Prayer is a religious inclination. It grows out of mankind’s feeling of dependence upon a higher power or personality. “The heathen, in his blindness, bows down to wood and stone” for this very reason. He petitions and propitiates his numerous gods because of the feeling that, in some way, he may be able to gain the attention and favor of that over-ruling being or power which he is conscious of, in a vague, indeﬁnable way, as being dependent upon for existence. His approach to this suprapersonality is by prayer. But he prays to a god of iron, wood or stone, and not to the true and living, the one only, God.
Wherein does the Christian view or thought of prayer differ from that of the heathen? The heathen prays without knowledge, and therefore in blindness. The Christian prays, as we believe, to a living, knowable, answering God, and therefore the Christian prays with faith and assurance. With this understanding of prayer,
1. Prayer opens the soul to God; lifts the soul up to God. God ﬂoods with light the soul of those who open their hearts to him in earnest, pleading prayer. His blessing is never withheld from the soul that seeks it with the whole heart.
2. Prayer increases faith and brings spiritual blessing. It is through prayer that we become acquainted with God, and a more intimate knowledge of God must of necessity increase our faith, and increased faith means an increasingly satisfying religious experience.
3. Prayer enlists us for God’s will. It puts us in an attitude of receptivity where we become more willing to do God’s bidding. It increases our desire to know and to do his will, and thus enlists us in his service.
4. Prayer gives us fortitude and patience. It gives us the courage and patience to face and conquer the problems, and difﬁculties of life with fortitude. It not only gives us the spiritual strength to do so, but often the necessary physical strength is bestowed. We are comforted and sustained by the assurance that “underneath are the everlasting arms.”
5. Prayer enables us to help others. Through prayer it is possible to inﬂuence and help others as we might not in any other way. It is the high power wireless by which our longing to do them good is conveyed to them through God.
“She had been known as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and believed herself to be such. Throughout the years of her prosperity she had served him. But pain and loss visited her. Then came to stay. Like Job, she at last stood amid the wreck of what she had loved best, and life looked barren and desolate. In the time of her afﬂiction hope and faith moved afar off-she could see neither comfort nor the Comforter; her soul had lost its wings, she could not ﬂy either from her sorrow or to her Lord. Her Bible was a blank -only one text remained of all it once had held: ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’
“She shuddered at the Word, but it could not be changed. There was nothing for her to do but to submit, to endure. It was useless to rebel, to cry, to moan. That one scripture dwelt with her and closed her lips to any outward demonstration of pain. The lines of her mouth and heart grew hard: ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’
“Two friends in another city met to pray for this woman one day, and one of them-the one who knew her best-used these words in her petition: ‘Help her to see thee, Lord, and when that text that so constantly recurs to her memory comes to her mind again-”Be still and know that I am God”-with it help her to remember also that “God is love.”’ And straightway, as the words were uttered, the other who knelt in prayer, caught a new vision of the Word of God and wrote into that Old Testament exhortation the New Testament fact, ‘Be still, and know that I am Love.’”
“From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined; and it is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been gloriﬁed.”
Why the “Week of Prayer” which is generally observed by all Protestant churches each year in January? Because in November, 1858, many years ago, a call to united prayer in behalf of the world, issued by the Lodiana Mission, in India, made such an impression on the church at large that the setting apart of our annual “Week of Prayer” was the direct outcome.
It is declared that all of that “marvelous spiritual awakening which marked the whole latter half of the eighteenth century, and gave rise to the modern missionary revival, can be traced to Jonathan Edwards’ famous “Call to Prayer,” which he sent out in 1747.
Why is prayer the most direct of all the helps to the Christian life?
Does God always answer prayer? Does he always answer our prayers in the way and at the time we would have him?
What must be the condition of our hearts and lives for our petitions to avail with God?
There have been remarkable instances of answer to prayer. Let others mention such instances.
Have there been times in your life when you have felt that God has deﬁnitely answered your prayer?
Author Unknown, The Sabbath Recorder, Volume 88, American Sabbath Tract Society