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Quiet Talks on Prayer by Samuel Dickey Gordon


Quiet Talks on Prayer by Samuel Dickey Gordon

Part 1.

The Meaning and Mission of Prayer

Chapter 1.

Prayer the Greatest Outlet of Power

Five Outlets of Power

A great sorrow has come into the heart of God. Let it be told only in hushed voice—one of His worlds is a prodigal! Hush your voice yet more—ours is that prodigal world. Let your voice soften down still more—we have consented to the prodigal part of the story. But, in softest tones yet, He has won some of us back with His strong tender love. And now let the voice ring out with great gladness—we won ones may be the pathway back to God for the others. That is His earnest desire. That should be our dominant ambition. For that purpose He has endowed us with peculiar power.

There is one inlet of power in the life—anybody's life—any kind of power: just one inlet—the Holy Spirit. He is power. He is in everyone who opens his door to God. He eagerly enters every open door. He comes in by our invitation and consent. His presence within is the vital thing.

But with many of us while He is in, He is not in control: in as guest; not as host. That is to  say He is hindered in His natural movements; tied up, so that He cannot do what He would. And so we are not conscious or only partially conscious of His presence. And others are still less so. But to yield to His mastery, to cultivate His friendship, to give Him full swing—that will result in what is called power. One inlet of power—the Holy Spirit in control.

There are five outlets of power: five avenues through which this One within shows Himself, and reveals His power. First: through the life, what we are. Just simply what we are. If we be right the power of God will be constantly flowing out, though we be not conscious of it. It throws the keenest kind of emphasis on a man being right in his life. There will be an eager desire to serve. Yet we may constantly do more in what we are than in what we do. We may serve better in the lives we live than in the best service we ever give. The memory of that should bring rest to your spirit when a bit tired, and may be disheartened because tired.

Second: through the lips, what we say. It may be said stammeringly and falteringly. But if said your best with the desire to please the Master it will be God-blest. I have heard a man talk. And he stuttered and blushed and got his grammar badly tangled, but my heart burned as I listened. And I have heard a man talk with smooth speech, and it rolled off me as easily as  it rolled out of him. Do your best, and leave the rest. If we are in touch with God His fire burns whether the tongue stammer or has good control of its powers.

Third: through our service, what we do. It may be done bunglingly and blunderingly. Your best may not be the best, but if it be your best it will bring a harvest.

Fourth: through our money, what we do not keep, but loosen out for God. Money comes the nearest to omnipotence of anything we handle.

And, fifth: through our prayer, what we claim in Jesus' name.

And by all odds the greatest of these is the outlet through prayer. The power of a life touches just one spot, but the touch is tremendous. What is there we think to be compared with a pure, unselfish, gently strong life. Yet its power is limited to one spot where it is being lived. Power through the lips depends wholly upon the life back of the lips. Words that come brokenly are often made burning and eloquent by the life behind them. And words that are smooth and easy, often have all their meaning sapped by the life back of them. Power through service may be great, and may be touching many spots, yet it is always less than that of a life. Power through money depends wholly upon the motive back of the money. Begrudged money, stained money, soils the treasury. That which comes nearest to omnipotence also comes nearest  to impotence. But the power loosened out through prayer is as tremendous, at the least, to say no more just now, is as tremendous as the power of a true fragrant life and, mark you, and, may touch not one spot but wherever in the whole round world you may choose to turn it.

The greatest thing any one can do for God and for man is to pray. It is not the only thing. But it is the chief thing. A correct balancing of the possible powers one may exert puts it first. For if a man is to pray right, he must first be right in his motives and life. And if a man be right, and put the practice of praying in its right place, then his serving and giving and speaking will be fairly fragrant with the presence of God.

The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer, but I mean these people who take time and pray. They have not time. It must be taken from something else. This something else is important. Very important, and pressing, but still less important and less pressing than prayer. There are people that put prayer first, and group the other items in life's schedule around and after prayer.

These are the people today who are doing the most for God; in winning souls; in solving problems; in awakening churches; in supplying both men and money for mission posts; in keeping  fresh and strong these lives far off in sacrificial service on the foreign field where the thickest fighting is going on; in keeping the old earth sweet awhile longer.

It is wholly a secret service. We do not know who these people are, though sometimes shrewd guesses may be made. I often think that sometimes we pass some plain-looking woman quietly slipping out of church; gown been turned two or three times; bonnet fixed over more than once; hands that have not known much of the softening of gloves; and we hardly give her a passing thought, and do not know, nor guess, that perhaps she is the one who is doing far more for her church, and for the world, and for God than a hundred who would claim more attention and thought, because she prays; truly prays as the Spirit of God inspires and guides.

Let me put it this way: God will do as a result of the praying of the humblest one here what otherwise he would not do. Yes, I can make it stronger than that, and I must make it stronger, for the Book does. Listen: God will do in answer to the prayer of the weakest one here what otherwise He could not do. "Oh!", someone thinks, "you are getting that too strong now." Well, you listen to Jesus' own words in that last long quiet talk He had with the eleven men between the upper room and the olive-grove. John preserves much of that talk for us. Listen: "Ye did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed  you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that"—listen, a part of the purpose why we have been chosen—"that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you" . Mark that word "may"; not "shall" this time but may. "Shall" throws the matter over on God—His purpose. "May" throws it over upon us—our cooperation. That is to say our praying makes it possible for God to do what otherwise He could not do.

And if you think into it a bit, this fits in with the true conception of prayer. In its simplest analysis prayer—all prayer—has, must have, two parts. First, a God to give. "Yes," you say, "certainly, a God wealthy, willing, all of that." And, just as certainly, there must be a second factor, a man to receive. Man's willingness is God's channel to the earth. God never crowds nor coerces. Everything God does for man and through man He does with man's consent, always. With due reverence, but very plainly, let it be said that God can do nothing for the man with shut hand and shut life. There must be an open hand and heart and life through which God can give what He longs to. An open life, an open hand, open upward, is the pipe line of communication between the heart of God and this poor befooled old world. Our prayer is God's opportunity to get into the world that would shut Him out.

In Touch With a Planet

Prayer opens a whole planet to a man's activities. I can as really be touching hearts for God in far away India or China through prayer, as though I were there. Not in as many ways as though there, but as truly. Understand me, I think the highest possible privilege of service is in those far off lands. There the need is greatest, the darkness densest, and the pleading call most eloquently pathetic. And if one may go there—happy man!—if one be privileged to go to the honoured place of service he may then use all five outlets direct in the spot where he is.

