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REV. J. C. "TIYLE, B. A., 

CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD, 
BECTOB OF HKT.UTWOHAM, SUFFOLK. 




PySUSNEO lY TfCC 

y^MERicAN Tract Society 

150 VASSAU-STREET, 

NEW YORK. 





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CALL TO PRAYER 



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BY THE EEV. J. C. BYLE, 

KECTOH OF HELMIXGUAU, SUFFOLK. 







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PUBLISHED BY THE 

AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY; 

150 NASSAU-STJIEET, NEW YORK. 



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CALL TO PRAYER. 



" MEN OUGHT ALWAYS TO PRAY."' Luke 18 : L 
" I WILL THAT MEN PRAY EVERYWHERE." 
1 IT1M.2.L 

I HAVE a question to offer you. It is con- 
'tained in three words, Do you pray ? 

The question is one that none but you can 
answer. "Whether you attend public worship 
or not, your minister knows. Whether you 
have family prayers in your house or not, 
your relations know. But whether you pray 
in private or not, is a matter between your- 
self and God. 

I beseech you in all affection to attend to 






; / 



i A CALL TO PRAYEll. 

tlie subject I bring before you. Do not say 
that my question is too close. If your heart 
is riglit in the sight of God, there is nothing 
in it to make you afraid. Do not turn off my 
question hy replying that you say your pray- 
ers. It is one thing to say your prayers and 
another to pray. Do not tell me that my 
question is unnecessary. Listen to me for a 
few minutes, and I wiU show you good rea- 
sons for asking it. 

I. I ask whether you pray, because prayer 
is absolutely needful to a mans salvatiojh 

I say, absolutely needful, and I say so ad- 
visedly. I am not speaking now of infants 
or idiots. I am not settling the state of the 
heathen. I know that where little is given, 
there little wiU be required. I speak especial- 
ly of those who caU themselves Christians, in 
a land Hke our own. And of such I say, no 
man or woman can expect to be saved who 
does not pray. 

I hold salvation by grace as strongly as 
any one. I would gladly offer a free and 
full pardon to the greatest sinner that ever 



A CALL TO PRAYER. , 5 

lived. I would not hesitate to stand by his 
dying bed, and say, "Believe on the Lord 
Jesus Christ even now, and you shall be 
saved." But that a man can have salvation 
without asking for it, I cannot see in the 
Bible. That a man will receive pardon of his 
sins, who will not so much as lift up his heart 
inwardly, and say, "Lord Jesus, give it to 
me," this I cannot find. I can find that no- 
body will be saved by his prayers, but I can- 
not find that without prayer anybody will be 
saved. 

It is not absolutely needful to salvation 
that a man should read the Bible. A man 
may have no learning, or be bhnd, and yet 
have Christ in his heart. It is noi abso- 
lutely needful that a man should hear public 
preaching of the gospel. He may hve where 
the gospel is not preached, or he may be bed- 
ridden, or Aeai. But the same thing cannot 
be said about prayer. It is absolutely need- 
ful to salvation that a man should pray. 

There is no royal road either to health or 
learning. Princes and kings, pool* men and 



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6 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

peasants, all alike must attend to the wants 
of tlieir owTi bodies and their own minds. No 
man can eat, drink, or sleep, by proxy. No 
man can get the alphabet learned for him 
by another. All these are things which every- 
body must do for himself, or tliey will not be 
done at all. 

Just as it is with the mind and body, so it 
is with the soul. There are certain things 
absolutely needful to the soul's health and 
well-being. Each must attend to these things 
for himself. Each must repent for himself. 
Each must apply to Christ for himself. And 
for himself each must speak to God and 
pray. You must do it for yourself, for by 
nobody else can it be done. 

To be prayerless is to be without God, 
without Cliiast, without gi-ace, without hope, 
and without heaven. It is to be in the road 
to hell. Now can you wonder that I ask the 
question, Do you pray? 

II. I ask again whether you pray, because 
a habit of i^rayer is one of the surest marks of a 
true Christian. 



I 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 7 

All the children of God on earth are 
alike in this respect. From the moment 
there is any life and reality about their re- 
ligion, they pray. Just as the- first sign of 
life in an infant when bom into the world, 
is the act of breathing, so the first act of 
men and women when they are bom again, 
is praying. 

This is one of the common marks of all 
the elect of God, '"^^ey cry unto him day 
and night." Luke 18:1. The Holy Spirit, 
who makes them new creatures, works in 
them the feeling of adoption, and makes them 
cry, "Abba, Father." Eom. 8 : 15. The Lord 
Jesus, when he quickens them, gives them a 
voice and a tongue, and says to them, "Be 
dumb no more." God has no dumb chil- 
dren. It is as much a part of their new 
nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. 
They see their need of mercy and grace. 
They feel their emptiness and weakness. 
They cannot do otherwise than they do. 
They musi pray. 

I have looked carefully over the lives of 






8 A CALL TO PKAYER. 

God's saints in the Bible. I cannot find one 
of whose history much is told us, from Genesis 
to Revelation, who was not a man of prayer. 
I find it mentioned as a characteristic of 
the godly, that "they- call on the Father," 
that "they call on the name of the Lord 
Jesus Christ." I find it recorded as a char- 
acteristic of the wicked, that " they call not 
upon the Lord." 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Cor. 1:2; 
Psg,. 14:4. ^ i 

y I have read the Hves of many eminent 
/ Christians who have been on earth since the 
\ Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, 
and some poor. Some were learned, and 
some unlearned. Some of them were Epis- 
copaHans, and some Christians of other names. 
Some were Calvinists, and some were Armin- 
ians. Some have loved to use a liturgy, and 
some to use none. But one thing, I see, they 
all had in common. They have all been men 
ofjprayer. 

I study the reports of missionary societies 
in our own times. . I see with joy that hea- 
then men and women are receiving the gos- 



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A CALL TO PRAYER. 9 

pel in various paa*ts of the globe. There are 
conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in 
Hindostan, in China. The people converted 
are naturally unlike one another in every re- 
spect. But one striking thing I observe at 
all the missionary stations: the converted 
people alioays pray. ! 

I do not deny that a man may pray with- 
out heart and without sincerity. I do ikot 
for a moment pretend to say that the mere 
fact of a person's praying proves everything 
about his soul. As in every other part of re- 
ligion, so also in this, there may be deception 
and hypocrisy. 

But this I do say, that not praying is a 
. clear proof that a man is not yet a true 
Christian. He cannot really feel his sins. 
He cannot love God. He cannot feel him- 
self a debtor to Christ. He cannot long after 
holiness. He cannot desire heaven. He 
has yet to be born again. He has yet to be 
made a new creature. He may boast con- 
fidently of election, grace, faith, hope, and 
knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But 



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10 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he 
does not pray. | 

And I say, furthermore, that of all the 
evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a 

habit pf hearty private prayer is one of the 
most satisfactory that can be named. A 
man may preach from false motives. A man 
may write books and make fine speeches 
and seem diligent in good works, and yot 
be a Judaa Iscariot. But a man seldom 
goes into his closet, and pours out his soul 
before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. 
The Lord himself has set his stamp on pray- 
er as the best proof of a true conversion. 
When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damas- 
cus, he gave him no other evidence of his 
change of heart thaur. this, "Behold, hb pray- 
eth" Acts 9: 11. ' 

I know that much may go on in a man's 
mind before he is brought to pray. He 
may have many convictions, desu'es, wishes, 
feelings, intentions, resolutions, hopes, and 
fears. But all these things are very uncer- 
tain evidences. They are to be found in un- 



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A CALL TO PRAYER. 



11 



godly people, and often come to nothing. In 
many a case they are not more lastmg than 
the morning cloud, and the dew that passeth 
away. A real, hearty prayer, flowing from a 

broken and contrite spirit, is worth all , these 
things put together. 

