July 12, 2011

How To Be Delivered from Prayerlessness; How Deliverance May Continue

The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray
Chapter 3 – How To Be Delivered from Prayerlessness; How Deliverance May Continue

The greatest stumbling-block in the way of victory over prayerlessness is the secret feeling that we shall never obtain the blessing of being delivered from it. Often have we put forth effort in this direction, but in vain. Old habit and the power of the flesh, our surroundings with their attractions, have been too strong for us. What good is it to attempt that which our heart assures us is out of our reach? The change needed in the entire life is too great and too difficult. If the question is put: ‘Is a change possible?’ our sighing heart says: ‘Alas, for me it is entirely impossible!’ Do you know why that reply comes? It is simply because you have received the call to prayer as the voice of Moses and as a command of the law. Moses and his law have never yet given anyone the power to obey.

Do you really long for the courage to believe that deliverance from a prayerless life is possible for you and may become a reality? Then you must learn the great lesson that such a deliverance is included in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, that it is one of the blessings of the New Covenant which God himself will impart to you through Christ Jesus. As you begin to understand this you will find that the exhortation, ‘Pray without ceasing’, conveys a new meaning. Hope begins to spring up in your heart that the Spirit – who has been bestowed on you to cry constantly, ‘Abba, Father’- will make a true life of prayer possible for you. Then you will hearken, not in the spirit of discouragement, but in the gladness of hope, to the voice that calls you to repentance.

Many a one has turned to his inner chamber, under bitter self-accusation that he has prayed so little, and has resolved for the future to live in a different manner. Yet no blessing has come – there was not the strength to continue faithful, and the call to repentance had no power, because his eyes had not been fixed on the Lord Jesus, If he had only understood, he would have said: ‘Lord, thou seest how cold and dark my heart is: I know that I must pray, but I feel I cannot do so; I lack the urgency and desire to pray.’

He did not know that at that moment the Lord Jesus in his tender love was looking down upon him and saying: ‘You cannot pray; you feel that all is cold and dark: why not give yourself over into my hands? Only believe that I am ready to help you in prayer; I long greatly to shed abroad my love in your heart, so that you, in the consciousness of weakness, may confidently rely on me to bestow the grace of prayer. Just as 1 will cleanse you from all other sins, so also will 1 deliver from the sin of prayerlessness – only do not seek the victory in your own strength. Bow before me as one who expects everything from his Saviour. Let your soul keep silence before me however sad you feel your state to be. Be assured of this – I will teach you how to pray.’

Many a one will acknowledge: ‘I see my mistake; I had not thought that the Lord Jesus must deliver and cleans me from this sin also. I had not understood that he was with me every day in the inner chamber, in his great love ready to keep and bless me, however sinful and guilty i felt myself to be. 1 had not supposed that just as he will give all other grace in answer to prayer, so, above all and before all, he will bestow the grace of a praying heart. What folly to think that all other blessings must come from him, but that prayer, whereon everything else depends, must be obtained by personal effort! Thank God I begin to comprehend – the Lord Jesus is himself in the inner chamber watching over me, and holding himself responsible to teach me how to approach the Father. This only he demands – that I, with childlike confidence, wait upon him and glorify him.’

Brethren, have we not seriously forgotten this truth? From a defective spiritual life nothing better can be expected than a defective prayer life. It is vain for us, with our defective spiritual life, to endeavour to pray more or better. It is an impossibility. Nothing less is necessary than that we should experience that he who is in Christ Jesus is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new.’ This is literally true for the man who understands and experiences what it is to be in Jesus Christ.

Our whole relationship to the Lord Jesus must be a new thing. I must believe in his infinite love, which really longs to have communion with me every moment and to keep me in the enjoyment of his fellowship. I must believe in his divine power, which has conquered sin and will truly keep me from it. I must believe in him who, as the great intercessor, through the Spirit, will inspire each member of His Body with joy and power for communion with God in prayer. My prayer life must be brought entirely under the control of Christ and his love. Then, for the first time, will prayer become what it really is, the natural and joyous breathing of the spiritual life, by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer.

Do you not see that, just as this faith possesses us, the call to a life of prayer which pleases God will be a welcome call? The cry, ‘Repent of the sin of prayerlessness’, will not be responded to by a sigh of helplessness, or by the unwillingness of the flesh. The voice of the Father will be heard as he sets before us a widely opened door and receives us into blessed fellowship with himself. Prayer for the help of the Spirit to pray will no longer be in fear of an effort too great for our power; it will be but falling down in utter weakness at the feet of the Lord Jesus, to find there that victory comes through the might and love which stream from his countenance.

