What’s the good of prayer
When one asks a person, “Do you pray?” the answer nearly always is, “Yes.” But when pressed to describe their prayer life, sometimes you find out that it is not often, and then only when there is some kind of desperate problem. Prayer is a last resort.
Even atheists are known to pray when they are in trouble. It’s kind of like “foxhole religion.” When do you pray? Some will admit, “when I’m in trouble” or “when it looks like I am in going to be in trouble” or, “I hope I don’t get caught in this trouble!”
Oswald Chambers gives three main reasons to pray:
Because we need to.
For human wits have an end.
For human wisdom has an end.
For human wills have an end.
Prayer alters me.
Because we must do.
If we would know God.
If we would help men.
If we would do God’s will.
Prayer alters others.
Because we can do.
Prayer alters circumstances
Christ lives in us through prayer. Prayer is cooperation with God. You agree with God, you listen to his desires and his purposes.
Prayer is not getting God to do our will, but it is the bringing of our will into line with his. The will is the most important part of the human personality. It’s self-in-action, so it is himself and myself that are united in prayer.”
In the early days of The Salvation Army there were amazing sights of people at the mercy seat, and groups gathered around the sinners in the meetings. The people prayed. And people got saved, drunkards were reclaimed, the poor in spirit became rich in grace.
You may get along for a time without praying, even as you’re busy in the Lord’s service. Your life will not obviously suffer, but your spiritual life will only be like the embers in a fireplace, hours after the fire has gone out. Heart backsliding starts there.
There is a sacred responsibility in these meditations about prayer; it is to sound the trumpet to call us to prayer. One can feel the prayer life, or lack of it, in a corps or church. Barren altars, petty quarreling, division is a clue indicator. When we stop praying, or our prayer life is only a matter of a perfunctory phrase or two, or done just to give a good impression…we know. Heart backsliding never takes place when we have a faithful, active prayer life.
King Hezekiah restored the worship of the true God. He rebuilt the altars, cleared away the rubbish, lit the sacred fires, repaired the broken vessels, and then on a great day, he called all the people with musical instruments and singing. “The song of the Lord began with the trumpets.” God came, revival came, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
Prayer is like the trumpet of our spiritual life. Prayer is a sign of God’s presence, the secret of personal victory, the most important requirement for revival in the heart and in the church. The rubbish of life, the non-essential things with which our lives become easily cluttered, the cheap, the sordid things we allow, will all be removed when the trumpet of prayer is sounding in our lives. “Please God, may it please you to help me sound the trumpet, so that we may all come to prayer, setting up the altar in the sanctuary of our personal lives, kneeling in the presence of the One who is “alive forevermore.”
“Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord.
Abide in him always, and feed on his Word:
Make friends of God’s children; help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing his blessing to seek.”
—William D. Longstaff (1882)
What’s the good of prayer? It changes you, it changes your circumstance, it changes others, it changes the world; it brings joy to the Lord.