A comparison of the following book titles on the subject of prayer points up some of the tensions of the subject:
Where is the Lord of Elijah? (Cox.) vs. You Never Walk Alone (Mesner)
How Can God Answer Prayer? (Biederwolf) vs. Getting Things from God
Let’s Pray Together (Fromer) vs. The Hidden Life of Prayer (McIntyre)
Saying Better Prayers (Karney) vs. Prayer Without Pretending (Townsend)
Teach Yourself to Pray (Winward) vs. The Holy Spirit-Our Teacher in
Five Laws That Govern Prayer (Gordon) vs. Beyond the Natural Order
…and lastly Taking Hold of God (Zwemer) vs. Prayer: Conversing With
?? Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical Preaching》
A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn‟t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block ten times. If I don‟t park here, I‟ll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses.”
When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note: “I‟ve circled this block for ten years. If I don‟t give you a ticket, I‟ll lose my job. Lead us not unto temptation.” ?? Michael P. Green《Illustrations for Biblical
Eight-ninths of the bulk of an iceberg is below the waterline and out of sight. Only one-ninth is visible above the surface. Our prayer life should be like an iceberg, with about one-ninth showing in public group prayer and eight-ninth out of sight in our personal prayer time.
Thyra Bjorn told the story of accompanying her pastor father one evening to the shack of a poverty-stricken old man. He was crippled with age and pain, yet he offered them what hospitality he could, and when they prayed together, the old man‟s face came alive as the agony of his present life gave way to radiant joy. Rather than asking anything of God, the man thanked him in detail for his shack, his warm bed, his visitors, for everything that was a part of his seemingly cramped and limited existence. When he had finished, Bjorn wrote, “he looked as happy and contented as though he had no discomfort at all.”
On the way home through the dark could fall air, Thyra‟s father sighted the
lamp being lit in their parsonage in the valley below and called his daughter‟s attention to it. Then the thought struck the young girl that this too was what the old man in the cabin had seen: “He had seen his Father‟s house and knew that he
soon would be home. There would be no more sickness or pain or loneliness there, and no more sorrow. And the light of prayer would lead him home.”
A little boy was saying his bedtime prayers with his mothe: “Lord, bless Mommy and Daddy, and God, GIVE ME A NEW BICYCLE!!!”
Mom: “God‟s not deaf, son.”
Boy: “I know, Mom, but Grandma‟s in the next room, and she‟s hard of hearing!”
A boy, age six, was invited by a friend to have dinner. When his friend‟s family were all seated around the table, the food was served. The young guest was puzzled and-with the frankness children are so well known for-asked, “Don‟t you
say any prayer before you eat?” The host was embarrassed by the question and mumbled, “No, we don‟t take time for that.” The boy was silent for a moment and then said, “Oh, I see, you eat like my dog does. He just starts right in, too.”
I crawled across the barrenness
To you with my empty cup
In asking any small drop of refreshment.
If only I had known you better
I‟d have come running with a bucket.
— Nancy Spiegelberg
The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.
He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day. John Bunyan
The fewer the words, the better the prayer. To have prayed well is to have studied well.
In Ivan endures all the horrors of a Soviet prison camp. One day he is praying with his eyes closed when a fellow prisoner notices him and says with ridicule, "Prayers won't help you get out of here any faster." Opening his eyes, Ivan answers, "I do not pray to get out of prison but to do the will of God." Our Daily Bread, December 29, 1993
A friend of mine took his small son with him to town one day to run some errands. When lunch time arrived, the two of them went to a familiar diner for a sandwich. The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and lifted the boy up to the seat beside him. They ordered lunch, and when the waiter brought the food, the father said, "Son, we'll just have a silent prayer." Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but he just sat with his head bowed for an unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, "What in the world were you praying about all that time?" With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied, "How do I know? It was a silent prayer."
Our Daily Bread, December 12
When Robert Louis Stevenson was a boy he once remarked to his mother, "Momma, you can't be good without praying." "How do you know, Robert?" she asked. "Because I've tried!" he answered. This brings to mind a story about another little fellow -- one who had been sent to his room because he had been bad. A short time later he came out and said to his mother, "I've been thinking about what I did and I said a prayer." "That's fine," she said, "if you ask God to make you good, He will help you." "Oh, I didn't ask Him to help me be good," replied the boy. "I asked Him to help you put up with me."
Our Daily Bread, June 15.
When we pray, remember:
1. The love of God that wants the best for us.
2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
3. The power of God that can accomplish it.
William Barclay, Prodigals and Those Who Love.
"...Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons -- but they are helpless against our prayers." Sidlow Baxter
Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you. Martin Luther
Dr. Helen Roseveare, missionary to Zaire, told the following story. "A mother at our mission station died after giving birth to a premature baby. We tried to improvise an incubator to keep the infant alive, but the only hot water bottle we had was beyond repair. So we asked the children to pray for the baby and for her sister. One of the girls responded. 'Dear God, please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be too late because by then the baby will be dead. And dear Lord, send a doll for the sister so she won't feel so lonely.' That afternoon a large package arrived from England. The children watched eagerly as we opened it. Much to their surprise, under some clothing was a hot water bottle! Immediately the girl who had prayed so earnestly started to dig deeper, exclaiming, 'If God sent that, I'm sure He also sent a doll!' And she was right! The heavenly Father knew in advance of that child's sincere requests, and 5 months earlier He had led a ladies' group to include both of those specific articles."
Attending church in Kentucky, we watched an especially verbal and boisterous child being hurried out, slung under his irate father's arm. No one in the congregation so much as raised an eyebrow -- until the child captured everyone's attention by crying out in a charming Southern accent, "Ya'll pray for me now!" Jean McMahon (Dyer, Ind.) in Reader's Digest, April 1980.
Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, "Brother, the grass grows on your path."
Today in the Word, June 29, 1992.
God can pick sense out of a confused prayer.
"There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as prayer for him. William Law
If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.
When Luther's puppy happened to be at the table, he looked for a morsel from his master, and watched with open mouth and motionless eyes; he (Martin Luther) said, 'Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish or hope."
What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use--men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.
He that cannot pray, let him go to sea, and there he will learn. God never denied that soul anything that went as far as heaven to ask for it. John Trapp
I fear John Knox's prayers more than an army of ten thousand men. Mary, Queen of Scotland
While very ill, John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, called to his wife and said, "Read me that Scripture where I first cast my anchor." After he listened to the beautiful prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17, he seemed to forget his weakness. He began to pray, interceding earnestly for his fellowmen. He prayed for the ungodly who had thus far rejected the gospel. He pleaded in behalf of people who had been recently converted. And he requested protection for the Lord's servants, many of whom were facing persecution. As Knox prayed, his spirit went Home to be with the Lord. The man of whom Queen Mary had said, "I fear his prayers more than I do the armies of my enemies," ministered through prayer until the moment of his death.
Our Daily Bread. April 11
I had rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer fetched the angel. Thomas Watson
Christ went more readily ad crucem (to the cross), than we do to the throne of grace.
When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy words without heart.
You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.
Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer."
More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
A tale is told about a small town that had historically been "dry," but then a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that "no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not."
J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 129.
Mr. and Mrs. Moody often had guests in their Chicago home. One evening, fter a very demanding day, Moody asked a visiting Christian to lead in family devotions. The man waxed eloquent as he expounded the symbolism in a difficult chapter of the Bible. Then he prayed at great length. When the worship was over, Mrs. Moody and the guest got up from their knees, but Moody remained bowed in prayer. The guest thought that he was praying, but Mrs. Moody soon detected that her husband was--asleep!
W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 206.
When I cannot pray I always sing.
Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray--to really pray. Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight--all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word 'concern' out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice. Robert E. Lee.
What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more. Robert Murray McCheyne.
Among those in the court of Alexander the Great was a philosopher of outstanding ability but little money. He asked Alexander for financial help and was told to draw whatever he needed from the imperial treasury. But when the man requested an amount equal to $50,000, he was refused--the treasurer needing to verify that such a large sum was authorized. When he asked Alexander, the ruler replied, "Pay the money at once. The philosopher has done me a singular honor. By the largeness of his request he shows that he has understood both my wealth and generosity."
Today in the Word, MBI, August, 1991, p. 19.
If the request is wrong, God says, "No."
If the timing is wrong, God says, "Slow."
If you are wrong, God says, "Grow."
But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, "Go!" Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not To Pray, IVP, p. 74.
In its early days, Dallas Theological Seminary was in critical need of $10,000 to keep the work going. During a prayer meeting, renowned Bible teacher Harry Ironside, a lecturer at the school, prayed, "Lord, you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of those cattle to help us meet this need." Shortly after the prayer meeting, a check for $10,000 arrived at the school, sent days earlier by a
friend who had no idea of the urgent need or of Ironside's prayer. The man simply said the money came from the sale of some of his cattle!
Today in the Word, MBI, January, 1990, p. 36.
Prayer is surrender--surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.
E. Stanley Jones, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, K Hughes,
Tyndale, 1988, p. 73.
Sir George Adam Smith tells how he and his guide were climbing the Weisshorn in the Swiss Alps. It was stormy and they were making their climb on the sheltered side of the peak. When they reached the summit, they were filled with the exhilaration. Sir George forgot about the fierce winds, leaped up and was nearly blown over the edge to the glacier below! The guide grabbed hold of him and exclaimed: "On your knees, sir. You are safe here only on your knees!" Source Unknown
When our children were small and we were trying to teach them to pray, we had three kinds of prayer: "Please prayers," Thank you prayers," and "Sorry prayers." S. Briscoe, Getting into God, p. 55.
How important is faithfulness in prayer? Dr. Wilbur Chapman often told of his experience when, as a young man, he went to become pastor of a church in Philadelphia. After his first sermon, an old gentleman said to him, "You're pretty young to be pastor of this church. But you preach the Gospel, and I'm going to help you all I can." Dr. Chapman thought, "Here's a crank." But the man continued: "I'm going to pray for you that you may have the Holy Spirit's power upon you. Two others have covenanted to join with me in prayer for you." Dr. Chapman said, "I didn't feel so bad when I learned he was going to pray for me. The 3 became 10, the 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, the 50 became 200 who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of those who had faithfully prayed for me. It was a joy to preach! The result was that we
received 1,100 into our church by conversion in three years, 600 of whom were men. It was the fruit of the Holy spirit in answer to prayer!"
Eighteen-year-old Hudson Taylor wandered into his father's library and read a gospel tract. He couldn't shake off its message. Finally, falling to his knees, he accepted Christ as his Savior. Later, his mother, who had been away, returned home. When Hudson told her the good news, she said, "I already know. Ten days ago, the very date on which you tell me you read that tract, I spent the entire afternoon in prayer for you until the Lord assured me that my wayward son had been brought into the fold."
Daily Bread, July 19, 1989.
When people do not mind what God speaks to them in His Word, God doth as little mind what they say to Him in prayer.
William Gurnall (a saying of a Puritan preacher).
Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then, my dear brother; pray, pray, pray.
Edward Payson, Preacher and Prayer, E.M. Bounds, 1907, p. 32.
Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn't want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon. Our Daily Bread, April 24.
I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.