I Can?t Pray

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 4
The fire burned brightly on the hearth in the King's Head Inn, while the landlord, leaning with his back to the wall, discussed the news of the day with one of his neighbors.
It was the twilight of a winter afternoon. Suddenly the sound of wheels came from outside. Hastily getting up the landlord ran to the front door. The neighbor disappeared through the back door— just as the stable boy entered by it with a lantern to take his master's orders concerning the horses. All was suddenly hustle, bustle and business.
"Good to see you, sir! Come in," said the landlord as he greeted the incoming guest. "The lad will lead your horses to the stable."
A tall, grave-looking man entered the room. The landlord pushed up a chair.
"I am going to stay with you, tonight," said the stranger. "I am Rowland Hill. You have family prayers in this house?"
If the king himself had walked in, the landlord could not have been more surprised. He opened his eyes wide and replied, "I never had such a thing as family prayer here." And then, with sullen determination in his voice he added, "And I don't want it now."
"Oh, very well," said Mr. Hill, "will you kindly have my horses brought round again? I cannot stop in a house where they will not pray to God." And he arose and took up again the heavy cloak he had thrown off.
The landlord saw that he was in earnest, and not wanting to lose a guest when travelers were few, reluctantly said that Mr. Hill might have prayer if he liked.
"Ah, but I'm not in the habit of conducting worship in other people's houses," said Mr. Hill. "You must do it yourself."
"I never prayed in my life," muttered the man, almost below his breath, "and I couldn't pray." He hung his head, ashamed of the confession. There was silence.
"My dear man," said Mr. Hill persuasively, "you will begin tonight." With that he sat down again in front of the fire, and the landlord relieved at least for the time, busied himself with the many duties of a wayside innkeeper.
But that night something happened in the King's Head Inn which had never happened before. The sight of a family on its knees, and the sound of heartfelt prayer were unfamiliar in that room.
"Now," said Mr. Hill, "every man prays in his own house; you must pray tonight."
"I can't pray; indeed I can't," said the landlord as he knelt with his wife and children; "I can't pray, Mr. Hill."
"What, man!" was the solemn reply; "are you so ungrateful that you can't thank God for all His mercies? And can't you ask Him to forgive you your sins?"
But the landlord kept repeating that he never had prayed and that he could not pray.
"Then tell the Lord you can't pray, and ask Him to help you," said Mr. Hill.
And at last the landlord with tears in his eyes, cried out, "O Lord, I can't pray. I wish I could!"
"Ah! You have begun to pray," said Rowland Hill. "Now I will pray for you."
And the prayer was answered. The landlord of King's Head Inn was brought to Christ, and soon learned to put the prayers he felt in his heart into words.
"Now that God has set you to pray," Rowland Hill told him, "faint though it be, you will never leave off."
And he never did.