| Prayer and Vigilance ~ E.M. Bounds|
"...the Christian life is warfare, all the way."
[b]Prayer and Vigilance[/b] by E.M. Bounds
THE description of the Christian soldier given by Paul in the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians is compact and comprehensive. He is depicted as being ever in the conflict, which has many fluctuating seasons-seasons of prosperity and adversity, light and darkness, victory and defeat. He is to pray at all seasons, and with all prayer, this to be added to the armor in which he is to fare forth to battle. At all times, he is to have the full panoply of prayer. The Christian soldier, if he fights to win, must pray much. By this means, only, is he enabled to defeat his inveterate enemy, the devil, together with the evil one's manifold emissaries.
"Praying always, with all prayer," is the divine direction given him. This covers all seasons, and embraces all manner of praying.
Christian soldiers, fighting the good fight of faith, have access to a place of retreat, to which they continually repair for prayer. "Praying always, with all prayer," is a clear statement of the imperative need of much praying, and of many kinds of praying, by him who, fighting the good fight of faith, would win out, in the end, over all his foes.
The Revised Version puts it this way:
With all prayer and supplication, praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplications, for all saints, and on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me, in opening my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am in bonds.
It cannot be stated too frequently that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest. It is a battle, moreover, waged against invisible foes, who are ever alert, and ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men. The life to which Holy Scripture calls men is no picnic, or holiday junketing. It is no pastime, no pleasure jaunt. It entails effort, wrestling, struggling; it demands the putting forth of the full energy of the spirit in order to frustrate the foe and to come off, at the last, more than conqueror. It is no primrose path, no rose-scented dalliance. From start to finish, it is war. From the hour in which he first draws sword, to that in which he doffs his harness, the Christian warrior is compelled to "endure hardness like a good soldier."
What a misconception many people have of the Christian life! How little the average church member appears to know of the character of the conflict, and of its demands upon him! How ignorant he seems to be of the enemies he must encounter, if he engage to serve God faithfully and so succeed in getting to heaven and receive the crown of life! He seems scarcely to realize that the world, the flesh and the devil will oppose his onward march, and will defeat him utterly; unless he give himself to constant vigilance and unceasing prayer.
The Christian soldier wrestles not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places. Or, as the scriptural margin reads, "wicked spirits in high places." What a fearful array of forces are set against him who would make his way through the wilderness of this world to the portals of the celestial city! It is no surprise, therefore, to find Paul, who understood the character of the Christian life so well, and who was so thoroughly informed as to the malignity and number of the foes, which the disciple of the Lord must encounter, carefully and plainly urging him to "put on the whole armor of God," and "to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit." Wise, with a great wisdom, would the present generation be if all professors of our faith could be induced to realize this all-important and vital truth, which is so absolutely indispensable to a successful Christian life.
It is just at this point in much present-day Christian profession, that one may find its greatest defect. There is little, or nothing, of the soldier element in it. The discipline, self-denial, spirit of hardship, determination, so prominent in, and belonging to the military life, are, one and all, largely wanting. Yet the Christian life is warfare, all the way.
How comprehensive, pointed, and striking are all Paul's directions to the Christian soldier, who is bent on thwarting the devil and saving his soul alive! First of all, he must possess a clear idea of the character of the life on which he has entered. Then, he must know something of his foes-the adversaries of his immortal soul-their strength, their skill, their malignity. Knowing, therefore, something of the character of the enemy, and realizing the need of preparation to overcome them, he is prepared to hear the apostle's decisive conclusion:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
All these directions end in a climax; and that climax is prayer. How can the brave warrior for Christ be made braver still? How can the strong soldier be made stronger still? How can the victorious battler be made still more victorious? Here are Paul's explicit directions to that end:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Prayer, and more prayer, adds to the fighting qualities and the more certain victories of God's good fighting men. The power of prayer is most forceful on the battlefield amid the din and strife of the conflict. Paul was preeminently a soldier of the cross. For him, life was no flowery bed of ease. He was no dressparade, holiday soldier, whose only business was to don a uniform on set occasions. His was a life of intense conflict, the facing of many adversaries, the exercise of nonsleeping vigilance and constant effort. And, at its close-in sight of the end-we hear him chanting his final song of victory, "I have fought a good fight," and reading between the lines, we see that he is more than conqueror!
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul indicates the nature of his soldier-life, giving us some views of the kind of praying needed for such a career. He writes:
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea.
Paul had foes in Judea-- foes who beset and opposed him in the form of "unbelieving men" and this, added to other weighty reasons, led him to urge the Roman Christians to "strive with him in prayer." That word strive indicated wrestling, the putting forth of great effort. This is the kind of effort, and this the sort of spirit, which must possess the Christian soldier.
