THE SPIRIT of PRAYER
The spirit of the soul is in itself nothing else but a spirit breathed forth from the life of God, and for this end only: that the life of God, the nature of God, the working of God, the will of God, might be manifested in it.
The spirit of prayer is a pressing forth of the soul out of this earthly life; it is a stretching with all its desires after the life of God; it is a leaving behind, as far as it can, all its own spirit, to receive a spirit from above, to be one life, one love, one spirit with Christ in God. This prayer, which is an emptying itself of all its own delights and dispositions and an opening itself for the light and love of God to enter into it, is the prayer in the name of Christ to which nothing is denied. For the love which God bears to the soul, His eternal, never-ceasing desire to enter into it, to dwell in it, and open the birth of His holy Word and Spirit in it, delays no longer than till the door of the heart opens for it. For nothing does or can keep God out of the soul or hinder His Holy union with it but the desire of the heart turned from Him. For the life of the soul in itself is nothing else but a working will; wherever the will works, there and there only the soul lives, whether it be in God or in the creature.
A will given up to earthly good is feeding on grass with Nebuchadnezzar, and has one life with the beasts of the field; for earthly desires keep up the same life in a man and an ox. Earthly food is properly desired and used for the support of the earthly body, being suitable to man’s present condition and the order of nature. But when the desire, the delight and longing of the soul is set upon earthly things, then the humanity is degraded, is fallen from God; and the life of the soul is made as earthly and animal as the life of the body.
Child of God, do let us rise to a right conception of what it means that the Eternal Father by the Holy Spirit, breathes into us, seeking to have the life of God, the nature of God, the working of God, revealed within us. In earthly things we are not unwilling to take pains to make sacrifices for the object of our desire. Shall we not begin, as never before, to make the knowledge of God, the love of God, the will of God, the pleasing of God, the great object of our study and our effort. God is waiting to bless us, to reveal Himself to us, to fill us with His life, to use us for His glory, if we will but yield ourselves to the life of continual dependence and adoration. We shall then prove how possible it is for a man to walk in the footsteps of Christ Jesus, living His life on earth every day in the love of the Father and to His glory.