Sunday, 14 October 2012

Our Greatest Need - Also Our Greatest Neglect

 In venturing to state in one word our greatest need and also our greatest neglect to be prayer, one is assured of the unanimous testimony of all sincere Christian believers both within our own church, and in many other such organizations. "Keep thy heart with all diligence," is the counsel of the Wise man, "for out of it are the issues of life." For, "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." The only way the heart can be kept pure is by constantly lifting it in prayer to God. As one able writer has said, "We must be aided by the abiding influence of the Holy Spirit, which will attract the mind upward, and habituate it to dwell on pure and holy things."—"Patriarchs and Prophets," page 460. 

Commenting on the godly life of Enoch,the same writer says: "In the midst of a life of active labor, Enoch steadfastly maintained his communion with God. The greater and more pressing his labors, the more constant and earnest were his prayers. He continued to exclude himself,at certain periods, from all society. After remaining for a time among the people, laboring to benefit them by instruction and example, he would withdraw, to spend a season in solitude, hungering and thirsting for that divine knowledge which God alone can impart. Communing thus with God, Enoch came more and more to reflect the Divine image. His face was radiant with a holy light, even the light that shineth in the face of Jesus. As he came forth from these divine communings, even the ungodly beheld with awe the impress of heaven upon his countenance."—Ibid., pages 86, 87. 

Not alone as individuals, but also as a church entrusted with a world-wide message, do we need to realize our great need of constant and earnest prayer. 

"Jesus Christ by precept, by command, by example, has shown with great clearness and force that He recognizes the greatest need of the enterprise of worldwide evangelisation to be prayer. 

"Before 'give' and before 'go' comes prayer. This is the divine order. Anything that reverses or alters it inevitably leads to loss or disaster. This is strikingly illustrated in the wonderful achievements of the early Christians, which were made possible by their constant employment of the irresistible hidden forces of the prayer kingdom. 

"They ushered in Pentecost by prayer. When they wanted laborers, they prayed. When the time came to send forth laborers the church was called together to pray.....When persecutions came the Christians nerved and braced themselves by prayer. Every undertaking was begun, continued, and ended in prayer. In this we find the secret of the marvelous triumphs of the early Christian church."—"The Pastor and Modern Missions," pages 192, 193. 

In support of the above very definite claims, let us notice briefly the Scriptural records of some of these outstanding examples of the efficacy of prayer. 

First, "They ushered in pentecost by prayer." In Christ's parting message of comfort and consolation to His disciples, He said: "And, behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God." Luke 24:49-53. 

Then in a subsequent record in the Book of Acts, we read: "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren." Acts 1: 14. 

Moffatt's translation renders this verse as follows: "All these men resorted with one mind to prayer, together with their wives, with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." "And when the day of pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting." Acts 2: 1, 2. 

Thus it is very evident that much sincere prayer preceded and prepared the way for this remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God. "The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men, and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer to God, and as they did this they realized what a privilege had been theirs in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ."—"Acts of the Apostles," page 37.

 "The source of the spiritual vitality and power of any Christian movement is prayer. Our hope and confidence in this enterprise of world-wide missions are chiefly placed, not in the extent and strength of the missionary organization; not in the number and power of the missionary force; not in the fullness of the treasury and in well appointed missionary equipment; not in the achievements of the past, even those of a spiritual character; not in the experience acquired by centuries of Christian missions; not in the methods and agencies which have been devised; not in the brilliancy and popularity of the leaders of the missionary movement at home and abroad; not in the farsighted policies and plans, not in enthusiastic forward movements and inspiring watchwords—upon none of these considerations do we rely principally, for it is 'not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.' "—"The Pastor and Modern Missions," page 193.

 A G Stewart, 1930.

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