THE POWER OF PRAYER
Charles Spurgeon

HIS GLORY REIGNS
B. Childress
Dec 14, 2007


Prayer is a creature's strength, his very breath and being;

Prayer is the golden key that can open the wicket of mercy;

Prayer is the magic sound that saith to fate, so be it;

Prayer is the slender nerve that moveth the muscles of Omnipotence.

Wherefore pray, O creature, for many and great are thy wants;

Thy mind, thy conscience, and thy being, thy needs command thee unto prayer,

The cure of all cares, the grand panacea for all pains,

Doubts destroyer, ruin's remedy, the antidote to all anxieties.

Charles Spurgeon


We should not come before God in prayer with an "unprepared spirit."  Our spiritual sacrifices should be
offered with holy carefulness.

*  The priests of the Old Testament offered a sacrifice.  He first washed his feet at the brazen basin, put on his garments
- adorning himself with his priestly clothing.  Then he came to the altar with his victim (a slaughtered bull) properly
divided according to the law.  He is careful to do according to the law.  He takes the blood in a bowl and pours it in an
appropriate place at the feet of the altar, and kindles the fire with the sacred fire from off the altar, not common flame.

*  David went in before the Lord - he did not stand outside (the temple) at a distance, but he went in before the Lord and
sat down.  He sat quietly and calmly before the Lord, he then began to pray, but not until he had first thought over the
divine goodness and so attained to the spirit of prayer.  By the assistance of the Holy Spirit, he opened his mouth.

*  Abraham rose early (willingness).  He went three days' journey (zeal).  He left his servants at the foot of the hill
(privacy).  He carried the wood and fire with him (preparation).  And lastly, he built the altar, laid the wood in order and
then took the knife - here was the devout carefulness of his worship.

  • Consider what you are going to ask for - aim at great distinctness of supplication.  It is good not to beat around
    the bush in prayer, but to come directly to the point.  Like the prayer of Abraham, "O that Ishmael might live
    before thee!" Genesis 17:18.  There is the name of the person prayed for and the blessing desired all put in a few
    words: "That Ishmael might live before thee."  You need not use roundabout expressions - just say the name of
    the person putting it in plain words before the Lord.  Be distinct and say what you mean as well as mean what you
    say.  Ordering our cause brings us to greater distinctness of mind.

  • It is not necessary, in the prayer closet, to ask for every supposable good thing.  It is not necessary to rehearse
    the catalog of every want that you may have, have had, can have, or will have.  As a rule, ask for what you need
    now.  Ask for your daily bread - what you want/need now.  Ask for it plainly, as before God, who does not regard
    your fine expressions.  To Him, your eloquence and oratory will be less than nothing and vanity.  You are before
    the Lord; let your words be few, but let your heart be fervent.

  • You should look at the blessing that you desire to see whether it is assuredly a fitting thing to ask.  A little
    reflection would show us that some things that we desire were better left alone.  We may, moreover, have a
    motive at the bottom of our desire that is not Christ-like, a selfish motive that forgets God's Glory and caters only
    to our own ease and comfort.  Although we may ask for things that are for our profit, still we must never let our
    profit interfere in any way with the glory of God.  There must be mingled with acceptable prayer the holy salt of
    submission to the divine will of God: we must be quite clear before we come to those terms that what we are
    seeking is really for the Master's honor.

  • Put these three things together:  Deep spirituality, which recognizes prayer as being real conversation with the
    invisible God; much distinctness, which is the reality of prayer, asking for what you want with much fervency -
    believing the thing to be necessary and therefore resolving to obtain it if it can be had by prayer; and above all
    these, complete submission in, leaving it still with the Master's will.  Co-mingle all these, and you have a clear idea
    of what it means to order your cause before the Lord.

Still prayer itself is an art that only the Holy Spirit can teach us.  He is the giver of all prayer.  Pray for prayer.  Pray until
you can pray.  Pray to be helped to pray, and do not give up praying.  Sometimes, when you have no sort of comfort in
your supplications, it is then that your heart, all broken and cast down, is really wrestling and truly prevailing with the
Most High.

