Online Text Sermon - The Difficulties of Prayer
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Difficulties of Prayer (Time not certain. Preached in Ayr)|
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The subject then is this: What problems will we encounter in prayer? You ask first of all, "What really do we mean by prayer?" The definition, which we work with in our circles as a Free Church, is the definition given by the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which is well worth committing to memory. "Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgement of His mercies." So that what we are talking about is not heathen prayer, but Christian prayer.
We divide our prayer into two: SECRET PRAYER and PUBLIC PRAYER. It would be possible to make further divisions but I will leave the divisions as two fold.
SECRET PRAYER refers necessarily to what we do on our own, where there is nobody to listen but God.
PUBLIC PRAYER refers, of course, to when we gather in a meeting like this. One of the Christian men engages in prayer and leads us all to the Throne of Grace.
I should like to touch on subjects that are relevant to both aspects of prayer.
Let me say at once, please don't let the title of this little lecture confound or confuse you. I'm not suggesting that the subject of prayer bristles with problems. I did not choose the title with a view to making it seem more complicated than, perhaps you think it is, or ought to be.
Prayer is the natural response of a converted heart to a desire for communion with God. In a sense there ought not to be problems. However, I think we would all agree, that when we come down to the details of prayer, whether it be secret or public, everyone of us is acquainted with some difficulties which I refer to this evening and am about to open out to you.
I take it also for granted that we're agreed that all of us ought to pray. Whether we profess to be personal Christians or not, everybody ought to pray. Everybody may pray - all are invited to pray. I take it that we're agreed that we may pray sitting, standing or walking about. We ought to be praying without ceasing whenever we have an odd moment throughout the day when our minds are not taken up with our necessary and important employment. We can send up an arrow prayer to God at every time of danger, need, difficulty or whatever it may be. I agree and I think we would all agree, that this is all true. What I am going to concentrate on this evening are those problems that we find in certain areas of the work of prayer. I shall announce to you five problem areas to which I confine my lecture tonight. These are the five areas.
First of all the problem of getting started in prayer and getting organised in our own private lives in prayer. You'll see what I mean by that. If we never have a special time for prayer throughout the day and if we never organise our time so that we have at least a little while here or there throughout every day, then in a sense you could say that we are never praying. It is not enough to be simply praying in odd moments as we go about our duties in life. We should be doing that but we should also have stated and set times for private devotion and prayer. I'm not going to prove that point - it is so self evident and obvious and easily proved anyway from Scripture, I shall not take time up with it. That is the first area, getting started, getting organised in our own lives for private prayer. It concerns the young as much as the old, and there is no reason in the world why young people should not pray just as older people do. I believe fully that some younger persons here do that, perhaps all of them do.
The second area is this: I want to look at the problem that arises in our secret prayers between the form of prayer and the Spirit of Prayer. I'll tell you more about what I mean in a moment.
Thirdly, I should want to say something to those who are not as yet professing Christians and cannot say about themselves that they are converted. I want to have something further to say to you about the subject of prayer.
Fourthly, I deal with a very common problem that everybody sooner or later tends to find in prayer and that is what I shall here term 'weariness': that state of mind in which from time to time even the best of men and women in prayer say to themselves, "I'm so weary of prayer; must I go on and on!"
Last of all, fifthly, I want to speak about public prayer - those problems which are more particularly associated with praying out aloud in a Prayer Meeting or as taking divine worship.
I am hoping by these five divisions, which I have tried to select with some care, to cover just about all the cases that are before me tonight. There are many other aspects of prayer which I have not attempted to cover, directly at any rate.
First of all, I examine with you this first area that I have announced, the problem of getting started in prayer and getting our own lives organised with a view to having secret prayer. We all know I believe, that the Christian desires to pray. Indeed, more persons than Christians desire to pray, even those who aren't Christians have an instinctive desire to pray. Prayer is one of the things which marks out a man from a beast. It is instinctive in man to cry out to God. I shan't take up further time with this point, but even atheists - hardened and professed atheists - have been known to pray in times of trouble. You know what every worldly person says when things go wrong, they say to you, "Oh, let's pray that it will work out." They never go to God's house but that is their attitude. However, although the Christian especially desires to pray he often feels that it is difficult to organise himself to pray and it is often very difficult to get started - to get into the Spirit of Prayer. Some days it is easy, some days it is very, very hard. I would suggest to you today that we should have method in our lives and we should organise every day like this. I am trying to be practical, as you will see.
First, every one of us should have a place in our own homes - or wherever it is - where we know we can go to pray. If we don't have a place to get alone with God, it's very difficult to pray. It's intensely difficult to devote the whole of our life to concentration upon this duty of seeking the face of God if we do not have the privacy of a place where we can meet with God. Normally, of course, it will be our own bedroom or some are privileged perhaps to have a study, or a room in the house where others in the house understand that when they go in there they are not to be disturbed. That is right - a place and also a time - a time during each day in which normally we go to be alone with God. Obviously there are variations permissible here. The ideal would be in the morning, before we begin the duties of the day. However, it may be that in certain cases, for various reasons, that is just not possible. It would not be permissible and wise for instance for a young mother who has a growing family of children to be on her knees praying when she should be preparing the breakfast for them to go to school, or a husband to go to work. That is so obvious that it scarcely needs to be said. Therefore, times will vary but I would suggest to you that we need to have a time in the day when we are as awake as can be.
Robert Murray McCheyne used to work out which hours of the day he was most fresh in. This was nothing peculiar to him of course, we all do this, but I mention his name because he records this in some ways in his diary. Just before tea I think it was in his case, his mind reached a sort of sharpness which he didn't have throughout the whole day. This he devoted to special intercession because he was freshest then. Others of us would be quite useless at such a time of day but everybody has a good time of day when the body is not so listless as it sometimes is. As far as possible I would suggest to you, try to find a suitable time: morning, afternoon or night, or all three, if leisure and circumstance permit.
"How long should I pray for?" This depends, of course, again on the individual. I would give you this general rule: Try to pray yourself, as it were, to exhaustion before God. You misunderstand me because I don't really speak with precision. I put that another way. Try to make sure that every day you have prayed everything you want to say to God, so that you have as it were, emptied the vessel of your heart fully to God and you feel you have said everything you desire to say; with some people that will take a long time. You know that John Welsh of Ayr used to spend eight hours a day in prayer - that was quite unusual by any standards. Martin Luther - four hours a day - again, exceptional. John Wesley was much the same. Let's say about half an hour, shall we? Half an hour is perhaps the sort of time we might give to prayer in our busy day and generation. Try to have enough time to pray to God without being hurried. You need to be warm. There is no good praying if you are in a cold bedroom. You've got to be warm, you've got to be comfortable, otherwise all the time you're on your knees you'll be switching on an electric fire at the back of your mind. You know what I mean. You've got to have every earthly thing out of your mind. You need to be reasonably warm, properly dressed, comfortable, on your knees with enough food in your stomach so that you're not crying out to go downstairs for breakfast. I'm being practical. You've got to have the very best state of body and mind.
Then try to shut the whole world out. I recommend praying on our knees. Of course, there are times when that might be inappropriate, but I think that ought to be the general rule. All right, we've shut ourselves in. We're on our own with God, what do we do? How do we get started? I recommend that we read from the Bible first and that we read with a view to preparing our hearts for God and for prayer. For instance, you might read Psalm one, and having read it and thought about its meaning, you then go on your knees and pray something like this - "O Lord, give me the blessedness of the man who does not sit in the seat of the scornful or walk in the ways of the ungodly. Rather Lord, give me the spirit of the man who is planted as a tree beside the watercourses, the blessing of the man who is not driven about like chaff in the streets. Give me Lord, the character of the man who will stand in the day of judgement when the wicked shall be overthrown and destroyed." I believe that is the right way to learn to pray, and in secret what you are doing is, you are learning to pray and you will find that the best writers on the subject tell us that. Take your Bible, read a passage, then turn what you've read in to prayer. Don't do it mechanically. Don't open one eye every so often to see what verse six, and verse eight, and verse ten said and then keep turning that in to prayer. Forget the book and then turn everything that you can remember in to prayer and pray that God would give to you personally the Spirit of Prayer.
Next, should we pray out aloud or should we pray silently in ourselves? It would be very interesting to see what we all do! I'm not going to ask you to put up your hands. I would recommend that you do both, on different occasions, depending upon the state of your own soul and of your own mind. What are we aiming at in secret prayer? I would say that what we are aiming at above all else, is to bring our hearts to God, in such a way that we hide nothing from Him and we can get up from our knees and feel in our consciences that we have exposed ourselves in every way to God.
