THE PRAYING LIFE
By D. M. PANTON
PRAYER is something indescribably wonderful - it is personal conversation with God. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (Jas. 4: 8).
Speak to Him, thou, for He hears,
And spirit with spirit can meet,
Nearer is He than breathing,
And closer than hands and feet.
And prayer is still more wonderful. All that we ask of God in conversation He has promised to give: it could not be expressed with more studied emphasis than our Lord expresses it. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matt. 7: 7). Or as the Apostle James puts it negatively:- “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (Jas. 4 : 2). The possibilities of prayer are simply boundless.
Paul opens his special word on prayer with its limitless reach. “Stand therefore, with ALL PRAYER and supplication” (Eph. 6 : 18). To whom is this addressed? If any believer asks, “Am I holy enough to pray?” the answer is that all prayer - prayer in its entirety - is a trust committed to every child of God without exception. In Scripture we have prayer kneeling, standing, walking, sitting (1 Kings 18: 42), and on the face before God. There is prayer in the bedroom, in the family, in the prayer-meeting, in the church; prayer audible and prayer silent; prayer in companies or alone; exceptional prayers; prayers of set purpose, or in sudden ejaculation, or the continued, all-suffusing atmosphere of prayer. It is all most gloriously varied. The ministers and evangelists pray over their subjects, the Sunday School teacher over every scholar in his class; the mother over her child, the business man over his engagements, the youth and maiden over marriage, the ageing over the last lap. It is prayer in every employment, recreation, undertaking; in joys, in trials, in sudden temptations; in personal life, in family life, in church life. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4 : 6). Mr. Spurgeon says:‑“Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been
nearer the Central Glory.”
Next the Apostle deals with the calendar of prayer - “praying AT ALL SEASONS in the Spirit.” “Continuing stedfast in prayer” (Rom. 12: 12). This, in itself is a beautiful revelation of the spiritual character. It means that to us prayer is to be utterly natural that we live in the same room with God; that it is never a violent transition, but always our very life. It was Fletcher of Madeley who whenever he met a friend, said:‑“Do I meet you praying?” The early Christians never met without invoking a benediction, and never parted without a prayer; and to the saints of the Middle Ages each passing incident summoned to intercession - the shadow on the dial, a tolling bell, the flight of a swallow, the setting sun. Sir Thhmas Browne, the author of Religio Medici, covenanted with himself “to pray in all places where quietness inviteth; in any house, highway, or street; and to know no street in this city that may not witness that I have not forgotten God my Saviour in it.” All our life is to be an unbroken litany of prayer: the maturest saint will never grow independent of it: and the smallest child that believes can prevail with God in prayer. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5 17).
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath
The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death,
He enters Heaven with prayer.
Paul’s third point is a critical warning. “Watching thereunto” - constantly alert in regard to prayer – “in ALL PERSEVERANCE.” D. L. Moody used to say that a saint who failed in his prayer life might as well lie down and die, as die he would spiritually if he ceased to pray. Natural impulse, even the spiritual instinct of the regenerate, must be reinforced by vigilance and systematic discipline: “watching thereunto” - watching against forgetfulness and sloth, watching against neglect, watching against formality and unreal prayers; watching for occasions, watching for answers, watching for deepening power in prayer: so watching, that we successfully persevere. There is confession, supplication, intercession, thanksgiving. In Archbishop Trench’s words:-
When prayer delights thee least, then learn to say,
Soul, now is greatest need that thou should’st pray.
Andrew Bonar said:- “I see that unless I keep up short prayer every day, throughout the whole day at intervals, I lose the spirit of prayer.” Paul prayed “day and night exceedingly” (1 Thess. 3: 10).