Argument in Prayer

It is well in prayer to plead with Jehovah His attributes. Abraham did so when he laid hold upon God's justice.  Sodom
was to be pleaded for, and Abraham begins,
"Peradvanture there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy
and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?  That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the
righteous with the wicked:  and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee:  Shall not the Judge of
all the earth do right?"
 Genesis 18:24-25.  It was a powerful argument by which the patriarch grasped the Lord's left
hand and arrested it just when the thunderbolt was about to fall.  When he could no longer lay hold upon justice, he
grasped God's right hand of mercy - that gave him a wondrous hold - when he asked that the city might be spared if
there were only ten righteous.

You and I may take hold at any time upon the justice, the mercy, the faithfulness, the wisdom, the long-suffering, the
tenderness of God; and we find every attribute of the Most High to be, as it were, a great battering ram with which we
may open the gates of heaven.

God's Promises

Another mighty piece of ordinance in the battle of prayer is God's promise.  When Jacob was on the other side of the
brook, Jabbok and his brother Esau was coming with armed men, he pleaded with God not to allow Esau to destroy the
mother and the children. As a master reason, he pleaded,
"And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy
seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude."
Genesis 32:12.  Oh, the force of the plea!  He
was holding God to His word:
 "Thou saidst." The attribute is a splendid horn of the altar to lay hold upon; but the
promise, which has in it the attribute  and something more, is a yet mightier holdfast,
"Thou saidst."

Let us remember how David put it.  After Nathan had spoken the promise, David said at the close of his prayer, "...do as
thou hast said"
 2 Samuel 7:25.  "Do as thou hast said."  That is a legitimate argument with every honest man.  "God is
not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath
he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"  Numbers 23:19.  
"...let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written,..."  
Romans 3:4.  Will  He not be true?  Will He not keep His word.  Will not every word that comes out of His lips stand fast
and be fulfilled?  Solomon, at the opening of the temple, used this same plea.  He pleads with God to remember the
word that He had spoken to his father David and to bless that place.

When a man gives a promissory note, his honor is engaged.  He signs it with his signature, and he must discharge it
when the due time comes or else he loses credit.  It will never be said that God dishonors His bills.  The Most High is
punctual to the moment; He is never before His time, but He is never behind it.  Search the Word and compare it with the
experience of God's people, and the two match from the first to the last.  Many an aged patriarch has said with Joshua in
his old age,
"There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to
pass."
 Joshua 21:45

You have a divine promise, you need not plead it with an "if" in it; you may plead with certainty.  If for the mercy that you
are now asking, you have God's solemnly pledged word, there will scarcely be any room for caution about submission to
His will.  You know His will.  That will is in the promise.  Plead it!  Do not give Him rest until He fulfills it.  He meant to fulfill
it, or else He would not have given it.

The Sorrows of His People

We may also plead the sorrows of His people.  This is frequently done.  Jeremiah is the great master of this art.  He
says,
"The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the
hands of the potter!..Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body
than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:..."
 Lamentations 4:2, 7-8.  He talks of all their griefs and distresses in the
siege.  He calls upon the Lord to look upon His suffering Zion, and before long his plaintive cries are heard.

Nothing is so eloquent with a father as his child's cry.  Yes, there is one thing more mighty still, and that is a moan -
when the child is so sick that he is past crying and lies moaning with the kind of moan that indicates extreme suffering
and intense weakness - then comes the Lord's time of deliverance and He is sure to show that He loves His people.  
Whenever you also are brought into the same condition, you may plead your moanings; and when you see a church
brought very low, you may use her griefs as an argument as to why God should return and save the remnant of His
people.

The Past

It is good to plead the past with God.  Here is David's specimen of it:  "...Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither
forsake me, O God of my salvation" Psalm 27:9.  He pleads God's mercy to him from his youth up.  He speaks of being
cast upon his God from his very birth, and then he pleads,
"Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake
me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come."
Psalm 71:18.
Moses also speaking with God, says
"...Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might
from among them;)"
 Numbers 14:13, as if he would say, "Do not leave Your work unfinished.  You have begun to build;
complete it.  You have fought the first battle; LORD, end the campaign.  Go on until You get a complete victory."