Here is a great soldier, a captain-general, in the great struggle, faced by malignant forces who seek his ruin. His force is well-nigh spent. What reinforcements can he count on? What can give help and bring success to a warrior in such a pressing emergency? It is a critical moment in the conflict. What force can be added to the energy of his own prayers? The answer is-in the prayers of others, even the prayers of his brethren who were at Rome. These, he believes, will bring him additional aid, so that he can win his fight, overcome his adversaries, and, ultimately, prevail.
The Christian soldier is to pray at all seasons, and under all circumstances. His praying must be arranged so as to cover his times of peace as well as his hours of active conflict. It must be available in his marching and his fighting. Prayer must diffuse all effort, impregnate all ventures, decide all issues. The Christian soldier must be as intense in his praying as in his fighting, for his victories will depend very much more on his praying than on his fighting. Fervent supplication must be added to steady resolve, prayer and supplication must supplement the armor of God. The Holy Spirit must aid the supplication with his own strenuous plea. And the soldier must pray in the Spirit. In this, as in other forms of warfare, eternal vigilance is the price of victory; and thus,watchfulness and persistent perseverance must mark every activity of the Christian warrior.
The soldier-prayer must reflect its profound concern for the success and well-being of the whole army. The battle is not altogether a personal matter; victory cannot be achieved for self, alone. There is a sense, in which the entire army of Christ is involved. The cause of God, his saints, their woes and trials, their duties and crosses, all should find a voice and a pleader in the Christian soldier, when he prays. He dare not limit his praying to himself. Nothing dries up spiritual secretions so certainly and completely; nothing poisons the fountain of spiritual life so effectively; nothing acts in such deadly fashion, as selfish praying.
Note carefully that the Christian's armor will avail him nothing, unless prayer be added. This is the pivot, the connecting link of the armor of God. This holds it together, and renders it effective. God's true soldier plans his campaigns, arranges his battle-forces, and conducts his conflicts, with prayer. It is all important and absolutely essential to victory, that prayer should so impregnate the life that every breath will be a petition, every sigh a supplication. The Christian soldier must needs be always fighting. He should, of sheer necessity, be always praying.
The Christian soldier is compelled to constant picket duty. He must always be on his guard. He is faced by a foe who never sleeps, who is always alert, and ever prepared to take advantage of the fortunes of war. Watchfulness is a cardinal principle with Christ's warrior, "watch and pray," forever sounding in his ears. He cannot dare to be asleep at his post. Such a lapse brings him not only under the displeasure of the captain of his salvation, but exposes him to added danger. Watchfulness, therefore, imperatively constitutes the duty of the soldier of the Lord.
In the New Testament, there are three different words, which are translated "watch." The first means "absence of sleep," and implies a wakeful frame of mind, as opposed to listlessness; it is an enjoinder to keep awake, circumspect, attentive, constant, vigilant. The second word means "fully awake"-a state induced by some rousing effort, which faculty excited to attention and interest, active, cautious, lest through carelessness or indolence, some destructive calamity should suddenly evolve. The third word means "to be calm and collected in spirit," dispassionate, untouched by slumberous or beclouding influences, a wariness against all pitfalls and beguilements.
All three definitions are used by St. Paul. Two of them are employed in connection with prayer. Watchfulness intensified, is a requisite for prayer. Watchfulness must guard and cover the whole spiritual man, and fit him for prayer. Everything resembling unpreparedness or nonvigilance, is death to prayer.
In Ephesians, Paul gives prominence to the duty of constant watchfulness, "Watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication." Watch, he says, watch, WATCH! "And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch."
Sleepless wakefulness is the price one must pay for victory over his spiritual foes. Rest assured that the devil never falls asleep. He is ever "walking about, seeking whom he may devour." Just as a shepherd must never be careless and unwatchful lest the wolf devour his sheep, so the Christian soldier must ever have his eyes wide open, implying his possession of a spirit which neither slumbers nor grows careless. The inseparable companions and safeguards of prayer are vigilance, watchfulness, and a mounted guard. In writing to the Colossians Paul brackets these inseparable qualities together: "Continue in prayer," he enjoins, "and watch in the same, with thanksgiving."
When will Christians more thoroughly learn the twofold lesson, that they are called to a great warfare, and that in order to get the victory they must give themselves to nonsleeping watchfulness and unceasing prayer?
Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary, the devil, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.
God's church is a militant host. Its warfare is with unseen forces of evil. God's people compose an army fighting to establish his kingdom in the earth. Their aim is to destroy the sovereignty of Satan, and over its ruins, erect the kingdom of God, which is "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." This militant army is composed of individual soldiers of the cross, and the armor of God is needed for its defense. Prayer must be added as that which crowns the whole.
Stand then in his great might,
With all his strength endued;
But take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God.
