In His Name, GB Thompson

Tags: neglect, Jesus Christ, Almighty and Everlasting God, prayer and supplication, unchangeable God, celestial choir, John Knox, Jesus, name of Jesus, There is a place, John Wesley
Content: IN HIS NAME By George B. Thompson AUTHOR OF The Ministry of the Spirit Soul-Winning O Thou that hears prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. The Psalmist, REVIEW & HERALD PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION WASHINGTON, D. C. Copyright, 1918
IN HIS NAME CONTENTS IN HIS NAME THE PRAYER HABIT THE NEGLECT OF PRAYER SECRET PRAYER PRAYER IN THE FAMILY THE ABSENT THOMASES HINDERED PRAYERS THE POWER OF PRAYER Always Pray! "Pray always pray! The Holy Spirit pleads When thee all thy daily, hourly needs. "Pray, always pray! Beneath sin's heaviest load Prayer sees the blood from Jesus' side that flowed. "Pray, always pray, though weary, faint, and lone; Prayer nestles by the Father's sheltering throne. "Pray, always pray! Amid the world's turmoil Prayer keeps the heart at rest, and nerves for toil. "Pray, always pray! If joys thy pathway throng, Prayer strikes the harp and sings the angels' song, "All earthly things with Earth shall pass away; Prayer grasps eternity; pray, always pray." 2
IN HIS NAME PREFACE The pivot of piety is prayer. Pierson. THE aim of this little booklet is to stimulate prayer. The crisis hour in the history of the world and of the church has come. The Christian's refuge is prayer. Prayer defeats Satan. It connects finite man with Omnipotent Power. Prayer makes the darkest cloud withdraw; Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw. The heavenly fire is needed that the forces of evil may be defeated and the fetters of sin broken. The call of the hour is to the cultivation of the inner life; to study of the word; to prayer. G. B. T. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence? - Mrs. E. G. White. IN HIS NAME IT is related by Reverend J. Wilbur Chapman that during the Civil War in the United States of America, a young man passing over a battle field saw a young friend lying among the wounded, shot almost to pieces. It was evident that he had only a short time to live. The young man stooped down and straightened out the shattered limbs of his friend, took water from his canteen and gave him a drink, and wiped the blood from his face. Then he said, " Charlie, is there anything more I can do for you?" The suffering, `dying boy, knowing his end was at hand and thinking of loved ones at home, said, "Yes, there is. If you have a piece of paper in your pocket and will write a letter to my father, I think I have strength enough to sign it. My father is a prominent judge in a Northern State, and if you take him this letter he will help you." This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER: I am dying on the battle field, and one of my friends is helping me. If he ever comes to you, be kind to him for Charlie's sake." Then with stiffening fingers he signed his name, and he was dead. The Civil War, with all its horror and suffering, came to an end, and the soldiers returned to their homes. One of them in tattered uniform made his way to the home of this judge. The soldier looked like a tramp, and the servants would not admit him. He waited till the judge returned, then stepped before him and held up the soiled piece of paper. The judge, thinking it was a plea for assistance, pushed him to one side; but the soldier stepped back again, and called the gentleman's attention to the signature. Then the great judge threw his arms around the soldier, took him into his home, and with tears streaming from his eyes, said, "You can have anything that my money and influence can buy." The name did it. Great indeed is the name of Jesus. His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." This name stands for all that our blessed Redeemer isthe I AM. "O the precious name of Jesus! How it thrills our souls with joy, When his loving arms receive us, And his songs our tongues employ! The Father has given to Jesus a name which is above every name that is named, either in this world or in the world to come. At this name if every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." The blessed Jesus says: "Whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14: 13. The writer knows of no greater promise in the Book of God than these words of the Master: "Whatsoever you shall ask, that will I do." 3
IN HIS NAME There in that " upper room," facing Gethsemane, Jesus gave to his disciples, and through them to all mankind, one of the richest and most encouraging promises in the Bible. "Whatsoever you shall ask," has no limits. It embraces all that God has. " All things are yours; whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's." 1 Corinthians 3:21-23. There is one condition: "Whatsoever you shall ask in my name." Blessed name! Sweetest name on mortal tongue, Sweetest carol ever sung, Jesus, blessed Jesus! Here is a name that unlocks heaven, and gives access to all its riches. Turn your eyes to the starstudded heavens, and think of all the shining worlds that people space, and remember that all belong to our blessed Redeemer. He has an inexhaustible supply of riches, power, wisdom, and holiness for his children. He is able and willing to supply all our needs. Every one who asks in faith receives. Christ's name is his character. It is what he is. All who come to him in faith, regarding no iniquity in their hearts, will receive according to his promise. But we must do more than ask in his name; we must take the blessings. The incident is related of an old woman who lived in the utmost poverty, depending largely on the charity of others for a living. One day, while conversing with some friends, she told of a son who frequently wrote her from a distant State. "And," she said, "he sends in his letters some strange little pieces of paper." Then from the letters she drew forth those to her " strange" pieces of paper. They proved to be drafts on the bank. Living in poverty, yet plenty at hand! Her name was unknown at the bank, but the name of her son, a man of wealth, was known. In the name of her son she had but to draw on the bank for all her needs. Often times we, like the poor woman, live in spiritual poverty, when through the abundant promises of our Savior great riches are within our reach. Jesus has promised to supply all our needs according to his riches in glory. His name is signed in blood to the checks, payable at the bank of heaven. We are to fill in the amount we need, and cash them at heaven's bank. His name stands for all in the eternal domain, and we are assured that our every need will be supplied. "Behold the throne of grace! The promise calls me near: There Jesus shows a smiling face, And waits my prayer to hear. "That rich atoning blood, Which sprinkled round I see, Provides, for those who come to God, An all-prevailing plea." THE PRAYER HABIT AN enterprising newspaper in London has a private wire connected with Edinburgh. This is in order to command the latest news from the Athens of Scotland. It is related that a clerk who was out at night collecting the latest news, on his return found that, having forgotten to take his night key, he could not get to his office. It was no use to knock; the only other clerk was up on the fourth floor, and could not hear him. Stepping around to a neighboring telegraph office, he sent a message to Edinburgh: "Tell him that I am down at the street door and cannot get in." In a few minutes the door was unlocked, and he was at his desk at work. The shortest way to get at the man on the fourth floor was by way of Edinburgh. This illustrates a truth. Thank God, there is a connection between the throne of God and each soul. The call is to the closet, to communion with God. This is our only refuge, our only safety. It is no time for simply the forms of prayer; no time merely to repeat a short prayer when tired and sleepy, but to pray long and earnestly, to have the soul drawn out in great supplication to God. Men of prayer are men of power. Uncover the lives of men who have done great things for God, who have been successful soul-winners, and it will be found that they prevailed with God often in the secret place. John Wesley had his "prayer-room," where he communed with the Most High before he spoke to the people. On the first page of his diaries is recorded this vow: "(1) I resolve to devote an hour morning and evening to Private prayer, no pretense, no excuse 4