Yet this is only one spot. But his relationship is as wide as his Master's and his sympathies should be. A man may be in Africa, but if his heart be in touch with Jesus it will be burning for a world. Prayer puts us into direct dynamic touch with a world.

A man may go aside today, and shut his door, and as really spend a half-hour in India—I am thinking of my words as I say them, it seems so much to say, and yet it is true—as really spend a half hour of his life in India for God as though he were there in person. Is that true? If it be true, surely you and I must get more half-hours for this secret service. Without any doubt he may turn his key and be for a bit of time as potentially in China by the power of prayer, as though there in actual bodily form. I say potentially present. Of course not consciously present.  But in the power exerted upon men he may be truly present at the objective point of his prayer. He may give a new meaning to the printed page being read by some native down in Africa. He may give a new tongue of flame to the preacher or teacher. He may make it easier for men to accept the story of Jesus, and then to yield themselves to Jesus—yonder men swept and swayed by evil spirits, and by prejudices for generations—make it easier for them to accept the story, and, if need be, to cut with loved ones, and step out and up into a new life.

Some earnest heart enters an objection here, perhaps. You are thinking that if you were there you could influence men by your personal contact, by the living voice. So you could. And there must be the personal touch. Would that there were many times more going for that blessed personal touch. But this is the thing to mark keenly both for those who may go, and for those who must stay: no matter where you are you do more through your praying than through your personality. If you were in India you could add your personality to your prayer. That would be a great thing to do. But whether there or here, you must first win the victory, every step, every life, every foot of the way, in secret, in the spirit-realm, and then add the mighty touch of your personality in service. You can do more than pray, after you have prayed. But you can not do more than pray until you have prayed.  And just there is where we have all seemed to make a slip at times, and many of us are yet making it—a bad slip. We think we can do more where we are through our service: then prayer to give power to service. No—with the blackest underscoring of emphasis, let it be said—No. We can do no thing of real power until we have done the prayer thing.

Here is a man by my side. I can talk to him. I can bring my personality to bear upon him, that I may win him. But before I can influence his will a jot for God, I must first have won the victory in the secret place. Intercession is winning the victory over the chief, and service is taking the field after the chief is driven off. Such service is limited by the limitation of personality to one place. This spirit-telegraphy called prayer puts a man into direct dynamic touch with a planet.

There are some of our friends who think themselves of the practical sort who say, "the great thing is work: prayer is good, and right, but the great need is to be doing something practical." The truth is that when one understands about prayer, and puts prayer in its right place in his life, he finds a new motive power burning in his bones to be doing; and further he finds that it is the doing that grows out of praying that is mightiest in touching human hearts. And he finds further yet with a great joy that he may be doing something for an entire world.  His service becomes as broad as his Master's thought.

Intercession is Service

It helps greatly to remember that intercession is service: the chief service of a life on God's plan. It is unlike all other forms of service, and superior to them in this: that it has fewer limitations. In all other service we are constantly limited by space, bodily strength, equipment, material obstacles, difficulties involved in the peculiar differences of personality. Prayer knows no such limitations. It ignores space. It may be free of expenditure of bodily strength, where rightly practiced, and one's powers are under proper control. It goes directly, by the telegraphy of spirit, into men's hearts, quietly passes through walls, and past locks unhindered, and comes into most direct touch with the inner heart and will to be affected.

In service, as ordinarily understood, one is limited to the space where his body is, the distance his voice can reach, the length of time he can keep going before he must quit to eat, or rest, or sleep. He is limited by walls, and locks, by the prejudices of men's minds, and by those peculiar differences of temperament which must be studied in laying siege to men's hearts.

The whole circle of endeavour in winning men includes such an infinite variety. There is speaking the truth to a number of persons, and to one at a time; the doing of needed kindly acts of helpfulness, supplying food, and the like; there is  teaching; the almost omnipotent ministry of money; the constant contact with a pure unselfish life; letter writing; printer's ink in endless variety. All these are in God's plan for winning men. But the intensely fascinating fact to mark is this:—that the real victory in all of this service is won in secret, beforehand, by prayer, and these other indispensable things are the moving upon the works of the enemy, and claiming the victory already won. And when these things are put in their proper order, prayer first, and the other things second; second, I say, not omitted, not slurred over; done with all the earnestness and power of brain and hand and heart possible; but done after the victory has been won in secret, against the real foe, and done while the winner is still claiming the victory already assured,—then will come far greater achievements in this outer open service.

Then we go into this service with that fine spirit of expectancy that sweeps the field at the start, and steadily sticks on the stubbornly contested spots until the whipped foe turns tail, and goes. Prayer is striking the winning blow at the concealed enemy. Service is gathering up the results of that blow among the men we see and touch. Great patience and tact and persistence are needed in the service because each man must be influenced in his own will. But the shrewd strategy that wins puts the keen stiff secret fighting first.

The Spirit Switchboard

Electricity is a strange element. It is catalogued in the study of physics. It is supposed to be properly classed among the forces of nature. Yet it seems to have many properties of the spirit world. Those who know most of it say they know least of what it is. Some of the laws of its being have been learned, and so its marvellous power harnessed for man's use, but in much ignorance of what it is. It seems almost to belong somewhere in between the physical and spirit realms. It furnishes many similes of graphic helpfulness in understanding more nearly much truth of the Spirit life.

In the power-house where the electricity is being wooed into man's harnessing, or generated, as the experts say, is found a switchboard, or switch-room with a number of boards. Here in a large city plant a man may go and turn a switch, that is, move a little handle, a very short distance. It is a very simple act, easily performed, involving almost no strength. But that act has loosened the power in the house back of the switchboard out along the wires, and perhaps lighted a whole section of the city. He goes in again at another hour, and turns this set of switches, and this, and sets in motion maybe scores of cars, carrying swiftly, hundreds of passengers. Again he goes in, and moves the little handles and sets in motion the wheels in some factory employing hundreds of operatives.

It is a secret service, usually as far as any observers are concerned. It is a very quiet, matter of fact service. But the power influenced is unmeasured and immeasurable. And no one, seemingly, thus far, can explain the mysterious but tremendous agent involved. Does the fluid—is it a fluid? or, what?—pass through the wire? or, around the wire? The experts say they do not know. But the laws which it obeys are known. And as men comply with them its almost omnipotence is manifested.

Just such a switch-room in the spirit realm is one's prayer-room. Every one who will may have such a spirit switching-board in his life. There he may go and in compliance with the laws of the power used loosen out the gracious persuasive irresistible power of God where he wills too; now in Japan; now in China; among the hungry human hearts of India's plains and mountains; again in Africa which is full as near to where Jesus sits as is England or America; and now into the house across the alley from your home; and down in the slum district; and now into your preacher's heart for next Sunday's work; and now again unto the hearts of those you will be meeting in the settlement house, or the mission school.

Children are not allowed at the electrical switchboard, nor any unskilled hand. For misuse means possibility of great damage to property and life. And the spirit switchboard does not yield  to the unskilled touch. Though sometimes there seems to be much tampering by those with crude fingers, and with selfish desire to turn this current to personal advantage merely.

It takes skill here. Yet such is our winsome God's wondrous plan that skill may come to any one who is willing; simply that—who is willing; and it comes very simply too.

Strange too, as with the electrical counterpart, the thing is beyond full or satisfying explanation.

How does it come to pass that a man turns a few handles, and miles away great wheels begin to revolve, and enormous power is manifested? Will some one kindly explain? Yet we know it is so, and men govern their actions by that knowledge.

How does it come to pass that a woman in Iowa prays for the conversion of her sceptical husband, and he, down in the thick of the most absorbing congress Washington has known since the civil war, and in full ignorance of her purpose becomes conscious and repeatedly conscious of the presence and power of the God in whose existence he does not believe; and months afterwards with his keen, legally trained mind, finds the calendar to fit together the beginning of her praying with the beginning of his unwelcome consciousness? Will someone kindly explain? Ah I who can, adequately! Yet the facts, easy ascertainable, are there, and evidenced in the  complete change in the life and calling of the man.

How comes it to pass that a woman in Missouri praying for a friend of keen intellectual scepticality in Glasgow, who can skillfully measure and parry argument, yet finds afterwards that the time of her praying is the time of his, at first decidedly unwelcome, but finally radical change of convictions! Yet groups of thoughtful men and women know these two instances to be even so though unable to explain how.

And as the mysterious electrical power is being used by obedience to its laws, even so is the power of prayer being used by many who understand simply enough of its laws to obey, and to bring the stupendous results.

The Broad Inner Horizon

This suggests at once that the rightly rounded Christian life has two sides; the out-side, and the inner side. To most of us the outer side seems the greater. The living, the serving, the giving, the doing, the absorption in life's work, the contact with men, with the great majority the sheer struggle for existence—these take the greater thought and time of us all. They seem to be the great business of life even to those of us who thoroughly believe in the inner life.

But when the real eyes open, the inner eyes that see the unseen, the change of perspective is first ludicrous, then terrific, then pathetic.  Ludicrous, because of the change of proportions; terrific, because of the issues at stake; pathetic, because of strong men that see not, and push on spending splendid strength whittling sticks. The outer side is narrow in its limits. It has to do with food and clothing, bricks and lumber, time and the passing hour, the culture of the mind, the joys of social contact, the smoothing of the way for the suffering. And it needs not to be said, that these are right; they belong in the picture; they are its physical background.

The inner side includes all of these, and stretches infinitely beyond. Its limits are broad; broad as the home of man; with its enswathing atmosphere added. It touches the inner spirit. It moves in upon the motives, the loves, the heart. It moves out upon the myriad spirit beings and forces that swarm ceaselessly about the earth staining and sliming men's souls and lives. It moves up to the arm of God in cooperation with His great love-plan for a world.

Shall we follow for a day one who has gotten the true perspective? Here is the outer side: a humble home, a narrow circle, tending the baby, patching, sewing, cooking, calling; or, measuring dry goods, chopping a typewriter, checking up a ledger, feeding the swift machinery, endless stitching, gripping a locomotive lever, pushing the plow, tending the stock, doing the chores, tiresome examination papers; and all the rest of the endless, endless, doing, day by day, of the  commonplace treadmill things, that must be done, that fill out the day of the great majority of human lives. This one whom we are following unseen is doing quietly, cheerily his daily round, with a bit of sunshine in his face, a light in his eye, and lightness in his step, and the commonplace place becomes uncommon by reason of the presence of this man with the uncommon spirit. He is working for God. No, better, he is working with God. He has an unseen Friend at his side. That changes all. The common drudgery ceases to be common, and ceases to be drudgery because it is done for such an uncommon Master. That is the outer, the narrow side of this life: not narrow in itself but in its proportion to the whole.

Now, hold your breath, and look, for here is the inner side where the larger work of life is being done. Here is the quiet bit of time alone with God, with the Book. The door is shut, as the Master said. Now it is the morning hour with a bit of made light, for the sun is busy yet farther east. Now it is the evening hour, with the sun speeding towards western service, and the bed invitingly near. There is a looking up into God's face; then keen but reverent reading, and then a simple intelligent pleading with its many variations of this—"Thy will be done, in the Victor's name." God Himself is here, in this inner room. The angels are here. This room opens out into and is in direct touch with a spirit  space as wide as the earth. The horizon of this room is as broad as the globe. God's presence with this man makes it so.

Today a half hour is spent in China, for its missionaries, its native Christians, its millions, the printed page, the personal contact, the telling of the story, the school, the dispensary, the hospital. And in through the petitions runs this golden thread—"Victory is Jesus' name: victory in Jesus' name; today: today: Thy will be being done: the other will undone: victory in Jesus' name." Tomorrow's bit of time is largely spent in India perhaps. And so this man with the narrow outer horizon and the broad inner horizon pushes his spirit-way through Japan, India, Ceylon, Persian, Arabia, Turkey, Africa, Europe's papal lands, the South American States, the homeland, its cities, frontiers, slums, the home town, the home church, the man across the alley; in and out; out and in; the tide of prayer sweeps quietly, resistlessly day by day.

This is the true Christian life. This man is winning souls and refreshing lives in these far-off lands and in near-by places as truly as though he were in each place. This is the Master's plan. The true follower of Jesus has as broad a horizon as his Master. Jesus thought in continents and seas. His follower prays in continents and seas. This man does not know what is being accomplished. Yes! He does know, too. He knows by the inference of truth.

This room where we are meeting and talking together might be shut up so completely that no light comes in. A single crack breaking somewhere lets in a thin line of light. But that line of light shining in the darkness tells of a whole sun of light flooding the outer world.

