"Men ought always to pray" (Luke 18:1). Everywhere in Scripture words to this effect give to prayer a paramount place in the churchs machinery of world evangelism. The whole gamut of Christs doctrine of prayer is not to make prayer an auxiliary to Christian work but pre-eminently its driving force.
"How few," exclaimed Cortland Myers, "ever enter into the positive, practical, power of prayer. It is the mightiest force in the universe and the Christian world is blind to the fact."
When the mighty Samson, who, typically speaking, stands for the supernatural ministry of the true church of Christ, was taken captive by the subtlety of the Philistines, they immediately penalized their victim by poking out his eyes. Thus blinded, his vision gone, the enemies of Samson and Israel bound and forced him to endless grinding at the mill.
In the identical manner when the church succumbed to the subversive influence of the world of sin, she became blinded to the mighty power of prayer and since has made prayer, not her chief concern but something entirely supplemental.
Is it any wonder Samson lost his power with God? Is it any wonder that a church that has relegated prayer to the background of its many ministries is not "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners"? (Song 6:10). Instead of the church today fulfilling her destiny in an invincible, supernatural testimony to the world, we find her chained and bound by her enemies on every hand, with the world unbelieving and scorning, looking on, and her own membership, generally speaking, backslidden, defeated, and compromising with the world and sin.
The greatest lesson the church must learn today is to put prayer back to its place of pre-eminence in her ministries. In her age-long conflict with the world and Satan, the church has always made her advances on her knees. So today the only weapon powerful enough to defeat the enemy in this last awful conflict is prayer in the Saviours Name.
If the church will summon her praying forces, and mobilize herself and the nation on her knees, the ranks of the enemy, massing powerfully on every side, will be broken. Winning in the closet of prayer the church will be everywhere victorious.
Praying in the Spirit
"We know not what we should pray for as we ought," declares the great Apostle to the Romans, "but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession...for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26-27).
"The greatest thing God ever did for me," said the saintly Samuel Chadwick, "was to teach me to pray in the Spirit." This knowledge of the positive, practical power of prayer in the Spirit cannot be gained from books on prayer. Paul prayed exceedingly day and night so that he could say, "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ" (2 Cor. 2:14).
Paul tells us the "Spirit also helpeth our infirmities" in prayer (Rom. 8:26). True prayer is a place of helplessness and infirmity in ourselves but almightiness in the name of Jesus. Our resources in prayer as in all things reside alone in God through His Spirit. When we pray we must believe the Spirit will do what the Word has promised. The Word says, "The Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us." Then let us yield to the Spirit and let Him pray through us "because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. 8:27).
If in this momentous hour America has preachers and people who will put on the whole armor of prayer and pray for a nation-wide, church-wide, world-wide awakening, such prayer will suffice to shake the gates of hell and advance the kingdom of God to earth. In this dark hour the gates of hell seem to be prevailing against the church of God.
Charles Finney, one of the greatest revivalists the world has ever known, has said, "There never will be a revival until somebody makes particular efforts for this end...Opposition does not necessarily kill or prevent a revival by any means. If Christians are driven to prayer, a revival will speed on.
"The great revival at Rochester, New York, began under the most disadvantageous circumstances that could be well imagined. The three churches were at variance. One had no minister; one was divided and was about to dismiss its minister. An elder in the Third Presbyterian Church had brought a charge against the pastor of the First Church.
"But in Rochester there were a few remarkable cases of the Spirit of prayer which assured us that God was there and we went on, and the more Satan opposed, the Spirit of the Lord lifted up the standard higher and higher, until finally a wave of salvation rolled over the place."
D. L. Moody witnessed the rise and fall of Americas revival of 1857 1900. He observed its decline and was deeply distressed. He said to a friend, "When the revival spirit dies, may I die with it!" Deep concern for a revived church stirred his whole being. In his last campaign he prayed with touching fervor, "O God, stir the cities of America again!"
God has pledged Himself to answer the Spirit-directed prayer of faith (Jude 20; Matt. 18:18-20; Jer. 33:3; John 14:14). The Almighty cannot deny Himself. His oath, His covenant, assures us that if we ask, He will do. Desperation in prayer is needed. Fervency and zeal are essential and a holding on in living faith until He, in answer to the heart cries of His people, sends Heaven to our aid.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon