Power of Prayer
Anglicanism as a via media is able to synthesize good elements from the evangelical protestantism (love for God’s Word) side and the catholic aspect of the sacramental and liturgical worship (love for God’s worship). J. C. Ryle is another great Anglican whom I admire for his teaching in preaching. Here are some excerpts from his powerful thoughts on prayer from “Practical Religion” on prayer, of course the questions are mine.
On the power of prayer he says: There are wonderful examples in Scripture of the power of prayer. Nothing seems to be too great, too hard, or too difficult for prayer to do.. It has obtained things that seemed impossible and out of reach. It has won victories over fire, air, earth and water. Prayer opened the Red Sea. Prayer brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer made the sun stand still. Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah’s sacrifice. Prayer turned the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. Prayer overthrew the army of Sennacherib… Prayer has healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. Prayer has procured the conversion of souls.
Who needs prayer?
Some, without doubt, have a larger cup of sorrow to drink than others. But few are to be found who live very long without sorrows or cares of some sort or another. Our bodies, our property, our families, our children, our relations, our friends, our neighbors, our worldly callings – each and all of these are fountains of care. Sicknesses, deaths, losses, disappointments, partings separations, ingratitude, slander – all these are common things. We cannot get through life without them, Someday hey will find us out. The greater are our afflictions the deeper are our afflictions; and the more we love, the more we have to cry.
And the best way is to take everything to God in prayer:
This is the clear advice that the Bible gives, both in the Old Testament and the New. What does God say? “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour me (Ps50:15). ” Cast your care on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall (Ps55:22) What does St. Paul say? “Don not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understating, will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7) What does the Apostle James say? “Is anyone of your in trouble? He should pray” (James 5:13)
What did the saints do in times of affliction? – They prayed:
This was the practice of all the saints whose history we have recorded in the Scriptures. This is what Jacob did, when he feared his brother Esau. This is what Moses did, when the people were ready to stone him in the wilderness. This is what Joshua did, when Israel was defeated before Ai. This is what David did, when he was in danger at Keliah. This is what Hezekiah did, when he received the letter from Sennacherib. This is what the Church did, when Peter was in prison. This is what Paul di, when he was cast into the dungeon at Philippi.
The only way to be really happy, in such work as this is to be ever casting all our cares on God. It is the attempt of carrying their own burdens which so often makes the believers sad. If they will only tell their troubles to God He will enable them to bear them as easily as Samson did the gates of Gaza. If they are resolved to keep them to themselves they will find one day that the very grasshopper is a burden (Ecclesiastics12:5) (Picture of St. Francis of Assisi prayerfully steeped before the Crucifix – Courtesy of Web Art Gallery
Take it to the Lord
There is a friend ever waiting, to help us, if we will only tell Him our sorrow- a friend who pitied the poor, and sick, and sorrowful when He was on earth – a friend who knows the heart of a man, for He lived thirty three years as a man among us – a friend who can weep with the weepers, for He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief – a friend who is able to help us for there never was earthly pain He could not cure. That friend is Jesus Christ. The way to be happy is always opening our hearts to Him.
What a life we bear without prayer!
Bibles read without prayer, sermons heard without prayer, engagements to marriage without prayer, travel undertaken without prayer, homes chosen without prayer, friendships formed without prayer, daily act of private prayer itself hurried over or gone through without heart- these are the kind of downward steps by which many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritually paralysis or reaches the point where God allows him to have a tremendous fall. This is the process which forms the lingering Lots, the unstable Samsons, the wife-idolizing Solomons, the inconsistent Asas, the pitiable Jehoshaphat, the over-careful Marthas.
Prayer can lighten crosses for us no matter how heavy they are. It can bring down to our side One who down One who will say, “This is the way, walk in it.” Prayer can let in a ray of hope when all our earthly prospects seem darkened. It can bring down One who will say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Prayer can obtain relief for us when those we love most are taken away, and the world feels empty. It can bring down One who can fill the gap in our hearts with Himself and say to the waves within, “Peace: be still!” Oh that men were not so much like Hagar in the wilderness, bling to the well of living waters close beside them.
What is Prayer then?
Prayer is the simplest act in all religion. It is simply speaking to God. It needs neither learning, nor wisdom, nor book-knowledge to begin it. It needs nothing but heart and will, The weakest infant can cry when he is hungry. The poorest beggar can hold out his hand for charity and does not wait for fine words.
Where can we pray?
It is useless to say you have no convenient place to pray in. Any man can find a place private enough, if he is inclined. Our Lord prayed on a mountain; Peter ion the house-top; Isaac in the field; Nathanael under the fig tree; Jonah in the whale’s belly. Any place may become a closet and a Bethel, and to us the presence of God.
When can we pray?
It is useless to say you have no time. There is plenty of time, if men will only utilize it. Time maybe short but time is always long enough for prayer. Daniel had all the affairs of a kingdom on his hand, and yet he prayed three times a day, David was ruler over a mighty nation and yet he says, “Evening, morning and noon, I cry out in distress”(Psalm55-17)
May we never forget that every sigh and whisper of ours reaches the throne of Almighty, more than the maternal instincts of a caring mother during the child’s infancy. So let us pray.