Prayer: The Forgotten Secret of the Church

H. W. Hodge

“The act of praying is the very highest energy of which the human mind is capable; praying, that is, with the total concentration of the faculties. The great mass of worldly men and of learned men are absolutely incapable of prayer.”—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“I ought to pray before I see anyone. Often when I sleep late or meet others early it is eleven or twelve o'clock before I begin to pray in secret. This is a wretched practice. It is unscriptural. When this happens family prayers lose much of their power and sweetness, and I can do no good to those who come to seek aid of me. The conscience is guilty, the soul is unfed, the lamp is untrimmed. It is far better to begin with God, to see his face first, to get my soul near him before it is near another.”—Robert McCheyne.

I am a minister of the gospel. I am hastening Into eternity, faster than the flight of worlds. I have business to do here for eternity. Being called of God to preach the Word, I have much business with God for men. I have also much exhortation and preaching and prayer for men from God.

My all-important business in this world is to glorify God and witness for Him with a glad and fascinating personality. I cannot glorify God unless I shine out His truths that have illuminated my own soul. I cannot move men unless God has moved me.

Death Is hastening—time is passing like an arrow through the air. The Judgment is in rapid preparation. My Lord may come at any hour, “For in the hour we think not, the Son of man cometh.” I have some words

for ministers; I must deliver my soul. Oh, that burning sentence Paul wrote to those Colossians, “And say to Archlppus, take heed to the ministry, which thou hast received in the Lord

That Thou Fulfil It”

I have no harsh words for any one, only love and persuasion in the fear of the Judgment and the love of God. Amen. I am a plain man, speaking plain words to other plain men, and I ask God that His plain truths may fasten and remain in the hearts of some at least that will read these words. The strenuous life and duty asked for in prayer here are intended especially for pastors of flocks, and to others that may be situated so as to carry it out. Evangelists and traveling elders have to move around and sleep in different rooms each night, and meet early and late trains, hence, they are not expected to rise at the hour suggested and make regular habit of it, for they could hardly do it. Mr. Wesley claimed to rise at 4: 00 a. m., and if we take into consideration that he had to dress and make his fires and preach at 5: 00 a. m., we come to the conclusion that this time for early prayer was very limited; but if he simply dressed and prayed in the cold room, he won a tremendous victory over the frost of the air, for our experience is that a cold room will drive out the inclination for prayer very rapidly. Oh, who will rise up with me?

Who will come nearer to God in intercession and long-sustained flight toward heaven?

Art thou one? By the grace of God wilt thou give me Thine Hand for the Fight?

Shall I find one fully determined, though family, friends, flesh, and devils oppose; one who will wrestle, suppplicate, preaise, and confess before the throne for men? Is this the purpose of thine heart? Give me your name. The angel accountants will keep the records and the Lamb's book of Life will be opened at the judgment for your coronation. No self-pleasing religion in this appeal—no easy-going religion in this request. It is steadfastly against the imitative, easy-going, pampered profession of the day, and of this twentieth century. Oh, brother, if you are settled in your ways, if you have passed the point of learning and persuasion, and you are satisfied with little praying, we have no appeal for you, or to you. We must hasten—this is for intense men; we have no argument for other.

“Neither rain. nor heat, nor gloom of night shall stay me from the completion of this appointed privilege." God help you and me. Amen. 

I call you to early prayer. My soul is aflame with the necessity. I call you to self denial. “Self denial is the law of life." I call you to a duty that some day will prove the most available habit of your soul. I call thee, O my brother, to the “Heights" where God through the blessed Holy Spirit will make our soul a theater of action, a shrine, and your eyes a fountain of tears. The soul He will act in, and the eyes He will weep through for a lost world. God clothed Himself with Gideon and He must clothe Himself with flesh and blood. He will use you and me as He used Gideon (help me to praise Him”, not to fight the visible armies, but the invisible devils that “darken the air and rule the lower world." 

I call thee, O my brothers, to hours of communion with God when this world will to lost to view and the shore lines cut for millions of miles. The only sound will be

The Silence of the Mid-Ocean of God’s Love

and approval; when He will hand you the keys of time and eternity, and give you the “treasures of darkness and the hidden riches of secret places,” when He will open for you the two-leaved gates as He did for Cyprus, and hell and demons shall be blown into the darkest pits of damnation by the very breath of God.

Hear David in the 119th Psalm, verses 147 and 148:

“I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.”

Hear Rev. E. M. Bounds ... and Brainerd:

The men who have done most for God in this world have been early upon their knees. If God is not first in our thoughts, in our efforts, in the early morning, He will be last in the remainder of the day. The heart that is behindhand in seeking God in the early morning has lost its relish for God. A desire for God which cannot break the chains of sleep is a weak thing, and will do but little good for God after it has indulged itself fully. It Is not simply getting up early that puts men to the front and makes them captains-general of God’s host, but it is the ardent desire which

Stirs and Breaks All Self-indulgent Chains 

We might go through the list of men that have impressed the world for God, and we find them early upon their knees. The halo of their sainthood has come down to us and we have entered upon the enjoyment of their conquests. We take our fill of enjoyment and not in productions. We build their tombs and write their epitaphs, but we are not careful to follow their examples.


My father was a farmer In Dixie, and I was born there in September, 1859. From my earliest boyhood (after the Civil War), when the country had been shot to pieces and burned to ashes, and money was scarce, times were sad and hard. I recall that high fence with a gate, and the house inside the enclosure, the great watch-dog and his guarding the gate at night. I also recall that when any one came to the gate and called, “Hello,” father would go out and beg him to spend the night, and never charge him one cent. Father entertained ministers often, and we had great respect for them. Thank God that I was brought up to consider them the real men of God. “O servant of God, live on, live on!” was their cry, and they seemed to think that the ministers came down from heaven, and would soon return, and that they must hasten to do all they could while the opportunity presented itself. I ran down many a plump pullet and fat hen for the Saturday and Sunday dinner, that the minister of God might have his body, as well as his soul, fed.

I would not for one moment belittle the ministry, for it is the highest position on earth that man can fill. It is not a profession; it is not a trade;

It Is a Divine Calling

The men who make up the ministry, as a whole, are the best men, the most highly educated, the most charitable, of any class of men on earth. I want to speak of those among us who are easy going and who do not really pray.

I left my father’s house when grown and had a family and home of my own. I began at once to entertain ministers, to smoke with them and joke with them. Almost every one belonged to a secret lodge with me; very nearly all smoked or chewed tobacco, but the point I drive to is this, I did not find a minister that visited our home that impressed me as a man that really prayed. A chapter from the Bible, a short prayer was all. I awoke them as a general thing, brought them water and coal, looked after their needs, and had a fine opportunity to know if they prayed for any length of time. I will not say they did not pray at home; they may have done so, and I hope they did.—Herald of Gospel Liberty, November 26, 1914