HOW TO PRAY

by R. A. Torrey

 

"Ye shall ask what ye will, and it will be done unto you":

 

The world-renowned classic which has already shown millions that

God's answers come to those who know how to ask.

 

WHO CAN HELP?

 

����������� Most of us know we OUGHT to pray, but many seem uncertain as

����������� to HOW, WHEN, and WHERE to pray.This book is the classic

����������� Christian answer to these vital questions.

 

����������� Believing that many prayers are not answered because they

����������� are not intelligently offered, Dr. Torrey examines the

����������� MOODS, the METHODS and the MEANINGS of prayer.He considers

����������� all the problems and questioning of the sincere seeker, and

����������� in answer to them offers an outline for effective praying

����������� that is as positive as it is beautiful and inspirational.

 

����������� The gentle art of prayer, within these pages, is put within

����������� the reach of the least of us.To read it is a mountain-top

����������� experience of communion with a loving, ANSWERING God.

 

 

"YOU HAVE NOT BECAUSE YOU ASK NOT"...

 

����������� ...and Dr. Torrey goes on to give reasons why men should

����������� pray -- and what prayer can do:

 

����������� "Prayer is God's appointed way for obtaining things, and the

����������� great secret of all lack in our experience, in our life and

����������� in our work is neglect of prayer."

 

����������� "All the mighty men of God outside the Bible have been men

����������� of prayer.They have differed from one another in many

����������� things, but in this they have been alike."

 

����������� "Prayer, in every care and anxiety and need of life, with

����������� thanksgiving, is the means God has appointed for out

����������� obtaining freedom from all anxiety, and the peace of God

����������� which passeth all understanding."

 

Men should pray -- as Christ Himself prayed -- and this little

masterpiece of inspiration and faith tells you why, how; it is a

faithful guide to the richest fulfillment of the Christian life.

 

*

 

HOW TO PRAY

 

R. A. TORREY

 

[Entered into electronic media on a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100

(notebook) computer by Clyde C. Price, Jr. 76616.3452@compuserve.com .

from a print-media edition published by

SPIRE BOOKS, FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY, OLD TAPPAN, NEW JERSEY

How to Pray, A Spire Book, published by Pyramid Publications for

Fleming H. Revell Company, Fifth printing March, 1975

printed in the United States of America, from the 1900 edition.

SPIRE BOOKS are published by Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan,

New Jersey 07675, USA.

Editorial assistance by Harry Whitehead of Mableton, GA, SysOp of

REVELATION BBS -ACNet-770-944-8059.

Reformatted for Project Gutenberg June 1996.]

 

*

 

CONTENTS

 

Chapter

 

I.����� The Importance of Prayer

 

II.���� Praying unto God

 

III.��� Obeying and Praying

 

IV.���� Praying in the Name of Christ and According to the Will of

����������� God

 

V.����� Praying in the Spirit

 

VI.���� Always Praying and Not Fainting

 

VII.��� Abiding in Christ

 

VIII.�� Praying with Thanksgiving

 

IX.���� Hindrances to Prayer

 

X.����� When to Pray

 

XI.���� The Need of Prayer Before and During Revivals

 

 

*

 

CHAPTER I

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER

 

 

����������� In the 6th chapter of Ephesians in the 18th verse we read

words which put the tremendous importance of prayer with startling

and overwhelming force:

 

����������� "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the

Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and

supplication for all saints."

 

����������� When we stop to weigh the meaning of these words, then note

the connection in which they are found, the intelligent child of God

is driven to say,

 

����������� "I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all

my heart into prayer.Whatever else I do, I must pray."

 

����������� The Revised Version is, if possible, stronger than the

Authorized:

 

����������� "With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in

the spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and

supplication for all the saints."

 

����������� Note the ALLS: "with ALL prayer,""at ALL seasons,""in

ALL perseverance,""for ALL the saints."Note the piling up of

strong words, "prayer,""supplication,""perseverance."Note once

more the strong expression, "watching thereunto," more literally,

"being sleepless thereunto." Paul realized the natural slothfulness

of man, and especially his natural slothfulness in prayer.How

seldom we pray things through!How often the church and the

individual get right up to the verge of a great blessing in prayer

and just then let go, get drowsy, quit.I wish that these words

"being sleepless unto prayer" might burn into our hearts.I wish

the whole verse might burn into our hearts.

 

����������� But why is this constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming

prayer so needful?

 

���� 1. First of all, BECAUSE THERE IS A DEVIL.

He is cunning, he is mighty, he never rests, he is ever plotting the

downfall of the child of God; and if the child of God relaxes in

prayer, the devil will succeed in ensnaring him.

 

����������� This is the thought of the context.The 12th verse reads:

"For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the

principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this

darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly

places." (R.V.)Then comes the 13th verse:"Wherefore take up the

whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil

day, and, having done all, to stand." (R.V.)Next follows a

description of the different parts of the Christian's armor, which

we are to put on if we are to stand against the devil and his mighty

wiles.Then Paul brings all to a climax in the 18th verse, telling

us that to all else we must add prayer -- constant, persistent,

untiring, sleepless prayer in the Holy Spirit, or all else will go

for nothing.

 

����������� 2. A second reason for this constant, persistent, sleepless,

overcoming prayer is that PRAYER IS GOD'S APPOINTED WAY FOR

OBTAINING THINGS, AND THE GREAT SECRET OF ALL LACK IN OUR

EXPERIENCE, IN OUR LIFE AND IN OUR WORK IS NEGLECT OF PRAYER.

 

����������� James brings this out very forcibly in the 4th chapter and

2nd verse of his epistle:"Ye have not because ye ask not."These

words contain the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of the

average Christian -- neglect of prayer.

 

����������� "Why is it," many a Christian is asking, "I make so little

progress in my Christian life?"

 

����������� "Neglect of prayer," God answers. "You have not because you

ask not."

 

����������� "Why is it," many a minister is asking, "I see so little

fruit from my labors?"

 

����������� Again God answers, "Neglect of prayer.You have not because

you ask not."

 

����������� "Why is it," many a Sunday-School teacher is asking, "that I

see so few converted in my Sunday-School class?"

 

����������� Still God answers, "Neglect of prayer.You have not because

you ask not."

 

����������� "Why is it," both ministers and churches are asking, "that

the church of Christ makes so little headway against unbelief and

error and sin and worldliness?"

 

����������� Once more we hear God answering, "Neglect of prayer.You

have not because you ask not."

 

����������� 3. The third reason for this constant, persistent,

sleepless, overcoming prayer is that THOSE MEN WHOM GOD SET FORTH AS

A PATTERN OF WHAT HE EXPECTED CHRISTIANS TO BE -- THE APOSTLES --

REGARDED PRAYER AS THE MOST IMPORTANT BUSINESS OF THEIR LIVES.

 

����������� When the multiplying responsibilities of the early church

crowded in upon them, they "called the multitude of the disciples

unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the Word

of God, and serve tables.Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among

you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,

whom we may appoint over this business.But WE WILL GIVE OURSELVES

CONTINUALLY TO PRAYER and to the ministry of the Word."It is

evident from what Paul wrote to the churches and to individuals

about praying for them, that very much of his time and strength and

thought was given to prayer.(Rom. 1:9, R.V.; Eph. 1:15,16;Col.

1:9, R.V.;1_Thess. 3:10;2_Tim. 1:3, R.V.)

 

����������� All the mighty men of God outside the Bible have been men of

prayer.They have differed from one another in many things, but in

this they have been alike.

 

����������� 4. But there is a still weightier reason for this constant,

persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer.It is, PRAYER OCCUPIED A

VERY PROMINENT PLACE AND PLAYED A VERY IMPORTANT PART IN THE EARTHLY

LIFE OF OUR LORD.

 

����������� Turn, for example, to Mark 1:35.We read, "And in the

morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and

departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."The preceding

day had been a very busy and exciting one, but Jesus shortened the

hours of needed sleep that He might arise early and give Himself to

more sorely needed prayer.

 

����������� Turn again to Luke 6:12, where we read, "And it came to pass

in those days that He went out into a mountain to pray, and

continued all night in prayer to God."Our Savior found it

necessary on occasion to take a whole night for prayer.

 

����������� The words "pray" and "prayer" are used at least twenty-five

times in connection with our Lord in the brief record of His life in

the four Gospels, and His praying is mentioned in places where the

words are not used.Evidently prayer took much of the time and

strength of Jesus, and a man or woman who does not spend much time

in prayer, cannot properly be called a follower of Jesus Christ.

 

����������� 5. There is another reason for constant, persistent,

sleepless, overcoming prayer that seems if possible even more

forcible than this, namely, PRAYING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF

THE PRESENT MINISTRY OF OUR RISEN LORD.

 

����������� Christ's ministry did not close with His death.His atoning

work was finished then, but when He rose and ascended to the right

hand of the Father, He entered upon other work for us just as

important in its place as His atoning work.It cannot be divorced

from His atoning work; it rests upon that as its basis, but it is

necessary to our complete salvation.

 

����������� What that great present work is, by which He carries our

salvation on to completeness, we read in Heb. 7:25, "Wherefore He is

able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him,

seeing HE EVER LIVETH TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM."This verse

tells us that Jesus is able to save us unto the uttermost, not

merely FROMthe uttermost, but UNTO the uttermost, unto entire

completeness, absolute perfection, because He not merely died, but

because He also "ever liveth."The verse also tells us for what

purpose He now lives, "TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR US," to pray.

Praying is the principal thing He is doing in these days.It is by

His prayers that He is saving us.

 

����������� The same thought is found in Paul's remarkable, triumphant challenge

in Rom. 8:34 -- "Who is he that shall condemn?It is Christ Jesus

that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the

right hand of God, WHO ALSO MAKETH INTERCESSION FOR US." (R.V.)

 

����������� If we then are to have fellowship with Jesus Christ in His

present work, we must spend much time in prayer; we must give

ourselves to earnest, constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming

prayer.I know of nothing that has so impressed me with a sense of

the importance of praying at all seasons, being much and constantly

in prayer, as the thought that that is the principal occupation at

present of my risen Lord.I want to have fellowship with Him, and

to that end I have asked the Father that whatever else He may make

me, to make me at all events an intercessor, to make me a man who

knows how to pray, and who spends much time in prayer.

 

 

����������� This ministry of intercession is a glorious and a mighty

ministry, and we can all have part in it.The man or the woman who

is shut away from the public meeting by sickness can have part in

it; the busy mother; the woman who has to take in washing for a

living can have part -- she can mingle prayers for the saints, and

for her pastor, and for the unsaved, and for foreign missionaries,

with the soap and water as she bends over the washtub, and not do

the washing any more poorly on that account; the hard driven man of

business can have part in it, praying as he hurries from duty to

duty.But of course we must, if we would maintain this spirit of

constant prayer, take time -- and take plenty of it -- when we shall

shut ourselves up in the secret place alone with God for nothing but

prayer.

 

����������� 6. The sixth reason for constant, persistent, sleepless,

overcoming prayer is that PRAYER IS THE MEANS THAT GOD HAS APPOINTED

FOR OUR RECEIVING MERCY, AND OBTAINING GRACE TO HELP IN TIME OF

NEED.

 

����������� Heb. 4:16 is one of the simplest and sweetest verses in the

Bible, -- "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

These words make it very plain that God has appointed a way by which

we shall seek and obtain mercy and grace.That way is prayer; bold,

confident, outspoken approach to the throne of grace, the most holy

place of God's presence, where our sympathizing High Priest, Jesus

Christ, has entered in our behalf. (Verses 14, 15.)

 

����������� Mercy is what we need, grace is what we must have, or all

our life and effort will end in complete failure.Prayer is the way

to get them.There is infinite grace at our disposal, and we make

it ours experimentally by prayer.Oh, if we only realized the

fullness of God's grace, that is ours for the asking, its height and

depth and length and breadth, I am sure that we would spend more

time in prayer.The measure of our appropriation of grace is

determined by the measure of our prayers.

 

����������� Who is there that does not feel that he needs more grace?

Then ask for it.Be constant and persistent in your asking.Be

importunate and untiring in your asking.God delights to have us

"shameless" beggars in this direction; for it shows our faith in

Him, and He is mightily pleased with faith.Because of our

"shamelessness" He will rise and give us as much as we need (Luke

11:8).What little streams of mercy and grace most of us know, when

we might know rivers overflowing their banks!

 

����������� 7. The next reason for constant, persistent, sleepless,

overcoming prayer is that PRAYER IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE

WAY JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF HAS APPOINTED FOR HIS DISCIPLES TO OBTAIN

FULLNESS OF JOY.

 

����������� He states this simply and beautifully in John 16:24,

"Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name; ask, and ye shall

receive, that your joy may be fulfilled.""Made full" is the way

the Revised Version reads.Who is there that does not wish his joy

filled full?Well, the way to have it filled full is by praying in

the name of Jesus.We all know people whose joy is filled full,

indeed, it is just running over, is shining from their eyes,

bubbling out of their very lips, and running off their finger tips

when they shake hands with you.Coming in contact with them is like

coming in contact with an electrical machine charged with gladness.

Now people of that sort are always people that spend much time in

prayer.

 

����������� Why is it that prayer in the name of Christ brings such

fullness of joy?In part, because we get what we ask.But that is

not the only reason, nor the greatest.It makes God real.When we

ask something definite of God, and He gives it, how real God

becomes!He is right there!It is blessed to have a God who is

real, and not merely an idea.I remember how once I was taken

suddenly and seriously sick all alone in my study.I dropped upon

my knees and cried to God for help.Instantly all pain left me -- I

was perfectly well.It seemed as if God stood right there, and had

put out His hand and touched me.The joy of the healing was not so

great as the joy of meeting God.

 

����������� There is no greater joy on earth or in heaven, than

communion with God, and prayer in the name of Jesus brings us into

communion with Him.The Psalmist was surely not speaking only of

future blessedness, but also of present blessedness when he said,

"In Thy presence is fullness of joy." (Ps. 16.11.)O the

unutterable joy of those moments when in our prayers we really press

into the presence of God!

 

����������� Does some one say. "I have never known any such joy as that

in prayer"?

 

����������� Do you take enough leisure for prayer to actually get into

God's presence?Do you really give yourself up to prayer in the

time which you do take?

 

����������� 8. The eighth reason for constant, persistent, sleepless,

overcoming prayer is that PRAYER, IN EVERY CARE AND ANXIETY AND NEED

OF LIFE, WITH THANKSGIVING, IS THE MEANS THAT GOD HAS APPOINTED FOR

OBTAINING FREEDOM FROM ALL ANXIETY, AND THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH

PASSETH ALL UNDERSTANDING.

 

����������� "Be careful for nothing," says Paul, "but in everything by

prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made

known unto God, and the peace of God which passeth all

understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ

Jesus." (Phil. 4:6,7.)To many this seems at the first glance, the

picture of a life that is beautiful, but beyond the reach of

ordinary mortals; not so at all.The verse tells us how the life is

attainable by every child of God:"Be careful for nothing," or as the

Revised Version reads, "In nothing be anxious."The remainder of the

verse tells us how, and it is very simple:"But in everything by

prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made

known unto God."What could be plainer or more simple than that?

Just keep in constant touch with God, and when any trouble or

vexation, great or small, comes up, speak to Him about it, never

forgetting to return thanks for what He has already done.What will

the result be?"The peace of God which passeth all understanding

shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (R.V.)

 

����������� That is glorious, and as simple as it is glorious!Thank

God, many are trying it.Don't you know any one who is always

serene?Perhaps he is a very stormy man by his natural make-up, but

troubles and conflicts and reverses and bereavements may sweep

around him, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding

guards his heart and his thoughts in Christ Jesus.

 

����������� We all know such persons.How do they manage it?

 

����������� Just by prayer, that is all.Those persons who know the

deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace that passeth all

understanding, are always men and women of much prayer.

 

����������� Some of us let the hurry of our lives crowd prayer out, and

what a waste of time and energy and nerve force there is by the

constant worry!One night of prayer will save us from many nights

of insomnia.Time spent in prayer is not wasted, but time invested

at big interest.

 

����������� 9. The ninth reason for constant, persistent, sleepless,

overcoming prayer is that PRAYER IS THE METHOD THAT GOD HIMSELF

HAS APPOINTED FOR OUR OBTAINING THE HOLY SPIRIT.

 

����������� Upon this point the Bible is very plain.Jesus says, "If

ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your

children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy

Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13.)Men are telling us

in these days, very good men too, "You must not pray for the Holy

Spirit," but what are they going to do with the plain statement

of Jesus Christ, "How much more will your heavenly Father give

the Holy Spirit TO THEM THAT ASK HIM?"

 

����������� Some years ago when an address on the baptism with the

Holy Spirit was announced, a brother came to me before the

address and said with much feeling,

 

����������� "Be sure and tell them not to pray for the Holy Spirit."

 

����������� "I will surely not tell them that, for Jesus says, 'How

much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them

that ask Him'."

 

����������� "Oh, yes," he replied, "but that was before Pentecost."

 

����������� "How about Acts 4:31? was that before Pentecost, or

after?"

 

����������� "After, of course."

 

����������� "Read it."

 

����������� "'And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where

they were assembled together; and they were all FILLED WITH THE

HOLY GHOST, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.'"

 

����������� "How about Acts 8:15? was that before Pentecost or

after?"

 

����������� "After."

 

����������� "Please read."

 

����������� "'Who, when they were come down PRAYED for them, that

they might receive the Holy Ghost.'"

 

����������� He made no answer.What could he answer?It is plain as

day in the Word of God that before Pentecost and after, the first

baptism and the subsequent fillings with the Holy Spirit were

received in answer to definite prayer.Experience also teaches

this.

