The Believer at Prayer

Chapter 5 Prayer and Power

I think the course of our reflectionsmust have led us seriously to take to heart the conviction that prayer is the supreme duty of the child of God. Nothing can be a substitute for prayer; no service, no ability, however remarkable nothing can be a substitute in God's presence for prayer.

God is willing to prove Himself to the person who makes prayer his business. To the child of God who takes up prayer, as a young person may take up his profession, making everything serve that end, God is willing to prove that He hears and answers prayer. But we must make a business of it! It is only the person who shows by his attitude that prayer is a matter of supreme importance that God is willing to deal with such an one in a similar fashion. God always means business with the person who means business. God has very little time for the person who has very little time for Him.

In our final study we are to think about the power of prayer. I want to speak particularly about the power that comes through prayer. Particularly for young people may I say first of all that prayer is the power of manhood. As I have thought particularly about this, I have once again deplored that I did not grasp this truth years ago. The only thing I can do now is to pass it on to the young people whose life is before them, through whom, each one, God has a living purpose, if only we have the faith to believe Him. So let me be sure that prayer is the power of manhood.

Jesus Christ is God's hallmark of manhood. What manhood means to God I see in Jesus Christ. I cannot see it in any fallen creature like myself. We need to take our eyes off each other. Manhood is centred in Jesus Christ, God's perfect Man, and the Man of Glory. The highest destiny to which we can ever come is that we shall be like Him. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The great tragedy of sin is that we have come short of the glory. Our blessed Lord never sinned, and He is in glory. And it is the great master operation of redemption to bring us into Christlikeness, to recover the tragedy of a fallen nature, and to make us like Him, " for we shall see Him as He is."

Of course, there is a wealth of teaching in that great fact of our destiny, and there are many factors, which contribute to it, but I want you to see here how greatly prayer contributed to that end. What prayer did for Jesus (the contribution of prayer in bringing Him to the throne of God), it can do for me. Prayer as it reacted upon His personality may in corresponding fashion react upon mine.

The secret of manhood is in Jesus and the process of manhood is in prayer. I see Him coming to His baptism. Luke tells us: "Jesus also being baptised and praying." The baptism was over, and our blessed Lord was praying. What He was praying about we are not told, but as He was praying the Holy Spirit, taking upon Himself incarnating power, came down and rested upon Jesus. He rested upon Jesus to be the Spirit to carry Him through God's purpose, the Spirit of power to do the will of God. Now we may long to do His will. If I long to do His will, I must know my weakness, I must pray and trust.

The Spirit of God descended upon God's beloved Son. He only responds to sonship. Do mark that, the Spirit of God responds to sonship only! He does not come down on unbelievers, but redeemed sons only. But I am a son of God by redemption, and "because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts." Therefore, I may pray the Spirit of God to give me the enabling power to do the will of God. "If ye, 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? "

Then I come to the next step affecting personality and I see our blessed Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. There we read that as He prayed the appearance of His countenance was changed. He has so far been doing the will of God by a ministry of teaching, and now He is coming to the next point- a ministry of redemption, offering up His life. As He offered Himself in the Jordan that He might do the will of God in the flesh, now He comes to the Mount of Transfiguration that He may be declared approved by God for His will in death. Moses and Elijah talk with Him about His exodus. As He prayed, offering Himself up as the pure Son of God for redemption, He is transfigured before them, and the face that was unmarred by sin was glorified.

God will bring me to a place where, having stood for the principles of my Christianity, where I may have been thoroughly orthodox and always ready to speak a word, God will bring me where I am ready to embrace the will of God even unto death. And for that deeper experience I must pray.

Then we see Him at Gethsemane, where the pure will of God, embraced in transfiguration, is now being worked out in conflict with a common weak humanity. Here He is now working out the cost-He is not merely taking the Will of God, but working it out through His human will. He is now weighing its issues, what it means to be a curse, and to be made sin. What it means for His blood to be shed as the redemptive channel and He prays as perhaps He has never prayed before. Out of that praying He is ready for scourging and spitting, for the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter.

Again, He comes to Calvary- the place of injustice; Calvary, the place where He suffers agony wrongfully; Calvary the place where His love for man is to be tested out in the face of the fiercest manifestations of hatred. And on the Cross, as His hands are riven by the nails and His side pierced, He exclaims,"Father forgive them, they know not what they do."

Finally, He is in heaven, and there He prays. Out of His prayer He has the power to bestow the Holy Spirit on a new creation, to be a channel of life. Greatly has pure manhood developed when we get to this position but He got there by prayer and we can reach that spiritual excellence only by the same path. Out of His prayer He has the power to bestow the Holy Spirit on a new creation, to be a channel of life.

"The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. "

He had moved amongst men as the pure Son of God, but He had never been able to breathe upon them the Holy Spirit. When He came through the tragedy of Calvary and the grave, and on to the throne, however, He breathed out the Holy Spirit. There in heaven He prays.

That is the curriculum of perfect manhood that is the school of manhood. Prayer is the secret of strong manhood. Let me come to God and make it my constant prayer that I may have the grace and the courage and the living faith to pass, at God's behest, into every spiritual experience He may dictate.

May I be found at every stage a man engaged in prayer. Whether I come to the place of conflict and confusion, whether I come to the place where men may hate me, may God keep me as man of prayer!

For the end of that curriculum is that I shall stand in His presence, like Him. Oh God, I see the unveiling of the perfect manhood of Jesus. I believe it to be true. I want to be like Him and see the path He took. I pray that I may take it, too.

The end of it, of course is power - power on the throne, victory. "All power is given unto Me"- ALL power. If it is power you are seeking, it is there. If you have the faith to believe it, if you have the courage to embrace it and lay hold of God in prayer to make it dynamic in your own experience it shall assuredly be yours!

So prayer made the man. And as you and I submit to God to be made a man of God after the pattern of the Man in heaven, you and I will pass through the same curriculum. If we dare to pass through it without prayer, imagining that we have no need as Jesus had to lay hold upon the Father, we shall be brought to unspeakable confusion. Make it your prayer: " Oh God, make me a man of prayer, that I may be like the Man in heaven."

We need to understand present experiences through which we may be passing. You may be going through an experience now which corresponds to one of those stages, because God is bringing you on. He has seen that you were eager, you wanted to do the will of God, you were willing to pay the price, you were sincere and earnest in the Christian race, you wanted to go on in your Christian pilgrimage to one of these places.

Perhaps your experience corresponds with the Jordan, and perhaps God is now asking for some deeper offering up of the will. You have been holding back, whereas Jesus went forward into transfiguration. Or it may be that the cup is filled, and you are now at the place called Gethsemane. It may be you have come to the place of the Cross, and you are not saying, " Father, forgive them." But rather, Why has God caused this? Go to prayer believingly for He is bringing you through. It is God's secret way, unknown it is God's secret way to power. Then secondly, out of prayer comes the power to see. Not only the power to be but the power to see. I have had my bible ever since I can remember. The astounding thing to me is how much I can read it without grasping its truth. Have you found that? Things that have been written there for years, which you have read until you can almost recite them, but their truth is hidden! Now God takes you back. The Holy Spirit speaks, " Read that once again," and there springs forth from the Word truth you have never seen before. What do the Scriptures make clear? They make clear to us that the great society about which God is concerned is the Church. The Church is a company of human beings indwelt by the Holy Spirit, made conscious as no other being in the world is really made conscious of the supernatural realm.

The man that you mix with every day has not got the slightest belief in Satan and a world of demons. He scouts the idea and laughs at it completely oblivious to the fact that the whole world lies in the hands of the evil one (1 'John 5-19). The believer, however, knows that the Church of God is beset in this spiritual conflict. God's Holy Spirit is seeking to call out the Church as the prize for its Lord, and the powers of darkness are seeking to restrain that operation. That is the conflict of the hour, THE WAR about which Christians ought really to be concerned. The Holy Spirit is seeking to bring many sons to the glory and Satan is unwilling to give up his captives in darkness. The supreme issue in this great hour is the Body of Christ!

Now if our eyes are open to this great fact, which makes the hour in which we live so stupendous then we can understand that prayer must be most certainly of a definite character and particularly for the true Church of the redeemed. In Paul's greatest prayer he prays for the Church: "that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God," not to the fulness of yourselves but to all the fulness of God.

