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I* JUN241910 

R. A. TORREY ^<i£fi/CAL SEWj 





Fleming H. Revell Company 

Publishers of Evangelical Literature 



I. The Importance of Prayer • • • 7 

II. Praying unto God 3a 

Obeying and Praying 40 

Praying in the Name of Christ and 

According to the Will of God . , 48 

V. Praying in the Spirit . . . • 58 

Always Praying and Not Fainting . . 63 ^ 

Abiding in Christ . . . • 68 

VIII. Praying with Thanksgiving • , . 74 

IX. Hindrances to Prayer . • • • 78 

X. When to Pray 91 

XI. The Need of a General Revival . . 100 
XII. The Place of Prayer Before and During 

Revivals IIS 







In the 6th chapter of Ephesians in the i8th 
verse we read words which put the tremendous 
importance of prayer with startling and over- 
whelming force : 

"Praying always with all prayer and sup- 
plication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto 
with all perseverance and supplication for all 
saints. ' ' 

When we stop to weigh the meaning of 
these words, then note the connection in 
which they are found, the intelligent child of 
God is driven to say, 

*'I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all 
my energy and all my heart into prayer. 
Whatever else I do, I must pray." 

The Revised Version is, if possible, stronger 
than the Authorized: 

*'With all prayer and supplication praying 


at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching 
thereunto in all perseverance and supplication 
for all the saints. ' ' 

Note the alls: *'with all prayer," "at all 
seasons," "in all perseverance," "for a// the 
saints." Note the piling up of strong words, 
"prayer," "supplication," "perseverance." 
Note once more the strong expression, "watch- 
ing thereunto," more literally, "being sleep- 
less thereunto." Paul realized the natural 
slothfulness of man, and especially his natural 
slothfulness in prayer. How seldom we pray 
things through! How often the church and 
the individual get right up to the verge of a 
great blessing in prayer and just then let go, 
get drowsy, quit. I wish that these words 
"being sleepless unto prayer" might burn 
into our hearts. I wish the whole verse might 
burn into our hearts. 

But why is this constant, persistent, sleep- 
less, overcoming prayer so needful? 

I. First of all, because there is a devil. 

He is cunning, he is mighty, he never rests, 
he is ever plotting the downfall of the child 
of God; and if the child of God relaxes in 
prayer, the devil will succeed in ensnaring 


This is the thought of the context. The 
12th verse reads: *'For our wrestling is not 
against flesh and blood, but against the prin- 
cipalities, against the powers, against the world 
rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual 
hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. " 
(R. V.) Then comes the 13th verse: "Where- 
fore take up the whole armor of God, that ye 
may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, 
having done all, to stand." (R. V.) Next 
follows a description of the different parts of 
the Christian's armor, which we are to put on 
if we are to stand against the devil and his 
mighty wiles. Then Paul brings all to a 
climax in the i8th verse, telling us that to all 
else we must add prayer — constant, persistent, 
untiring, sleepless prayer in the Holy Spirit, 
or all else will go for nothing. 

2. A second reason for this constant, per- 
sistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer is that 
prayer is God^s appointed way for obtaining 
things^ and the great secret of all lack in our 
experience^ in our life and in our work is neglect 
of prayer. 

James brings this out very forcibly in the 4th 
chapter and 2d verse of his epistle: "Ye have 
not because ye ask not. " These words contain 


the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of 
the average Christian — neglect of prayer. 

*'Why is it," many a Christian is asking, 
'*I make so little progress in my Christian 

*' Neglect of prayer," God answers. **You 
have not because you ask not. * * 

**Why is it," many a minister is asking, *'I 
see so little fruit from my labors?" 

Again God answers, ** Neglect of prayer. 
You have not because you ask not." 

**Why is it," many a Sunday-school teacher 
is asking, "that I see so few converted in my 
Sunday-school class?" 

Still God answers, ** Neglect of prayer. You 
have not because you ask not. * ' 

**Why is it," both ministers and churches are 
asking, **that the church of Christ makes so 
little headway against unbelief and error and 
sin and worldliness?"' 

Once more we hear God answering, 
** Neglect of prayer. You have not because 
you ask not. ' ' 

3. The third reason for this constant, per- 
sistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer is that 
those men whom God set forth as a pattern of 
what He expected Christians to be — the apostie^ 


— regarded prayer as the most important buS' 
iness of their lives. 

When the multiplying responsibilities of the 
early church crowded in upon them, they 
"called the multitude of the disciples unto 
them, and said, It is not reason that we should 
leave the Word of God, and serve tables. 
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among- you 
seven men of honest report, full of the Holy 
Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over 
this business. But we will give ourselves con- 
tinually to prayer and to the ministry of the 
Word." It is evident from what Paul wrote 
to the churches and to individuals about pray- 
ing for them, that very much of his time and 
strength and thought was given to prayer. 
(Rom. 1:9, R. v.; Eph. 1:15, 16; Col. 1:9, R. 
v.; I Thess. 3:10; 2 Tim. 1:3, R. V.) 

All the mighty men of God outside the Bible ^ 
have been men of prayer. They have differed 
from one another in many things, but in this 
they have been alike. 

4. But there is a still weightier reason for 
this constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming 
prayer. It is, prayer occupied a very prominent 
place and played a very important part in the 
earthly life of our Lord, 


Turn, for example, to Mark i :35. We read, 
**And in the morning, rising tip a great while 
before day, He went out, and departed into a 
solitary place, and there prayed.** The pre- 
ceding day had been a very busy and exciting 
one, but Jesus shortened the hours of needed 
' sleep that He might arise early and give Him- 
self to more sorely needed prayer. 

Turn again to Luke 6:13, where we read, 
•*And it came to pass in those days that He 
went out into a mountain to pray, and con- 
tinued all night in prayer to God." Our 
Savior found it necessary on occasion to take a 
whole night for prayer. 

I The words *'pray" and * 'prayer'* are used at 
least twenty-five times in connection with our 
Lord in the brief record of His life in the four 
Gospels, and His praying is mentioned in 
places where the words are not used. Evi- 
dently prayer took much of the time and 
strength of Jesus, and a man or woman who 
does not spend much time in prayer, can- 
not properly be called a follower of Jesus 

5. There is another reason for constant, per- 
sistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer that 
seems if possible even more forcible than this, 



namely, praying is the most important part of { 
the present ministry of our risen Lord, 

Christ's ministry did not close with His 
death. His atoning work was finished then, 
but when He rose and ascended to the right 
hand of the Father, He entered upon other 
work for us just as important in its place as 
His atoning work. It cannot be divorced from 
His atoning work; it rests upon that as its 
basis, but it is necessary to our complete 

What that great present work is, by which 
He carries our salvation on to completeness, we 
read in Heb. 7:25, "Wherefore He is able also 
to save them to the uttermost that come unto 
God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make 
intercession for them.'' This verse tells us 
that Jesus is able to save us unto the utter- 
most, not merely from the uttermost, but unto 
the uttermost, unto entire completeness, abso- 
lute perfection, because He not merely died, 
but because He also "ever liveth. " The verse 
also tells us for what purpose He now lives, 
*7<? make i7iter cession for us," to pray. Pray- 
ing is the principal thing He is doing in these 
days. It is by His prayers that He is saving us. 

The same thought is found in Paul's remark- 


able, triumpliant challenge in Rom. 8:34 — 
*'Who is he that shall condemn? It is Christ 
Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised 
from the dead, who is at the right hand of 
God, who also maketh intercession for us.** 
(R. V.) 

If we then are to have fellowship with Jesus 
Christ in His present work, we must spend 
much time in prayer; we must give ourselves 
to earnest, constant, persistent, sleepless, over- 
coming prayer. I know of nothing that has so 
impressed me with a sense of the importance 
of praying at all seasons, being much and con- 
stantly in prayer, as the thought that that is 
the principal occupation at present of my risen 
Lord. I want to have fellowship with Him, 
and to that end I have asked the Father that 
whatever else He may make me, to make me 
at all events an intercessor, to make me a man 
who knows how to pray, and who spends much 
time in prayer. 

This ministry of intercession is a glorious 
and a mighty ministry, and we can all have part 
in it. The man or the woman who is shut 
away from the public meeting by sickness can 
have part in it; the busy mother; the woman 
who has to take in washing for a living can 


have part — she can mingle prayers for the 
saints, and for her pastor, and for the unsaved, 
and for foreign missionaries, with the soap and 
water as she bends over the washtub, and not 
do the washing any more poorly on that 
account; the hard driven man of business can 
have part in it, praying as he hurries from duty 
to duty. But of course we must, if we would 
maintain this spirit of constant prayer, take 
time — and take plenty of it — when we shall 
shut ourselves up in the secret place alone 
with God for nothing but prayer. 

6. The sixth reason for constant, persistent, 
sleepless, overcoming prayer is that prayer is 
the means that God has appointed for our receiv- 
ing mercy ^ and obtai7iing grace to help in time 
of need. 

Heb. 4:16 is one of the simplest and sweetest 
verses in the Bible, — *'Let us therefore come 
boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may 
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of 
need." These words make it very plain that 
God has appointed a way by which we shall 
seek and obtain mercy and grace. That way is 
prayer; bold, confident, outspoken approach 
to the throne of grace, the most holy place of 
God's presence, where our sympathizing High 


Priest, Jesus Christ, has entered in our behalf. 
(Verses 14, 15.) 

Mercy is what we need, grace is what we 
must have, or all our life and effort will end in 
complete failure. Prayer is the way to get 
them. There is infinite grace at our disposal, 
and we make it ours experimentally by prayer. 
Oh, if we only realized the fullness of God's 
grace that is ours for the asking, its height and 
depth and length and breadth, I am sure that 
we would spend more time in prayer. The 
measure of our appropriation of grace is deter- 
mined by the measure of our prayers. 

Who is there that does not feel that he needs 
more grace? Then ask for it. Be constant 
and persistent in your asking. Be importunate 
and untiring in your asking. God delights to 
have us * 'shameless" beggars in this direction; 
for it shows our faith in Him, and He is 
mightily pleased with faith. Because of our 
•*shamelessness" He will rise and give us as 
much as we need (Luke 11:8). What little 
streams of mercy and grace most of us know, 
when we might know rivers overflowing their 
banks ! 

7. The next reason for constant, persistent, 
sleepless, overcoming prayer is that prayer tn 


the name of Jesus Christ is the way Jesus Christ 
Himself has appointed for His disciples to obtain 
fullness of joy. 

He states this simply and beautifully in 
John 16:24, ** Hitherto have ye asked nothing 
in My name; ask, and ye shall receive, that 
your joy may be fulfilled." "Made full" is 
the way the Revised Version reads. Who is 
there that does not wish his joy filled full? 
Well, the way to have it filled full is by pray- 
ing in the name of Jesus. We all know people 
whose joy is filled full, indeed, it i's just rimning 
over, is shining from their eyes, bubbling out 
of their very lips, and running off their finger 
tips when they shake hands with you. Coming 
in contact with them is like coming in contact 
with an electrical machine charged with glad- 
ness. Now people of that sort are always 
people that spend much time in prayer. 
• Why is it that prayer in the name of Christ 
brings such fullness of joy? In part, because 
we get what we ask. But that is not the only 
reason, nor the greatest. It makes God real. 
When we ask something definite of God, and 
He gives it, how real God becomes! He is 
right there ! It is blessed to have a God who 
is real, and not merely an idea, I remember 


how once I was taken suddenly and seriously 
sick all alone in my study. I dropped upon 
my knees and cried to God for help. Instantly 
all pain left me — I was perfectly well. It 
seemed as if God stood right there, and had 
put out His hand and touched me. The joy of 
the healing was not so great as the joy of 
meeting God. 

There is no greater joy on earth or in 
heaven, than communion with God, and 
prayer in the name of Jesus brings us intc 
communion with Him. The Psalmist was 
surely not speaking only of future blessed- 
ness, but also of present blessedness when he 
said, *'In Thy presence is fullness of joy." 
(Ps. i6:ii.) O the unutterable joy of those 
moments when in our prayers we really press 
into the presence of God! 

Does some one say, *'I have never known 
any such joy as that in prayer"? 

Do you take enough leisure for prayer to 
actually get into God's presence? Do you 
really give yourself up to prayer in the time 
which you do take? 

8. The eighth reason for constant, persistent, 
sleepless, overcoming prayer is that prayer^ in 
every care and anxiety and need of life^ with 


thanksgivings is the means that God has ap- 
pointed for our obtaining freedom from all 
anxiety s and the peace of God which passeth all 

"Be careful for nothing-," says Paul, **but in 
everything by prayer and supplication with 
thanksgiving let your requests be made known 
unto God, and the peace of God which passeth 
all understanding, shall keep your hearts and 
minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:6, 7.) 
To many this seems, at the first glance, the 
picture of a life that is beautiful, but beyond 
the reach of ordinary mortals; not so at all. 
The verse tells us how the life is attainable 
by every child of God: "Be careful for noth- 
ing," or as the Revised Version reads, "In 
nothing be anxious." The remainder of the 
verse tells us how, and it is very simple : "But 
in everything by prayer and supplication with 
thanksgiving let your requests be made known 
unto God." What could be plainer or more 
simple than that? Just keep in constant touch 
with God, and when any trouble or vexation, 
great or small, comes up, speak to Him about 
it, never forgetting to return thanks for what 
He has already done. What will the result be? 
**The peace of God which passeth all under- 


standing shall guard your hearts and your 
thoughts in Christ Jesus." (R. V.) 

That is glorious, and as simple as it is 
glorious! Thank God, many are trying it. 
Don't you know any one who is always serene? 
Perhaps he is a very stormy man by his natural 
make-up, but troubles and conflicts and 
reverses and bereavements may sweep around 
him, and the peace of God which passeth all 
understanding guards his heart and his 
thoughts in Christ Jesus. 

We all know such persons. How do they 
manage it? 

Just by prayer, that is all. Those persons 
who know the deep peace of God, the 
unfathomable peace that passeth all under- 
standing, are always men and women of 
much prayer. 

Some of us let the hurry of our lives crowd 
prayer out, and what a waste of time and 
energy and nerve force there is by the constant 
worry! One night of prayer will save us from 
many nights of insomnia. Time spent in 
prayer is not wasted, but time invested at big 

9. The ninth reason for constant, persistent, 
sleepless, overcoming prayer is that prayer is 


the method that God Himself has appointed for 
our obtaining the Holy Spirit. 

Upon this point the Bible is very plain. 
Jesus says, "If ye then, being evil, know how 
to give good gifts unto your children, how 
much more shall your heavenly Father give the 
Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 
11:13.) Men are telling us in these days, very 
good men too, *'You must not pray for the 
Holy Spirit, ' ' but what are they going to do 
with the plain statement of Jesus Christ, "How 
much more will your heavenly Father give the 
Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?'* 

Some years ago when an address on the 
baptism with the Holy Spirit was announced, 
a brother came to me before the address and 
said with much feeling, 

**Be sure and tell them not to pray for the 
Holy Spirit." 

*'I will surely not tell them that, for Jesus 
says, 'How much more shall your heavenly 
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask 

**0 yes,'' he replied, "but that was before 

''How about Acts 4:31? was that before 
Pentecost, or after?" 


"After, of course." 

"Read it." 

" 'And when they had prayed^ the place was 
shaken where they were assembled together; 
and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost ^ 
and they spake the word of God with bold- 
ness.' '• 

**How about Acts 8:15? was that before 
Pentecost or after?" 


"Please read." 

" *Who, when they were come down, prayed 
for them, that they might receive the Holy 

He made no answer. What could he answer? 
It is plain as day in the Word of God that 
before Pentecost and after, the first baptism 
and the subsequent fillings with the Holy 
Spirit were received in answer to definite 
prayer. Experience also teaches this. 

Doubtless many have received the Holy 
Spirit the moment of their surrender to God 
before there was time to pray, but how many 
there are who know that their first definite 
baptism with the Holy Spirit came while they 
were on their knees or faces before God, alone 
or in company with others, and who again and 


again since that have been filled with the Holy 
Spirit in the place of prayer! 

I know this as definitely as I know that my 
thirst has been quenched while I was drinking 
water. Early one morning in the Chicago 
Avenue Church prayer room, where several 
hundred people had been assembled a number 
of hours in prayer, the Holy Spirit fell so 
manifestly, and the whole place was so filled 
with His presence, that no one could speak or 
pray, but sobs of joy filled the place. Men 
went out of that room to different parts of the 
country, taking trains that very morning, and 
reports soon came back of the out-pouring of 
God's Holy Spirit in answer to prayer. Others 
went out into the city with the blessing of 
God upon them. This is only one instance 
among many that might be cited from personal 

If we would only spend more time in prayer, 
there would be more fullness of the Spirit's 
power in our work. Many and many a man 
who once worked unmistakably in the power of 
the Holy Spirit is now filling the air with 
empty shoutings, and beating it with his mean- 
ingless gesticulations, because he has let prayer 
be crowded out. We must spend much time 


on our knees before God, if we are to continue 
in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

lo. The tenth reason for constant, persistent, 
sleepless, overcoming prayer is that prayer is 
the means that Christ has appointed whereby our 
hearts shall not become overcharged with surfeit- 
ing and drunkenness and cares of this life, and 
so the day of Christ's return come upon us sud- 
denly as a snare. 

One of the most interesting and solemn 
passages upon prayer in the Bible is along 
this line. (Luke 21:34-36.) "Take heed to 
yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be 
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness 
and cares of this life, and so that day come 
upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it 
come on all them that dwell on the face of the 
whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray 
always, that ye may be accounted worthy to 
escape all these things that shall come to pass, 
and to stand before the Son of man. " Accord- 
ing to this passage there is only one way in 
which we can be prepared for the coming of 
the Lord when He appears, that is, through 
much prayer. 

The coming again of Jesus Christ is a sub- 
ject that is awakening much interest and much 


discussion in our day; but it is one thing to be 
interested in the Lord's leturn, and to talk 
about it, and quite another thing to be pre- 
pared for it. We live in an atmosphere that 
has a constant tendency to unfit us for Christ's 
coming. The world tends to draw us down by 
its gratifications and by its cares. There is 
only one way by which we can rise triumphant 
above these things — by constant watching unto 
prayer, that is, by sleeplessness unto prayer. 
** Watch" in this passage is the same strong 
word used in Eph. 6:18, and "always" the 
same strong phrase ** in every season." The 
man who spends little time in prayer, who is 
not steadfast and constant in prayer, will not be 
ready for the Lord when He comes. But we 
may be ready. How? Pray! Pray! Pray! 

1 1 There is one more reason for constant, 
persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer, and 
it is a mighty one- because of what prayer 
accomplishes. Much has really been said upon 
that already, but there is much also that 
should be added. 

(i) Prayer promotes our spiritual growth as 
almost nothing else, indeed as nothing else but 
Bible study; and true prayer and true Bible 
study go hand in hand. 


It is through prayer that my sin is brought 
to light, my most hidden sin. As I kneel 
before God and pray, *' Search me, O God, 
and know my heart: try me, and know my 
thoughts: and see if there be any wicked 
way in me," (Ps. 139:23, 24), God shoots the 
penetrating rays of His light into the inner- 
most recesses of my heart, and the sins I never 
suspected are brought to view. In answer to 
prayer, God washes me from mine iniquity 
and cleanses me from my sin (Ps. 51:2). In 
answer to prayer my eyes are opened to be- 
hold wondrous things out of God's Word (Ps. 
119:18). In answer to prayer I get wisdom to 
know God's way (J as. 1:5) and strength to 
walk in it. As I meet God in prayer and gaze 
into His face, I am changed into His own 
image from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18). 
Each day of true prayer life finds me liker to 
my glorious Lord. 

John Welch, son-in-law to John Knox, was 
one of the most faithful men of prayer this 
world ever saw. He counted that day ill-spent 
in which seven or eight hours were not used 
alone with God in prayer and the study of His 
Word. An old man speaking of him after his 
death said, "He was a type of Christ." 


How came he to be so like his Master? 

His prayer life explains the mystery. 

(2) Prayer brings power into our work. 

If we wish power for any work to which God 
calls us, be it preaching, teaching, personal 
work, or the rearing of our children, we can 
get it by earnest prayer. 

A woman with a little boy who was perfectly 
incorrigible, once came to me in desperation 
and said: 

'*What shall I do with him?" 

I asked, "Have you ever tried prayer?" 

She said that she had prayed for him, she 
thought. I asked if she had made his con- 
version and his character a matter of definite, 
expectant prayer. She replied that she had 
not been definite in the matter. She began 
that day, and at once there was a marked 
change in the child, and he grew up into 
Christian manhood. 

How many a Sunday-school teacher has 
taught for months and years, and seen no real 
fruit from his labors, and then has learned the 
seciet of intercession, and by earnest pleading 
with God, has seen his scholars brought one 
by one to Christ! How many a poor preacher 
has become a mighty man of God by casting 


away his confidence in his own ability and 
gifts, and giving himself up to God to wait 
upon Him for the power that comes from on 
high! John Livingstone spent a night, with 
some others likeminded, in prayer to God and 
religious conversation, and when he preached 
next day in the Kirk of Shotts five hundred 
people were converted, or dated some definite 
uplift in their life to that occasion. Prayer 
and power are inseparable. 

(3) Prayer avails for the conversion of 

There are few converted in this world unless 
in connection with some one's prayers. I 
formerly thought that no human being had 
anything to do with my own conversion, for I 
was not converted in church or Sunday-school, 
or in personal conversation with any one. I 
was awakened in the middle of the night and 
converted. As far as I can remember I had 
not the slightest thought of being converted, or 
of anything of that character, when I went to 
bed and fell asleep ; but I was awakened in the 
middle of the night and converted probably 
inside of five minutes. A few minutes before 
I was about as near eternal perdition as one 
gets. I had one foot over the brink and was 


trying to get the other one over. I say I 
thought no human being had anything to do 
with it, but I had forgotten my mother's pray- 
ers, and I afterward learned that one of my 
college classmates had chosen me as one to 
pray for until I was saved. 

Prayer often avails where everything else 
fails. How utterly all of Monica's efforts and 
entreaties failed with her son, but her prayers 
prevailed with God, and the dissolute youth 
became St. Augustine, the mighty man of God. 
By prayer the bitterest enemies of the Gospel 
^lave become its most valiant defenders, the 
greatest scoundrels the truest sons of God, 
and the vilest women the purest saints. Oh, the 
power of prayer to reach down, down, down 
where hope itself seems vain, and lift men 
and women up, up, up into fellowship with 
and likeness to God. It is simply wonderful! 
How little we appreciate this marvelous 
weapon ! 

(4) Prayer brings blessings to the church. 

The history of the church has always been a 
history of grave difficulties to overcome. The 
devil hates the church and seeks in every way 
to block its progress; now by false doctrine, 
again by division, again by inward corruption 



of life. But by prayer, a clear way can be 
made through everything. Prayer will root 
out heresy, allay misunderstanding, sweep 
away jealousies and animosities, obliterate 
immoralities, and bring in the full tide of 
God's reviving grace. History abundantly 
proves this. In the hour of darkest portent, 
when the case of the church, local or universal, 
has seemed beyond hope, believing men and 
believmg women have met together and cried 
to God and the answer has come. 

It was so in the days of Knox, it was so in 
the days of Wesley and Whitfield, it was so in 
the days of Edwards and Brainerd, it was so 
in the days of Finney, it was so in the days of 
the great revival of 1 85 7 in this country and of 
1859 in Ireland, and it will be so again in 
your day and mine. Satan has marshalled his 
forces. Christian science with its false Christ 
— a woman — lifts high its head. Others mak- 
ing great pretentions of apostolic methods, but 
covering the rankest dishonesty and hypocrisy 
with these pretentions, speak with loud 
assurance. Christians equally loyal to the 
great fundamental truths of the Gospel are 
glowering at one another with a devil-sent 
suspicion. The world, the flesh and the devil 


are holding high carnival. It is now a dark 
day, but — now "it is time for Thee, Lord, to 
work; for they have made void Thy law. " (Ps. 
119:126.) And He is getting ready to work, 
and now He is listening for the voice of prayer. 
Will He hear it? Will He hear it from you? 
Will He hear it from the church as a bodyr I 
believe He will. 



We have seen something of the tremendous 
importance and the resistless power of prayer, 
and now we come diroctly to the question — how 
to pray with power. 

I. In the 1 2th chapter of the Acts of the 
Apostles we have the record of a prayer that 
prevailed with God, and brought to pass great 
results. In the 5th verse of this chapter, the 
manner and method of this prayer is described 
in few words: 

*' Prayer was made without ceasing of the 
church unto God for him. ' ' 

The first thing to notice in this verse is the 
brief expression **unto God. " The prayer that 
has power is the prayer that is offered unto 

But some will say, **Is not all prayer unto 

No. Very much of so-called prayer, both 

public and private, is not unto God. In order 

that a prayer should be really unto God, there 


must be a definite and conscious approach to 
God when we pray; we must have a definite 
and vivid realization that God is bending over 
us and listening as we pray. In very much of 
our prayer there is really but little thought of 
God. Our mind is taken up with the thought 
of what we need, and is not occupied with the 
thought of the mighty and loving Father of 
whom we are seeking it. Oftentimes it is the 
case that we are occupied neither with the 
need nor with the One to whom we are pray- 
ing, but our mind is wandering here and there 
throughout the world. There is no power in 
that sort of prayer. But when we really come 
into God's presence, really meet Him face to 
face in the place of prayer, really seek the 
things that we desire from Him^ then there is 

If, then, we would pray aright, the first thing 
that we should do is to see to it that we really 
get an audience with God, that we really get 
into His very presence. Before a word of 
petition is offered, we should have the definite 
and vivid consciousness that we are talking to 
God, and should believe that He is listening 
to our petition and is going to grant the thing 
that we ask of Him. This is only possible by 


the Holy Spirit's power, so we should look to 
the Holy Spirit to really lead us into the 
presence of God, and should not be hasty in 
words until He has actually brought us there. 

One night a very active Christian man 
dropped into a little prayer-meeting that I was 
leading. Before we knelt to pray, I said some- 
thing like the above, telling all the friends to 
be sure before they prayed, and while they 
were praying, that they really were in God's 
presence, that they had the thought of Him 
definitely in mind, and to be more taken up 
with Him than with their petition. A few 
days after I met this same gentleman, and he 
said that this simple thought was entirely new 
to him, that it had made prayer an entirely 
new experience to him. 

If then we would pray aright, these two little 
words must sink deep into our hearts, *^unto 

2. The second secret of effective praying is 
found in the same verse, in the words '* without 

In the Revised Version, "without ceasing" 
is rendered "earnestly." Neither rendering 
gives the full force of the Greek. The word 
means literally "stretched-out-ed-ly." It is a 


pictorial word, and wonderfully expressive. It 
represents the soul on a stretch of earnest and 
intense desire. "Intensely" would perhaps 
come as near translating- it as any English 
word. It is the word used of our Lord in Luke 
22:44 where it is said, **He prayed more 
earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great 
drops of blood falling down to the ground." 
We read in Heb. 5 17 that "in the days of His 
flesh" Christ 'offered up prayers and supplica- 
tions with strong crying and tears. " In Rom. 
15:30, Paul beseeches the saints in Rome to 
strive together with him in their prayers. The 
word translated "strive" means primarily to 
contend as in athletic games or in a fight. In 
other words, the prayer that prevails with God 
is the prayer into which we put our whole soul, 
stretching out toward God in intense and 
agonizing desire. Much of our modern prayer 
has no power in it because there is no heart in 
it. We rush into God's presence, run through 
a string of petitions, jump up and go out. If 
some one should ask us an hour afterward for 
what we prayed, oftentimes we could not tell. 
If we put so little heart into our prayers, we 
cannot expect God to put much heart into 
answering them. 



We hear much in our day of the rest of 
faith , but there is such a thing as the fight of 
faith in prayer as well as in effort. Those 
who would have us think that they have 
attained to some sublime height of faith and 
trust because they never know any agony of 
conflict or of prayer, have surely gotten 
beyond their Lord, and beyond the mightiest 
victors for God, both in eifort and prayer, that 
the ages of Christian history have known. 
When we learn to come to God with an 
intensity of desire that wrings the soul, then 
shall we know a power in prayer that most of 
us do not know now. 

But how shall we attain to this earnestness 
in prayer? 

Not by trying to work ourselves up into it. 
The true method is explained in Rom. 8:26, 
"And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth 
our infirmity: for we know not how to pray 
as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh 
intercession for us with groanings which can- 
not be uttered." (R. V.) The earnestness 
that we work up in the energy of the flesh is 
a repulsive thing. The earnestness wrought in 
us by the power of the Holy Spirit is pleasing 
to God. Here again, if we would pray aright, 


we must look to the Spirit of God to teach us 
to pray. 

It is in this connect-ion that fasting comes. 
In Dan. 9:3 we read that Daniel set his face 
'*unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and 
supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and 
ashes." There are those who think that fast- 
ing belongs to the old dispensation ; but when 
we look at Acts 14:23, and Acts 13:2, 3, we 
find that it was practised by the earnest men 
of the apostolic day. 

