The greatest of all things we can do
is to pray
Jesus lived a life of prayer. All that He did and said grew out of His prayer. There is no way of knowing exactly how far it was so. But the more I study His life the stronger grows the impression that His teaching and activity, which form the greater part of these Gospel pages, were actually less than His praying. He seems to have put prayer first. All the rest was an outgrowth of it. He was on a world-winning errand. And this was what He thought of prayer. The emphasis of Jesus' personal habit was laid upon prayer.
The Holy Spirit is a prayer-spirit. He is the Master-Intercessor. He breathes into us the spirit of prayer, and makes it glow into a passion. He teaches us how to pray. It is a lifelong teaching. You who are teachers know that patience and skill are more in a good teacher than the knowledge taught. With greatest skill, and loving, tactful patience the Spirit teaches us to pray.
And then He does more: He uses each of us as His praying-room, praying in us with yearnings beyond utterance the prayer to which we have not yet reached up, but which needs to be prayed down on the earth. All the power needed in this great winning work is in the Holy Spirit and comes from Him. And the chief thing He emphasizes is prayer.
The greatest thing each one of us can do is to pray. If we can go personally to some distant land, still we have gone to only one place. But our field is the world. It is impossible for us to reach our whole field personally. But it can be reached, and reached effectually, by prayer. The place where you and I are sent, whether at home or abroad, is simply our base of action. It is our field for personal touch. And that means very much. But it is more than that. It is only a small part of our field of activity. It is most significant as our base of action, from which we send out our secret messengers of prayer to all parts of the field.
And then, in the particular town or city or country district to which we have been sent, or in which we are being kept, the prayer properly comes before the personal activity. And it runs along side by side with the activity, and follows along after. We give the personal touch which must be given, and which may be so marvellous in power, but there's something even there greater than the great personal touch; and that is the power of prayer.
It is through the prayer that the personal presence means most. That personal presence may become a positive hindrance. It may be a drag upon the work. It often is just that for lack of prayer. For the real sweetness and efficiency of personal service out among men is in secret prayer.
And if we give money, it needs even more the prayer to go with it. Money seems almost almighty. As a winning force, of course, it must be reckoned far less than personal service. For it is less. It gets its almost omnipotence from human hands. If the personal touch depends for its subtle power on prayer, how much more does money! Money given to missions, unaccompanied by prayer, can no doubt be made to do great good. But it is a very pauper in its poverty alongside the bit of money that is charged with the spirit-current of prayer.