The Power in Prayer: by Charles Spurgeon $4.95
Author: Charles Haddon Spurgeon
|Charles Spurgeon wrote this book for Christians who want to be mighty prayer warriors. He explains that you can be absolutely sure of success in prayer. As you read the book, you will discover...|
* Why God is "bound" to answer our prayers
* How short prayers bring big answers
* Why God answers even faulty prayers
* How to use arguments with God
* When God answers the prayers of sinners
Learn to develop the essential characteristics required for power-packed prayer. Because God keeps His promises, every Christian can have a prayer life that produces results both personally and in the kingdom of God.
Physical Info: 0.52" H x 6.86" L x 4.18" W (0.21 lbs) Pages 144
Carton Quantity: 100
ISBN: 0883684411 EAN: 9780883684412
Publisher: Whitaker House
US SRP: 6.99 US
Pub Date: January 01, 2011
Table of Contents
1. Guaranteed to Succeed 7
2. The Raven's Cry 33
3. Order and Argument in Prayer 61
4. Pleading 91
5. The Throne of Grace 119
6. Exclamatory Prayer 147
Excerpt: Chapter One Guaranteed to Succeed
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to
him that knocketh it shall be opened (Luke 11:9-10).
To seek aid in time of distress from a supernatural being is an instinct of human nature. I do not mean that human nature unrenewed ever offers truly spiritual prayer or ever exercises saving faith in the living God. But still, like a child crying in the dark, with painful longing for help from somewhere or other, the soul in deep sorrow almost always cries to some supernatural being for help. None have been more ready to pray in time of trouble than those who have ridiculed prayer in their prosperity. In fact, probably no prayers have been truer to the feelings of the hour than those that atheists have offered when in fear of death.
In one of his papers in the Tattler, Addison describes a man who, on board ship, loudly boasted of his atheism. A brisk gale springing up, he fell on his knees and confessed to the chaplain that he had been an atheist. The common seamen, who had never heard the word before, thought it was some strange fish. They were more surprised when they saw it was a man and learned out of his own mouth that he never believed until that day that there was a God. One of the old sailors whispered to an officer that it would be a good deed to heave him overboard, but this was a cruel suggestion, for the poor creature was already in misery enough. His atheism had evaporated, and in mortal terror he cried to God to have mercy on him.
Similar incidents have occurred more than once or twice. Indeed, so frequently does boastful skepticism tumble down at the end that we always expect it to do so. Take away unnatural restraint from the mind, and it may be said of all men that, like the comrades of Jonah, they cry "every man unto his god" (Jonah 1:5) in their trouble. As birds to their nests and as deer to their hiding places, so men in agony fly to a superior being for help in the hour of need.
By instinct man turned to his God in Paradise. Now, though he is to a sad degree a dethroned monarch, there lingers in his memory shadows of what he was and remembrances of where his strength must still be found. Therefore, no matter where you find a man, you will meet one who will ask for supernatural help in his distress.
I believe in the truthfulness of this instinct, and I believe that man prays because there is something in prayer. When the Creator gives His creature the power of thirst, it is because water exists to meet its thirst. When He creates hunger, there is food to correspond to the appetite. Even so, when He inclines men to pray, it is because prayer has a corresponding blessing connected with it.
We find a powerful reason for expecting prayer to be effective in the fact that it is an institution of God. In God's Word we are over and over again commanded to pray. God's institutions are not folly. Can I believe that the infinitely wise God has ordained for me an exercise that is ineffective and is no more than child's play? Does He tell me to pray, and yet does prayer have no more of a result than if I whistled to the wind or sang to a grove of trees? If there is no answer to prayer, prayer is a monstrous absurdity, and God is the author of it, which it is blasphemy to assert. Only a fool will continue to pray when you have once proved to him that prayer has no effect with God and never receives an answer. If it is indeed true that its effects end with the man who prays, prayer is a work for idiots and madmen, not for sane people!