There comes to this man occasional, yes frequent, evidences of changes being wrought, yet he knows that these are but the thin line of glory light which speaks of the fuller shining. And with a spirit touched with glad awe that he can and may help God, and a heart full alike of peace and of yearning, and a life fragrant with an unseen Presence he goes steadily on his way, towards the dawning of the day.

Part 2.

Hindrances to Prayer

Chapter 5.

Why the Results Fail

Breaking with God

God answers prayer. Prayer is God and man joining hands to secure some high end. He joins with us through the communication of prayer in accomplishing certain great results. This is the main drive of prayer. Our asking and expecting and God's doing jointly bring to pass things that otherwise would not come to pass. Prayer changes things. This is the great fact of prayer.

Yet a great many prayers are not answered. Or, to put it more accurately, a great many prayers fail utterly of accomplishing any results. Probably it is accurate to say that thousands of prayers go up and bring nothing down. This is certainly true. Let us say it just as bluntly and plainly as it can be said. As a result many persons are saying: "Well, prayer is not what you claim for it: we prayed and no answer came: nothing was changed."

From all sorts of circles, and in all sorts of language comes this statement. Scholarly men who write with wisdom's words, and thoughtless people whose thinking never even pricks the skin  of the subject, and all sorts of people in between group themselves together here. And they are right, quite right. The bother is that what they say is not all there is to be said. There is yet more to be said, that is right too, and that changes the final conclusion radically. Partial truth is a very mean sort of lie.

The prayer plan like many another has been much disturbed, and often broken. And one who would be a partner with God up to the limit of his power must understand the things that hinder the prayer plan. There are three sorts of hindrances to prayer. First of all there are things in us that break off connection with God, the source of the changing power. Then there are certain things in us that delay, or diminish the results; that interfere with the full swing of the prayer plan of operations. And then there is a great outside hindrance to be reckoned upon. today we want to talk together of the first of these, namely, the hindrances that break off connections between God and His human partner.

Here again there is a division into three. There are three things directly spoken of in the book of God that hinder prayer. One of these is a familiar thing. What a pity that repugnant things may become so familiar as no longer to repel. It is this:—sin hinders prayer. In Isaiah's first chapter God Himself speaking says, "When you stretch out your hands"—the way they prayed,  standing with outstretched hands—"I will shut My eyes; when you make many prayers, I will shut My ears." Why? What's the difficulty? These outstretched hands are soiled! They are actually holding their sin-soiled hands up into God's face; and He is compelled to look at the thing most hateful to Him. In the fifty-ninth chapter of this same book , God Himself is talking again. Listen. "Behold! the Lord's hand is not shortened: His ear is not heavy." There is no trouble on the up side. God is all right. "But"—listen with both your ears—"your iniquities... your sins... your hands... your fingers... your lips... your tongue..."; the slime of sin is oozing over everything! Turn back to that sixty-sixth Psalm "if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me." How much more if the sin of the heart get into the hands or the life! And the fact to put down plainly in blackest ink once for all is this—sin hinders prayer. There is nothing surprising about this. That we can think the reverse is the surprising thing. Prayer is transacting business with God. Sin is breaking with God.

Suppose I had a private wire from my apartments here to my home in Cleveland, and some one should go outside and drag the wire down until it touches the ground—a good square  touch with the ground—the electricians would call it grounded, could I telegraph over that wire? Almost any child knows I could not. Suppose some one cuts the wire, a good clean cut; the two ends are apart: not a mile; not a yard; but distinctly apart. Could I telegraph on that wire? Of course not. Yet I might sit in my room and tick away by the hour wholly absorbed, and use most beautiful persuasive language—what is the good? The wire's cut. All my fine pleading goes into the ground, or the air. Now sin cuts the wire; it runs the message into the ground.

"Well," some one will object, "now you're cutting us all out, are you not? Are we not all conscious of a sinful something inside here—that has to be fought, and held under all the while?" It certainly seems to be true that the nearer a man gets to God the more keenly conscious he is of a sinful tendency within even while having continual victory. But plainly enough what the Book means here is this:—if I am holding something in my life that the Master does not like, if I am failing. to obey, when His voice has spoken, that to me is sin. It may be wrong in itself. It may not be wrong in itself. It may not be wrong for another. Sometimes it is not the thing involved but the One involved that makes the issue. If that faithful quiet inner voice has spoken and I know what the Master would prefer and I fail to keep in line, that to me is sin. Then prayer is useless; sheer  waste of breath. Aye, worse, it is deceptive. For I am apt to say or think, "Well, I am not as good as you, or you, but then I am not so bad; I pray." And the truth is because I have broken with God the praying—saying words in that form—is utterly worthless.

You see sin is slapping God in the face. It may be polished, cultured sin. Sin seems capable of taking quite a high polish. Or it may be the common gutter stuff. A man is not concerned about the grain of a club that strikes him a blow. How can He and I talk together if I have done that, and stick to it—not even apologized. And of what good is an apology if the offense is being repeated. And if we cannot talk together, of course working together is out of the question. And prayer is working together with God. Prayer is pulling with God in His plan for a world.

Shall we not put out the thing that is wrong? or put in the thing the Master wants in? For Jesus' sake? Aye for men's sake: poor befooled men's sake who are being kept out and away because God cannot get at them through us!

Shall we bow and ask forgiveness for our sin, and petty stubbornness that has been thwarting the Master's love-plan? And yet even while we ask forgiveness there are lives out yonder warped and dwarfed and worse because of the hindrance in us; yes, and remaining so as we slip out of  this meeting. May the fact send us out to walk very softly these coming days.

A Coaling Station for Satan's Fleet

There is a second thing that is plainly spoken of that hinders prayer. James speaks of it in his letter. "Ye have not because ye ask not"—that explains many parched up lives and churches and unsolved problems: no pipe lines run up to tap the reservoir, and give God an opening into the troubled territory. Then he pushes on to say, "Ye ask, and receive not"—ah! there's just the rub; it is evidently an old story, this thing of not receiving—why? "because ye ask amiss to spend it in your pleasures." That is to say selfish praying; asking for something just because I want it; want it for myself.