IN HIS NAME whatever; and (2) to converse face to face with God, in righteousness, no facetiousness." Luther and his associates were men of prayer; they wrestled and prevailed. John Knox was famous for his earnest prayers. He was heard at the great crisis to plead, "Give me Scotland, or I die!" and Queen Mary said that she feared his prayers more than she did all the armies of Europe. Uncover the lives of mighty men of power in the church in more modern times, and we find they were men of prayer. Of David Brainerd it is said that "he delighted greatly in secret retirement, and loved to get quite away from all the world, to converse alone with God in secret duties." Alone in the savage wilds of America, he drew strength from above for his work. Moody was a man of prayer; it was in secret communion with God that he received power to bring men to Christ. " At the burning of Farewell Hall in Chicago, back in the sixties, Mr. Moody, having lost his parish with most of his earthly possessions, set out for New York with a feeling that his life was broken in sunder. On the cars he kept praying that God would endue him with more power for a greater work. His plea was, `Make me willing, O Lord, in the day of thy power; willing to receive all that thou would bestow upon me.' In a room at the old Metropolitan Hotel he kept up that prayer, hour after hour, kneeling, walking the floor, pleading, `O Lord, make me willing to be as strong for service as thou would have me.' Toward evening a friend knocked, and receiving No Answer, entered. Mr. Moody was standing, with tearful eyes uplifted, and saying softly in a broken voice, `O Lord, stay now thy hand! No morel No more!' His prayer had been answered. God had fed his hungry soul, and filled him even to the lips. And then began that marvelous work of evangelism in America and Europe, when souls came to Christ like doves flocking to their windows, which must ever be a mystery to those who doubt the importance of the energizing influence of the Spirit of God." The biographer of Archbishop Leighton says of him that " prayer and praise were his business and his pleasure." Of Bishop Ken it is said that he was closeted with God every morning before the clock struck three. Samuel Rutherford, we are told, rose at four to converse with God. John Welch, the Scotch preacher, spent many hours daily in prayer. When his wife complained, he would say, " O woman, I have the souls of three thousand to answer for, and I know not how it is with many of them." Of William Bramwell, who went over his circuits " like a flame of fire," it is said, " He almost lived on his knees." " Dr. Judson impressed an empire for Christ, and laid the foundations of God's kingdom with imperishable granite in the heart of Burma. He was successful, one of the few men who mightily impressed the world for Christ. Many men of greater gifts and genius and learning than he have made no such impression; their religious work is like footsteps in the sands, but he has engraved his work on the adamant. The secret of its profundity and endurance is found in the fact that he gave time to prayer. He, kept the iron red-hot with prayer, and God's skill fashioned it with enduring power. No man can do a great and enduring work for God who is not a man of prayer, and no man can be a man of prayer who does not give much time to praying." Rev. J. C. Ryle, in his admirable little book entitled, "Call to Prayer," well says that prayer "was the practice of all the saints whose history we have recorded in the Scriptures. This is what Jacob did when he feared his brother Esau. This is what Moses did when the people were ready to stone him in the wilderness. This is what Joshua did when Israel was defeated before the men of Ai. This is what David did when he was in danger at Keilah. This is what Hezekiah did when he received the threatening letter from Sennacherib. This is what the church did when Peter was put in prison. This is what Paul did when he was cast into the dungeon at Philippi." Numerous other incidents are recorded in the Scriptures showing the potency of prayer. When the consuming storm of fire was about to sweep Sodom from the earth forever, Abraham prayed. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, prayed, consecrating her child to the Lord before he was born. What an example for mothers! When Israel were preparing to meet the Philistine host and the probable outcome of the impending battle was in doubt, " Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him." The Philistines were smitten before Israel and (t came no more into the coasts of Israel." In answer to the prayer of Elijah, in that terrible contest with the prophets of Baal on the heights of Carmel, the Lord sent fire from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. And the prayer of faith will bring fire from heaven today as in the days of the Tishbite prophet. When the enemies of Daniel secured a decree that consigned to a den of lions the one who prayed, the devoted seer of God "kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God." Undaunted by the prospect before him, knowing that the death decree was signed, the spies found this spokesman of the Most High "upon his knees," praying "as he did before time." But "prayer changes things." It is mightier than the decree of nations. Daniel was delivered. The Lord sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths. 5
IN HIS NAME Jesus prayed. When the earth was wrapped in the sable garb of night, in the mountain recesses or by the sea he poured forth supplications to his Father. The aged Anna "served God with fasting and prayers night and day." We read of " devout " Simeon waiting for the consolation of Israel. Prayer and supplication preceded Pentecost. When facing Roman dungeons, the apostles prayed and the place where they were assembled was shaken. Prayer brings us in touch with earthquake power. The apostles placed prayer ahead of business. Instead of serving tables, they decided to give themselves " continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." Man was made to pray. Though sin has almost blotted from his nature this holy desire, yet a few flowers bloom in the desert of human experience as a reminder of the time when man talked face to face with God. There still remains in the heart of man a longing to reverence and worship a being of a higher order than himself. Even savages have some conception of a Supreme Being. Barbarians and uncivilized races worship they know not what. The heathen have their prayer flags and prayer wheels. Idolaters bow down to gods of wood and stone. As the traveler climbs the foothills of the Himalayas, he finds the heathen praying. As the archeologist uncovers ruins and unearths ancient history, he finds the record of prayer. The Mohammedan, when the muezzin calls, stops and prays. The Ancient Greeks and Romans supplicated the gods of mythology, and reared altars to the "unknown God." The Indian, with his untutored mind, implores the Great Spirit. The little child inclines to prayer. The aged pray in loneliness and solitude, when strength is gone. Prayer is man's hope from youth to age, his last resort in hours of sorrow and perplexity. Some claim they do not believe in prayer. But in time of storm or extreme physical danger these same men turn to God for help. When the earth quakes under them, there is a disposition to reach up and get hold of something more stable and enduring. When on some stricken "Titanic," a loving wife clings imploringly to her husband, and their innocent children gather about them weeping and asking for help before the doomed leviathan takes the final plunge and the angry swirl of the ocean sweeps over them, from his heart will come a prayer. Prayer sounds better than cursing then. When a patient, lying on the operating table, with the surgeon standing scalpel in hand, is told that the chances are against him and that he may never awake from the anesthetic, the voice of prayer sounds sweet, even to the unbeliever. Amid the terrors of the last day, when creation is shivering to atoms, when the earth is sinking beneath the terrible disorder of sin, when mountain ranges are shaking and islands with their living freight are disappearing, then " the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman" will hide themselves "in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains," and will pray to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" Revelation 6: 15-17. It is better to pray now, and then be able, in the awful hours when destruction wastes at noonday and hopeless terror seizes upon the ungodly, to rejoice with joy unspeakable. To call upon God only in some emergency, or when we wish him to run an errand for us, is deplorable. This calling upon God only in times of peril, in some frantic or spasmodic way, harks back to the pagan conception of God, regarding him as nothing more than a power to be occasionally invoked for our help. A boy who spoke to his father only in time of distress, who sought his advice only in time of great need, who wrote him only when he needed money or when he needed legal aid, would be a poor specimen of a son. Reader, do you pray? Is your family altar erected? Do you pray with and for your children? or do you send them forth to mingle with the sin and wickedness about them, without committing them to the care of a kind Father? Do you ever forget to pray? Do you allow `the hurry and bustle of life to rob you of communion with God? Are you conscience smitten over the neglect of prayer in your life? If so, you stand in a slippery place, and there should be in your life a real revival of prayer and secret communion with God. Lord, what a change within us one short hour Spent in thy presence will prevail to make! What heavy burdens from our spirits take, What parched hearts refresh, as with a shower! We kneel, and all around us seems to lower; We rise, and all -the distant and the near Stands forth in sunny outlines, brave and clear. "We kneel, how weak! We rise, how full of power! 6