Paul now unrolls the map over which our prayer is to travel:- “supplication for ALL SAINTS”; all saints, of any intellectual grade, of every social rank, of every degree of holiness, of every theological group; all saints, in all tribes and nations and peoples and tongues. Paul did not know the thousands in God’s Church personally, and much less could he suppose that we should know the milliors of a later, larger Church: yet our prayer is to be as ample, as catholic, as the Church itself. It is most comforting thus to learn that prayer in the mass is effectual; that the Church throughout the world is a better, holier, lovelier Church because you and I pray for it. “The weakest and simplest Christian can take part in the efforts of the strongest” (Westcott), and can mightily help believers he has never seen. Every moment some saint is tempted, or falling, or dying; every moment some saint somewhere is being tortured or shot, or fiercely tempted, or torn with anxiety, or racked with disease, or has denied Christ, or has lapsed into the world - and your prayer and mine can be like an angel descending on him through an open window.
Dr. R. W. Dale sketches the consequences of praying for all saints:- “Some Christian brother, under the stress of bad trade and unexpected losses almost driven to dishonesty, will preserve his integrity: some young man, no longer sheltered in a religious home, and all but dragged down into vice, will stand firm in his fidelity to Christ. Some poor woman, harassed by anxiety, worn down by unkindness, will receive strength and lofty faith. The feverish passion for wealth will be cooled in some Christian merchant. Saintly souls will become more saintly. New fervour will kindle in hearts already glowing with apostolic zeal. New gifts of wisdom and of utterance will be given to souls already conspicuous for their spiritual power. So those living in quiet and obscure places may share the honours and victories of all their comrades, and some part of their final reward.”
We do well to ponder the vast fruits of prayer. Dr. Adoniram Judson says:- “I never prayed sincerely and earnestly for anything but it came at some time - no matter at how distant a day, somehow, in some shape, probably the last I would have devised, it came.” Or in the words of William Wilberforce:- “ALL may be done through prayer, I am ready to say - and why not? For that it is almighty is only through the gracious ordination of the God of love and truth. O then, pray, pray, pray!” And prayer covers our every need, and brings God into it all. It was Lancelot Andrewes, of the seventeenth century, who prayed:- “Be, Lord, within me to without me to guard me, over me to shelter me, beneath me to stablish me, befole me to guide me, after me to forward me, about me to secure me.”
Faith in Prayer
the enormous possibilities of Heaven’s answers rest on its being believing prayer.
Our Lord said:-“All things, whatsoever ye, shall
ask in prayer, BELIEVING, ye shall
receive” (Matt. 21, 22). Hudson
Taylor, on his first trip to
“I will” responded,Mr. Taylor, “providing you will set your sails to catch the wind which my God will send.” “You mean set my sails,when there is not a breath of air stirring?” asked the captain. “Why, I cannot do that. I would become the laughing stock of the entire crew. No, I will set the sails after God has answered your prayers.”
“Then I will not pray,”
When the captain realized that Mr. Taylor meant what
he said he threw aside his pride and set the sails as if the wind were up and
blowing in the right direction. In the
meantime, Mr. Taylor went to his knees calling upon God for help. After some time Mr.
Prayer and Revival*
[*From Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony., April/June 2011]
By Edwin Colley
(Mr Colley is a pastor in Alabama, U.S.A. and this message was given last year, 
together with the following one, at a Baptist Conference in the States).
“Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the Kingdom. If you may have everything by asking in His Name, and nothing without asking, I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is” (Charles Spurgeon).
My subject is “Prayer and Revival.” The assignment as I understand it is to explore the relationship of the prayers of the people of God and the outbreak of revival. Does prayer play any role in bringing about revival? Does the concentrated prayer of an individual or a group always precede special movements of God that we call revival? Is a prayer-less revival an exception?
Prayer Not Always a Pecursor to Revival
Bible presents an exception to the rule. A city of
example will suffice to show that revival, as always, is a sovereign act of God
and when and how He brings it about is entirely up to Him. The church at
Prayer for Revival* Just May Be Answered
is, though, a means the Lord uses to accomplish His purposes. At times He prompts His people to pray for
that which already is His purpose including revival. He made very specific promises to His people
then concludes, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet
for this be enquired of by the house of
“There are unmistakable signs of the Holy Spirit’s
work here and there,” writes D.
