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The Kneeling Christian

Written by: Unknown    Posted on: 04/14/2003

Category: Christian Living

Source: CCN

The Kneeling Christian


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                          THE KNEELING CHRISTIAN

                          By AN UNKNOWN CHRISTIAN

                              AUTHOR'S PREFACE

    A traveller in China visited a heathen temple on a great feast-day. Many were the worshippers of the hideous idol enclosed in a sacred shrine. The visitor noticed that most of the devotees brought with them small pieces of paper on which prayers had been written or printed. These they would wrap up in little balls of stiff mud and fling at the idol. He enquired the reason for this strange proceeding, and was told that if the mud ball stuck fast to the idol, then the prayer would assuredly be answered; but if the mud fell off, the prayer was rejected by the god.     We may smile at this peculiar way of testing the acceptability of a prayer. But is it not a fact that the majority of Christian men and women who pray to a Living God know very little about real prevailing prayer? Yet prayer is the key which unlocks the door of God's treasure-house.     It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life-all victory over temptation, all confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God-depend upon the practice of secret prayer.     This book was written by request, and with much hesitancy. It goes forth with much prayer. May He Who said, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint," "teach us to pray."













12. WHO MAY PRAY? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        CHAPTER 1: GOD'S GREAT NEED

    "GOD Wondered." This is a very striking thought! The very boldness of the idea ought surely to arrest the attention of every earnest Christian man, woman and child. A wondering God! Why, how staggered we might well be if we knew the cause of God's "wonder"! Yet we find it to be, apparently, a very little thing. But if we are willing to consider the matter carefully, we shall discover it to be one of the greatest possible importance to every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else is so momentous -- so vital -- to our spiritual welfare.     God "wondered that there was no intercessor" (Isa. lix. 16) -- 'none to interpose" (R.V., marg.). But this was in the days of long ago, before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ "full of grace and truth" -- before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, full of grace and power, "helping our infirmity," "Himself making intercession for us" and in us (Rom. viii. 26). Yes, and before the truly amazing promises of our Savior regarding prayer; before men knew very much about prayer; in the days when sacrifices for their sins loomed larger in their eyes than supplication for other sinners.     Oh, how great must be God's wonder today! For how few there are among us who know what prevailing prayer really is! Every one of us would confess that we believe in prayer, yet how many of us truly believe in the power of, prayer? Now, before we go a step farther, may the writer most earnestly implore you not to read hurriedly what is contained in these chapters. Much -- very much -- depends upon the way in which every reader receives what is here recorded. For everything depends upon prayer.     Why are many Christians so often defeated? Because they pray so little. Why are many church-workers so often discouraged and disheartened? Because they pray so little.     Why do most men see so few brought "out of darkness to light" by their ministry? Because they pray so little.     Why are not our churches simply on fire for God? Because there is so little real prayer.     The Lord Jesus is as powerful today as ever before. The Lord Jesus is as anxious for men to be saved as ever before. His arm is not shortened that it cannot save: but He cannot stretch forth His arm unless we pray more -- and more really.     We may be assured of this -- the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.     If God "wondered" in the days of Isaiah, we need not be surprised to find that in the days of His flesh our Lord "marvelled." He marvelled at the unbelief of some -- unbelief which actually prevented Him from doing any mighty work in their cities (Mark vi. 6).     But we must remember that those who were guilty of this unbelief saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him, or believe on Him. What then must His "marvel" be today, when He sees amongst us who do truly love and adore Him, so few who really "stir themselves up to take hold of God" (Isa. Ixiv. 7). Surely there is nothing so absolutely astonishing as a practically prayerless Christian? These are eventful and ominous days. In fact, there are many evidences that these are "the last days" in which God promised to pour out His Spirit -- the Spirit of supplication -- upon all flesh (Joel ii. 28). Yet the vast majority of professing Christians scarcely know what "supplication" means; and very many of our churches not only have no prayer-meeting, but sometimes unblushingly condemn such meetings, and even ridicule them.     The Church of England, recognizing the importance of worship and prayer, expects her clergy to read prayers in Church every morning and evening.     But when this is done, is it not often in an empty church? And are not the prayers frequently raced through at a pace which precludes real worship? "Common prayer," too, often must necessarily be rather vague and indefinite.     And what of those churches where the old-fashioned weekly prayer-meeting is retained? Would not "weakly" be the more appropriate word? C. H. Spurgeon had the joy of being able to say that he conducted a prayer-meeting every Monday night "which scarcely ever numbers less than from a thousand to twelve hundred attendants."     My brothers, have we ceased to believe in prayer? If you still hold your weekly gathering for prayer, is it not a fact that the very great majority of your church members never come near it? Yes, and never even think of coming near it. Why is this? Whose fault is it?     "Only a prayer-meeting" -- how often we have heard the utterance! How many of those reading these words really enjoy a prayer-meeting? Is it a joy or just a duty? Please forgive me for asking so many questions and for pointing out what appears to be a perilous weakness and a lamentable shortcoming in our churches. We are not out to criticize -- far less to condemn. Anybody can do that. Our yearning desire is to stir up Christians "to take hold of" God, as never before. We wish to encourage, to enhearten, to uplift.     We are never so high as when we are on our knees.     Criticize? Who dare criticize another? When we look back upon the past and remember how much prayerlessness there has been in one's own life, words of criticism of others wither away on the lips.     But we believe the time has come when a clarion call to the individual and to the Church is needed -- a call to prayer.     Now, dare we face this question of prayer? It seems a foolish query, for is not prayer a part and parcel of all religions? Yet we venture to ask our readers to look at this matter fairly and squarely. Do I really believe that prayer is a power? Is prayer the greatest power on earth, or is it not? Does prayer indeed "move the Hand that moves the world"?     Do God's prayer-commands really concern Me? Do the promises of God concerning prayer still hold good? We have all been muttering "Yes -- Yes -- Yes" as we read these questions. We dare not say "No" to any one of them. And yet -- !     Has it ever occurred to you that our Lord never gave an unnecessary or an optional command? Do we really believe that our Lord never made a promise which He could not, or would not, fulfil? Our Savior's three great commands for definite action were: --           Pray ye Do this Go ye!

    Are we obeying Him? How often His command, "Do this," is reiterated by our preachers today! One might almost think it was His only command! How seldom we are reminded of His bidding to "Pray" and to "Go." Yet, without obedience to the "Pray ye," it is of little or no use at all either to "Do this" or to "Go."     In fact, it can easily be shown that all want of success, and all failure in the spiritual life and in Christian work, is due to defective or insufficient prayer. Unless we pray aright we cannot live aright or serve aright. This may appear, at first sight, to be gross exaggeration, but the more we think it over in the light Scripture throws upon it, the more convinced shall we be of the truth of this statement.     Now, as we begin once more to see what the Bible has to say about this mysterious and wonderful subject, shall we endeavor to read some of our Lord's promises, as though we had never heard them before. What will the effect be?     Some twenty years ago the writer was studying in a Theological College. One morning, early, a fellow-student -- who is today one of England's foremost missionaries -- burst into the room holding an open Bible in his hands. Although he was preparing for Holy Orders, he was at that time only a young convert to Christ.     He had gone up to the University "caring for none of these things." Popular, clever, athletic -- he had already won a place amongst the smart set of his college, when Christ claimed him. He accepted the Lord Jesus as a personal Savior, and became a very keen follower of his Master. The Bible was, comparatively, a new book to him, and as a result he was constantly making "discoveries." On that memorable day on which he invaded my quietude he cried excitedly -- his face all aglow with mingled joy and surprise -- "Do you believe this? Is it really true?" "Believe what?" I asked, glancing at the open Bible with some astonishment. "Why, this -- " and he read in eager tones St. Matthew xxi. 21, 22: "'If ye have faith and doubt not . . . all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.' Do you believe it? Is it true?" "Yes," I replied, with much surprise at his excitement, "of course it's true -- of course I believe it."     Yet, through my mind there flashed all manner of thoughts! "Well, that's a very wonderful promise," said he. "It seems to me to be absolutely limitless! Why don't we pray more?" And he went away, leaving me thinking hard. I had never looked at those verses quite in that way. As the door closed upon that eager young follower of the Master, I had a vision of my Savior and His love and His power such as I never had before. I had a vision of a life of prayer -- yes, and "limitless" power, which I saw depended upon two things only -- faith and prayer. For the moment I was thrilled. I fell on my knees, and as I bowed before my Lord what thoughts surged through my mind -- what hopes and aspirations flooded my soul! God was speaking to me in an extraordinary way. This was a great call to prayer. But -- to my shame be it said -- I heeded not that call.     Where did I fail? True, I prayed a little more than before, but nothing much seemed to happen. Why? Was it because I did not see what a high standard the Savior requires in the inner life of those who would pray successfully?     Was it because I had failed to measure up my life to the "perfect love" standard so beautifully described in the thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians?     For, after all, prayer is not just putting into action good resolutions "to pray." Like David, we need to cry, "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psa. li.) before we can pray aright. And the inspired words of the Apostle of Love need to be heeded today as much as ever before: "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God; and [then] whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him" (I John iii. 21).     "True -- and I believe it." Yes, indeed, it is a limitless promise, and yet how little we realize it, how little we claim from Christ. And our Lord "marvels" at our unbelief. But if we could only read the Gospels for the first time, what an amazing book it would seem! Should not we "marvel" and "wonder"? And today I pass on that great call to you. Will you give heed to it? Will you profit by it? Or shall it fall on deaf ears and leave you prayerless?     Fellow-Christians, let us awake! The devil is blinding our eyes. He is endeavoring to prevent us from facing this question of prayer. These pages are written by special request. But it is many months since that request came.     Every attempt to begin to write has been frustrated, and even now one is conscious of a strange reluctance to do so. There seems to be some mysterious power restraining the hand. Do we realize that there is nothing the devil dreads so much as prayer? His great concern is to keep us from praying. He loves to see us "up to our eyes" in work -- provided we do not pray. He does not fear because we are eager and earnest Bible students -- provided we are little in prayer. Someone has wisely said, "Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray." All this is so familiar to us -- but do we really pray? If not, then failure must dog our footsteps, whatever signs of apparent success there may be.     Let us never forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for man is to pray. For we can accomplish far more by our prayers than by our work. Prayer is omnipotent; it can do anything that God can do! When we pray God works. All fruitfulness in service is the outcome of prayer -- of the worker's prayers, or of those who are holding up holy hands on his behalf. We all know how to pray, but perhaps many of us need to cry as the disciples did of old, "Lord, teach us to pray."           O Lord, by Whom ye come to God, The Life, the Truth, the Way, The path of prayer Thyself hast trod; Lord, teach us now to pray. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------