The prayer for sinners is that they may be brought to see their need of Calvary, which is the one gateway of escape from death unto life. Two things are clear: I must pray for the fulness of God in the Church. Then when I see, that Calvary is the one and only gateway from death unto life, God opens my eyes that there is only one task for the man whose vision has been so clarified. He must be a man whose enthusiasm, whose ardour, whose passion, whose sacrificial giving, ability and power must be in the proclamation of and witness to the gospel of redeeming grace. As I wait upon God in prayer and enter into the secrets of Calvary, God will make that clear to me. I shall see the elements of essential service, I shall see the awful peril I have been running of having saved my soul but of seeing all my works burned up, because I never saw the essential character of my activities.

Prayer gives the power to see. " Lord, open the eyes of the young man, that he may see." How am I to see? I cannot see the issues of life until I have seen God. They will never become real to me until God is real. I can never look out on to the world until I have been into the secret place with God and He has taught me His love, until He has educated me on my knees and endued my eyes with the power to see.

Then, finally, prayer is the power for unction. It may be that you wish for the power to do. We have seen the power of manhood and we have had an insight given us by God, through His blood and in prayer. Now finally God gives me unction as a blessing out of prayer.

Now what is unction? Well it is the Holy Spirit in manifestation, the Holy Spirit in me with absolute liberty. I may be a preacher and, as I believe, preaching the truth, but what the truth needs is unction, that is the truth coming with all the mighty importuning of the Holy Spirit.

That is to say, it is not enough for the message to be right-and this is where we go wrong in our orthodox services-the messenger must be right.

It is fine to have a clear-cut message, it is better to have a Spirit-filled messenger. May I say that the Holy Spirit does not come to manifestation in emotion. Emotion is not necessarily manifested by God in the man that God is using, but emotion is frequently manifested in the man in whom the power of Satan is being broken. Now I am perfectly convinced in my own mind in this connection that the unction of the Holy Spirit is for two purposes, one of which is only used by men of great spiritual power, and that is for the casting out of demons.

Do not think that our Lord was not dealing with actualities when He cast out demons. Why even the heathen know better than we do! Their great mistake is the way they deal with them. But there will also be (and this is perhaps accompanied with greater faith) convicting and converting power. I do feel today that it is prayer that is going to bring the blessing now to the Church. God has wonderfully blessed his people. God has blessed us far more that ever was deserved. But God wants to do something far greater. And it can be ours by prayer.

Think of the Welsh Revival. Think of the days when Evan Roberts used to go into his pulpit and never say a word. The church would be crowded and he would offer a prayer or give an address, but from the moment that that man of prayer went into the pulpit men and women all over the building began to cry out to God.

What God has done in the past He can do again. God is abundantly faithful. But He wants a praying people. He wants to fortify my life, He wants to fortify your life by prayer. If you and I unknown to our fellows will seek God's presence in secret and lay hold of Him in believing prayer. God is going to manifest His power again. Think of what might have happened if we had been praying all through the years, as we ought to have done. The years that have been wasted, the opportunities that have slipped by, the souls that might have been saved. Are you now going to feel the rebuke and lay hold upon God until God uses us in the secrets of power that are brought forth from prayer?

Are you going to be a man or woman of prayer? Or are you going to let the issue pass by and still neglect the mighty opportunity? God has been dealing with us, dealing with you and dealing with me. Are you going to tell him: "Oh God I do desire to be a man of prayer, a woman of prayer. Oh God forgive my prayerlessness and from this hour make me a person of prayer." Would you like to pray that prayer now? Would you like to come to Him now and say: "Oh God I do confess the sin of prayerlessness" (you may have never realised it was a sin before.) "And now I offer myself to be a man of prayer, a woman of prayer. Would you like to pray that prayer very solemnly to God just now? God wants intercessors. He wants you.

Prayer: "O Blessed Jesus how deeply it impresses me that Thou didst shed thy blood on Calvary, that out of it should come a life in the Throne of the Father, a life of prayer. I come to Thee to confess the sin of prayerlessness, to ask Thy forgiveness and to plead to be taken into the secret place. Never again shall a day go by without I am found alone with Thee and I shall not be content until Thine image is impressed upon my face, my nature is refined my heart given up to Thee and I am filled with a burning passion for the lost. So make me a man, a woman of prayer. This I ask in the Name of Him who prays in heaven for me. Amen

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