And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
(Ezekiel 22:30 KJV)
In the past few centuries, the Earth has lost dozens and dozens of species to extinction, including the Tasmanian tiger, the auroch and the passenger pigeon, which went from 5 billion to zero in just a few decades. But ground-breaking scientific research is claiming the possibility of taking tiny bits of old DNA from museum specimens and actually reassemble the entire genome using new technology-and maybe even reassemble the organism itself!
We thank God for all that scientific research has been able to achieve. But there is yet another type of extinction that mankind may well soon be faced with, and it would take much more than mere scientific research to be able to resurrect. I speak of the extinction of praying men.
Brethren, there is a scarcity of praying men and women in our days. Many Christians today do not pray. They will do anything but pray. They will go to church. They will sing. They will dance. They will even preach and evangelize. But they will not pray. Praying men have become an endangered species in this evil hour. The most depressing gathering in many churches today is the prayer meeting. I say it again, brethren, praying men are scarce in our generation.
How do we know that praying men are scarce? Because the Father could not find any when He was looking for one:
And I sought for a man among them, that should ... stand in the gap before me for the land... but I found none.
(Ezekiel 22:30 KJV)
The eyes of the Father are running to and fro throughout the whole earth, seeking and searching for a man who prays. But how disappointing the results of His search are, especially in our generation!
And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor...
(Isaiah 59:16 KJV)
How do we know that praying men are scarce? Because one of the major concerns of Jesus when He returns, is whether He will find men and women on earth who still believe in the power of persistent and persevering prayer:
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
(Luke 18:7-8 KJV)
The faith for prayer is dwindling out of the Church of Jesus Christ. That tenacious and unyielding faith, like Jacobs, that says, Except Thou bless me, I will not let Thee go, is running out in our beautiful cathedrals. The Son of Man is coming, but do we have any of this kind of faith left in our churches?
How do we know that praying men are scarce? Because of the very few pastors who pray regularly. A cross-denominational survey has brought to light some very revealing statistics about the prayer lives of many pastors today. The study shows that 80% of pastors spend less than 15 minutes a day in prayer, and 95% of pastors do not pray regularly with their spouses.
Shocking, but yet true; and the scriptures are not silent on it:
The priests did not ask, Where is the LORD? My own priests did not know me...
(Jeremiah 2:8 GNB)
For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
(Jeremiah 10:21 KJV)
If our pulpits are thus prayerless, is it any wonder then that our pews are also prayerless? Indeed it is true, that prayerless pulpits beget prayerless pews. O, how scarce it is to find praying men today!
How do we know that praying men are scarce? Because of the scarcity of quality preaching in our days. Indeed there is an abundance of preaching now more than ever before. But the truth is that in spite of the multiplied preaching and many sermons, what we call the Word of the Lord is very rare today.
This was the case in the days of the boy Samuel:
In those days, when the boy Samuel was serving the LORD under the direction of Eli, there were very few messages from the LORD, and visions from him were quite rare.
(1 Samuel 3:1 GNB)
For a long time, they had not heard the voice of the Lord in the manner that Samuel heard that night. A word from the Lord in a dream or vision, directing, informing, instructing, or reproving, was very rare in those days. So rare that the child Samuel knew not that it was the voice of the Lord that called to him. So rare that Eli himself thought nothing of it until He had called a third time.
When we do not hear from Him, it is because we have stopped talking to Him. If He is not speaking to us, it is because we have stopped praying:
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
(Jeremiah 33:3 KJV)
Prayerlessness is at the very roots of our poor preaching. That preaching is poor indeed, and ineffective, that has not its origin from the mouth of God. Why do you run, as though you had a Word from the Lord, when indeed you have not heard from Him?
Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.
(Ezekiel 13:5-6 KJV)
The rendition of the Contemporary English Version of the Bible for the scripture above throws more light on this predicament:
They dont warn the people about coming trouble or tell them how dangerous it is to sin against me. Those prophets lie by claiming they speak for me, but I have not even chosen them to be my prophets. And they still think their words will come true.
(Ezekiel 13:5-6 CEV)
Prayerless preaching does not encourage holy living, nor does it lay a strong emphasis on eternity. How many times is hell or heaven mentioned in todays well-crafted sermons? How many of the sermons today lay a strong emphasis on eternity? And why should we be surprised at all? The preacher has not been near Gods Holy Heaven, and so he cannot speak much about it!