M. Panton in Dawn, (Vol. XXV. No. 1 No. 273, January, 1947.) “Only a short time
ago two young ministers went to
Preacher Praying is Indispensable
Some have said that the prayer of the preacher is most important for revival. “There are plenty of preachers who will preach and deliver great and eloquent addresses on the need of revival and the spread of the kingdom of God*, but not many there are who will do that without which all preaching and organizing are worse than vain - pray. It is out of date, almost a lost art, and the greatest benefactor this age could have is the man who will bring the preachers and the Church back to prayer” (E M Bounds).
It is said that George Whitefield prayed, “Give me souls or take my life.”
[* Happy shall we be if by today’s tragedies we are driven to God. In the words of the Bishop of Rochester at the Cantenary of the World’s Evangelical Alliance:- “If revolutionary change called for universal and united prayer a century ago, the need for such oecumenical intercession has increased a hundred-fold as we pass, in one stride, into a completely new era in which the whole world is involved. Upon our generation ‘the ends of the ages are come,’ and men’s hearts are ‘failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth’.”]
Prayer will Consume Time
Our Lord would spend all night in prayer. He would arise a great while before day and pray. Samuel prayed all night. The economy of the Christian life is important. In the matter of financial resources we try to ensure that our scarce funds are spent to get the most value for them. The most necessary things like food and shelter are the highest on our list of non-negotiable spend items. As believers, how we use the scarce resource of time allotted to us is most important. For the preacher his time can be absorbed in matters of lesser importance to the detriment of the work of God. An example of this is found early in church history. “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve 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 continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word:” (Acts 6: 14).
note the order of priority – “to prayer, and to the
ministry of the Word.” The saints
the Word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in
“Pray especially for the ministers of the Gospel, that
they may set forth the love of God to the conversion of many souls. Pray from then that they may not shun to declare the
whole counsel of God, so that they may present every man perfect in
Christ Jesus. Remember their
difficulties. To be anxious for souls
and yet not impatient, to be patient and yet not indifferent, to bear the infirmities
of the weak without fostering them, to testify against sin and unfaithfulness
and the low standard of spiritual life, and yet to keep the stream of love free
and full and open – to have the mind of a faithful shepherd, a hopeful
physican, a tender nurse, a skilful teacher – requires the continual renewal of
the Lord’s grace. Pray for the
Preachers rightly love to study God’s Word and read books that will help them in the presentation of God’s truth to His people. Prayer is such a necessary component of effective, heaven-sent preaching and ministering that to ignore it or put it in a lesser place of importance is a sure road to less than God’s best. “Tried this morning specially to pray against idols in the shape of my books and studies. These encroach upon my direct communion with God, and need to be watched:” (Andrew Bonar, September 17, 1850).
Robert Murray McCheyne, the Scottish preacher, was conversant in Hebrew, wrote his diary in Latin to keep private matters secluded from most prying eyes, but was pre-eminently a man of preaching and prayer. It is said of him that he was offered places of duty of far larger scope than where he served. He turned them all down because where he was he was afforded more time to pray. After his death a visitor was being led on a tour of his study and pulpit by an elderly man who knew him and sat under his ministry. He told the visitor, who may have desired to be like McCheyne in certain ways, to sit down at his study desk. “Put your elbows on the table, put your head in your hands, now let the tears flow; that is the way Mr McCheyne used to do,” said the sexton. He then took him to the pulpit and followed the same course. Preacher praying is important.
Church Praying Is Important
Godly men have testified that especial movements of God where they have ministered have come after the Lord’s people made it a special object of concerted, united prayer. English preacher, Sidlow Baxter, when he was eighty-five years of age, said, “I have pastored only three churches in my more than sixty years of ministry. We had revival in every one. And not one of them came as a result of my preaching. They came as a result of the membership entering into a covenant to pray until revival come. And it did come, every time.”
Dr A T Pierson once said, “There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.'