I know that the oly Spirit, who calls 
sinners from their evil ways, does in many 
instances lead them by very slow degrees to 
acquaintance with Christ. But the eye of 
man can only judge by what it sees. I can- 
not call any one justified until he believes. 
I dare not say that any one believes until 
he prays. I cannot understand a dumb faith. 
The first act of faith will be to speak to 
. God, Faith is to the soul what life is to the 
- body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to 
life. How a man can live and not breathe 
is past my comprehension, and how a man 
can believe and not pray is past my compre- 
hension too. ,. ^ .,. 
Never be surprised if you hear ministers 
of the gospel dwelling much on the impor- 
tance of prayer. This is the point we want 






12 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

to bring you to ; we want to know that you 

pray. Your views of doctrine may be cor- 
rect. Your love of Protestantism may be 
warm and unmistakable. But still this may 
be nothing more than head knowledge and 
party spirit. We want to know whether you 
are actually acquainted with the throne of 
grace, and whether you can speak to God as 
well as speak about God. 

Do you wish to find out whether you are 
a true Christian? Then rest assured that my 
question is of the very first importance — ^Do 
YOU PEAT? 

m. I ask whether you pray, because there 
is no duty in religion so neglected as private 
pi'ayer. 

We Hve in days of abounding religibus 
profession. There are more places of public 
worship now than there ever were before. 
There are more persons attending them than 
there ever were before. And yet in spite of 
aU this public religion, I believe there is a 
vast neglect of private prayer. It is one of 
those private transactions, between God and 



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A CALL TO PRAYE'B^^ 13 

our souls which no eye sees, and therefore 
one which men are tempted to pass over and 
leave undone. ' 

I believe that thousands never utter' a icord 
of prayer at all. They eat. They drink. 
They sleep. They rise. They go forth to 
^^heir labor. They return to their homes. 
They breathe God's air. They see God's 
sun. They walk on Gx)d's earth. They en- 
joy God's mercies. They have dying bodies. 
They have judgment and eternity before them. 
But they never speak to God. They live like 
the beasts that perish. They behave like 
creatures without souls. They have not one 
word to say to Him in whose hand are their 
. life and breath, and all things, and from whose 
mouth they must one day receive their ever- 
lasting sentence. How dreadful this seems; 
but if the secrets of men were only known! 
how common. 

I beheve there are tens of thousands wJiose 
prayers are nothing hut a mere form, a set of 
words repeated by rote, without a thought 
about their meaning. Some say over a few 



^ 



14 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

hasty sentences picked up in the nursery 
when they were children. Some content 
themselves with repeating the Creed, forget- 
ting that there is not a request in it. Some 
add the Lord's Prayer, but without the slight- 
est desire that its solemn petitions may he 
granted. . I 

Many, even of those who use good forms, 
mutter their prayers over after they have 
got into bed, or while they wash or dress 
in the morning. Men fiiay think what they 
please, but they may depend upon it that in 
the sight of God this is not praying. Words 
said without heart are as utterly useless to 
our souls as the drum-beating of the poor 
heathen before their idols. Where there is 
no heart, there may be lip-work and tongue- 
work, but there is nothing that God listens 
to; there is no prayer. Saul, I have no doubt, 
said many a long prayer before the Lord met 
him on the way to Damascus. But it was 
not till his heart was broken that the Lord 
said, "He prayeth.", 
■ Does this surprise you? Listen to me, and 



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A CALIi TO PEAYER. 15 

I will show you that I not speaking as I do 
without reason. Do you think that my asser- 
tions are extravagant and unwarrantable? 
Give me your attention, and I will soon show 
you that I am only telling you the truth. 

Have you forgotten that it is not natural to 
any one to pray? " The carnal mind is enmi- 
ty against God." The desire of man's heart 
is to get far away from God, and have noth- 
ing to do with him. His feeling towards l^im 
is not love, but fear. Why then should a 
man pray when he has no real sense of sin, 
no real feeling of spiritual wants, no thorough 
belief in unseen things, no desire after hc[li- 
ness and heaven? Of all these things the 
vast majority of men know and feel nothing. 
The multitude walk in the broad way. I 
cannot forget this. Therefore I say boldly, 
I believe that few pray. 

Have you forgotten that it is notfasMonaMe 
to pray ? It is one of the things that many 
would be rather ashamed to own. There are 
hundreds who would sooner storm a hre&f^, 
or lead a forlorn hope, than confess publicly 



16 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

that they make a habit of prayer. There aro 
thousands who, if obliged to sleep in the 
sameTOom with a stranger, would lie down in 
bed without a prayer. To dress well, to go 
to theatres, to be thought clever and agreea- 
ble, all this is fashionable, but not to pray. 
I cannot forget this. I cannot think a habit 
is common which so many seem ashamed to 
own. T believe that few pray. 

Have you forgotten the lives thai, many live? 
Can we really believe that people afje praying 
against sin night and day, when we see them 
plunging into it ? , Can we suppose they pray 
against the world, when they are entirely ab- 
sorbed and taken up with its pursuits? Can 
we think they really ask God for grace to 
serve him, when they do not show the slight- 
est desire to serve- him at all? Oh, no, it is 
plain as dayhght that the great majority of 
men either ask nothing of God or do not mean 
ivhat they say when they do ask, which is just 
the same thing. Praying and sinning will 
never live together in the same heart. Prayer 
will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. T 



A CALL TO PEaYER. 17 

cannot forget this, I look at men's lives. I 
believe that few pray. 

Have you forgotten the deaths that many die? 
How many, when they draw near death, seen! 
entirely strangers to God. Not only are they 
sadly ignorant of his gospel, but sadly want- 
ing in the power of speaking to him. There 
is a temble awkwardness and shyness in 
their endeavors to approach Him. They 
seem to be taking up a fresh thing. They 
appear as if they wanted an introduction to 
Gpd, and as if they had never talked with 
him before. I remember having heard of a 
lady who was anxious to have a minister to 
visit her in her last ilJaess. She desired that 
- he would pray with her. He asked her what 
he should pray for. She did not know, and 
could not tell. She was utterly unable to 
name any one thing which she wished him to 

ask God for her soul. All she seemed to 

want was the form of a minister's prayers. 
I can quite understand this. Death-beds are 
great Tevealers of secrets. I cannot forget 
what I have seen of sick and dying peo-- 

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18 A CALL TO PEAYER. 

pie. This also leads me to believe that few 
pray. I 

I cannot see your heart. I do not know 
your private history in spiritual things. But 
from what I see in the' Bible and in the world, 
I am certain I cannot ask you a more neces- 
sary question than that before you — ^Do YOIJ 
PEAT? '■ 

IV. I ask whether you pray, because py'ayer 
is an act in religion to loliich there is great erf 
couragement. 

There is everything on God's part to make 
prayer easy, if men wiU only attempt it. All 
things are ready on his side. Every objection 
is anticipated. Every difficulty is provided 
for. The crooked* places are made straight 
and the rough places are made smooth. 
There is no excuse left for the prayerless 
man. 

There is a tuay by which any man, however 
sinful and unworthy, may draw near to God 
the Father. Jesus Christ has opened that 
way by the sacrifice he made for us upon 
the cross. The holiness, and justice of God 



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A CALL TO PEAYEE. 19 

need not frigliten sinners and keep them 
back. Only let them cry to God in the 
name of Jesus, only let them plead the ato- 
ning blood of Jesus, and they shall find God 
upon a throne of grace, willing and ready to 
hear. The name of Jesus is a never-failing 
passport for our prayers. In that name a - 
man may draw near to God with boldness, 
and ask with confidence. God has engaged 
to hear him. Think of this. Is not this 
encouragement? 

There is an Advocate and Intercessor al- 
ways waiting to present the prayers of those 
who come to God through him. That advo- 
cate is Jesus Christ. He mingles our prayers 
with the incense of his own almighty inter- 
cession. So mingled, they go up as a sweet 
savor before the throne of God. Poor as^ 
they are in themselves, they are mighty and 
powerful in the hand of our High Priest iand 
Elder Brother. The bank-note without a 
signature at the bottom is nothing but a 
worthless piece of paper. The stroke of a 
pen confers on it all its value. The prayer of a 



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2Q A CALL TO PKAYER. 

poor child of Adam is a feeble thing in itself, 
but once endorsed by the hand of the Lord 
•Jesus it availeth much. There was an officer 
in the city of Eome who was appointed to 
have his doors always open, in order to re- 
ceive any Roman citizen who appHed to him 
for help. Just so the ear of the Lord Jesus 
is ever open to the cry of all who want mercy 
and grace. It is his office to help them. 
Their prayer is his delight. Think of this. 
Is not this encouragement? 

There is tJie Holy Spirit ever ready to help 
our infirmities in prayer. It is one part of 
his special office to assist us in our endeavors 
^d speak with God. We need not be cast 
down and distressed by the fear of not know- 
ing what to say. The Spirit will give us 
words if we seek his aid. The prayers of the 
Lord's people are the inspiration of the Lord's 
Spirit, the work of the Holy Ghost who dwells 
within them as the Spirit of grace and suppli- 
cation. Surely the Lord's people may well 
hope to be heard. It is not they merely that 
pray, but the Holy Ghost pleading in them. 



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A CALL TO PRAYER. 21 

Reader, think of this. Is not this encourage- 
ment ? ■ 

There are exceeding great and precious 
promises to those wlio pray. What did the 
Lord Jesus mean when he spoke such words 
as these: *Ask, and it shall be given you; 
seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall 
be opened unto you: for every one that 
asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, find- 
eth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be 
opened." Matt: 7 :7, 8. "All things whatso- 
ever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall 
receive." Matt. 21:22. "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 iny name, I wiU do it." 
John 14:13, 14. What did the Lord mean 
when he spoke the parables of The friend at 
midnight and The importunate widow? Luke 
11:5; 18:1. Think over these passages. If 
this is not encouragement to pray, words 
have no meaning. »^ ! - ^^^^s: 

. There are wonderful examples in Scripture 
of the power of prayer. Nothing seems to be 



j • 
22 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

too great, too hard, or too difficult for prayer 
»to do. It has obt|iined things that seemed 
impossible and out of reach. It has won vic- 
tories over fire, air, earth, and water. Prayer 
opened the Red sea. ' Prayer brought water 
from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer 
made the sun stand still. Prayer brought 
fire from the sky on Elijah'^ sacrifice. Prayer 
turned the counsel of Ahithophel into fool- 
ishness. Prayer overthrew the army of Sen- 
nacherib. Well might Mary Queen of Scots 
say, "I fear John Knox's prayers more than 
an army of ten thousand men." Prayer has 
healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. 
Prayer has procured the conversion of souls. 
"The child of many prayers," said an old 
Christian to Augustine's mother, " shall never 
perish." Prayer, pains, and faith can do 
anything. Nothing seems impossible when 
a man has the spirit of adoption. " Let me 
alone," is the remarkable saying of Grod to 
Moses, when Moses was about to intercede 
- for the children of Israel ; the Chaldee version 
has it, "Leave oflf praying." Exod. 32:10. 



A CALL TO PKAYER. 28 

So long as Abraham asked mercy for Sodom, 
the Lord went on giving. He never ceased 
to give till Abraham ceased to pray. Think 
orthis. Is not this encouragement? » 

What more can a man want to lead^him to 
take iany step in religion, than the things I 
have just told him about prayer? What 
more could be done to make the path to the 
mercy-seat easy, and to remove all Occasions 
of stumbling from the sinner's way ? Surely 
if the devils in hell had such a door set open 
before them, they would leap for gladness, 
and make the very pit ring with joy. 

But where will the man hide his head at 
last who neglects such glorious encourage- 
ments? What can possibly be said for the 
man who, after all, dies without prayer? 
Surely I may feel anxious that you should 
not be that man. Surely I may well ask — ^Do 

TOU PEAY ? 

V. I ask whether you pray, because diligence 
in prayer is the secret (^eminent holiness. 

Without controversy there is a vast differ- 
ence among true Christians. There is an 



24 



A CALL TO PRATEH. 



immense interval between the foremost and 
the hindermost in the army of God. 

They are all fighting the same good fight ; 
but how much more valiantly some fight than 
others. They are aU doing the Lord's work ; 
but how much more some do than others. 
They are all light in the Lord ; but how much 
more brightly some shine than others. They 
are all running the same race ; but how much 
faster some get on than others. They all love 
the same Lord and Saviour ; but how much 
more some love him than others. I ask any 
true Christian whether this is not the case. 
Are not these things soV 

There are some of the Lord's people who 
seem never able to get on from the time of 
their conversion. They are bom again, but 
they remain babes all their lives. You hear 
from thorn the same old experience. You re- 
mark in them the same want of spiritual ap- 
petite, the same want of interest in any- 
thing beyond their own little circle, which 
you remarked ten years ago. They are pil- 
grims, indeed, but pilgrims like the Gibeonites 



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A CALL TO PRAYER. 25 

of old ; their bread is always dry and mouldy, 
their shoes always old, and their garments 
always rent and torn. I saj^- this with sorrow 
and grief ; but I ask any real Christian, Is it 
not true? 

There are others of the Lord's people who 
seem to be alioays advancing. They grow like 
the grass after rain ; they increase like Israel 
in Egypt ; they press on like Gideon, though 
sometimes faint, yet always pursuing. They 
are ever adding grace to grace, and faith to 
faith, and strength to strength. Every time 
you meet them their hearts seem larger, and 
their spiritual stature taller and stronger. 
Every year they appear to see more, and 
know more, and beheve more, a,nd feeL more 
in their rehgion. They not only have good 
works to prove the reality of their faith, but 
they are zealous of them. They not only do 
well, but they are unwearied in well-doing. 
They attempt great things, and they do great 
things. When they fail they try again, and 
when they fall they are soon up again. And 
all this time they think themselves poor, un- 



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26 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 



profitable servants, and fancy they do noth- 
ing at all. These are those who make reli- 
gion lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all. 
They wrest praise even from the unconverted, 
and win golden opinions even from the selfish 
men of the world. It does one good to see, 
to be with, and to hear them. When you 
meet them, you could believe that like Moses, 
they had just come out from the presence of 
God. When you part with them you feel 
warmed by their company, as if your soul had 
been near a fire. I know such people are 
rare. I only ask. Are there not many such ? 

Now hoW can we account for the differ- 
ence which I have just described? What is 
the reason that some believers are so much 
brighter and holier than others? I believe 
the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, 
arises from different habits about private 
prayer. I believe that those who are not 
eminently holy pray little, and those who are 
eminently holy pray much. j 

I dare say this opinion will startle some 
readers. I have little'doubt that many look 



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A QALL TO PRAYER. 27 

on eminent holiness as a kind of special gift, 
which none but a few must pretend to aim at. 
They admire it at a distance in books. They 
think it beautiful when they see an example 
near themselves. But as to its being a thing 
within the reach of any but a very few, such a 
notion never seems to enter their minds. In 
short, they consider it a kind of monopoly 
granted to a few favored beHevers, but cer- 
tainly not to all. 