If the question arises in our mind: ‘will this continue?’ and the fear comes: `You know how often you have tried and been disappointed’, faith will find its strength, not in the thought of what you will, or do, but in the changeless faithfulness and love of Christ, who afresh has succoured you and assured you that those who wait on him shall not be ashamed.

If fear and hesitation still remain, I pray you by the mercies of God in Jesus Christ, and by the unspeakable faithfulness of his tender love, dare to cast yourselves at his feet. Only believe with your whole heart that there is deliverance from the sin of prayerlessness. `If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1.9). In his blood and grace there is complete deliverance from all unrighteousness and from all prayerlessness. Praised be his name forever!

How deliverance from prayerlessness may continue

What we have said about deliverance from the sin of prayerlessness has also application as answer to the question: `How may the experience of deliverance be maintained?’ Redemption is not granted to us piecemeal, or as something of which we may make use from time to time. It is bestowed as a fullness of grace stored up in the Lord Jesus, which may be enjoyed in a new fellowship with him every day. It is so necessary that this great truth should be driven home and fastened in our minds that I will once more mention it. Nothing can preserve you from carelessness, or make it possible for you to persevere in living, powerful prayer, but a daily close fellowship with Jesus our Lord.

He said to his disciples: ‘Ye believe in God, believe also in me… Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me …He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do’ (John 14.1, 11, 12).

The Lord wished to teach his disciples that all they had learned from the Old Testament concerning the power and holiness and love of God must now be transferred to him. They must not believe merely in certain written documents but in him personally. They must believe that he was in the Father, and the Father in him, in such a sense that they had one life, one glory. All that they knew about Christ they would find in God. He laid much emphasis on this because it was only through such a faith in him and his divine glory that they could do the works which he did, or even greater works. This faith would lead them to know that just as Christ and the Father are one, so also they were in Christ and Christ was in them.

It is this intimate, spiritual, personal, uninterrupted relationship to the Lord Jesus which manifests itself powerfully in our lives, and especially in our prayer lives. Let us consider this and see what it means: that all the glorious attributes of God are in our Lord Jesus Christ. Think of–

1. God’s omnipresence

God fills the world and every moment is present in everything. Just as it is with the Father, so now our Lord Jesus is everywhere present, above all with each of his redeemed ones. This is one of the greatest and most important lessons which our faith must learn. We can clearly understand this from the example of our Lord’s disciples. What was the peculiar privilege of the disciples, who were always in fellowship with him? It was uninterrupted enjoyment of the presence of the Lord Jesus. It was because of this they were so sorrowful at the thought of his death. They would be deprived of that presence. He would be no longer with them. How, under these circumstances, did the Lord Jesus comfort them? He promised that the Holy Spirit from heaven should so work in them a sense of the fullness of his life and of his personal presence that he would be even more intimately near and have more unbroken fellowship with them than ever they experienced while he was upon earth.

This great promise is now the inheritance of every believer, although so many of them know little about it. Jesus Christ, in his divine personality, in that eternal love which led him to the cross, longs to have fellowship with us every moment of the day and to keep us in the enjoyment of that fellowship. This ought to be explained to every new convert: ‘The Lord loves you so that he would have you near him without a break, that you may have experience of his love.’ This is what every believer must learn who has felt his powerlessness for a life of prayer, of obedience, and of holiness. This alone will give us power as intercessors to conquer the world and to win souls out of it for our Lord.

2. The omnipotence of God

How wonderful is God’s power! We see it in creation; we see it in the wonders of redemption recorded in the Old Testament. We see it in the wonderful works of Christ which the Father wrought in him, and above all in his resurrection from the dead. We are called on to believe in the Son, just as we believe in the Father. Yes, the Lord Jesus who, in his love, is so unspeakably near us, is the almighty one with whom nothing is impossible. Whatever may be in our hearts or flesh, which will not submit to us, he can and will conquer. Everything that is promised in God’s word, all that is our inheritance as children of the New Covenant, the almighty Jesus can bestow upon us. If I bow before him in my inner chamber, then I am in contact with the eternal, unchanging power of God. If 1 commit myself for the day to the Lord Jesus, then I may rest assured that it is his eternal almighty power which has taken me under its protection and which will accomplish everything for me.

Oh, if we would only take time for the inner chamber so that we might experience in full reality the presence of this almighty Jesus! What a blessedness would be ours through faith! An unbroken fellowship with an omnipresent and almighty Lord.

