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Chapter 1The ForceThat Shapes the World
My creed leads me to think that prayer is efficacious, and surely a day's asking God to overrule all events for good is not lost. -James Gilmour
THE prayers of God's saints are the capital stock in heaven by which Christ carries on His great work upon the earth. Great throes and mighty convulsions in -the world have come about as a result of these prayers. The earth is changed, revolutionized; angels move on more powerful, more rapid wings; and God's policy is shaped when the prayers of His people are more numerous and more efficient. The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray. Indeed, we must pray so that our prayers take hold of God. The man who has done the most and the best praying is the most immortal, because prayers do not die. Perhaps the lips that uttered them are closed in death, or the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God's heart is set on them. Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them-outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world. Prayer is no fitful, short-lived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. It is a voice that goes into God's ear, and it lives as long as God's ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God's heart is alive to holy things. The mightiest successes that come to God's cause are created and carried on by prayer in God's day of power. When God's church comes into its mightiest inheritance of the mightiest faith and mightiest prayer, the angelic days of powerful activity occur. God's conquering days are when the saints have given themselves to mightiest prayer. The life of the church is the highest life, and its office is to pray. Its prayer life is the highest life, the most fragrant, the most conspicuous. When God's house on the earth is a house of prayer, then God's house in heaven is busy and powerful in its plans and movements. "For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people" (Isa. 56:7), says our God. Then , His earthly armies are clothed with the triumphs and spoils of victory, and His enemies are defeated on every hand. God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world, the better the world will be and the mightier the forces against evil everywhere. Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventive. It purifies the air; it destroys the contagion of evil. The very life and prosperity of God's cause-even its very existence-depend on prayer. And the advance and triumph of His cause depend on one thing: that we ask of Him. The Lord has issued His decree, immutable and eternal, in which we find the great condition of prayer: I will declare the decree: Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Ps. 2:7-9, emphasis added)
Ask of Me. That is the condition-God desires a praying people, willing and obedient. Under this universal and simple promise, men and women of old laid themselves out before God. They prayed, and God answered their prayers. Thus, the cause of God was kept alive in the world by the flame of their praying. The second Psalm contains the divine description of the establishment of God's cause through Jesus Christ. All inferior dispensations have merged in the enthronement of Jesus Christ. In the following passage, God declares the enthronement of His Son: Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. (Ps. 2:6-7) All the nations are incensed with bitter hatred against His cause, but God is described as laughing at their enfeebled hate: Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? ... He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. (Ps. 2:1, 4)
Prayer puts God in full force in the world. To a prayerful man, God is present in realized force. The man who has prayed many acceptable prayers has done the truest and greatest service to the incoming generation. To a prayerful church, God is present in glorious power. The prayers of God's saints strengthen the unborn generation against the desolating waves of sin and evil. Woe to the generation of sons who find their own censers empty of the rich incense of prayer, whose fathers have been too busy or too unbelieving to pray, and who have inexpressible perils and untold consequences for their heritage! They whose fathers and mothers have left them a wealthy legacy of prayer are very fortunate, indeed. Prayer is God's settled and singular condition to move ahead His Son's kingdom. Therefore, the believer who is the most highly skilled in prayer will do the most for God. Men are to pray-to pray for the advance of God's cause. The one who can wield the power of prayer is the strong one, the holy one, in Christ's kingdom. He is one of God's heroes, God's saints, God's servants, God's agents. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you " (Matt. 7:7). The strongest one in Christ's kingdom is he who can knock the best, and the secret of success in Christ's kingdom is the ability to pray.