I come secondly to the problem of the form and the Spirit. I must explain to you first of all what I mean. As soon as you begin to be interested in the subject of prayer you become aware of the fact that it is possible to buy books of prayer, prayer books - books which actually write out prayers word for word - and there are many people use these. Most famous of all is The Book of Common Prayer which has long been in use in the Church of England. Are we to use books of prayer? Are we to commit prayers to memory and then repeat them, rather like the Lord's Prayer or are we to make our own prayers up? The view which has always been held in non-conformist circles such as our own, (non-conformist simply means that we do not belong to the Church of England and that's the sense in which I'm using the phrase tonight) - except for the Church of England - Protestant churches in the U.K. have normally believed and taught that we should depend on God to teach us how to pray directly through the Bible which we read and then through the Holy Spirit. If we depend upon books of prayer then it can be simply automatic; it can be simply a routine.
I quite believe that someone would want to argue against what I have said and might want to say to me," But you can use a book of prayer with real devotion". All right, I concede the point! You can and many have done it. I would not like to say about books of prayer that they are absolutely wrong. I don't think anyone would ever want to go that far. But what you and I need to learn to do is to have real heart-to-heart communion with God because, after all, that is what the Bible says that prayer is - the pouring out of our hearts to God. We must believe first of all, that the Bible is the perfect book of prayer, just as it is the perfect book of doctrine, especially the Psalms which are deliberately given to teach us how to frame our words in prayer to God but also the whole Bible, and especially the Lord's Prayer.
That's one part of the question. It is the form. Then there is the other part - that is the spirit. I refer to the Spirit of Devotion which we have and these two, as it were, you've always got to hold, one in each hand because we should always endeavour I believe, to pray to God with a certain form in our prayers. I mean we should endeavour to pray in an orderly sort of manner, in a logical sort of manner. I want to illustrate this from The Lord's Prayer. It's something we all know off by heart and I'm sure many of you have seen this point long ago. Let me remind you. In The Lord's Prayer there is a wonderful form: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done... Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses... Lead us not in to temptation..." I'm summarising.
Now, you see the order of that. We begin with the glory of God, the Kingdom of God, the will of God. Everything begins with God: His glory, His Kingdom, His will. Then we descend to ourselves: our needs, our sins, our problems. That is what I mean by order in prayer. We should endeavour to teach ourselves to discipline our minds, to come to God with a certain order and orderliness and methodicalness of mind. It is a biblical practice and it is a biblical thing to do.
You'll say to me, "But I can't do that", and you begin to despair. Well don't despair! I'm not trying to make anyone feel upset. What I do mean is that we can all improve and there is nobody needs to improve on this subject, I can tell you, more than I do myself and I'm simply telling you to do what the Bible teaches and what I myself need to learn more and more - orderliness.
But orderliness can be as cold as an icicle and you can have the most perfect prayer in beautiful English, the Queen's English as we say, and it can be full of poetical phrases and lovely liturgical sentences but it can be, as I say, as cold as ice.
What we need therefore is to have the fire of the Spirit of God within us. One of the first things which I think a Christian learns is to go on his knees and start to pray. It can be very difficult. But what you discover is that as you start to pray, with stammering words and difficulty, you suddenly discover that the ice in your heart melts and you don't know how it works but words come, because thoughts come and emotions come and you begin to warm to the theme. Whereas you began cold and with inertia in your spirit, before long you're like a blacksmith and you're hammering at the anvil, as fast as you can go and the sparks are flying. The Spirit of God is the One who indites prayer and this I do not hesitate to say is what Paul means in Romans 8 when he says to us, " We do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered."
That is to say that the Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray. He doesn't intercede as Christ does. Christ intercedes for us at the right hand of God, apart from us and outside us but the Holy Spirit intercedes within us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Prayer. However, having said that, we must go on to add that God is sovereign in the gift of prayer and God gives more of a gift of prayer to some Christians than He does to others. This is true in every congregation. Immediately you can think of some who have a gift of prayer that is quite exceptional but others have a gift of prayer, which is perhaps no more than ordinary. Nevertheless, every one of us should stir up the gift within him and endeavour to be stronger in prayer. It is a wonderful thing when a congregation begins to be full of mighty wrestlers in prayer when you stop to think how few there are that can pray mightily. I have been impressed with this over the years how few there are that can pray mightily. We know there are some Brethren who pray and some Baptists, some Pentecostals and others, but how few there are of all the people going to church that really know what it is to wrestle with God in prayer! That is why we are in so dead a condition as a generation. It is much to be coveted that every one of us should stir himself up to increase in prayer.
