Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Quiet Talks on Prayer by S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

The One Purpose of Prayer.

Now, the whole thought in prayer is to get the will of a God like that
done in our lives and upon this old earth. The greatest prayer any one can
offer is, "Thy will be done." It will be offered in a thousand different
forms, with a thousand details, as needs arise daily. But every true
prayer comes under those four words. There is not a good desirable thing
that you have thought of that He has not thought of first, and probably
with an added touch not in your thought. Not to grit your teeth and lock
your jaw and pray for grace to say, "Thy will be _endured_: it is bitter,
but I must be resigned; that is a Christian grace; Thy will be
_endured_." Not that, please. Do not slander God like that. There is a
superficial idea among men that charges God with many misfortunes and ills
for which He is not at all responsible. He is continually doing the very
best that can be done under the circumstances for the best results. He has
a bad mixture of stubborn warped human wills to deal with. With infinite
patience and skill and diplomacy and success too He is ever working at the
tangled skein of human life, through the human will.

It may help us here to remember that God has a first and a second will for
us: a first choice and a second. He always prefers that His first will
shall be accomplished in us. But where we will not be wooed up to that
height, He comes down to the highest level we will come up to, and works
with us there. For instance, God's first choice for Israel was that He
Himself should be their king. There was to be no human, visible king, as
with the surrounding nations. He was to be their king. They were to be
peculiar in this. But to Samuel's sorrow and yet more to God's, they
insisted upon a king. And so God gave them a king. And David the great
shepherd-psalmist-king was a man after God's own heart, and the world's
Saviour came of the Davidic line. God did His best upon the level they
chose and a great best it was. Yet the human king and line of kings was
not God's first will, but a second will yielded to because the first
would not be accepted. God is ever doing the best for human lives that can
be done through the human will.

His first will for our bodies, without doubt, is that there should be a
strong healthy body for each of us. But there is a far higher thing being
aimed at in us than that. And with keen pain to His own heart, He oft
times permits bodily weakness and suffering because in the conditions of
our wills only so can these higher and highest things be gotten at. And
where the human will comes into intelligent touch with Himself, and the
higher can so be reached, with great gladness and eagerness the bodily
difficulty is removed by Him.

There are two things, at least, that modify God's first will for us. First
of all the degree of our intelligent willingness that He shall have His
full sway. And second, the circumstances of one's life. Each of us is the
centre of a circle of people, an ever changing circle. If we be in touch
with Him God is speaking through each of us to his circle. Our experiences
with God: His dealings with us, under the varying circumstances are a part
of His message to that circle. God is trying to win men. It takes
marvellous diplomacy on His part. And God is a wondrous tactician.
But--very reverently--He is a needy God. He needs us to help Him, each in
his circle. We must be perfectly willing to have His will done; and more,
we must trust Him to know what is best to do in us and with us in the
circle of our circumstances. God is a great economist. He wastes no
forces. Every bit is being conserved towards the great end in view.

There may be a false submission to His supposed will in some affliction; a
not reaching out after _all_ that He has for us. And at the other swing of
the pendulum there may be a sort of _logical praying_ for some desirable
thing because a friend tells us we should claim it. By logical praying I
mean the studying of a statement of God's word, and possibly some one's
explanation of it, and hearing or knowing how somebody else has claimed a
certain thing through that statement and then concluding that therefore we
should so claim. The trouble with that is that it stops too soon. Praying
in the Spirit as opposed to logical praying is doing this logical
thinking: _then_ quietly taking all to God, to learn what His will is for
_you_, under your circumstances, and in the circle of people whom He
touches through you.

The Spirit's Prayer Room.

There is a remarkable passage in Paul's Roman letter about prayer and
God's will.[39] "And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity:
for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He that
searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, that He
maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Please notice: these words connect back with the verses ending with verse
seventeen. Verses eighteen to twenty-five are a parenthesis. As the Spirit
within breathes out the "Father" cry of a child, which is the prayer-cry,
so He helps us in praying. It is our infirmity that we do not know how to
pray _as we ought_. There is willingness and eagerness too. No bother
there. But a lack of knowledge. We don't know how. But the Spirit knows
how. He is the Master-prayor. He knows God's will perfectly. He knows what
best to be praying under all circumstances. And He is within you and me.
He is there as a prayer-spirit. He prompts us to pray. He calls us away to
the quiet room to our knees. He inclines to prayer wherever we are. He is
thinking thoughts that find no response in us. They cannot be expressed in
our lips for they are not in our thinking. He prays with an intensity
quite beyond the possibility of language to express. And the
heart-searcher--God listening above--knows fully what this praying Spirit
is thinking within me, and wordlessly praying, for they are one. He
recognizes His own purposes and plans being repeated in this man down on
the earth by His own Spirit.

And the great truth is that the Spirit within us prays God's will. He
teaches us God's will. He teaches us how to pray God's will. And He
Himself prays God's will in us. And further that He seeks to pray God's
will--that is to pray for the thing God has planned--in us before we have
yet reached up to where we know ourselves what that will is.

We should be ambitious to cultivate a healthy sensitiveness to this
indwelling Spirit. And when there comes that quick inner wooing away to
pray let us faithfully obey. Even though we be not clear what the
particular petition is to be let us remain in prayer while He uses us as
the medium of His praying.

Oftentimes the best prayer to offer about some friend, or some particular
thing, after perhaps stating the case the best we can is this: "Holy
Spirit, be praying in me the thing the Father wants done. Father, what the
Spirit within me is praying, that is my prayer in Jesus' name. Thy will,
what Thou art wishing and thinking, may that be fully done here."

How to Find God's Will.

We should make a study of God's will. We ought to seek to become skilled
in knowing His will. The more we know Him the better shall we be able to
read intelligently His will.

It may be said that God has two wills for each of us, or, better, there
are two parts to His will. There is His will of grace, and His will of
government. His will of grace is plainly revealed in His Word. It is that
we shall be saved, and made holy, and pure, and by and by glorified in his
own presence. His will of government is His particular plan for my life.
God has every life planned. The highest possible ambition for a life is to
reach God's plan. He reveals that to us bit by bit as we need to know. If
the life is to be one of special service He will make that plain, what
service, and where, and when. Then each next step He will make plain.

Learning His will here hinges upon three things, simple enough but
essential. I must keep _in touch_ with Him so He has an open ear to talk
into. I must _delight_ to do His will, _because it is His_. The third
thing needs special emphasis. Many who are right on the first two stumble
here, and sometimes measure their length on the ground. _His Word must be
allowed to discipline my judgment as to Himself and His will_. Many of us
stumble on number one and on number two. And very many willing earnest men
sprawl badly when it comes to number three. The bother with these is the
lack of a disciplined judgment about God and His will. If we would
prayerfully _absorb_ the Book, there would come a better poised judgment.
We need to get a broad sweep of God's thought, to breathe Him in as He
reveals Himself in this Book. The meek man--that is the man willing to
yield his will to a higher will--will He guide in his judgment, that is,
in his mental processes.[40]

This is John's standpoint in that famous passage in his first epistle.[41]
"And this is the boldness that we have towards Him, that, if we ask
anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He
heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we
have asked of Him." These words dovetail with great nicety into those
already quoted from Paul in the eighth of Romans. The whole supposition
here is that we have learned His will about the particular matter in hand.
Having gotten that footing, we go to prayer with great boldness. For if He
wants a thing and I want it and we join--that combination cannot be

May we Pray With Assurance for the Conversion of Our Loved Ones

God's Door into a Home.

The heart of God hungers to redeem the world. For that He gave His own,
only Son though the treatment He received tore that father's heart to the
bleeding. For that He sent the Holy Spirit to do in men what the Son had
done for them. For that He placed in human hands the mightiest of all
forces--prayer, that so we might become partners with Him.

For that too He set man in the relationships of kinship and friendship. He
wins men through men. Man is the goal, and he is also the road to the
goal. Man is the object aimed at. And he is the medium of approach,
whether the advance be by God or by Satan. God will not enter a man's
heart without his consent, and Satan _can_not. God would reach men through
men, and Satan must. And so God has set us in the strongest relation that
binds men, the relation of love, that He may touch one through another.
Kinship is a relation peculiar to man, and to the earth.

I have at times been asked by some earnest sensitive persons if it is not
selfish to be especially concerned for one's own, over whom the heart
yearns much, and the prayer offered is more tender and intense and more
frequent. Well, if _you_ do not pray for them who will? Who _can_ pray for
them with such believing persistent fervour as you! God has set us in the
relationship of personal affection and of kinship for just such a purpose.
He binds us together with the ties of love that we may be concerned for
each other. If there be but one in a home in touch with God, that one
becomes God's door into the whole family.

Contact means opportunity, and that in turn means responsibility. The
closer the contact the greater the opportunity and the greater too the
responsibility. Unselfishness does not mean to exclude one's self, and
one's own. It means right proportions in our perspective. Humility is not
whipping one's self. It is forgetting one's self in the thought of others.
Yet even that may be carried to a bad extreme. Not only is it not selfish
so to pray, it is a part of God's plan that we should so pray. I am most
responsible for the one to whom I am most closely related.

A Free Agent Enslaved.

One of the questions that is more often asked in this connection than any
other perhaps is this: may we pray with assurance for the conversion of
our loved ones? No question sets more hearts in an audience to beating
faster than does that. I remember speaking in the Boston noonday meeting,
in the old Broomfield Street M. E. Church on this subject one week.
Perhaps I was speaking rather positively. And at the close of the meeting
one day a keen, cultured Christian woman whom I knew came up for a word.
She said, "I do not think we can pray like that." And I said, "Why not?"
She paused a moment, and her well-controlled agitation revealed in eye and
lip told me how deeply her thoughts were stirred. Then she said quietly,
"I have a brother. He is not a Christian. The theatre, the wine, the club,
the cards--that is his life. And he laughs at me. I would rather than
anything else that my brother were a Christian. But," she said, and here
both her keenness and the training of her early teaching came in, "I do
not think I can pray positively for his conversion, for he is a free
agent, is he not? And God will not save a man against his will."

I want to say to you to-day what I said to her. Man _is_ a free agent, to
use the old phrase, so far as God is concerned; utterly, wholly free.
_And_, he is the most enslaved agent on the earth, so far as sin, and
selfishness and prejudice are concerned. The purpose of our praying is not
to force or coerce his will; never that. It is to _free_ his will of the
warping influences that now twist it awry. It is to get the dust out of
his eyes so his sight shall be clear. And once he is free, able to see
aright, to balance things without prejudice, the whole probability is in
favour of his using his will to choose the only right.

I want to suggest to you the ideal prayer for such a one. It is an
adaptation of Jesus' own words. It may be pleaded with much variety of
detail. It is this: deliver him from the evil one; and work in him _Thy
will_ for him, by Thy power to Thy glory in Jesus, the Victor's name. And
there are three special passages upon which to base this prayer. First
Timothy, second chapter, fourth verse (American version), "God our
Saviour, who would have all men to be saved." That is God's will for your
loved one. Second Peter, third chapter, ninth verse, "not wishing (or
willing) that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
That is God's will, or desire, for the one you are thinking of now. The
third passage is on our side who do the praying. It tells who may offer
this prayer with assurance. John, fifteenth chapter, seventh verse, "If ye
abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you ask what it is your will to
ask, and I will bring it to pass for you."

There is a statement of Paul's in second Timothy that graphically pictures
this:[42] "The Lord's servant must not strive "--not argue, nor
combat--"but be gentle towards all, apt to teach"--ready and skilled in
explaining, helping--"in meekness correcting (or, instructing) them that
oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the
knowledge of the truth, and _they may recover themselves out of the snare
of the devil_, having been taken captive by him unto his will."

That word "deliver" in this prayer, as used by Jesus, the word under our
English, has a picturesque meaning. It means _rescue_. Here is a man taken
captive, and in chains. But he has become infatuated with his captor, and
is befooled regarding his condition. Our prayer is, "rescue him from the
evil one," and because Jesus is Victor over the captor, the rescue will
take place.

Without any doubt we may assure the conversion of these laid upon our
hearts by such praying. The prayer in Jesus' name drives the enemy off the
battle-field of the man's will, and leaves him free to choose aright.
There is one exception to be noted, a very, very rare exception. There may
be _extreme_ instances where such a prayer may not be offered; where the
spirit of prayer is withdrawn. But such are very rare and extreme, and the
conviction regarding that will be unmistakable beyond asking any

And I cannot resist the conviction--I greatly dislike to say this, I would
much rather not if I regarded either my own feelings or yours. But I
cannot resist the conviction--listen very quietly, so I may speak in
quietest tones--that there are people ... in that lower, lost world ...
who are there ... because some one failed to put his life in touch with
God, and pray.

The Place Where God is Not.

Having said that much let me go on to say this further, and please let me
say it all in softest sobbing voice--there is a hell. There must be a
hell. You may leave this Bible sheer out of your reckoning in the matter.
Still there must be a place for which that word of ugliest associations is
the word to use. _Philosophically_ there must be a hell. That is the name
for the place where God is not; for the place where they will gather
together who insist on leaving God out. God out! There can be no worse
hell than that! God away! Man held back by no restraints!

I am very clear it is _not_ what men have pictured it to be. It is not
what my childish fancy saw and shrank from terrified. And, please let us
be very careful that we never consign anybody there, in our thinking or
speaking about them. When that life whose future might be questioned has
gone the most we can say is that we leave it with a God infinitely just
and the personification of love.

There has been in some quarters an unthinking consigning of persons to a
lost world. And there has been in our day a clean swing of the pendulum
to the other extreme. Both drifts are to be dreaded. Let us deal very
tenderly here, yet with a right plainness in our tenderness. We are to
warn men faithfully. We know the Book's plain teaching that these who
prefer to leave God out "shall go away." The going is of their own accord
and choice. Regarding particular ones we do not know and are best silent.
The grave is closing. Let us deal with the living.

One day at the close of the morning hour at a Bible conference in the
Alleghany Mountains a young woman came up for a moment's conversation. She
spoke about a friend, not a professing Christian, for whom she had prayed
much, and who had died unexpectedly. He had passed away during
unconsciousness, with no opportunity for exchange of words. She was much
agitated as the facts were recited, and then said as she finished, "he is
lost and in hell: and I can never pray again."

We talked quietly awhile and I gathered the following facts. He was of a
Christian family, perfectly familiar with the Bible, was a thoughtful man,
of outwardly correct life in the main, had talked about these matters with
others but had never either in conversation or more openly confessed
personal faith in Christ. He was not in good health. Then came the sudden
end. One other fact came out. She had prayed for his conversion for a long
time. She was herself an earnest Christian woman, solicitous for others.
There were four facts to go upon regarding him. He knew the way to God. He
was thoughtful. He had never openly accepted. Some one had prayed.

Can one _know_ anything certainly about that man's condition? There are
two sorts of knowledge, direct and inferential. I know there is such a
city as London for I have walked its streets. That is direct knowledge. I
know there is such a city as St. Petersburg because though I have never
been there, yet through my reading, pictures I have seen, and friends who
have been there I am clear of its existence to the point of _knowledge_.
That is inferential knowledge.

Now regarding this man after he slipped from the grasp of his friends, I
have no direct knowledge. But I have very positive inferential knowledge
based upon these four facts. Three of the facts, namely, the first,
second, and fourth were favourable to the end desired. The third swings
neither way. The great dominant fact in the case is the fourth, and a
great and dominating fact it is in judging--some one in touch with God had
been persistently, believingly praying up to the time of the quick end.
That fact with the others gives strong inferential knowledge regarding the
man. It is sufficient to comfort a heart, and give one renewed faith in
praying for others.

Saving the Life.

We cannot know a man's mental processes. This is surely true, that if in
the very last half-twinkling of an eye a man look up towards God
longingly, that look is the turning of the will to God. And that is quite
enough. God is eagerly watching with hungry eyes for the quick turn of a
human eye up to Himself. Doubtless many a man has so turned in the last
moment of his life when we were not conscious of his consciousness, nor
aware of the movements of his outwardly unconscious sub-consciousness. One
may be unconscious of outer things, and yet be keenly conscious towards

At another of these summer gatherings this incident came to me. A man
seemingly of mature mind and judgment told me of a friend of his. That was
as close as I got to the friend himself. This friend was not a professing
Christian, was thrown from a boat, sank twice and perhaps three times, and
then was rescued, and after some difficulty resuscitated. He told
afterwards how swiftly his thoughts came as they are said to do to one in
such circumstances. He thought surely he was drowning, was quiet in his
mind, thought of God and how he had not been trusting Him, and in his
thought he prayed for forgiveness. He lived afterwards a consistent
Christian life. This illustrates simply the possibilities open to one in
his keen inner mental processes.

Here is surely enough knowledge to comfort many a bereft heart, and
enough too to make us pray persistently and believingly for loved ones
because of prayer's uncalculated and incalculable power. Be sure the
prayer-fact is in the case of _your_ friend, _and in strong_.

Yet let us be wary, very wary of letting this influence us one bit
farther. That man is nothing less than a fool who presumes upon such
statements to resist God's gracious pleadings for his life. And on our
side, we must not fail to warn men lovingly, tenderly yet with plainness
of the tremendous danger of delay, in coming to God. A man may be so
stupefied at the close as to shut out of his range what has been suggested
here. And further even if a man's soul be saved he is responsible to God
for his life. We want men to _live_ for Jesus, and win others to Him. And
further, yet, reward, preferment, honour in God's kingdom depends upon
faithfulness to Him down here. Who would be saved by the skin of his

The great fact to have burned in deep is that we may assure the coming to
God of our loved ones with their lives, as well as for their souls if we
will but press the battle.

Giving God a Clear Road for Action.

Out in one of the trans-Mississippi states I ran across an illustration of
prayer in real life that caught me at once, and has greatly helped me in
understanding prayer.

Fact is more fascinating than fiction. If one could know what is going on
around him, how surprised and startled he would be. If we could get _all_
the facts in any one incident, and get them colourlessly, and have the
judgment to sift and analyze accurately, what fascinating instances of the
power of prayer would be disclosed.

There is a double side to this story. The side of the man who was changed,
and the side of the woman who prayed. He is a New Englander, by birth and
breeding, now living in this western state: almost a giant physically,
keen mentally, a lawyer, and a natural leader. He had the conviction as a
boy that if he became a Christian he was to preach. But he grew up a
skeptic, read up and lectured on skeptical subjects. He was the
representative of a district of his western home state in congress; in his
fourth term or so I think at this time.

The experience I am telling came during that congress when the
Hayes-Tilden controversy was up, the intensest congress Washington has
known since the Civil War. It was not a time specially suited to
meditation about God in the halls of congress. And further he said to me
that somehow he knew all the other skeptics who were in the lower house
and they drifted together a good bit and strengthened each other by their

One day as he was in his seat in the lower house, in the midst of the
business of the hour, there came to him a conviction that God--the God in
whom he did not believe, whose existence he could keenly disprove--God was
right there above his head thinking about him, and displeased at the way
he was behaving towards Him. And he said to himself: "this is ridiculous,
absurd. I've been working too hard; confined too closely; my mind is
getting morbid. I'll go out, and get some fresh air, and shake myself."
And so he did. But the conviction only deepened and intensified. Day by
day it grew. And that went on for weeks, into the fourth month as I recall
his words. Then he planned to return home to attend to some business
matters, and to attend to some preliminaries for securing the nomination
for the governorship of his state. And as I understand he was in a fair
way to securing the nomination, so far as one can judge of such matters.
And his party is the dominant party in the state. A nomination for
governor by his party has usually been followed by election.

He reached his home and had hardly gotten there before he found that his
wife and two others had entered into a holy compact of prayer for his
conversion, and had been so praying for some months. Instantly he thought
of his peculiar unwelcome Washington experience, and became intensely
interested. But not wishing them to know of his interest, he asked
carelessly when "this thing began." His wife told him the day. He did some
quick mental figuring, and he said to me, "I knew almost instantly that
the day she named fitted into the calendar with the coming of that
conviction or impression about God's presence."

He was greatly startled. He wanted to be thoroughly honest in all his
thinking. And he said he knew that if a single fact of that sort could be
established, of prayer producing such results, it carried the whole
Christian scheme of belief with it. And he did some stiff fighting within.
Had he been wrong all those years? He sifted the matter back and forth as
a lawyer would the evidence in any case. And he said to me, "As an honest
man I was compelled to admit the facts, and I believe I might have been
led to Christ that very night."

A few nights later he knelt at the altar in the Methodist meeting-house in
his home town and surrendered his strong will to God. Then the early
conviction of his boyhood days came back. He was to preach the gospel. And
like Saul of old, he utterly changed his life, and has been preaching the
gospel with power ever since.

Then I was intensely fascinated in getting the other side, the
praying-side of the story. His wife had been a Christian for years, since
before their marriage. But in some meetings in the home church she was
led into a new, a full surrender to Jesus Christ as Master, and had
experienced a new consciousness of the Holy Spirit's presence and power.
Almost at once came a new intense desire for her husband's conversion. The
compact of three was agreed upon, of daily prayer for him until the change

As she prayed that night after retiring to her sleeping apartment she was
in great distress of mind in thinking and praying for him. She could get
no rest from this intense distress. At length she rose, and knelt by the
bedside to pray. As she was praying and distressed a voice, an exquisitely
quiet inner voice said, "will you abide the consequences?" She was
startled. Such a thing was wholly new to her. She did not know what it
meant. And without paying any attention to it, went on praying. Again came
the same quietly spoken words to her ear, "will you abide the
consequences?" And again the half frightened feeling. She slipped back to
bed to sleep. But sleep did not come. And back again to her knees, and
again the patient, quiet voice.

This time with an earnestness bearing the impress of her agony she said,
"Lord, I will abide any consequence that may come if only my husband may
be brought to Thee." And at once the distress slipped away, and a new
sweet peace filled her being, and sleep quickly came. And while she prayed
on for weeks and months patiently, persistently, day by day, the distress
was gone, the sweet peace remained in the assurance that the result was
surely coming. And so it was coming all those days down in the thick air
of Washington's lower house, and so it did come.

What _was_ the consequence to her? She was a congressman's wife. She would
likely have been, so far as such matters may be judged, the wife of the
governor of her state, the first lady socially of the state. She is a
Methodist minister's wife changing her home every few years. A very
different position in many ways. No woman will be indifferent to the
social difference involved. Yet rarely have I met a woman with more of
that fine beauty which the peace of God brings, in her glad face, and in
her winsome smile.

Do you see the simple philosophy of that experience. Her surrender gave
God a clear channel into that man's will. When the roadway was cleared,
her prayer was a spirit-force traversing instantly the hundreds of
intervening miles, and affecting the spirit-atmosphere of his presence.

Shall we not put our wills fully in touch with God, and sheer out of
sympathy with the other one, and persistently plead and claim for each
loved one, "deliver him from the evil one, and work in him Thy will, to
Thy glory, by Thy power, in the Victor's name." And then add amen--so it
_shall_ be. Not so _may_ it be--a wish, but so it _shall_ be--an
expression of confidence in Jesus' power. _And these lives shall be won,
and these souls saved_.

IV. Jesus' Habits of Prayer

1. A Pen Sketch.
2. Dissolving Views.
3. Deepening Shadows.
4. Under the Olive Trees.
5. A Composite Picture.

Jesus' Habits of Prayer

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!

Dissolving Views.

Let me rapidily sketch those fifteen mentions of the gospel writers,
attempting to keep their chronological order.

_The first mention_ is by Luke, in chapter three. The first three gospels
all tell of Jesus' double baptism, but it is Luke who adds, "and praying."
It was while waiting in prayer that He received the gift of the Holy
Spirit. He _dared_ not begin His public mission without that anointing. It
had been promised in the prophetic writings. And now, standing in the
Jordan, He waits and prays until the blue above is burst through by the
gleams of glory-light from the upper-side and the dove-like Spirit wings
down and abides upon Him. _Prayer brings power._ Prayer _is_ power. The
time of prayer is the time of power. The place of prayer is the place of
power. Prayer is tightening the connections with the divine dynamo so that
the power may flow freely without loss or interruption.

_The second mention_ is made by Mark in chapter one. Luke, in chapter
four, hints at it, "when it was day He came out and went into a desert
place." But Mark tells us plainly "in the morning a great while before the
day (or a little more literally, 'very early while it was yet very dark')
He arose and went out into the desert or solitary place and there prayed."
The day before, a Sabbath day spent in His adopted home-town Capernaum,
had been a very busy day for Him, teaching in the synagogue service, the
interruption by a demon-possessed man, the casting out amid a painful
scene; afterwards the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, and then at
sun-setting the great crowd of diseased and demonized thronging the
narrow street until far into the night, while He, passing amongst them, by
personal touch, healed and restored every one. It was a long and
exhausting day's work. One of us spending as busy a Sabbath would probably
feel that the next morning needed an extra hour's sleep if possible. One
must rest surely. But this man Jesus seemed to have another way of resting
in addition to sleep. Probably He occupied the guest-chamber in Peter's
home. The house was likely astir at the usual hour, and by and by
breakfast was ready, but the Master had not appeared yet, so they waited a
bit. After a while the maid slips to His room door and taps lightly, but
there's no answer; again a little bolder knock, then pushing the door ajar
she finds the room unoccupied. Where's the Master? "Ah!" Peter says; "I
think I know. I have noticed before this that He has a way of slipping off
early in the morning to some quiet place where He can be alone." And a
little knot of disciples with Peter in the lead starts out on a search for
Him, for already a crowd is gathering at the door and filling the street
again, hungry for more. And they "tracked Him down" here and there on the
hillsides, among clumps of trees, until suddenly they come upon Him
quietly praying with a wondrous calm in His great eyes. Listen to Peter as
he eagerly blurts out, "Master, there's a big crowd down there, all asking
for you." But the Master's quiet decisive tones reply, "Let us go into
the next towns that I may preach there also; for to this end came I
forth." Much easier to go back and deal again with the old crowd of
yesterday; harder to meet the new crowds with their new skepticism, but
there's no doubt about what _should_ be done. Prayer wonderfully clears
the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose;
sweetens and strengthens the spirit. The busier the day for Him the more
surely must the morning appointment be kept,[43] and even an earlier start
made, apparently. The more virtue went forth from Him, the more certainly
must He spend time, and even _more_ time, alone with Him who is the source
of power.

_The third mention_ is in Luke, chapter five. Not a great while after the
scene just described, possibly while on the trip suggested by His answer
to Peter, in some one of the numerous Galilean villages, moved with the
compassion that ever burned His heart, He had healed a badly diseased
leper, who, disregarding His express command, so widely published the fact
of His remarkable healing that great crowds blocked Jesus' way in the
village and compelled Him to go out to the country district, where the
crowds which the village could not hold now throng about Him. Now note
what the Master does. The authorized version says, "He withdrew into the
wilderness and prayed." A more nearly literal reading would be, "He was
retiring in the deserts and praying"; suggesting not a single act, but
rather _a habit of action_ running through several days or even weeks.
That is, being compelled by the greatness of the crowds to go into the
deserts or country, districts, and being constantly thronged there by the
people, He had _less opportunity_ to get alone, and yet more need, and so
while He patiently continues His work among them He studiously seeks
opportunity to retire at intervals from the crowds to pray.

How much His life was like ours. Pressed by duties, by opportunities for
service, by the great need around us, we are strongly tempted to give less
time to the inner chamber, with door shut. "Surely this work must be
done," we think, "though it does crowd and flurry our prayer time some."
"_No_," the Master's practice here says with intense emphasis. Not work
first, and prayer to bless it. But the _first_ place given to prayer and
then the service growing out of such prayer will be charged with
unmeasured power. The greater the outer pressure on His closet-life, the
more jealously He guarded against either a shortening of its time or a
flurrying of its spirit. The tighter the tension, the more time must there
be for unhurried prayer.

_The fourth mention_ is found in Luke, chapter six. "It came to pass in
these days that He went out into the mountains to pray, and He continued
all night in prayer to God." The time is probably about the middle of the
second year of His public ministry. He had been having very exasperating
experiences with the national leaders from Judea who dogged His steps,
criticising and nagging at every turn, sowing seeds of skepticism among
His simple-minded, intense-spirited Galileans. It was also the day
_before_ He selected the twelve men who were to be the leaders after His
departure, and preached the mountain sermon. Luke does not say that He
_planned_ to spend the entire night in prayer. Wearied in spirit by the
ceaseless petty picking and Satanic hatred of His enemies, thinking of the
serious work of the morrow, there was just one thing for Him to do. He
knew where to find rest, and sweet fellowship, and a calming presence, and
wise counsel. Turning His face northward He sought the solitude of the
mountain not far off for quiet meditation and prayer. And as He prayed and
listened and talked without words, daylight gradually grew into twilight,
and that yielded imperceptibly to the brilliant Oriental stars spraying
down their lustrous fire-light. And still He prayed, while the darkness
below and the blue above deepened, and the stilling calm of God wrapped
all nature around, and hushed His heart into a deeper peace. In the
fascination of the Father's loving presence He was utterly lost to the
flight of time, but prayed on and on until, by and by, the earth had once
more completed its daily turn, the gray streaks of dawnlight crept up the
east, and the face of Palestine, fragrant with the deep dews of an
eastern night, was kissed by a sun of a new day. And then, "when it was
day"--how quietly the narrative goes on--"He called the disciples and
_chose_ from them twelve,--and a great multitude of disciples and of the
people came,--and He _healed_ all--and He opened His mouth and _taught_
them--_for power came forth from Him."_ Is it any wonder, after such a
night! If all our exasperations and embarrassments were followed, and all
our decisions and utterances preceded, by unhurried prayer, what power
would come forth from us, too. Because as He is even so are we in this

_The fifth mention_ is made by Matthew, chapter fourteen, and Mark,
chapter six, John hinting at it in chapter six of his gospel. It was about
the time of the third passover, the beginning of His last year of service.
Both He and the disciples had been kept exceedingly busy with the great
throng coming and going incessantly. The startling news had just come of
the tragic death of His forerunner. There was need of bodily rest, as well
as of quiet to think over the rapidly culminating opposition. So taking
boat they headed towards the eastern shore of the lake. But the eager
crowds watched the direction taken and spreading the news, literally "ran"
around the head of the lake and "out-went them," and when He stepped from
the boat for the much-needed rest there was an immense company, numbering
thousands, waiting for Him. Did some feeling of impatience break out among
the disciples that they could not be allowed a little leisure? Very
likely, for they were so much like us. But _He_ was "moved with
compassion" and, wearied though He was, patiently spent the entire day in
teaching, and then, at eventime when the disciples proposed sending them
away for food, He, with a handful of loaves and fishes, satisfied the
bodily cravings of as many as five thousand.

There is nothing that has so appealed to the masses in all countries and
all centuries as ability to furnish plenty to eat. Literally tens of
thousands of the human race fall asleep every night hungry. So here. At
once it is proposed by a great popular uprising, under the leadership of
this wonderful man as king, to throw off the oppressive Roman yoke.
Certainly if only His consent could be had it would be immensely
successful, they thought. Does this not rank with Satan's suggestion in
the wilderness, and with the later possibility coming through the visit of
the Greek deputation, of establishing the kingdom without suffering? It
was a temptation, even though it found no response within Him. With the
over-awing power of His presence so markedly felt at times He quieted the
movement, "constrained"[44] the disciples to go by boat before Him to the
other side while He dismissed the throng. "And after He had _taken leave
of them_"--what gentle courtesy and tenderness mingled with His
irrevocable decision--"He went up in the mountain _to pray_," and
"_continued in prayer_" until the morning watch. A second night spent in
prayer! Bodily weary, His spirit startled by an event which vividly
foreshadowed His own approaching violent death, and now this vigorous
renewal of His old temptation, again He had recourse to His one unfailing
habit of getting off alone _to pray._ Time alone _to pray; more_ time to
pray, was His one invariable offset to all difficulties, all temptations,
and all needs. How much more there must have been in prayer as He
understood and practiced it than many of His disciples to-day know.

Deepening Shadows.

We shall perhaps understand better some of the remaining prayer incidents
if we remember that Jesus is now in the last year of His ministry, the
acute state of His experiences with the national leaders preceding the
final break. The awful shadow of the cross grows deeper and darker across
His path. The hatred of the opposition leader gets constantly intenser.
The conditions of discipleship are more sharply put. The inability of the
crowds, of the disciples, and others to understand Him grows more marked.
Many followers go back. He seeks to get more time for intercourse with
the twelve. He makes frequent trips to distant points on the border of the
outside, non-Jewish world. The coming scenes and experiences--_the_ scene
on the little hillock outside the Jerusalem wall--seem never absent from
His thoughts. _The sixth mention_ is made by Luke, chapter nine. They are
up north in the neighbourhood of the Roman city of Caesarea Philippi. "And
it came to pass as He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him."
Alone, so far as the multitudes are concerned, but seeming to be drawing
these twelve nearer to His inner life. Some of these later incidents seem
to suggest that he was trying to woo them into something of the same love
for the fascination of secret prayer that He had. How much they would need
to pray in the coming years when He was gone. Possibly, too, He yearned
for a closer fellowship with them. He loved human fellowship, as Peter and
James and John, and Mary and Martha and many other gentle women well knew.
And there is no fellowship among men to be compared with fellowship _in

"There is a place where _spirits blend_,
Where _friend holds fellowship with friend_,
A place than all beside more sweet,
It is the blood-bought mercy-seat."

_The seventh mention_ is in this same ninth chapter of Luke, and records a
third night of prayer. Matthew and Mark also tell of the transfiguration
scene, but it is Luke who explains that He went up into the mountain _to
pray_, and that it was _as He was praying_ that the fashion of His
countenance was altered. Without stopping to study the purpose of this
marvellous manifestation of His divine glory to the chosen three at a time
when desertion and hatred were so marked, it is enough now to note the
significant fact that it was while _He was praying_ that the wondrous
change came. _Transfigured while praying! _ And by His side stood one who
centuries before on the earth had spent so much time alone with God that
the glory-light of that presence transfigured _his_ face, though he was
unconscious of it. A shining face caused by contact with God! Shall not
we, to whom the Master has said, "follow Me," get alone with Him and His
blessed Word, so habitually, with open or uncovered face, that is, with
eyesight unhindered by prejudice or self-seeking, that mirroring the glory
of His face we shall more and more come to bear His very likeness upon our

"And the face shines bright
With a glow of light
From His presence sent
Whom she loves to meet.

"Yes, the face beams bright
With an inner light
As by day so by night,
In shade as in shine,
With a beauty fine,
That she wist not of,
From some source within.
And above.

"Still the face shines bright
With the glory-light
From the mountain height.
Where the resplendent sight
Of His face
Fills her view
And illumines in turn
First the few,
Then the wide race."

_The eighth mention_ is in the tenth chapter of Luke. He had organized a
band of men, sending them out in two's into the places he expected to
visit. They had returned with a joyful report of the power attending their
work; and standing in their midst, His own heart overflowing with joy, He
looked up and, as though the Father's face was visible, spake out to Him
the gladness of His heart. He seemed to be always conscious of His
Father's presence, and the most natural thing was to speak to Him. They
were always within speaking distance of each other, and always on speaking

_The ninth mention_ is in the eleventh chapter of Luke, very similar to
the sixth mention, "It came to pass as He was praying in a certain place
that when He ceased one of His disciples said unto Him, 'Lord, teach us
to pray.'" Without doubt these disciples were praying men. He had already
talked to them a great deal about prayer. But as they noticed how large a
place prayer had in His life, and some of the marvellous results, the fact
came home to them with great force that there must be some fascination,
some power, some secret in prayer, of which _they were ignorant._ This Man
was a master in the fine art of prayer. _They_ really did not know how to
pray, they thought. How their request must have delighted Him! At last
they were being aroused concerning _the_ great secret of power. May it be
that this simple recital of His habits of prayer may move every one of us
to get alone with Him and make the same earnest request. For the first
step in _learning_ to pray is to pray,--"Lord, teach me to pray." And who
_can_ teach like Him?

_The tenth mention_ is found in John, chapter eleven, and is the second of
the four instances of ejaculatory prayer. A large company is gathered
outside the village of Bethany, around a tomb in which four days before
the body of a young man had been laid away. There is Mary, still weeping,
and Martha, always keenly alive to the proprieties, trying to be more
composed, and their personal friends, and the villagers, and the company
of acquaintances and others from Jerusalem. At His word, after some
hesitation, the stone at the mouth of the tomb is rolled aside. And Jesus
lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me;
and I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the multitude that
standeth around I said it that they may believe that Thou didst send Me!"
Clearly before coming to the tomb He had been praying in secret about the
raising of Lazarus, and what followed was in answer to His prayer. How
plain it becomes that all the marvellous power displayed in His brief
earthly career _came through prayer_. What inseparable intimacy between
His life of activity at which the multitude then and ever since has
marvelled, and His hidden closet-life of which only these passing glimpses
are obtained. Surely the greatest power entrusted to man is prayer-power.
But how many of us are untrue to the trust, while this strangely
omnipotent power put into our hands lies so largely unused.

Note also the certainty of His faith in the Hearer of prayer: "I thank
Thee that Thou heardest Me." There was nothing that could be _seen_ to
warrant such faith. There lay the dead body. But He trusted as _seeing_
Him who is _invisible_. Faith is blind, except upward. It is blind to
impossibilities and deaf to doubt. It listens only to God and sees only
His power and acts accordingly. Faith is not believing that He _can_ but
that He _will_. But such faith comes only of close continuous contact with
God. Its birthplace is in the secret closet; and time and the open Word,
and an awakened ear and a reverent quiet heart are necessary to its

_The eleventh mention_ is found in the twelfth chapter of John. Two or
three days before the fated Friday some Greek visitors to the Jewish feast
of Passover sought an interview with Him. The request seemed to bring to
His mind a vision of the great outside world, after which His heart
yearned, coming to Him so hungry for what only He could give. And
instantly athwart that vision like an ink-black shadow came the other
vision, never absent now from His waking thoughts, _of the cross_ so
awfully near. Shrinking in horror from the second vision, yet knowing that
only through its realization could be realized the first,--seemingly
forgetful for the moment of the by-standers, as though soliloquizing, He
speaks--"now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Shall I say,
Father _save_ Me from this hour? But for this cause came I unto this hour:
_this_ is what I will say (and the intense conflict of soul merges into
the complete victory of a wholly surrendered will) _Father, glorify Thy
name_." Quick as the prayer was uttered, came the audible voice out of
heaven answering, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it again."
How near heaven must be! How quickly the Father hears! He must be bending
over, intently listening, eager to catch even faintly whispered prayer.
Their ears, full of earth-sounds, unaccustomed to listening to a heavenly
voice, could hear nothing intelligible. He had a _trained ear_. Isaiah
50:4 revised (a passage plainly prophetic of Him), suggests how it was
that He could understand this voice so easily and quickly. "He wakeneth
morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as they that are taught."
A taught ear is as necessary to prayer as a taught tongue, and the daily
morning appointment with God seems essential to both.

Under the Olive Trees.

_The twelfth mention_ is made by Luke, chapter twenty-two. It is Thursday
night of Passion week, in the large upper room in Jerusalem where He is
celebrating the old Passover feast, and initiating the new memorial feast.
But even that hallowed hour is disturbed by the disciples' self-seeking
disputes. With the great patience of great love He gives them the
wonderful example of humility of which John thirteen tells, speaking
gently of what it meant, and then turning to Peter, and using his old
name, He says, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan asked to have you that he might
sift you as wheat, but I made supplication for thee that thy faith fail
not." _He had been praying for Peter by name!_ That was one of His
prayer-habits, praying for others. And He has not broken off that blessed
habit yet. He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God
through Him _seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them_. His
occupation now seated at His Father's right hand in glory is _praying for
each of us_ who trust Him. By name? Why not?

_The thirteenth mention_ is the familiar one in John, chapter seventeen,
and cannot be studied within these narrow limits, but merely fitted into
Us order. The twelfth chapter contains His last words to the world. In the
thirteenth and through to the close of this seventeenth He is alone with
His disciples. If this prayer is read carefully in the revised version it
will be seen that its standpoint is that of one who thinks of His work
down in the world as already done (though the chief scene is yet to come)
and the world left behind, and now He is about re-entering His Father's
presence to be re-instated in glory there. It is really, therefore, a sort
of specimen of the praying for us in which He is _now_ engaged, and so is
commonly called the intercessory or high-priestly prayer. For thirty years
He lived a perfect life. For three and a half years He was a prophet
speaking to men for God. For nineteen centuries He has been high priest
speaking to God for men. When He returns it will be as King to reign over
men for God.

_The fourteenth mention_ brings us within the sadly sacred precincts of
Gethsemane garden, one of His favourite prayer-spots, where He frequently
went while in Jerusalem. The record is found in Matthew twenty-six, Mark
fourteen, and Luke twenty-one. Let us approach with hearts hushed and
heads bared and bowed, for this is indeed hallowed ground. It is a little
later on that same Thursday night, into which so much has already been
pressed and so much more is yet to come. After the talk in the upper room,
and the simple wondrous prayer, He leads the little band out of the city
gate on the east across the swift, muddy Kidron into the inclosed grove of
olive trees beyond. There would be no sleep for Him that night. Within an
hour or two the Roman soldiers and the Jewish mob, led by the traitor,
will be there searching for Him, and He meant to spend the intervening
time in _prayer_. With the longing for sympathy so marked during these
latter months, He takes Peter and James and John and goes farther into the
deeply-shadowed grove. But now some invisible power tears him away and
plunges Him alone still farther into the moonlit recesses of the garden;
and there a strange, awful struggle of soul ensues. It seems like a
renewal of the same conflict He experienced in John twelve when the Greeks
came, but immeasurably intenser. He who in Himself knew no sin was now
beginning to realize in His spirit what within a few hours He realized
_actually_, that He was in very deed to be made sin for us. And the awful
realization comes in upon Him with such terrific intensity that it seems
as though His physical frame cannot endure the strain of mental agony. The
_actual_ experience of the next day produced such mental agony that His
physical strength gave way. For He died not of His physical suffering,
excruciating as that was, but literally of a broken heart, its walls burst
asunder by the strain of soul. It is not possible for a sinning soul to
appreciate with what nightmare dread and horror the sinless soul of Jesus
must have approached the coming contact with the sin of a world. With
bated breath and reverent gaze one follows that lonely figure among the
trees; now kneeling, now falling upon His face, lying prostrate, "He
prayed that _if_ it were possible the hour might pass away from Him." One
snatch of that prayer reaches our ears: "Abba, Father, all things are
possible unto Thee--_if_ it be possible let this cup pass away from Me;
nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." How long He remained so in
prayer we do not know, but so great was the tension of spirit that a
messenger from heaven appeared and strengthened Him. Even after that
"being in an agony He prayed more earnestly (literally, more stretched
out, more strainedly) and His sweat became as it were great clots of blood
falling down upon the ground." When at length He arises from that season
of conflict and prayer, the victory seems to be won, and something of the
old-time calm reasserts itself. He goes to the sleeping disciples, and
mindful of their coming temptation, admonishes them to pray; then returns
to the lonely solitude again for more prayer, but the change in the form
of prayer tells of the triumph of soul, "O My Father, if this cup
_cannot_ pass away except I drink it, Thy will be done." The victory is
complete. The crisis is past. He yields Himself to that dreaded experience
through which alone the Father's loving plan for a dying world can be
accomplished. Again He returns to the poor, weak disciples, and back again
for another bit of strengthening communion, and then the flickering glare
of torches in the distance tells Him that "the hour is come." With steady
step and a marvellous peace lighting His face He goes out to meet His
enemies. He overcame in this greatest crisis of His life _by prayer_.

_The fifteenth mention_ is the final one. Of the seven sentences which He
spake upon the cross, three were prayers. Luke tells us that while the
soldiers were driving the nails through His hands and feet and lifting the
cross into place, He, thinking even then not of self, but of others, said,
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

It was as the time of the daily evening sacrifice drew on, near the close
of that strange darkness which overcast all nature, after a silence of
three hours, that He loudly sobbed out the piercing, heart-rending cry,
"My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?" A little later the triumphant
shout proclaimed His work done, and then the very last word was a prayer
quietly breathed out, as He yielded up His life, "Father, into Thy hands
I commend My spirit." And so His expiring breath was vocalized into

A Composite Picture.

It may be helpful to make the following summary of these allusions.

1. _His times of prayer_: His regular habit seems plainly to have been to
devote the early morning hour to communion with His Father, and to depend
upon that for constant guidance and instruction. This is suggested
especially by Mark 1:35; and also by Isaiah 50:4-6 coupled with John 7:16
l.c., 8:28, and 12:49.

In addition to this regular appointment, He sought other opportunities for
secret prayer as special need arose; late at night after others had
retired; three times He remained in prayer all the night; and at irregular
intervals between times. Note that it was usually a _quiet_ time when the
noises of earth were hushed. He spent special time in prayer _before_
important events and also _afterwards_. (See mentions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10
and 14.)

2. _His places of prayer_: He who said, "Enter into thine inner chamber
and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret," Himself
had no fixed inner chamber, during His public career, to make easier the
habitual retirement for prayer. Homeless for the three and a half years of
ceaseless travelling, His place of prayer was a desert place, "the
deserts," "the mountains," "a solitary place." He loved nature. The
hilltop back of Nazareth village, the slopes of Olivet, the hillsides
overlooking the Galilean lake, were His favourite places. Note that it was
always a _quiet_ place, shut away from the discordant sounds of earth.

3. _His constant spirit of prayer_: He was never out of the spirit of
prayer. He could be alone in a dense crowd. It has been said that there
are sorts of solitude, namely, of time, as early morning, or late at
night; solitude of place, as a hilltop, or forest, or a secluded room; and
solitude of spirit, as when one surrounded by a crowd may watch them
unmoved, or to be lost to all around in his own inner thought. Jesus used
all three sorts of solitude for talking with His Father. (See mentions 8,
10, 11 and 15.)

4. _He prayed in the great crises of His life_: Five such are mentioned:
Before the awful battle royal with Satan in the Quarantanian wilderness at
the outset; before choosing the twelve leaders of the new movement; at the
time of the Galilean uprising; before the final departure from Galilee for
Judea and Jerusalem; and in Gethsemane, the greatest crisis of all. (See
mentions 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14.)

5. He prayed for others by name, and still does. (See mention 13.)

6. _He prayed with others_: A habit that might well be more widely copied.
A few minutes spent in quiet prayer by friends or fellow-workers before
parting wonderfully sweetens the spirit, and cements friendships, and
makes difficulties less difficult, and hard problems easier of solution.
(See mentions 7, 9 and 13.)

7. _The greatest blessings of His life came during prayer_: Six incidents
are noted: while praying, the Holy Spirit came upon Him; He was
transfigured; three times a heavenly voice of approval came; and in His
hour of sorest distress in the garden a heavenly messenger came to
strengthen Him. (See mentions 1, 7, 11 and 14.)

How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only His _regular habit_, but
His resort in _every emergency_, however slight or serious. When perplexed
He _prayed_. When hard pressed by work He _prayed_. When hungry for
fellowship He found it in _prayer_. He chose His associates and received
His messages _upon His knees_. If tempted, He _prayed_. If criticised, He
_prayed_. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, He had recourse to His
one unfailing habit of _prayer. Prayer_ brought Him _unmeasured power_ at
the beginning, and _kept_ the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no
emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield
to prayer, as He practiced it. Shall not we, who have been tracing these
steps in His prayer life, go back over them again and again until we
breathe in His very spirit of prayer? And shall we not, too, ask Him daily
to teach us how to pray, and then plan to get alone with Him regularly
that He may have opportunity to teach us, and we the opportunity to
practice His teaching?


[1] John 15:16.

[2] "Demon Possession," by J. L. Nevius.

[3] Psalm 24:1.

[4] Psalm 29:10.

[5] Genesis 1:26, 28. Psalms 8:6. See quotations of this, referring to the
Man who will restore original conditions, in 1 Cor. 15:27. Ephesians 1:32,
Hebrews 2:8. Psalms 115:16.

[6] John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11.

[7] Revelation 11:15.

[8] John 14:30.

[9] Jeremiah 33:3.

[10] Psalm 50:15.

[11] Matthew 7:7.

[12] Isaiah 1:15.

[13] Isaiah 59:1-3.

[14] Psalm 66:18.

[15] James 4:2, 3.

[16] Matthew 5:23, 24.

[17] Matthew 6:9-15.

[18] Matthew 18:19-35.

[19] Acts 16:6.

[20] Acts 16:7.

[21] John 7:8.

[22] Acts 22:17-21.

[23] 2 Cor. 5:21.

[24] Sidney Lanier.

[25] Ephesians 2:2.

[26] Luke 11:5-13.

[27] Luke 18:1-8.

[28] 1 Peter 5:8.

[29] Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43.

[30] Matthew 16:24.

[31] Psalm 37:7.

[32] Isaiah 50:4.

[33] Jeremiah 15:1.

[34] Longfellow.

[35] 2 Samuel 23:9, 10.

[36] Joseph Cook.

[37] John 7:17.

[38] Frances Ridley Havergal.

[39] Romans 8:26-28.

[40] Psalm 25:9.

[41] 1 John 5:14, 15.

[42] 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

[43] Isaiah 50:4, Revised.

[44] Does not this very strong language suggest that possibly the
disciples had been conferred with by the revolutionary leaders?

[45] 2 Cor. 3:18.

Book of the day: