More Than Prayer
“You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” John Bunyan
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7.7, Ephesians 6.18-19, Colossians 4.2
Rev. Decherd Stevens
Every true child of God will readily acknowledge the need for prayer in his daily life. Likewise, every true child of God will acknowledge the value of prayer in his daily life. And every true child of God who has been exposed to even a small amount of Bible teaching will acknowledge without hesitation that the Holy Scriptures call every believer to engage in the duty of continuous, fervent, believing prayer on a daily basis. If then practically every believer recognizes the need, the value, and the duty of prayer–why do so many believers pray so little? Surely, this is a question that troubles your own soul, as it does mine. For most of us the sad fact of the matter is that we simply do not pray as much, or as earnestly as we should? And the worst part of it is that there is no good reason for our negligence.
While the words of Mr. Bunyan certainly do not solve the problem of neglected prayer, they do, however, open our eyes to one of Satan’s most effective delusions–i.e. there are so many more things that need to be done that there just is not much time for prayer. You see the Devil knows far better than most of us just how effective the prayer of a righteous man will be and, therefore, labors incessantly to keep our minds inundated with things that must be done first. First, we must call this individual, or attend this meeting, or take care of this or that matter of business, and after that we will have time to be still and speak with God. Of course, as is usually the case, at the end of the day we discover that precious little time, if any at all, has been devoted to God in prayer. Have you, dear reader, not tasted of this sad experience? Have you not seen how the enemy of righteousness has prevented your own growth in grace by robbing you of one of the most effectual means of grace?
But do not despair, my friends, the voice of a humble preacher from a Bedford dungeon beckons you to a more excellent way. Take heart and take heed! And do not be ignorant of your enemy’s devices any longer. Learn afresh that “you can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Simply stated, our first and most essential work is that of prayer. Is there a need for wisdom in some decision, how shall we obtain it? Prayer–James 1.5! Is there a desire to see God bless the ministry of His Church in the world, what is our part in the matter? Prayer–Ephesians 6.18-19! Have you been called to bear patiently some burden or trial at the present time, where shall you find the grace to be faithful? Prayer–II Corinthians 12.8-9! Pray, dear friends, pray! It is such a simple, but vital, proposition.
Mr. Bunyan, being dead, yet speaks. His counsel is wise, sweet, and helpful. May his words continue to yield fruit through you this day to the glory of Him who first taught us saying, “Ask, and it shall be given to you.”
Quote taken from John Bunyan, A Puritan Golden Treasury, p. 210