12. Praying

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 5
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."
A godly man is a praying man. "Every one that is godly shall pray unto Thee." As soon as grace is poured in, prayer is poured out. Prayer is the soul's traffic with heaven; God comes down to us by His Spirit, and we go up to Him by prayer.
A spiritual prayer is a believing prayer: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matt. 21:2222And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)). The reason why so many prayers suffer shipwreck, is because they split against the rock of unbelief; praying without faith is shooting without bullets.
A spiritual prayer is an holy prayer: Wherefore lift up holy hands (1 Tim. 2:88I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (1 Timothy 2:8)). Prayer must be offered on the altar of a pure heart; sin lived in makes the heart hard, and God's ear deaf; sin stops the mouth of prayer, it doth as the thief to the traveler, puts a gag in his mouth, that he cannot speak; "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psa. 66:1818If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalm 66:18)). It is foolish to pray against sin, and then to sin against prayer.
A spiritual prayer is an humble prayer: "LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble" (Psa. 10:1717Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: (Psalm 10:17)). Prayer is the asking of an alms, which requires humility. It is comely to see a poor nothing lie at the feet of its Maker; "Behold, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:2727And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: (Genesis 18:27)). The lower the heart descends, the higher the prayer ascends. God accepts broken expressions, when they come from broken hearts.
A spiritual prayer is when we have spiritual ends in prayer. There is a vast difference between a spiritual prayer, and a carnal desire: the ends of a hypocrite are carnal; he looks a-squint in prayer; it is not the sense of his spiritual wants that moves him, but rather lust; "Ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:33Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)). The sinner prays more for food than grace; this God doth not interpret praying, but howling. "They howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine" (Hos. 7:1414And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. (Hosea 7:14)). Prayers which want a good aim want a good answer. A godly man drives the trade of prayer that he may increase the stock of grace.
Prayer delights God's ear, it melts His heart, it opens His hand: God cannot deny a praying soul.
How hard is it sometimes to get leave of hearts to seek God! Jesus Christ went more willingly to the cross than we do to the throne of grace.
Christ was in an agony at prayer (Luke 22:4444And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)). Many when they pray are rather in a lethargy, than in an agony. When they are about the world, they are all fire; when they are at prayer, they are all ice.
"Effectual fervent prayer prevails much" (James 5:1616Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)). Cold prayers, like cold suitors, never speed. Prayer without fervency, is like a sacrifice without a fire. Prayer is called a "pouring out of the soul", to signify vehemence (1 Sam. 1:1515And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:15)). Formality starves prayer.
If you would keep your mind fixed in prayer, keep your eye fixed. "Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens" (Psa. 123:11<<A Song of degrees.>> Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. (Psalm 123:1)). Much vanity comes in at the eye. When the eye wanders in prayer, the heart wanders. Love is a great fixer of the thoughts. He who is in love cannot keep his thoughts off the object. He who loves the world has his thoughts upon the world. Did we love God more, our minds would be more intent upon Him in prayer. He who gives himself liberty to have vain thoughts out of prayer, will scarcely have other thoughts in prayer.
He that leaves off prayer leaves off to fear God. "Thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God" (Job 15:44Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God. (Job 15:4)). A man that has left off prayer is fit for any wickedness. When Saul had given over inquiring after God he went to the witch of Endor.
Faith is the breath of prayer; prayer is dead unless faith breathe in it. "Let him ask in faith" (James 1:66But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:6)). "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matt. 21:2222And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. (Matthew 21:22)). Without faith it is speaking, not praying. Faith must take prayer by the hand, or there is no coming nigh to God. A faithless prayer is fruitless. "They could not enter in because of unbelief", is as true of prayer; it cannot enter into heaven because of unbelief.