There are usually said to be these several elements in prayer; you're on your knees and you say to yourself, "Now how do I begin?" Begin always with God. Praise God. Worship God. Adoration. Prostrate yourself before God and then you go on from there. You thank Him for your blessings and then you proceed from there to confess your sins. You go on from the confession of sin to desiring that God would send the petitions that you need in your own life. Go on from there to pray for the whole world. That is the sort of aspect of the elements that are present in prayer.
In our secret prayers we should school ourselves and teach ourselves to try to adhere to and to follow these various elements. We ought not simply just to adore and thank God, however wonderful that is. He requires more of us. We ought not simply to confess sin. We feel that in some prayers one hears there is nothing but confession of sin. That is not right. There are to be all these elements in prayer.
One word about prayer 'lists'. I don't want in any sense to be disparaging when I say this. Of course, we have to remind ourselves by one means or another, of certain things and persons to pray for; that's inevitable - we have to do that. But when you've got your list of things that you're going to pray for - persons and various places you're going to pray for - put the list down and then depend upon God to illuminate your mind. I do not think it is a wise practice to be tied to a list as though we've got to mention every detail of every point in that list, necessarily. I say this because the thing, which above all other things God requires of His people in prayer is that we aim at access and liberty.
Let me say a word about those two things. They are really the same thing. Our forefathers were right to say that this is the most vital aspect in prayer. This is the pinnacle of secret prayer.
Nine times out of ten or nineteen out of twenty, we pray and we find it very difficult, as it were, to 'get through'. Don't misunderstand me. We've got plenty of words but do you know what I mean when I say that you pray and you feel awfully 'wooden'? You will know this experience: to pray and feel 'wooden'. We must never be content with that. We must always have the vision that what we should strive for is to 'get through', to get access to God. That is the most blessed experience in my opinion, of any experience you can have upon earth. It is the nearest thing to being in Glory, to have this access to God. Very frequently, it so melts the soul and the heart of the person who has it in prayer that he is quite literally bathed in tears of joy. That is a commonplace experience for the people of God. It is a mistake in prayer to go on our knees and stop after ten minutes. We think that we haven't got through - we haven't got this access. We've been praying correctly, we've been praying with the right form and with plenty of words but now we say Oh, we haven't felt very much, but we stop.
Don't get off your knees too quickly, pray on because you know the experience that Jacob had with the angel was this - Jacob said to the angel, "I will not let Thee go until, or except, Thou bless me". We as the people of God ought to have that vision. We ought not to hasten away from the place of prayer until we have felt the dew coming down from heaven upon our spirits. That is what is referred to in Psalm 133: the dew that comes from heaven upon the hills of Zion, that anointing from the beard of Aaron upon the garments and skirts of his robe. That is the blessing, and that is what we should always regard as the thing to strive for in prayer. We won't always get it, even a man like Hudson Taylor - that wonderful missionary who knew so much about prayer - said, "I sometimes have to pray and my spirit is wooden". So you and I will find that but we should always have this vision and this expectation that every so often we will feel the presence of God in prayer.
I turn now to the problem of prayer faced by those who are not yet Christians: those of you who are not able to say that you are converted, who are not professing Christians. There may be young people involved in this and there might be others too. Let me reassure you that it is right for you to pray. Let me reassure you that it is right for you to come to Prayer Meetings and that there is no argument in the Bible at all which would deter you from prayer or from Prayer Meetings.
Of course, it could be pointed out to every person who is not a Christian that they ought to be and of course it can be pointed out to everybody who is not a Christian that their prayers cannot be acceptable to God like the prayers of a Christian. The prayers of an unconverted person are the prayers of one who has not yet given his life to God and therefore cannot be acceptable to God as the prayers of Christians are. But let me remind you of this, the unconverted person who does not pray is sinning a hundred times more than the unconverted person who does pray. I'm not suggesting, of course, that prayer will save you but on the other hand, you'll never be converted unless you do pray. You can't learn to pray too quickly - life being short. You see, God does not promise to hear the prayers of the unconverted. God promises to hear the prayers of His own converted people but He does not promise to hear the prayers of the unconverted. God may listen to them. He may hear them. I can tell you, when I was unconverted - I know now - that God did hear some of my prayers as an unconverted man. He does not promise to do that but He may do more than we expect in order to show us His Being, and His Reality and His Truth. He is a faithful God, even to the cries of those that need Him and as yet maybe do not know Him.