I will not enter into any arguments upon the matter. Rather, I am coming to my text, which to me, at least, and to you who are followers of Christ, is the end of all controversy. Our Savior knew quite well that many difficulties would arise in connection with prayer that might tend to stagger His disciples, and therefore He has balanced every opposition by an overwhelming assurance. Read those words, "I say unto you." "I"--your Teacher, your Master, your Lord, your Savior, your God--"I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
In the text our Lord meets all difficulties first by giving us the weight of His own authority: "I say unto you." Next, He presents us with a promise: "Ask, and it shall be given you" and so on. Then He reminds us of an indisputable fact: "Every one that asketh receiveth." Here are three mortal wounds for a Christian's doubts about prayer.
First, then, our Savior gives to us the weight of His own authority: "I say unto you." The first mark of a follower of Christ is that he believes his Lord. We do not follow the Lord at all if we raise any questions on points about which He speaks explicitly. Even if a doctrine is surrounded by ten thousand difficulties, the ipse dixit of the Lord Jesus sweeps them all away, so far as true Christians are concerned. Our Master's declaration is all the argument we want. "I say unto you" is our logic. Reason, we see you at your best in Jesus, for He is made wisdom to us by God (1 Cor. 1:30). He cannot err; He cannot lie; if He says, "I say unto you," there is an end of all debate.
However, there are certain reasons that should lead us to rest all the more confidently in our Master's word upon this point. There is power in every word of the Lord Jesus, but there is special force in the utterance before us. It has been objected about prayer that it is not possible for prayer to be answered because the laws of nature are unalterable and they must and will go on whether men pray or not. To us it does not seem necessary to prove that the laws of nature are disturbed. God can work miracles, and He may work them yet again as He has done in times long past. However, it is no part of the Christian faith that God must work miracles in order to answer the prayers of His servants. When a man has to disarrange all his affairs and, so to speak, stop all his machinery in order to fulfill a promise, it proves that he is but a man and that his wisdom and power are limited. But He is God indeed who, without reversing the engine or removing a single cog from a wheel, fulfills the desires of His people as they come up before Him. The Lord is so omnipotent that He can work results tantamount to miracles without in the slightest degree suspending any one of His laws. In olden times He did, as it were, stop the machinery of the universe to answer a prayer (see Joshua 10:12-13), but now, with equally godlike glory, He orders events so as to answer believing prayers and yet suspends no natural law.
But this is far from being our only or our main comfort. Our main comfort is that we hear the voice of One who is competent to speak on the matter, and He says, "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you." Whether the laws of nature are reversible or irreversible, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find." Now, who is He that speaks this way? It is He who made all things, without whom "was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). Can He not speak on this point? Eternal Word, who "was in the beginning with God" (John 1:2), balancing the clouds and fastening the foundations of the earth, You know what the laws and the unalterable constitutions of nature may be. If You say, "Ask, and it shall be given you," then assuredly it will be so, be the laws of nature what they may.
Besides, our Lord is the sustainer of all things. Seeing that all the laws of nature operate only through His power and are sustained by His might, He must be aware of the motion of all the forces in the world. Therefore, if He says, "Ask, and it shall be given you," He does not speak in ignorance, but He knows what He affirms. We may be assured that there are no forces that can prevent the fulfillment of the Lord's own word. From the Creator and the Sustainer, the word "I say unto you" settles all controversy forever.
Another objection has been raised that is very ancient indeed, and it has a great appearance of force. It is raised not so much by skeptics as by those who hold a part of the truth. It is this: prayer can certainly produce no results because the decrees of God have settled everything and those decrees are immutable. Now, we have no desire to deny the assertion that the decrees of God have settled all events. Certainly, it is our full belief that God has foreknown and predestinated everything that happens in heaven above or in the earth beneath. I fully believe that the foreknown station of a reed by the river is as fixed as the station of a king, and the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. Predestination embraces the great and the little; it reaches to all things. The question is, Why pray? Might it not as logically be asked, Why breathe, eat, move, or do anything? We have an answer that satisfies us; namely, our prayers are in the predestination, and God has as much ordained His people's prayers as anything else. So, when we pray, we are producing links in the chain of ordained facts. Destiny decrees that I should pray--I pray. Destiny decrees that I will be answered--the answer comes to me.
But we have a better answer than all this. Our Lord Jesus Christ comes forward, and He says to us, "My dear children, the decrees of God need not trouble you; there is nothing in them inconsistent with your prayers being heard. 'I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you.'"