Here is a mother praying for her boy. He is just growing up towards young manhood; not a Christian boy yet; but a good boy. She is thinking, "I want my boy to be an honour to me; he bears my name; my blood is in his veins; I don't want my boy to be a prodigal. I want him to be a fine man, an honour to the family; and if he is a true Christian, he likely will be; I wish he were a Christian." And so she prays, and prays repeatedly and fervently. God might touch her boy's heart and say, "I want you out here in India to help win my prodigal world back." Oh! she did not mean that! Her boy  in far, far off India! Oh, no! Not that! Yes, what she wanted—that was the whole thought—selfishness; the stream turning in to a dead sea within her own narrow circle; no thought of sympathy with God in His eager outreach for His poor sin-befooled world. The prayer itself in its object is perfectly proper, and rightly offered and answered times without number; but the motive wholly, uglily selfish and the selfishness itself becomes a foothold for Satan and so the purpose of the prayer is thwarted.

Here is a wife praying that her husband might become a Christian. Perhaps her thought is: "I wish John were a Christian: it would be so good: it really seems the proper thing: he would go to church with me, and sit in the pew Sunday morning: I'd like that." Perhaps she thinks: "He would be careful about swearing; he would quit drinking; and be nicer and gentler at home." Maybe she thinks: "He would ask a blessing at the meals; that would be so nice." Maybe she thinks: "We would have family prayers." Maybe that does not occur to her these days. This is what I say: If her thought does not go beyond some such range, of course you would say it is selfish. She is thinking of herself; not of the loving grieved God against whom her husband is in rebellion; not of the real significance to the man. God might touch her husbands heart, and then say: "I want you to help Me win My poor world back." And the change  would mean a reduced income, and a different social position. Oh! she had not meant that! Yes—what she wanted for herself!

Here is a minister praying for a revival in his church. Maybe he is thinking; no, not exactly thinking; it is just half thinking itself out in his sub-consciousness—"I wish we had a good revival in our church; increased membership; larger attendance; easier finances; may be an extra hundred or two in my own pocket; increased prestige in the denomination; a better call or appointment: I wish we might have a revival." Now no true minister ever talked that way even to himself or deliberately thought it. To do so would be to see the mean contemptibility of it. But you know how sly we all are in our underneath scarcely-thought-out thoughts. This is what I say: if that be the sort of thing underneath a man's praying of course the motive is utterly selfish; a bit of the same thing that brought Satan his change of name and character.

Please notice that the reason for the prayer not being answered here is not an arbitrary reluctance upon God's part to do a desirable thing. He never fails to work whenever He has a half chance as far as it is possible to work, even through men of faulty conceptions and mixed motives. The reason lies much deeper. It is this: selfishness gives Satan a footing. It gives a coaling station for his fleet on the shore of your life. And of course he does his best to prevent  the prayer, or when he cannot wholly prevent, to spoil the results as far as he can.

Prayer may properly be offered—will be properly offered for many wholly personal things; for physical strength, healing in sickness, about dearly loved ones, money needed; indeed regarding things that may not be necessary but only desirable and enjoyable, for ours is a loving God who would have His dear ones enjoy to the full their lives down here. But the motive determines the propriety of such requests. Where the whole purpose of one's life is for Him these things may be asked for freely as His gracious Spirit within guides. And there need be no bondage of morbid introspection, no continual internal rakings. He knows if the purpose of the heart is to please Him.

The Shortest Way to God

A third thing spoken of as hindering prayer is an unforgiving spirit. You have noticed that Jesus speaks much about prayer and also speaks much about forgiveness. But have you noticed how, over and over again He couples these two—prayer and forgiveness? I used to wonder why. I do not so much now. Nearly everywhere evidence keeps slipping in of the sore spots. One may try to keep his lips closed on certain subjects, but it seems about impossible to keep the ears entirely shut. And continually the evidence keeps sifting in revealing the thin skin, raw flesh,  wounds never healed over, and some jaggedly open, almost everywhere one goes. Jesus' continual references reveal how strikingly alike is the oriental and the occidental; the first and the twentieth centuries.

Run through Matthew alone a moment. Here in the fifth chapter —"If thou are coming to the altar"—that is approaching God; what we call prayer—"and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee"—that side of it—"leave there thy gift and go thy way, first be reconciled," and so on. Here comes a man with a lamb to offer. He approaches solemnly, reverently, towards the altar of God. But as he is coming there flashes across his mind the face of that man, with whom he has had difficulty. And instantly he can feel his grip tightening on the offering, and his teeth shutting closer at the quick memory. Jesus says, "If that be so lay your lamb right down." What! go abruptly away! Why! how the folks around the temple will talk! "Lay the lamb right down, and go thy way." The shortest way to God for that man is not the way to the altar, but around by that man's house. "First, be reconciled"—keep your perspective straight-follow the right order "first be reconciled "—not second; then come and offer thy gift." 

In the sixth chapter He gives the form of prayer which we commonly call the Lord's prayer. It  contains seven petitions. At the close He stops to emphasize just one of the seven. You remember which one; the one about forgiveness. In the eighteenth chapter Jesus is talking alone with the disciples about prayer. Peter seems to remember the previous remarks about forgiveness in connection with prayer; and he asks a question. It is never difficult to think of Peter asking a question or making a few remarks. He says, "Master, how many times must I forgive a man? Seven times!" Apparently Peter thinks he is growing in grace. He can actually think now of forgiving a man seven times in succession. But the Master in effect says, "Peter, you haven't caught the idea. Forgiveness is not a question of mathematics; not a matter of keeping tab on somebody: not seven times but seventy times seven." And Peter's eyes bulge open with an incredulous stare—"four hundred and ninety times!... one man—straightway!" Apparently the Master is thinking, that he will lose count, or get tired of counting and conclude that forgiveness is preferable, or else by practice breathe in the spirit of forgiveness—the thing He meant.

Then as He was so fond of doing, Jesus told a story to illustrate His meaning. A man owed his lord a great debt, twelve millions of dollars; that is to say practically an unpayable amount. By comparison with money today, in the western world, it would be about twelve billions. And  he went to him and asked for time. He said: "I'm short just now; but I mean to pay; I don't mean to shirk: be easy with me; and I'll pay up the whole sum in time." And his lord generously forgave him the whole debt. That is Jesus' picture of God, as He knows Him who knows Him best. Then this forgiven man went out and found a fellow servant who owed him—how much do you think? Have you ever thought that Jesus had a keen sense of the ludicrous? Surely it shows here. He owed him about sixteen dollars and a quarter or a half! And you can almost feel the clutch of this fellow's fingers on the other's throat as he sternly demands: "Pay me that thou owest." And his fellow earnestly replies, "Please be easy with me; I mean to pay; I'm rather short just now: but I'm not trying to shirk; be easy with me." Is it possible the words do not sound familiar! But he would not, but put him in the jail. The last place to pay a debt! That is Jesus' picture of man as He knows him who knows him best. And in effect He says what we have been forgiven by God is as an unpayable amount. And what are not willing to forgive is like sixteen dollars and a fraction by contrast. What little puny folks some of us are in our thinking and feeling!