IN HIS NAME Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong, Or others, that we are not always strong; That we are ever overborne with care; That we should ever weak or heartless be, Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer And joy and strength and courage are with thee?" We are truly living in stirring times. Every hour is in touch with momentous events. The curtain is about to drop on the history of a planet. The hour of temptation which is to try the world is upon us. A storm of unwonted power is betokened by the clouds above the horizon. The darkness deepens. A woe is upon the inhabitants of the earth, for an adversary, powerful and cunning, has come down in a final attempt to deceive and destroy souls. Apostolic power is not manifest in the church as it should be. The standard of godliness is far too low. There is not that close contact between the soul and God that there should be. We should heed the admonition of the Savior to pray. "He spoke a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." "Pray that you enter not into temptation." It is a time when we should enter into the closet, and having shut the door, pray to our Father in heaven. There is an alarming lack of prayer in many lives. The great apostle bids us "pray without ceasing." The psalmist says, " In my distress I cried unto the Lord." Our need is a call to prayer. Every temptation is a call to seek God for deliverance Every perplexity bids us pray for guidance. Every conflict with the powers of darkness is a call to prayer. The darker the hour, the more we need to pray. Every sorrow and affliction of the heart is a call to pray for strength. Every discouragement is a call to pray for new courage and hope. When waves of despair sweep over the soul, it is then that we need to pray, and cling to God with unyielding faith. When the soul is passing through anguish and distress. which none but God knows, even this is a call to pray. And then from out the deep waters the believer can say with the psalmist, " This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him." THE NEGLECT OF PRAYER THE apostle Paul exhorts, " Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." Colossians 4:2. Again he says, " Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Ephesians 6: 18. This text applies especially at the time when the devil is plotting how to make his most desperate and final attack on the people of God. Our way of escape is through prayer; not an occasional, meaningless petition, but earnestly " praying always," with " supplication," and " watching," and " all perseverance," with every intensity of the soul on the stretch. Many come right to the verge of a great blessing, and then let go, when they should wrestle like Jacob, who said, " I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." O that these words might burn out from our hearts our slothfulness in prayer! It has been truly said, "Much prayer, much power; little prayer, little power; no prayer, no power." Prayer is the pivot of piety; there can be no piety without prayer. James states this same great truth: "You have not, because you ask not." James 4:2. Preachers are powerless to win souls because they do not pray. Churches are withering up because business has taken the place of prayer in the lives of their members. Prayer meetings are dying out because prayer is neglected. Pleasure rather than godliness is loved. Unbelief is darkening many hearts because of the neglect of prayer. Many are losing their hold on God and drifting into the world because the secret place is forgotten. Our need of prayer is truly great; our neglect is appalling. In Pentecostal days prayer was placed ahead of business. When pressed with secular affairs, the apostles said, "It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look you 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." Acts 6: 2-4. Here is the secret of power, the giving of ourselves "continually to prayer." It is not to supplicate the throne of God occasionally, nor to pray from a sense of duty rather than from an earnest desire to commune with God, but to pray "always," in all places and under all circumstances. Jesus says, "Men ought always to pray." Luke 18: 1. Paul says, "I will therefore that men pray 7
IN HIS NAME everywhere." 1 Timothy 2: 8. I have a question to offer; it is this: Do you pray? Another has well said, " Whether you attend public worship or not, your minister knows. Whether you have family prayers in your house or not, your relations know. But whether you pray in private or not, is a matter between yourself and God." "It is not absolutely needful to salvation that a man should read the Bible. A man may have no learning, or be blind, and yet have Christ in his heart. It is not absolutely needful that a man should hear public preaching of the gospel. He may live where the gospel is not preached, or he may be bedridden, or deaf. But the same thing cannot be said about prayer. It is absolutely needful to salvation that a man should pray." We cannot conceive of a prayerless soul's being saved in the kingdom of God. Yet there is a terrible neglect of prayer. Professed Christians fail to pray. The family altar has fallen down. The path to the secret place is overgrown. Though continually receiving from the beneficent hand of God, many selfishly refuse to give thanks. Rev. J. C. Ryle has well said: " I believe that thousands never utter a word of prayer at all. They eat. They drink. They sleep. They rise. They go forth to their labor. They return to their homes. They breathe God's air. They see God's sun. They walk on God's earth. They enjoy God's mercies. They have dying bodies. They have judgment and eternity before them. But they never speak to God. They live like the beasts that perish. . . . They have not one word to say to Him in whose hand are their life and breath, and all things, and from whose mouth they must one day receive their everlasting sentence. How dreadful this seems but if the secrets of men were only known, how common!" One of the greatest failures of the Christian life is the neglect of prayer. One of the greatest needs of the church is a revival of prayer. Prayer comes before Pentecost. Prayer comes also after Pentecost. The disciples gave themselves " continually to prayer." The sad results of a neglect to pray are beyond estimate. Because of the neglect of prayer, our spirituality wanes, and we maintain our profession often times because of custom, or a sense of duty or respectability, after the stream of divine life and love has ceased to flow. The apostle attributes our spiritual poverty to the neglect of prayer. "You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not." James 4: 2. We have not because we ask not. How sad! Yet these words contain the secret of spiritual poverty. Many deplore their weakness, yet they content themselves with struggling on in their weak way, weak when they might be strong. Why? "You have not, because you ask not." Many make no progress in the Christian life. When they should be mature Christians, they art mere babes. Instead of being firm and stalwart, they are weaklings. Why is this spiritual stagnation? It is because of the neglect of prayer. The apostle says, "You have not, because you ask not." James 4: 2. Many fail in living the victorious Christian life. When temptation assails them, they have no power to resist, and are led into captivity by the devil. Why this defeat? Neglect of prayer. You have not, because you ask not." Many are deceived by the enemy and led into error and darkness. Their spiritual perception is impaired, and they are unable to see clearly the right path. Why this blindness? It did not come in a day. There was first a neglect of prayer. " You have not, because you ask not." Many fail in the work of soul winning. They bring no fruit to perfection in their own life, and fail to lead others to the Savior. Why this spiritual dearth? Neglect of prayer, God says. "You have not, because you ask not." How sad to be shorn of power and blessing when we might be strong and be filled with all the fullness of God! Prayer does things. Through neglect of prayer we backslide, and fall into sin. Men do not backslide when on their knees. Ask the one who has been overcome and has fallen into some grievous sin, if he has not been neglecting prayer, and he will tell you, "Yes." The machinery of the Christian life may go on without prayer, but the life will not be spiritual. Like the death mask that retains the features of the dead, we may maintain the form after becoming a spiritual corpse. No amount of learning or thinking can take the place of prayer. To live the Christian life there must be a striving, a wrestling with God, with ((strong crying and tears." There must be fervent, effectual prayer. Men who were dead in sin have been brought to life through prayer. Drunkards -who have debased themselves and dishonored those whom they loved, have been reformed through earnest prayer. Blasphemers who profaned the name of God have been led to repentance through the silent supplications of some loved one. Libertines who have been sunk in sin have been led to purity of life through the power of importunate prayer. Infidels who have published their shame to the world, and defied the God who gave 8
IN HIS NAME them life, breath, and all things, have been arrested in their wickedness by the power of prayer. Invalids have arisen from beds of pain in response to prayer. It was in answer to prayer that Dorcas was raised to life. Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus, and he came forth. Prayer has opened prison cells, and the believing child of God has walked at liberty. But today we find God's people sitting in the dust of humiliation, destitute of power through neglect of prayer. We have not, because we ask not. "When men are as devoted as Elijah was, and possess the faith that he had, God will reveal himself as he did then. When men plead with God as did Jacob, the results that were seen then will again be seen. Power will come from God in answer to the prayer of faith." "Gospel Workers," P. 255. It is useless to offer as an excuse for neglect of prayer that we do not have time to pray. We have all the time there is. If we have time for other things, we have time for prayer. We must take time to pray, the same as we take time to cat, or sleep, or visit, or work, or do anything else in life's daily routine. Men of prayer are usually busy men. Daniel, though burdened with many intricate matters in the empire of Babylon had time to pray. Three times daily he was found with his window open toward Jerusalem, supplicating the throne of God. King David says, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray." Psalm 55: 17. It is not time to pray that we lack so much as a real desire to commune with God. As Christians, why do we pray so little? Reader, how can you face the on-coming storm of God's wrath and the terrors of the day of God, if you neglect to pray? Are your sins pardoned? Are you prepared to stand in the judgment? Are all your loved ones ready for the burning day of God? There is a day coming when, too late, men will pray amid the convulsions of the last day, for rock and mountain to fall on them and hide them from the presence of the Lamb. Do not wait. Shake off the prayer-less ways arise and call on the Lord." Come, let us pray the mercy-seat Invites the fervent prayer;. our Heavenly Father waits to greet The contrite spirit there. O loiter not, nor longer stay From him who loves us; let us pray." SECRET PRAYER THOU, when thou prays, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which sees in secret shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6: 6. The " closet" is the quiet place where we, can be shut in with God, and cultivate his acquaintance. Here we commune with God, and spread before him our every need. What a wonderful privilege! My soul! ask what thou wilt; Thou cannot he to Since his own blood for spilt, What else can he wit Secret prayer is really the test of our spiritual connection with God. Many forms of worship are outward and can be seen of men, but not so with secret prayer. No eye sees within the closet save the eye of God alone. Hypocrites and Pharisees are seldom found in the secret place with God. Another has well and truly said: "A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books and make fine speeches and. seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of true conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, "Behold, he prays." Acts 9:11. "We should pray in the family circle; and above all, we must not neglect secret prayer; for this is the life of the soul. It is impossible for the soul to flourish while prayer is neglected. Family or public prayer alone is not sufficient. In solitude let the soul be laid open to the inspecting eye of God. Secret prayer is to be heard only by the prayer-hearing God. No curious ear is to receive the burden of such petitions. In secret prayer the soul is free from surrounding influences, free from excitement. Calmly, yet fervently, will it reach out after God. Sweet and abiding will be the influence emanating from him who sees 9
IN HIS NAME in secret, whose ear is open to hear the prayer arising from the heart. By calm, simple faith, the soul holds communion with God, and gathers to itself rays of divine light to strengthen and sustain it in the conflict with Satan. God is our tower of strength. "Pray in your closet; and as you go about your daily labor, yet your heart be often uplifted to God. It was thus that Enoch walked with God. These silent prayers rise like precious incense before the throne of grace. Satan cannot overcome him whose heart is thus stayed upon God." "Steps to Christ," pp. 102, 103. Enter into the closet, and "shut thy door." There are times when we prefer to be alone. In some overwhelming sorrow or poignant grief we long to be alone, where we can weep out the anguish of the heart, with none to see the falling tear. So in the closest communion with God, we are bidden to shut the door. The world shut out, the Lord shut in; alone in the audience chamber with the Maker of all things, what an exalted privilege for the saint of God! The only wonder is that we pray so little. It is said that Napoleon before a great battle would stand alone in his tent, and one by one the marshals and commanders of the army would enter, grasp his hand in silence, and then go out - fired with new courage and .resolution and willingness to die for their country. So in the secret place, alone with God, we grasp the hand of the mighty Commander, and are strengthened for the conflicts of life. What an example we have for secret prayer in the life of our blessed Master! He who was God, and knew no sin, was often found in communion with his Father. He was not only a man of ` sorrows, but a man of prayer as well. We read that, " rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Again, when pressed by the multitude who came to him to hear, and to be healed, he felt his need of divine strength; so he "withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed." On another occasion when his enemies were plotting his destruction, we are told that " it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." At another time, when "he was alone praying," his disciples came to him, and he began questioning them. "Alone praying" What a blessed example for his followers! At another time he took three of his disciples and " went up into a mountain to pray." It was while he was praying that "the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering." Observe that it was while he was praying that this great change took place. We, too, are changed when we pray. It was while Jesus prayed that "the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Jesus had the prayer habit, and heaven was moved in response to his earnest petitions. The God who sees in secret will open heaven and pour upon us his Spirit when we pray. Prayerless souls will never be blessed with heaven's fullness. Power from God comes to man only in answer to prayer. Prayer need not always be long to be noticed by the prayer-hearing God. In illustration of this, a most touching anecdote is told of the devout Bengel. He is represented as a man strong in faith and great in prayer. After he became a professor, one of his countrymen, a former parishioner, had a longing to see him once more. So after an evening service, he hid himself where he could watch the private devotions, of the one he so revered. Hours passed, midnight came, and still Bengel's lamp burned on and his pen moved, while, turning ever to the open Bible, he bent his head over the holy page. Far beyond the time when others sleep he still searched, for others' need, in the mine of heavenly gold. At length he shut the book and arose. "At last I hear Bengel pray," thought the peasant; "what words they will be I my long watch repaid!" But Bengel only turned his eyes up to the Master's throne and said, "O Lord Jesus Christ, things are between us as on the old score." Who can say that this one-sentence prayer, breathed in childlike simplicity, passed unheeded because short? Yet while the effect of prayer is not to be measured by the clock, the closet is the place for long prayers. The longer we pray in the closet, the shorter we are inclined to pray in public. In the secret place we should commune with God until victory comes to the soul. Our trouble is we let go of the arm of Jehovah too soon. We hang up the receiver before the answer comes. The terrible struggles with temptation and with the strong passions of the heart are known only to God and our own soul. But in the secret place we can open before God the depravity of the natural heart. We can look up to him in faith and plead: "Great Advocate, almighty Friend, On thee alone our hopes depend; Our cause can never, never fail, For thou does plead, and must prevail. In every dark, distressing hour, When sin and Satan join their power, Let this blest truth repel each dart That thou does bear us on thy heart." It was in the secret place that Luther found strength for his work. At Worms he was to face an 10