    "WHEN we stand with Christ in glory, looking o'er life's finished story," the most amazing feature of that life as it is looked back upon will be its prayerlessness.     We shall be almost beside ourselves with astonishment that we spent so little time in real intercession. It will be our turn to "wonder."     In our Lord's last discourse to His loved ones, just before the most wonderful of all prayers, the Master again and again held out His kingly golden sceptre and said, as it were, "What is your request? It shall be granted unto you, even unto the whole of My kingdom!"     Do we believe this? We must do so if we believe our Bibles. Shall we just read over very quietly and thoughtfully one of our Lord's promises, reiterated so many times? If we had never read them before, we should open our eyes in bewilderment, for these promises are almost incredible. From the lips of any mere man they would be quite unbelievable. But it is the Lord of heaven and earth Who speaks; and He is speaking at the most solemn moment of His life. It is the eve of His death and passion. It is a farewell message. Now listen!     "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do: because I go unto the Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, that will I do" (John xiv. 13, 14). Now, could any words be plainer or clearer than these? Could any promise be greater or grander? Has anyone else, anywhere, at any time, ever offered so much?     How staggered those disciples must have been! Surely they could scarcely believe their own ears. But that promise is made also to you and to me.     And, lest there should be any mistake on their part, or on ours, our Lord repeats Himself a few moments afterwards. Yes, and the Holy Spirit bids St. John record those words again. "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bare much fruit; and so shall ye be My disciples" (John xv. 7, 8).     These words are of such grave importance, and so momentous, that the Savior of the world is not content even with a threefold utterance of them. He urges His disciples to obey His command "to ask." In fact, He tells them that one sign of their being His "friends" will be the obedience to His commands in all things (verse 14). Then He once more repeats His wishes: "Ye did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, in My name, He may give it you" (John xv. 16).     One would think that our Lord had now made it plain enough that He wanted them to pray; that He needed their prayers, and that without prayer they could accomplish nothing. But to our intense surprise He returns again to the same subject, saying very much the same words.     "In that day ye shall ask Me nothing" -- i.e., "ask Me no question" (R.V., marg.) -- "Verily, verily I say unto you, if ye ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in My name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled" (John xvi. 23, 24).     Never before had our Lord laid such stress on any promise or command -- never! This truly marvelous promise is given us six times over. Six times, almost in the same breath, our Savior commands us to ask whatsoever we will. This is the greatest -- the most wonderful -- promise ever made to man. Yet most men -- Christian men -- practically ignore it! Is it not so?     The exceeding greatness of the promise seems to over-whelm us. Yet we know that He is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. iii. 20).     So our blessed Master gives the final exhortation, before He is seized, and bound, and scourged, before His gracious lips are silenced on the cross, "Ye shall ask in My name . . . for the Father Himself loveth you" (verse 26). We have often spent much time in reflecting upon our Lord's seven words from the cross. And it is well we should do so. Have we ever spent one hour in meditating upon this, our Savior's sevenfold invitation to pray?     Today He sits on the throne of His Majesty on high, and He holds out to us the sceptre of His power. Shall we touch it and tell Him our desires? He bids us take of His treasures. He yearns to grant us "according to the riches of His glory," that we may "be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man." He tells us that our strength and our fruitfulness depend upon our prayers. He reminds us that our very joy depends upon answered prayer (John xvi. 24).     And yet we allow the devil to persuade us to neglect prayer! He makes us believe that we can do more by our own efforts than by our prayers -- by our intercourse with men than by our intercession with God. It passes one's comprehension that so little heed should be given to our Lord's sevenfold invitation -- command -- promise! How dare we work for Christ without being much on our knees? Quite recently an earnest Christian "worker" -- a Sunday-school teacher and communicant -- wrote me, saying, "I have never had an answer to prayer in all my life." But why? Is God a liar? Is not God trustworthy? Do His promises count for nought. Does He not mean what He says? And doubtless there are many reading these words who in their hearts are saying the same thing as that Christian worker. Payson is right -- is Scriptural -- when he says: "If we would do much for God, we must ask much of God: we must be men of prayer." If our prayers are not answered -- always answered, but not necessarily granted -- the fault must be entirely in ourselves, and not in God. God delights to answer prayer; and He has given us His word that He will answer.     Fellow-laborers in His vineyard, it is quite evident that our Master desires us to ask, and to ask much. He tells us we glorify God by doing so! Nothing is beyond the scope of prayer which is not beyond the will of God -- and we do not desire to go beyond His will.     We dare not say that our Lord's words are not true. Yet somehow or other few Christians really seem to believe them. What holds us back? What seals our lips? What keeps us from making much of prayer? Do we doubt His love? Never! He gave His life for us and to us. Do we doubt the Father's love? Nay. "The Father Himself loveth you," said Christ when urging His disciples to pray.     Do we doubt His power? Not for a moment. Hath He not said, "All power hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth. Go ye . . . and lo, I am with you alway . . ."? (Matt. xxviii. 18-20). Do we doubt His wisdom? Do we mistrust His choice for us? Not for a moment. And yet so very few of His followers consider prayer really worth while. Of course, they would deny this -- but actions speak louder than words. Are we afraid to put God to the test? He has said we may do so. "Bring Me the whole tithe into the storehouse . . . and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. iii. 10). Whenever God makes us a promise, let us boldly say, as did St. Paul, I believe God (Acts xxvii. 25), and trust Him to keep His word.     Shall we begin today to be men of prayer, if we have never done so before? Let us not put it off till a more convenient season. God wants me to pray. The dear Savior wants me to pray. He needs my prayers. So much -- in fact, everything -- depends upon prayer. How dare we hold back? Let every one of us ask on our knees this question: "If no one on earth prayed for the salvation of sinners more fervently or more frequently than I do, how many of them would be converted to God through prayer ?"     Do we spend ten minutes a day in prayer? Do we consider it important enough for that?     Ten minutes a day on our knees in prayer -- when the Kingdom of Heaven can be had for the asking!     Ten minutes? It seems a very inadequate portion of our time to spend in taking hold of God (Isa. lxiv. 7) !     And is it prayer when we do "say" our prayers, or are we just repeating daily a few phrases which have become practically meaningless, whilst our thoughts are wandering hither and thither?     If God were to answer the words we repeated on our knees this morning should we know it? Should we recognize the answer? Do we even remember what we asked for? He does answer. He has given us His word for it. He always answers every real prayer of faith.     But we shall see what the Bible has to say on this point in a later chapter. We are now thinking of the amount of time we spend in prayer.     "How often do you pray?" was the question put to a Christian woman. "Three times a day, and all the day beside," was the quick reply. But how many are there like that? Is prayer to me just a duty, or is it a privilege -- a pleasure -- a real joy -- a necessity?     Let us get a fresh vision of Christ in all His glory, and a fresh glimpse of all the "riches of His glory" which He places at our disposal, and of all the mighty power given unto Him. Then let us get a fresh vision of the world and all its needs. (And the world was never so needy as it is today.)     Why, the wonder is not that we pray so little, but that we can ever get up from our knees if we realize our own need; the needs of our home and our loved ones; the needs of our pastor and the Church; the needs of our city -- of our country -- of the heathen and Mohammedan world! All these needs, can be met by the riches of God in Christ Jesus. St. Paul had no doubt about this -- nor have we. Yes! "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus" (Phil. iv. 19). But to share His riches we must pray, for the same Lord is rich unto all that call upon Him (Rom. x. 12).     