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Psalm 65:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you all flesh will come.
The one who would succeed in the Christian life must lead a life of prayer. Very much of the failure in Christian living today, and in Christian work, results from neglect of prayer. Very few Christians spend as much time in prayer as they ought. The Apostle James told believers in his day that the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of their lives and service was neglect of prayer. “You have not,” says God through the Apostle James, “because you do not ask.” Therefore, it is to-day. Why is it, many a Christian is asking, that I make such poor headway in my Christian life? Why do I have so little victory over sin? Why do I accomplish so little by my effort? And God answers, “You have not because you ask not.”
It is easy enough to lead a life of prayer if one only sets about it. Set apart some time each day for prayer. The rule of David and of Daniel is a good one; three times a day. “Evening and morning and at noon,” says David, “I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.” (Ps. 55:17). Of Daniel, we read, “When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house, where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” (Dan. 6:10) Of course, one can pray while walking the street, or riding in the car, or sitting at his desk, and one should learn to lift his heart to God right in the busiest moments of his life, but we need to set times of prayer, times when we go alone with God, shut to the door and talk to our Father in the secret place (Matt. 6:6). God is in the secret place and will meet with us there and listen to our petitions.
Prayer is a wonderful privilege. It is an audience with the King. It is talking to our Father. How strange it is that people should ask the question, “How much time ought I to spend in prayer?” When a subject is summoned to an audience with his king, he never asks, “How much time must I spend with the king?” His question is rather, “How much time will the king give me?” And with any true child of God who realizes what prayer really is, that it is an audience with the King of Kings, the question will never be, “How much time must I spend in prayer,” but “How much time may I spend in prayer with a due regard to other duties and privileges?”
Begin the day with thanksgiving and prayer. Thanksgiving for the definite mercies of the past, prayer for the definite needs of the present day. Think of the temptations that you are likely to meet during the day; ask God to show you the temptations that you are likely to meet, and get from God strength for victory over these temptations before the temptations come. The reason why a good deal of Christians fail in the battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came. Jesus conquered in the awful battles of Pilate’s judgment hall and of the cross because He had the night before in prayer anticipated the battle and gained the victory before the struggle really came. He had told His disciples to do the same. He had bidden them “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40), but they had slept when they ought to have prayed, and when the hour of temptation came they fell. Anticipate your battles, fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory. At the very outset of the day, get counsel and strength from God Himself for the duties of the day.
Never let the rush of business crowd out prayer. The more work that any day has to do, the more time must be spent in prayer in preparation for that work. You will not lose time by it, you will save time by it. Prayer is the greatest time saver known to man. The more the work crowds you, the more time take for prayer.
Stop in the midst of the bustle and hurry and temptation of the day for thanksgiving and prayer. A few minutes spent alone with God at midday will go far to keep you calm in the midst of the worries and anxieties of modern life.
Close the day with thanksgiving and prayer. Review all the blessings of the day, and thank God in detail for them. Nothing goes farther to increase faith in God and in His Word than a calm review at the close of each day of what God has done for you that day. Nothing goes further towards bringing new and larger blessings from God than intelligent thanksgiving for blessings already granted.
The last thing you do each day, ask God to show you if there has been anything in the day that has been displeasing in His sight. Then wait quietly before God and give God an opportunity to speak to you. Listen. Do not be in a hurry. If God shows you anything in the day that has been displeasing in His sight, confess it fully and frankly as to a holy and loving Father. Believe that God forgives it all, for He says He does (1 John 1:9). Thus, at the close of each day, all your accounts with God will be straightened out. You can lie down and sleep in the glad consciousness that there is not a cloud between you and God. You can arise the next day to begin life anew with a clean balance sheet. Do this, and you can never backslide for more than twenty-four hours. Indeed, you will not backslide at all. It is very hard to straighten out accounts in business that have been allowed to get crooked through a prolonged period. No bank ever closes its business day until its balance is found to be absolutely correct. And no Christian should close a single day until his accounts with God for that day have been perfectly adjusted alone with Him.
There should be special prayer in special temptation—that is, when we see the temptation approaching. If you possibly can, get at once alone somewhere with God and fight your battle out. Keep looking to God. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). It is not needful to be on your knees all the time, but the heart should be on its knees all the time. We should be often on our knees or on our faces, literally. This is a joyous life, free from worry and care. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7,ESV).
There are three things for which one who would succeed in the Christian life must especially pray. 1. For wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom (and we all do) let him ask of God” (James 1:5). 2. For strength. “they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength” (Is. 40:31). 3. For the Holy Spirit. “Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him” (Luke 11:13). Even if you have received the Holy Spirit, you should constantly pray for a new filling with the Holy Spirit and definitely expect to receive it. We need a new filling with the Spirit for every new emergency of Christian life and Christian service. The Apostle Peter was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4) but he was filled anew in Acts 4:8 and Acts 4:31. There are many Christians in the world who once had a very definite baptism with the Holy Spirit and had great joy and were wonderfully used, but who have tried to go ever since in the power of that baptism received years ago, and today their lives are comparatively joyless and powerless. We need constantly to get new supplies of oil for our lamps. We get these new supplies of oil by asking for them.