The priests ...make no distinction between what is holy and what is not. They do not teach the difference between clean and unclean things... As a result the people of Israel do not respect me.
(Ezekiel 22:26 GNB)
Prayerless preaching is unctionless and powerless. The preaching is poor and ineffective because it is not preached in all the forces and energy that God supplies. The price of preaching unction is too high for many preachers today. Prayer is the price of preaching unction, and, as we have seen, many preachers today do not pray.
Unction is that part of preaching which nobody can tell what it is but everyone can easily detect its absence. Unction is that quiet but intense heat that makes preaching powerful and effective. It is that which gives preaching its force and energy, guiding the Sword of the Spirit into the very hearts of the souls of men.
Jesus, our Lord and Master, had preaching unction. When He spoke to the men en route to Emmaus, they confessed that their hearts burned within them:
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
(Luke 24:32 KJV)
Peter also preached with unction on the Day of Pentecost, pricking the hearts of his listeners with the double-edged sword:
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
(Acts 2:37 KJV)
Apostle Paul would not feign to speak a word unless it was imbibed with divine forces and energy:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of mans wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
(1 Corinthians 2:1, 4 KJV)
Paul wrote many letters, from which we preach today, but he knew more than we do, that the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life:
[God] also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
(2 Corinthians 3:6 KJV)
How did Apostle Paul get these divine forces to impregnate his speech? Was it not through prayer, the very price of preaching unction? In fact, he did not only pray for himself, but he also solicited for prayer from others, that his preaching may not be unctionless!
[Pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
(Ephesians 6:19 KJV)
Ah! God help us! For we have killed many souls by our multiplied preaching and decreased praying.
How do we know that praying men are scarce? Because of the increasing level of sin in both pulpit and pews. Sins real venom is to keep a man away from God. Sin hides His face from us, so that we cannot pray, as long as our sin remains:
And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
(Isaiah 64:7 KJV)
Prayerlessness is the mother of all sin because prayer is what keeps a man from the temptation to sin:
And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
(Mark 14:37-38 KJV)
Jesus, when He found the disciples sleeping, took a special interest in the case of Simon Peter, because Satan had desired to sift him as wheat, and if any of the disciples should be sleeping, it ought not to be Peter. Oh, if only he knew that his prayerlessness would cost him a regretful denial of his Lord!
That sin is on the rise in our churches is testimony to the truth that praying men are few. We hear of sins in the pulpit that are even shameful to associate with the pews. We have sins in our pews that even sinful unbelievers marvel at. And it is so because the men and women who are supposed to be praying are sleeping, and while they sleep, the enemy comes to sow his tares in the hearts of the unwatchful:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
(Matthew 13:25 KJV)
How do we know that praying men are scarce? Because of the decreasing number of conversions we see in our churches today! Oswald J. Smith writes thus in his classic book, The Revival We Need:
It is reported that there were 7,000 churches that did not win a single soul for Jesus Christ in an entire year. That means that 7,000 ministers preached the Gospel for a whole year without reaching even one lost soul. Supposing that they preached, putting it at a low average, on 40 Sundays, not including extra meetings, that would mean that these 7,000 ministers preached 560,000 sermons in a single year. Think of the work, the labor, the money expended in salaries, etc., to make this possible. And yet 560,000 sermons preached by 7,000 ministers in 7,000 churches to tens of thousands of hearers during a period of twelve months, failed to bring a single soul to Christ. Now, my brethren, there is something radically wrong somewhere. There is either something the matter with these 7,000 ministers or else with their 560,000 sermons, or with both.7
Once upon a time, conversion used to be a radical Christian experience. You could point to a sinner who has been at the feet of the Cross and confidently say, He is born-again! But not anymore. Now, true conversions are very few and far between in our decked cathedrals. And why is it so? Is it not because praying men are scarce?
To be sure, the born-again experience is like the birth of a newborn into the world. Someone has to travail for the baby to be born. If we did travail, then we should be sure to bring forth children in the Lord:
Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
(Isaiah 66:8 KJV)
And even after they are born, we must continue to travail until Christ be formed in them:
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
(Galatians 4:19 KJV)
The increasing number of spiritual miscarriages we see in our churches is proof to us that not many men are travailing in prayer until Christ is formed in the hearts of new converts.
Now you see why I say that praying men are scarce. It is sad, but it is yet true. The Father is still seeking for one. Will He find you?
I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
(Ezekiel 22:30 KJV)
(An excerpt from the FREE eBook "The Scarcity of Praying Men". Download at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/304754)