If we would pray with power, we should 
pray with fasting. This of course does not 
mean that we should fast every time we pray; 
but there are times of emergency or special 
crisis in work or in our individual lives, when 
men of downright earnestness will withdraw 
themselves even from the gratification of 
natural appetites that would be perfectly 
proper under other circumstances, that they 
may give themselves up wholly to prayer. 
There is a peculiar power in such prayer. 
Every great crisis in life and work should be 
met in that way. There is nothing pleasing to 
God in our giving up in a purely Pharisaic and 
legal way things which are pleasant, but there 
is power in that downright earnestness and 


determination to obtain in prayer the things 
of which we sorely feel our need, that leads us 
to put away everything, even things in them- 
selves most right and necessary, that we may 
set our faces to find God, and obtain blessings 
from Him. 

3. A third secret of right praying is also 
found in this same verse, Acts 12:5. It 
appears in the three words *'^/* the church.** 

There is power in united prayer. Of course 
there is power in the prayer of an individual, 
but there is vastly increased power in united 
prayer. God delights in the unity of His peo- 
ple, and seeks to emphasize it in every way, 
and so He pronounces a special blessing upon 
united prayer. We read in Matt. 18:19, **!£ 
two of you shall agree on earth as touching 
anything that they shall ask, it shall be done 
for them of My Father which is in heaven. ' ' 
This unity, however, must be real. The pas- 
sage just quoted does not say that if two shall 
agree in asking, but if two shall agree as touch- 
ing anything they shall ask. Two persons 
might agree to ask for the same thing, and 
yet there be no real agreement as touching the 
thing they asked. One might ask it because he 
really desired it, the other might ask it simply 



to please his friend. But where there is real 
agreement, where the Spirit of God brings two 
believers into perfect harmony as concerning 
that which they may ask of God, where the 
Spirit lays the same burden on two hearts; in 
all such prayer there is absolutely irresistible 



I. One of the most significant verses in the 
Bible on prayer is i John 3:22. John says, 
**And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, 
because we keep His commandments, and do 
those things that are pleasing in His sight." 

What an astounding statement! John says, 
in so many words, that everything he asked 
for he got. How many of us can say this: 
** Whatsoever I ask I receive"? But John 
explains why this was so, "Because we keep 
His commandments, and do those things that 
are pleasing in His sight." In other words, 
the one who expects God to do as he asks Him, 
must on his part do whatever . God bids him. 
If we give a listening ear to all God's com- 
mands to us. He will give a listening ear to all 
our petitions to Him. If, on the other hand, 
we turn a deaf ear to His precepts. He will be 
likely to turn a deaf ear to our prayers. Here 

we find the secret of much unanswered prayer, 


We are not listening to God's Word, and there- 
fore He is not listening to our petitions. 

I was once speaking to a woman who had 
been a professed Christian, but had given it all 
up. I asked her why she was not a Christian 
still. She replied, because she did not believe 
the Bible. I asked her why she did not believe 
the Bible. 

"Because I have tried its promises and found 
them untrue." 

** Which promises?" 

**The promises about prayer." 

** Which promises about prayer?" 

**Does it not say in the Bible, * Whatsoever 
ye ask believing ye shall receive' ?" 

*'It says something nearly like that." 

**Well, I asked fully expecting to get and did 
not receive, so the promise failed." 

"Was the promise made to you?" 

"Why, certainly, it is made to all Christians, 
is it not?" 

"No, God carefully defines who the ^ye's^ 
are, whose believing prayers He agrees to 

I then turned her to i John 3:22, and read 
the description of those whose prayers had 
power w^ith God. 


**Now," I said, *'were you keeping His 
commandments and doing those things which 
are pleasing in His sight?" 

She frankly confessed that she was not, and 
soon came to see that the real difficulty was 
not with God's promises, but with herself. 
That is the difficulty with many an unan- 
swered prayer to-day ; the one who offers it is 
not obedient. 

If we would have power in prayer, we must 
be earnest students of His Word to find out 
what His will regarding us is, and then having 
found it, do it. One unconfessed act of dis- 
obedience on our part will shut the ear of God 
against many petitions. 

2. But this verse goes beyond the mere keep- 
ing of God's commandments. John tells us 
that we must do those things that are pleasing 
in His sight. 

There are many things which it would be 
pleasing to God for us to do which He has not 
specifically commanded us. A true child is not 
content with merely doing those things which 
his father specifically commands him to do. 
He studies to know his father's will, and if he 
thinks that there is any thing that he can 
do that would please his father, he does it 


gladly, though his father has never given him 
any specific order to do it. So it is with the 
true child of God. He does not ask merely 
whether certain things are commanded or 
certain things forbidden. He studies to know 
his Father's will in all things. 

There are many Christians to-day who are 
doing things that are not pleasing to God, and 
leaving undone things which would be pleasing 
to God. When you speak to them about these 
things they will confront you at once with the 
question, "Is there any command in the Bible 
not to do this thing?" And if you cannot show 
them some yerse in which the matter in ques- 
tion is plainly forbidden, they think they are 
under no obligation whatever to give it up; 
but a true child of God does not demand a 
specific command. If we make it our study to 
find out and to do the things which are pleas- 
ing to God, He will make it His study to do 
the things which are pleasing to us. Here 
again we find the explanation of much un- 
answered prayer: We are not making it the 
study of our lives to know what^would please 
our Father, and so our prayers are not 

Take as an illustration of questions that are 


constantly coming up, the matter of theater- 
going, dancing and the use of tobacco. Many 
who are indulging in these things will ask you 
triumphantly if you speak against them, "Does 
the Bible say, 'Thou shalt not go to the 
theater'?" "Does the Bible say, 'Thou shalt 
not dance'?" "Does the Bible say, 'Thou 
shalt not smoke'?" That is not the question. 
The question is. Is our heavenly Father well 
pleased when He sees one of His children in 
the theater, at the dance, or smoking? That 
is a question for each to decide for himself, 
prayerfully, seeking light from the Holy 
Spirit. "Where is the harm in these things?" 
many ask. It is aside from our purpose to go 
into the general question, but beyond a doubt 
there is this great harm in many a case ; they 
rob our prayers of power. 

3. Psalm 145:18 throws a great deal of light 
on the question of how to pray: "The Lord 
is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all 
that call upon Him in truth.'* 

That little expression "in truth" is worthy 
of study. If you will take your concordance 
and go through the Bible, you will find that 
this expression means "in reality," "in sin- 
cerity. ' ' The prayer that God answers is the 



prayer that is real, the prayer that asks for 
something that is sincerely desired. 

Much prayer is insincere. People ask for 
things which they do not wish. Many a woman 
is praying for the conversion of her husband, 
who does not really wish her husband to be 
converted. She thinks that she does, but if 
she knew what would be involved in the con- 
version of her husband, how it would neces- 
sitate an entire revolution in his manner of 
doing business, and how consequently it would 
reduce their income and make necessary an 
entire change in their method of living, the real 
prayer of her heart would be, if she were to be 
sincere with God : 

*'0 God, do not convert my husband." 

She does not wish his conversion at so great 

Many a church is praying for a revival that 
does not really desire a revival. They think 
they do, for to their minds a reviv^al means an 
increase of membership, an increase of income, 
an increase of reputation among the churches; 
but if they knew what a real revival meant, 
what a searching of hearts on the part of pro- 
fessed Christians would be involved, what a 
ladical transformation of individual, domestic 


and social life would be brought about, and 
many other things that would come to pass if 
the Spirit of God was poured out in reality and 
power; if all this were known, the real cry of 
the church would be: 

*'0 God, keep us from having a revival." 

Many a minister is praying for the baptism 
with the Holy Spirit who does not really 
desire it. He thinks he does, for the baptisni 
with the Spirit means to him new joy, new 
power in preaching the Word, a wider reputa^ 
tion among men, a larger prominence in the 
church of Christ. But if he understood what 
a baptism with the Holy Spirit really involved, 
how for example it would necessarily bring 
him into antagonism with the world, and with 
unspiritual Christians, how it would cause his 
name to be '^cast out as evil," how it might 
necessitate his leaving a good comfortable 
living and going down to work in the slums, 
or even in some foreign land; if he understood 
all this, his prayer quite likely would be — if he 
were to express the real wish of his heart, — 

*'0 God, save me from being baptized with 
the Holy Ghost." 

But when we do come t-^ the place where we 
really desire the conversion of friends at any 


cost, really desire the outpouring of the Holy 
Spirit whatever it may involve, really desire 
the baptism with the Holy Ghost come what 
come may, where we desire anything "in 
truth" and then call upon God for it "in 
truth," God is going to hear. 



I. It was a wonderful word about prayer 
that Jesus spoke to His disciples on the night 
before His crucifixion, *' Whatsoever ye shall 
ask in My name^ that will I do, that the Father 
may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask 
anything in My name, I will do it. ' ' 

Prayer in the name of Christ has power with 
God. God is well pleased with His Son Jesus 
Christ. He hears Him always, and He also 
hears always the prayer that is really in His 
name. There is a fragrance in the name of 
Christ that makes acceptable to God every 
prayer that bears it. 

But what is it to pray in the name of Christ? 

Many explanations have been attempted that 

to ordinary minds do not explain. But there 

is nothing mystical or mysterious about this 

expression. If one will go through the Bible 

and examine all the passages in which the 

expression "in My name" or "in His name'" 


or synonymous expressions are used, he will 
find that it means just about what it does in 
modern usage. If I go to a bank and hand in 
a check with my name signed to it, I ask of 
that bank /;/ my own name. If I have money 
deposited in that bank, the check will be 
cashed; if not, it will not be. If, however, I 
go to a bank with somebody's else name 
signed to the check, I am asking in his name^ 
and it does not matter whether I have money 
in that bank or any other, if the person whose 
name is signed to the check has money there, 
the check will be cashed. 

If, for example, I should go to the First 
National Bank of Chicago, and present a check 
which I had signed for $50.00, the paying 
teller would say to me: 

*'Why, Mr. Torrey, we cannot cash that. 
You have no money in this bank." 

But if I should go to the First National Bank 
with a check for $5, 000. 00 made payable to me, 
and signed by one of the large depositors in 
that bank, they would not ask whether I had 
money in that bank or in any bank, but would 
honor the check at once. 

So it is when I go to the bank of heaven, 
when I go to God in prayer. I have nothing 


deposited there, I have absolutely no credit 
there, and if I go in my own name I will get 
absolutely nothing; but Jesus Christ has un- 
limited credit in heaven, and He has granted 
to me the privilege of going to the bank with 
His name on my checks, and when I thus go, 
my prayers will be honored to any extent. 

To pray then in the name of Christ is to 
pray on the ground, not of my credit, but 
His; to renounce the thought that I have any 
claims on God whatever, and approach Him 
on the ground of Christ's claims. Praying in 
the name of Christ is not merely adding the 
phrase **I ask these things in Jesus* name" 
to my prayer. I may put that phrase in my 
prayer and really be resting in my own merit 
all the time. On the other hand, I may omit 
that phrase but really be resting in the merit 
of Christ all the time. But when I really do 
approach God, not on the ground of my merit, 
but on the ground of Christ's merit, not on the 
ground of my goodness, but on the ground of 
the atoning blood (Heb. 10:19), God will hear 
me. Very much of our modern prayer is vain 
because men approach God imagining that 
they have some claim upon God whereby He is 
under obligations to answer their prayers. 


Years ago when Mr. Moody was young in 
Christian work, he visited a town in Illinois. 
A judge in the town was an infidel. This 
judge's wife besought Mr. Moody to call upon 
her husband, but Mr. Moody replied: 

•'I cannot talk with your husband. I am 
only an uneducated young Christian, and your 
husband is a book infidel." 

But the wife would not take no for an 
answer, so Mr. Moody made the call. The 
clerks in the outer»office tittered as the young 
salesman from Chicago went in to talk with 
the scholarly judge. 

The conversation was short. Mr. Moody said: 

"Judge, I can't talk with you. You are a 
book infidel, and I have no learning, but I 
simply want to say if you are ever converted, 
I want you to let»me know. ' ' 

The judge replied: "Yes, young man, if I 
am ever converted I will let you know. Yes, I 
will let you know. ' ' 

The conversation ended. The clerks tittered 
still louder when the zealous young Christian 
left the office, but the judge was converted 
within a year. Mr. Moody visiting the town 
again asked the judge to explain how it came 
about. The judge said: 


**One night, when my wife was at prayer- 
meeting, I began to grow very uneasy and 
miserable. I did not know what was the 
matter with me, but finally retired before my 
wife came home. I could not sleep all that 
night. I got up early, told my wife that I 
would eat no breakfast, and went down to the 
office. I told the clerks they could take a 
holiday, and shut myself up in the inner office, 
I kept growing more and more miserable, and 
finally I got down and asked God to forgive 
my sins, but I would not say 'for Jesus' sake,' 
for I was a Unitarian and I did not believe in 
the atonement. I kept praying 'God forgive 
my sins'; but no answer came. At last in 
desperation I cried, *0 God, for Christ's 
sake forgive my sins,' and found peace at 

The judge had no access to God until he 
came in the name of Christ, but when he thus 
came, he was heard and answered at once. 

2. Great light is thrown upon the subject 
•*How to Pray" by i John 5:14, 15: *'And 
this is the boldness which we have toward 
Him, that if we ask anything according to 
His Will, He heareth us: and if we know that 
He heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know 


that we have the petitions which we have asked 
of Him." (R. V.) 

This passage teaches us plainly that if we 
are to pray aright, we must pray according to 
God's will, then will we beyond a peradven- 
ture get the thing we ask of Him. 

But can we know the will of God? Can we 
know that any specific prayer is according to 
His will? 

We most surely can. 


(i) First by the Word. God has revealed 
His will in His Word. When anything is 
definitely promised in the Word of God, we 
know that it is His will to give that things If 
then when I pray, I can find some definite 
promise of God's Word and lay that promise 
before God, I know that He hears me, and if 
I know that He hears me, I know that I have 
the petition that I have asked of Him. For 
example, when I pray for wisdom I know that 
it is the will of God to give me wisdom, for 
He says so in James i .-5 : **If any of you lack 
wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all 
men liberally, and upbraideth not ; and it shall 
be given him." So when I ask for wisdom I 
know that the prayer is heard, and that 


wisdom will be given me. In like manner 
when I pray for the Holy Spirit I know from 
Luke 11:13 that it is God's will, that my 
prayer is heard, and that I have the petition 
that I have asked of Him: *'If ye then, being 
evil, know how to give good gifts unto your 
children, how much more shall your heavenly 
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask 

Some years ago a minister came to me at 
the close of an address on prayer at a Y. M. C. 
A. Bible school, and said, 

*'You have produced upon those young men 
the impression that they can ask for definite 
things and get the very things that they ask." 

