Whatever the wish that swells your breast,
Spread before God that wish, that care,
And change anxiety to prayer."
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16