We can cry out to God in our troubles,

"Lord, You delivered me in such and such a sharp trial, when it seemed as if no help were near; You have never
forsaken me yet.  I have set up my ______in Your name.  If you had intended to leave me, why have You shown me
such things?  Have You brought Your servant to this place to put him to shame?"

We deal with an unchanging God, who will do in the future what He as done in the past because He never turns from His
purpose and cannot be thwarted in His design.  The past thus becomes a very mighty means of winning blessings from
Him.

The Sufferings of Jesus

The grand Christian argument is the sufferings, the death, the merit, the intercession of Christ Jesus.  Most of us do not
fully understand what we have at our command when we are allowed to plead with God for Christ's sake.  When we ask
God to hear us, pleading Christ's name, we usually mean, "O Lord, Your dear Son deserves this of You; do this for me
because of what He merits."

What Jesus Christ says to us is, "If you need anything from God, all that the Father has belongs to Me; go and use My
name, as it speaks in the Word
"If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."  John 14:14.  When you have Christ's
name - to whom the very justice of God has become a debtor and whose merits have claims with the Most High - there is
no need to speak with fear and trembling and bated breath.  Waver not, let not faith stagger.  When you plead the name
of Christ, you plead that which shakes the gates of hell and that which the hosts of heaven obey, and God Himself feels
the sacred power of that divine plea.

Let us think more, in our prayers of Christ's grief and groans.  Bring before the Lord His wounds; tell the Lord of His
cries; make the groans of Jesus cry again from Gethsemane; and make His Blood speak again from that frozen Calvary.  
Speak out and tell the Lord that with such griefs and cries and groans to plead, you cannot take a denial.  Such
arguments as these will aid you.

A Mouth Filled with Praises

If the Holy Spirit will teach us how to order our cause and how to fill our mouths with arguments, the result will be that we
will have our mouth filled with praises.  The man who has his mouth full of arguments in prayer will soon have his mouth
full of benedictions in answer to prayer.

Do you have your mouth full of complaining?  Pray to the Lord to rinse that black stuff out of your mouth, for it will not
help you and it will be bitter in your bowels one of these days.  Instead, have your mouth full of prayer, full of arguments
so that there is room for nothing else.  Then come with this blessed mouthful, and you will soon go away with whatever
you have asked of God.  Only, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."  
Psalm 37:4

The Throne of Grace

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words; it is not
alone, the feeling of desires; but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature towards the
Lord our God.  True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that.  It is
spiritual commerce with the Creator of heaven and earth.

God is a Spirit, unseen by mortal eye and only to be perceived by the inner man.  Our spirit within us, begotten by the
Holy Spirit at our regeneration, discerns the Great Spirit, communes with Him, sets before Him its requests, and receives
from Him answers of peace.  It is a spiritual business from beginning to end.  In order to offer such prayer, the work of
the Holy Spirit Himself is needed.  If prayer were of the desires alone, many excellent desires are easily felt, even by
natural men.  But when it is the spiritual desire and the spiritual fellowship of the human spirit with the Great Spirit, then
the Holy Spirit Himself must be present all through it.  He helps infirmity and gives life and power.  Without the Holy Spirit,
true prayer will never be presented; the thing offered to God will wear the name and have the form, but the inner life of
prayer will be far from it.  Jesus Christ is essential to acceptable prayer - prevailing prayer can not be without the Son of
God.  The man, who, despite the teaching of Scripture, tries to pray without our Savior, insults the Diety.

When we pray, we come before the "throne of grace."  God is to be viewed in prayer as our Father.  Our Savior has
qualified the expression "our Father" with the words "which art in heaven"  Matthew 6:9.  He reminds us that our Father
is still infinitely greater than we are, that our Father is still to be regarded as King.  In prayer we come not only to our
Father's feet, but also to the throne of the Great Monarch of the universe.  The mercy seat is a throne, and we must not
forget this.  

