Prayer and Watching

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
If we could look at it aright we should perhaps be impressed with the fact that there are few things connected with our life more wonderful than prayer. It is the breathing of the hidden life-the expression of the soul's intercourse with God. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof," said Christ when speaking of new birth; so prayer is the sound that often indicates that this mysterious operation in the soul has taken place-as was said of newly converted. Saul of Tarsus, "Behold, he prayeth." Prayer is one of two tangible links with the unseen. The other is the Bible. In one God speaks to us; in the other we speak to Him.
It is also the expression of conscious weakness and dependence—the acknowledgment that man is insufficient of himself and must look outside himself-the standing rebuke of atheism and every form of unbelief. Indirectly it is one of the strongest evidences that there is a supreme Being.
Men have in all ages felt the necessity of prayer and found in it the greatest relief.
Years ago, a German emperor gave an address on prayer, in which he made use of the following striking illustration:
"Far away in the Taunus mountains some remarkable bells are hung on the summit of the peaks. No hand ever rings them. Silent, dumb, they hang there in the sunshine. But when the storm wind comes they begin to swing, and then to peal, and then their chimes are heard far below in the valley. God has hung in every heart a praying bell. Yet how often in the sunshine it is silent and dumb. But when the storm wind of trouble comes it begins to ring."
If prayer is so remarkable, what shall be said of answers to prayer? It is a great marvel to see a man of intelligence kneeling and addressing some One unseen, whom he has never seen; it is but a greater marvel still when from that unseen Person, thus addressed, there comes a distinct and an unmistakable response. Thousands of Christians can bear testimony to the fact that prayer is answered. The wonder is that more notice is not taken of it. Perhaps it is partly accounted for by the circumstance that answers to prayer often come so naturally that we are less impressed than otherwise we should be. God uses means, and it frequently happens that we lose sight of the answer to prayer just because means were used.
Should we not have more frequent answers to prayers if we were simple enough to make every need an occasion for asking, and were on the lookout for an ,answer? Not only praying always, but "watching thereunto." We are apt to think we can manage some things ourselves, and this is where we often stumble and stray. How apt we are to forget the exhortation, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Nothing is too small for
God's notice, or too trivial to be a subject of prayer.
We shall surely find subject matter for prayer in the very details of everyday life. Our families, our business, our service for the Lord will severally contribute; and if we watch unto prayer, and are ourselves in a right state, we shall be favored by receiving answers. This will bring God very near to us, and make intercourse with Him a great reality. And if .this is done, not as a mere experiment, or in vain curiosity, but in artless dependence and childlike confidence, the gain will be great. Only let us be simple. It is not the long, flowery, eloquent prayers tha t necessarily are -answered, but the direct, believing prayers that go from the heart-these reach the ear of God. We may not be able to express ourselves very well; but if the heart is pure, and the intention right, God can interpret it.
Prayer will often accomplish great things. King Jehoshaphat discovered this. When a great multitude of the children of Moab and Ammon came against him, he "set himself to seek the LORD." And this is his confession: "We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee." And what was the result? God fought for them. He set the enemy against one another. "And when Judah came toward the watchtower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped." All that Judah did toward it was to appoint singers to go before the army to "praise the beauty of holiness," and, to say, "Praise ye the Lord . . for His mercy endureth for ever." Surely if our eyes were more upon the Lord our lips would more often praise Him.
Do we not learn from such incidents as this how much can be accomplished by prayer? We may not be great preachers or have much gift or be able to fill any conspicuous place; but we can pray, we can speak to the One without whose blessing preaching and gift and place are of no account. And perhaps we may some day discover that a result which we thought was due to some prominent brother was really brought about by the prayers of some humble believing saint, and God simply used the other in answer to those prayers. The instrument is seen, and very often down here gets all the honor; but in a future day that honor may have to be shared by another perhaps now unknown.
A servant of the Lord was once led to visit a certain village for the purpose of speaking to the people and distributing tracts. He called at one house and found the inmate a bedridden child of God. When he told her his mission to the place, he noticed her face light up with a sudden glow. On inquiry he found that for ten years she had prayed that God would send someone on the very errand on which he had come. Her prayers were answered. She could not do the work herself, but she could ask God to send another to do it. Will they not both have their reward in that coming day?