Now, who is the One who that says this? Why, it is He who has been with the Father from the beginning: "The same was in the beginning with God" (John 1:2). He knows what the purposes of the Father are and what the heart of the Father is, for He has told us in another place, "The Father himself loveth you" (John 16:27). Now, since He knows the decrees of the Father and the heart of the Father, He can tell us with the absolute certainty of an eyewitness that there is nothing in the eternal purposes in conflict with this truth, that he who asks receives and he who seeks finds. He has read the decrees from beginning to end. Has He not taken the book, loosed the seven seals thereof (Rev. 5:5), and declared the ordinances of heaven? He tells you there is nothing there inconsistent with your bended knee and streaming eye and with the Father's opening the windows of heaven to shower upon you the blessings that you seek.
Moreover, the One who promises to answer prayer is God Himself. The purposes of heaven are His own purposes. He who ordained the purpose here gives the assurance that there is nothing in it to prevent the efficacy of prayer. "I say unto you." You who believe in Him, your doubts are scattered to the winds; you know that He hears prayer.
But sometimes there arises in our minds another difficulty, which is associated with our own judgment of ourselves and our estimate of God. We feel that God is very great, and we tremble in the presence of His majesty. We feel that we are very little and that we are also vile. It does seem an incredible thing that such guilty nothings should have power to move the arm that moves the world. I am not surprised if that fear often hampers us in prayer. But Jesus answers it so sweetly. He says, "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you."
I ask again, Who is it that says, "I say unto you"? Why, it is He who knows both the greatness of God and the weakness of man. He is God, and out of His excellent majesty I think I hear Him say, "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you." But He is also man like ourselves, and He says, "Do not dread your littleness, for I, bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh, assure you that God hears man's prayer."
Again, if the dread of sin should haunt us and our own sorrow depress us, I would remind you that Jesus Christ, when He says, "I say unto you," gives us the authority, not only of His person, but of His experience. Jesus prayed. Never did any pray as He did. Nights were spent in prayer by Him and whole days in earnest intercession, and He says to us, "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you." I think I see Him coming fresh from the heather of the hills, among which He had knelt all night to pray, and He says, "My disciples, 'Ask, and it shall be given you'; for I have prayed, and it has been given to me." He "was heard in that he feared" (Heb. 5:7), and therefore He says to us, "I say unto you'knock, and it shall be opened unto you." I think I hear Him speak thus from the cross, His face bright with the first beam of sunlight after He had borne "our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24) and had suffered all our griefs to the last pang. He had cried, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46); now, having received an answer, He cries in triumph, "It is finished" (John 19:30). In so doing, He bids us also to "ask, and it shall be given [us]." Jesus has proved the power of prayer.
Remember, too, that if Jesus our Lord could speak so positively here, there is an even greater reason for believing Him now: He has gone within the veil, and He sits at the right hand of God, even the Father. (See Hebrews 6:19-20; 10:12.) The voice does not come to us from the man of poverty, wearing a garment without seam, but from the enthroned priest with the golden girdle about His loins. It is He who now says, from the right hand of God, "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you."
Do you not believe in His name? How then can a prayer that is sincerely offered in that name fall to the ground? When you present your petition in Jesus' name (John 15:16; 16:23), a part of His authority clothes your prayers. If your prayer is rejected, Christ is dishonored; you cannot believe that. You have trusted Him; then believe that prayer offered through Him must and will win the day.
We cannot stay any longer on this point, but we trust the Holy Spirit will impress it upon your heart.
We will now remember that our Lord presents us with a promise. Note that the promise is given to several varieties of prayer. "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." The text clearly asserts that all forms of true prayer will be heard, provided they are presented through Jesus Christ and are for promised blessings. Some are vocal prayers: men ask aloud. Never should we fail to offer up every day continually the prayer that is uttered by the tongue, for the promise is that the asker will be heard. But there are others who, not neglecting vocal prayer, are far more abundant in active prayer. By humble and diligent use of the means, they seek for the blessings that they need. Their heart speaks to God by its longings, strivings, emotions, and labors. Let them not cease seeking, for they will surely find. There are others who, in their earnestness, combine the most eager forms, both acting and speaking, for knocking is a loud kind of asking and a vehement form of seeking.
