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Bible Commentary Index
Necessity of Prayer Index
X. PRAYER AND OBEDIENCE (Continued)
"Many exemplary men have I known, holy
in heart and life, within my four score years. But one equal to John
Fletcher -- one so inwardly and outwardly obedient and devoted to God -- I
have not known." -- JOHN WESLEY.
IT is worthy of note that the praying to which such
transcendent position is given and from which great results are
attributable, is not simply the saying of prayers, but holy praying. It is
the "prayers of the saints," the prayers of the holy men of God. Behind such
praying, giving to it energy and flame are the men and women who are wholly
devoted to God, who are entirely separated from sin, and fully separated
unto God. These are they who always give energy, force and strength to
Our Lord Jesus Christ was preeminent in praying, because He
was preeminent in saintliness. An entire dedication to God, a full
surrender, which carries with it the whole being, in a flame of holy
consecration -- all this gives wings to faith and energy to prayer. It opens
the door to the throne of grace, and brings strong influence to bear on
The "lifting up of holy hands" is essential to Christly
praying. It is not, however, a holiness which only dedicates a closet to
God, which sets apart merely an hour to Him, but a consecration which takes
hold of the entire man, which dedicates the whole life to God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate
from sinners," had full liberty of approach and ready access to God in
prayer. And He had this free and full access because of His unquestioning
obedience to His Father. Right through His earthly life His supreme care and
desire was to do the will of His Father. And this fact, coupled with another
-- the consciousness of having so ordered His life -- gave Him confidence
and assurance, which enabled Him to draw near to the throne of grace with
unbounded confidence, born of obedience, and promising acceptance, audience,
Loving obedience puts us where we can "ask anything in His
name," with the assurance, that "He will do it." Loving obedience brings us
into the prayer realm, and makes us beneficiaries of the wealth of Christ,
and of the riches of His grace, through the coming of the Holy Spirit who
will abide with us, and be in us. Cheerful obedience to God, qualifies us to
This obedience which not only qualifies but fore-runs
prayer, must be loving, constant, always doing the Father's will, and
cheerfully following the path of God's commands.
In the instance of King Hezekiah, it was a potent plea which
changed God's decree that he should die and not live. The stricken ruler
called upon God to remember how that he had walked before Him in truth, and
with a perfect heart. With God, this counted. He hearkened to the petition,
and, as a result, death found his approach to Hezekiah barred for fifteen
Jesus learned obedience in the school of suffering, and, at
the same time, He learned prayer in the school of obedience. Just as it is
the prayer of a righteous man which availeth much, so it is righteousness
which is obedience to God. A righteous man is an obedient man, and he it is,
who can pray effectually, who can accomplish great things when he betakes
himself to his knees.
True praying, be it remembered, is not mere sentiment, nor
poetry, nor eloquent utterance. Nor does it consist of saying in honeyed
cadences, "Lord, Lord." Prayer is not a mere form of words; it is not just
calling upon a Name. Prayer is obedience. It is founded on the adamantine
rock of obedience to God. Only those who obey have the right to pray. Behind
the praying must be the doing; and it is the constant doing of God's will in
daily life which gives prayer its potency, as our Lord plainly taught:
"Not every one which saith unto Me,
Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the
will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto Me in that day,
Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in Thy Name have cast out
devils? And in Thy Name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess
unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that worketh iniquity."
No name, however precious and powerful, can protect and
give efficiency to prayer which is unaccompanied by the doing of God's will.
Neither can the doing, without the praying, protect from Divine disapproval.
If the will of God does not master the life, the praying will be nothing but
sickly sentiment. If prayer do not inspire, sanctify and direct our work,
then self-will enters, to ruin both work and worker.
How great and manifold are the misconceptions of the true
elements and functionings of prayer! There are many who earnestly desire to
obtain an answer to their prayers but who go unrewarded and unblest. They
fix their minds on some promise of God and then endeavour by dint of dogged
perseverance, to summon faith sufficient to lay hold upon, and claim it.
This fixing of the mind on some great promise may avail in strengthening
faith, but, to this holding on to the promise must be added the persistent
and importunate prayer that expects, and waits till faith grows exceedingly.
And who is there that is able and competent to do such praying save the man
who readily, cheerfully and continually, obeys God?
Faith, in its highest form, is the attitude as well as the
act of a soul surrendered to God, in whom His Word and His Spirit dwells. It
is true that faith must exist in some form, or another, in order to prompt
praying; but in its strongest form, and in its largest results, faith is the
fruit of prayer. That faith increases the ability and the efficiency of
prayer is true; but it is likewise true that prayer increases the ability
and efficiency of faith. Prayer and faith, work, act and react, one upon the
Obedience to God helps faith as no other attribute possibly
can. When obedience -- implicit recognition of the validity, the paramountcy
of the Divine commands -- faith ceases to be an almost superhuman task. It
requires no straining to exercise it. Obedience to God makes it easy to
believe and trust God. Where the spirit of obedience fully impregnates the
soul; where the will is perfectly surrendered to God; where there is a
fixed, unalterable purpose to obey God, faith almost believes itself. Faith
then becomes almost involuntary. After obedience it is, naturally, the next
step, and it is easily and readily taken. The difficulty in prayer is not
with faith, but with obedience, which is faith's foundation.
We must look well to our obedience, to the secret springs
of action, to the loyalty of our heart to God, if we would pray well, and
desire to get the most out of our praying. Obedience is the groundwork of
effectual praying; this it is, which brings us nigh to God.
The lack of obedience in our lives breaks down our praying.
Quite often, the life is in revolt and this places us where praying is
almost impossible, except it be for pardoning mercy. Disobedient living
produces mighty poor praying. Disobedience shuts the door of the inner
chamber, and bars the way to the Holy of holies. No man can pray -- really
pray -- who does not obey.
The will must be surrendered to God as a primary condition
of all successful praying. Everything about us gets its colouring from our
inmost character. The secret will makes character and controls conduct. The
will, therefore, plays an important part in all successful praying. There
can be no praying in its richest implication and truest sense, where the
will is not wholly and fully surrendered to God. This unswerving loyalty to
God is an utterly indispensable condition of the best, the truest, the most
effectual praying. We have "simply got to trust and obey; there's
no other way, to be happy in Jesus -- but to trust, and obey! "
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Bible Commentary Index
Necessity of Prayer Index