It has often been said that prayer is the greatest force in the universe. This is no exaggeration. It will bear constant repetition. In this atomic age when forces are being released that stagger the thought and imagination of man, it is well to remember that prayer transcends all other forces.
The reason lies near at hand. It is that prayer does not release some mere force of man or nature. Prayer releases the immeasurable wealth and power of Almighty God. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jer. 33:3). There you have it. “I will shew you great and mighty things.” It is the voice of God. It is the omnipotent Sovereign, Creator, and Sustainer of a hundred million universes, as astronomers are wont to speak of creation today, who here gives us His Word. He says, in effect, that if you will pray He will work. He with whom nothing is impossible, who spoke and worlds without number came into being pledges His most holy and immutable word that if we will but seek His face in prayer He will work and bring to pass great and mighty things such as have never been entertained in the mind and thought of man.
It is to be understood that the great and mighty things which the Lord of heaven and earth promises to bring to pass are those which have to do with the well-being of the children of men. The Lord is bent on the redemption of
mankind. To attain this end He threw in, as it were, everything He had. He gave what was dearer than a million worlds. God’s supreme purpose has as its goal the everlasting bliss of the children of men. That is why He gave
Himself to die in infinite shame and pain upon a wretched Cross that sin, the enthralling monster, enemy of man’s well-being and happiness, might be forever destroyed. That Christ the Redeemer might be enthroned in the hearts of men and His kingdom established, God will work great and mighty things in answer to the prayers of His children.
It is an amazing thing that should stab Christians into an awful realization of their responsibility, that in a real sense God has limited Himself in the working of the great and mighty things He so desires to accomplish for man’s good, to the prayers of His people. If we will not pray, to put it bluntly, He cannot work. Jesus our Lord, we are told, could not
do the mighty works of love and healing He was wont to do, in Nazareth, His hometown. It was because of the unbelief of the people. Unbelief and prayerlessness spring from the same root. Just as unbelief bound His hands at
Calvary, so prayerlessness binds them today. Just why God’s working the great and mighty things for man’s eternal well-being and glory is limited to man’s praying may be one of the deep mysteries of theology, but there it stands. If there is a fact to which the Bible, which has been called a textbook on prayer, bears eloquent witness, it is this fact. If there is one thing that stands out with letters aflame with meaning, it is that if God is to work great and mighty things in the affairs of men and nations, carrying forward His sublime purposes of redemption, men must pray, lifting their voices to the throne of God in earnest supplication and sincere adoration. They must pray is did Abraham, pray as did Jacob, pray as did Moses, pray as did Isaiah and the prophets, yea, pray as did Jesus our Lord and His apostles.
We would not minimize the importance of other forms of service in the establishment of the kingdom of God. But we must admit that prayer is the foremost weapon (“The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God”). Prayer must undergird all forms of Christian service if they are to be truly fruitful. You can do good things and bless men without prayer; but God’s ends wherein man’s eternal good is found, cannot be so achieved. We see an example in the life of our Lord. As a man, He wrought nothing without prayer. He initiated nothing without prayerfully waiting on the Father. He laid down an unvarying principle, saying, “The Son can do nothing of himself, what he seeth the Father do” (John 5:19). Prayer with the Son of Man was the very breath of life. “Father,” He said, as He stood beside Lazarus’ tomb, “I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always.” His closing word on the Cross was a prayer. We are told that He ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Prayer is not only man’s highest privilege and his most cherished joy (for thereby he holds communion with Him who is the Foundation of Life), but it is also man’s most effective weapon whereby he may achieve. Beside this, all
else pales as when the stars are eclipsed by the rising sun. All else leaves man floundering in the muck and chaos of self-effort which has never been anything but a blind alley. All else leaves him as a frail bark on life’s stormy seas without a helm, without a compass, without a pilot. If we build without direction from the most High who orders all for man’s good according to an eternal plan (here is the highest definition of prayer whereby we listen to God and receive strength to obey), our labors, however brilliant, must finally come naught. It is he who doeth the will of God who abideth forever (I John 2:17). Prayer in its truest form, its deepest and most worthy expression, brings man’s little day and effort into a harmonious blend with the great pattern and purposes of the Father of Lights and thereby gives to man’s otherwise puny achievements everlasting glory and meaning.