I replied that I did not know whether that 
was the impression that I produced or not, 
but that was certainly the impression that I 
desired to produce. 

**But," he replied, ''that is not right. We 
cannot be sure, for we don't know God's will." 

I turned him at once to James 1:5, read it 
and said to him, **Is it not God's will to give 
us wisdom, and if you ask for wisdom do you 
not know that you are going to get it?" 

••Ah!" he said, 'Ve don't know what 
wisdom is.** 


I said, *'No, if we did, we would not need 
to ask; but whatever wisdom may be, don't 
you know that you will get it?" 

Certainly it is our privilege to know. When 
we have a specific promise in the Word of God, 
if we doubt that it is God's will, or if we 
doubt that God will do the thing that we ask, 
we make God a liar. 

Here is one of the greatest secrets of prev 
vailing prayer: To study the Word to find 
what God's will is as revealed there in the 
promises, and then simply take these promises 
and spread them out before God in prayer with 
the absolutely unwavering expectation that He 
will do what He has promised in His Word. 

(2) But there is still another way in which 
we may know the will of God, that is, by the 
teaching of His Holy Spirit. There are many 
things that we need from God which are not 
covered by any specific promise, but we are 
not left in ignorance of the will of God even 
then. In Rom. 8:26, 27 we are told, "And in 
like manner the Spirit also helpeth our 
infirmity: for we know not how to pray as 
we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh 
intercession for us with groanings which can- 
not be uttered; and He that searcheth the 


hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, 
because He maketh intercession for the saints 
according to the will of God.'' (R. V.) Here 
we are distinctly told that the Spirit of God 
prays in us, draws out our prayer, in the line 
of God's will. When we are thus led out by 
the Holy Spirit in any direction, to pray for any 
given object, we may do it in all confidence 
that it is God's will, and that we are to get the 
very thing we ask of Him, even though there 
is no specific promise to cover the case. Often 
God by His Spirit lays upon us a heavy burden 
of prayer for some given individual. We can- 
not rest, we pray for him with groanings 
which cannot be uttered. Perhaps the man is 
entirely beyond our reach, but God hears the 
prayer, and in many a case it is not long before 
we hear of his definite conversion. 

The passage i John 5:14, 15 is one of the 
most abused passages in the Bible: *'Thisis 
the confidence that we have in Him, that, if 
we ask anything according to His will, He 
heareth us; and if we know that He hear us, 
whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the 
petitions that we desired of Him." The Holy 
Spirit beyond a doubt put it into the Bible to 
encourage our faith. It begins with "This is 


the confidence that we have in Him," and 
closes with ''''We know that we have the 
petitions that we desired of Him" ; but one of 
the most frequent usages of this passage, which 
was so manifestly given to beget confidence, is 
to introduce an element of uncertainty into our 
prayers. Oftentimes when one waxes con- 
fident in prayer, some cautious brother will 
come and say: 

"Now, don't be too confident. If it is God's 
will He will do it. You should put in, *If it 
be Thy will.' " 

Doubtless there are many times when we do 
not know the will of God, and in all prayer 
submission to the excellent will of God should 
underlie it; but when we know God's will, 
there need be no "ifs"; and this passage was 
not put into the Bible in order that we might 
introduce "ifs" into all our prayers, but in 
order that we might throw our "ifs" to the 
wind, and have ''''confidence'' and '"''know that 
we have the petitions which we have asked of 



I. Over and over again in what has already 
been said, we have seen our dependence upon 
the Holy Spirit in prayer. This comes out 
very definitely in Eph. 6:i8, "Praying always 
with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit^** 
and in Jude 20, "Praying in the Holy Ghost.'* 
Indeed the whole secret of prayer is found in 
these three words, "in the Spirit/* It is the 
prayer that God the Holy Spirit inspires that 
God the Father answers. 

The disciples did not know how to pray as 

they ought, so they came to Jesus and said, 

"Lord teach us to pray." We know not how 

to pray as we ought, but we have another 

Teacher and Guide right at hand to help 

us (John 14:16, 17), "The Spirit helpeth our 

infirmity" (Rom. 8:26, R. V.). He teaches us 

how to pray. True prayer is prayer in the 

Spirit; that is, the prayer the Spirit inspires 

and directs. When we come into God*s 

presence we should recognize "our infirmity," 

our ignorance of what we should pray for or 

how we should pray for it, and in the con- 


sciousness of our utter inability to pray aright 
we should look up to the Holy Spirit, casting 
ourselves utterly upon Him to diredt our 
prayers, to lead out our desires and to guide 
our utterance of them. 

Nothing can be more foolish in prayer than 
to rush heedlessly into God's presence, and ask 
the first thing that comes into our mind, or 
that some thoughtless friend has asked us to 
pray for. When we first come into God's 
presence we should be silent before Him. We 
should look up to Him to send His Holy Spirit 
to teach us how to pray. We must wait for 
the Holy Spirit, and surrender ourselves to 
the Spirit, then we shall pray aright. 

Oftentimes when we come to God in prayer, 
we do not feel like praying. What shall one 
do in such a case? cease praying until he does 
feel like it? Not at all. When we feel least 
like praying is the time when we most need to 
pray. We should wait quietly before God and 
tell Him how cold and prayerless our hearts 
are, and look up to Him and trust Him and 
expect Him to send the Holy Spirit to warm 
our hearts and draw them out in prayer. It 
will not be long before the glow of the Spirit's 
presence will fill our hearts, and we will begin 


to pray with freedom, directness, earnestness 
and power. Many of the most blessed seasons 
of prayer I have ever known have begun with 
a feeling of utter deadness and prayerlessness; 
but in my helplessness and coldness I have 
cast myself upon God, and looked to Him to 
send His Holy Spirit to teach me to pray, and 
He has done it. 

When we pray in the Spirit, we will pray for 
the right things and in the right way. There 
will be joy and power in our prayer. 

2. If we are to pray v/ith power we must 
pray with faith. In Mark 11:24 Jesus says, 
*' Therefore I say unto you, What things so- 
ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye 
receive them, and ye shall have them." No 
matter how positive any promise of God's 
Word may be, we will not enjoy it in actual 
experience unless we confidently expect its 
fulfillment in answer to our prayer. *'If any 
of you lack wisdom," says James, **let him ask 
of God that giveth to all men liberally, and 
upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." 
Now that promise is as positive as a promise 
can be, but the next verse adds, "But let him 
ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that 
doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by 


the wind and tossed. For let not that man 
think that he shall receive anything of the 
Lord." (R. V.) There must then be confident 
unwavering expectation. But there is a faith 
that goes beyond expectation, that believes 
that the prayer is heard and the promise 
granted. This comes out in the Revised 
Version of Mark 11:24, **Therefore I say unto 
you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask 
for, believe that ye have received them, and 
ye shall have them." 

But how can one get this faith? 

Let us say with all emphasis, it cannot be 
pumped up. Many a one reads this promise 
about the prayer of faith, and then asks for 
things that he desires and tries to make him- 
self believe that God has heard the prayer. 
This ends only in disappointment, for it is not 
real faith and the thing is not granted. It is 
at this point that many people make a collapse 
of faith altogether by trying to work up faith 
by an effort of their will, and as the thing they 
made themselves believe they expected to get 
is not given, the very foundation of faith is 
oftentimes undermined. 

But how does real faith come? 

Rom. 10:17 answers the question: "So then 


faith Cometh by hearing, and hearing by the 
Word of God.'' If we are to have real faith, 
we must study the Word of God and find out 
what is promised, then simply believe the 
promises of God. Faith must have a warrant. 
Trying to believe something that you want to 
believe is not faith. Believing what God says 
in His Word is faith. If I am to have faith, 
when I pray, I must find some promise in the 
Word of God on which to rest my faith. Faith 
furthermore comes through the Spirit. The 
Spirit knows the will of God, and if I pray in 
the Spirit, and look to the Spirit to teach me 
God's will, He will lead me out in prayer 
along the line of that will, and give me faith 
that the prayer is to be answered ; but in no 
case does real faith come by simply determin- 
ing that you are going to get the thing that 
you want to get. If there is no promise in 
the Word of God, and no clear leading of the 
Spirit, there can be no real faith, and there 
should be no upbraiding of self for lack of 
faith in such a case. But if the thing desired 
is promised in the Word of God, we may well 
upbraid ourselves for lack of faith if we doubt ; 
for we are making God a liar by doubting 
His Word. 



In two parables in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus 
teaches with great emphasis the lesson that 
men ought always to pray and not to faint. 
The first parable is found in Luke 11:5-8, and 
the other in Luke 18:1-8. 

*'And He said unto them, Which of you 
shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at 
midnight, and say unto him: * Friend, lend me 
three loaves ; for a friend of mine in his journey- 
is come to me, and I have nothing to set before 
him? And he from within shall answer and 
say: 'Trouble me not: the door is now shut, 
and my children are with me in bed. I cannot 
rise and give thee. ' I say unto you. Though 
he will not rise and give him because he is his 
friend, yet because of his importunity he will 
rise and give him as many as he needeth. " 
(Luke II :5-8.) 

**And He spake a parable unto them to this 
end, that men always ought to pray and not to 
faint, saying: There was in a city a judge 


which feared not God, neither regarded man; 
and there was a widow in that city; and she 
came to him, saying: 

" 'Avenge me of mine adversary/ 

**And he would not for a while; but after- 
ward he said within himself: 'Though I fear 
not God, nor regard man, yet because this 
widow troubleth me I will avenge her, lest by 
her continual coming she weary me.' 

"And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust 
judge saith. And shall not God avenge His 
own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, 
though He bear long with them? I tell you 
that He will avenge them speedily. Never- 
theless when the Son of man cometh, shall He 
find faith on the earth?" (Luke i8:i-8.) 

In the former of these two parables Jesus 
sets forth the necessity of importunity in 
prayer in a startling way. The word rendered 
•'importunity" means literally "shameless- 
ness," as if Jesus would have us understand 
that God would have us draw nigh to Him 
with a determination to obtain the things we 
seek that will not be put to shame by any 
seeming refusal or delay on God's part. God 
delights in the holy boldness that will not take 
"no" for an answer. It is an expression of 


great faith, and nothing pleases God more 
than faith. 

Jesus seemed to put the Syro- Phoenician 
woman away almost with rudeness, but she 
would not be put away, and Jesus looked upon 
her shameless importunity with pleasure, and 
said, "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto 
thee even as thou wilt." (Matt. 15:28.) God 
does not always let us get things at our first 
effort. He would train us and make us strong 
men by compelling us to work hard for the 
best things. So also He does not always give 
us what we ask in answer to the first prayer; 
He would train us and make us strong men of 
prayer by compelling us to pray hard for the 
best things. He makes us pray through. 

I am glad that this is so. There is no more 
blessed training in prayer than that that comes 
through being compelled to ask again and 
again and again even through a long period of 
years before one obtains that which he seeks 
from God. Many people call it submission to 
the will of God when God does not grant them 
their requests at the first or second asking, and 
they say: 

**Well, perhaps it is not God's will." 

As a rule this is not submission, but spiritual 


laziness. We do not call it submission to the 
will of God when we give up after one or two 
efforts to obtain things by action; we call it 
lack of strength of character. When the strong 
man of action starts out to accomplish a thing, 
if he does not accomplish it the first, or second 
or one hundredth time, he keeps hammering 
away until he does accomplish it; and the 
strong man of prayer when he starts to pray 
for a thing keeps on praying until he prays it 
through, and obtains what he seeks. We 
should be careful about what we ask from God, 
but when we do begin to pray for a thing we 
should never give up praying for it until we 
get it, or until God makes it very clear and 
very definite to us that it is not His will to 
give it. 

Some would have us believe that it shows 
unbelief to pray twice for the same thing, that 
we ought to *' take it" the first time that we ask. 
Doubtless there are times when we are able 
through faith in the Word or the leading of the 
Holy Spirit to clahn the first time that which 
we have asked of God; but beyond question 
there are other times when we must pray again 
and again and again for the same thing before 
we get our answer. Those who have gotten 


beyond praying twice for the same thing have 
gotten beyond their Master, (Matt. 26:44). 
George Muller prayed for two men daily for 
upwards of sixty years. One of these men was 
converted shortly before his death, I think at 
the last service that George Muller held, the 
other was converted within a year after his 
death. One of the great needs of the present 
day is men and women who will not only start 
out to pray for things, but pray on and on and 
on until they obtain that which they seek from 
the Lord, 



"If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in 
you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be 
done unto you." (John 15 1'j.) The whole secret 
of prayer is found in these words of our Lord. 
Here is prayer that has unbounded power: 
**Ask w/iat ye will, and it shall be done unto 

There is a way then of asking and getting 
precisely what we ask and getting all we ask. 
Christ gives two conditions of this all-prevail- 
ing prayer: 

I. The first condition is, *'If ye abide in Me. "' 

What is it to abide in Christ? 

Some explanations that have been given of 
this are so mystical or so profound that to 
many simple-minded children of God they 
mean practically nothing at all; but what Jesus 
meant was really very simple. 

He had been comparing Himself to a vine, 

His disciples to the branches in the vine. 

Some branches continued in the vine, that is, 


remained in living union with the vine, so 
that the sap or life of the vine constantly flowed 
into these branches. They had no independ- 
ent life of their own. Everything in them 
was simply the outcome of the life of the vine 
flowing into them. Their buds, their leaves, 
their blossoms, their fruit, were really not 
theirs, but the buds, leaves, blossoms and 
fruit of the vine. Other branches were com- 
pletely severed from the vine, or else the flow 
of the sap or life of the vine into them was in 
some way hindered. Now for us to abide in 
Christ is for us to bear the same relation to 
Him that the first sort of branches bear to the 
vine; that is to say, to abide in Christ is to 
renounce any independent life of our own, to 
give up trying to think our thoughts, or form 
our resolutions, or cultivate our feelings, and 
simply and constantly look to Christ to think 
His thoughts in us, to form His purposes in 
us, to feel His emotions and affections in us. 
It is to renounce all life independent of Christ, 
and constantly to look to Him for the inflow 
of His life into us, and the outworking of His 
life through us. When we do this, and in so 
far as we do this, our prayers will obtain that 
which we seek from God. 


This must necessarily be so, for our desires 
will not be our own desires, but Christ's, and 
our prayers will not in reality be our own 
prayers, but Christ praying in us. Such 
prayers will always be in harmony with God's 
will, and the Father heareth Him always. 
When our prayers fail it is because they are 
indeed our prayers. We have conceived the 
desire and framed the petition of ourselves, 
instead of looking to Christ to pray through us. 

To say that one should be abiding in Christ 
in all his prayers, looking to Christ to pray 
through Him rather than praying himself, is 
simply saying in another way that one should 
pray *'in the Spirit." When we thus abide in 
Christ, our thoughts are not our own thoughts, 
but His, our joys are not our own joys, but 
His, our fruit is not our own fruit, but His ; just 
as the buds, leaves, blossoms and fruit of the 
branch that abides in the vine are not the 
buds, leaves, blossoms and fruit of the branch, 
but of the vine itself whose life is flowing into 
the branch and manifests itself in these buds, 
leaves, blossoms and fruit. 

To abide in Christ, one must of course 
already be in Christ through the acceptance of 
Christ as an atoning Savior from the guilt of 


sin, a risen Savior from the power of sin, and 
a Lord and Master over all his life. Being in 
Christ, all that we have to do to abide (or con- 
tinue) in Christ is simply to renounce our self- 
life — utterly renouncing every thought, every 
purpose, every desire, every affection of our 
own, and just looking day by day and hour by 
hour for Jesus Christ to form His thoughts, 
His purposes, His affections, His desires in us. 
Abiding in Christ is really a very simple 
matter, though it is a wonderful life of 
privilege and of power. 

2. But there is another condition stated in 
this verse, though it is really involved in the 
first: **And My words abide in you." 

If we are to obtain from God all that we ask 
from Him, Christ's words must abide or con- 
tinue in us. We must study His words, fairly 
devour His words, let them sink into our 
thought and into our heart, keep them in our 
memory, obey them constantly in our life, let 
them shape and mold our daily life and our 
every act. 

This is really the method of abiding in 
Christ. It is through His words that Jesus 
imparts Himself to us. The words He speaks 
unto us, they are spirit and they are life (John 


6:63.) It IS vain to expect power in prayer 
unless we meditate much upon the words of 
Christ, and let them sink deep and find a 
permanent abode in our hearts. There are 
many who wonder why they are so powerless 
in prayer, but the very simple explanation of 
it all is found in their neglect of the words of 
Christ. They have not hidden His words in 
their hearts; His words do not abide in 
them. It is not by seasons of mystical medita- 
tion and rapturous experiences that we learn 
to abide in Christ ; it is by feeding upon His 
word, His written word as found in the Bible, 
and looking to the Holy Spirit to implant 
these words in our hearts and to make them a 
living thing in our hearts. If we thus let the 
words of Christ abide in us, they will stir us 
up to prayer. They will be the mold in which 
our praj^ers are shaped, and our prayers will 
be necessarily along the line of God's will, and 
will prevail with Him. Prevailing prayer is 
almost an impossibility where there is neglect 
of the study of the Word of God. 

Mere intellectual study of the Word of God is 
not enough ; there must be meditation upon it. 
The Word of God must be revolved over and 
over and over in the mmd, with a constant 


looking to God by His Spirit to make that 
Word a living thing in the heart. The prayer 
that is born of meditation upon the Word of 
God is the prayer that soars upward most easily 
to God's listening ear. 

George Miiller, one of the mightiest men of 
prayer of the present generation, when the 
hour for prayer came would begin by reading 
and meditating upon God's Word until out of 
the study of the Word a prayer began to form 
itself in his heart. Thus God Himself was the 
real author of the prayer, and God answered 
the prayers which He Himself had inspired. 

The Word of God is the instrument through 
which the Holy Spirit works, it is the sword of 
the Spirit in more senses than one; and the 
one who would know the work of the Holy 
Spirit in any direction must feed upon the 
Word. The one who would pray in the Spirit 
must meditate much upon the Word, that the 
Holy Spirit may have something through which 
He can work. The Holy Spirit works His 
prayers in us through the Word, and neglect 
of the Word makes praying in the Holy Spirit 
an impossibility. If we would feed the fire of 
our prayers with the fuel of God's Word, all 
our difficulties in prayer would disappear. 



There are two words often overlooked in the 
lesson about prayer which Paul gives us in 
Phil. 4:6, 7, **In nothing be anxious; but in 
everything by prayer and supplication with 
thanksgiving let your requests be made known 
unto God. And the peace of God, which 
passeth all understanding, shall guard your 
hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus." (R. 
V.) The two important words often over- 
looked are, '"'with thanksgiving.'* 

In approaching God to ask for new blessings, 
we should never forget to return thanks for 
blessings already granted. If any one of us 
would stop and think how many of the pray- 
ers which we have offered to God have been 
answered, and how seldom we have gone back 
to God to return thanks for the answers thus 
given, I am sure we would be overwhelmed 
with confusion. We should be just as definite 
in returning thanks as we are in prayer. We 
come to God with most specific petitions, but 


when we return thanks to Him, our thanks- 
giving is indefinite and general. 

Doubtless one reason why so many of our 
prayers lack power is because we have neglected 
to return thanks for blessings already received. 
If any one were to constantly come to us ask- 
ing help from us, and should never say 
"Thank you" for the help thus given, we would 
soon tire of helping one so ungrateful. Indeed, 
regard for the one we were helping would hold 
us back from encouraging such rank ingrati- 
tude. Doubtless our heavenly Father out of a 
wise regard for our highest welfare oftentimes 
refuses to answer petitions that we send up to 
Him in order that we may be brought to a sense 
of our ingratitude and taught to be thankful. 

God is deeply grieved by the thanklessness 
and ingratitude of which so many of us are 
guilty. When Jesus healed the ten lepers and 
only one came back to give Him thanks, in 
wonderment and pain He exclaimed, 

"Were not the ten cleansed? but where are 
the nine?" (Luke 17:17, R. V.) 

How often must He look down upon us in 
sadness at our forgetfulness of His repeated 
blessings, and His frequent answer to our 


^Returning thanks for blessings already 
received increases our faith and enables us to 
approach God with new boldness and new 
assurance. Doubtless the reason so many have 
so little faith when they pray, is because they 
take so little time to meditate upon and thank 
God for blessings already received. As one 
meditates upon the answers to prayers already 
granted, faith waxes bolder and bolder, and we 
come to feel in the very depths of our souls that 
there is nothing too hard for the Lord. As we 
reflect upon the wondrous goodness of God 
toward us on the one hand, and upon the other 
hand upon the little thought and strength and 
time that we ever put into thanksgiving, we 
may well humble ourselves before God and 
confess our sin. 

The mighty men of prayer in the Bible, and 
the mighty men of prayer throughout the ages 
of the church's history have been men who 
were much given to thanksgiving and praise. 
David was a mighty man of prayer, and how 
his Psalms abound with thanksgiving and 
praise. The apostles were mighty men of 
prayer; of them we read that "they were con- 
tinually in the temple, praising and blessing 
God. ' ' Paul was a mighty man of prayer, and 


how often in his epistles he bursts out in 
definite thanksgiving to God for definite bless- 
ings and definite answers to prayers. Jesus is 
our model in prayer as in everything else. We 
find in the study of His life that His manner 
of returning thanks at the simplest meal was 
so noticeable that two of His disciples recog- 
nized Him by this after His resurrection. 

Thanksgiving is one of the inevitable results 
of being filled with the Holy Spirit and one 
who does not learn "in everything to give 
thanks" cannot continue to pray in the Spirit. 
If we would learn to ptay with power w^e would 
do well to let these two words sink deep into 



We have gone very carefully into the posi- 
tive conditions of prevailing prayer; but there 
are some things which hinder prayer. These 
God has made very plain in His Word. 

I. The first hindrance to prayer we will find 
in James 4:3, "Ye ask and receive not because 
ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleas^ 
ures." (R. V.) 

A selfish purpose in prayer robs prayer of 
power. Very many prayers are selfish. These 
may be prayers for things for which it is per- 
fectly proper to ask, for things which it is the 
will of God to give, but the motive of the 
prayer is entirely wrong, and so the prayer 
falls powerless to the ground. The true pur- 
pose in prayer is that God may be glorified in 
thfi antiwar If we ask any petition merely 
that we may receive something to use in our 
pleasures or in our own gratification in one 
way or another, we "ask amiss" and need not 
expect to receive what we ask. This explains 

why many prayers remain unanswered. 


For example, many a woman is praying for 
the conversion of her husband. That cer- 
tainly is a most proper thing to ask ; but many 
a woman's motive in asking for the conversion 
of her husband is entirely improper, it is 
selfish. She desires that her husband may be 
converted because it would be so much more 
pleasant for her to have a husband who sym- 
pathized with her; or it is so painful to think 
that her husband might die and be lost forever. 
For some such selfish reason as this she desires 
to have her husband converted. The prayer 
is purely selfish. Why should a woman desire 
the conversion of her husband? First of all 
and above all, that God may be glorified; 
because she cannot bear the thought that God 
the Father should be dishonored b)^ her hus- 
band trampling under foot the Son of God. 

Many pray for a revival. That certainly is 
a prayer that is pleasing to God, it is along the 
line of His will ; but many prayers for revivals 
are purely selfish. The churches desire revivals 
in order that the membership may be increased, 
in order that the church may have a position 
of more power and influence in the community, 
in order that the church treasury may be filled, 
in order that a good report may be made at 


the presbytery or conference or association. 
For such low purposes as these, churches and 
ministers oftentimes are praying for a revival, 
and oftentimes too God does not answer the 
prayer. Why should we pray for a revival? 
For the glory of God, because we cannot 
endure it that God should continue to be dis- 
honored by the worldliness of the church, by 
the sins of unbelievers, by the proud unbelief 
of the day; because God's Word is being made 
void; in order that God may be glorified by 
the outpouring of His Spirit on the Church of 
Christ. For these reasons first of all and above 
all, we should pray for a revival. 

Many a prayer for the Holy Spirit is a purely 
selfish prayer. It certainly is God's will to 
give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him — 
He has told us so plainly in His Word (Luke 
11:13), but many a prayer for the Holy Spirit 
is hindered by the selfishness of the motive 
that lies back of the prayer. Men and women 
pray for the Holy Spirit in order that they 
may be happy, or in order that they may be 
saved from the wretchedness of defeat in their 
lives, or in order that they may have power as 
Christian workers, or for some other purely 
selfish motive. Why should we pray for the 


Spirit? In order that God may no longer be 
dishonored by the low level of our Christian 
lives and by our ineffectiveness in service, in 
order that God may be glorified in the new 
beauty that comes into our lives and the new 
power that comes into our service. 

2. The second hindrance to prayer we find 
in Is. 59:1, 2: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not 
shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear 
heavy, that it cannot hear. But j'our viiqtiities 
have separated between you and your God, and 
your sins have hid His face from you^ iJiat He 
will 7tot hear.** 

Sin hinders prayer. Many a man prays and 
prays and prays, and gets absolutely no 
answer to his prayer. Perhaps he is tempted 
to think that it is not the will of God to 
answer, or he may think that the days when 
God answered prayer, if He ever did, are over. 
So the Israelites seem to have thought. They 
thought that the Lord's hand was shortened, 
that it could not save, and that His ear had 
become heavy that it could no longer hear. 

"Not so," said Isaiah, "God's ear is just as 
open to hear as ever. His hand just as mighty 
to save ; but there is a hindrance. That hin- 
drance is your own sins. Your iniquities have 


separated between you and your God, and 
your sins have hid His face from you that He 
will not hear." 

It is so to-day. Many and many a man is 
crying to God in vain, simply because of sin 
in his life. It may be some sin in the past that 
has been unconfessed and unjudged, it may be 
some sin in the present that is cherished, very 
likely is not even looked upon as sin, but there 
the sin is, hidden away somewhere in the heart 
or in the life, and God "will not hear." 

Any one who finds his prayers ineffective 
should not conclude that the thing which he 
asks of God is not according to His will, but 
should go alone with God with the Psalmist's 
prayer, "Search me, O God, and know my 
heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and 
see if there be any wicked way in me" (Ps. 
139:23, 24), and wait before Him until He puts 
His finger upon the thing that is displeasing 
in His sight. Then this sin should be con- 
fessed and put away. 

I well remember a time in my life when I 
was praying for two definite things that it 
seemed that I must have, or God would be 
dishonored ; but the answer did not come. I 
awoke in the middle of the night in great 


physical suffering- and great distress of soul. 
I cried to God for these things, reasoned with 
Him as to how necessary it was that I get 
them, and get them at once; but no answer 
came. I asked God to show me if there was 
anything wrong in my own life. Something 
came to my mind that had often come to it 
before, something definite but which I was 
unwilling to confess as sin. I said to God, "If 
this is wrong I will give it up"; but still no 
answer came. In my innermost heart, though 
I had never admitted it, I knew it was wrong. 

At last I said: 

**This is wrong. I have sinned. I will give 
it up." 

I found peace. In a few moments I was 
sleeping like a child. In the morning I woke 
well in body, and the money that was so much 
needed for the honor of God's name came. 

Sin is an awful thing, and one of the most 
awful things about it is the way it hinders 
prayer, the way it severs the connection 
between us and the source of all grace and 
power and blessing. Any one who would have 
power in prayer must be merciless in dealing 
with his own sins. *'If I regard iniquity in my 
heart, the Lord will not hear me." (Ps. 66:18.) 


So long as we hold on to sin or have any con- 
troversy with God, we cannot expect Him to 
heed our prayers. If there is anything that is 
constantly coming up in your moments of close 
communion with God, that is the thing that 
hinders prayer: put it away. 

3. The third hindrance to prayer is found in 
Ez. 14:3, "Son of man, these men have taken 
their idols into their heart, and put the stum- 
bling block of their iniquity before their face: 
should I be inquired of at all by them?" (R. 
V.) Idols in the heart cause God to refuse to 
listen to our prayers. 

What is an idol? An idol is anything that 
takes the place of God, anything that is the 
supreme object of our affection. God alone 
has the right to the supreme place in our 
hearts. Everything and everyone else must 
be subordinate to Him. 

Many a man makes an idol of his wife. Not 
that a man can love his wife any too much, 
but he can put her in the wrong place, he can 
put her before God; and when a man regards 
his wife's pleasure before God's pleasure, when 
he gives her the first place and God the second 
place, his wife is an idol, and God cannot hear 
his prayers. 


Many a woman makes an idol of her children. 
Not that we can love our children too much. 
The more dearly we love Christ, the more dearly 
we love our children; but we can put our chil- 
dren in the wrong place, we can put them before 
God, and their interests before God's interests. 
When we do this our children are our idols. 

Many a man makes an idol of his reputation 
or his business. Reputation or business is put 
before God. God cannot hear the prayers of 
such a man. 

One great question for us to decide, if we 
would have power in prayer is. Is God 
absolutely first? Is He before wife, before 
children, before reputation, before business, 
before our own lives? If not, prevailing 
prayer is impossible. 