Now I beheve that this is a most dangerous 
mistake. I beheve that spiritual as well as 
natural greatness depends in a high degree 
on the faithful use of means within every- 
body's reach. Of course I do not say we have 
a right to expect a miraculous grant of intel- 
lectual gifts; but this I do say, that when a 
man is once converted to God, his progress 
in holiness will be much in accordance with 
his own dUigence in the use of God's ap- 
pointed means. And I assert confidently 
that the principal means by which most 
believers have become great in the church of 
Christ, is the habit of diligent private prayer. 



f\ti^iiiS^\t'^t'\^ii^''nr'SHh''-''^l-i'^i('-'- -}i i.&Siu^ilri-y-^-^.^.l.iev. 






28 A CALL TO PfiAYEE. 

Look througL. the lives of the brightest and 
best of God's servants, whether in the Bible 
or not. See what is written of Moses and 
David and Daniel and Paul. Mark what is 
recorded of Luther and Bradford the Beform- 
ers. Observe what is related of the private 
devotions of Whitefield and Cecil and Yenn 
and Bickersteth and M'Cheyne. Tell me of 
one* of all the goodly fellowship of saints and 
martyrs, who has not had this mark most 
prominently — ^he was a wow of grayer. De- 
pend upon it, prayer is power. 

Prayer obtains fresh and continued out- 
pourings of the Spirit. He alone begins the 
work of grace in a man's heart. He alone 
can carry it forward and make it prosper. 
But the good Spirit loves to be entreated. 
And those who ask most will have most of 
his influence. 

Prayer is the surest remedy against the 
devil and besetting sins. That sin will never 
stand firm which is heartily prayed against. 
That devil will never long keep dominion 
over us which we beseech the Lord to cast 



..j«.i45^^-aii* 




■•'•^^■•:'-^^'' ■•;*-'" 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 29 

forth. But thfen we must spread out all our 
case before our heavenly Physician, if he is 
to give us daily relief. - 

Do you wish to grow in grace and be a de- 
▼oted Christian? Be very sure, if you wish 
it, you could not have a more important 
question than this — ^Do TOU peay? 

VI. I ask whether you pray, because neg- 
lect of prayer is one great cause cf hacksliding. 

There is such a thing as going back in re- 
ligion after making a good profession. Meii 
may run well for a season, like the Galatians, 
and then turn aside after false teachers. Men 
may profess loudly while their feelings are 
warm, as Peter did, and then in the hour of 
trial deny their Lord. Men may lose their 
first love as the Ephesians did. Men may 
cool down in their zeal to do good, like Mark 
the companion of Paul. Men may follow an 
apostle for a season, and like Demas go back 
to the world. All these things men may do. 

It is a miserable thing to be a backslider. 
Of all unhappy things that can befaU a man, 
I suppose it is the worst. A stranded ship, 

■-^ ■ ■ , 



^^•^ 



30 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

a broken-winged eagle, a garden overrun with 
weeds, a harp without strings, a church in 
ruins, all these are sad sights, but a backsli- 
der is a sadder sight stiU. A wounded con- 
science — a mind sick of itseK — a memory full 
of self-reproach — a heart pierced through 
with the Lord's arrows — a spirit broken with 
a load of inward accusation — all this is a taste 
of hell. It is a hell on earth. Truly that 
saying of the wise man is solemn and weigh- 
ty, "The backslider in heart shall be filled 
with his own ways." • Prov. 14:14. 

Now what is the cause of most backsH- 
dings? I believe, as a general rule, one of the 
chief causes is neglect of private prayer. Of 
course the secret history of falls, will not be 
known till the last day. I can only give my 
opinion as a minister of Christ and a student 
of the heart. That opinion is, I repeat dis- 
tinctly, that backsliding generally first begins 
with neglect of private prayer. 

Bibles read without prayer ; sermons heard 
without prayer ; marriages contracted without 
prayer; journeys undertaken without prayer; 

^" ^ , -i .-. . 



'■■*»s'?"S^ 



A CALL TO PFvAYER.- 31 

residences chosen without prayer; friendships 
formed without prayer; the daily act of pri- 
vate prayer itself hurried over, or gone 
through without heart : these are the kind of 
downward steps by which many a Christian 
descends to a condition of spiritual palsy, or 
reaches the point where God allows him to 
have a tremendous falL 

This is the process which forms the linger- 
ing Lots, the Tinstable Samsons, the wife-idol- 
izing Solomons, the inconsistent Asas, the 
phable Jehoshaphats, the over-careful Mar- 
thas, of whom so many are to be found in the 
church of Christ. Often the simple history 
of such cases is this: they became careless 
about private prayer. 

You may be very sure men fall in private 
long before they fall in pubHc. They are 
backsliders on their knees long before they 
backslide openly in the eyes of the world, 
tike Peter, they first disregard the Lord's 
warning to watch and pray, and then like 
Peter, their strength is gone, and in the hour 
of temptation they deny their Lord. 



S2 A CALL TO PKAYER. 

The world takes notice of their fall, and 
scoffs loudly. But the world knows nothing 
of the real reason. The heathen succeeded 
in making a well-known Christian 'offer in- 
cense to an idol, by threatening him with a 
punishment worse than death. They then 
triumphed greatly at the sight of his coward- 
ice and apostasy. But the heathen did not 
know the fact of which history informs us, 
that on that very morning he had left his 
bed-chamber hastily, and without finishing 
his usual prayers. ' 

If you are a Christian indeed, I trust you 
will never be a backsHder. But if you do not 
wish to be a backsliding Christian, remember 
the question I ask you : Do you peat? 

YH. I ask, lastly, whether you pray be- 
cause -prayer is one of the best means of happi- 
ness and contentment. 

We live in a world where sorrow abounds. 
This has always been its state since sin came 
m. There cannot be sin without sorrow. And 
until sin is driven out from the world, it is vain 
for any one to suppose he, can escape sorrow. 




■iMaB''''^ng;iii'ir'«ff' 



■r;v»s^.i;r«?Teg,V!r'.j"S^w r^^i 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 33 

Some without doubt have a larger cup of 
sorrow to drink than others. But few are 
to be found who lire long without sorrows 
or cares of one sort or another. Our bodies, 
our property, our families, our children, our 
relations, our servants, our friends, our neigh- 
bors, our worldly callings, each and aU of these 
are fountains of care. Sicknesses, deaths, 
losses, disappointments, partings, separations, 
ingratitude, slander, all these are common 
things. "We cannot get through life without 
them. Some day or other they find us out. 
The greater are our affections the deeper are 
our afflictions, and the more we love the more 
we have to weep. 

And what is the best means of cheerful- 
ness in such a world as this? How shaU 
we get through this valley of tears with least 
pain ? I know no better means than the habit 
of taking everything to God in prayer. 

This is &te plain advice that the Bible 
gives, both in the Old Testament and the 
New. What says the psalmist? "Call upon 
me in the day of trouble, and I will delivei 

Pnyer. 3 



34 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

thee, and thou shalt glorify me." Psa. 50": 15. 
"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he 
shall sustain thee : he shall never suffer ihe 
righteous to be moved." Psa. 55 : 22. What 
says the apostle Paul ? " Be careful for 
nothing ; but in everything, by prayer and 
supplication with thanksgiving, let your re- 
quests be made known unto God: and the 
peace of God, which passeth all understand- 
ing shall keep your hearts and minds through 
Christ Jesus." Phil. 4: 6, 7. What says the 
apostle James: "Is any afl&icted among you? 
let him pray." Jas. 5 : 13. 

This was the practice of all the saints 
whose history we have recorded in the Scrip- 
tures. This is what Jacob did when he 
feared his brother Esau. This is what Moses 
did when the people were ready to stone 
him inHhe wilderness. This is what Joshua 
did when Israel was defeated before the 
men of Ai. This is what David did when 
he was in danger at Keilah. This is what 
Hezekiah did when he received the letter 
from Sennacherib. This is what the church 



r. '■tm Wf jFJajPCIf^v 



■^^'r^asf- 



A CALL TO PKAYEK. 35 

did when Peter was put in prison. This is 
what Paul did when he was cast into the 
dungeon at Philippi. 

The only way to be really happy in such 
a world as this, is to be ever casting all our 
cares on God. It is trying to carry their 
own burdens which so often makes belieyers 
sad. If they will tell their troubles to God, 
he will enable them to bear them as easily 
as Samson did the gates of Gaza. If they 
are resolved to keep them to themselves, they 
will find one day that the very grasshopper is 
a burden. 

There is a friend ever waiting to help us, if 
we will unbosom to him our sorrow — a friend 
who pitied the poor and sick and sorrowful, 
when he was upon earth — a friend who knows 
the heart of man, for he hved thirty-three 
years as a man among us — a friend who can 
Veep with the weepers,' for he was a man of 
sorrows and acquainted with grief — a friend 
who is able to help us, for there never was 
earthly pain he could not cure. That friend 
is Jesus Chiist. The way to be happy is to 



36 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

be always opening our hearts to him. Oh 
.that we were all like that poor Christian 
negro who only answered, when threatened 
and punished, "I must teU the Lord." 

Jesus can make those happy who trust 
him and call on him, whatever be their out- 
ward condition. He can give them peace 
o£ heart in a prison, contentment in the 
midst of poverty, comfort in the midst of 
bereavements, joy on the brink of the grave. 
There is a mighty fulness in him for aU Ms 
believing members — a fulness that is/i^ady 
to be poured out on every one that mil ask 
in prayer. Oh that men would understand 
that happiness does not depend on outward 
circumstances, but on the state of the heart. 

Prayer can lighten crosses for us, how- 
ever heavy. It can bring down to our side 
One who will help us to bear them. Prayer 
can open a door for us when our way seems 
hedged up. It (can bring down One who 
will say, "This »-the way, walk in it." 
Prayer can let in a ray of hope when all 
our earthly prospects seem darkened. It 

f 






A CALL TO PRAYER. 37 

can bring down One who will saj, "I will never 
leave thee, nor forsake thee." Prayer can 
obtain reHef for us when those we love most 
are taken away, and the world feels empty. It 
can bring down One who can fill the gap in 
our hearts with himself, and say to the waves 
within, "Peace; be still." Oh that men were 
not so like Hagar in the wilderness, blind to 
the well of living waters close beside them. 

I want you to be happy. I know I cannot 
ask you a more useful question than this : Do 

YOUPEAY? 

And now it is high time for me to bring 
this tract to an end. I trust I Kave brought 
before you things that will be seriously con- 
sidered. I heartily pray God that this con- 
sideration may be blessed to your soul. 

1. Let me speak a parting word to those 
WHO DO NOT PRAY. I dare not suppose that 
all who read these pages are praying people. 
If you are a prayerless person, suffer me to 
speak to jwu this day on God's behalf. 

Prayerless reader, I can only warn you, but 
I do warn you most solemnly. I warn you 



38 A CALL TO PrIyEE. 

that you are in a position of fearful danger. 
If you die in your present state, you are a 
lost soul. You will only rise again to be eter- 
nally miserable. I warn you that of all pro- 
fessing Christia^^ you are most utterly without 
excuse. There is not a single good reason that 
you can show for living without prayer. 

It is useless to say you hnoiv not how to 
pray. Prayer is the simplest act in all reli- 
gion. It is simply speaking to God. It needs 
neither learning nor wisdom nor book-knowl- 

■J, r 

edge to begin it. It needs nothing but heart 
and will. The weakest infant can cry when 
he is hungry. The poorest beggar can hold 
out his hand for alms, and does not wait to 
find fine words. The most ignorant man will 
find something to say to God, if he has only 
a mind. j 

It is useless to say you have no conveniemt 
place to pray in. Any man can find a place 
private enough, if he is disposed. Our Lord 
prayed on a mountain; Peter on«the house- 
top; Isaac in the field; Nathanael under the 
fig-tree; Jonah in the whale's beUy. Any 



(--•_ 



foliViijL v.,..,m',ij;>i'Sj.>-;i. . 



",^jp^" ^^■^^'?>"'r^*v't93^ 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 39 

place may become a closet, an oratory, and a 
Bethel, and be to us the presence of God. 

It is useless to say you liave no time. 
There is plenty of time, if men will employ it. 
Time may be short, but time is always long 
enough for prayer. Daniel had the affairs 
of a kingdom on his hands, and yet he pray- 
ed three times a day. David was ruler over 
a mighty nation, and yet he says, "Evening 
and morning and at noon will I pray." Psa. 
55 :17. When time is really wanted, time can 
always be found. 

It is useless to say you cannot pray till you 
have faith and a neic heart, and that you must 
sit still and wait for them. This is to add 
sin to sin. It is bad enough to be unconvert- 
ed and going to hell. It is even worse to say, 
"I know it, but will not cry for mercy." This 
is a kind of argument for which there is no 
warrant in Scripture. " Call ye upon the 
Lord," saith Isaiah, "wTiile he is near." Isa. 
55 :6. "Take with you words, and turn unto 
the Lord," says Hosea. Hos. 14: 1. "Eepent 
and pray," says Peter to Simon Magus. Acts 



40 A CALL TO PRAYER, 

8:22. If you want faith and a new heart, go 
and cry to the Lord for them. The very at- 
tempt to pray has often been the quickemng 
of a dead soul. 

Oh, prayerless reader, who and what are 
you that you will not ask anything of God? 
Have you made a covenant with death and 
hell? Are you at peace with the worm and 
the fire? Have you no sins to be pardoned? 
Have you no fear of eternal torment? Have 
you no desire after heaven? Oh that you 
would awake from your present folly. Oh that 
you would consider your latter end. Oh 
that you would arise and call upon God. 
Alas, there is a day coming when many shall 
pray loudly, " Lord, Lord, open to us," but 
aU too late ; when many shall cry to the rocks 
to fall on them and the hills to cover them, 
who would never cry to God. In all affection, 
I warn you, beware lest this be the end of 
your soul. Salvation 'is very near you. Do 
not lose heaven for want of asking. 

2. Let me speak to those who have real 
DESIRES for SALVATION, but know not what 



^■C'iifti «*!■.-:.---. 



ir '^■r^yri^^rTt!^r^^r:r^''i^r^ 



A. CALL TO PRArER. 41 

steps to take, or where to begin. 1 cannot 
but hope that some readers may be in this 
state of mind, and if there be but one such I 
must offer him affectionate counsel. 

In every journey there must be a first step. 
There must be a change from sitting still to 
moving forward. The joumeyings of Israel 
from Egypt to Canaan were long and weari- 
some. Forty years pass away before, they 
crossed Jordan. Yet there was some one 
who moved first when they marched from 
Bamah to Succoth. When does a man really 
take his first step in comingtout from sin and 
the world ? He does it in the day when he 
first prays with his heart. 

In every building the first stone must be 
laid, and the first blow must be struck. The 
ark was one hundred and twenty years in 
buUding. Yet there was a day when Noah 
laid his axe to the first tree he cut down to 
form it. The temple of Solomon was a glori- 
ous building. But there was a day when the 
first huge stone was laid deep in mount Mo-, 
riah. When does the building of the Spirit 



42 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

really begin to appear in a man's heart? It 
begins, so far as we can judge, when he first 
pours out his heart to God in prayer. 

If you desire salvation, and want to know 
what to do, I advise you to go this very day 
to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first private 
place you can find, and earnestly and heartily 
entreat him in prayer to save your soul. 

Tell him that you have heard that he re- 
ceives sinners, and has said, "Him that 
Cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out." 
Tell him that you are" a poor vUe sinner, and 
that you come t<5 him on the faith of his own 
invitation. Tell him you put yourself wholly 
and entirely in his hands; that you feel vile 
and helpless, and hopeless in yourself: and 
that except he saves you, you have no hope 
of being saved at all. Beseech him to deliver 
you frbm the guilt, the power, and the conse- 
quences of sin. Beseech him to pardon you, 
and wash you in his own blood. Beseech 
him to give you a new heart, and plant the 
Holy Spirit in your soul. Beseech him to 
give you grace and faith, and will and power 



4 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 43 

to be his disciple and servant from this day for 
ever. Oh, reader, go this very day, and tell 
these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you 
really are. in earnest about your souL 

Tell him in your own way, and your own 

words. If a doctor came to see you when 

.sick, you could tell him where you felt pain. 

If your soul feels its disease indeed, you can 

surely find something to tell Christ. 

Doubt not his willingness to save you, be- 
cause you are a sinner. It is Christ's office 
to save sinners. He says himself, "I came 
not to call the righteous, but sinners to re- 
pentance." Luke 5 : 32. 

Wait not because you feel unworthy. Wait 

for nothing. Wait for nobody. Waiting 
comes from the devil. Just as you are, go to 
Christ. The worse you are, the more need 
you have to apply to him. You will never 
mend yourself by staying away. v >- 

Fear %t because your prayer is stammer- 
ing, your words feeble, and your language 
poor. Jesus can understand you. Just as a 
mother understands the first Uspings of her 



44 



A CALL TO PllAYEK. 



infant, so does the blessed Saviour under- 
stand sinners. He can read a sigh, and see 
a meaning in a groan. 

Despair not because you do not get an an- 
swer immediately. While you are speaking, 
Jesus is listening. If he delays an answer, it 
is only for wise reasons, and to try if you 
are in earnest. The answer will surely come. 
Though it tarry, wait for it. It will surely 
come. ! ,i,^ 

Oh, reader, if you have any desire to be 
saved, remember the advice I have given you 
this day. Act upon it honestly and heartily, 
and you shall be saved. 

3. Let me speak, lastly, to those who do 
PBAT. I trust that some who read this tract 
know well what prayer is, and have the Spirit 
of adoption. To all such, I offer a few words 
of brotherly counsel and exhortation. The 
incense offered in the tabernacle was ordered 
to be made in a particular way. Not every 
kind of incense would do. Let us remember 
this, and be careful about the matter and 
manner of our prayers. 



/ 



.■-.■^T.tift!.'y:fs:.:-: 



^'%rV^.'7" ^■'^r^T' "^^CIT* -~ if 



-■■/.• 
A CALL TO PRAYER. 45 

Brethren who pray, if I know anything of 
a Christian's heart, you are often sick of your 
own prayers. Ton never enter into the apos- 
tle's words, "AVhen I would do good, evil is 
present with me," so thoroughly as you some- 
times do upon your knees. You can under- 
stand David's words, "I hate vain thoughts." 
You can sympathize with that poor converted 
Hottentot who was overheard praying, " Lord, 
deliver me from all my enemies, and above 
all, from that bad man — myself." There are 
few children of God who do not often find the 
season of prayer a season of conflict. The 
devil has special wrath against us when b§ 
sees us on our knees. Yet, I beUeve that 
prayers which cost us no trouble, should be 
regarded with great suspicion. I beheve we 
are very poor judges of the goodness of - our 
prayers, and that the prayer which pleases us 
least, often pleases God most. Suffer me then, 
as a companion in the Christian warfare, to 
offer you a few words of exhortation. One 
thing, at least, we all feel: we must pray. 
We cannot give it up. We must go on. swtf: 



46 



A CALL TO PEAY^ER. 



I commend tten to your attention, the im- 
portance of revehence and humility in prayer. 
Let us never forget what we are,- and what a 
solemn thing it is to speak with God. Let us 
beware of rushing into his presenc'e with 
carelessness and levity. Let us say to our- 
selves : " I am on holy ground. This is no 
other than the gate of heaven. If I do not 
mean what I say, L am trifling with God. If 
I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will 
not hear me." Let us keep in mind the 
words of Solomon, "Be not rash with thy 
mouth, and let not^thy heart be hasty to ut- 
ter anything before God; for God is in heav- 
en, and thou on earth." Eccl. 5:2. When 
Abraham spoke to God, he said, "I am dust 
and ashes." When Job spoke to God, he 
said, "I am vile." Let us do likewise. 

I commend to you the importance of pray- 
ing spiritually. I mean by that, that we 
should labor always to have the direct help 
of 4he Spirit in our prayers, and beware 
above all things of formality. There is noth- 
ing so spiritual but that it may become a 



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A CALL TO PBAYEK. . 47 

form, and this is specially , true of private 
prayer. We may insensibly get into the hab- 
it of using the fittest possible words, and of- 
fering the most scriptural petitions, and yet 
do it all by rote without feeling it, and walk 
daily round^ an old beaten path. I desire to 
touch this point with caution and dehcacy. 
I know that there are certain great things we 
daily want, and that there is nothing Neces- 
sarily formal in asking for these things in the 
same words. The world, the devil, *and our 
hearts, are daily the same. Of necessity we 
must daily go over old ground. But this I 
say, we must be very careful on this point. 
If the skeleton and outline of our prayers be 
by habit almost a form, let us strive that the 
clothing and tiUing up of our prayers, be as far 
as possible of the Spirit. As to praying out 
of a book in our private devotions, it is a hab- 
it I cannot praise. If we can tell our doctors 
the state of our bodies without a book, we 
ought to be able to tell the state of our souls 
to God. I have no objection to a man using 
crutches when he is first recovering from ^ 



.;»i=-^^.-sJpix*iaa«S^,i*«d:- -'j^A. . -J ■^:i<<L^^ J- -- ■ .---i^t? ' - -. ^ i-^-i-'iii^' . ■ 



48 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 



broken limb. It is better to use crutches, 
than not to walk at all. But if I saw him all 
his life on crutches, T should not think it mat- 
ter for congratulation. I should like to see him 
strong enough to throw his crutches away. 
— I commend to you the importance of ma- 
king prayer a regular business of life. I might 
say something of the value of regular times 
in the^iay for prayer. God is a God of order. 
The hours for morning and' evening sacrifice 
in the Jewish temple were not fixed as they 
were without a meaning. Disorder is^ emi- 
nently one of the fruits of sin. But I would 
not bring any under bondage. This only I 
say, that it is essential to your soul's health 
to make praying a part of the business of 
every twenty-four hours in your life. Just 
as you allot time to eating, sleeping, and busi- 
ness^ so also allot time to prayer. Choose 
your own hours and seasons. At the very 
least, speak with God in the morning, before 
you speak with the world: and speak with 
God at nightj after you have done with the 
world. But settle it in your minds, that pray- 



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A CALL TO PRAYER. 49 

er is one of the great things of every day. 
Do not drive it into a corner. Do not give 
it the scraps and parings of your duty. 
Whatever else you make a business of, make 
a business ^f prayer. 