3. The holy love of God

This means that he, with his whole heart, offers all his divine attributes for our service and is prepared to impart himself to us. Christ is the revelation of his love. He is the Son of his love – the gift of his love – the power of his love; and this Jesus, who has sought on the cross to give an overwhelming proof of his love in his death and blood-shedding, so as to make it impossible for us not to believe in that love – this Jesus is he who comes to meet us in the inner chamber, and gives the positive assurance that unbroken fellowship with him is our inheritance, and will, through him, become our experience. The holy love of God which sacrificed everything to conquer sin and bring it to naught, comes to us in Christ to save us from every sin.

Brethren, take time to think over that word of our Lord: ‘Ye believe in God, believe also in me’…Believe me that I am in the Father … and ye in me, and I in you’ (John 14. 1, 11, 20). That is the secret of the life of prayer. Take time in the inner chamber to bow down and worship; and wait on him till he unveils himself, and takes possession of you, and goes out with you to show how a man may live and walk in abiding fellowship with an unseen Lord.

Do you long to know how you may always experience deliverance from the sin of prayerlessness? Here you have the secret. Believe in the Son of God, give him time in the inner chamber to reveal himself in his ever present nearness, as the eternal and almighty one, the eternal love who watches over you. You will experience what, up till now, you have perhaps not known – that it has not entered into the heart of man what God can do for those who love him.

July 11, 2011

The Fight against Prayerlessness

The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray
Chapter 2 – The Fight against Prayerlessness

As soon as the Christian becomes convinced of his sin in this matter, his first thought is that he must begin to strive, with God’s help, to gain the victory over it. But alas, he soon experiences that his striving is worth little, and the discouraging thought comes over him, like a wave, that such a life is not for him – he cannot continue faithful! At conferences on the subject of prayer, held during the past years, many a minister has openly said that it seemed impossible for him to attain such a strict life.

Recently I received a letter from a minister, well known for his ability and devotion, in which he writes, ‘As far as I am concerned, it does not seem to help me to hear too much about the life of prayer, about the strenuous exertion for which we must prepare ourselves, and about all the time and trouble and endless effort it will cost us. These things discourage me – I have so often heard them. I have time after time put them to the test, and the result has always been sadly disappointing. It does not help me to be told: “You must pray more, and hold a closer watch over yourself, and become altogether a more earnest Christian.

My reply to him was as follows: ‘I think in all I spoke at the conference or elsewhere, 1 have never mentioned exertion or struggle, because I am so entirely convinced that our efforts are futile unless we first learn how to abide in Christ by a simple faith.’

My correspondent said further: ‘The message I need is this: “See that your relationship to your living Saviour is what it ought to be. Live in his presence, rejoice in his love, rest in him.”‘ A better message could not be given, if it is only rightly understood. ‘See that your relationship to the living Saviour is what it ought to be.’ But this is just what will certainly make it possible for one to live the life of prayer.

We must not comfort ourselves with the thought of standing in a right relationship to the Lord Jesus while the sin of prayerlessness has power over us, and while we, along with the whole Church, have to complain about our feeble life which makes us unfit to pray for ourselves, for the Church, or for missions, as we ought. But if we recognise, in the first place, that a right relationship to the Lord Jesus, above all else, includes prayer, with both the desire and power to pray according to God’s will, then we have something which gives us the right to rejoice in him and to rest in him.

I have related this incident to point out how naturally discouragement will be the result of self-effort and will so shut out all hope of improvement or victory. And this indeed is the condition of many Christians when called on to persevere in prayer as intercessors. They feel it is certainly something entirely beyond their reach – they have not the power for the self-sacrifice and consecration necessary for such prayer; they shrink from the effort and struggle which will, as they suppose, make them unhappy. They have tried in the power of the flesh to conquer the flesh – a wholly impossible thing. They have endeavoured by Beelzebub to cast out Beelzebub and this can never happen. It is Jesus alone who can subdue the flesh and the devil.

We have spoken of a struggle which will certainly result in disappointment and discouragement. This is the effort made in our own strength. But there is another struggle which will certainly lead to victory. The Scripture speaks of ‘the good fight of faith’, that is to say, a fight which springs from and is carried on by faith. We must get right conceptions about faith and stand fast in our faith. Jesus Christ is ever the author and finisher of faith. It is when we come into right relationship with him that we can be sure of the help and power he bestows. Just, then, as earnestly as we must, in the first place say: ‘Do not strive in your own strength; cast yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus, and wait upon him in the sure confidence that he is with you, and works in you’; so do we, in the second place, say: ‘Strive in prayer; let faith fill your heart – so will you be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’

An illustration will help us to understand this. A devoted Christian woman who conducted a large Bible class with zeal and success once came in trouble to her minister. In her earlier years she had enjoyed much blessing in the inner chamber, in fellowship with the Lord and his word. But this had gradually been lost and, do what she would, she could not get right. The Lord had blessed her work, but the joy had gone out of her life. The minister asked what she had done to regain the lost blessedness. ‘I have done everything,’ said she, ‘that 1 can think of, but all in vain.’

He then questioned her about her experience in connection with her conversion. She gave an immediate and clear answer: ‘At first I spared no pains in my attempt to become better, and to free myself from sin, but it was all useless. At last 1 began to understand that I must lay aside all my efforts, and simply trust the Lord Jesus to bestow on me his life and peace, and he did it.’

‘Why then,’ said the minister, ‘do you not try this again? As you go to your inner chamber, however cold and dark your heart may be, do not try in your own might to force yourself into the right attitude. Bow before him, and tell him that he sees in what a sad state you are that your only hope is in him. Trust him with a childlike trust to have mercy upon you, and wait upon him. In such a trust you are in a right relationship to him. You have nothing he has everything.’ Some time later she told the minister that his advice had helped her; she had learned that faith in the love of the Lord Jesus is the only method of getting into fellowship with God in prayer.

Do you not begin to see, my reader, that there are two kinds of warfare – the first when we seek to conquer prayerlessness in our own strength. In that case, my advice to you is: ‘Give over your restlessness and effort; fall helpless at the feet of the Lord Jesus; he will speak the word, and your soul will live.’ If you have done this, then, second, comes the message: ‘This is but the beginning of everything. It will require deep earnestness, and the exercise of all your power, and a watchfulness of the entire heart – eager to detect the least backsliding. Above all, it will require a surrender to a life of self-sacrifice that God really desires to see in us and which he will work out for us.’

July 11, 2011

The Sin and Cause of Prayerlessness

The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray
Chapter 1 – The Sin and Cause of Prayerlessness

If conscience is to do its work, and the contrite heart is to feel its misery, it is necessary that each individual should mention his sin by name. The confession must be severely personal. In a meeting of ministers there is probably no single sin which each one of us ought to acknowledge with deeper shame -‘Guilty, verily guilty’ – than the sin of prayerlessness.

What is it, then, that makes prayerlessness such a great sin? At first it is looked upon merely as a weakness. There is so much talk about lack of time and all sorts of distractions that the deep guilt of the situation is not recognised. Let it be our honest desire that, for the future, the sin of prayerlessness may be to us truly sinful. Consider

1. What a reproach it is to God

There is the holy and most glorious God who invites us to come to him, to hold converse with him, to ask from him such things as we need, and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with him. He has created him we might find our highest glory and salvation.

What use do we make of this heavenly privilege? How many there are who take only five minutes for prayer! They say that they have no time and that the heart desire for prayer is lacking; they do not know how to spend half an hour with God! It is not that they absolutely do not pray; they pray every day – but they have no joy in prayer, as a token of communion with God which shows that God is everything to them.

If a friend comes to visit them, they have time, they make time, even at the cost of sacrifice, for the sake of enjoying converse with him. Yes, they have time for everything that really interests them, but no time to practise fellowship with God and delight themselves in him! They find time for a creature who can be of service to them; but day after day, month after month passes, and there is no time to spend one hour with God.

Do not our hearts begin to acknowledge what a dishonour, what a despite of God this is, that I dare to say I cannot find time for fellowship with him? If this sin begins to appear plain to us, shall we not with deep shame cry out: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone, 0 God; be merciful to me, and forgive this awful sin of prayerlessness.’ Consider further

2. It is the cause of a deficient spiritual life

It is a proof that, for the most part, our life is still under the power of ‘the flesh’. Prayer is the pulse of life; by it the doctor can tell what is the condition of the heart. The sin of prayerlessness is a proof for the ordinary Christian or minister that the life of God in the soul is in deadly sickness and weakness.

Much is said and many complaints are made about the feebleness of the Church to fulfill her calling, to exercise an influence over her members, to deliver them from the power of the world, and to bring them to a life of holy consecration to God. Much is also spoken about her indifference to the millions of heathen whom Christ entrusted to her that she might make known to them his love and salvation. What is the reason that many thousands of Christian workers in the world have not a greater influence? Nothing save this – the prayerlessness of their service. In the midst of all their zeal in the study and in the work of the Church, of all their faithfulness in preaching and conversation with the people, they lack that ceaseless prayer which has attached to it the sure promise of the Spirit and the power from on high. It is nothing but the sin of prayerlessness which is the cause of the lack of a powerful spiritual life! Consider further

3. The dreadful loss which the Church suffers as a result of the prayerlessness of the minister

It is the business of a minister to train believers up to a life of prayer; but how can a leader do this if he himself understands little the art of conversing with God and of receiving from the Holy Spirit, every day, out of heaven, abundant grace for himself and for his work? A minister cannot lead a congregation higher than he is himself. He cannot with enthusiasm point out a way, or explain a work, in which he is not himself walking or living.

How many thousands of Christians there are who know next to nothing of the blessedness of prayer fellowship with God! How many there are who know something of it and long for a further increase of this knowledge, but in the preaching of the Word they are not persistently urged to keep on till they obtain the blessing! The reason is simply and only that the minister understands so little about the secret of powerful prayer and does not give prayer the place in his service which, in the nature of the case and in the will of God, is indispensably necessary. Oh, what a difference we should notice in our congregations if ministers could be brought to see in its right light the sin of prayerlessness and were delivered from it! Once more consider

4. The impossibility of preaching the gospel to all men-as we are commanded by Christ to do -so long as this sin is not overcome and cast out.

Many feel that the great need of missions is the obtaining of men and women who will give themselves to the Lord to strive in prayer for the salvation of souls. It has also been said that God is eager and able to deliver and bless the world he has redeemed, if his people were but willing, if they were but ready, to cry to him day and night But how can congregations be brought to that unless there comes first an entire change in ministers and that they begin to see that the indispensable thing is not preaching, not pastoral visitation, not church work, but fellowship with God in prayer till they are clothed with power from on high?

Oh, that all thought and work and expectation concerning the kingdom might drive us to the acknowledgement of the sin of prayerlessness! God help us to root it out! God deliver us from it through the blood and power of Christ Jesus! God teach every minister of the Word to see what a glorious place he may occupy if he first of all is delivered from this root of evils; so that with courage and joy, in faith and perseverance, he can go on with his God!

The sin of prayerlessness! The Lord lay the burden of it so heavy on our hearts that we may not rest till it is taken far from us; through the name and power of Jesus, He will make this possible for us.

A witness from America

In 1898, there were two members of the Presbytery in New York who attended the Northfield Conference for the deepening of the spiritual life. They returned to their work with the fire of a new enthusiasm. They endeavoured to bring about a revival in the entire Presbytery. In a meeting which they held, the chairman was guided to ask the brethren a question concerning their prayer life: ‘Brethren,’ said he, ‘let us today make confession before God and each other. It will do us good. Will everyone who spends half an hour every day with God in connection with his work hold up a hand?’ One hand was held up. He made a further request: ‘All who thus spend fifteen minutes hold up a hand.’ Not half of the hands were held up. Then he said: ‘Prayer, the working power of the Church of Christ, and half of the workers make hardly any use of it! All who spend five minutes hold up hands.’ All hands went up. But one man came later with the confession that he was not quite sure if he spent five minutes in prayer every day. ‘It is,’ said he, ‘a terrible revelation of how little time I spend with God.’

The cause of prayerlessness.

In an elder’s prayer meeting, a brother put the question: ‘What, then, is the cause of so much prayerlessness? Is it not unbelief?’

The answer was: ‘Certainly; but then comes the question what is the cause of that unbelief?’ When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus: ‘Why could not we cast the devil out?’ His answer was: ‘Because of your unbelief.’ He went further and said: ‘Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting’ (Matt. 17.19-21). If the life is not one of self-denial – of fasting – that is, letting the world go; of prayer – that is, laying hold of heaven, faith cannot be exercised. A life lived according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit – it is in this that we find the origin of the prayerlessness of which we complain. As we came out of the meeting a brother said to me: ‘That is the whole difficulty; we wish to pray in the Spirit and at the same time walk after the flesh, and this is impossible.’

If one is sick and desires healing, it is of prime importance that the true cause of the sickness be discovered. This is always the first step toward recovery. If the particular cause is not recognised, and attention is directed to subordinate causes, or to supposed but not real causes, healing is out of the question. In like manner, it is of the utmost importance for us to obtain a correct insight into the cause of the sad condition of deadness and failure in prayer in the inner chamber, which should be such a blessed place for us. Let us seek to realise fully what is the root of this evil.

Scripture teaches us that there are but two conditions possible for the Christian. One is a walk according to the Spirit, the other a walk according to ‘the flesh’. These two powers are in irreconcilable conflict with each other. So it comes to pass, in the case of the majority of Christians, that, while we thank God that they are born again through the Spirit and have received the life of God – yet their ordinary daily life is not lived according to the Spirit but according to ‘the flesh’. Paul writes to the Galatians: ‘Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?’ (Gal. 3.3). Their service lay in fleshly outward performances. They did not understand that where ‘the flesh’ is permitted to influence their service of God, it soon results in open sin.

So he mentions not only grave sins as the work of ‘the flesh’, such as adultery, murder, drunkenness; but also the more ordinary sins of daily life – wrath, strife, variance; and he gives the exhortation: ‘Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh… If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit’ (Gal. 5.16, 25). The Spirit must be honoured not only as the author of a new life but also as the leader and director of our entire walk. Otherwise we are what the apostle calls ‘carnal’.

The majority of Christians have little understanding of this matter. They have no real knowledge of the deep sinfulness and godlessness of that carnal nature which belongs to them and to which unconsciously they yield. ‘God… condemned sin in the flesh’ (Rom. 8.3) – in the cross of Christ. ‘They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts’ (Gal. 5.24). ‘The flesh’ cannot be improved or sanctified. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Rom. 8.7). There is no means of dealing with ‘the flesh’ save as Christ dealt with it, bearing it to the cross. ‘Our old man is crucified with him’ (Rom. 6.6); so we by faith also crucify it, and regard and treat it daily as an accursed thing that finds its rightful place on the accursed cross.

It is saddening to consider how many Christians there are who seldom think or speak earnestly about the deep and immeasurable sinfulness of ‘the flesh’-‘In me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing'(Rom. 7.18). The man who truly believes this may well cry out: ‘I see another law in my members … bringing me into captivity to the law of sin… 0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ (Rom. 7.23, 24). Happy is he who can go further and say: ‘I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord… For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death’ (Rom. 7.25; 8.2).

Would that we might understand God’s counsels of grace for us! ‘The flesh’ on the cross – the Spirit in the heart and controlling the life.

This spiritual life is too little understood or sought after; yet it is literally what God has promised and will accomplish in those who unconditionally surrender themselves to him for this purpose.

Here then we have the deep root of evil as the cause of a prayerless life. ‘The flesh’ can say prayers well enough, calling itself religious for so doing and thus satisfying conscience. But ‘the flesh’ has no desire or strength for the prayer that strives after an intimate knowledge of God; that rejoices in fellowship with him; and that continues to lay hold of his strength. So, finally, it comes to this, ‘the flesh’ must be denied and crucified.

The Christian who is still carnal has neither disposition nor strength to follow after God. He rests satisfied with the prayer of habit or custom; but the glory, the blessedness of secret prayer is a hidden thing to him, till some day his eyes are opened, and he begins to see that ‘the flesh’, in its disposition to turn away from God, is the archenemy which makes powerful prayer impossible for him.

I had once, at a conference, spoken on the subject of prayer and made use of strong expressions about the enmity of ‘the flesh’ as a cause of prayerlessness. After the address, the minister’s wife said that she thought 1 had spoken too strongly. She also had to mourn over too little desire for prayer, but she knew her heart was sincerely set on seeking God. 1 showed her what the word of God said about ‘the flesh’, and that everything which prevents the reception of the Spirit is nothing else than a secret work of ‘the flesh’. Adam was created to have fellowship with God and enjoyed it before his fall. After the fall, however, there came immediately, a deep- seated aversion to God, and he fled from him. This incurable aversion is the characteristic of the unregenerate nature and the chief cause of our unwillingness to surrender ourselves to fellowship with God in prayer. The following day she told me that God had opened her eyes; she confessed that the enmity and unwillingness of ‘the flesh’ was the hidden hindrance in her defective prayer life.

0 my brethren, do not seek to find in circumstances the explanation of this prayerlessness over which we mourn; seek it where God’s word declares it to be, in the hidden aversion of the heart to a holy God.

When a Christian does not yield entirely to the leading of the Spirit – and this is certainly the will of God and the work of his grace – he lives, without knowing it, under the power of ‘the flesh’. This life of ‘the flesh’ manifests itself in many different ways. It appears in the hastiness of spirit, or the anger which so unexpectedly arises in you, in the lack of love for which you have so often blamed yourself; in the pleasure found in eating and drinking, about which at times your conscience has chidden you; in that seeking for your own will and honour, that confidence in your own wisdom and power, that pleasure in the world, of which you are sometimes ashamed before God. All this is life ‘after the flesh’. ‘Ye are yet carnal’ (1 Con 3.3) that text, perhaps, disturbs you at times; you have not full peace and joy in God.

I pray you take time and give an answer to the question: Have 1 not found here the cause of my prayerlessness, of my powerlessness to effect any change in the matter? I live in the Spirit, 1 have been born again, but 1 do not walk after the Spirit -‘the flesh’ lords it over me. The carnal life cannot possibly pray in the spirit and power. God forgive me. The carnal life is evidently the cause of my sad and shameful prayerlessness.

The storm centre on the battlefield

Mention was made in conference of the expression ‘strategic position’ used so often in reference to the great strife between the kingdom of heaven and the powers of darkness.

When a general chooses the place from which he intends to strike the enemy, he pays most attention to those points which he thinks most important in the fight. Thus there was on the battlefield of Waterloo a farmhouse which Wellington immediately saw was the key to the situation. He did not spare his troops in his endeavours to hold that point: the victory depended on it. So it actually happened. It is the same in the conflict between the believer and the powers of darkness. The inner chamber is the place where the decisive victory is obtained.

The enemy uses all his power to lead the Christian and above all the minister, to neglect prayer. He knows that however admirable the sermon may be, however attractive the service, however faithful the pastoral visitation, none of these things can damage him or his kingdom if prayer is neglected. When the Church shuts herself up to the power of the inner chamber, and the soldiers of the Lord have received on their knees ‘power from on high’, then the powers of darkness will be shaken and souls will be delivered. In the Church, on the mission field, with the minister and his congregation, everything depends on the faithful exercise of the power of prayer.

In the week of conference I found the following in The Christian:

Two persons quarrel over a certain point. We call them Christian and Apollyon. Apollyon notices that Christian has a certain weapon which would give him a sure victory. They meet in deadly strife, and Apollyon resolves to take away the weapon from his opponent and destroy it. For the moment the main cause of the strife has become subordinate; the great point now is who shall get possession of the weapon on which everything depends? It is of vital importance to get hold of that.

So it is in the conflict between Satan and the believer. God’s child can conquer everything by prayer. Is it any wonder that Satan does his utmost to snatch that weapon from the Christian, or to hinder him in the use of it?

How now does Satan hinder prayer? By temptation to postpone or curtail it, by bringing in wandering thoughts and all sorts of distractions; through unbelief and hopelessness. Happy is the prayer hero who, through it all, takes care to hold fast and use his weapon. Like our Lord in Gethsemane, the more violently the enemy attacked the more earnestly he prayed and ceased not till he had obtained the victory. After all the other parts of the armour had been named, Paul adds: ‘with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit’ (Eph. 6.18). Without prayer, the helmet of salvation, and the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit which is God’s word, have no power. All depends on prayer. God teach us to believe and hold this fast!

July 10, 2011

The Prayer Life-Foreward

The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray
Foreward

A few words with regard to the origin of this book and the object with which it was written will help to put the reader into the right position for understanding its teaching.

It was the outcome of a conference of ministers at Stellenbosch, South Africa, April 11-14,1912. The occasion of the conference was as follows: Professor de Vos, of our Theological Seminary, had written a letter to the ministers of our church (Dutch Reformed Church) concerning the low state of spiritual life which marked the Church (universal) generally, which, (he said), ought to lead to the inquiry as to how far that statement included our church too. What had been said in the book, The State of the Church, called for deep searching of heart. He thought there could be no doubt about the truth of the statement in regard to the lack of spiritual power. He asked whether it was not time for us to come together and in God’s presence to find out what might be the cause of the evil. He wrote: ‘If only we study the conditions in all sincerity, we shall have to acknowledge that our unbelief and sin are the cause of the lack of spiritual power; that this condition is one of sin and guilt before God, and nothing less than a direct grieving of God’s Holy Spirit.’

His invitation met with a hearty response. Our four theological professors, with more than two hundred ministers, missionaries, and theological students, came together with the above words as the keynote of our meeting. From the very first, in the addresses there was the tone of confession as the only way to repentance and restoration. At a subsequent meeting the opportunity was given for testimony as to what might be the sins which made the life of the Church so feeble. Some began to mention failings that they had seen in other ministers, either in conduct, or in doctrine, or in service. It was soon felt that this was not the right way; each must acknowledge that in which he himself was guilty.

The Lord graciously so ordered it that we were gradually led to the sin of prayerlessness as one of the deepest roots of the evil. No one could plead himself free from this. Nothing so reveals the defective spiritual life in minister and congregation as the lack of believing and unceasing prayer. Prayer is in very deed the pulse of the spiritual life. It is the great means of bringing to minister and people the blessing and power of heaven. Persevering and believing prayer means a strong and an abundant life.

