Years ago, someone asked the Rev. Edward E. Hale, while he was Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, if he ever prayed for the Senators. “No,” Hale quipped. “I look at the Senators and then I pray for the nation!”

As we begin this short message on the weapon of prayer, I’m sure many of us can testify that life can become quite hectic, sometimes even wearing us down to the point of despair. Without a doubt, these times in which we find ourselves certainly are most trying. If you are like most of us as this apostasy darkens there are probably times that you feel as if you are drowning in a sea of confusion, and so overwhelmed that you feel like shouting: “Will somebody please throw me a lifeline!” Well, we are about to look at the “lifeline” of prayer that God has thrown to you and I. On this so-oft neglected subject of prayer Leonard Ravenhill, a man who spent much of his life on his knees, and was well acquainted with this subject, wrote:

There’s nothing more transfiguring than prayer. People often ask, “Why do you insist on prayer so much?” The answer is very simple–because Jesus did. You could change the title of the Gospel according to St. Luke to the Gospel of Prayer. It’s the prayer life of Jesus. The other [Gospel writers] say that Jesus was in the Jordan and the Spirit descended on Him as a dove; Luke says it was while he was praying that the Spirit descended on Him. The other evangelists say that Jesus chose 12 disciples; Luke says it was after He spent a night in prayer that He chose 12 disciples. The other evangelists say that Jesus died on a cross; Luke says that even when He was dying Jesus was praying for those who persecuted Him. The other evangelists say that Jesus went on a mount and He was transfigured; Luke says it was while He was praying that He was transfigured. There’s nothing more transfiguring than prayer. The Scriptures say that the disciples went to bed, but Jesus went to pray,as was His custom. It was His custom to pray. Now Jesus is [God the Son]–He was definitely anointed for His ministry [on earth]. If Jesus needed all that time in prayer, don’t you and I need time in prayer? If Jesus needed it in every crisis, don’t you and I need it in every crisis?

Satan’s Greatest Fear

It’s been well said that the thing the Devil fears most is a praying Christian. All the satanic forces, and the very gates of Hades itself, shake as another saint goes to his knees in order to acquire strength from his Father in Heaven. The kingdom of darkness trembles at the sight of faithful praying Christians because, as the great 4th century Christian orator John Chrysostom pointed out, “God can refuse nothing to a praying congregation.” We pray, O Lord, that Satan may have plenty to fear from the Body of Christ in our generation as You make us into a people who pray and seek Your face so that You may heal our land and advance Your Kingdom.

History shows us that Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers, was converted to Christ at the age of 16 and began preaching in London at the age of 19. When he was 27, they built him a tabernacle seating 6,000 which he packed twice on Sundays–that’s 12,000–and once on Thursday nights. How did he do it? He waited on God. He got alone with God. He studied…and he prayed. In fact, when “people would walk through the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Spurgeon would take them to the basement prayer room where people were always on their knees interceding for the church. Then Spurgeon would declare, ‘Here is the powerhouse of this church.’ That statement is backed by the amazing number of sermons that Spurgeon preached on prayer” (Spurgeon: The Power Of Prayer in a Believer’s Life, back cover)

England’s best known preacher for the second half of the 19th century further said:

Prayer is the unfailing resource of God’s people. If they are driven to their wits’ end, they may still go to the mercy seat. When an earthquake makes our mountain tremble, the throne of grace still stands firm, and we may come to it. Let us never doubt the success of prayer…[because God answers prayer]… Mirth and carnal amusements are a sorry prescription for a mind distracted and despairing; prayer will succeed where all else fails.

The Wonderous Love Of God In Christ

Ravenhill tells us of the story about “a group of tourists [who were] visiting a picturesque village [and] saw an old man sitting by a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one of the visitors asked, ‘Were any great men born in this village?’ Without looking up the old man replied, ‘Nope, only babies.’ The greatest saints were once toddlers in the things of the Spirit.” We need to keep in mind, that despite our failings, despite our sometimes neglecting Him–beloved always remember this–as you are walking in His grace as His Christian and confessing your sins to God, you should never doubt how much Jesus loves you. Listen to Isaiah 49:16, where Yahweh–the Lord–says: See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.

O dear child of God, do you see how precious His Church, all those who are born again, are to Jesus? He’ll go through all eternity with us engraved on the palms of his hands. So don’t ever worry again that sometimes as you step out in your Christian faith there may be times when you will wobble, and you may fall. Some of you have young ones in your own family that you have watched teeter about and fall as they learned to walk. Did you stop loving them as they tumbled? Of course not. You watched over them as they grew, knowing all the time that their bumps and bruises were all a part of the natural growth process. And in tenderness, as they cried out for your help, you would reach down and help them back up.

And so it is with our merciful Father in Heaven. Based on Matthew, chapter 7 and verse 11, Jesus is saying to mankind – If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, – [and to watch over them as they grow]– how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to – [and lovingly watch over] – those who ask Him – [in prayer]! In a more perfect way; as we love our children, even when they stumble and fall–and Mom’s always ready when they cry for her–so it is that God is zealous to watch over His children. In fact, one of the reasons we human beings are born into this world as helpless infants is so that our parents–perhaps hardened by the world–might have a picture once again of their own position before Almighty God. He’d like us to remember that no matter how old we are, in reality we are but helpless infants that must totally depend on Him. The older, and more mature, one gets in Christ, the more he should come to realize how powerless he is on his own, and just how much he is in need of Jesus.

This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 7:18-25 – I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. The great Apostle goes on talking about how he can now see the struggle between the flesh (his human nature) and the spirit (that part of man made alive in Christ). There are some who say that Paul is describing himself before His conversion to Christ, but this can’t be as before one comes to Jesus he has no idea of the grievousness of sin. Only after the Holy Spirit regenerates a man will he begin to sense how God feels about sin. What Paul is talking about here is that we are like a bowl of very muddy water and, just like when clean water is continually being poured into the bowl until it overflows, eventually making the water in the bowl clearer, so it is with the Holy Spirit. As He continues to fill us through our lifetime, we also become cleaner within. The “cleaner” Paul became inside as he grew in Christ, then the more his sinful nature would bother him.

To continue with the previous analogy; you’d never think of leaving your own precious baby to fend for himself when he called, would you? Well, how much more do you think God will be ready when His children come to Him in prayer! Isaiah 58:9 tells us that when you give your life to Jesus and trust Him as your Lord and Savior – Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: “Here am I.” O how wonderous is this absolute truth! The very Creator of the universe tenderly and lovingly watching over His children. And, just as a mother has a special bond with her children–no matter how that child may treat her–Jesus reminds each of us – surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Dear Christian, can you possibly think of a better reason to turn more fully toward Jesus, and then devote the rest of your time on His earth to serving such a wonderful Master as this? No matter what–to the end…