Prayer is too simple, too evident a duty, to need definition. Necessity gives being and shape to prayer. Its importance is so absolute, that the Christian soldier's life, in all the breadth and intensity of it, should be one of prayer. The entire life of a Christian soldier-its being, intention, implication, and action-are all dependent on its being a life of prayer. Without prayer-no matter what else he has-the Christian soldier's life will be feeble, and ineffective, and constitute him an easy prey for his spiritual enemies.
Christian experience will be sapless, and Christian influence will be dry and arid, unless prayer has a high place in the life. Without prayer the Christian graces will wither and die. Without prayer, we may add, preaching is edgeless and a vain thing, and the gospel loses its wings and its loins. Christ is the lawgiver of prayer, and Paul is his apostle of prayer. Both declare its primacy and importance, and demonstrate the fact of its indispensability. Their prayer-directions cover all places, include all times, and comprehend all things. How, then, can the Christian soldier hope or dream of victory, unless he be fortified by its power? How can he fail, if in addition to putting on the armor of God he is, at all times and seasons, "watching unto prayer"?
Christopher Joel Dandrow
| 2006/11/20 22:29||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Prayer and Vigilance ~ E.M. Bounds|
[b]PRAYER AND CONSECRATION[/b]
[i]Eudamidas, a citizen of Corinth, died in poverty; but having two wealthy friends, Arctæus and Carixenus, left the following testament: In virtue of my last will, I bequeath to Arctæus my mother and to Carixenus my daughter to be taken home to their houses and supported for the remainder of their lives. This testament occasioned much mirth and laughter. The two legatees were pleased and affectionately executed the will. If heathens trusted each other, why should not I cherish a far greater confidence in my beloved Master, Jesus? I hereby, therefore, nominate Him my sole heir, consigning to Him my soul and my children and sisters, that He may adopt, protect, and provide for them by His mighty power unto salvation. The whole residue of the estate shall be entrusted to His holy counsel.[/i]-Gotthold
WHEN we study the many-sidedness of prayer, we are surprised at the number of things with which it is connected. There is no phase of human life which it does not affect, and it has to do with everything affecting human salvation. Prayer and consecration are closely related. Prayer leads up to, and governs consecration. Prayer is precedent to consecration, accompanies it, and is a direct result of it. Much goes under the name of consecration which has no consecration in it. Much consecration of the present day is defective, superficial and spurious, worth nothing so far as the office and ends of consecration are concerned. Popular consecration is sadly at fault because it has little or no prayer in it. No consecration is worth a thought which is not the direct fruit of much praying, and which fails to bring one into a life of prayer. Prayer is the one thing prominent in a consecrated life.
Consecration is much more than a life of so-called service. It is a life of personal holiness, first of all. It is that which brings spiritual power into the heart and enlivens the entire inner man. It is a life which ever recognises God, and a life given up to true prayer.
Full consecration is the highest type of a Christian life. It is the one Divine standard of experience, of living and of service. It is the one thing at which the believer should aim. Nothing short of entire consecration must satisfy him.
Never is he to be contented till he is fully, entirely the Lords by his own consent. His praying naturally and involuntarily leads up to this one act of his.
Consecration is the voluntary set dedication of ones self to God, an offering definitely made, and made without any reservation whatever. It is the setting apart of all we are, all we have, and all we expect to have or be, to God first of all. It is not so much the giving of ourselves to the Church, or the mere engaging in some one line of Church work. Almighty God is in view and He is the end of all consecration. It is a separation of ones self to God, a devotement of all that he is and has to a sacred use. Some things may be devoted to a special purpose, but it is not consecration in the true sense. Consecration has a sacred nature. It is devoted to holy ends. It is the voluntary putting of ones self in Gods hands to be used sacredly, holily, with sanctifying ends in view.
Consecration is not so much the setting ones self apart from sinful things and wicked ends, but rather it is the separation from worldly, secular and even legitimate things, if they come in conflict with Gods plans, to holy uses. It is the devoting of all we have to God for His own specific use. It is a separation from things questionable, or even legitimate, when the choice is to be made between the things of this life and the claims of God.
The consecration which meets Gods demands and which He accepts is to be full, complete, with no mental reservation, with nothing withheld. It cannot be partial, any more than a whole burnt offering in Old Testament times could have been partial. The whole animal had to be offered in sacrifice. To reserve any part of the animal would have seriously vitiated the offering. So to make a half-hearted, partial consecration is to make no consecration at all, and is to fail utterly in securing the Divine acceptance. It involves our whole being, all we have and all that we are. Everything is definitely and voluntarily placed in Gods hands for His supreme use.