God often calls our attention to the fact that 
we have an idol, by not answering our prayers, 
and thus leading us to inquire as to why our 
prayers are not answered, and so we discover the 
idol, put it away, and God hears our prayers. 

4. The fourth hindrance to prayer is found 
in Prov. 21:13, " W/ioso stoppeth his ears at the 
cry of the poor^ he also shall cry himself, but 
shall not be heard. " 

There is perhaps no greater hindrance to 


prayer than stinginess, the lack of liberality 
toward the poor and toward God's work. It is 
the one who gives generously to others who 
receives generously from God. "Give, and it 
shall be given unto you ; good measure, pressed 
down, shaken together, running over, shall 
they give into your bosom. For with what 
measure ye mete it shall be measured to you 
again." (Luke 6:38, R. V.) The generous 
man is the mighty man of prayer. The stingy 
man is the powerless man of prayer. 

One of the most wonderful statements about 
prevailing prayer (already referred to) i John 
3:22, "Whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, 
because we keep His commandments, and do 
those things that are pleasing in His sight," is 
made in direct connection with generosity 
toward the needy. In the context we are told 
that it is when we love, not in word or in 
tongue, but in deed and in truth, when we 
open our hearts toward the brother in need, 
it is then and only then we have confidence 
toward God in prayer. 

Many a man and woman who is seeking to 
find the secret of their powerlessness in prayer 
need not seek far ; it is nothing more nor less 
than downright stinginess. George Miiller, to 


whom reference has already been made, was a 
mighty man of prayer because he was a mighty 
giver. What he received from God never stuck 
to his fingers ; he immediately passed it on to 
others. He was constantly receiving because 
he was constantly giving. When one thinks of 
the selfishness of the professing church to-day, 
how the orthodox churches of this land do not 
average $1.00 per year per member for foreign 
missions, it is no wonder that the church has 
so little power in prayer. If we would get 
from God, we must give to others. Perhaps 
the most wonderful promise in the Bible in 
regard to God's supplying our need is Phil. 
4:19, "And my God shall fulfill every need of 
yours according to His riches in glory in Christ 
Jesus." (R. V.) This glorious promise was 
made to the Philippian church, and made in 
immediate connection with their generosity. 

5. The fifth hindrance to prayer is found in 
Mark 11:25, "And when ye stand praying, 
forgive^ if ye have ought against any; that 
your Father also which is in heaven may for- 
give you your trespasses." 

An unforgiving spirit is one of the com- 
monest hindrances to prayer. Prayer is 
answered on the basis that our sins are for- 


given; but God cannot deal with ns on the 
basis of forgiveness while we are harboring 
ill-will against those who have wronged us. 
Any one who is nursing a grudge against 
another has fast closed the ear of God against 
his own petition. How many there are crying 
to God for the conversion of husband, children, 
friends, and wondering why it is that their 
prayer is not answered, when the whole secret 
is some grudge that they have in their hearts 
against some one who has injured them, or who 
they fancy has injured them. Many and many 
a mother and father are allowing their children 
to go down to eternity unsaved, for the miser- 
able gratification of hating somebody. 

6. The sixth hindrance to prayer is found in 
I Peter 3:7, **Ye husbands, in like manner, 
dwell with your wives according to knowledge, 
giving honor unto the woman, as unto the 
weaker vessel as being also joint-heirs of the 
grace of life ; to the end that your prayers be 
not hindered," (R. V.) Here v/e are plainly 
told that a wrong relation between husbayid and 
wife is a hindrance to prayer. 

In many and many a case the prayers of hus- 
bands are hindered because of their failure of 
duty tov/ard their wives. On the other hand, it 


is also doubtless true that the prayers of wives 
are hindered because of their failure in duty 
toward their husbands. If husbands and wives 
should seek diligently to find the cause of 
their unanswered prayers, they would often 
find it in their relations to one another. 

Many a man who makes great pretentions 
to piety, and is very active in Christian work, 
shows but little consideration in his treatment 
of his wife, and is oftentimes unkind, if not 
brutal; then he wonders why it is that his 
prayers are not answered. The verse that we 
have just quoted explains the seeming mystery. 
On the other hand, many a woman who is very 
devoted to the church, and very faithful in 
attendance upon all services, treats her hus- 
band with the most unpardonable neglect, is 
cross and peevish toward him, wounds him by 
the sharpness of her speech, and by her 
ungovernable temper; then wonders why it is 
that she has no power in prayer. 

There are other things in the relations of 
husbands and wives which cannot be spoken 
of publicly, but which doubtless are oftentimes 
a hindrance in approaching God in prayer. 
There is much of sin covered up under the 
holy name of marriage that is a cause of 


Spiritual deadness, and of powerlessness in 
prayer. Any man or woman whose prayers 
seem to bring no answer should spread their 
whole married life out before God, and ask 
Him to put His finger upon anything in it that 
is displeasing in His sight. 

7. The seventh hindrance to prayer is found 
in James 1:5-7, **But if any of you lacketh 
wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all 
liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be 
given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing 
doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge 
of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For 
let not that man think that he shall receive 
anything of the Lord." (R. V.) 

Prayers are hindered by unbelief. God 
demands that we shall believe His Word 
absolutely. To question it is to make Him a 
liar. Many of us do that when we plead His 
promises, and is it any wonder that our prayers 
are not answered? How many prayers are 
hindered by our wretched unbelief! We go 
to God and ask Him for something that is 
positively promised in His Word, and then we 
do not more than half expect to get it. "Let 
not that man think that he shall receive any- 
thing of the Lord." 



If we would know the fullness of blessing 
that there is in the prayer life, it is important 
not only that we pray in the right way, but 
also that we pray at the right time. Christ's 
own example is full of suggestiveness as to the 
right time for prayer. 

I. In the ist chapter of Mark, the 35th verse, 
we read, **And in the mornings rising up a 
^reat while before day. He went out, and de- 
parted into a solitary place, and there prayed." 

Jesus chose the early morning hour for prayer. 
Many of the mightiest men of God have fol- 
lowed the Lord's example in this. In the 
morning hour the mind is fresh and at its 
very best. It is free from distraction, and 
that absolute concentration upon God which is 
essential to the most effective prayer is most 
easily possible in the early morning hours. 
Furthermore, when the early hours are spent 
in prayer, the whole day is sanctified, and 
power is obtained for overcoming its tempta- 



tions, and for performing its duties. More can 
be accomplished in prayer in the first hours of 
the day than at any other time during the day. 
Every child of God who would make the most 
out of his life for Christ, should set apart the 
first part of the day to meeting God in the 
study of His Word and in prayer. The first 
thing we do each day should be to go alone 
with God and face the duties, the temptations, 
and the service of that day, and get strength 
from God for all. We should get victory 
before the hour of trial, temptation or service 
comes. The secret place of prayer is the 
place to fight our battles and gain our 

2. In the 6th chapter of Luke in the 12th 
verse, we get further light upon the right time 
to pray. We read, "And it came to pass in 
those days, that He went out into a mountain 
to pray, and continued all night in prayer to 

Here we see Jesus praying in the night, 
spending the entire night in prayer. Of 
course we have no reason to suppose that 
this was the constant practice of our Lord, nor 
do we even know how common this practice 
was, but there were certainly times when the 



whole night was given up to prayer. Here 
too we do well to follow in the footsteps of the 

Of course there is a way of setting apart 
nights for prayer in which there is no profit; 
it is pure legalism. But the abuse of this 
practice is no reason for neglecting it alto- 
gether. One ought not to say, "I am going to 
spend a whole night in prayer," with the 
thought that there is any merit that will win 
God's favor in such an exercise; that is 
legalism. But we oftentimes do well to say, 
"I am going to set apart this night for meeting 
God, and obtaining His blessing and power; 
and if necessary, and if He so leads me, I will 
give the whole night to prayer. ' ' Oftentimes 
we will have prayed things through long 
before the night has passed, and we can retire 
and find more refreshing and invigorating 
sleep than if we had not spent the time in 
prayer. At other times God doubtless will 
keep us in communion with Himself away 
into the morning, and w^hen He does this in 
His infinite grace, blessed indeed are these 
hours of night prayer! 

Nights of prayer to God are followed by 
days of power with men. In the night hours 



the world is hushed in slumber, and we can 
easily be alone with God and have undisturbed 
communion with Him. If we set apart the 
whole night for prayer, there will be no hurry, 
there will be time for our own hearts to 
become quiet before God, there will be time 
for the whole mind to be brought under the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit, there will be 
plenty of time to pray things through. A 
night of prayer should be put entirely under 
God's control. We should lay down no rules 
as to how long we will pray, or as to what we 
shall pray about, but be ready to wait upon 
God for a short time or a long time as He may 
lead, and to be led out in one direction or 
another as He may see fit. 

3. Jesus Christ prayed before all the great 
crises in His earthly life. 

He prayed before choosing the twelve disci- 
ples ; before the sermon on the mount ; before 
starting out on an evangelistic tour; before 
His anointing with the Holy Spirit and His 
entrance upon His public ministry; before 
announcing to the twelve His approaching 
death ; before the great consummation of His 
life at the cross. (Luke 6:12, 13; Luke 9:18, 
31, 23; Luke 3:21, 22; Mark 1:35-38; Luke 



22:39-46.) He prepared for every important 
crisis by a protracted season of prayer. So 
ought wc to do also. Whenever any crisis of 
life is seen to be approaching, we should pre? 
pare for it by a season of very definite prayer 
to God. We should take plenty of time for 
this prayer. 

4. Christ prayed not only before the great 
events and victories of His life, but He also 
prayed after its great achievements and impor- 
tafit crises. 

When He had fed the five thousand with the 
five loaves and two fishes, and the multitude 
desired to take Him and make Him king, 
having sent them away He went up into the 
mountain apart to pray, and spent hours there 
alone in prayer to God (Matt. 14:23; Jno. 
6:15). So He went on from victory to victory. 

It is more common for most of us to pray 
before the great events of life than it is to pray 
after them, but the latter is as important as 
the former. If we would pray after the great 
achievements of life, we might go on to still 
greater; as it is we are often either puffed up 
or exhausted by the things that we do in the 
name of the Lord, and so we advance no 
further. Many and many a man in answer to 


prayer has been endued with power and thus 
has wrought great things in the name of the 
Lord, and when these great things were 
accomplished, instead of going alone with God 
and humbling himself before Him, and giving 
Him all the glory for what was achieved, he 
has congratulated himself upon what has been 
accomplished, has become puffed up, and God 
has been obliged to lay him aside. The great 
things done were not followed by humiliation 
of self, and prayer to God, and so pride has 
come in and the mighty man has been shorn 
of his power. 

5. Jesus Christ gave a special time to prayer 
when life was unusually busy. He would with- 
draw at such a time from the multitudes that 
thronged about Him, and go into the wilder- 
ness and pray. For example, we read in 
Luke 5:15, 16, "But so mtich the more went 
abroad the report concerning Him: and great 
multitudes came together to hear, and to be 
healed of their infirmities. But He withdrew 
Himself in the deserts and prayed." (R. V.) 

Some men are so busy that they find no time 
for prayer. Apparently the busier Christ's 
life was, the more He prayed. Sometimes He 
had no time to eat (Marl: 3:20), sometimes He 


had no time for needed rest and sleep (Mark 
6:31, 33, 46), but He always took time to pray; 
and the more t»he work crowded the more He 

Many a mighty man of God has learned this 
secret from Christ, and when the work has 
crowded more than usual they have set an 
unusual amount of time apart for prayer. 
Other men of God, once mighty, have lost their 
power because they did not learn this secret, and 
allowed increasing work to crowd out prayer. 

Years ago it was the writer's privilege, with 
other theological students, to ask questions of 
one of the most useful Christian men of the 
day. The writer was led to ask, 

*'Will you tell us something of your prayer 

The man was silent a moment, and then, 
turning his eyes earnestly upon me, replied: 

"Well, I must admit that I have been so 
crowded with work of late that I have not 
given the time I should to prayer." 

Is it any wonder that that man lost power, 
and the great work that he was doing was cur- 
tailed in a very marked degree? Let us never 
forget that the more the work presses on us, 
the more time must we spend in prayer. 


6. Jesus Christ prayed before the great temP' 
tations of His life. 

As He drew nearer and nearer to the cross, 
and realized that upon it was to come the great 
final test of His life, Jesus went out into the 
garden to pray. He came **unto a place called 
Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit 
ye here while I go and pray yonder.*' (Matt. 
26:36.) The victory of Calvary was won that 
night in the garden of Gethsemane. The calm 
majesty of His bearing in meeting the awful 
onslaughts of Pilate's Judgment Hall and of 
Calvary, was the outcome of the struggle, 
agony and victory of Gethsemane. While 
Jesus prayed the disciples slept, so He stood 
fast while they fell ignominiously. 

Many temptations come upon us unawares 
and unannounced, and all that we can do is to 
lift a cry to God for help then and there ; but 
many of the temptations of life we can see 
approaching from the distance, and in such 
cases the victory should be won before the 
temptation really reaches us. 

7. In I Thess. 5:17 we read, *'Pray with- 
out ceasing,*' and in Eph. 6:18, R. V., '* pray- 
ing at all seasons, ' ' 

Our whole life should be a life of prayer. 


We should walk in constant communion with 
God. There should be a constant upward 
looking of the soul to God. We should walk 
so habitually in His presence that even when 
we awake in the night it would be the most 
natural thing in the world for us to speak to 
Him in thanksgiving or in petition. 



If we are to pray aright in such a time as 
this, much of our prayer should be for a 
general revival. If there was ever a time in 
which there was need to cry unto God in the 
words of the Psalmist, *'Wilt Thou not revive 
us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee?'' 
(Ps. 85 :6) it is this day in which we live. It 
is surely time for the Lord to work, for men 
have made void His law (Ps. 119:126). The 
voice of the Lord given in the written Word 
is set at naught both by the world and the 
church. Such a time is not a time for dis- 
couragement — the man who believes in God 
and believes in the Bible can never be dis- 
couraged ; but it is a time for Jehovah Himself 
to step in and work. The intelligent Christian, 
the wide-awake watchman on the walls of Zion, 
may well cry with the Psalmist of old, **It is 
time for Jehovah to work, for they have made 
void Thy law." (Ps. 119:126, Am. R. V,) 

The great need of the day is a general 




Let us consider first of all what a general 
revival is. 

A revival is a time of quickening or imparta- 
tion of life. As God alone can give life, a 
revival is a time when God visits His people 
and by the power of His Spirit imparts new 
life to them, and through them imparts life 
to sinners dead in trespasses and sins. We 
have religious excitements gotten up by the 
cunning methods and hypnotic influence of the 
mere professional evangelist; but these are not 
revivals and are not needed. They are the 
devil's imitations of a revival. New life from 
God — that is a revival. A general revival is 
a time when this new life from God is not con- 
fined to scattered localities, but is general 
throughout Christendom and the earth. 