How should we come to the Throne of Grace....

With Lowly Reverence

Prayer should always be regarded by us as an entrance into the courts of the Royalty of heaven. We are to behave
ourselves as courtiers should in the presence of an illustrious majesty, then we are not at a loss to know the right spirit
in which to pray.  In approaching the King of King and Lord of Lords, we should pay Him homage and honor.  Prostrate
yourself in His presence, place your mouth in "dust" before Him for He is the most powerful of all kings.  His throne has
sway in all the worlds.  Heaven obeys Him cheerfully, hell trembles at His frown, and earth is constrained to yield Him
homage willingly or unwillingly.  His power can make or can destroy, to create or to crush - either is easy enough for
Him.  Let us draw nigh to the Omnipotent God who is as a consuming fire and worship Him with the lowliest humility.  
Henceforth, let us ask the Spirit of God to put us in a right attitude, so that every one of our prayers may be a
reverential approach to the Infinite Majesty above.

Devout Joyfulness

That we are permitted to come near to Him, into His royal palace, His secret chamber, should we not then be thankful.  
Our thankfulness should ascend into joy and we should feel honored that we are made the recipients of great favors.  
Let your face shine with sacred delight.  If your sorrows are heavy, tell them to Him, for He can comfort you.  If your sins
are multiplied, confess them, for He can forgive them, but be exceedingly glad and mingle praises with your prayers.

Complete Submission

Approach the throne with complete submission.  We do not pray to God to instruct Him as to what He ought to do;
neither for a moment must we presume to dictate the line of the divine procedure.  We are permitted to say to God,
"Thus and thus would we have it," but we must add "Not as we will, but as You will."  If we constantly remembered this,
we would be less inclined to push certain suits before the throne and we might think "I am here in seeking my own ease,
my own comfort, my own advantage, and perhaps, I may be asking for that which would dishonor God.  Therefore, I will
speak with the deepest submission to Him."

Enlarged Expectations

We ought to approach the Throne with enlarged expectations.  We do not come in prayer, as it were, only to God's
poorhouse where He dispenses His favors to the poor, nor do we come to the back door of the house of mercy to
receive the broken scraps though that would be more than we deserve.  When we pray, we are standing in the palace
on the glittering floor of the great King's own reception room, and thus we are placed upon a vantage ground.  In prayer,
we stand where angels bow with veiled faces.  So, should we come there with stunted requests and narrow and
contracted faith?  No.  Take heed of imagining that God's thoughts are your thoughts and His ways as your ways (Isaiah
55:8).  Do not bring before God small petitions and narrow desires and say, "Lord, do according to these."  Remember,
as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are His ways above your ways, and His thoughts above your
thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).  Ask for great things, for you are before a great throne.  Oh, that He would do for us "exceeding
abundantly above all that we ask or think"  Ephesians 3:20

Unstaggering Confidence

The right spirit in which to approach the Throne is that of unstaggering confidence.  Who would doubt the King?  Who
dares impugn the Imperial word?  Shame on us if we are unbelieving before the throne of the King of heaven and earth.  
With our God before us in all His glory, sitting on the throne of grace, will our hearts dare to say we mistrust Him?  All
wavering or suspicion should be far from the throne.  Unstaggering faith should be predominant before the mercy seat.

Deepest Sincerity

Prayer coming before the Throne of God ought to always be conducted with the deepest sincerity and in the spirit that
makes everything real.  If you are disloyal enough to despise the King, at least, for your own sake, do not mock Him to
His face and when He is upon His Throne.  If anywhere you dare repeat holy words without heart, let it not be in
Jehovah's presence.   Do you think that the King of heaven is delighted to hear you pronounce words with a frivolous
tongue and a thoughtless mind,  "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." John
4:24   Prayer is no trifle.  It is an eminent and elevated act.  It is a high and wondrous privilege.  You and I, the people of
God, have a permit, a passport, to come before the throne of heaven at any time we will, and we are encouraged to
come there with great boldness.  Still let us not forget that it is no light thing to be a courtier in the courts of heaven and
earth, to worship Him who made us and sustains us in being.