Consecration is not all there is in holiness. Many make serious mistakes at this point. Consecration makes us relatively holy. We are holy only in the sense that we are now closely related to God, in which we were not related heretofore Consecration is the human side of holiness. In this sense, it is self-sanctification, and only in this sense. Sanctification or holiness in its truest and highest sense is Divine, the act of the Holy Spirit working in the heart, making it clean and putting therein in a higher degree the fruits of the Spirit.
This distinction is clearly set forth and kept in view by Moses in Leviticus, wherein he shows the human and the Divine side of sanctification or holiness:
[i]Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy, for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes and do them; I am the Lord which sanctify you.[/i]
Here we are to sanctify ourselves, and then in the next word we are taught that it is the Lord which sanctifies us. God does not consecrate us to His service. We do not sanctify ourselves in this highest sense. Here is the two-fold meaning of sanctification, and a distinction which needs to be always kept in mind.
Consecration being the intelligent, voluntary act of the believer, this act is the direct result of praying. No prayerless man ever conceives the idea of a full consecration. Prayerlessness and consecration have nothing whatever in common. A life of prayer naturally leads up to full consecration. It leads nowhere else. In fact, a life of prayer is satisfied with nothing else but an entire dedication of ones self to God. Consecration recognises fully Gods ownership to us. It cheerfully assents to the truth set forth by Paul:
[i]Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and spirit, which are Gods.[/i]
And true praying leads that way. It cannot reach any other destination. It is bound to run into this depot. This is its natural result This is the sort of work which praying turns out. Praying makes consecrated people. It cannot make any other sort. It drives to this end. It aims at this very purpose.
As prayer leads up to and brings forth full consecration, so prayer entirely impregnates a consecrated life. The prayer life and the consecrated life are intimate companions. They are Siamese twins, inseparable. Prayer enters into every phase of a consecrated life. A prayerless life which claims consecration is a misnomer, false, counterfeit.
Consecration is really the setting apart of ones self to a life of prayer. It means not only to pray, but to pray habitually, and to pray more effectually. It is the consecrated man who accomplishes most by His praying. God must hear the man wholly given up to God. God cannot deny the requests of him who has renounced all claims to himself, and who has wholly dedicated himself to God and His service. This act of the consecrated man puts him on praying ground and pleading terms with God. It puts Him in reach of God in prayer. It places him where he can get hold of God, and where he can influence God to do things which He would not otherwise do.
Consecration brings answers to prayer. God can depend upon consecrated men. God can afford to commit Himself in prayer to those who have fully committed themselves to God. He who gives all to God will get all from God. Having given all to God, he can claim all that God has for him.
As prayer is the condition of full consecration, so prayer is the habit, the rule, of him who has dedicated himself wholly to God. Prayer is becoming in the consecrated life. Prayer is no strange thing in such a life. There is a peculiar affinity between prayer and consecration, for both recognise God, both submit to God, and both have their aim and end in God. Prayer is part and parcel of the consecrated life. Prayer is the constant, the inseparable, the intimate companion of consecration. They walk and talk together.
| 2007/2/4 9:29||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: Prayer and Vigilance ~ E.M. Bounds|
There is much talk today of consecration, and many are termed consecrated people who know not the alphabet of it. Much modern consecration falls far below the Scripture standard. There is really no real consecration in it. Just as there is much praying without any real prayer in it, so there is much so-called consecration current, today, in the Church which has no real consecration in it. Much for consecration in the Church which receives the praise and plaudits of superficial, formal professors, but which is wide of the mark. There is much hurrying to and fro, here and there, much fuss and feathers, much going about and doing many things, and those who busy themselves after this fashion are called consecrated men and women. The central trouble with all this false consecration is that there is no prayer in it, nor is it in any sense the direct result of praying. People can do many excellent and commendable things in the Church and be utter strangers to a life of consecration, just as they can do many things and be prayerless.
Here is the true test of consecration. It is a life of prayer. Unless prayer be pre-eminent, unless prayer is to the front, the consecration is faulty, deceptive, falsely named. Does he pray? That is the test-question of every so-called consecrated man. Is he a man of prayer? No consecration is worth a thought if it be devoid of prayer. Yea, more-if it be not pre-eminently and primarily a life of prayer.
God wants consecrated men because they can pray and will pray. He can use consecrated men because He can use praying men. As prayerless men are in His way, hinder Him, and prevent the success of His cause, so likewise unconsecrated men are useless to Him, and hinder Him in carrying out His gracious plans, and in executing His noble purposes in redemption. God wants consecrated men because He wants praying men. Consecration and prayer meet in the same man. Prayer is the tool with which the consecrated man works. Consecrated men are the agents through whom prayer works. Prayer helps the consecrated man in maintaining his attitude of consecration, keeps him alive to God, and aids him in doing the work to which he is called and to which he has given himself. Consecration helps to effectual praying. Consecration enables one to get the most out of his praying.
