By A.T. Pierson
We venture to suggest a few thoughts on prayer, which embody some of our most mature convictions upon this great subject, and are suggested alike by Scripture teaching and by the experience of praying saints.
Give yourself to the Lord anew as an intercessor, to undertake and fulfill in yourself all the conditions requisite to your becoming a perfect channel of blessing; and to put to the proof the promise: " If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."(John 15:7).
Consider well before you put any object or person before you in prayer; whether it is according to the will of God; whether you can claim for your request a definite promise, whether it is laid as a burden on your heart by the spirit of prayer, and having so determined, never cease praying till you have the answer, or at least the assurance of answer.
Unite with you in prayer, one or more of the most devout disciples, especially in critical cases. One great advantage is that selfishness is apt to color our supplications, and when others are united with us, they are less affected by motives that may unduly influence us.
You may be sure that there is no truer index of what you are spiritually than is found in what you habitually desire and yearn for, and this will naturally find expression in your secret prayer habit.
No matter what prayer has secured, attained or achieved for us, boundless possibilities still lie before us. It may be doubted whether we have yet touched more than the fringe of the garment of a prayer-hearing God. We come timid and trembling, when we ought to come boldly and confidently. We ask but little, where we should only honor God by making large demands.
In praying do not think of yourself as knocking at a closed door. Christ's dying cry rent the veil in two, and opened up both to vision and entrance the holy of holies with the mercy seat. Let us come boldly to a throne of grace. God is not a reluctant God, needing to be besieged like a walled city, which must be compelled to capitulate. Let us not spell beseech, besiege.
Do not forget that others for whom you are praying may get more comfort from your intercession than you get out of it.
The injunction to pray is not one but seven. It is in effect a command to acquaint thyself with God, to be conformed to His image, to keep yourself in His love, to study to show thyself approved unto Him, to be a co-worker together with God, to taste and see that the Lord is good, to commission Him concerning the work of His hands.
The greatest obstacle to the conversion of men is not any barrier in them so much as a barrier in us. The church as a corporate body, have never yet accepted, intelligently, lovingly, joyfully and confidently, the promises of God to praying souls.
The true intercessor learns to claim blessing. He sees all good provided and ready, and he comes to it as a hungry child to his father's table, not to ask to be fed, but to help himself to what his father's love has spread before him.
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, Put first things first, and God will add the secondary things without you seeking them. In such a sublime transaction as giving yourself to God - body, soul and spirit, He throws in " all these things" as if not even worthy to be counted or mentioned. (Mtt 6:33)
Cultivate a holy calm as a preparation for private prayer, as a lake while it is ruffled, can not reflect the over-arching heavens; so your heart while disturbed and distracted, can not reflect the face of God. Wait before God until you are at peace.
Spiritual guides for those who yearn for greater power to prevail in prayer. First, we call renewed attention to the great fundamental conditions of acceptable and effective supplication, which should always be kept before them:
Renunciation of all known sin. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me," Psalm 66:18.
A spirit of forgiveness. "When you stand praying, forgive, if you have aught against any,"Mark 11:25.
The confidence of faith. " Whatever things you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them," Mark 11:24.
A spiritual motive. " You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts," James 4:3.
"In Jesus' name." " If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it," John 14:13, 14 & 16:23.
According to God's will. " If we ask anything according to His will He hears us," I John 5:14.
Some conspicuous promises which fortify our feeble faith!
The promptness of Divine help. "Before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear," Isaiah 65:24.
The possibilities of faith. "If thou will believe, all things are possible to him that believes," Mark 9:23.
Abiding union with Christ. "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you," John 15:7.
God's immeasurable ability. "Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think," Eph. 3:20.
The riches in glory. "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," Phil. 4:19.
Agreement in prayer. "If two of you agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father who is in heaven," Matt. 18:19.