The reason why a general revival is needed 
is that spiritual dearth and desolation and 
death is general. It is not confined to any 
one country, though it may be more manifest 
in some countries than in others. It is found 
in foreign mission fields as well as in home 
fields. We have had local revivals. The life- 
giving Spirit of God has breathed upon this 
minister and that, this church and that, this 
community and that; but we need, we sorely 


need, a revival that shall be widespread and 

Let us look for a few moments at the results, 
of a revival. These results are apparent in 
ministers, in the church and in the unsaved. 

I. The results of a revival in a minister 

(i) The minister has a new love for souls. 
We ministers as a rule have no such love for 
souls as we ought to have, no such love for 
souls as Jesus had, no such love for souls as 
Paul had. But when God visits His people 
the hearts of ministers are greatly burdened 
for the unsaved. They go out in great long- 
ing for the salvation of their fellow men. 
They forget their ambition to preach great 
sermons and for fame, and simply long to see 
men brought to Christ. 

(2) When true revivals come, ministers get a 
new love for God's Word and a new faith in 
God's Word. They fling to the winds their 
doubts and criticisms of the Bible and of the 
creeds, and go to preaching the Bible and es- 
pecially Christ crucified. Revivals make min- 
isters who are loose in their doctrines orthodox. 
A genuine wide-sweeping revival would do 
more to turn things upside down and thus get 


them right side up than all the heresy trials 
ever instituted. 

(3) Revivals bring to ministers new liberty 
and power in preaching. It is no week-long 
grind to prepare a sermon, and no nerve- 
consuming effort to preach it after it has been 
prepared. Preaching is a joy and a refresh- 
ment, and there is power in it in times of 

2. The results of a revival on Christians 
generally are as marked as its results upon the 

(i) In times of revival Christians come out 
from the world and live separated lives. 
Christians who have been dallying with the 
world, who have been playing cards and 
dancing and going to the theater and indulging 
in similar follies, give them up. These things 
are found to be incompatible with increasing 
life and light. 

{2) In times of revival Christians get a new 
spirit of prayer. Prayer-meetings are no 
longer a duty, but become the necessity of a 
hungry, importunate heart. Private prayer is 
followed with new zest. The voice of earnest 
prayer to God is heard day and night. People 
no longer ask, "Does God answer prayer?" 


They know He does, and besiege the throne 
of grace day and night. 

(3) In times of revival Christians go to work 
for lost souls. They do not go to meeting 
simply to enjoy themselves and get blessed. 
They go to meeting to watch for souls and to 
bring them to Christ. They talk to men on 
the street and in the stores and in their homes. 
The cross of Christ, salvation, heaven and hell 
become the subjects of constant conversation. 
Politics and the weather and new bonnets and 
the latest novels are forgotten. 

(4) In times of revival Christians have new 
joy in Christ. Life is joy, and new life is 
new joy. Revival days are glad days, days of 
heaven on earth. 

(5) In times of revival Christians get a new 
love for the Word of God. They want to study 
it day and night. Revivals are bad for saloons 
and theaters, but they are good for bookstores 
and Bible agencies. 

3. But revivals also have a decided influence 
on the unsaved world. 

(i) First of all, they bring deep conviction 
of sin. Jesus said that when the Spirit was 
come He would convince the world of sin (Jno. 
16:7, 8). Now we have seen that a revival is 


a coming of the Holy Spirit, and therefore 
there must be new conviction of sin, and there 
always is. If you see something men call a 
revival, and there is no conviction of sin, you 
may know at once that it is bogus. It is a 
sure mark. 

(2) Revivals bring also conversion and 
regeneration. When God refreshes His peo- 
ple. He always converts sinners also. The 
first result of Pentecost was new life and power 
to the one hundred and twenty disciples in the 
upper room; the second result was three 
thousand conversions in a single day. It is 
always so. I am constantly reading of revivals 
here and there, where Christians were greatly 
helped but there were no conversions. I have 
my doubts about that kind. If Christians are 
truly refreshed, they will get after the unsaved 
by prayer and testimony and persuasion, and 
there will be conversions. 


We see what a general revival is, and what 
it does ; let us now face the question why it is 
needed at the present time. 

I think that the mere description of what it 
is and what it does shows that it is needed, 


sorely needed, but let us look at some specific 
conditions that exist to-day that show the need 
of it. In showing these conditions one is likely 
to be called a pessimist. If facing the facts is 
to be called a pessimist, I am willing to be 
called a pessimist. If in order to be an 
optimist one must shut his eyes and call black 
white, and error truth, and sin righteousness, 
and death life, I don't want to be called an 
optimist. But I am an optimist all the same. 
Pointing out the real condition will lead to a 
better condition. 

I. Look first at the ministry. 

(i) Many of us who are professedly orthodox 
ministers are practically infidels. That is 
plain speech, but it is also indisputable fact. 
There is no essential difference between the 
teachings of Tom Paine and Bob Ingersoll and 
the teachings of some of our theological pro- 
fessors. The latter are not so blunt and 
honest about it ; they phrase it in more elegant 
and studied sentences; but it means the same. 
Much of the so-called new learning and higher 
criticism is simply Tom Paine infidelity sugar- 
coated. Prof. Howard Osgood, who is a real 
scholar and not a mere echo of German 
infidelity, once read a statement of some posi- 


tions, and asked if they did not fairly represent 
the scholarly criticism of to-day, and when it 
was agreed that they did, he startled his 
audience by saying: 

**I am reading from Tom Paine *s *Age of 
Reason.* ** 

There is little new in the higher criticism. 
Our future ministers oftentimes are being 
educated under infidel professors, and being 
immature boys when they enter the college or 
seminary, they naturally come out infidels in 
many cases, and then go forth to poison the 

(2) Even when our ministers are orthodox — 
as thank God so very many are! — they are 
oftentimes not men of prayer. How many 
modern ministers know what it is to wrestle in 
prayer, to spend a good share of a night in 
prayer? I do not know how many, but I do 
know that many do not. 

(3) Many of us who are ministers have no 
love for souls. How many preach because they 
must preach, because they feel that men every 
where are perishing, and by preaching they 
hope to save some? And how many follow up 
their preaching as Paul did, by beseeching 
men everywhere to be reconciled to God? 


Perhaps enough has been said about us 
ministers; but it is evident that a revival is 
needed for our sake, or some of us will have to 
stand before God overwhelmed with confusion 
in an awful day of reckoning that is surely 

2. Look now at the church: 

(i) Look at the doctrinal state of the church. 
It is bad enough. Many do not believe in the 
whole Bible. The book of Genesis is a myth, 
Jonah is an allegory, and even the miracles of 
the Son of God are questioned. The doctrine 
of prayer is old-fashioned, and the work of the 
Holy Spirit is sneered at. Conversion is 
unnecessary, and hell is no longer believed in. 
Then look at the fads and errors that have 
sprung up out of this loss of faith, Christian 
Science, Unitarianism, Spiritualism, Univer- 
salism, Babism, Metaphysical Healing, etc., etc., 
a perfect pandemonium of doctrines of devils. 

(2) Look at the spiritual state of the church. 
Worldliness is rampant among church mem- 
bers. Many church members are just as eager 
as any in the rush to get rich. They use the 
methods of the world in the accumulation of 
wealth, and they hold just as fast to it as any 
when they have gotten it. 


Prayerlessness abounds among church mem- 
bers on every hand. Some one has said that 
Christians on the average do not spend more 
than five minutes a day in prayer. 

Neglect of the Word of God goes hand in 
hand with neglect of prayer to God. Very 
many Christians spend twice as much time 
every day wallowing through the mire of the 
daily papers as they do bathing in the cleans- 
ing laver of God's Holy Word. How many 
Christians average an hour a day spent in Bible 

Along with neglect of prayer and neglect of 
the Word of God goes a lack of generosity. 
The churches are rapidly increasing in wealth, 
but the treasuries of the missionary societies 
are empty. Christians do not average a dollar 
a year for foreign missions. It is simply 

Then there is the increasing disregard for 
the Lord's Day. It is fast becoming a day of 
worldly pleasure, instead of a day of holy 
service. The Sunday newspaper with its inane 
twaddle and filthy scandal takes the place of 
the Bible; and visiting and golf and bicycle, 
the place of the Sunday-school and church 


Christians mingle with the world in all forms 
of questionable amusements. The young man 
and young woman who does not believe in 
dancing with its rank immodesties, the card 
table with its drift toward gambling, and the 
theater with its ever-increasing appeal to lewd- 
ness, is counted an old fogy. 

Then how small a proportion of our mem- 
bership has really entered into fellowship with 
Jesus Christ in His burden for souls! Enough 
has been said of the spiritual state of the 

3. Now look at the state of the world, 

(i) Note how few conversions there are. 
The Methodist church, which has led the way 
in aggressive work has actually lost more mem- 
bers than it has gained the last year. Here 
and there a church has a large number of 
accessions upon confession of faith, but these 
churches are rare exceptions; and where there 
are such accessions, in how few cases are the 
conversions deep, thorough and satisfactory. 

(2) There is lack of conviction of sin. Sel- 
dom are men overwhelmed with a sense of 
their awful guilt in trampling under foot the 
Son of God. Sin is regarded as a ** misfor- 
tune" or as "infirmity," or even as "good in 


the making"; seldom as enormous wrong 
against a holy God. 

(3) Unbelief is rampant. Many regard it as 
a mark of intellectual superiority to reject the 
Bible, and even faith in God and immortality. 
It is about the only mark of intellectual supe- 
riority many possess, and perhaps that is the 
reason they cling- to it so tenaciously. 

(4) Hand in hand with this widespread infi- 
delity goes gross immorality, as has always 
been the case. Infidelity and immorality are 
Siamese twins. They always exist and always 
grow and always fatten together. This pre- 
vailing immorality is found everywhere. 

> Look at the legalized adultery that we call 
divorce. Men marry one wife after another, 
and are still admitted into good society; and 
women do likewise. There are thousands of 
supposedly respectable men in America living 
with other men's wives, and thousands of sup- 
posedly respectable women living with other 
women's husbands. 

This immorality is found in the theater. The 
theater at its best is bad enough, but now the 
"Sapphos," and the "Degenerates," and all 
the unspeakable vile accessories of the stage 
rule the day> and the women who debauch 


themselves by appearing in such plays are 
defended in the newspapers and welcomed by 
supposedly respectable people. 

Much of our literature is rotten, but decent 
people will read books as bad as "Trilby" 
because it is the rage. Art is oftentimes 
a mere covering for shameless indecency. 
Women are induced to cast modesty to the 
winds that the artist may perfect his art and 
defile his morals. 

Greed for money has become a mania with 
rich and poor. The multi - millionaire will 
often sell his soul and trample the rights of his 
fellow men under foot in the mad hope of 
becoming a billionaire, and the laboring man 
will often commit murder to increase the 
power of the union and keep up wages. Wars 
are waged and men shot down like dogs to 
improve commerce, and to gain political pres- 
tige for unprincipled politicians who parade as 

The licentiousness of the day lifts its serpent 
head everywhere. You see it in the news- 
papers, you see it on the bill-boards, you see 
it on the advertisements of cigars, shoes, bicy- 
cles, patent medicines, corsets and everything 
else. You see it on the streets at night. You 


see it just outside the church door. You find 
it not only in the awful cesspools set apart for 
it in the great cities, but it is crowding further 
and further up our business streets and into 
the residence portions of our cities. Alas! now 
and then you find it, if you look sharp, in sup- 
posedly respectable homes; indeed it will be 
borne to your ears by the confessions of broken- 
hearted men and women. The moral condi- 
tion of the world in our day is disgusting, sick- 
ening, appalling. 

We need a revival, deep, widespread, gen- 
eral, in the power of the Holy Ghost. It is 
either a general revival or the dissolution of 
the church, of the home, of the state. A 
revival, new life from God, is the cure, and 
the only cure. That will stem the awful tide 
of immorality and unbelief. Mere argument 
will not do it; but a wind from heaven, a new 
outpouring of the Holy Ghost, a true God-sent 
revival will. Infidelity, higher criticism. Chris- 
tian Science, Spiritualism, Universalism, all 
will go down before the outpouring of the 
Spirit of God. It was not discussion but the 
breath of God that relegated Tom Paine, Vol- 
taire, Volney and other of the old infidels to 
the limbo of forgetfulness ; and we need a new 


breath from God to send the Wellhausens and 
the Kuenens and the Grafs and the parrots 
they have trained to occupy chairs and pulpits 
in England and America to keep them com- 
pany. I believe that breath from God is 

The great need of to-day is a general revival. 
The need is clear. It admits of no honest 
difference of opinion. What then shall we do? 
Pray. Take up the Psalmist's prayer, "Revive 
us again, that Thy people may rejoice in 
Thee." Take up Ezekiel's prayer, "Come 
from the four winds, O breath (breath of God), 
and breathe upon these slain that they may 
live." Hark, I hear a noise! Behold a shak- 
ing! I can almost feel the breeze upon my 
cheek. I can almost see the great living army 
rising to their feet. Shall we not pray and 
pray and pray and pray, till the Spirit comes, 
and God revives His people? 



No treatment of the subject How to Pray 
would be at all complete if it did not consider 
the place of prayer in revivals. 

The first great revival of Christian history 
had its origin on the human side in a ten* days' 
prayer-meeting. We read of that handful of 
disciples, *' These all with one accord continued 
steadfastly in prayer.'* (Acts 1:14, R. V.) 
The result of that prayer-meeting we read of 
in the 2d chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, 
*'They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and 
began to speak with other tongues, as the 
Spirit gave them utterance." (v. 4.) Further 
on in the chapter we read that "th^re were 
added unto them in that day about three thou- 
sand souls." (v. 41, R. V.) This revival proved 
genuine and permanent. The converts *' con- 
tinued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and 
fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the 
prayers." (v. 42, R. V.) "And the Lord added 


to them day by day those that were being 
saved." (v. 47. R- V.) 

Every true revival from that day to this has 
had its earthly origin in prayer. The great 
revival under Jonathan Edwards in the i8th 
century began with his famous call to prayer. 
The marvelous work of grace among the 
Indians under Brainerd had its origin in the 
days and nights that Brainerd spent before 
God in prayer for an enduement of power from 
on high for this work. 

A most remarkable and widespread display 
of God's reviving power was that which broke 
out at Rochester, New York, in 1830, under 
the labors of Charles G. Finney. It not only 
spread throughout the State but ultimately to 
Great Britain as well. Mr. Finney himself 
attributed the power of this work to the spirit 
of prayer that prevailed. He describes it in 
his autobiography in the following words: 

**When I was on my way to Rochester, as 
we passed through a village, some thirty miles 
east of Rochester, a brother minister whom I 
knew, seeing me on the canal-boat, jumped 
aboard to have a little conversation with me, 
intending to ride but a little way and return. 
He, however, became interested in con versa- 


tion, and upon finding where I was going, he 
made up his mind to keep on and go with me 
to Rochester. We had been there but a few 
days when this minister became so convicted 
that he could not help weeping aloud at one 
time as we passed along the street. The Lord 
gave him a powerful spirit of prayer, and his 
heart was broken. As he and I prayed 
together, I was struck with his faith in regard 
to what the Lord was going to do there. I 
recollect he would say, 'Lord, I do not know 
how it is ; but I seem to know that Thou art 
going to do a greaf work in this city. ' The 
spirit of prayer was poured out powerfully, so 
much so that some persons stayed away from 
the public services to pray, being unable to 
restrain their feelings under preaching. 
^**And here I must introduce the name of a 
man, whom I shall have occasion to mention 
frequently, Mr. Abel Clary. He was the son 
of a very excellent man, and an elder of the 
church where I was converted. He was con- 
verted in the same revival in which I was. He 
had been licensed to preach ; but his spirit of 
prayer was such, he was so burdened with the 
souls of men, that he was not able to preach 
much, his whole time and strength being given 


to prayer. The burden of his soul would fre- 
quently be so great that he was unable to 
stand, and he would writhe and groan in 
agony. I was well acquainted with him, and 
knew something of the wonderful spirit of 
prayer that was upon him. He was a very 
silent man, as almost all are who have that 
powerful spirit of prayer. 

"The first I knew of his being in Rochester, 
a gentleman who lived about a mile west of 
the city, called on me one day and asked me if 
I knew a Mr. Abel Clary, a minister. I told 
him that I knew him well. 'Well,' he said, 
*he is at my house, and has been there for 
some time, and I don't know what to think of 
him.' I said, *I have not seen him at any of 
our meetings.' 'No,' he replied, 'he cannot 
go to meeting, he says. He prays nearly all 
the time, day and night, and in such agony of 
mind that I do not know what to make of it. 
Sometimes he cannot even stand on his knees, 
but will lie prostrate on the floor, and groan 
and pray in a manner that quite astonishes 
me.' I said to the brother, 'I understand it: 
please keep stiil. It will all come out right; 
he will surely prevail. ' 

*'I knew at the time a considerable number 


of men who were exercised in the same way. 

A Deacon P , of Camden, Oneida county; 

a Deacon T , of Rodman, Jefferson county; 

a Deacon B , of Adams, in the same county; 

this Mr. Clary and many others among the men, 
and a large number of women partook of the 
same spirit, and spent a great part of their time 
in prayer. Father Nash, as we called him, who 
in several of my fields of labor came to me and 
aided me, was another of those men that had 
such a powerful spirit of prevailing prayer. 
This Mr. Clary continued in Rochester as long 
as I did, and did not leave it until after I had 
left. He never, that I could learn, appeared 
in public, but gave himself wholly to prayer. 
"I think it was the second Sabbath that I 
was at Auburn at this time, I observed in the 
congregation the solemn face of Mr. Clary. 
He looked as if he was borne down with an 
agony of prayer. Being well acquainted with 
him, and knowing the great gift of God that 
was upon him, the spirit of prayer, I was very 
glad to see him there. He sat in the pew with 
his brother, the doctor, who was also a pro- 
fessor of religion, but who had nothing by 
experience, I should think, of his brother 
Abel's great power with God. 


**At intermission, as soon as I came down 
from the pulpit, Mr. Clary, with his brother, 
met me at the pulpit stairs, and the doctor 
invited me to go home with him and spend the 
intermission and get some refreshments. I 
did so. 

*' After arriving at his house we were soon 
summoned to the dinner table. We gathered 
about the table, and Dr. Clary turned to his 
brother and said, 'Brother Abel, will you ask 
the blessing?' Brother Abel bowed his head 
and began, audibly, to ask a blessing. He had 
uttered but a sentence or two when he broke 
instantly down, moved suddenly back from the 
table, and fled to his chamber. The doctor 
supposed he had been taken suddenly ill, and 
rose up and followed him. In a few moments 
he came down and said, *Mr. Finney, brother 
Abel wants to see you.* Said I, 'What ails 
him?' Said he, 'I do not know but he says; 
you know. He appears in great distress, but 
I think it is the state of his mind. * I under- 
stood it in a moment, and went to his room. 
He lay groaning upon the bed, the Spirit mak- 
ing intercession for him, and in him, with 
groanings that could not be uttered. I had 
barely entered the room, when he made out 


to say, *Pray, brother Finney.' I knelt down 
and helped him in prayer, by leading his soul 
out for the conversion of sinners. I continued 
to pray until his distress passed away, and then 
I returned to the dinner table. 

**I understood that this was the voice of God. 
I saw the spirit of prayer was upon him, and 
I felt his influence upon myself, and took it for 
granted that the work would move on power- 
fully. It did so. The pastor told me after- 
ward that he found that in the six weeks that 
I was there, five hundred souls had been con- 

Mr. Finney in his lectures on revivals tells 
of other remarkable awakenings in answer to 
the prayers of God's people. He says in one 

place, **A clergyman in W n told me of a 

revival among his people, which commenced 
with a zealous and devoted woman in the 
church. She became anxious about sinners, 
and went to praying for them ; she prayed, and 
her distress increased; and she finally came to 
her minister, and talked with him, and asked 
him to appoint an anxious meeting, for she felt 
that one was needed. The minister put her 
off, for he felt nothing of it. The next week 
she came again, and besought him to appoint 


an anxious meeting ; she knew there would be 
somebody to come, for she felt as if God was 
going to pour out His Spirit, He put her oft 
again. And finally she said to him, *If you 
do not appoint an anxious meeting I shall die, 
for there is certainly going to be a revival.' 
The next Sabbath he appointed a meeting, 
and said that if there were any who wished 
to converse with him about the salvation of 
their souls, he would meet them on such 
an evening. He did not know of one, but 
when he went to the place, to his astonish 
ment he found a large number of anxious 
inquirers. ' ' 

In still another place he says, **The first ray 
of light that broke in upon the midnight which 
rested on the churches in Oneida county, in 
the fall of 1825, was from a woman in feeble 
health, who, I believe, had never been in a 
powerful revival. Her soul was exercised 
about sinners. She was in agony for the 
land. She did not know what ailed her, but 
she kept praying more and more, till it seemed 
as if her agony would destroy her body. At 
length she became full of joy and exclaimed, 
*God has come! God has come! There is no 
mistake about it, the work is begun, and is 


going over all the region!' And sure enough, 
the work began, and her family were almost 
all converted, and the work spread all over 
that part of the country." 

The great revival of 1857 in the United 
States began in prayer and was carried on by 
prayer more than by anything else. Dr. Cuy- 
ler in an article in a religious newspaper some 
years ago said, "Most revivals have humble 
beginnings, and the fire starts in a few warm 
hearts. Never despise the day of small things. 
During all my own long ministry, nearly every 
work of grace had a similar beginning. One 
commenced in a meeting gathered at a few 
hours' notice in a private house. Another 
commenced in a group gathered for Bible study 
by Mr. Moody in our mission chapel. Still 
another — the most powerful of all — was kindled 
on a bitter January evening at a meeting of 
young Christians under my roof. Dr. Spen- 
cer, in his 'Pastor's Sketches', (the most sug- 
gestive book of its kind I have ever read), tells 
us that a remarkable revival in his church 
sprang from the fervent prayers of a godly old 
man who was confined to his room by lame- 
ness. That profound Christian, Dr. Thomas 
H. Skinner, of the Union Theological Semi- 

124 "OW TO PRAY 

nary, once gave me an account of a remarkable 
coming together of three earnest men in his 
study when he was the pastor of the Arch 
Street Church in Philadelphia. They literally 
wrestled in prayer. They made a clean breast 
in confession of sin, and humbled themselves 
before God. One and another church officer 
came in and joined them. The heaven-kindled 
flame soon spread through the whole congre- 
gation in one of the most powerful revivals 
ever known in that city." 
3 In the early part of the sixteenth century 
there was a great religious awakening in 
Ulster, Ireland. The lands of the rebel chiefs 
which had been forfeited to the British crown, 
were settled up by a class of colonists who for 
the most part were governed by a spirit of 
wild adventure. Real piety was rare. Seven 
ministers, five from Scotland and two from 
England, settled in that country, the earliest 
arrivals being in 1613. Of one of these minis- 
ters named Blair it is recorded by a contempo- 
rary, **He spent many days and nights in 
prayer, alone and with others, and was vouch- 
safed great intimacy with God." Mr. James 
Glendenning, a man of very meager natural 
gifts, was a man similarly minded as regards 


prayer. The work began under this man Glen- 
denning. The historian of the time says, *'He 
was a man who never would have been chosen 
by a wise assembly of ministers, nor sent to 
begin a reformation in this land. Yet this was 
the Lord's choice to begin with him the admir- 
able work of God which I mention on purpose 
that all may see how the glory is only the 
Lord's in making a holy nation in this profane 
land, and that it was *not by might, nor by 
power, nor by man's wisdom, but by My Spirit, 
saith the Lord. ' " In his preaching at Oldstone 
multitudes of hearers felt in great anxiety and 
terror of conscience. They looked on them- 
selves as altogether lost and damned, and cried 
out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to 
be saved?" They were stricken into a swoon 
by the power of His Word. A dozen in one 
day were carried out of doors as dead. These 
were not women, but some of the boldest 
spirits of the neighborhood; "some who had 
formerly feared not with their swords to 
put a whole market town into a fray." Con- 
cerning one of them, the historian writes, 
"I have heard one of them, then a mighty 
strong man, now a mighty Christian, say 
that his end in coming into church was to 


consult with his companions how to work 
some mischief." 

This work spread throughout the whole 
country. By the year 1626 a monthly concert 
of prayer was held in Antrim. The work 
spread beyond the bounds of Dov/n and Antrim 
to the churches of the neighboring counties. 
So great became the religious interest that 
Christians would come thirty or forty miles to 
the communions, and continue from the time 
they came until they returned without weary- 
ing or making use of sleep. Many of them 
neither ate nor drank, and yet some of them 
professed that they "went away most fresh 
and vigorous, their souls so filled with the 
sense of God." 

This revival changed the whole character of 
northern Ireland. 

Another great awakening in Ireland in 1859 
had a somewhat similar origin. By many who 
did not know, it was thought that this marvel- 
ous work came without warning and prepara- 
tion, but Rev. William Gibson, the moderator 
of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian 
Church in Ireland in i860, in his very interest- 
ing and valuable history of the work tells how 
there had been preparation for two years. 


There had been constant discussion in the Gen- 
eral Assembly of the low estate of religion, 
and of the need of a revival. There had been 
special sessions for prayer. Finally four young 
men, who became leaders in the origin of the 
great work, began to meet together in an old 
schoolhouse in the neighborhood of Kells. 
About the spring of 1858 a work of power 
began to manifest itself. It spread from town 
to town, and from county to county. The 
congregations became too large for the build- 
ings, and the ^meetings were held in the open 
air, oftentimes attended by many thousands of 
people. Many hundreds of persons were fre- 
quently convicted of sin in a single meeting. 
In some places the criminal courts and jails 
were closed for lack of occupation. There 
were manifestations of the Holy Spirit's power 
of a most remarkable character, clearly prov- 
ing that the Holy Spirit is as ready to work 
to-day as in apostolic days, when ministers and 
Christians really believe in Him and begin to 
prepare the way by prayer. 

Mr. Moody's wonderful work in England and 
Scotland and Ireland that afterwards spread 
to America had its origin on the manward 
side in prayer. Mr. Moody made little im- 


pression until men and women began to cry to 
God. Indeed his going to England at all was 
in answer to the importunate cries to God of 
a bed-ridden saint. While the spirit of prayer 
continued the revival abode in strength, but in 
the course of time less and less was made of 
prayer and the work fell off very perceptibly 
in power. Doubtless one of the great secrets 
of the unsatisfactoriness and superficiality and 
unreality of many of our modern so-called 
revivals, is that more dependence is put upon 
man*s machinery than upon God's power, 
sought and obtained by earnest, persistent, 
believing prayer. We live in a day character- 
ized by the multiplication of man's machinery 
and the diminution of God's power. The great 
cry of our day is work, work, work, new organ- 
izations, new methods, new machinery; the 
great need of our day is prayer. It was a mas- 
ter stroke of the devil when he got the church 
so generally to lay aside this mighty weapon of 
prayer. The devil is perfectly willing that the 
church should multiply its organizations, and 
deftly contrive machinery for the conquest of 
the v/orld for Christ if it will only give up 
praying. He laughs as he looks at the church 
to-day and says to himself: 


•*You can have your Sunday-schools and 
your Young People's Societies, your Young 
Men's Christian Associations and your 
Women's Christian Temperance Unions, your 
Institutional Churches and your Industrial 
Schools, and your Boys' Brigades, your grand 
choirs and your fine organs, your brilliant 
preachers and your revival efforts too, if you 
don't bring the power of Almighty God into 
them by earnest, persistent, believing, mighty 

Prayer could v^ork as marvelous results to- 
day as it ever could, if the church would only 
betake itself to it. 

There seems to be increasing signs that the 
church is awaking to this fact. Here and 
there God is laying upon individual ministers 
and churches a burden of prayer that they 
have never known before. Less dependence 
is being put upon machinery and more depend- 
ence upon God. Ministers are crying to God 
day and night for power. Churches and por- 
tions of churches are meeting together in the 
early morning hours and the late night hours 
crying to God for the latter rain. There is 
every indication of the coming of a mighty 
and widespread revival. There is every rea- 


son why, if a revival should come hi any 
country at this time, it should be more wide- 
spread in its extent than any revival of 
history. There is the closest and swiftest 
communication by travel, by letter, and by 
cable between all parts of the world. A true 
fire of God kindled in America would soon 
spread to the uttermost parts of the earth. 
The only thing needed to bring this fire is 

It is not necessary that the whole church get 
to praying to begin with. Great revivals 
always begin first in the hearts of a few men 
and women whom God arouses by His Spirit 
to believe in Him as a living God, as a God 
who answers prayer, and upon whose heart He 
lays a burden from which no rest can be found 
except in importunate crying unto God. 

May God use this book to arouse many others 
to pray that the greatly-needed revival may 
come, and come speedily. 


Princeton Theological Seminary-Speer Library 

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