Let Him to whom we now belong
His sovereign right assert;
And take up every thankful song,
And every loving heart.
He justly claims us for His own,
Who bought us with a price;
The Christian lives to Christ alone,
To Christ alone he dies.
We must insist upon it that the prime purpose of consecration is not service in the ordinary sense of that word. Service in the minds of not a few means nothing more than engaging in some of the many forms of modern Church activities. There are a multitude of such activities, enough to engage the time and mind of anyone, yea, even more than enough. Some of these may be good, others not so good. The present-day Church is filled with machinery, organisations, committees and societies, so much so that the power it has is altogether insufficient to run the machinery, or to furnish life sufficient to do all this external work. Consecration has a much higher and nobler end than merely to expend itself in these external things.
Consecration aims at the right sort of service-the Scriptural kind. It seeks to serve God, but in entirely a different sphere than that which is in the minds of present-day Church leaders and workers. The very first sort of service mentioned by Zachariah, father of John the Baptist, in his wonderful prophecy and statement in Luke 1:74, was thus:
[i]That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of our life.[/i]
Here we have the idea of serving God in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.
And the same kind of service is mentioned in Lukes strong tribute to the father and mother of John the Baptist before the latters birth:
[i]And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.[/i]
And Paul, in writing to the Philippians, strikes the same keynote in putting the emphasis on blamelessness of life:
[i]Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.[/i]
We must mention a truth which is strangely overlooked in these days by what are called personal workers, that in the Epistles of Paul and others, it is not what are called Church activities which are brought to the front, but rather the personal life. It is good behaviour, righteous conduct, holy living, godly conversation, right tempers-things which belong primarily to the personal life in religion. Everywhere this is emphasised, put in the forefront, made much of and insisted on. Religion first of all puts one to living right. Religion shows itself in the life. Thus is religion to prove its reality, its sincerity and its Divinity.
So let our lips and lives express
The holy Gospel we profess;
So let our works and virtues shine
To prove the doctrine all Divine.
Thus shall we best proclaim abroad
The honors of our Saviour God;
When the salvation reigns within
And grace subdues the power of sin.
The first great end of consecration is holiness of heart and of life. It is to glorify God, and this can be done in no more effectual way than by a holy life flowing from a heart cleansed from all sin. The great burden of heart pressed on every one who becomes a Christian lies right here. This he is to ever keep in mind, and to further this kind of life and this kind of heart, he is to watch, to pray, and to bend all his diligence in using all the means of grace. He who is truly and fully consecrated, lives a holy life. He seeks after holiness of heart. Is not satisfied without it. For this very purpose he consecrates himself to God. He gives himself entirely over to God in order to be holy in heart and in life.
As holiness of heart and of life is thoroughly impregnated with prayer, so consecration and prayer are closely allied in personal religion. It takes prayer to bring one into such a consecrated life of holiness to the Lord, and it takes prayer to maintain such a life. Without much prayer, such a life of holiness will break down. Holy people are praying people. Holiness of heart and life puts people to praying.
Consecration puts people to praying in earnest.
Prayerless people are strangers to anything like holiness of heart and cleanness of heart. Those who are unfamiliar with the closet are not at all interested in consecration and holiness. Holiness thrives in the place of secret prayer. The environments of the closet of prayer are favourable to its being and its culture. In the closet holiness is found. Consecration brings one into holiness of heart, and prayer stands hard by when it is done.
The spirit of consecration is the spirit of prayer. The law of consecration is the law of prayer. Both laws work in perfect harmony without the slightest jar or discord. Consecration is the practical expression of true prayer. People who are consecrated are known by their praying habits. Consecration thus expresses itself in prayer. He who is not interested in prayer has no interest in consecration. Prayer creates an interest in consecration, then prayer brings one into a state of heart where consecration is a subject of delight, bringing joy of heart, satisfaction of soul, contentment of spirit. The consecrated soul is the happiest soul. There is no friction whatever between him who is fully given over to God and Gods will There is perfect harmony between the will of such a man and God, and His will. And the two wills being in perfect accord, this brings rest of soul, absence of friction, and the presence of perfect peace.
Lord, in the strength of grace,
With a glad heart and free,
Myself, my residue of days,
I consecrate to Thee.
Thy ransomed servant, I
Restore to Thee Thy own;
And from this moment, live or die,
To serve my God alone.
THE ESSENTIALS OF PRAYER
by E. M. Bounds
| 2007/2/4 15:59||Profile|
| Re: Prayer and Vigilance ~ E.M. Bounds|
[b]Gods Cause Prospers When Prayer Is Mighty[/b]
Gods Cause Prospers When Prayer Is Mighty
By E. M. Bounds, From Purpose In Prayer
The prayers of Gods saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon earth. The great throes and mighty convul sions on earth are the results of these prayers. Earth is changed, revolutionized, angels move on more powerful, more rapid wing, and Gods policy is shaped as the prayers are more numerous, more efficient.
It is true that the mightiest successes that come to Gods cause are created and carried on by prayer.
Gods Day Of Power
The angelic days of activity and power are when Gods Church comes into its mightiest inheritance of mightiest faith and mightiest prayer. Gods conquering days are when the saints have given themselves to mightiest prayer. When Gods house on earth is a house of prayer, then Gods house in heaven is busy and all potent in its plans and movements. Then His earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory and His enemies defeated on every hand.
God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer. The condition was put in the very existence of Gods cause in this world. Ask of Me is the one condition God puts in the very advance and triumph of His cause.
Men are to prayto pray for the advance of Gods cause. Prayer puts God in full force in the world. To a prayerful man God is present in realized force. To a prayerful Church God is present in glorious power, and the Second Psalm is the Divine description of the establishment of Gods cause through Jesus Christ.
All inferior dispensations have merged in the enthronement of Jesus Christ. God declares the enthronement of His Son. The nations are incensed with bitter hatred against His cause. God is described as laughing at their enfeebled hate. The Lord will laugh; the Lord will have them in derision. Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. The decree has passed immutable and eternal:
I will tell of the decree: the Lord said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potters vessel (Psa. 2:7-9).
Ask of Me is the conditiona praying people willing and obedient. And men shall pray for Him continually. Under this universal and simple promise men and women of old laid themselves out for God. They prayed and God answered their prayers, and the cause of God was kept alive in the world by the flame of their praying.
Prayer became a settled and only condition to move His Sons Kingdom. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened (Matt. 7:7). The strongest one in Christs kingdom is he who is the best knocker. The secret of success in Christs Kingdom is the ability to pray. The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one in Christs Kingdom. The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.
Prayer is the keynote of the most sanctified life, of the holiest ministry. He does the most for God who is the highest skilled in prayer. Jesus Christ exercised His ministry after this order.
From revival articles [url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=20185]here[/url]
Christopher Joel Dandrow
| 2007/2/4 22:31||Profile|
| Re: Prayer and desire|
"The dampening of the flame of holy desire is destructive of the vital and aggressive forces in church life. God requires to be represented by a fiery church, or he is not in any proper sense, represented at all. God, himself, is all on fire, and his church, if it is to be like him, must also be at white heat."
[b]Prayer and Desire[/b] by E.M. Bounds
DESIRE is not merely a simple wish; it is a deep seated craving; an intense longing, for attainment. in the realm of spiritual affairs, it is an important adjunct to prayer. So important is it, that one might say, almost, that desire is an absolute essential of prayer. Desire precedes prayer, accompanies it, is followed by it. Desire goes before prayer, and by it, created and intensified.Prayer is the oral expression of desire. If prayer is asking God for something,then prayer must be expressed. Prayer comes out into the open. Desire is silent. Prayer is heard; desire, unheard. The deeper the desire, the stronger the prayer. Without desire, prayer is a meaningless mumble of words. Such perfunctory, formal praying, with no heart, no feeling, no real desire accompanying it , is to be shunned like a pestilence. Its excercise is a waste of precious time, and from it, no real blessing accrues.
And yet even if it be discovered that desire is honestly absent, we should pray, anyway. We ought to pray. The "ought" comes in, in order that both desire and expression be cultivated. God's Word commands it. Our judgment tells us we ought to pray-to pray whether we feel like it or not-and not to allow our feelings to determine our habits of prayer. In such circumstance, we ought to pray for the desire to pray; for such a desire is God-given and heaven-born. We should pray for desire; then, when desire has been given, we should pray according to its dictates. Lack of spiritual desire should grieve us, and lead us to lament its absence, to seek earnestly for its bestowal, so that our praying, henceforth, should be an expression of "the soul's sincere desire."
A sense of need creates or should create, earnest desire. The stronger the sense of need, before God, the greater should be the desire, the more earnest the praying. The "poor in spirit" are eminently competent to pray
Hunger is an active sense of physical need. It prompts the request for bread. In like manner, the inward consciousness of spiritual need creates desire, and desire breaks forth in prayer. Desire is an inward longing for something of which we are not possessed, of which we stand in need-something which God has promised, and which may be secured by an earnest supplication of his throne of grace.
Spiritual desire, carried to a higher degree, is the evidence of the new birth. It is born in the renewed soul:
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
The absence of this holy desire in the heart is presumptive proof, either of a decline in spiritual ecstasy, or, that the new birth has never taken place.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
These heaven-given appetites are the proof of a renewed heart, the evidence of a stirring spiritual life. Physical appetites are the attributes of a living body, not of a corpse, and spiritual desires belong to a soul made alive to God. And as the renewed soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness, these holy inward desires break out into earnest, supplicating prayer.
In prayer, we are shut up to the name, merit and intercessory virtue of Jesus Christ, our great high priest. Probing down, below the accompanying conditions and forces in prayer, we come to its vital basis, which is seated in the human heart. It is not simply our need; it is the heart's yearning for what we need, and for which we feel impelled to pray. Desire is the will in action; a strong, conscious longing, excited in the inner nature, for some great good. Desire exalts the object of its longing, and fixes the mind on it. It has choice, and fixedness, and flame in it, and prayer, based thereon, is explicit and specific. It knows its need, feels and sees the thing that will meet it, and hastens to acquire it.
Holy desire is much helped by devout contemplation. Meditation on our spiritual need, and on God's readiness and ability to correct it, aids desire to grow. Serious thought engaged in before praying, increases desire, makes it more insistent, and tends to save us from the menace of private prayer-wandering thought. We fail much more in desire, than in its outward expression. We retain the form, while the inner life fades and almost dies.
One might well ask, whether the feebleness of our desires for God, the Holy Spirit, and for all the fulness of Christ, is not the cause of our so little praying, and of our languishing in the exercise of prayer? Do we really feel these inward pantings of desire after heavenly treasures? Do the inbred groanings of desire stir our souls to mighty wrestlings? Alas for us! The fire burns altogether too low. The flaming heat of soul has been tempered down to a tepid lukewarnmess. This, it should be remembered, was the central cause of the sad and desperate condition of the Laodicean Christians, of whom the awful condemnation is written that they were "rich, and increased in goods and had need of nothing," and knew not that they "were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind."
Again: we might well inquire-have we that desire which presses us to close communion with God, which is filled with unutterable burnings, and holds us there through the agony of an intense and soul-stirred supplication? Our hearts need much to be worked over, not only to get the evil out of them, but to get the good into them. And the foundation and inspiration to the incoming good, is strong, propelling desire. This holy and fervent flame in the soul awakens the interest of heaven, attracts the attention of God, and places at the disposal of those who exercise it, the exhaustless riches of divine grace.
The dampening of the flame of holy desire is destructive of the vital and aggressive forces in church life. God requires to be represented by a fiery church, or he is not in any proper sense, represented at all. God, himself, is all on fire, and his church, if it is to be like him, must also be at white heat. The great and eternal interests of heaven-born, God-given religion are the only things about which his church can afford to be on fire. Yet holy zeal need not to be fussy in order to be consuming. Our Lord was the incarnate antithesis of nervous excitability, the absolute opposite of intolerant or clamorous declamation, yet the zeal of God's house consumed him; and the world is still feeling the glow of his fierce, consuming flame and responding to it, with an ever-increasing readiness and an ever-enlarging response.
A lack of ardor in prayer, is the sure sign of a lack of depth and of intensity of desire; and the absence of intense desire is a sure sign of God's absence from the heart! To abate fervor is to retire from God. He can, and does, tolerate many things in the way of infirmity and error in his children. He can, and will pardon sin when the penitent prays, but two things are intolerable to him-insincerity and lukewarmness. Lack of heart and lack of heat are two things he loathes, and to the Laodiceans he said, in terms of unmistakable severity and condemnation:
I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
This was God's expressed judgment on the lack of fire in one of the seven churches, and it is his indictment against individual Christians for the fatal want of sacred zeal. In prayer, fire is the motive power. Religious principles which do not emerge in flame, have neither force nor effect. Flame is the wing on which faith ascends; fervency is the soul of prayer. It was the "fervent, effectual prayer" which availed much. Love is kindled in a flame, and ardency is its life. Flame is the air which true Christian experience breathes. It feeds on fire; it can withstand anything, rather than a feeble flame; and it dies, chilled and starved to its vitals, when the surrounding atmosphere is frigid or lukewarm.
True prayer must be aflame. Christian life and character need to be all on fire. Lack of spiritual heat creates more infidelity than lack of faith. Not to be consumingly interested about the things of heaven, is not to be interested in them at all. The fiery souls are those who conquer in the day of battle, from whom the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and who take it by force. The citadel of God is taken only by those, who storm it in dreadful earnestness, who besiege it, with fiery, unabated zeal.
Nothing short of being red hot for God, can keep the glow of heaven in our hearts, these chilly days. The early Methodists had no heating apparatus in their churches. They declared that the flame in the pew and the fire in the pulpit must suffice to keep them warm. And we, of this hour, have need to have the live coal from God's altar and the consuming flame from heaven glowing in our hearts. This flame is not mental vehemence nor fleshly energy It is divine fire in the soul, intense, drossconsuming-the very essence of the Spirit of God.
No erudition, no purity of diction no width of mental outlook, no flowers of eloquence, no grace of person, can atone for lack of fire. Prayer ascends by fire. Flame gives prayer access as well as wings, acceptance as well as energy There is no incense without fire; no prayer without flame.
Ardent desire is the basis of unceasing prayer. It is not a shallow, fickle inclination, but a strong yearning, an unquenchable ardor, which impregnates, glows, burns, and fixes the heart. it is the flame of a present and active principle mounting up to God. It is ardor propelled by desire, that burns its way to the throne of mercy, and gains its plea. It is the pertinacity of desire that gives triumph to the conflict, in a great struggle of prayer. It is the burden of a weighty desire that sobers, makes restless, and reduces to quietness the soul just emerged from its mighty wrestlings. It is the embracing character of desire whicb arms prayer with -a -thousand nlea$. and robes it with an invincible courage and an all-conquering power.
The Syrophenician woman is an object lesson of desire, settled to its consistency, but invulnerable in its intensity and pertinacious boldness. The importunate widow represents desire gaining its end, through obstacles insuperable to feebler impulses.
Prayer is not the rehearsal of a mere performance; nor is it an indefinite, widespread clamor. Desire, while it kindles the soul, holds it to the object sought. Prayer is an indispensable phase of spiritual habit, but it ceases to be prayer when carried on by habit alone. It is depth and intensity of spiritual desire which give intensity and depth to prayer. The soul cannot be listless when some great desire fires and inflames it. The urgency of our desire holds us to the thing desired with a tenacity which refuses to be lessened or loosened; it stays and pleads and persists, and refuses to let go until the blessing has been given.
Lord, I cannot let thee go,
Till a blessing thou bestow;
Do not turn away thy face;
Mine's an urgent, pressing case.
The secret of faintheartedness, lack of importunity, want of courage and strength in prayer, lies in the weakness of spiritual desire, while the nonobservance of prayer is the fearful token of that desire having ceased to live. That soul has turned from God whose desire after him no longer presses it to the inner chamber. There can be no successful praying without consuming desire. Of course there can be much seeming to pray, without desire of any kind.
Many things may be catalogued and much ground covered. But does desire the catalogue? Does desire map out the region to be covered? On the answer hangs the issue of whether our petitioning be prating or prayer. Desire is intense, but narrow; it cannot spread itself over a wide area, It wants things, and wants them badly, so badly, that nothing but God's willingness to answer, can bring it easement or content.
Desire single-shots at its objective. There may be many things desired, but are specifically and individually felt and expressed. David did not yearn for everything; nor did he allow his desires to spread out everywhere and hit nothing. Here is the way his desires ran and found expression:
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord,and to enquire in his temple.
It is this singleness of desire, this definiteness of yearning, which counts in praying and which drives prayer directly to the core and center of supply.
In the beatitudes Jesus voiced the words which directly bear upon the desires of a renewed soul, and the promise that they will be granted: Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall filled."
This, then, is the basis of prayer which compels an answer-that strong inward desire has entered into the spiritual appetite, and clamors to be satisfied! Alas for us! It is altogether too true and frequent, that our prayers operate in the arid region of a mere wish, or in the leafless area of a memorized prayer. Sometimes, indeed, our prayers are merely stereotyped expressions of set phrases and conventional proportions, the freshness and life of which have departed long years ago.
Without desire, there is no burden of soul, no sense of need, no ardency, no vision, no strength, no glow of faith. There is no mighty pressure, no hold on to God, with a deathless, despairing grasp-"I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." There is no utter self-abandonment, as there was with -when, lost in the throes of a desperate, pertinacious, and all-consuming plea he cried: "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; if not, blot me, I pray out of thy book." Or, as there was with John Knox when he pleaded: "Give me Scotland, or I die!"
God draws mightily near to the praying soul. To see God, to know God, and to live for God-these form the objective of all true praying. Thus praying is, after all, inspired to seek after God. Prayer-desire is inflamed to see God, to have clearer, fuller, sweeter, and richer revelation of God. So to those who thus pray, the Bible becomes a new Bible, and Christ a new savior, by the light and revelation of the inner chamber.
We stress and emphasize that burning desire-enlarged and ever enlarging-for the best, and most powerful gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, is the legitimate heritage of true and effectual praying. Self and service cannot be divorced-cannot possibly be separated. More than that: desire must be made intensely personal, must be centered on God with an insatiable hungering and thirsting after him and his righteousness. "My soul thirsteth for God, the living God." The indispensable requisite for all true praying is a deeply seated desire which seeks after God himself, and remains unappeased, until the choicest gifts in heaven's bestowal, have been richly and abundantly granted.
Christopher Joel Dandrow
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