Of course, one prayer above all from the unconverted is supremely required and that is the Publican's prayer. We read this in Luke 18; I shall remind you of it. This Publican or tax collector, went into the temple and he smote upon his breast, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," he cries. Jesus said that man went home a justified man, rather of course than the other, this merely religious man, this Pharisee.
Let me give a little help then to those who may come in to this class. They are not professing Christians but may become so yet. I would say to you, learn to speak with God. Learn to speak with God often. Take words in your heart and speak these words to God in your own heart. Open your heart to God about everything and especially about your own state of soul. There is no reason why the unconverted man should not say to God, "Lord, my heart is my problem. Thou hast told me to do this and that and the other in Thy word but here I am wicked man that I am, doing none of these things. Oh God, my problem is my sin! My problem is my loathsome, fallen condition. I'm a condemned man. Oh God, when shall I begin to believe what Thou hast said?"
Take your problem to God. Tell Him the state of your life and the state of your soul. Tell Him everything and say, "Oh Lord, aren't I loathsome and devilish that I am in this condition. Lord leave me not in this unconverted condition but change me". What's to stop a man saying these things? Complain against yourself. Make much of God and put yourself down. This is one of the fundamental rules in prayer: that you make much of God, His Glory, His Honour, His Majesty and that you put yourself as low as possible. That's the secret in prayer with God. I'm not suggesting we can do any of these things without grace but we have our duties. Grace belongs to God. He gives grace to those that are humble and meek. Prayer attends every true conversion and there never was a man converted who did not at the time of his conversion pray to God and long for mercy. I say therefore that like the Prodigal Son you should say, "I will arise and go to my Father", "I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son. Make me as one of Thine hired servants."
I turn fourthly now to the problem of growing weary in prayer. Even Christians sometimes in life, are like Israel going through the desert for forty years: 'their soul was much discouraged because of the way'. The way is long and God sometimes seems to keep us waiting for the answer to our prayers. Everybody who is a Christian would say Amen, if asked to do so.
Is it not true that you pray and pray and sometimes your soul appears to grow weary because God seems to keep you waiting so long? You say to yourself, "What's the use? I keep going to that Prayer Meeting", or, "I keep praying to God on my knees. I'm praying about this and for that and still nothing seems to change. Let's give it up. Let's stop. What's the point?"
I know the meaning of that very well. In the ministry of the Gospel I know the meaning of that just as you do. What are we to say to this? Jesus Christ teaches us this parable at the beginning of Luke 18, particularly to deal with this problem. "He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint." He goes on to say this, "Shall not God avenge His own elect, that cry to Him day and night, though He bear long with them". Now that's very instructive isn't it? He means that we must expect normally that God will keep us waiting for the answer to our prayers.
I once met a young Christian, many years ago, and prayer was so easy to him. I had been praying for a number of things for some years and God was keeping me waiting. And lo and behold I met this very charming gentleman, a good deal taller and handsomer than I ever was, and he said to me, "Oh", he said, "I've met the young lady I'm going to marry. Yes, I've asked my Father and my Father is going to give me this girl." He met her in some meeting or assembly. "I've prayed about it. My Father has answered and it is all coming along nicely." It didn't. It came to nothing.
God doesn't always answer our prayers quite so easily as that. It wouldn't be good for us. God teaches us in our prayers the patience of faith. That's the intention. Our sanctification is dearer to God than the answer to our prayers. If it wasn't we would have the answer right now - we would get it at once. If God simply wanted to indulge our desires, the answer would come at once.
No, God intends that His people should learn patience and faith; therefore, the best answers to all prayers usually come after a period of waiting and even long disappointment. Think of Abraham praying for a son; he had to wait for years and years. Then think of Zechariah and Elizabeth praying for a child and they were in their extreme old age and had given up praying no doubt and forgotten the prayer when the angel appeared and said to him, by the altar of incense, "Thy prayer is heard. Thou shalt have a son." And what a son! What a son John the Baptist proved to be.
What about Hannah? The same again. Tears ran down her face at the provocation of the other wife Peninnah who was saying to her that she was barren and couldn't have a child and she provoked her day and night until poor Hannah's soul was wrung out of her in prayer. God kept her waiting but the day came when the prayer was abundantly answered. Then take Monica - the mother of Augustine. Monica in North Africa prayed long for the conversion of her wayward son. "Oh God, save my son. Oh God, save this boy, this genius of a boy Thou hast given me."