So the prayers grow from asking, which is the statement, to seeking, which is the pleading, and then to knocking, which is the urgent requesting. To each of these stages of prayer there is a distinct promise. He who asks will have; what more did he ask for? But he who seeks will go further; he will find, will enjoy, will grasp, and will know that he has obtained. He who knocks will go further still, for he will understand, and to him will the precious thing be opened. He will not merely have the blessing and enjoy it, but he will comprehend it. He will "comprehend with all saints what is the 'depth, and height" (Eph. 3:18).
I want you, however, to notice this fact, which covers all: whatever form your prayer may assume, it will succeed. If you only ask, you will receive. If you seek, you will find. If you knock, it will be opened. In each case, "according to your faith [will it be] unto you" (Matt. 9:29). The clauses of the promise before us are not put, as we say in law, jointly: he that asks and seeks and knocks will receive. They are put separately: he that asks will have; he that seeks will find; he that knocks will have it opened. It is not when we combine all three that we get the blessing, though, doubtless, if we did combine them, we would get the combined reply. But if we exercise only one of these three forms of prayer, we will still get that which our souls seek after.
These three methods of prayer exercise a variety of our graces. It is a gloss of the forefathers upon this passage that faith asks, hope seeks, and love knocks, and the gloss is worth repeating. Faith asks because it believes God will give. Hope, having asked, expects and therefore seeks for the blessing. Love comes nearer still; it will not take a denial from God but desires to enter into His house and to dine with Him. Therefore, love knocks at His door until He opens.
But, again, let us come back to the old point. It does not matter which grace is exercised; a blessing comes to each one. If faith asks, it will receive; if hope seeks, it will find; and if love knocks, it will be opened to it.
These three modes of prayer suit us in different stages of distress. There I am, a poor beggar at mercy's door; I ask, and I will receive. But suppose I lose my way so that I cannot find Him of whom I once asked so successfully. Well, then I may seek with the certainty that I will find. And if I am in the last stage of all, not merely poor and bewildered, but so defiled that I feel shut out from God, like a leper shut out of the camp, then I may knock and the door will open to me.
Each one of these different descriptions of prayer is exceedingly simple. If anybody said, "I cannot ask," our reply would be, "You do not understand the word." Surely everybody can ask. A little child can ask. Long before an infant can speak, he can ask; he does not need to use words in order to ask for what he wants. Not one among us is incapacitated from asking. Prayers need not be fine. I believe God abhors fine prayers. When we pray, the simpler our prayers are, the better. The plainest, humblest language that expresses our meaning is the best.
The next word is seek, and surely there is no difficulty about seeking. In finding there might be, but in seeking there is none. When the woman in the parable lost her money, she lit a candle and sought for it. I do not suppose that she had ever been to a university, that she qualified as a lady physician, or that she could have sat on a school board as a woman of superior intellect, but she could seek. Anybody who desires to do so can seek, whether man, woman, or child. For their encouragement the promise is not given to some particular philosophical form of seeking, but "he that seeketh findeth."
Then there is knocking. Well, that is a thing of no great difficulty. We used to do it when we were boys, sometimes too much for the neighbors' comfort. And at home, if the knocker was a little too high, we had ways and means of knocking at the door even then. A stone would do it, or the heel of a boot would do it. Anything would make a knock. It was not beyond our capacity by any means. Therefore, it is put in this fashion by Christ Himself, as much as to tell us, "You do not need to have scholarship, training, talent, or wit for prayer. Ask, seek, knock--that is all. And the promise is to every one of these ways of praying."
Will you believe the promise? It is Christ who gives it. No lie ever fell from His lips. Oh, doubt Him not. Pray on if you have prayed, and if you have never prayed before, may God help you to begin today!
Our third point is that Jesus testifies to the fact that prayer is heard. Having given a promise, He then adds, in effect: "You may be quite sure that this promise will be fulfilled, not only because I say it, but because it is and always has been so." When a man says the sun will rise tomorrow morning, we believe it because it always has risen. Our Lord tells us an indisputable fact: all through the ages true asking has been followed by receiving. Remember that He who stated this fact knew it. If you state a fact, you may say, "Yes, as far as my observation goes, it is true." But the observation of Christ was unbounded. There was never a true prayer offered unknown to Him. Prayers acceptable with the Most High come up to Him by the way of the wounds of Christ. Hence, the Lord Jesus Christ can speak by personal knowledge, and His declaration is that prayer is successful. "Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth."
