Prayer so often is crowded out of our life in the hurry and bustle of the day.
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Prayer is the very recognition of God in our life, and a prayerless life must needs be a Godless life. It keeps alive, at any rate, a habit which, by the grace of God, may some day take fresh life again. Have, then, fixed times for prayer day by day, and keep to them. We must take trouble over our prayers.
Of all mental exercises, it has been said, prayer is the most severe. It requires the exercise of all the faculties that we possess. Prayer will never reach up to the throne of God if it is offered without effort and pains and care. We have to wrestle strenuously with the temptations and distractions that await us and hamper us in our prayers. There must be a concentration of the will. A discipline of the mind has to be brought to this exercise of prayer, together with a determination that we will at all costs break through the obstacles which oppose the utterance of our prayers, that they may reach up to the Throne of Grace.
How many a one has abandoned prayer in despair just for the lack of effort, just for the want of realising this great truth, that trouble and pains are needed if prayer is to be effectual! There is nothing in life that can be carried on without effort.
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The prayer of a righteous man, to avail much, must be fervent. The life must correspond to the exercise of prayer. Our Lord Himself; and if our prayer is to be united with His great intercession, it must be the prayer of a righteous man. Our life must prepare us for our prayers, just as much as our prayers will prepare us for our life. Worldliness, carelessness, selfishness, sin, shut out the sight of God and prevent our prayers reaching up to God, and so prevent the answer, and bring failure.
To pray to God out of a sinful heart is only to beat against a fast-closed door which nothing but penitence will open. Let us see that it has its own allotted time day by day set apart as a sacred engagement, that nothing must interfere with. Let us see that we do not leave our prayers to take their chance in our hurried life. Let us look to it also that we take pains with our prayers.
Do not let us be content to bring a weary body and a fagged brain to the service of God in prayer. And let us see to it, above all, that our life is true and sincere and holy. So only may we hope that our prayers may be the prayers of a righteous man, and merit the promise that attaches to them that they shall avail much for ourselves and those for whom we pray. The power of prevailing with God in anything is the Christ that is in it.
This strong power God has put into our hands. Take it downstairs with you after well using it in your own room; use it in the family—take it out with you when you go to your business—and do not separate from it when you enter upon your pleasures. Bring it back again to your room.
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Bring it up with you here. It is the real strength of everything in this world. Many people go on well for a time.
But if you feel this, I am quite sure that the success, and the power, and the satisfaction of everything in the world depends upon the measure of the prayer that you put into it. Bibliography Nisbet, James. Church Pulpit Commentary. Confess your faults ] To any such godly friend, as can both keep counsel and give counsel. Howbeit, it is neither wisdom nor mercy saith a good divine to put men upon the rack of confession, further than they can have no ease any way else.
For by this means we raise a jealousy in them towards us, and often without cause; which weakeneth and tainteth that love that should unite hearts in one. The effectual fervent prayer ] Gr. The word rendered "effectual fervent," is by one rendered a thoroughly wrought prayer. An allusion he maketh it to cloth, or such like, which we use to say is thoroughly well wrought, or but slightly wrought. Availeth much ] Jamblicus, a profane writer, hath such a commendation of prayer as might well beseem a better man.
He calleth it clavem qua Dei penetralia aperiuntur, rerum divinarum ducem et lucem. In the island called Taprobane; they sail not by any observation of the stars, they cannot see the north pole, but they carry birds along with them which they often let go, and so bend their course the same way, for the birds will make toward land.
Let us often send up prayers to heaven, and let our hearts go along with them, and they will certainly speed. He will help, but then we must work in prayer; and as a cart is stuck in a quagmire, if the horses feel it coming, they will pull the harder, so must we, when we find deliverance is coming, and that God is upon his way. Bibliography Trapp, John.
John Trapp Complete Commentary. The praying. It is not said "the prayer. If it were said "the prayer," it might seem as if the words of the prayer were like a charm, such as we read of in ancient fables, when some particular words repeated by any person are spoken of as able to produce some wonderful effect, so that, whoever uses them, they are regarded as equally powerful, the power, some mysterious imaginary power, being in the words themselves. It is the praying—the constant, earnest praying of the heart, not without words, no doubt, at least in general, but the constant, earnest praying of the heart—to which the effect is attributed by St.
It is the praying of a righteous man, not anybody's praying. James is speaking of the continuous heart-praying of the man who, clinging to the righteousness which has been won for him in Christ, is earnestly bent on rendering to God in his own body, soul, and spirit, by the help of the Holy Ghost, the offering of a righteous and saintly life. That is the sort of man of whose praying the Apostle speaks.
That sort of praying by that sort of man is a very strong thing. It is stronger than the wind, stronger than the earthquake, stronger than the sea, stronger than anything in the world; for God is moved by it, and He moves all creation at His pleasure. Its strength lies in the energy of its working; it sets on foot a mighty system of energies. The angels of God exult, the souls of men are wrought upon, the course of human events is guided, the grace of God is won, the Holy Spirit of God is abundantly poured out, by the secret incessant working of the mighty spiritual power that belongs to the "praying of the righteous man.
Intercessory prayer is but one part of the great system of intercession on which human life is organised. Intercession—it is simply a "coming in between. In its widest sense it may be applied to every act in which one human being is able to come in between another and some evil that might befall him. Nay, we may extend it even more widely still to the whole principle of mediation, by which one man is used to convey blessings to another. As it was with our Lord, so it is with the Church which He founded to represent Him when He should be gone. Its whole existence is one living act of intercession.
Always and everywhere the Church is an intercessor; it is the expression of the mind of the Paraclete, standing by its very existence between God and the world, standing between the world and the forces of evil which threaten it. Intercessory prayer is but the expression of its intercessory life. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, that interdependence of man on man which is seen in the actions of daily life finds a new sphere of operations in our prayers. Not merely the actions, not merely the character and influence, but also the praying, of a righteous man becomes a great force.
It is a great force, first, because it forces us to keep up a true ideal of what those for whom we pray may be. It makes us, in George Macdonald's striking phrase, "think of them and God together. Which of us does not know what a power for good this is? To know that some one does believe in us, that some one, knowing all our weakness, yet does believe that we can conquer our temptations; to be with some one who expects us to be better, this, even if it comes from those who have never knelt in prayer for us—this is an effectual intercession.
Intercession is, again, a great force because it pledges us to do the best we can for those for whom we pray. We cannot, in very shame, ask God to help those whom we are refusing to help ourselves when that help lies in our power; the very fact of intercession reminds us of the truth of the dependence of man upon man. We ask God to bless those for whom we care, and again and again He reminds us that His blessings are given through men, and the answer to our prayer is that we are sent on an errand of mercy.
Intercession is also such a great force because it brings into action the power of God, just as the tribune's veto would have had no force if it had been spoken by him on his own responsibility. It was strong because armed with the strength of law; it was strong not with the strength of even a Tiberius Gracchus, but with the power of a sacrosanct authority: so our prayers are strong because they have the promise and the power of Christ behind them.
References: James James , James Davis, Christian World Pulpit, vol. Bibliography Nicoll, William R. See Mills, and Wetstein.