Andrew Murray is one of my favorite authors on the matter of prayer. I have several well-marked books by him, originally part of my dad’s pastoral library.
I’m not sure what it is exactly that draws me to his work. Perhaps it’s the soft-spoken, endearing yet forthright tone I imagine when I read his thoughts. Maybe it’s his gentle boldness “I’m going to say this, brothers – and I apologize in advance if it smarts, but here’s the matter.” I don’t know.
At any rate, the next paragraphs are from a book he wrote ninety nine years ago. To me it could have been written last week.
3. The dreadful loss which the Church suffers as a result of the prayerlessness of the minister
It is the business of a minister to train believers up to a life of prayer; but how can a leader do this if he himself understands little the art of conversing with God and of receiving from the Holy Spirit, every day, out of heaven, abundant grace for himself and for his work? A minister cannot lead a congregation higher than he is himself. He cannot with enthusiasm point out a way, or explain a work, in which he is not himself walking or living.
How many thousands of Christians there are who know next to nothing of the blessedness of prayer fellowship with God! How many there are who know something of it and long for a further increase of this knowledge, but in the preaching of the Word they are not persistently urged to keep on till they obtain the blessing! The reason is simply and only that the minister understands so little about the secret of powerful prayer and does not give prayer the place in his service which, in the nature of the case and in the will of God, is indispensably necessary. Oh, what a difference we should notice in our congregations if ministers could be brought to see in its right light the sin of prayerlessness and were delivered from it!
Prayerlessness – neglecting what God has prepared for us to fellowship with Him and thereby missing the mark. Ouch.
So I’m sitting in my favorite chair, it’s late in the evening and I’m praying for people, for situations near to me; for matters I know of but am not personally involved with … and the thought arrives:
If prayerlessness is one of the deepest roots of evil, what would prayerfulness be ?
How would one describe the results?
If I am -if we are- asking God to provide, to intervene, to do His work “for the sake of your name” (Ps 143 uses that phrase several times) – so His name is magnified and lifted up among us – what would be the results?
- God would be glorified. Attention would be drawn to Him and we would feel honored just to be there to see it!
- There would be no question who did the work – it obviously being above and beyond what any of us who did the praying are capable of.
- Things would get done! Things far beyond our capabilities, even our wildest dreams (Eph 4.20).
Profound thoughts are rare from my mind, but this one may almost qualify.
If prayerlessness is a deeply rooted reason for much of the evil around us, and prayerfulness a significant reason for blessing and spiritual activity among and around me – Why do I not pray more? Why is it not my First Resource? ALL the time?
Perhaps it is because I overestimate my own importance in God’s scheme of things.
If I don’t do it, who will?
If I don’t help out, how will it get done?
If I don’t offer my perspective, how will they know what’s important?
If I don’t point out the flaw in their thinking, how will they ever get it right?
If I don’t –
STOP, Philip. You were crucified with Christ, remember?
Corpses aren’t all that productive. Type A, Type B, who cares post-mortem?
The life you now live, you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself up for you – remember? (Gal. 2.20)
Stop striving and know that God is God. (Psalm 46.10)
Think of the benefits, the value, of walking in a manner worthy of Him
– fully pleasing to Him,
– bearing fruit in every good work
– increasing in the knowledge of God.
– strengthened … for endurance, with patience and joy
– qualified – (genuinely so, not because I claim to be) to share in the inheritance of the saints.
– delivered from darkness
– transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son!
That’s what i want over the long-haul, and what’s more, GOD does it, not I, as I let Him have His way and His say in my everyday affairs!
So tell me again why I don’t pray?
I haven’t a good reason NOT to !