“One morning when I awoke trying to solve a chess problem that had filled my mind as I had put my head upon my pillow that night before, I determined that, henceforth, I should go to sleep thinking of Christ. As the months passed, I discovered that there was much more than a habit involved in this. Here was a proof of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in my heart and mind, controlling even the subconscious element of my life.”
“Then I learned that I must not merely go to sleep thinking about Christ, but that I must go to sleep in communion with Him. I began memorizing verses of Scripture at night and reciting them as I fell asleep. At first these truths were merely objective. ‘His Name shall be called wonderful,’ might be my verse on a certain night. At first I would meditate on this in terms somewhat like those in which I might expound them to an audience–‘His Name is full of wonders’; ‘His Name is the name Jesus, that of the Savior’; ‘He shall save His people from their sins.'”
“Then there came a change that He brought in my procedure. Those same sentences were altered: ‘Thy Name is full of wonders’; ‘Thy Name is Jesus’; ‘Thou art my Savior’; ‘Thou shalt continually save me from my sins.’ Soon He became more real than the inside of my eyelids. I could not see them though they were close to my eyes. Him I learned to know in everything but the touch. And closing one’s eyes with Christ takes away all fear of sleepless nights.”
“Let others count sheep jumping over a wall; I shall talk with the Shepherd.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse)
“Allow me to give you a few practical words as to your prayers. Keep clear of the unprofitable habit of ‘saying your prayers.'”
“Christendom is full of solemn warnings as to the tendency of our hearts to drop into a routine of religious forms. It is a very great loss to the soul to get into the habit of repeating substantially the same words in prayer every day. It is not prayer at all.”
“We read, ‘In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.’ How can you do that if you are using the same form of words day after day, and week after week? Today is not like yesterday, and tomorrow will not be like today. If you are really with God you will be sensitive to the fresh needs of every day.”
“God delights to have our confidence as to every need and care. Then let us cultivate a child’s confidence, and a child’s simplicity as we come to him in prayer. Bring the trying circumstances of today, and the expected difficulties and perplexities of tomorrow to the blessed God who tells you to cast all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”
“Be simple: give up the long preface; do not feel it necessary to quote a dozen scriptures; ask as a needy and confiding child would ask its parent.” (C.A. Coates)
In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray; we must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray. In very much of our prayer there is really but little thought of God. Our mind is taken up with the thought of what we need, and is not occupied with the thought of the mighty and loving Father of whom we are seeking it.
Oftentimes, it is the case that we are occupied neither with the need nor with the One to whom we are praying, but our mind is wandering here and there throughout the world. There is no power in that sort of prayer. But when we really come into God’s presence, really meet Him face to face in the place of prayer, really seek the things that we desire from Him, then there is power. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite and vivid consciousness that we are talking to God and should believe that He is listening to our petition and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him. We should look to the Holy Spirit to really lead us into the presence of God and should not be hasty in words until He has actually brought us there. (R.A. Torrey)
In the 6th chapter of Ephesians in the 18th verse we read words which put the tremendous importance of prayer with startling and overwhelming force:
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
When we stop to weigh the meaning of these words, then note the connection in which they are found, the intelligent child of God is driven to say, “I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray.”
The Revised Version is, if possible, stronger than the Authorized:
“With all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Note the ALLS: “with ALL prayer,” “at ALL seasons,” “in ALL perseverance,” “for ALL the saints.” Note the piling up of strong words, “prayer,” “supplication,” “perseverance.” Note once more the strong expression, “watching thereunto,” more literally, “being sleepless thereunto.” Paul realized the natural slothfulness of man, and especially his natural slothfulness in prayer. How seldom we pray things through! How often the church and the individual get right up to the verge of a great blessing in prayer and just then let go, get drowsy, quit. I wish that these words “being sleepless unto prayer” might burn into our hearts. I wish the whole verse might burn into our hearts.
The words “pray” and “prayer” are used at least twenty-five times in connection with our Lord in the brief record of His life in the four Gospels, and His praying is mentioned in places where the words are not used. Evidently prayer took much of the time and strength of Jesus, and a man or woman who does not spend much time in prayer, cannot properly be called a follower of Jesus Christ.
[And] what that great present work is, by which He carries our salvation on to completeness, we read in Heb. 7:25, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” This verse tells us that Jesus is able to save us unto the uttermost, not merely FROM the uttermost, but UNTO the uttermost, unto entire completeness, absolute perfection, because He not merely died, but because He also “ever liveth.” The verse also tells us for what purpose He now lives, “TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR US,” to pray. It is by His prayers that He is saving us.
