New Series On Prayer
Tonight we begin a series through the prayers of certain Bible characters. The pastor and author E. M. Bounds wrote several books on the topic of prayer, and the preface of one of his books compared him to the great Wesley (John, I believe):
Wesley was preaching and riding all day. Bounds was praying and writing day and night.
Wesley said, “The World is my parish.” Bounds prayed as if the universe was his zone.
Wesley was the incarnation of unworldliness, the embodiment of magnanimity. Bounds was the incarnation of unearthliness, humility, and self-denial. Wesley will live in the hearts of saints for everlasting ages. Bounds eternally.
Wesley sleeps in City Road Chapel grounds, among his “bonny dead,” under marble, with fitting tribute chiseled in prose, awaiting the Resurrection. Bounds sleeps in Washington, Georgia, cemetery, without marble covering, awaiting the Bridegroom’s coming.
These other quotes on prayer are encouraging and challenging:
My Creed leads me to think that prayer is efficacious, and surely a day’s asking God to overrule all events for good is not lost. Still there is a great feeling that when a man is praying, he is doing nothing, and this feeling makes us give undue importance to work, sometimes even to the hurrying over or even to the neglect of prayer.
Do not we rest in our day too much on the arm of flesh? Cannot the same wonders be done now as of old? Do not the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth still to show Himself strong on behalf of those who put their trust in Him? Oh that God would give me more practical faith in Him! Where is now the Lord God of Elijah? He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him.
—James Gilmour of Mongolia.
Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer. Most people consider the exercise a fatiguing ceremony, which they are justified in abridging as much as possible. Even those whose profession or fears lead them to pray, pray with such languor and wanderings of mind that their prayers, far from drawing down blessings, only increase their condemnation.
One of the principal results of the little experience which I have had as a Christian minister is a conviction that religion consists very much in giving God that place in our views and feelings which He actually fills in the universe. We know that in the universe He is all in all. So far as He is constantly all in all to us, so far as we comply with the Psalmist’s charge to his soul, ‘My soul, wait thou only upon God;’ so far, I apprehend, have we advanced towards perfection. It is comparatively easy to wait upon God; but to wait upon Him only—to feel, so far as our strength, happiness, and usefulness are concerned, as if all creatures and second causes were annihilated, and we were alone in the universe with God, is, I suspect, a difficult and rare attainment.
— E. M. Bounds
I do not mean that every prayer we offer is answered exactly as we desire it to be. Were this the case, it would mean that we would be dictating to God, and prayer would degenerate into a mere system of begging. Just as an earthly father knows what is best for his children’s welfare, so does God take into consideration the particular needs of His human family, and meets them out of His wonderful storehouse. If our petitions are in accordance with His will, and if we seek His glory in the asking, the answers will come in ways that will astonish us and fill our hearts with songs of thanksgiving. God is a rich and bountiful Father, and He does not forget His children, nor withhold from them anything which it would be to their advantage to receive.
—J. Kennedy Maclean.
Tonight, we will consider as many of these passages and Bible characters’ prayers as we can:
Psalm 2, Joshua 10, Jacob (Gen. 28), Hannah (1 Sam. 1), Samson (Judges 16), Jonah, David (Psalm 51), and Solomon (1 Kings 3:7–9).