I commend to you the importance or perse- 
verance in prayer. Once having begun the 
habit, never give it up. Your heart will 
sometimes say, " You have had family pray- 
ers : what mighty harm if you leave private 
prayer undone?" Your body wiU sometimes 
say, "You are unwell, or sleepy, or weary; 
you need not pray." Your mind will some- 
times say, " You have important business to 
attend to to-dayj cut short your prayers." 
Look on aU such suggestions as coming direct 
from Satan. They are all as good as saying, 
" Neglect your soul." I do not maintain that 
prayers should always be of the same length ; 
but I do say, let no excuse make you give up 
prayer. Paul said, "Continue in prayer," 
and, "Pray without ceasing." He did not 
mean that men should be always on their 
knees, but he did mean that our prayers 

Prayer. ■ 4 



'-^-S'v'^J*k^-^idiu?ai.i..' -Ar\ , •^- 



50 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

should be, like the continual burnt-oflferiug, 
steadily persevered in every day; that it 
should be like seed-time and harvest, and sum- 
mer and "winter, unceasingly coming round at 
regular seasons ; that it should be like the fire 
on the altar, not always consuming sacrifices, 
but never completely going out. Never for- 
get that you may tie together morning and 
evening devotions, by an endless chain of 
short ejaculatory prayers throughout the day. 
Even in company, or business, or in the very 
streets, you may be silently sending up little 
winged messengers to God, as Nehemiah did 
in the very presence of Artaxerxes. And 
never think that time is wasted which is giv- 
en to God. A nation does not become poorer 
because it loses one year of working days in 
seven, by keeping the Sabbath. A Christian 
never finds he is a loser, in the long run, by 
persevering in prayer. ' 

I commend to you the importance of earn- 
estness in prayer. It is not necessary that a 
man should shout, or scream, or be veiy loud, 
in order to prove that he' is in earnest. But 

fv 



A CALL TO PEAYER. 51 ' 

it is desirably that we should be hearty and 
fervent and warm, and ask as if we were 
really interested in what we were doing. It 
is the " effectual fervent" prayer that " avail- 
eth much." This is the lesson that is taught 
us by the expressions used in Scripture about 
prayer. It is called, " crjdng, knocking, wrest- 
ling, laboring, striving." This is the lesson 
taught us by scripture examples. Jacob 
is one. _ He said to the angel at Penuel, " I 
will not let thee go, except thou bless me." 
; Gen. 32 : 26. Daniel is another. Hear how 
he pleaded with God: "0 Lord, hear; 
Lord, forgive ; O Lord,, hearken and do ; de- 
fer not, for thine own sake, O niy God." 
Dan. 9 : 19. Our Lord Jesus Christ is anoth- 
er. It is written of him, " In the days of his 
flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications 
with strong crying and tears." Heb. 5 : 7. 
Alas, how unlike is this to _many of our sup- 
plications! How tame and lukewarm they 
seem by comparison. How truly might God 
say to many of us, "You do not really want 
what you pra:y for." Let us try to amend 




52 j A CALL TO PllAYEB. 

this fault. Let us knock loudly at the door 
of grace, like Mercy in " Pilgrim's Progress," 
as if we must perish unless heard. Ttet us 
settle it in our minds, that cold prayers are a 
sacrifice without fire. - Let us remember the 
story of Demosthenes the great orator, when 
one came to him, and wanted him to plead 
his cause. He heard him without attention, 
while he told his story without earnestness. 
The man saw this, and cried out with anxiety 
that it was all true. "Ah," said Demos- 
thenes, " I believe you iww." 

I commend to you the importeince of pray- 
ing luitli faith. We should endeavor to be- 
lieve that our prayers are heard, and that, if 
we ask things according to God's will, we 
shall be answered. This is the plain com- 
mand of our Lord Jesus Christ : " Whatsoever 
things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that 
ye receive them, and ye shall have them." 
Mark 11 : 24. Faith is to prayer what the 
feather is to the arrow : without it prayer will 
not hit the mark. We should cultivate the 
habit of pleading promises in our prayers. 



A CALL TO PRAYER. 55 

We sliould take with us some promise, and 
say, " Lord, here is thine own word pledged. 
Do for us as thou hast said." This was the 
habit of Jacob and Moses and David. The 
119th Psalm is full of things asked, " accord- 
ing to thy word." Above all, we should cul- 
tivate the habit of expecting answers to our 
prayers. "We should do like the merchant 
who sends his ships to sea. We should not 
be satisfied, unless we see some return. Alas, 
there are few points on which Christians 
come short so much as this. , The church at 
Jerusalem made prayer without ceasing for 
Peter in prison; but when the prayer was 
answered, they would hardly beheve it. Act^ 
12 : 15. It is a solemn saying of Traill, " There 
is no surer mark of trifling in prayer, than when 
men are careless what they get by prayer." 

I commend to you the importance of bold- 
ness in prayer. There is an unseemly familiar- 
ity in some men's prayers which I cannot 
praise. But there is such a thing as a holy 
boldness, which is exceedingly to be desired. 
I mean such boldness as that of Moses, when 



i'!Avvlr:Si-;*r-i-. 



54 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

^he pleads with God not to destroy Israel: 
" Wherefore," says he, " should the Egyptians 
speak and say, For mischief did he briitg 
them out, to slay them in the mountains? 
Turn from thy fierce anger." Exod. 32 : 12. 
I mean such boldness as that of Joshua, when 
the children of' Israel were defeated before 
men of Ai : " What," says he, " wilt thou do 
unto thy great name ?" Josh. 7 : 9. This is 
the boldness for which Luther was remarka- 
ble. One who heard him praying said, " What 
a spirit, what a ponfidenee was in his very ex- 
pressions. With such a reverence he sued, 
as one begging of God, and yet with such 
^ope and assurance, as if he spoke with a 
loving father or friend." This is the boldness 
which distinguished Bruce, a great Scotch di- 
vine of the seventeenth century. His prayers 
were said to be "like bolts shot up into heav- 
en." Here also I fear we sadly come short. 
tWli^do not sufficiently realize the behever's 
privileges. We do not plead as often as we 
might, "Ijord, are we not thine own people? 
Is it not for thy glory that we should be sane- 



. - . t .. ^ 

■ I 

A CALL TO PKAYER. 55 

tified? Is it not for thy honor that thy gospel 
should increase?" ' ^-. I .. . • 

I commend to you the importance oifuU- 
ness in prayer. I do not forget that our Lord 
warns us against the example of the Phar- 
risees, who, for pretence, made long prayers ; 
and commands us when we pray not to use 
vain repetitions. But I cannot forget, on the 
other hand, that he has given his own sanc- 
tion to large and long devotions by continu- 
ing all night in prayer to God. At all events, 
we are not likely in this day to err on the side 
of praying too rrmch. Might it not rather be 
feared that many believers in this^generation 
pray too litUe ? Is not the actual amount o^ 
time that many Christians give to prayer, 
in the aggregate, very small? I am afraid 
these questions cannot be answered satisfac- 
torily. I am afraid. the private devotions of 
many are most painfully scanty and limited; 
just enough to prove they are alive and no 
more. They really seem to want little fi'om 
God. They seem to have Uttle to confess, 
little to ask for, and little to thank him for. 



f: irbt-ai:-^-C*,^'t^A^'. 



,56 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

Alas, this is altogether wrong. Nothing is 
more common than to hear believers com- 
plaining that they do not get on. They tell 
us that they do not grow in grace as they 
could desire. Is it not rather to be suspected 
that many have quite as much grace as they 
ask for? Is it not the true account of many, 
thast they have little, because they ask little ? 
The cause of their weakness is to be found 
in their own stunted, dwarfish, cKpped, con- 
tracted, hurried, narrow, diminutive prayers. 
They have not, because they ash not. Oh, we 
are not straitened in Christ, but in ourselves. 
The Lord says, " Open thy mouth wide, and 
I will fill it." But we are like the King of 
Israel who smote on the ground thrice and 
stayed, when he ought to have smitten five 
or six times. 