IN HIS NAME imposing and brilliant assembly. There he was to meet the mightiest powers of earth. Great issues were at stake. It was the crisis hour of the Reformation. In the closet with God, Luther pleaded: "O Almighty and Everlasting God! How terrible is this world! Behold, it opens its mouth to swallow me up, and I have so little trust in thee! How weak is the flesh, and how powerful is Satan! If it is in the strength of this world only that I must put my trust, all is over! My last hour is come, my condemnation has been pronounced! O God! O God! O God do thou help me against all the wisdom of the world! Do this; thou should do this . . . thou alone for this is not my work, but yours. "I have nothing to do here, nothing to contend for with these great ones of the world! I should desire to see my days flow on peaceful and happy. But the cause is yours. . . . and it is a righteous and eternal cause. O Lord help me! Faithful and unchangeable God! In no man do I place my trust. It would be vain. All that is of man is uncertain; all that comes of man fails. . . . "O God! my God; hear thou me not? My God, art thou dead? Not thou cannot die! Thou hides thyself only! Thou has chosen me for this work. I know it well! Act, then, O God. Stand at my side, for the sake of thy well beloved Jesus Christ who is my defense, my shield, and my strong tower." "After a moment of silent struggle, he thus continues: "Lord where stays thou? O my God I where art thou? Come! Come! I am ready! I am ready to lay down my life for thy truth . . . patient as a lamb. For it is the cause of justice - it is yours! I will never separate myself from thee, neither now nor through eternity! And though the world should be filled with devils, though my body, which is still the work of thy hands, should be slain, be stretched upon the pavement, be cut in pieces. Reduced to ashes . . . my soul is yours! Yes! I have the assurance of thy word. My soul belongs to thee! It shall abide forever with thee. Amen! O God! help me! Amen!" - D'Aubigne's "History of the Reformation" book 7, chap. 8. God heard the prayer of his servant, and the victory for the Reformation was won in the secret place, no matter how imposing the array against it. Prayer makes the man. God's man is made in the closet. The preacher as well as others must find God in the secret place. If he does not, " feelings and earnestness there may be, but it is the emotion of the actor and the earnestness of the attorney. The preacher may feel warmth from the kindling of his own sparks, be eloquent over his own exegesis, earnest in delivering the product of his own brain. The professor may usurp the place and imitate the fire of the apostle, brains and nerves may serve the place and feign the work of God's Spirit, and by these forces the letter may glow and sparkle like an illuminated text, but this glow and sparkle will be as barren of life as the field sown with pearls. The death-dealing element lies back of the words, back of the sermon, back of the occasion, back of the manner, back of the action. The great hindrance is in the preacher himself." Having failed to find personal victory in the secret place, he who would minister is a spiritual bankrupt, as helpless to bring fire from heaven as were the prophets of Baal. Under his ministry no life is visible among the dry bones of the valley. So in like manner must every Christian find God in the secret place. If secret prayer is neglected spirituality wanes. The evil propensities of the flesh assert themselves, and we backslide from the Lord. Only in constant communion with the Lord are we secure from the assaults of the enemy. PRAYER IN THE FAMILY LITTLE girl whose mother was dead, and whose father had ceased to pray, said to him one day, "Father, is God dead?" He replied, "No, my child; why do you, ask that question?" "Why," she said, "you used to pray to him night and morning when my mother was alive, but you don't now. I did not know but God was dead, too." Reader, how is it in your home? Do you pray around the family altar? Do you gather the family daily, and after a song of praise and reading the blessed Word of God, invoke the divine blessing to rest upon each, and ask that ministering angels guide and protect you amid the perils that threaten your pathway? I wonder how many families there are among us in which a similar question might be raised by a child, "Father, is God dead?" Members of the church, perchance, but they have never set up an altar around which the family may be gathered night and morning; or perhaps the family altar was once reared, and morning and evening the voice of praise and thanksgiving was heard, but it is not so now. The cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of the world, and the lust of other things have entered in, 11
IN HIS NAME and the heart has grown cold. Our business presses us, in the morning, and at night we are weary, so prayer is neglected, and the children are sent to their work or to bed without hearing the voice of prayer, and are left to wonder if God is dead. But God is not dead. It is we ourselves who are either dead or dying spiritually. Surely God's people who are looking for the Lord should not neglect family prayer. What excuse can you give the Master for this omission of duty? "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." Psalm 5:17. "Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate." Jeremiah 10: 25. "Come to the morning prayer; Come, let us kneel and pray: Prayer is the Christian pilgrim's staff, To walk with God all day." "At noon, beneath the Rock Of Ages, rest and pray; Sweet is that shelter from the heat, When the sun smites by day." "At evening, shut thy door; Round the home altar pray; And, finding there the house of God, At heaven's gate close the day." "When midnight veils our eyes, Oh, it is sweet to say, I sleep, but my heart wakes, Lord, With thee to watch and pray!" In a sense the father is the priest of the household, laying upon the family altar the morning and evening sacrifice. But the wife and children should unite in prayer, and join in the song of praise. In the morning before he leaves home for his daily labor, let the father gather his children about him, and bowing before God, commit them to the care of the Father in heaven. When the cares of the day are past, let the family unite in offering grateful prayer and raising the song of praise, in acknowledgment of divine care during the day. " Fathers and mothers, however pressing your business, do not fail to gather your family around God's altar. Ask for the guardianship of holy angels in your home. Remember that your dear ones are exposed to temptations. Daily annoyances beset the path of young and old. Those who would live patient, loving, cheerful lives must pray." ­ "Ministry of Healing," PP. 392, 393, We should begin the day in the home with prayer. God should be first in our thoughts. Jesus rose early to pray. David said, " My voice shall thou hear in the morning." Nothing is sweeter than to see the family gathered around the altar, and after song and the reading of some passage from the Word of the Lord, to hear prayer ascend to God, asking that each member may be preserved from sin, shielded from the destruction which fills the earth, and kept daily unto his heavenly kingdom. THE ABSENT THOMASES THE weekly prayer meeting, often neglected, affords one of the greatest means of grace and growth within the reach of the Christian. It is the church thermometer. A strong, well-attended prayer meeting indicates a growing, spiritual church; but a cold, dead prayer meeting indicates the need of a spiritual awakening. We miss much by failing to attend these weekly gatherings. Here the God who anciently met and communed with his people from above the mercy-seat communes with his people. 12
IN HIS NAME An experience in the life of Thomas contains a lesson for us on this point. On the evening of the resurrection of our blessed Lord, when he met with his disciples, we read that "Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came." John 20:24. It is impossible to estimate the loss that Thomas sustained by being absent when Jesus met with the disciples. I do not know where he was or what he was doing. Filled with the darkness and `despondency of doubt, he was perhaps wandering about the streets of Jerusalem. And during his absence Jesus met with the disciples and blessed them. The crucified and risen Lord, whom they loved, appeared to them, talked with' them, and showed them the wounds he had received on the cross. A precious privilege, truly! But Thomas it was not with them when Jesus came. This great privilege lost could never be regained. There are many absent Thomases. Go to the midweek prayer meeting. Here Jesus has appointed to meet with his people. As the prayers ascend to God, the Savior, through the Holy Spirit, comes into the assembly to refresh and water the souls of those who are there. The absent ones miss this blessing. Many of us will be unable to read the following from Robert J. Burdette without finding ourselves speaking out of sad hearts, and saying, "Is it me." "The night was shading the landscape with winter twilight when the, man entered this town. He was no common man, and was bent upon no ordinary mission. An empire was to be overthrown, and upon its ruins a new kingdom established. It was an enterprise environed with peril. Already it had cost precious lives and priceless fortunes. The man bore himself as one who journeys through a hostile country, knowing, that his enemies swarmed about him, vigilant, fearless, powerful. He took from his breast a little