If we then are to have fellowship with Jesus Christ in His present work, we must spend much time in prayer; we must give ourselves to earnest, constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer. I know of nothing that has so impressed me with a sense of the importance of praying at all seasons, being much and constantly in prayer, as the thought that that is the principal occupation at present of my risen Lord. I want to have fellowship with Him, and to that end I have asked the Father that whatever else He may make me, to make me at all events an intercessor, to make me a man who knows how to pray, and who spends much time in prayer. (R.A. Torrey)
A young man had been called to the foreign field. He had not been in the habit of preaching, but he knew one thing, how to prevail with God; and going one day to a friend he said: “I don’t see how God can use me on the field. I have no special talent.” His friend said: “My brother, God wants men on the field who can pray. There are too many preachers now and too few pray-ers.” He went. In his own room in the early dawn a voice was heard weeping and pleading for souls. All through the day, the shut door and the hush that prevailed made you feel like walking softly, for a soul was wrestling with God. Yet to this home, hungry souls would flock, drawn by some irresistible power. Ah, the mystery was unlocked. In the secret chamber lost souls were pleaded for and claimed. The Holy Ghost knew just where they were and sent them along. (J. Hudson Taylor)
Here is an excerpt from an article by Bob Bakke from Pray! magazine, which was taken from a book that he wrote.
In 1840, the decline of Christianity in Boston led a group of people at Park Street Church to begin a prayer concert for the outpouring of God’s Spirit. They agreed to meet daily for prayer, [and] after two years, the group reported significant growth and numerous conversions. “All our churches,” they wrote, “are enjoying at the present time the reviving influences of the Holy Spirit.” In year three, attendance at the prayer meeting dropped, but evangelical Christianity in Boston grew impressively. In year four, the prayer meeting died, and in the Park Street prayer meeting’s final minutes, [they wrote]: “The number added [to our churches over] the past year is about seven times less than the year previous, and less than any year since the meeting commenced.” Six years after the Park Street meeting died, two of its members sensed that God wanted them to start another prayer meeting. This time the meeting would comply more closely with the “union prayer meetings” in England. It would welcome Christians of all denominations at a neutral site. The meetings began at Old South Church: “All evangelical denominations united in the meetings, and during the years which it has existed the most delightful harmony has prevailed. There is a general understanding that no controverted points in theology shall be discussed.” The goal was simple, “to pray for the revival of religion, and the outpouring of the Spirit on the inhabitants of this city.” Except on Sunday, the members gathered daily before the workday to pray. From the outset, “the place was pervaded with the sacred influences of the Holy Spirit.” On Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, they prayed for the Jews. Even during the first year, a surge of spiritual activity was noted throughout Boston. After six years, the Old South Prayer Meeting added quarterly fast days to more earnestly call upon God to pour out His power. With standing-room-only crowds, a cry with up: “Let Satan’s kingdom fall like lightning, [Oh Lord,] enter every dwelling place, every habitation of men in this city, carry forward the work of grace through all the land, among the nations of the earth, upon the land and upon the sea. Let the fullness of the sea be converted to thee. Great God, we pray thee to move by the power of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh, and let all flesh together rejoice in the salvation of our God. Let Old South Church be the furnace to melt people and mould them into the image of Jesus Christ, that they may go forth, and let their light shine, and bring forth fruit unto God.” By 1857, these Bostonians had prayed for six years—every day, intensified by fasting and great solemn meetings of extraordinary prayer. Missionaries on furlough traveled to Boston to join them. Lyman Beecher, one of America’s greatest preachers, became a regular there and remarked that the meetings were the most sacred he had ever seen. Visitors from other regions took the design back to their home towns. A great, united cry rose to God: “Unless God does this, we are lost.” Their need for Christ was only surpassed by their confidence in him. With numerous reports about the stirrings of God’s Spirit in Boston and other places, the praying grew more fervent and expectant. Clearly, Christ was stretching out his arm: “The faith of God’s people seemed to be growing stronger every week. They carried the entire city to the throne of grace. Without regard for denominations, they wrestled with God, and seemed continually burdened with souls. For seven years, every morning, prayer had been sent up to the Most High for the salvation of souls, and now the blessing seemed to be at hand. It was not long before the chapel was filled to overflowing, including the pulpit, gallery, both aisles, and all the passageways. The room below was opened, and both were filled to their utmost capacity. Sometimes the whole audience would be bathed in tears. The place seemed filled with the blessed influences of the Holy Ghost.” Revival began to break out across America. Churches and communities were transformed. J. Edwin Orr estimates that out of a population of 30 million, one million people came to Christ in that first year alone. The glory of Christ was manifest.
(Bob Bakke, from his book “The Power of Extraordinary Prayer,” Crossway, 2000)
More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of.
Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not the hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God. (Alfred Tennyson)
“Perhaps we do not think enough what an effective service prayer is, especially intercessory prayer. We do not believe as we should how it might help those we so fain would serve, penetrating the hearts we cannot open, shielding those we cannot guard, teaching where we cannot speak, comforting where our words have no power to soothe; following the steps of our beloved through the toils and perplexities of the day, lifting off their burdens with an unseen hand at night. No ministry is so like that of an angel as this—silent, invisible, known but to God.” (Elizabeth Rundle Charles)