The Place of Prayer
WE CANNOT close this study without saying something about the place of prayer in the fight of faith, for everything depends on this. If anybody thinks this is a lazy man's religion, and there is nothing to do, let him start here. In all my ministry I find fewer people who want to pray than any other kind. It is the hardest work in the world, the most neglected, and the most important.
Prayer is turning on the power. I remember when I was a small boy my uncles owned a saw mill. I worked for them some, cleaning out the sawdust pit. I have seen them work for days setting up the mill. The boiler would be anchored, the saw rig set, the carriage and track set up, and the big belt put on. All the little necessary touches were finally finished, and we were all called to positions. The steam would be popping out the pop valve, and the gauge registering power. At a given signal the engineer would open the throttle, and the big belt would leap into action. The large circular saw would go whizzing around, while the sawyer pulled his lever and the carriage moved up with a big log against the saw. Things would begin to take place then. Everybody was moving as slabs, lumber, and cross-ties fell from the carriage. There was work going on. Every part of that machinery was so tied together
gether that the steam power could drive it into action. It had to act!
Now notice. No matter how much machinery, nor how well it was set up, there was no work going on until that steam hit the pistons. And I believe that throttle is prayer. The only time work is being done in God's people is when spiritual power hits our hearts. And that means, when we are praying. A praying people are a working people. They have to work! Power from on high drives them. And prayer is the throttle God has put in our hands which sets the power working in our hearts. When we pray, we open the pistons of Our hearts, and that power rushes in to fill us with faith. Faith is absolutely dependent on prayer. A prayerless people have no faith. A praying people have faith to remove mountains.
Of what does good praying consist? (1) Worship. That includes a feeling and expression of humility which denies the flesh any recogition or merit whatsoever. It sets God on the throne of the heart, acknowledging all good from Him alone, confessing ourselves to be utterly sinful and wretched and needy. It deplores everything but God. That is worship. (2) Contemplation of God. This is why it takes time to pray. This, too, is worship, but it serves a purpose in OUr lives. What I mean by the contemplation of God is 'to take in the size of God. David had done this; that is why he knew God could slay Goliath. Daniel had contemplated God's power. And so on. It is good to get the correct size of God, else our faith will be small. With the works program of our modern day we have reduced God to a small household affair, so that we don't expect much from Him. Let me give you some examples of prayer from those who have taken in God's size. And
when they pray they go over these things, to remind themselves that they are not praying to a little God. That enlarges their faith. The Psalms are full of these prayers.
In the 46th Psalm, for example, the writer is in need of refuge and help in trouble. He says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." On he goes expressing faith in God's power to stand though everything fall. Then look in the eighth verse. He says, "Come, behold the works of the Lord." Then he tells what desolations the Lord has wrought. Read these verses and see how he builds up His God to a mighty being. Then he quiets himself by saying, "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." When you pray long enough to take in God's size, you generate faith.
You find this kind of praying through all the Old Testament. Now take a classic example from the New Testament. Look in Acts 4:23-30. The disciples have been in a terrible spot. I have an idea that many of us, being let go, would not have contemplated a return trip to the front of battle and would have prayed the Lord to give us another field. But they bolstered up their faith by contemplating the size of God again, as they prayed: "Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is . . ." Well, when you get hold of a God that big, He ought to be able to handle the situation. But this was a part of their prayer - reminding themselves how big God is by reciting a few things He had done. And this helps us to have faith - this contemplation of God - and it ought to be a large part of prayer. (3) Resignation to the will of God. Not trying to get rid of our problems,
but trying to fit into the will of God. This is yoke walking. It will require constant bending of the neck, and yielding of the body, and inconveniencing the fleshly mind. It will set aside many of our plans and connections and desires. It is constant dying - continuous dying. "We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter," so we ought to yield to the Cross. Letting God have His way all the time is hard on the flesh, but we can't have faith unless we do it. When we put things in God's hands we know it will be all right, but it takes praying to put them there. The flesh will rise up for battle, and push in for recognition of its plans and desires right while we are praying. We have to work hard on our knees if we get the faith that is the victory. That is the only place we can deal with the flesh, the ground of prayer. Paul knew this. When he gave us all the armour In Ephesians 6, he starts us fighting on the ground of prayer. The first action is praying; for there we deal with the flesh, and when we have put to death the flesh and get it out of the way, we come up with faith which is the power that drives the mill and makes things happen that man can't do any other way. Then, (4) prayer is asking God, as the Spirit prompts us, and receiving the answer in whatever way God chooses to answer for our good. Many a request from a child is answered, but denied. We must always leave to our sovereign God the advisability of answering by granting what we have asked. But if we ask according to the Spirit, we can be sure of the request being granted. However, this develops into a longer discussion than we are able to give here.
Much more could be said about prayer, but our reason for bringing the matter to attention here is to emphasize the thought that prayer is the place where faith begins. This
is the first work of the believer i~ any service to God. If we cannot pray, nothing else will happen. If the believer will not pray, he cannot have faith; and if he have not faith, our Lord can "do no mighty works" because of his unbelief. His God will be reduced to his own size, and nothing more than what the flesh can do will take place.
That is where the modern church is working, all too often, now. We cannot have faith without opening the heart valves so that the power from on high can come in. And what, again, is that power? It is the power to believe God and expect Him to tear down the wall! This is a mystery to most people, I know, but here is the deep secret of the supernatural, and it is as simple as saving faith. Yet it is just as difficult for the believer as saving faith is for the lost. Not the power to do, that is not what we need, but the power to believe that God will do. And this comes by praying the heart open to God so that the power to believe will come in. For faith is the victory!
[Buell H. Kazee, Faith is the Victory, 1951. Used with the permission of Philip R. Kazee. - jrd]
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