Prayer is work of such a sublime order that it goes beyond the imagination of men. For when the Christian prays, his capacity to achieve and his power to do good are multiplied a thousand, yea, a hundred thousandfold. This is no exaggeration, the reason being that when man prays, God works. It is now no longer mere man, though without man’s co-operation the vast machine of spiritual outreach and achievement is, so to speak, without a spark plug.
It is man releasing the wealth of the bank of heaven. It is man confounding himself with the purposes of God and so making it possible for them to be realized. It is man plus God. Oh, what a plus! Nay, it is God releasing his matchless energies in lieu of a decisive factor without which Omnipotence is in a sense rendered impotent. Witness Moses standing in the breach and praying for forgiveness for the children of Israel when, because of the worship of the golden calf, the Lord’s wrath was kindled and He purposed to destroy Israel. Listen to the voice of God as He speaks saying (Ezek. 22:30,31), “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore I have poured out mine indignation
upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath…” Witness the ministry of prayer of the great intercessors of the Bible. Witness the achievements of the George Mullers and the Praying Hydes and the David
Brainerds and the Amy Carmichaels of the Church.
One might open the Book of the Psalms almost at random and find such passages as this one: “Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps. 107:17-21)
The power of prayer is shown forcibly in the words which President Eisenhower chose as his text on the day of his inauguration. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (II Chron. 7:14).
Furthermore, when man prays, he is no longer hemmed in within the circle of a merely human sphere of activity. His tiny scope as he seeks to do good and to bless benighted souls in need of the redemptive liberation of the Gospel of Christ, becomes as vast as the life of the nations. When he preaches, should he be a herald of the glad tidings of God’s love, he may bless a congregation of believers; but when he prays his capacity to bless is without limit. He may pray, as he is admonished to do, for all the saints and consequently bless a hundred million believers, yea, all the members of the body of Christ. It is no longer he (though he be (indispensable) but the One who sustains the universe and gives to all things their virtue and whose power to bless knows no bounds. Through prayer, you can touch the ends of the earth and enter upon a universal ministry. Prayer makes it possible for you to open a beneficent and immeasurably bountiful hand to bless souls in distant lands. Through prayer, you may release forces which will bring redemption to races cursed with cannibalism and idolatry and superstition and despair in continents beyond the seas. What a staggering fact. Jesus our Lord in His high priestly prayer prayed for all those who should believe on Him (John 17:20). His prayer embraced all ages. So yours may bless people yet unborn. On your knees you may thrust forth missionaries to the farthermost reaches of a sin-stricken humanity’s heathenism; you may visit every prison in America and be a bearer of light to souls that secretly weep in the throes of endless night; you may visit every brothel in all the cities of the world and snatch souls from the flames of everlasting shame and bring them to the One who forgave all to the woman who kissed His sacred feet and washed them with her tears. Lest you think I am indulging in mad hyperboles, please read that the Saviour says in Luke 10:2, and John 15:7. With God neither
time nor space are barriers. He can work immediately in the hearts of men everywhere. Did not the Saviour say speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit, that He would convict the world of sin? And are we not given to
understand that it is not the Father’s will for any to perish? And is it not written that he Christ the Lord is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world? (I John 2:2)
It is when men bow the knee and call upon God that in a sense they become as mighty as the Almighty. Do not misunderstand me. I am not being irreverent. I am only saying what He said in His Holy Word. “Call unto me,
and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” You pray, says the Almighty God, and I will work. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it. “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 50:15).
Come, He says in effect, bow the knee and call upon me. As you pray I will work. I pledge my omnipotence. You may not see at once any change, though there are times when before my people call, I answer. If you will but believe and wait upon me, all things will be possible; the very course of history may be changed, for with me nothing is impossible.
Again I quote the words of Holy Writ where the Lord says: “I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore I have poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord” (Ezek. 22:30,31).
(The above material was taken from Prayer’s Deeper Secrets.)
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