“United prayer is useful inasmuch as God has promised extraordinary and special blessings in connection with it, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them:’ (Matthew 18: 20). ‘If 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’ (Matthew 18:19). God asks for agreement, and, once the saints agree, He pledges Himself that the prayer of His agreeing ones shall be answered. Why, see what accumulated force there is in prayer, when one after another pours out their passionate desires; when many seem to be tugging at the rope; when many seem to be knocking at mercy’s gate; when the mighty cries of many burning hearts come up to heaven. When, my beloved, you go and shake the very gates of heaven with the powerful battering-ram of holy passion, and sacred insistence, then will the kingdom of heaven forcefully advance. When first one, and then another, and yet another, throws their whole soul into the prayer, the kingdom of heaven is conquered and the victory is very great indeed:” (Charles Spurgeon).
Lord made it clear that united prayer that He directs yields answers from
heaven. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall
agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for
them of My Father Which is in heaven:” (Matthew
18:19). The Greek word for ‘agree’ is that from which we get our word ‘symphony.’ A
symphony is a collection of artists playing their respective instruments. They are under the direction of one maestro
and play one piece of music. You might
say that the maestro leads the musicians to a harmonious rendering of the
music. In such a way the Lord as the
maestro prompts here one and then another to pray along the same lines to
accomplish His purposes. History has
recorded more than one example of revivals resulting from two, then three, then
many praying for it. The Layman’s Prayer
Revival of 1857‑1858 began when Jeremiah
Lanphier started a prayer meeting in
What Moves One to Pray for Revival
The need for revival may be personal, church or societal. The promptings to earnestly pray for it may result from many reasons.
Prayer the Response to Desperation
Prayer may result from a sense of distance from the Lord and desperation for the distance to be removed: “To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, 0 God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. 0 my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the Ignd of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar” (Psalm 42:1-6).
Prayers of Desperation May Result from Dangerous Circumstances and lead to great things
“And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy Word, by stretching forth Thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the Name of Thy holy child Jesus. 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 boldness ... and with great power gave the apostles witness of the RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4: 29-33).
Prayer for Revival May Result from Assurance That It Will Be Heard
If one is not assured that their prayers are heard and answered then one is reluctant to go through the exercise. If one sees no value in what they do then the sane man will cease doing it. For the believer the initial impulse of life is to pray, “Abba, Father.” This impulse is God-given with the understanding that prayer is the child crying out to his Father Who alone can sustain and help. It is not like an atheist who once attempted to belittle prayer by saying that one could take a stone, place it in front of them, pray to it and get as much response as praying to God: yes, no, or maybe. The Lord places before His people examples of those who know the efficacy of prayer. I have no doubt the disciples saw the value of prayer in the life of our Lord. They would marvel at His stamina, the result of “meat to eat that ye know not of” resulting from His prayer life. They would seek for instruction on prayer, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” to pray (Luke 11: 1). Why do so if they had not seen that the Father heard and answered the prayers of His Son?
We are Commanded to Pray. We are Encouraged to Pray.
“Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33: 3).
Praying in a Believing Manner has Assurances.
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21: 22).
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him:” (James 5:15).
Prayers of a Righteous Man that are Fervent an Effectual Accomplish Much (and Revival is Much)
“Confess 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. Elias was a mansubject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: andit rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayedagain, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit:” (James 5:16‑18).
The Largeness of the Petition Should be no Impediment to Pray
In the words of John Newton, -
“Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself has bid thee pray,
therefore will not say thee nay.
Thou art coming to a King,
large petitions with thee bring;
for His grace and power are such,
none can ever ask too much.”
The Place of Prayer May Be Important
A preacher acquaintance of mine who is now with the Lord had a ministry that was singularly blessed of the Lord. He was a strong believer in the importance of the Lord’s church. He believed and observed how that many times the Lord met with His people at a particular location. Gathering that the location had been set aside for the Lord’s visitations he remarked that if he had an especial burden to pray about that he would make his way to the church building to offer up his prayers and supplications.
Moses was a great intercessor. The place where he sought the LORD was important to him. Those like minded were encouraged to come with him to pray. “And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation (Place of Meeting). And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door:” (Exodus 33: 7-10).
History has examples where two or more were prompted to meet in a particular location specifically to pray for an especial movement of God and their prayers after a time were answered.
For What Should We Pray?
Martyn Lloyd‑Jones, in ‘Revival’ (pages 174‑186), pointed his hearers and readers to Exodus 33:12-17 for instruction on what to pray about to lead to a powerful manifestation of God’s presence among His people.
In that passage we glean that Moses saw the need for the following: (1) There is a need for assurance of the way in order that the Lord may be known (verse 13). This the Lord answered with the promise of His presence (verse 14). (2) There is a need for assurance that the Lord is uniquely among His people so that others may know (verse 16). The Lord responded He would do that very thing (verse 17).
Our prayer for God’s especial movement among His people should at least contain these components. Who among us would not say that we need assurances from heaven that of all the people who meet in the Name of Christ that somewhere, somehow clarity is needed so that the world would know the true from the false?
We may never feel at liberty to limit the Lord to any particular formula for bringing about His powerful movements among men. His ways are far higher than ours.
But, where we see evidence of some cause and effect in the Bible and repeated, verified acts in history where the cause and effect cycle occurs we should not dismiss it either. It matters not if we have personally experienced revival. If we sense the need for it, may that be the impulse from heaven to pray for it? If He is prompting to pray, does not that mean He intends to provide?
“Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the Kingdom. If you may have everything by asking in His Name, and nothing without asking, I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is:” (Charles Spurgeon).
Touch me with Thy healing hand, Lord,
Take the life I fully yield,
Teach Thy word, and tell Thy will, Lord
Test the heart that Thou hast sealed.
Melt the hardness and the coldness,
Mould the life I yield to Thee,
Mark Thy pureness and for boldness,
Make Thy presence felt in me.
Show me how to win the lost ones,
Send me where I ought to go,
Satisfy my deepest longings,
Sanctifying power bestow.
Feed me with the bread of Heaven,
Fill me woth Thy love Divine,
Fit me for yet wider service,
Finish, Lord, this work of Thine.
- HUGN SLADEN.
“Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness:” – WILLIAM CAREY.
“Prayer takes the very highest energy of which the human is capable:” – JOHN COLERIDGE.
“Prayer is the most important thing in my life. If I should neglect prayer for a single day, I should loose a great deal of the fire of faith:” – MARTIN LUTHER..
“Prayer is the creator as well as the channel of devotion:” – E. M. BOUNDS.
“Prayer which is effective is that prayer which attains the blessing that it seeks. It is that prayer which effectually moves God:” – CHARLES G. FINNEY.
“Prayer must carry all the works as well as our preaching. Paul gives us frequently his example of praying night and day for his hearers:” – RICHARD BAXTER.
“Prayer is releasing the energies of God. For prayer is asking God to do what we cannot do:”
– CHARLES TRUMBULL.
“Prayer is a rising up, and a drawing near to God in mind, and in heart, and in spirit:”
– ALEXANDER WHYTE.
“Prayer is a serious thing. We may be taken at our words:” – D. L. MOODY.
A PRAYER 
Be with me, Lord, throughout this day,
Be ever by my side, I pray;
At work, at play, with friend or foe,
Be with me Lord, where’er I go.
Be with me when the path is light,
And all life’s way seems fair and bright;
Be with me in temptation’s hour,
And guide me, Lord, with Thy great power.
Be with me, Lord, when troubles rise,
And black clouds darken o’ er the skies,
And when the angry waves shall beat,
Be thou, O Lord, my safe retreat.
Be with me, Lord, in Death’s dark vale,
And when my gasping breath shall fail,
Oh, take me Lord, within Thine arms,
Away from this world’s cares and harms.
- PATRICIA CARTER.
“JESUS, REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM:” (Luke 23: 42.)