book and glanced at the list of names written therein. "`I have in this community,' he said, `a band of five hundred friends, who have vowed ever to be loyal to me, faithful to my cause. They know that it is in danger. This is the night of their own appointment for meeting me, that I may instruct and encourage and strengthen them." "The deep tone of the bell broke upon the air. `It is the signal for their gathering,' said the man, and hastened forward. Soon he paused before a large building, which, save for one dimly lighted room in the rear of the basement, was empty and silent. A man, evidently on guard, stood near the door. He started as the stranger saluted him. "I am expecting to meet some friends here tonight." The janitor looked suspiciously at him. "`You'll have to wait, then,' he said presently. `There won't be anybody around here for half an hour yet." "You are a member of the band that assembles here?" "Um?" replied the janitor. "Is there great zeal among the brethren of the fraternity? Are you united, loyal, eager, aggressive?" "Well, replied the janitor cautiously, things are a little quiet with us just at present. Times are hard, and there's a good deal of opposition. We have a great many things to discourage us. Maybe in a couple of months we may get some outside help and shake things up a little; but We don't feel justified in making any effort right now. Will you walk in?" "The stranger entered the room indicated by a sweep of the janitor's hand. Presently an old woman came in, glanced timidly about her, and sat down as far away from the stranger as she could get. By and by came two women. Then a bevy of young girls fluttered in, sat down, bent their heads together in a convulsed giggle, and lapsed into silence. A lame man limped to a seat behind the stove. After a while, a group of women rustled in, one of them leading a reluctant boy. A tired-looking man, in laborer's garb, sank wearily into a seat apart from the rest. After a long interval there entered a man in black, who stealthily tiptoed his way to a seat behind the others. Others came dropping in, until twentythree were assembled in, or rather scattered through, the room. They were evidently there in peril of their lives. Everything disclosed a sense of half restrained fear. The repeated glances at the clock; the painful intenseness with which they listened to every approaching footfall until it passed; the quickness with which all eyes were turned toward the door as often as it was opened, deepened the impression that this was an unlawful assembly. "The stranger softly passed out, no one barring his way. Glancing at his book by the wind-shaken light of the street lamps, he went searching for his absent friends. Three of them he found on- a street corner discussing the political problems of the government under which they lived. Seven men he found in a clubroom, reading, chatting, smoking. A score he found at public entertainment; a few at their places of business, lying in wait for belated customers; a half dozen at a progressive euchre party. Some were in a 13
IN HIS NAME neighbor's house, whiling away the hour by social intercourse.' Many were at home, some too tired to go out because they had been out all day and were planning to go out again tomorrow, and some doing nothing and wearily tired of it. A few were sick; a few were ministering to them. Some were curing convenient headaches by reading the latest novels. So in the course of the evening the band of five hundred were accounted for. Twenty-three at the rendezvous; four hundred and seventy-seven here, there, and elsewhere, dawdling, sleeping-a discouraging outlook for a struggling revolution. "And what is all this ancient history?" you ask. "Oh, nothing much! And not so very ancient, either. Only, Jesus Christ dropped in at a recent prayer meeting in your Church. That was all. And where did he find you?" This was written to set forth the condition of the popular churches at the present time, but it points a lesson for us. Of course there are circumstances which at times hinder our attending the prayer meeting, but it is a source of great strength to every struggling soul, and we ought not to allow the cares of life and commonplace things to hinder us from being present and sharing in the blessings of this weekly gathering of the people of God. HINDERED PRAYERS WE frequently hear people complain that their prayers are not answered. They say, I pray daily, but the answer does not come. Some, because of this, have grown discouraged and ceased to pray. But Jesus has promised to answer prayer. We are not always to talk to a silent world from which no answer comes. Prayer is not a mere form of spiritual gymnastics or dumbbell exercise. True prayer brings results, blessings to the soul. Jesus says, "What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them." Mark 11:24. Mark the conditions, "Believe that you receive." To receive answers to our prayers, we must believe God. Do you believe, when you pray, that God will give you what you ask for, if it is in harmony with his will? Or are you like the woman who prayed that a mountain in front of her door might be removed, and on arising in the morning found it there, just as she had expected? The Lord bids those who lack wisdom, "Ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." "Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." James 1: 6, 7. Is this your trouble? Are you restless, fretful, vacillating, like the waves of the sea? Do you possess a sort of "up-and-down" experience; believing today and doubting tomorrow; hoping God heard you, but not quite sure; wavering between doubt and certainty? If so, the Lord has said you will not receive anything. Your part is to do away with vacillating doubt, and believe God's word. Can you not believe God? Can you find a single instance in all his dealings with men where he failed to keep his word? Until you can put your finger on one single promise he has failed to keep, you ought to believe God and rest in his word. Another reason why some of our prayers are not answered is that we ask amiss. "You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts." James 4: 3. The motive is wrong; we pray with a selfish purpose, for our honor instead of God's. So, in order that we may not be inflated with pride and `be lost, the Lord withholds from us the things which we desire. The Pharisees prayed on the street corners, to be seen of men. Their prayers were misdirected; they were intended to be heard of men, rather than of God, so those who offered them were rewarded accordingly. There is much in this. We should direct our prayers aright if we expect them to be answered. Another hindrance to prayer is envy. "The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy." James 4:5. We pray for the advancement of the kingdom of God, but are we willing to decrease while others increase? "Moses said unto him, Envy thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!" Numbers 11:29. Commenting on these words of Israel's appointed leader, Rev. F. B. Meyer says: "There is no test more searching than this. Am I as eager for God's kingdom to come through others as through myself? In my private intercessions can I pray as heartily and earnestly for the success of my competitors as for my own? Can I see with equanimity other and younger men coming to the front, and showing themselves possessed of gifts which I always considered to be my special province? Am I 14
IN HIS NAME conscious of the rising of jealousy or envy when my leadership is subordinated to the claims of rivals? Should I be willing that the will of God should be done through another, if he suited God's purpose better than myself?" Truly we should ponder these searching questions, for nothing will eat away our spiritual power more quickly than envy. Envy, I fear, has hindered the prayers and withered the spiritual power of men who once did good service for God, but who today are laid aside. It has pulled them down from the pedestal of power, and placed them where they can no longer reach the hearts of men. These men may preach sermons, it is true, but there is no shaking among the dry bones that strew the valley. The tremendous trumpet peal is lacking. They are unable to stir their audiences with the words of Him who died of a broken heart on Calvary. Instead of casting out devils they are controlled by the spirit of envy, and the demons mock them from behind the ramparts. O God, deliver us from this awful thing which took the covering cherub from his exalted rank and made of him a devil! Moses had obtained the victory over this spirit of envy when he said, " Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets." Moses might have thought that he had something whereof to boast. Under God he had vanquished the proudest monarch of his time, and was leading several million people through a wilderness waste. He had disciplined this mighty host, and given them a code of laws so perfect that it has been admired and copied to the present day. But he had no envy of others. Their success did not provoke him to jealousy. He had no fear of another star's appearing above the horizon. Just as the creating of another sun would not rob the present sun of its brilliancy and light, so another speaking by the Spirit would in no way hinder the flow of the divine light and power into his own soul. We read of Saul that he "eyed David" when the people began to sing the praises of the young man. The ascribing of more honor to David than to him aroused his jealousy, and the green-eyed monster played havoc with his soul, until he plotted the downfall' of his supposed rival. Envy puts murder in the heart. It withers every noble attribute of the soul. Either this baneful thing must be eliminated from the heart, or sooner or later we shall be eliminated from the church and work of God. We shall perhaps need to spend long hours with God in the secret place. We shall need to put away self and humble the heart till we come to care more for the glory of God than we do for our own exaltation. Another hindrance to prayer is an unforgiving spirit. "When you stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." Mark 11:25,26. Nursing a grudge against another closes the ear of God to our petitions. This explains why oftentimes our prayers for the conversion of others are not answered. In the heart there is hidden a secret hatred because of some real or fancied injury. Praying for forgiveness of sin, yet hating others - such petitions are vain. "A godly minister thus puts the prayer of the unforgiving man: O God, I have sinned against thee many times from my youth up until now. I have often been forgetful of thy goodness; I have not duly thanked thee for thy mercies; I have neglected thy service; I have broken thy laws; I have done many things utterly wrong against thee. All this I know; and besides this, doubtless I have committed many secret sins, which, in my blindness, I have failed to notice. Such is my guiltiness, O Lord, in thy sight; deal with me, I beseech thee, even as I deal with my neighbor. He has not offended me one-tenth, one hundredth part as much as I have offended thee, but he has offended me very grievously, and I cannot forgive him. Deal with me, I beseech thee, O Lord, as I deal with him. He has been very ungrateful to me, though not a tenth, not a hundredth part as ungrateful as I have been to thee; yet I cannot overlook such base and shameful ingratitude. Deal with me, I beseech thee, O Lord, as I deal with him. I remember and treasure up every little trifle which shows how ill he has behaved to me. Deal with me, I beseech thee, O Lord, as I deal with him. I am determined to take the very first opportunity of doing him an ill turn. Deal with me, I beseech thee, O Lord, as I deal with him." - "Our Father in Heaven," pp. 238, 239. We risk much when we harbor an unforgiving spirit. One day, when it is forever too late, we may find ourselves longing for an opportunity to forgive, and may carry the sting of remorse with us to the grave. I'll never forgive him never! "Never is a hard word, John," said the sweet-faced wife of John Locke, as she looked up a moment from her sewing. "He is a mean, dastardly coward; and upon this Holy Book!" "Stop, husband! John, remember he is my brother, and by the love you bear me, forbear to curse him. He has done you wrong, I know; but, O John, he is very young and very sorry. The momentary shame 15
IN HIS NAME you felt yesterday will hardly be wiped out by a curse. It will only injure yourself, John. Oh, please don't say anything dreadful, John! "The wife prevailed; the curse that hung upon the lips of the angry man was not spoken, but he still said, `I will never forgive him -he has done me a deadly wrong.' The young man who had provoked this bitterness, humble and repentant, sought in vain for forgiveness from him whom, in a moment of passion, he had injured almost beyond reparation. John Locke steeled his heart against him." Time passed on. In his office sat the young village merchant, one pleasant morning, contentedly reading the paper. A sound of hurried footsteps approached, but he took no notice until a hatless boy burst into the office, screaming at the top of his voice, `Mr. Locke, Johnny's in the river! little Johnny Locket' "To dash down the paper and spring for the street was the first impulse of the agonized father. On, on, like a maniac, he flew, until he reached the bank of the river, pallid, and crazed with anguish. The first sight that met his eyes was little Johnny lying in the arms of his mother, who with her hair hanging disheveled around, bent wildly over her child. The boy was just saved; he breathed, and opening his eyes, smiled faintly in his mother's face; while she, with a choking voice, thanked God. " Another form lay insensible, stretched near the child. From his head the dark blood flowed from a ghastly wound. The man against whom John Locke had sworn eternal hatred, had, at the risk of his own life, been the savior of the child. He had struck a floating piece of driftwood as he came to the surface with the boy, and death seemed inevitable. "John Locke flung himself down on the greensward, and bent over the senseless form. `Save him!' he cried huskily, to the doctor, who had been summoned. `Restore him to consciousness, if it be only for one little moment. I have something important to say to him.' `He is reviving,' replied the doctor. The wounded man opened his eyes; they met the anxious glance of his brother-in-law, and the pale lips trembled forth, `Do you forgive me?' `Yes, yes; God is witness, as I hope for mercy hereafter, I freely forgive you, and in turn ask your forgiveness for my unchristian conduct.' A feeble pressure of the hand and a beaming smile was all the answer. Many days the brave young man hung upon a slender thread of life, and never were there more devoted friends than those who hung over his sickbed. But a vigorous constitution triumphed, and, pale and changed, he walked once more among the living. `Why if he had died with my unkindness clouding his soul, never should I have dared to hope for mercy from my Father in heaven!' said John Locke to his wife, as they sat talking over the solemn event that had threatened them with a lifelong trouble. `Never, now I have tasted the sweetness of forgiveness, never again will I cherish revenge or unkindness toward the erring. For there is a new meaning to my soul in our daily prayer, and I see that I have been only calling down judgments on myself, while I have impiously asked, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Children have been sent into eternity unsaved because their parents, for the gratification of their evil propensity of hatred, have destroyed the religious convictions of their offspring by pouring forth in their presence a continual stream of malicious words and unkind criticism of others. In like manner peevishness, harsh treatment of those in the home or elsewhere, sharpness of speech, or an ungovernable temper has grieved the Spirit and hindered the answer to our prayers. "Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." 1 Peter 3:7. Then, too, prayer can be hindered by stinginess. Alms as well as prayers come up before God. Acts 10: 4. It is the liberal soul who is made fat. "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you mete withal it shall be measured to you again." Luke 6: 38. Known sin, cherished in the heart, will hinder the answer to our prayers. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." Isaiah 59: 1, 2. Here is the reason why many of our prayers are not answered. The Lord's hand is not shortened, but some unconfessed and unforsaken sin, hidden away in the heart, places us where God "will not hear" our prayers. Sin is indeed an awful thing, and he who would see the windows of heaven open in response to his prayer, must be most merciless in dealing with his own sins. Like a compassionate father, our God delights in answering the prayers of his children. Not one 16
IN HIS NAME sincere prayer is lost. The, Lord listens to the feeblest cry of those who call upon him. If we put away unbelief, and forsake sin, refusing to cherish it in the heart, the windows of heaven will be opened to us, and blessing, full and unmerited, will fall upon us when we pray. THE POWER OF PRAYER WE are living in a time when the true church of God should feel the need of divine help as never before. A power from beneath is seizing hold of the things of this world. The powers of mind and soul are continually on the stretch. New problems confront the church. We are forced over roads hitherto not traveled. The emergencies perplex us. We must have help. We seek to devise new methods, new plans, new organization, new and more powerful machinery. But while we are looking for better methods and better organization to lead us out of the darkness, confusion, and uncertainty about us, God is looking for better men. Another has well said: "What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use,-men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men-men of prayer." The late A. T. Pierson tells how a minister in a church in Scotland suddenly began to preach with unprecedented power. The whole congregation was aroused, and sinners were marvelously converted. He himself did not understand the secret of his new endowment of evangelical power. In a dream one night it was suggested to him that the blessing was traceable to one poor old woman who was stone deaf, but who came regularly to church, and being unable to hear a word, spent all the time in prayer for the preacher, asking that God would anoint him with the Holy Spirit, and enable him to speak to the hearts of the people. Truly there is one key that unlocks heaven's gates, one secret that connects us with the throne of God, and gives us access to the eternal fountain of blessing. That key is earnest, prevailing prayer. Prayer is not a performance; it is, a mighty power. It does things. No money, genius, or culture will move God, but prayer will. It sets in motion celestial agencies. In response to Daniel's prayer a powerful angel was caused to "fly swiftly," and "skill and understanding" were given to the earnest supplicant. In response to prayer, kingdoms have been overturned. Daniel chastened his heart, and prayed, and "the prince of the kingdom of Persia could not withstand the power of Michael, one of the chief princes," who came in answer to the petition of the Lord's faithful servant. Paul and Silas prayed, and an earthquake shook the prison to its foundation. Peter was delivered from prison in answer to prayer. We shall never know till the books above are opened at the last day, how the destiny of kingdoms has been molded by prayer. The Lord puts down one king and sets up another. The following touching incident in the life of Abraham Lincoln is related by a Mr. James E. Murdock: "I had once been spending three weeks in the White House with Mr. Lincoln, as his guest. One night it was just after the battle of Bull Run-I was restless and could not sleep. I was repeating the part I was to take in a public performance. The hour was past midnight. Indeed, it was coming near to the dawn, when I heard low tones proceeding from a private room near where the President slept. The door was partly open. I instinctively walked in, and there I saw a sight which I shall never forget. It was the President kneeling beside an open Bible. The light was turned low in the room. His back was toward me. For a moment I was silent as I stood looking in amazement and wonder. Then he cried out in tones so pleading and sorrowful: `O thou God that heard Solomon in the night when he prayed for wisdom, hear me; I cannot lead this people; I cannot guide the affairs of this nation without thy help. I am poor and weak and sinful. O God, who did hear Solomon when he cried for wisdom, hear me, and save this nation!" How can any one affirm that the prayer of Lincoln in the dark days of our nation's crisis had nothing to do with its destiny? Prayer never dies. It changes the lives of individuals. A lady in England had a brother in India who was not a Christian. She began praying for him. Daily her petitions ascended to God in his behalf. Then something happened. In the mail a letter came from him saying: "Yes, something has happened. Two months ago my thought was turned to God; I do not know 17
IN HIS NAME why. It was not any book that I was reading; it was not any sermon that I heard, I did not go where I would hear sermons; but I do know that my thought was turned to think about God." Scores of similar incidents could be related, showing how prayer reaches the throne of God. "The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence?" ­ "Steps to Christ." pp. 98, 99. Do you grasp this wonderful statement? It tells us that prayer unlocks the storehouse of Omnipotence! That, which can admit us to Omnipotent resources is indeed a mighty power. Why, indeed, are we so reluctant to pray? "Restraining prayer, we cease to fight; Prayer makes the Christian's armor bright; And Satan trembles when he sees The weakest saint upon his knees." The skeptic tells us that it is no use to pray, for the laws of nature cannot be changed. What folly to think that the Creator is bound by the law he himself made! Prayer can and does set aside natural law. Moses cried to God, and "the Lord caused the sea to go back." No natural law about this! In prayer Joshua challenged the sun in its course, and the inspired writer tells us that "the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies." Joshua 10:13. It is quite contrary to natural law for the sun and the moon to stop in their orbit. But prayer brought to pass this great miracle. In response to the prayer of Elisha, the son of the Shunammite woman was brought back to life. In response to prayer, Dorcas, who was dead, "opened her eyes" and "sat up," and Peter "presented her alive" to the saints. This is contrary to all the laws of nature and science. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet by prayer he " locked, up the treasures of the whole kingdom of nature and carried off the key." He had come fresh from the audience chamber of Jehovah when he stood boldly before King Ahab and said, " As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand." And it was in answer to another of his prayers that the portals of the sky were unlocked and the rain descended. Prayer was directing natural laws. See Elijah again, in that mighty test between the prophets of Baal and the true God. Behold him pouring upon the altar twelve barrels of water, until the trench overflows. Strange way this to make preparation for a fire! Then at the time of the evening sacrifice he looked up to heaven and prayed. "Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." 1 Kings 18: 38. It is not according to any theory of science or natural law for fire to consume stones and burn water. But all this was done in answer to the prayer of a humble man of like passions with us. "But there's a power which man can wield When mortal aid is vain, That eye, that arm, that love to reach, That listening car to gain." " That power is prayer, which soars on high, Through Jesus to the throne; And moves the hand which moves the world, To bring salvation down." Prayer removes the humanly insurmountable barriers. Once, across all the continents of heathendom was written, " No admittance." But in response to earnest supplication these closed doors have been opened. Prayer had more to do with opening these doors than any human force. Men prayed for the way to be opened so the gospel could go to all the world, and today the way is open into every heathen land. "Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend." Prayer does not bring God down to man, but lifts man up to God. And he who sits on the throne of exaltation and power, bids us " come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4: 16. Prayer is more than mere meditation upon God. Through his Word, God talks to man; through 18
IN HIS NAME prayer, man talks to God. Abraham said, " Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes." Genesis 18:27. There is a place where Jesus sheds The oil of gladness on our heads, A place than all beside more sweet; It is the blood-bought mercy-seat. There is a scene where spirits blend, Where friend holds fellowship with friend; Though sundered far, by faith they meet Around one common mercy-scat." If prayer is anything to a Christian, it is everything. We can do nothing without prayer. Through prayer we lay hold of that which will enable us to do all things. "Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence." Through this avenue we are enabled to lay hold upon all that God has. Truly, puny, destitute man should pray, and draw heavily on the bank of heaven. If the owner of a great bank should place in our hands a key to his vaults, and tell us to help ourselves to the contents, we should respond without delay. Exceeding great and precious promises are made to those who pray. The ear of Jesus is ever open to the cry of his children. He delights in their prayers. Says the psalmist "O thou that hears prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come." "We never need distrust God. The just judge repulses no one who comes to him in contrition. He has more pleasure in his church, struggling with temptation here below, than in the imposing host of angels that surround his throne. Not one sincere prayer is lost. Amid the anthems of the celestial choir, God hears the cries of the weakest human being." - Mrs. E. G. White. And the God who is more interested in your prayer and mine than in the singing of the celestial choir, will send us answers of power in the hour of need. "Ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened." Matthew 7:7,8. "All things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive." Matthew 21: 22. Meditate upon these passages of Scripture. What greater encouragement could the Lord give us to pray? There is nothing too hard or too difficult for, God. Prayer has brought great deliverance in the past, and it is equally mighty in its results today. We pray to the same God to whom our fathers prayed in ancient times, and have the same assurance that he will send us help. Prayer, uttered from the lips of a sincere, believing Christian, is as mighty today as in ancient times. Such prayer the Lord has promised in his Word to hear and answer. "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, Uttered or unexpressed; The motion of a hidden fire That trembles in the breast. Prayer is the simplest form of speech That infant lips can try; Prayer the most sublime strains that reach The Majesty on high!" 19

GB Thompson

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