Grace

We are called to the Throne of law.  Rocky Mount Sinai once was the throne of law when God came to Paran with ten
thousand of His holy ones.  Who desired to draw near to that throne?  Even Israel did not.  Boundaries were set around
the mount, and if even a beast touched the mount, it was stoned or thrust through with a dart.  Oh, self-righteous ones
who hope that you can obey the law and think that you can be saved by it, look to the flames that Moses saw, and
shrink, and tremble, and despair.  To that throne we do not come now, for through Jesus the case is changed.  To a
conscience purged by the precious blood, there is no anger upon the divine throne, though to our troubled minds.  
Those of us who have believed will find it to be a throne of grace as well as of justice; for He who sits upon that throne
will pronounce no sentence of condemnation against the man who is justified by faith.  It is a throne set up on purpose
for the dispensation of grace, a throne from which every utterance is an utterance of grace.  He who sits upon the
Throne is grace itself.  It is the "throne of grace" to which we approach when we pray.

Faults Overlooked

In beginning to pray, if may you feel as if you did not pray - that the groanings of your spirit, when you rose from your
knees are such that you think there is nothing in them. Remember, you came before a Throne of grace, not a throne of
justice.  When any one of us has presented his best prayer before God, if he saw it as God sees it, there is no doubt he
would make great lamentation over it.  Our gracious King does not maintain a stately etiquette in His court like that which
has been observed by princes among men, where a little mistake or a flaw would secure the petitioner's being dismissed
or disgraced.  Our Lord Jesus Christ takes care to alter and amend every prayer before He presents it, and He makes
the prayer perfect with His perfection and prevailing with His own merits.  God looks upon the prayer as presented
through Christ, and He forgives all of its own inherent faultiness.  If you cannot plead with God as sometimes you did in
years gone by, if you feel as if somehow or other you have grown rusty in the work of supplication, never give up.  By
simple faith go to the Savior, for He, it is who is the throne of grace.  It is in Him that God is able to dispense grace to the
most guilty of mankind.

Desires Interpreted

If it is a throne of grace, then the desires of the pleader will be interpreted.  If I cannot find words in which to utter my
desires, God in His grace will read my desires without the words.  He takes the meaning of His saints, the meaning of
their groans. God, the infinitely gracious One, will dive into the soul of our desires, and He will read there what we
cannot speak with the tongue.  The ever-blessed Spirit, from the throne of grace, will help us and teach us words - write
in our hearts the desires themselves.  He will put the desires and will put the expression of those desires into your spirit
by His grace.  He will direct your desires to other things for which you ought to seek.  He will teach you your wants,
though as yet you do not know them.  He will suggest to you His promises so that you may be able to plead them.  He will
in fact, be Alpha and Omega to your prayer just as He is to your salvation; for as salvation is from first to last of grace,
so is the sinner's approach to the throne of grace is of grace from first to last.

Wants Supplied

If it is a throne of grace, then all the wants of those who come to it will be supplied. It is not a throne for receiving tribute;
it is a throne for dispensing gifts.  It is a throne that glorifies itself by streaming forth like a fountain with floods of good
things.  If, in our prayers, there are defects of knowledge; it is a throne of grace, and our Father knows that we have
need of these things.  Suppose there are defects of faith; He sees our little faith and still does not reject it, small as it is.  
He does not in every case measure out His gifts by the degree of our faith, but by the sincerity and trueness of faith.  If
there are grave defects in our spirit and failures in the fervency or in the humility of the prayer, still though these should
not be there and are much to be deplored, grace overlooks and forgives all this.  Still, its merciful hand is stretched out
to enrich us according to our needs.



Source:

The Power in Prayer, by Charles Spurgeon, Copyright 1996, Whitaker House.
2010 - HIS GLORY REIGNS
LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES