Power Through Prayer
Much Time Should Be Given to Prayer
The great masters and teachers in Christian doctrine have always
found in prayer their highest source of illumination. Not to go beyond the
limits of the English Church, it is recorded of Bishop Andrews that he spent
five hours daily on his knees. The greatest practical resolves that have
enriched and beautified human life in Christian times have been arrived at in
prayer. -- Canon Liddon
WHILE many private prayers, in the nature of things, must be short; while
public prayers, as a rule, ought to be short and condensed; while there is
ample room for and value put on ejaculatory prayer -- yet in our private
communions with God time is a feature essential to its value. Much time spent
with God is the secret of all successful praying. Prayer which is felt as a
mighty force is the mediate or immediate product of much time spent with God.
Our short prayers owe their point and efficiency to the long ones that have
preceded them. The short prevailing prayer cannot be prayed by one who has not
prevailed with God in a mightier struggle of long continuance. Jacob's victory
of faith could not have been gained without that all-night wrestling. God's
acquaintance is not made by pop calls. God does not bestow his gifts on the
casual or hasty comers and goers. Much with God alone is the secret of knowing
him and of influence with him. He yields to the persistency of a faith that
knows him. He bestows his richest gifts upon those who declare their desire for
and appreciation of those gifts by the constancy as well as earnestness of
their importunity. Christ, who in this as well as other things is our Example,
spent many whole nights in prayer. His custom was to pray much. He had his
habitual place to pray. Many long seasons of praying make up his history and
character. Paul prayed day and night. It took time from very important
interests for Daniel to pray three times a day. David's morning, noon, and
night praying were doubtless on many occasions very protracted. While we have
no specific account of the time these Bible saints spent in prayer, yet the
indications are that they consumed much time in prayer, and on some occasions
long seasons of praying was their custom.
We would not have any think that the value of their prayers is to be measured
by the clock, but our purpose is to impress on our minds the necessity of being
much alone with God; and that if this feature has not been produced by our
faith, then our faith is of a feeble and surface type.
The men who have most fully illustrated Christ in their character, and have
most powerfully affected the world for him, have been men who spent so much
time with God as to make it a notable feature of their lives. Charles Simeon
devoted the hours from four till eight in the morning to God. Mr. Wesley spent
two hours daily in prayer. He began at four in the morning. Of him, one who
knew him well wrote: "He thought prayer to be more his business than anything
else, and I have seen him come out of his closet with a serenity of face next
to shining." John Fletcher stained the walls of his room by the breath of his
prayers. Sometimes he would pray all night; always, frequently, and with great
earnestness. His whole life was a life of prayer. "I would not rise from my
seat," he said, "without lifting my heart to God." His greeting to a friend was
always: "Do I meet you praying?" Luther said: "If I fail to spend two hours in
prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much
business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer." He had
a motto: "He that has prayed well has studied well."
Archbishop Leighton was so much alone with God that he seemed to be in a
perpetual meditation. "Prayer and praise were his business and his pleasure,"
says his biographer. Bishop Ken was so much with God that his soul was said to
be God-enamored. He was with God before the clock struck three every morning.
Bishop Asbury said: "I propose to rise at four o'clock as often as I can and
spend two hours in prayer and meditation." Samuel Rutherford, the fragrance of
whose piety is still rich, rose at three in the morning to meet God in prayer.
Joseph Alleine arose at four o'clock for his business of praying till eight. If
he heard other tradesmen plying their business before he was up, he would
exclaim: "O how this shames me! Doth not my Master deserve more than theirs?"
He who has learned this trade well draws at will, on sight, and with acceptance
of heaven's unfailing bank.
One of the holiest and among the most gifted of Scotch preachers says: "I ought
to spend the best hours in communion with God. It is my noblest and most
fruitful employment, and is not to be thrust into a corner. The morning hours,
from six to eight, are the most uninterrupted and should be thus employed.
After tea is my best hour, and that should be solemnly dedicated to God. I
ought not to give up the good old habit of prayer before going to bed; but
guard must be kept against sleep. When I awake in the night, I ought to rise
and pray. A little time after breakfast might be given to intercession." This
was the praying plan of Robert McCheyne. The memorable Methodist band in their
praying shame us. "From four to five in the morning, private prayer; from five
to six in the evening, private prayer."
John Welch, the holy and wonderful Scotch preacher, thought the day ill spent
if he did not spend eight or ten hours in prayer. He kept a plaid that he might
wrap himself when he arose to pray at night. His wife would complain when she
found him lying on the ground weeping. He would reply: "O woman, I have the
souls of three thousand to answer for, and I know not how it is with many of