"Oh, well," some one says, "you do not know how hard it is to forgive." You think not? I know this much:—that some persons, and some things you cannot forgive of yourself. But I am  glad to say that I know this too that if one allows the Spirit of Jesus to sway the heart He will make you love persons you cannot like. No natural affinity or drawing together through disposition, but a real yearning love in the heart. Jesus' love, when allowed to come in as freely as He means, fills your heart with pity for the man who has wounded you. An infinite, tender pity that he has sunk so low as to be capable of such actions.

But the fact to put down in the sharpest contrast of white and black is that we must forgive freely, frankly, generously, "even as God," if we are to be in prayer touch with God.

And the reason is not far to find; a double reason, Godward and Satanward. If prayer be partnership in the highest sense then the same spirit must animate both partners, the human and the divine, if the largest results are to come. And since unforgiveness roots itself down in hate Satan has room for both feet in such a heart with all the leeway in action of such purchase. That word unforgiving! What a group of relatives it has, near and far! Jealousy, envy, bitterness, the cutting word, the polished shaft of sarcasm with the poisoned tip, the green eye, the acid saliva—what kinsfolk these!

Search Me

Sin, selfishness, an unforgiving spirit—what searchlights these words are! Many a splendid life today is an utter cipher in the spirit atmosphere  because of some such hindrance. And God's great love-plan for His prodigal world is being held back; and lives being lost even where ultimately souls shall be saved because of the lack of human prayer partners.

May we not well pray:—Search me, oh God, and know my heart and help me know it; try me and know my innermost, undermost thoughts and purposes and ambitions, and help me know them; and see what way there be in me that is a grief to Thee; and then lead me—and here the prayer may be a purpose as well as a prayer—lead me out of that way unto Thy way, the way everlasting. For Jesus' sake; aye for men's sake, too.

Part 3.

How to Pray

Chapter 8.

The "How" of Relationships

God's Ambassadors

If I had an ambition to be the ambassador of this country to our mother-country, there would be two essential things involved. The first and great essential would be to receive the appointment. I would need to come into certain relation with our president, to possess certain qualifications considered essential by him, and to secure from his hand the appointment, and the official credentials of my appointment. That would establish my relationship to the foreign court as the representative of my own country, and my right to transact business in her name.

But having gotten that far I might go over there and make bad mistakes. I might get our diplomatic relations tangled up, requiring many explanations, and maybe apologies, and leaving unpleasant memories for a long time to come. Such incidents have not been infrequent. Nations are very sensitive. Governmental affairs must be handled with great nicety. There would be a second thing which if I were a wise enough man to be an ambassador I would likely do. I would  go to see John Hay and Joseph H. Choate, and have as many interviews with them as possible, and learn all I possibly could from them of London official life, court etiquette, personages to be dealt with, things to do, and things to avoid. How to be a successful diplomat and further the good feeling between the two governments, and win friends for our country among the sturdy Britons would be my one absorbing thought. And having gotten all I could in that way I would be constantly on the alert with all the mental keenness I could command to practice being a successful ambassador.

The first of these would make me technically an ambassador. The second would tend towards giving me some skill as an ambassador. Now there are the same two how's in praying. First the relationship must be established before any business can be transacted. Then skill must be acquired in the transacting of the business on hand.

Just now, we want to talk about the first of these, the how of relationship in prayer. The basis of prayer is right relationship with God. Prayer is representing God in the spirit realm of this world. It is insisting upon His rights down in this sphere of action. It is standing for Him with full powers from Him. Clearly the only basis of such relationship to God is Jesus. We have been outlawed by sin. We were in touch with God. We broke with Him. The break  could not be repaired by us. Jesus came. He was God and Man. He touches both. We get back through Him, and only so. The blood of the cross is the basis of all prayer. Through it the relationship is established that underlies all prayer. Only as I come to God through Jesus to get the sin score straightened, and only as I keep in sympathy with Jesus in the purpose of my life can I practice prayer.

Six Sweeping Statements

Jesus' own words make this very clear. There are two groups of teachings on prayer in those three and a half years as given by the gospel records. The first of these groups is in the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus preached about halfway through the second year of His ministry. The second group comes sheer at the end. All of it is in the last six months, and most of it in the last ten days, and much of that on the very eve of that last tragic day.

It is after the sharp rupture with the leaders that this second series of statements is made. The most positive, and most sweeping utterances on prayer are here. Of Jesus' eight promises regarding prayer six are here. I want to ask you please to notice these six promises or statements; and then, to notice their relation to our topic of today.

In Matthew 18:19,20, is the first of these. "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall  agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father who is in heaven." Notice the place of prayer—"on earth"; and the sweep—"anything"; and the positiveness—"it shall be done." Then the reason why is given. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." That is to say, if there are two persons praying, there are three. If three meet to pray, there are four praying. There is always one more than you can see. And if you might perhaps be saying to yourself in a bit of dejection, "He'll not hear me: I'm so sinful: so weak"—you would be wrong in thinking and saying so, but then we do think and say things that are not right—if you might be thinking that, you could at once fall back upon this: the Father always hears Jesus. And wherever earnest hearts pray Jesus is there taking their prayer and making it His prayer.

The second of these: Mark 11:22-24, "Jesus answering saith unto them, have faith in God"—with the emphasis double-lined under the word "God." The chief factor in prayer is God. "Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou taken up and cast into the sea—" Choosing, do you see the unlikeliest thing that might occur. Such a thing did not take place. We never hear of Jesus moving an actual mountain. The need for such action does not seem to have arisen. But He chooses the  thing most difficult for His illustration. Can you imagine a mountain moving off into the sea—the Jungfrau, or Blanc, or Rainier? If you know mountains down in your country you cannot imagine it actually occurring. "—And shall not doubt in his heart—" That is Jesus' definition of faith. "—But shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shall have it. Therefore, I say unto you, all things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." How utterly sweeping this last statement! And to make it more positive it is preceded by the emphatic "therefore-I-say-unto-you." Both whatsoever and whosoever are here. Anything, and anybody., We always feel instinctively as though these statements need careful guarding: a few fences put up around them. Wait a bit and we shall see what the Master's own fence is.

The last four of the six are in John's gospel, in that last long quiet talk on the night in which He was betrayed. John preserves much of that heart-talk for us in chapters thirteen to seventeen.

Here in John 14:13,14: "And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, that will I do." The repetition is to emphasize the unlimited sweep of what may be asked.

John 15:7: "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you-" That word abide is a strong  word. It does not mean to leave your cards; nor to hire a night's lodging; nor to pitch a tent, or run up a miner's shanty, or a lumberman's shack. It means moving in to stay. "—Ask whatsoever ye will—" The Old Version says, "ye shall ask." But here the revised is more accurate: "Ask; please ask; I ask you to ask." There is nothing said directly about God's will. There is something said about our wills. "—And it shall be done unto you." Or, a little more literally, "I will bring it to pass for you."

I remember the remark quoted to me by a friend one day. His church membership is in the Methodist Church of the North, but his service crosses church lines both in this country and abroad. He was talking with one of the bishops of that church whose heart was in the foreign mission field. The bishop was eager to have this friend serve as missionary secretary of his church. But he knew, as everybody knows, how difficult appointments oftentimes are in all large bodies. He was earnestly discussing the matter with my friend, and made this remark: "If you will allow the use of your name for this appointment, I will lay myself out to have it made." Now if you will kindly not think there is any lack of reverence in my saying so—and there is surely none in my thought—that is the practical meaning of Jesus' words here. "If you abide in Me, and My words sway you, you please ask what it is your  will to ask. And—softly, reverently now—I will lay Myself out to bring that thing to pass for you." That is the force of His words here.

This same chapter, sixteenth verse: "Ye did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you." God had our prayer partnership with Himself in His mind in choosing us. And the last of these, John 16:23, 24, second clause, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in My name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled."

These statements are the most sweeping to be found anywhere in the Scriptures regarding prayer. There is no limitation as to who shall ask, nor the kind of thing to be asked for. There are three limitations imposed: the prayer is to be through Jesus; the person praying is to be in fullest sympathy with Him; and this person is to have faith.

Words With a Freshly Honed Razor-Edge

Now please group these six sweeping statements in your mind and hold them together there. Then notice carefully this fact. These words are not spoken to the crowds. They are spoken to the small inner group of twelve  disciples. Jesus talks one way to the multitude. He oftentimes talks differently to these men who have separated themselves from the crowd and come into the inner circle.

And notice further that before Jesus spoke these words to this group of men He had said something else first. Something very radical; so radical that it led to a sharp passage between Himself and Peter, to whom He speaks very sternly. This something else fixes unmistakably their relation to Himself. Remember that the sharp break with the national leaders has come. Jesus is charged with Satanic collusion. The death plot is determined upon. The breach with the leaders is past the healing point. And now the Master is frequently slipping away from the crowd with these twelve men, and seeking to teach and train them. That is the setting of these great promises. It must be kept continually in mind.

Before the Master gave Himself away to these men in these promises He said this something else. It is this. I quote Matthew's account: "If any man would come after Me let him deny himself and take up his cross (daily, Luke's addition) and follow Me" These words should be written crosswise over those six prayer statements. Jesus never spoke a keener word. Those six promises are not meant for all. Let it be said very  plainly. They are meant only for those who will square their lives by these razor-edged words.

I may not go fully into the significance of these deep-cutting words here. They have been gone into at some length in a previous set of talks as suggesting the price of power. To him whose heart burns for power in prayer I urge a careful review of that talk in this new setting of it. "If any man would come after Me" means a rock-rooted purpose; the jaw locked; the tendrils of the purpose going down around and under the gray granite of a man's will, and tying themselves there; and knotting the ties; sailor knots, that you cannot undo.

"Come after Me" means all the power of Jesus' life, and has the other side, too. It means the wilderness, the intense temptation. It may mean the obscure village of Nazareth for you. It may mean that first Judean year for you-lack of appreciation. It may mean for you that last six months—the desertion of those hitherto friendly. It will mean without doubt a Gethsemane. Everybody who comes along after Jesus has a Gethsemane in his life. It will never mean as much to you as it meant to Him. That is true. But, then, it will mean everything to you. And it will mean too having a Calvary in your life in a very real sense, though different from what that meant to Him. This sentence through gives the process whereby the man with sin grained into the fibre of his will may come  into such relationship with God as to claim without any reservation these great prayer promises. And if that sound hard and severe to you let me quickly say that it is an easy way for the man who is willing. The presence of Jesus in the life overlaps every cutting thing.

If a man will go through Matthew 16:24, and habitually live there he may ask what he wills to ask, and that thing will come to pass. The reason, without question, why many people do not have power in prayer is simply because they are unwilling—I am just talking very plainly—they are unwilling to bare their breasts to the keen-edged knife in these words of Jesus. And on the other side, if a man will quietly, resolutely follow the Master's leading-nothing extreme—nothing fanatical, or morbid, just a quiet going where that inner Voice plainly leads day by day, he will be startled to find what an utterly new meaning prayer will come to have for him.

The Controlling Purpose

Vital relationship is always expressed by purpose. The wise ambassador has an absorbing purpose to further the interests of his government. Jesus said, and it at once reveals His relationship to God, "I do always those things that are well pleasing to him."

The relationship that underlies prayer has an absorbing purpose. Its controlling purpose is to please Jesus. That sentence may sound simple  enough. But, do you know, there is no sentence I might utter that has a keener, a more freshly honed razor-edge to it than that. That the purpose which controls my action in every matter be this: to please Him. If you have not done so, take it for a day, a week, and use it as a touchstone regarding thought, word and action. Take it into matters personal, home, business, social; fraternal. It does not mean to ask, "Is this right? is this wrong?" Not that. Not the driving of a keen line between wrong and right. There are a great many things that can be proven to be not wrong, but that are not best, that are not His preference.

It will send a business man running his eye along the shelves and counter of his store. "The controlling purpose to please Jesus... hm-m-m, I guess maybe that stuff there ought to come out. Oh, it is not wrong: I can prove that. My Christian brother-merchants handle it here, and over the country: but to please Him: a good, clean sixty per cent. profit too, cash money, but to please Him"—and the stuff must go down and out.

It would set some woman to thinking about the next time the young people are to gather in her home for a delightful social evening with her own daughters. She will think about some forms of pastime that are found everywhere. They are not wrong, that has been conclusively proven. But to please Him. Hm-m. And these  will go out. And then it will set her to work with all her God-given woman-wit and exquisite tact to planning an evening yet more delightful. It will make one think of his personal habits, his business methods, and social intercourse, the organizations he belongs to, with the quiet question cutting it razor-way into each.

And if some one listening may ask: Why put the condition of prayer so strongly as that? I will remind you of this. The true basis of prayer is sympathy, oneness of purpose. Prayer is not extracting favours from a reluctant God. It is not passing a check in a bank window for money. That is mandatory. The roots of prayer lie down in oneness of purpose. God up yonder, His Victor-Son by His side, and a man down here, in such sympathetic touch that God can think His thoughts over in this man's mind, and have His desires repeated upon the earth as this man's prayer.

The Threefold Cord of Jesus' Life

Think for a moment into Jesus' human life down here. His marvellous activities for those few years over which the world has never ceased to wonder. Then His underneath hidden-away prayer-life of which only occasional glimpses are gotten. Then grouping around about that sentence of His—"I do always the things that are pleasing to Him"—in John's gospel, pick out the emphatic negatives on Jesus' lips, the "not's":  not My will, not My works, not My words. Jesus came to do somebody's else will. The controlling purpose of His life was to please His Father. That was the secret of the power of His earthly career. Right relationship to God; a secret intimate prayer-life: marvellous power over men and with men-those are the strands in the threefold cord of His life.

There is a very striking turn of a word in the second chapter of John's gospel down almost at its close. The old version says that "Many believed on His name beholding His signs which He did, but Jesus did not commit Himself unto them" because He knew them so well. The word "believed," and the word "commit" are the same word underneath our English. The sentence might run "many trusted Him beholding what He did; but He did not trust them for He knew them." I have no doubt most, or all of us here today, trust Him. Let me ask you very softly now: Can He trust you? While we might all shrink from saying "yes" to that, there is a very real sense in which we may say "yes," namely, in the purpose of the life. Every life is controlled by some purpose. What is yours? To please Him? If so He knows it. It is a great comfort to remember that God judges a man not by his achievements, but by his purposes: not by what I am, actually, but by what I would be, in the yearning of my inmost heart, the dominant purpose of my life. God will fairly flood your  life with all the power He can trust you to use wholly for Him.

Commercial practice furnishes a simple but striking illustration here. A man is employed by a business house as a clerk. His ability and honesty come to be tested in many ways constantly. He is promoted gradually, his responsibilities' increased. As he proves himself thoroughly reliable he is trusted more and more, until by and by as need arises he becomes the firm's confidential clerk. He knows its secrets. He is trusted with the combination to the inner box in the vault. Because it has been proven by actual test that he will use everything only for the best interests of his house, and not selfishly.

Here, where we are dealing, the whole thing moves up to an infinitely higher level, but the principle does not change. If I will come into the relationship implied in these words:—it shall be the one controlling desire and purpose of my life to do the things that please Him—then I may ask for what I will, and it shall be done. That is how to pray: the how of relationship. The man who will live in Matthew 16:24, and follow Jesus as He leads: simply that: no fanaticism, no morbidism, no extremism, just simply follow as He leads, day by day,—then those six promises of Jesus with their wonderful sweep, their limitless sweep are his to use as he will.

Part 4.

Jesus' Habits of Prayer

Chapter 13.

A Pen Sketch

When God would win back His prodigal world He sent down a Man. That Man while more than man insisted upon being truly a man. He touched human life at every point. No man seems to have understood prayer, and to have prayed as did He. How can we better conclude these quiet talks on prayer than by gathering about His person and studying His habits of prayer.

A habit is an act repeated so often as to be done involuntarily; that is, without a new decision of the mind each time it is done.

Jesus prayed. He loved to pray. Sometimes praying was His way of resting. He prayed so much and so often that it became a part of His life. It became to Him like breathing—involuntary.

There is no thing we need so much as to learn how to pray. There are two ways of receiving instruction; one, by being told; the other, by watching some one else. The latter is the simpler and the surer way. How better can we learn how to pray than by watching how Jesus  prayed, and then trying to imitate Him. Not, just now, studying what He said about prayer, invaluable as that is, and so closely interwoven with the other; nor yet how He received the requests of men when on earth, full of inspiring suggestion as that is of His present attitude towards our prayers; but how He Himself prayed when down here surrounded by our same circumstances and temptations.

There are two sections of the Bible to which we at once turn for light, the gospels and the Psalms. In the gospels is given chiefly the outer side of His prayer-habits; and in certain of the Psalms, glimpses of the inner side are unmistakably revealed.

Turning now to the gospels, we find the picture of the praying Jesus like an etching, a sketch in black and white, the fewest possible strokes of the pen, a scratch here, a line there, frequently a single word added by one writer to the narrative of the others, which gradually bring to view the outline of a lone figure with upturned face.

Of the fifteen mentions of His praying found in the four gospels, it is interesting to note that while Matthew gives three, and Mark and John each four, it is Luke, Paul's companion and mirror-like friend, who, in eleven such allusions, supplies most of the picture.

Does this not contain a strong hint of the explanation of that other etching plainly traceable  in the epistles which reveals Paul's own marvellous prayer-life?

Matthew, immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures, writes to the Jews of their promised Davidic King; Mark, with rapid pen, relates the ceaseless activity of this wonderful servant of the Father. John, with imprisoned body, but rare liberty of vision, from the glory-side revealed on Patmos, depicts the Son of God coming on an errand from the Father into the world, and again, leaving the world and going back home unto the Father. But Luke emphasizes the human Jesus, a Man—with reverence let me use a word in its old-fashioned meaning—a fellow, that is, one of ourselves. And the Holy Spirit makes it very plain throughout Luke's narrative that the man Christ Jesus prayed; prayed much; needed to pray; loved to pray.

Oh! when shall we men down here, sent into the world as He was sent into the world, with the same mission, the same field, the same Satan to combat, the same Holy Spirit to empower, find out that power lies in keeping closest connection with the Sender, and completest insulation from the power-absorbing world!

—Quiet Talks on Prayer  1904