When once the spirit of confession began to prevail, the question arose as to whether it would be indeed possible to expect to gain the victory over all that had in the past hindered our prayer life. In smaller conferences held previously, it had been found that many were most anxious to make a new beginning and yet had not the courage to expect that they would be able to maintain that prayer life which they saw to be in accordance with the Word of God. They had often made the attempt but had failed. They did not dare to make any promise to the Lord to live and pray as he would have them; they felt it impossible. Such confessions gradually led to the great truth, that the only power for a new prayer life is to be found in an entirely new relation to our blessed Saviour. It is as we see in him the Lord who saves us from sin – the sin of prayerlessness too – and our faith yields itself to a life of closer intercourse with him, that a life in his love and fellowship will make prayer to him the natural expression of our soul’s life. Before we parted, many were able to testify that they were returning with new light and new hope to find in Jesus Christ strength for a new prayer life.

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July 6, 2011

Warrior is a Child

Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I’m amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don’t see inside of me
I’m hiding all the tears

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
‘Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I’m amazing
Never face retreat
But they don’t see the enemies
That lay me at His feet

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my and look up for a smile
Cuz deep inside this armor
the warrior is a child

They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down
They don’t know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and and cry for just a while
Cuz deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
The Warrior is a Child

July 5, 2011

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know he is our Father
Come rest your head upon his breast
Listen to the rhythm of his unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still

July 4, 2011

Statue of Liberty

In New York Harbor stands a lady, With a torch raised to the sky;
And all who see her know she stands for Liberty for you and me.

I’m so proud to be called an American, To be named with the brave and the free;
I will honor our flag and our trust in God, And the Statue of Liberty.

On lonely Golgotha stood a cross, With my Lord raised to the sky;
And all who kneel there live forever As all the saved can testify.

I’m so glad to be called a Christian, To be named with the ransomed and whole;
As the statue liberates the citizen, So the cross liberates the soul.

Oh the cross is my Statue of Liberty, It was there that my soul was set free;
Unashamed I’ll proclaim that a rugged cross Is my Statue of Liberty!

Words and Music by Neil Enloe

June 26, 2011

I Could Never Out Love the Lord

I COULD NEVER OUT LOVE THE LORD

1. There’ve been times when giving and loving brought pain,
And I promised I would never let it happen again,
But I found out that loving was well worth the risk
And that even in losing you win.

CHORUS:

I’m going to live the way He wants me to live,
I’m going to give until there’s just no more to give;
I’m going to love, love till there’s just no more love,
I could never, never out love the Lord.

2. He showed us that only thru dying we live,
And He gave when it seemed there was nothing to give;
He loved when loving brought heartache and loss,
He forgave from an old rugged cross.

CHORUS:

I’m going to live the way He wants me to live,
I’m going to give until there’s just no more to give;
I’m going to love, love till there’s just no more love,
I could never, never out love the Lord.

–W & M by William J. and Gloria Gaither

June 25, 2011

Tribute to the Bible

Billy Sunday’s Tribute to the Bible

Twenty-nine years ago, with the Holy Spirit as my guide, I entered the wonderful temple of Christianity. I entered at the portico of Genesis, walked down through the Old Testament art galleries where pictures of Noah, Abraham, Isaac Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Daniel are hung on the wall.

I passed into the music room of Psalms where the Spirit swept the keyboard of my nature until it seemed that every reed and pipe of God’s great organ responded to the tuneful harp of David, the sweet singer of Israel.

I entered the chamber of Ecclesiastes where the voice of the preacher was heard, and into the conservatory of Sharon where the Lily of the Valley’s sweet-scented spices filled and perfumed my life.

I entered into the business office of Proverbs, and then into the observatory room of the prophets where I saw telescopes of various sizes pointed to far off events, but all concentrated on the Bright and Morning Star which is the King of Kings.

I caught a vision of His glory from the standpoint of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and passed into the Acts of the Apostles where the Holy Spirit was doing His work in the formation of the infant Church. Then into the correspondence room where sat Paul, Peter, James and John penning their epistles.

I stepped into the throne room of Revelation, where towered the glittering peaks, and caught a vision of the King sitting upon the throne in all His glory. And I cried, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall! Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all!”

June 15, 2011

Memories

Oft I remember those whom I have known
In other days, to whom my heart was led
As by a magnet, and who are not dead,
But absent, and their memories overgrown
With other thoughts and troubles of my own,
As graves with grasses are, and at their head
The stone with moss and lichens so o’erspread,
Nothing is legible but the name alone.
And is it so with them?  After long years,
Do they remember me in the same way,
And is the memory pleasant as to me?
I fear to ask; yet wherefore are my fears?
Pleasures, like flowers, may wither and decay,
And yet the root perennial may be.

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow