Who’s in the prayer closet?

This guest post was written by Caleb Otto.  It is his response to the post “Who’s in the library?”  

Throughout history there has been monumental effort expended to enlarge different kingdoms, whether it be a political, territorial, or religious reign.

This world is literally dying for lack of men and women who are investing their all to advance the Kingdom of God.  If we as Christians endeavor to counter the darkness of the world solely with worldly weapons, we will lose.  They have someone bigger fighting for them: Satan.  We have God fighting for us, and His power far exceeds the devil’s power.

What we must do is apply ourselves to laying hold of God’s power.  Yes, we must utilize our minds in the battle, but real victories are won only when we pray.

Paul, one of the most influential men in Christian history, said: “Where is the wise…where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20, ESV)

This is not an argument for ignorance.  Rather, it is a plea for us to remember the futility of trying to advance the Kingdom of God by mere intellect and human reasoning.  Samuel Chadwick said that Satan “Laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”

Continual Prayer

“When the Spirit has come to reside in someone, that person cannot stop praying; for the Spirit prays without ceasing in him.  No matter if he is asleep or awake, prayer is going on in his heart all the time….The slightest stirring of his heart is like a voice which sings in silence and in secret to the Invisible.”
(Isaac the Syrian)

Hallowed Be Thy Name

The Lord’s Prayer includes the expression of a desire for God’s name to be hallowed. This comment by Martin Luther may help us to better understand that petition.

“How is God’s name hallowed among us? It is when both our doctrine and living are truly Christian.”

Slothful Prayer

“Moments of prayer intruded on by sloth cannot be made up. We may get experience, but we cannot get back the rich freshness and strength which were wrapped up in those moments.”
(Frederick W. Robertson)

Enjoyment of God

William Law’s book “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life” is a convicting work that is certainly worthy of its status as a classic in Christian literature.  In chapter 14 of that work he writes (emphasis mine):

I take it for granted, that every Christian, that is in health, is up early in the morning; for it is much more reasonable to suppose a person up early, because he is a Christian, than because he is a labourer, or a tradesman, or a servant, or has business that wants him.

We naturally conceive some abhorrence of a man that is in bed, when he should be at his labour, or in his shop. We cannot tell how to think anything good of him, who is such a slave to drowsiness, as to neglect his business for it.

Let this therefore teach us to conceive, how odious we must appear in the sight of heaven, if we are in bed, shut up in sleep and darkness, when we should be praising God; and are such slaves to drowsiness, as to neglect our devotions for it.

For if he is to be blamed as a slothful drone, that rather chooses the lazy indulgence of sleep, than to perform his proper share of worldly business; how much more is he to be reproached, that had rather lie folded up in a bed, than be raising up his heart to God in acts of praise and adoration?

Prayer is the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of him, that we are capable of in this life.

It is the noblest exercise of the soul, the most exalted use of our best faculties, and the highest imitation of the blessed inhabitants of heaven.

When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires to the throne of grace, we are then in our highest state, we are upon the utmost heights of human greatness; we are not before kings and princes, but in the presence and audience of the Lord of all the world, and can be no higher, till death is swallowed up in glory.

On the other hand, sleep is the poorest, dullest refreshment of the body, that is so far from being intended as an enjoyment, that we are forced to receive it either in a state of insensibility, or in the folly of dreams.

Sleep is such a dull, stupid state of existence, that even amongst mere animals, we despise those most, which are most drowsy.

He therefore that chooses, to enlarge the slothful indulgence of sleep, rather than be early at his devotions to God, chooses the dullest refreshment of the body, before the highest, noblest employment of the soul; he chooses that state, which is a reproach to mere animals, rather than that exercise, which is the glory of Angels.

You will perhaps say, though you rise late, yet you are always careful of your devotions when you are up.

It may be so. But what then? Is it well done of you to rise late, because you pray when you are up? Is it pardonable to waste great part of the day in bed, because some time after you say your prayers?

It is as much your duty to rise to pray, as to pray when you are risen. And if you are late at your prayers, you offer to God the prayers of an idle, slothful worshipper, that rises to prayers, as idle servants rise to their labour.

A Prayer For Peace

“O Lord Jesus, thou faithful and merciful High Priest, who consented to be in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin, that, taught by this experience how hard it is to obey God in sufferings, thou mightest be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, have compassion on me, succour me, thy servant prostrate, and pressed with so many maladies.

O God of my salvation, make my soul fit for thy heavenly kingdom, and my body for the resurrection. Great Shepherd of the sheep, who, through the blood of the everlasting covenant hast been brought again from the dead, O Lord and Saviour Jesus, be present with me, an infirm and afflicted sheep of thine.”

(James Arminius)