Now, here we must, of course, accept the limitations that would be made by ordinary common sense and that are made by Scripture. It is not everyone who frivolously or wickedly asks or pretends to ask of God that gets what he asks for. It is not every silly, idle, unconsidered request of unregenerate hearts that God will answer. By no means. Common sense limits the statement so far. Besides, Scripture limits it again. "Ye have not, because ye ask not'[or] because ye ask amiss" (James 4:2-3). There is an asking amiss which will never obtain. But those things being remembered, the statement of our Lord has no other qualification: "Every one that asketh receiveth."
Let it be remembered that frequently even when the ungodly and the wicked have asked of God, they have received. Often in the times of distress, they have called upon God, and He has answered them. "Do you really say so?" asks one. No, I do not say so, but the Scripture says so. Ahab's prayer was answered, and the Lord said,
Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house. (1 Kings 21:29)
So, also, the Lord heard the prayer of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, who did evil in the sight of the Lord. (See 2 Kings 13:1-4.) When the Israelites were given over to their foes because of their sins, they cried to God for deliverance, and they were answered. Yet the Lord Himself testified concerning them that they only flattered with their mouths (Ps. 78:34-36).
Does this surprise you? Does He not hear the young ravens when they cry? Do you think He will not hear man, who is formed in His own image? Do you doubt it? Remember Nineveh. (See Jonah 3:1-10.) The prayers offered at Nineveh, were they spiritual prayers? Did you ever hear of a church of God in Nineveh? I have not; neither do I believe the Ninevites were ever visited by converting grace. They were, however, convinced by the preaching of Jonah that they were in danger from the great Jehovah. They proclaimed a fast and humbled themselves, God heard their prayer, and Nineveh for a while was preserved.
Many times in the hour of sickness and in the time of woe, God has heard the prayers of the unthankful and the evil. Do you think God gives nothing except to the good? Have you dwelled at the foot of Sinai and learned to judge according to the law of merit? What were you when you began to pray? Were you good and righteous? Has not God commanded you to do good to the evil? (See Matthew 5:44.) Will He command you to do what He will not do Himself? Has He not said that He "sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45), and is it not so? Is He not daily blessing those who curse Him and doing good to those who despitefully use Him? This is one of the glories of God's grace. When there is nothing else good in the man, yet if there is a cry lifted up from his heart, the Lord condescends to send relief from trouble. Now, if God has heard the prayers even of men who have not sought Him in the highest manner and has given them temporary deliverances in answer to their cries, will He not much more hear you when you are humbling yourself in His sight and desiring to be reconciled to Him? Surely you can use this as an argument that God will answer your prayers.
But to come more fully to the point with regard to real and spiritual prayers, "Every one that asketh receiveth" without any limit whatsoever. There has never been an instance yet of a man really seeking spiritual blessings from God without his receiving them. The tax collector stood afar off, and so broken was his heart that he dared not look up to heaven, yet God looked down on him. (See Luke 18:13-14.) Manasseh lay in the low dungeon. He had been a cruel persecutor of the saints. There was nothing in him that could commend him to God. But God heard him out of the dungeon and brought him forth to liberty of soul. (See 2 Chronicles 33:1-13.) Jonah had by his own sin brought himself into the whale's belly, and he was an irritable servant of God at best. But out of the belly of hell he cried, and God heard him. (See Jonah 1:17-2:2.) "Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Everyone. If I needed evidence, I should be able to find it among believers. I would ask any follower of Christ to bear witness that God heard his prayer. I do not believe that among the damned in hell there is one who would dare say, "I sought the Lord, and He rejected me."
There will not be found at the last day of account one single soul that can say, "I knocked at mercy's door, but God refused to open it." There will not stand before the Great White Throne a single soul that can plead, "O Christ, I would have been saved by You, but You would not save me. I gave myself up into Your hands, but You rejected me. I penitently asked You for mercy, but You did not give it." "Every one that asketh receiveth." It has been so until this day; it will be so until Christ Himself will come. If you doubt it, try it; if you have tried it, try it again. (continued)
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