I commend to you the importance oi partic- 
ularity in prayer. We ought not to be con- 
tent with great general petitions. We ought 
to specify our wants before the throne of 
grace. It should not be enough to confess 
we are sinners; we should name the sins of 



•.j^lsi-^.^ '-■"^■■^•■^•' 



A CALL TO PKAYER. 57 

which our conscience tells us we are most 
guilty. It should not be enough to ask for 
holiness ; we should name the graces in which 
we feel most deficient. It should not be 
enough to tell the Lord we are in trouble ; we 
should describe our trouble and all its peculi- 
arities. This is what Jacob did when he 
-- feared his brother Esau. He tells God exact- 
ly what it is that he fears. Gen. 32 :11. 
This is what EUezer did, when he sought a 
wife for his master's son. He spreads before 
God precisely what he wants. Gen. 24:12. 
This is what Paul did when he had a thorn 
in the flesh. He besought the Lord. 2 Cor. 
12:8. This is true faith and confidence.^ We 
should believe that nothing is too small to be 
named before God. What should we think 
of the patient who told his doctor he was ill, 
bujb never went into particulars? What 
should we think of the wife who told her 
husband she was tmhappy, but did not specify 
the cause? What should we think of the 
child who told his father hfe was in trouble, 
but nothing more? Christ is the tme bride- 



58 A CALL TO PEAYER. 

groom of the soul, the true physician of the / 
heart, the real father of all his people. Let 
us show that we feel this by being unreserv- 
ed in our communications with him. Let us 
hide no secrets from ..him. Let us tell him 
all our hearts. 

I commend to you the importance of inte?- 
cession in our prayers. We are all selfish by 
nature, and our selfishness is very apt to stick .. 
to us, even when we are converted. There is 
a tendency in us to think only of our own 
souls, our own spiritual conflicts, our own 
progress in religion, and to forget others. 
Against this tendency we all have need to 
watch and strive, and not least in our prayers. 
We should study to be of a public spirit. We 
should stir ourselves up to name other names 
besides our own before the throne of grace. 
We should try to bear in our hearts the whole 
world, the heathen, the Jews, the Eoman- 
cathoUcs, the body of true believers, the 
professing Protestant churches, the country 
in which we live, the congregation to which 
we belong, the household in -which we sojourn, 



f-y-iJjitiii-ji^J^i^^^a^ir^ ■ - 



\ 



A CALL TO rRAYER. 59 

the frieiiLls and relations we are connected 
with. For each and all of these we should 
plead. This is the highest charity. He 
loves me best who loves me in his prayers. 
This is for our soul's health. It enlarges our 
sympathies and expands our heartb. This is 
for the benefit of the church. The wheels of 
all machinery for extending the gospel are 
moved by prayer. They do as much for the 
Lord's cause who intercede like Moses on the 
mount, as they do who fight hke Joshua in 
the thick of the battle. This is to be hke 
Christ. He bears the names of his people, 
as their High Priest, before the Father. Oh, 
the j)rivilege of being like Jesus ! This is to 
be a true helper to ministers. If I must choose 
a congregation, give me a people that pray. 

I commend to you the importance of thank- 
fulness in prayer. I know well that asking 
God is one thing and praising God is another. 
But I see so close a connection between pray- 
er and praise in the Bible, that I dare not 
call that true prayer in which thankfulness 
has no part. It is not for nothing that Paul 



^J!«^^^«t5-'ji: 



60 A CALL TO PllAYER. 

says, "By prayer and supplication, with 
thanksgiving, let your requests be made 
known unto God." Phil. 4 : 6. " Continue in 
prayer, and watch in the same with thanks- 
giving." Colos. 4:2. It is of mercy that we 
are not in hell. It is of mercy that we have 
the hope of heaven. It is of mercy that we 
live in a land of spiritual light. It is of mer- 
cy that we have been called by the Spirit, 
and not left to reap the fruit of our own 
ways. It is of mercy that we still live and 
have opportunities of glorifying God actively 
or passively. Surely these thoughts should 
crowd on our minds whenever we speak with 
God. Surely we should never open our Hps 
in prayer without blessing God for that free 
grace by which we live, and for that loving 
kindness which endureth for ever. Never was 
there an eminent saint who was not full of 
thankfulness. St. Paul hardly ever writes an 
epistle without beginning with thankfulness. 
Men like Whitefield in the last century, and 
Bickersteth in our time, abounded in thank- 
fulness. Oh, reader, if we would be bright 

• ■' ■-■-;"-■" ..■■--' ■ ■■'.',^. -^ -.-■■'-;■■- ■ 



■^' -A't^i-^^ "'-^V-^^'^T^yFS^K^ "" 



., A CALL TO PllAYER. 6i 

and slii|aing lights in our day, we must cherish 
a spirit of praise. Let our prayers be thank- 
ful prayers. " 

I commend to you the importance of watch- 
fulness over your prayers. Prayer is that 
point in religion at which you must be most 
of all on your guard. Here it is that true re- 
ligion begins ; here it flourishes, and here it 
decays. Tell me what a man's prayers are, 
dnd I will soon tell you the state of his soul. 
Prayer is the spiritual pulse. By this the 
spiritual health may be tested. Prayer is the 
spiritual weather-glass. By this we may 
know whether it is fair or foul with our 
hearts. Oh, let us keep an eye continually 
upon our private devotions. Here is the pith 
and marrow of our practical Christianity. 
Sermons and books and tracts, and commit- 
tee-meetings and the company of good men, 
are all good in their way, but they will never 
make up for the neglect of private prayer. 
Mark well the places and society and com- 
panions that unhinge your hearts for com- 
munion with God and make your prayers 



-Vti ■i^Vli.'iV^'.i-, : <T .-.'^.■'^ij,:''i-'^i\^^-h^ C'lf^J^^-.-.r.'- :i.'*-' 



62 A CALL TO PRAYER. 

drive heavily. Tlwre be on your guard. Ob- 
serve narrowly what friends and what em- 
ployments leave your soul in the most spirit- 
ual frame, and mosi ready to speak with God. 
To these cleave ajul stick fast. If you will take 
care of your prayers, nothing shall go very 
wrong with your soul. ' 

I offer these points for your private con- 
sideration. I do it in all humility. I know 
nO|one who needs to be reminded of them 
more than I do myself. But I believe them 
to be God's own truth, and I desire myself 
and all I love to feel them more. 

I want the times we live in to be praying 
times. I want the Christians of our day to 
be praying Christians. I want the church to 
be a praying church. My heart's desire and 
prayer in sending forth this tract is tb pro- 
mote a spirit of prayerfulness. I want those 
who never prayed yet, to arise and call upon 
God, and I want those who do pray, to see 
that they are not praying amiss. 



it^^!:&^i^^^&iiaii3^a^ii^M^^^t:£^£at:i^e^kyis&«^^ . 



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CHOICE ARROWS 

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fHE ^ASTER'S OuiVER. 

PAPER COVERS, 18M0. jita. 

James' Anxious Inquirer -v- 20 

Young Stan Setting Ont in Life- — 30 

Allcine's Alarm to tlie Uneonrerted — -r- 15 

Baxter's Call to the UncouTerted — — 16 

A Present Sarionr v;**,;,^^. 10 

Polloif Jesus. By Newman Hall -ij ,8 

O'ospet Workers -^ft^- 8 

(ireat Inqniry, and Great Ii|^'i;^iiiiswered. 8 

Come to Jesiis. Nowman Hafi:^''- '^>- - - 4 

Call to Prayer. J. C. Eyle - - - - - 4 

Your Soul-Is It Safe I- - - - 4 

The Foe and the Fight 4 

Individualized Religion. Dr. Adams 4 

Warning Cry from Niagara 3 

Tlie Theatre — -- 4 

Personal Senrice. Spnrgeon 4 

Beligion in Common Life — - 4 

" Fear Not : Belieye Only »» — -.— *- 3 

Power of Truth ....-«.-*. a