 

����������� Doubtless many have received the Holy Spirit the moment

of their surrender to God before there was time to pray, but how

many there are who know that their first definite baptism with

the Holy Spirit came while they were on their knees or faces

before God, alone or in company with others, and who again and

again since that have been filled with the Holy Spirit in the

place of prayer!

 

 

����������� I know this as definitely as I know that my thirst has

been quenched while I was drinking water.Early one morning in

the Chicago Avenue Church prayer room, where several hundred

people had been assembled a number of hours in prayer, the Holy

Spirit fell so manifestly, and the whole place was so filled with

His presence, that no one could speak or pray, but sobs of joy

filled the place.Men went out of that room to different parts

of the country, taking trains that very morning, and reports soon

came back of the out-pouring of God's Holy Spirit in answer to

prayer.Others went out into the city with the blessing of God

upon them.This is only one instance among many that might be

cited from personal experience.

 

����������� If we would only spend more time in prayer, there would

be more fullness of the Spirit's power in our work.Many and

many a man who once worked unmistakably in the power of the Holy

Spirit is now filling the air with empty shoutings, and beating

it with his meaningless gesticulations, because he has let prayer

be crowded out.we must spend much time on our knees before God,

if we are to continue in the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

����������� 10. The tenth reason for constant, persistent, sleepless,

overcoming prayer is that PRAYER IS THE MEANS THAT CHRIST HAS

APPOINTED WHEREBY OUR HEARTS SHALL NOT BECOME OVERCHARGED WITH

SURFEITING AND DRUNKENNESS AND CARES OF THIS LIFE, AND SO THE DAY

OF CHRIST'S RETURN COME UPON US SUDDENLY AS A SNARE.

 

����������� One of the most interesting and solemn passages upon

prayer in the Bible is along this line. (Luke 21:34-36)"Take

heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged

with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of this life, and so

that day come upon you unawares.For as a snare shall it come on

all them that dwell in the face of the whole earth.Watch ye

therefore, and PRAY ALWAYS, that ye may be accounted worthy to

escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand

before the Son of man."According to this passage there is only

one way in which we can be prepared for the coming of the Lord

when He appears, that is, through much prayer.

 

����������� The coming again of Jesus Christ is a subject that is

awakening much interest and much discussion in our day; but it is

one thing to be interested in the Lord's return, and to talk

about it, and quite another thing to be prepared for it.We live

in an atmosphere that has a constant tendency to unfit us for

Christ's coming.The world tends to draw us down by its

gratifications and by its cares.There is only one way by which

we can rise triumphant above these things--by constant watching

unto prayer, that is, by sleeplessness unto prayer."Watch" in

this passage is the same strong word used in Eph. 6:18, and

"always" the same strong phrase "in every season."The man who

spends little time in prayer, who is not steadfast and constant

in prayer, will not be ready for the Lord when He comes.But we

may be ready. How? Pray! Pray! Pray!

 

 

����������� 11. There is one more reason for constant, persistent,

sleepless, overcoming prayer, and it is a mighty one: BECAUSE OF

WHAT PRAYER ACCOMPLISHES.Much has really been said upon that

already, but there is much also that should be added.

 

����������� (1) Prayer promotes our spiritual growth as almost

nothing else, indeed as nothing else but Bible study; and true

prayer and true Bible study go hand in hand.

 

����������� It is through prayer that my sin is brought to light, my

most hidden sin.As I kneel before God and pray, "Search me, O

God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if

there be any wicked way in me," (Ps.139:23,24), God shoots the

penetrating rays of His light into the innermost recesses of my

heart, and the sins I never suspected are brought to view.In

answer to prayer, God washes me from mine iniquity and cleanses

me from my sin (Ps. 51:2).In answer to prayer my eyes are

opened to behold wondrous things out of God's Word (Ps. 119:18).

In answer to prayer I get wisdom to know God's way (Jas. 1:5) and

strength to walk in it.As I meet God in prayer and gaze into

His face, I am changed into His own image from glory to glory (

2_Cor. 3:18).Each day of true prayer life finds me liker to my

glorious Lord.

 

����������� John Welch, son-in-law to John Knox, was one of the most

faithful men of prayer this world ever saw.He counted that day

ill-spent in which seven or eight hours were not used alone with

God in prayer and the study of His Word.An old man speaking of

him after his death said, "He was a type of Christ."

 

����������� How came he to be so like his Master?

 

����������� His prayer life explains the mystery.

 

����������� (2) Prayer brings power into our work.

 

����������� If we wish power for any work to which God calls us, be

it preaching, teaching, personal work, or the rearing of our

children, we can get it by earnest prayer.

 

����������� A woman with a little boy who was perfectly incorrigible,

once came to me in desperation and said:

 

����������� "What shall I do with him?"

 

����������� I asked, "Have you ever tried prayer?"

 

����������� She said that she had prayed for him, she thought.I

asked if she had made his conversion and his character a matter

of definite, expectant prayer.She replied that she had not been

definite in the matter.She began that day, and at once there

was a marked change in the child, and he grew up into Christian

manhood.

 

����������� How many a Sunday-school teacher has taught for months

and years, and seen no real fruit from his labors, and then has

learned the secret of intercession, and by earnest pleading with

God, has seen his scholars brought one by one to Christ!How

many a poor preacher has become a mighty man of God by casting

away his confidence in his own ability and gifts, and giving

himself up to God to wait upon Him for the power that comes from

on high!John Livingstone spent a night, with some others

likeminded, in prayer to God and religious conversation, and when

he preached next day in the Kirk of Shotts five hundred people

were converted, or dated some definite uplift in their life to

that occasion.Prayer and power are inseparable.

 

����������� (3) Prayer avails for the conversion of others.

����������� There are few converted in this world unless in

connection with some one's prayers.I formerly thought that no

human being had anything to do with my own conversion, for I was

not converted in church or Sunday-school, or in personal

conversation with any one.I was awakened in the middle of the

night and converted.As far as I can remember I had not the

slightest thought of being converted, or of anything of that

character, when I went to bed and fell asleep; but I was awakened

in the middle of the night and converted probably inside of five

minutes.A few minutes before I was about as near eternal

perdition as one gets.I had one foot over the brink and was

trying to get the other one over.I say I thought no human being

had anything to do with it, but I had forgotten my mother's

prayers, and I afterward learned that one of my college

classmates had chosen me as one to pray for until I was saved.

 

����������� Prayer often avails where everything else fails.How

utterly all of Monica's efforts and entreaties failed with her

son, but her prayers prevailed with God, and the dissolute youth

became St. Augustine, the mighty man of God.By prayer the

bitterest enemies of the Gospel have become its most valiant

defenders, the greatest scoundrels the truest sons of God, and

the vilest women the purest saints.Oh, the power of prayer to

reach down, down, down, where hope itself seems vain, and lift

men and women up, up, up into fellowship with and likeness to

God.It is simply wonderful!How little we appreciate this

marvelous weapon!

 

����������� (4) Prayer brings blessings to the church.

 

����������� The history of the church has always been a history of

grave difficulties to overcome.The devil hates the church and

seeks in every way to block its progress; now by false doctrine,

again by division, again by inward corruption of life.But by

prayer, a clear way can be made through everything.Prayer will

root out heresy, allay misunderstanding, sweep away jealousies

and animosities, obliterate immoralities, and bring in the full

tide of God's reviving grace.History abundantly proves this.

In the hour of darkest portent, when the case of the church,

local or universal, has seemed beyond hope, believing men and

believing women have met together and cried to God and the answer

has come.

 

����������� It was so in the days of Knox, it was so in the days of

Wesley and Whitfield, it was so in the days of Edwards and

Brainerd, it was so in the days of Finney, it was so in the days

of the great revival of 1857 in this country and of 1859 in

Ireland, and it will be so again in your day and mine.Satan has

marshalled his forces.Christian science with its false Christ--

a woman--lifts high its head.Others making great pretensions of

apostolic methods, but covering the rankest dishonesty and

hypocrisy with these pretensions, speak with loud assurance.

Christians equally loyal to the great fundamental truths of the

Gospel are glowering at one another with a devil-sent suspicion.

The world, the flesh and the devil are holding high carnival.It

is now a dark day, BUT--now "it is time for Thee, Lord, to work;

for they have made void Thy law." (Ps. 199:126).And He is

getting ready to work, and now He is listening for the voice of

prayer.Will He hear it?Will He hear it from you?Will He

hear it from the church as a body?I believe He will.

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

PRAYING UNTO GOD

 

����������� We have seen something of the tremendous importance and the

resistless power of prayer, and now we come directly to the question-

-how to pray with power.

 

������� 1. In the 12th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we have

the record of a prayer that prevailed with God, and brought to pass

great results.In the 5th verse of this chapter, the manner and

method of this prayer is described in few words:

 

����� ��"Prayer was made without ceasing of the church UNTO GOD for

him."

 

������� The first thing to notice in this verse is the brief

expression "unto God."The prayer that has power is the prayer that

is offered unto God.

 

������� But some will say, "Is not all prayer unto God?"

 

������� No.Very much of so-called prayer, both public and private,

is not unto God.In order that a prayer should be really unto God,

there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray;

we must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending

over us and listening as we pray.In very much of our prayer there

is really but little thought of God.Our mind is taken up with the

thought of what we need, and is not occupied with the thought of the

mighty and loving Father of whom we are seeking it.Oftentimes it is

the case that we are occupied neither with the need nor with the One

to whom we are praying, but our mind is wandering here and there

throughout the world.There is no power in that sort of prayer.But

when we really come into God's presence, really meet Him face to face

in the place of prayer, really seek the things that we desire FROM

HIM, then there is power.

 

������� If, then, we would pray aright, the first thing that we

should do is to see to it that we really get an audience with God,

that we really get into His very presence.Before a word of petition

is offered, we should have the definite and vivid consciousness that

we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening to our

petition and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him.This is

only possible by the Holy Spirit's power, so we should look to the

Holy Spirit to really lead us into the presence of God, and should

not be hasty in words until He has actually brought us there.

 

������� One night a very active Christian man dropped into a little

prayer-meeting that I was leading.Before we knelt to pray, I said

something like the above, telling all the friends to be sure before

they prayed, and while they were praying, that they really were in

God's presence, that they had the thought of Him definitely in mind,

and to be more taken up with Him than with their petition.A few

days after I met this same gentleman, and he said that this simple

thought was entirely new to him, that it had made prayer an entirely

new experience to him.

 

������� If then we would pray aright, these two little words must

sink deep into our hearts, "UNTO GOD."

 

������� 2. The second secret of effective praying is found in the

same verse, in the words "WITHOUT CEASING."

 

������� In the Revised Version, "without ceasing" is rendered

"earnestly."Neither rendering gives the full force of the Greek.

The word means literally "stretched-out-ed-ly."It is a pictorial

word, and wonderfully expressive.It represents the soul on a

stretch of earnest and intense desire."Intensely" would perhaps

come as near translating it as any English word.It is the word used

of our Lord in Luke 22:44 where it is said, "He prayed more

earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling

down to the ground."

 

������� We read in Heb. 5:7 that "in the days of His flesh"Christ

"offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears."

In Rom. 15:30, Paul beseeches the saints in Rome to STRIVE together

with him in their prayers.The word translated "strive" means

primarily to contend as in athletic games or in a fight.In other

words, the prayer that prevails with God is the prayer into which we

put our whole soul, stretching out toward God in intense and

agonizing desire.Much of our modern prayer has no power in it

because there is no heart in it.We rush into God's presence, run

through a string of petitions, jump up and go out.If someone should

ask us an hour afterward for what we prayed, oftentimes we could not

tell.If we put so little heart into our prayers, we cannot expect

God to put much heart into answering them.

 

������� We hear much in our day of the rest of faith, but there is

such a thing as the fight of faith in prayer as well as in effort.

Those who would have us think that they have attained to some sublime

height of faith and trust because they never know any agony of

conflict or of prayer, have surely gotten beyond their Lord, and

beyond the mightiest victors for God, both in effort and prayer, that

the ages of Christian history have known.When we learn to come to

God with an intensity of desire that wrings the soul, then shall we

know a power in prayer that most of us do not know now.

 

������� But how shall we attain to this earnestness in prayer?

 

������� Not by trying to work ourselves up into it.The true method

is explained in Rom. 8:26, "And in like manner the Spirit also

helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but

the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which

cannot be uttered." (R.V.)The earnestness that we work up in the

energy of the flesh is a repulsive thing.The earnestness wrought in

us by the power of the Holy Spirit is pleasing to God.Here again,

if we would pray aright, we must look to the Spirit of God to teach

us to pray.

 

������� It is in this connection that fasting comes.In Dan. 9:3 we

read that Daniel set his face "unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer

and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes."There

are those who think that fasting belongs to the old dispensation; but

when we look at Acts 14:23, and Acts 13:2,3, we find that it was

practised by the earnest men of the apostolic day.

 

������� If we would pray with power, we should pray with fasting.

This of course does not mean that we should fast every time we pray;

but there are times of emergency or special crisis in work or in our

individual lives, when men of downright earnestness will withdraw

themselves even from the gratification of natural appetites that

would be perfectly proper under other circumstances, that they may

give themselves up wholly to prayer.There is a peculiar power in

such prayer.Every great crisis in life and work should be met in

that way.There is nothing pleasing to God in our giving up in a

purely Pharisaic and legal way things which are pleasant, but there

is power in that downright earnestness and determination to obtain in

prayer the things of which we sorely feel our need, that leads us to

put away everything, even the things in themselves most right and

necessary, that we may set our faces to find God, and obtain

blessings from Him.

 

������� 3. A third secret of right praying is also found in this same

verse, Acts 12:5.It appears in the three words "OF THE CHURCH."

 

����������� There is power in UNITED PRAYER.Of course there is power in

the prayer of an individual, but there is vastly increased power in

united prayer.God delights in the unity of His people, and seeks to

emphasize it in every way, and so He pronounces a special blessing

upon united prayer.We read in Matt. 18:19, "If two of you shall

agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be

done for them of My Father which is in heaven."This unity, however,

must be real.The passage just quoted does not say that if two shall

agree in asking, but if two shall agree AS TOUCHING anything they

shall ask.Two persons might agree to ask for the same thing, and

yet there be no real agreement as touching the thing they asked.One

might ask it because he really desired it, the other might ask it

simply to please his friend.But where there is real agreement,

where the Spirit of God brings two believers into perfect harmony as

concerning that which they may ask of God, where the Spirit lays the

same burden on two hearts; in all such prayer there is absolutely

irresistible power.

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

OBEYING AND PRAYING

 

 

������� 1. One of the most significant verses in the Bible on

prayer is 1_John 3:22.John says, "And whatsoever we ask, we

receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those

things that are pleasing in His sight."

 

������� What an astounding statement!John says in so many

words, that everything he asked for he got.How many of us can

say this: "Whatsoever I ask I receive"?But John explains why

this was so, "Because we keep His commandments, and do those

things that are pleasing in His sight."In other words, the one

who expects God to do as he asks Him, must on his part DO

WHATEVER GOD BIDS HIM.If we give a listening ear to all God's

commands to us, He will give a listening ear to all our petitions

to Him.If, on the other hand, we turn a deaf ear to His

precepts, He will be likely to turn a deaf ear to our prayers.

Here we find the secret of much unanswered prayer.We are not

listening to God's Word, and therefore He is not listening to our

petitions.

 

������� I was once speaking to a woman who had been a professed

Christian, but had given it all up.I asked her why she was not

a Christian still.She replied, because she did not believe the

Bible.I asked her why she did not believe the Bible.

 

������� "Because I have tried its promises and found them

untrue."

 

������� "Which promises?"

 

������� "The promises about prayer."

 

������� "Which promises about prayer?"

 

������� "Does it not say in the Bible, 'Whatsoever ye ask

believing ye shall receive'?"

 

������� "It says something nearly like that."

 

������� "Well, I asked fully expecting to get and did not

receive, so the promise failed."

 

������� "Was the promise made to you?"

 

������� "Why, certainly, it is made to all Christians, is it

not?"

 

�� �����"No, God carefully defines who the 'ye's' are, whose

believing prayers He agrees to answer."

 

������� I then turned her to 1_John 3:22, and read the

description of those whose prayers had power with God.

 

������� "Now," I said, "were you keeping His commandments and

doing those things which are pleasing in His sight?"

 

������� She frankly confessed that she was not, and soon came to

see that the real difficulty was not with God's promises, but

with herself.That is the difficulty with many an unanswered

prayer to-day: the one who offers it is not obedient.

 

������� If we would have power in prayer, we must be earnest

students of His Word to find out what His will regarding us is,

and then having found it, do it.One unconfessed act of

disobedience on our part will shut the ear of God against many

petitions.

 

������� 2. But this verse goes beyond the mere keeping of God's

commandments.John tells us that we must DO THOSE THINGS THAT

ARE PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT.

 

������� There are many things which it would be pleasing to God

for us to do which He has not specifically commanded us.A true

child is not content with merely doing those things which his

father specifically commands him to do.He studies to know his

father's will, and if he thinks that there is any thing that he

can do that would please his father, he does it gladly, though

his father has never given him any specific order to do it.So

it is with the true child of God.He does not ask merely whether

certain things are commanded or certain things forbidden.He

studies to know his Father's will in all things.

 

������� There are many Christians to-day who are doing things

that are not pleasing to God, and leaving undone things which

would be pleasing to God.When you speak to them about these

things they will confront you at once with the question, "Is

there any command in the Bible not to do this thing?"And if you

cannot show them some verse in which the matter in question is

plainly forbidden, they think they are under no obligation

whatever to give it up; but a true child of God does not demand a

specific command.If we make it our study to find out and to do

the things which are pleasing to God, He will make His study to

do the things which are pleasing to us.Here again we find the

explanation of much unanswered prayer:We are not making it the

study of our lives to know what would please our Father, and so

our prayers are not answered.

 

������� Take as an illustration of questions that are constantly

coming up, the matter of theater going, dancing and the use of

tobacco.Many who are indulging in these things will ask you

triumphantly if you speak against them, "Does the Bible say,

'Thou shalt not go to the theater'?""Does the Bible say,'Thou

shalt not dance'?""Does the Bible say,'Thou shalt not smoke'?"

That is not the question.The question is, Is our heavenly

Father well pleased when He sees one of His children in the

theater, at the dance, or smoking?That is a question for each

to decide for himself, prayerfully, seeking light from the Holy

Spirit."Where is the harm in these things?"many ask.It is

aside from our purpose to go into the general question, but

beyond a doubt there is this great harm in many a case; they rob

our prayers of power.

 

������� 3. Psalm 145:18 throws a great deal of light on the

question of how to pray:"The Lord is nigh unto all them that

call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."

 

������� That little expression "in truth" is worthy of study.If

you will take your concordance and go through the Bible, you will

find that this expression means "in reality,""in sincerity."

The prayer that God answers is the prayer that is real, the

prayer that asks for something that is sincerely desired.

 

������� Much prayer is insincere.People ask for things which

they do not wish.Many a woman is praying for the conversion of

her husband, who does not really wish her husband to be

converted.She thinks that she does, but if she knew what would

be involved in the conversion of her husband, how it would

necessitate an entire revolution in his manner of doing business,

and how consequently it would reduce their income and make

necessary an entire change in their method of living, the real

prayer of her heart would be, if she were to be sincere with God:

 

������� "O God, do not convert my husband."

 

������� She does not wish his conversion at so great cost.

 

������� Many a church is praying for a revival that does not

really desire a revival.They think they do, for to their minds

a revival means an increase of membership, an increase of income,

an increase of reputation among the churches, but if they knew

what a real revival meant, what a searching of hearts on the part

of professed Christians would be involved, what a radical

transformation of individual, domestic and social life would be

brought about, and many other things that would come to pass if

the Spirit of God was poured out in reality and power; if all

this were known, the real cry of the church would be:

 

������� "O God, keep us from having a revival."

 

������� Many a minister is praying for the baptism with the Holy

Spirit who does not really desire it.He things he does, for the

baptism with the Spirit means to him new joy, new power in

preaching the Word, a wider reputation among men, a larger

prominence in the church of Christ.But if he understood what a

baptism with the Holy Spirit really involved, how for example it

would necessarily bring him into antagonism with the world, and

with unspiritual Christians, how it would cause his name to be

"cast out as evil," how it might necessitate his leaving a good

comfortable living and going down to work in the slums,or even

in some foreign land; if he understood all this, his prayer quite

likely would be--if he were to express the real wish of his

heart,--

 

������� "O God, save me from being baptized with the Holy Ghost."

 

������� But when we do come to the place where we really desire

the conversion of friends at any cost, really desire the

outpouring of the Holy Spirit whatever it may involve, really

desire the baptism with the Holy Ghost come what may, where we

desire anything "in truth" and then call upon God for it "in

truth," God is going to hear.

 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

PRAYING IN THE NAME OF CHRIST AND ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD

 

����������� 1. It was a wonderful word about prayer that Jesus spoke to

His disciples on the night before His crucifixion, "Whatsoever ye

shall ask IN MY NAME, that will I do, that the Father may be

glorified in the Son.If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do

it."

 

������� Prayer in the name of Christ has power with God.God is well

pleased with His Son Jesus Christ.He hears Him always, and He also

hears always the prayer that is really in His name.There is a

fragrance in the name of Christ that makes acceptable to God every

prayer that bears it.

 

������� But what is it to pray in the name of Christ?

 

������� Many explanations have been attempted that to ordinary minds

do not explain.But there is nothing mystical or mysterious about

this expression.If one will go through the Bible and examine all

the passages in which the expression "in My name" or "in His name" or

synonymous expressions are used, he will find that it means just

about what it does in modern usage.If I go to a bank and hand in a

check with my name signed to it, I ask of that bank IN MY OWN NAME.

If I have money deposited in that bank, the check will be cashed; if

not, it will not be.If, however, I go to a bank with somebody

else's name signed to the check, I am asking IN HIS NAME, and it does

not matter whether I have money in that bank or any other, if the

person whose name is signed to the check has money there, the check

will be cashed.

 

������� If, for example, I should go to the First National Bank of

Chicago, and present a check which I had signed for $50.00, the

paying teller would say to me:

 

������� "Why, Mr. Torrey, we cannot cash that.You have no money in

this bank."

 

������� But if I should go to the First National Bank with a check

for $5,000.00 made payable to me, and signed by one of the large

depositors in that bank, they would not ask whether I had money in

that bank or in any bank, but would honor the check at once.

 

������� So it is when I go to the bank of heaven, when I go to God in

prayer.I have nothing deposited there, I have absolutely no credit

there, and if I go in my own name I will get absolutely nothing; but

Jesus Christ has unlimited credit in heaven, and He has granted to me

the privilege of going to the bank with His name on my checks, and

when I thus go, my prayers will be honored to any extent.

 

������� To pray then in the name of Christ is to pray on the ground,

not of my credit, but His; to renounce the thought that I have any

claims on God whatever, and approach Him on the ground of God's

claims.Praying in the name of Christ is not merely adding the

phrase "I ask these things in Jesus' name" to my prayer.I may put

that phrase in my prayer and really be resting in my own merit all

the time.But when I really do approach God, not on the ground of my

merit, but on the ground of Christ's merit, not on the ground of my

goodness, but on the ground of the atoning blood (Heb. 10:19), God

will hear me.Very much of our modern prayer is vain because men

approach God imagining that they have some claim upon God whereby He

is under obligations to answer their prayers.

 

������� Years ago when Mr. Moody was young in Christian work, he

visited a town in Illinois.A judge in the town was an infidel.

This judge's wife besought Mr. Moody to call upon her husband, but

Mr. Moody replied:

 

������� "I cannot talk with your husband.I am only an uneducated

young Christian, and your husband is a book infidel."

 

������� But the wife would not take no for an answer, so Mr. Moody

made the call.The clerks in the outer office tittered as the young

salesman from Chicago went in to talk with the scholarly judge.

 

������� The conversation was short.Mr. Moody said:

 

������� "Judge, I can't talk with you. You are a book infidel, and I

have no learning, but I simply want to say if you are ever converted,

I want you to let me know."

 

������� The judge replied: "Yes, young man, if I am ever converted I

will let you know.Yes, I will let you know."

 

������� The conversation ended.The clerks tittered still louder

when the zealous young Christian left the office, but the judge was

converted within a year.Mr. Moody visiting the town again asked the

judge to explain how it came about.The judge said:

 

������� "One night, when my wife was at prayer meeting, I began to

grow very uneasy and miserable.I did not know what was the matter

with me, but finally retired before my wife come home.I could not

sleep all that night.I got up early, told my wife that I would eat

no breakfast, and went down to the office.I told the clerks they

could take a holiday, and shut myself up in the inner office.I kept

growing more and more miserable, and finally I got down and asked God

to forgive my sins, but I would not say `for Jesus' sake,' for I was

a Unitarian and I did not believe in the atonement.I kept praying

'God forgive my sins'; but no answer came.At last in desperation I

cried, 'O God, for Christ's sake forgive my sins,' and found peace at

once."

 

����������� The judge had no access to God until he came in the name of

Christ, but when he thus came, he was heard and answered at once.

 

������� 2. Great light is thrown upon the subject "How to Pray" by

1_John 5:14,15: "And this is the boldness which we have toward Him,

that if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He heareth us; and if

we know that He heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have

the petitions which we have asked of Him." (R.V.)

 

������� This passage teaches us plainly that if we are to pray

aright, we must pray according to God's will, then will we beyond a

peradventure get the thing we ask of Him.

 

������� But can we know the will of God?Can we know that any

specific prayer is according to His will?

 

������� We most surely can.

 

������� How?

 

������� (1) First by the Word. God has revealed His will in His Word.

When anything is definitely promised in the Word of God, we know

that it is His will to give that thing.If then when I pray, I can

find some definite promise of God's Word and lay that promise before

God, I know that He hears me, and if I know that He hears me, I know

that I have the petition that I have asked of Him.For example, when

I pray for wisdom I know that it is the will of God to give me

wisdom, for He says so in James 1:5: "If any of you lack wisdom, let

him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;

and it shall be given him."So when I ask for wisdom I know that the

prayer is heard, and that wisdom will be given me.In like manner

when I pray for the Holy Spirit I know from Luke 11:13 that it is

God's will, that my prayer is heard, and that I have the petition

that I have asked of Him: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give

good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly

Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"

 

������� Some years ago a minister came to me at the close of an

address on prayer at a Y.M.C.A. Bible school, and said,

 

������� "You have produced upon those young men the impression that

they can ask for definite things and get the very things that they

ask."

����������� I replied that I did not know whether that was the impression

that I produced or not, but that was certainly the impression that I

desired to produce.

 

������� "But," he replied, "that is not right.We cannot be sure,

for we don't know God's will."

 

������� I turned him at once to James 1:5, read it and said to him,

"Is it not God's will to give us wisdom, and if you ask for wisdom do

you not know that you are going to get it?"

 

������� "Ah!" he said, "we don't know what wisdom is."

����������� I said, "No, if we did, we would not need to ask; but

whatever wisdom may be, don't you know that you will get it?"

 

������� Certainly it is our privilege to know.When we have a

specific promise in the Word of God, if we doubt that it is God's

will, or if we doubt that God will do the thing that we ask, we make

God a liar.

 

������� Here is one of the greatest secrets of prevailing prayer: To

study the Word to find what God's will is as revealed there in the

promises, and then simply take these promises and spread them out

before God in prayer with the absolutely unwavering expectation that

He will do what He has promised in His Word.

 

������� (2) But there is still another way in which we may know the

will of God, that is, by the teaching of His Holy Spirit.There are

many things that we need from God which are not covered by any

specific promise, but we are not left in ignorance of the will of God

even then.In Rom. 8:26,27 we are told, "And in like manner the

Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we

ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with

groanings which cannot be uttered; and He that searcheth the hearts

knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because He maketh

intercession for the saints ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD." (R.V.)

Here we are distinctly told that the Spirit of God prays in us, draws

out our prayer, in the line of God's will.When we are thus led out

by the Holy Spirit in any direction, to pray for any given object, we

may do it in all confidence that it is God's will, and that we are to

get the very thing we ask of Him, even though there is no specific

promise to cover the case.Often God by His Spirit lays upon us a

heavy burden of prayer for some given individual.We cannot rest, we

pray for him with groanings which cannot be uttered.Perhaps the man

is entirely beyond our reach, but God hears the prayer, and in many a

case it is not long before we hear of his definite conversion.

 

������� The passage 1_John 5:14,15 is one of the most abused passages

in the Bible: "This is THE CONFIDENCE that we have in Him, that, if

we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us; and if we know

that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the

petitions that we desired of Him."The Holy Spirit beyond a doubt

put it into the Bible to encourage our faith.It begins with "This

is THE CONFIDENCE that we have in Him," and closes with "WE KNOW that

we have the petitions that we desired of Him;" but one of the most

frequent usages of this passage, which was so manifestly given to

beget confidence, is to introduce an element of uncertainty into our

prayers.Oftentimes when one waxes confident in prayer, some

cautious brother will come and say:

 

������� "Now, don't be too confident.If it is God's will He will do

it.You should put in, `If it be Thy will.'"