So great is the importance of prayer that God has taken care to anticipate all the excuses or objections we may be likely to make.     Men plead their weakness or infirmity -- or they declare they do not know how to pray.     God foresaw this inability long ages ago. Did He not inspire St. Paul to say: "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmity, for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom. viii. 26, 27).     Yes. Every provision is made for us. But only the Holy Spirit can "stir us up" to "take hold of God." And if we will but yield ourselves to the Spirit's promptings we shall most assuredly follow the example of the apostles of old, who "gave themselves to prayer," and "continued steadfastly in prayer" (R.V., Acts vi. 4).     We may rest fully assured of this -- a man's influence in the world can be gauged not by his eloquence, or his zeal, or his orthodox, or his energy, but by his prayers. Yes, and we will go farther and maintain that no man can live aright who does not pray aright.     We may work for Christ from morn till night; we may spend much time in Bible study; we may be most earnest and faithful and "acceptable" in our preaching and in our individual dealing, but none of these things can be truly effective unless we are much in prayer. We shall only be full of good works; and not "bearing fruit in every good work" (Col. i. 10). To be little with God in prayer is to be little for God in service. Much secret prayer means much public power. Yet is it not a fact that whilst our organizing is well nigh perfect, our agonizing in prayer is well nigh lost?     Men are wondering why the Revival delays its coming. There is only one thing that can delay it, and that is lack of prayer. All Revivals have been the outcome of prayer. One sometimes longs for the voice of an archangel, but what would that avail if the voice of Christ Himself does not stir us up to pray? It seems almost impertinence for any man to take up the cry when our Savior has put forth His "limitless" promises. Yet we feel that something should be done, and we believe that the Holy Spirit is prompting men to remind themselves and others of Christ's words and power. No words of mine can impress men with the value of prayer, the need of prayer, and the omnipotence of prayer.     But these utterances go forth steeped in prayer that God the Holy Spirit will Himself convict Christian men and women of the sin of prayerlessness, and drive them to their knees, to call upon God day and night in burning, believing, prevailing intercession! The Lord Jesus, now in the heavenlies, beckons to us to fall upon our knees and claim the riches of His grace.     No man dare prescribe for another how long a time he ought to spend in prayer, nor do we suggest that men should make a vow to pray so many minutes or hours a day. Of course, the Bible command is to "Pray without ceasing." This is evidently the "attitude of prayer" -- the attitude of one's life.     Here we are speaking of definite acts of prayer. Have you ever timed your prayers? We believe that most of our readers would be amazed and confounded if they did time themselves!     Some years ago the writer faced this prayer question. He felt that for himself at least one hour a day was the minimum time that he should spend in prayer. He carefully noted down every day a record of his prayer-life. As time went on he met a working-man who was being much used of God.     When asked to what he chiefly attributed his success, this man quietly replied, "Well, I could not get on without two hours a day of private prayer."     Then there came across my path a Spirit-filled missionary from overseas, who told very humbly of the wonderful things God was doing through his ministry. (One could see all along that God was given all the praise and all the glory.) "I find it necessary, oftentimes, to spend four hours a day in prayer," said this missionary.     And we remember how the Greatest Missionary of all used sometimes to spend whole nights in prayer. Why? Our blessed Lord did not pray simply as an example to us: He never did things merely as an example. He prayed because He needed to pray. As perfect Man, prayer to Him was a necessity. Then how much more is it necessary to you and me?     "Four hours a day in prayer!" exclaimed a man who is giving his whole life to Christian work as a medical missionary. "Four hours? Give me ten minutes and I'm done!" That was an honest and a brave confession -- even if a sad one. Yet, if some of us were to speak out as honestly --? &nb

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