Just before she died, Monica saw Augustine turn to Christ. Well, this is how God works. He keeps His people waiting and He does that for wise and good reasons.
What do we do when we get weary in prayer? I say to you: 'Go back to this parable.' "Shall not God avenge His own elect, that cry unto Him day and night? Yea, I say to you, He will avenge them speedily, though He bears long with them. But when the Son of Man comes will He find faith on earth?"
Fifth and finally, I speak of problems of public prayer. I have dealt very largely with secret prayer in these four previous points, now I come to public prayer. Public prayer is special in that it is limited we believe to the men. I shan't go into the proof texts for that now. When a man leads the congregation in prayer, he is not praying for himself alone and therefore a man has to use discretion. You can't use the same familiarity in public prayer as you can in secret prayer. In secret prayer you can say everything to God and disclose everything to Him. You can't do that in public prayer.
There are three words I want us to notice particularly here. In public prayer we must never disgust. I was once in a congregation in London and I heard there some poor prayers. I was thankful I wasn't the minister of that congregation to hear such things often. I'm tempted to give you a sample but I forbear. Let me tell you in general terms. It's not right to use over-familiar phrases to God. "Dearest, sweet, gentle, Lord." We don't need to flatter God. "Most kind, sweet, nice Jesus." We don't want that. That's too much like sugar. God doesn't require that. There's no biblical warrant for that. Let us address God with good strong biblical terms: Oh God, Oh Lord. We can vary these terms. We don't need to stick to one or two, but throughout our prayer, we can vary these titles for God.
Another way to disgust in public prayer is to use excessively colloquial language. It would never be right in my view to say in public prayers to God, "Lord, let us not beat about the bush." That would be too colloquial. We don't talk to God in that way.
We might talk to a friend like that but not to the Almighty. I could give more examples. I just simply say this because, you see, what you can perhaps say to your neighbour you can't say to the Most High. You must choose your words with care. Also, let us learn not to disappoint. That's another thing. We should come prepared to public prayer. I believe it is a right practice that used to prevail in congregations of the Free Church and maybe beyond. As far as possible, men especially ought to be preparing themselves for the meeting. Half an hour of Bible reading and prayer in secret is a good preparation. It is a difficult thing to lead a congregation to the Throne of God and it demands that we have to be in the Spirit of the Scriptures.
You can't do better than commit much of the Bible to memory and then you need to be, as it were, in the Spirit, so that you have something truly to lead the people of God to the Throne of Grace with.
Another thing - we ought not to be repetitious. We ought not to say the same thing three or four times. In as compressed a manner as we reasonably can let us say what we have to say and to go on to the next point. Spurgeon has something to say about long prayers. He spoke critically of those who pray long prayers and then ask God to forgive their shortcomings!
Most people find it's much easier to listen to a lecture or a sermon than it is to listen to a prayer. I don't know why it is but our concentration flags quickly in prayer and we have to remember that.
Let me say something to those who don't require to speak in public prayer because they are ladies. I would say to those who go to Prayer Meetings who would never be called upon to pray - you too have a duty to prepare yourselves in these ways. I wonder if, when you come to a Prayer Meeting, you make it your duty to concentrate on the prayer. Perhaps you wouldn't believe this but when a person is praying in public if they hear somebody yawning, it kills the Spirit of Prayer. There's nothing like an audible yawn to stop a man's liberty in a Prayer Meeting. We should never yawn in an audible way in a Prayer Meeting. You're telling the brother that you're not listening, you're not interested, you're only concern is to say Amen. We should concentrate in such a way that we strive to be in the Spirit and to pray with the one who is speaking. You are helping them along. You wouldn't believe this but the man who is spiritual when he is in prayer is sensitive to the atmosphere of the whole gathering. He can tell whether you're concentrating or not, or whether you're with them or not.
I speak as a minister when I say this, but you can go to some congregations and to pray in them is like praying in a fridge or an icebox. There's no prayer amongst the people and you have no sense of prayer. The opposite is true as well. In some congregations when you pray you're lifted up and it's difficult to stop praying. You who are listening contribute much with your own preparation of spirit and your own spirituality of mind.
There are many benefits of prayer and I must end these few remarks. Let our first thoughts in the morning on waking rise to God. Have your set times, your set places. When you go in to your work, go on praying. Pray always, without ceasing. May God grant unto every one that you be blessed with the Spirit of Prayer.
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