Prayer is an old school Christian advantage that we retain right now as a result of we all know we must always. “I’ll be praying for you,” we inform our mates who’re dealing with hassle. But how a lot effort will we later expend? Even worse is the expression, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to you”—an providing so bland that even unbelievers can use the verbiage when tragedy strikes. Fashionable prayer has turn into mere well-wishing.
After all, there are definitely some authentic prayer warriors in our midst. The church at all times has its Daniels. But most of us want we had been higher at praying. It’s not that we don’t do it; we simply don’t do it with the facility and power that such a central side of the Christian life deserves.
Our downside isn’t new. Earlier generations confronted it as effectively. We all know this as a result of D. L. Moody (1837–1899) wrote a e book about it: Prevailing Prayer: What Hinders It? His looking query—what makes our prayers triumph as a substitute of fail?—is one we nonetheless ask right now. And Moody supplied solutions simply as related now as when he penned them again in 1884. His knowledge from these bygone days of prime hats and muttonchops nonetheless applies in our age of hipster beards and thin denims. Prayer is a continuing wrestle within the Christian life.
Prayer as Warfare
The time period prevailing was a Gilded Age approach of talking about victory in fight. Google’s analytics of English phrase utilization present a gentle decline in the usage of prevail from 1800 to right now. But the that means is evident sufficient. It means successful or triumphing, particularly in a warfare scenario. Prayer was envisioned as a type of battle, an endeavor wherein we may win or lose. For Moody’s unique hearers, the Civil Warfare was nonetheless contemporary in everybody’s minds, so it made sense to consider life in martial phrases.
However the picture of prayer as fight is acquainted to us, too, even when we don’t at all times converse that approach. Why? As a result of it’s biblical. Within the Previous Testomony, prayerfulness was intimately related to Israel’s overcome enemies. When God’s cussed folks lastly reached the bounds of their oppression by overseas powers or warlike neighbors, they turned to the LORD in prayer. Solely then did he elevate up a deliverer or give victory in battle. Prayer was the mechanism by which Israel “prevailed.”
And fight imagery wasn’t restricted to Previous Testomony battles of thundering chariots and armor-clad troopers. The religious warfare of New Testomony believers additionally relied on prayer. Such language is widespread right now. Referring to gospel evangelization, John Piper can discuss “Profitable Battles by means of Prayer.” Or once more, he can replicate on “Prayer and the Victory of God.” This isn’t only a quirk of evangelical parlance. Catholics use the idea, too: “The Battle of Prayer” is a serious a part of the trendy catechism. It’s a common Christian theme, as a result of it’s discovered within the Bible.
‘What Hinders It?’
One of many questions requested within the Catholic catechism is, “Why do we complain of not being heard?” Moody was asking the identical query again within the Victorian period. His brother-in-law, Fleming H. Revell, had established a publishing home in 1870. One among his first bestselling authors was the well-known Chicago evangelist who had married his sister. To reply the everlasting query of what hinders victorious prayer, Revell printed Moody’s e book in 1884. Right now, an up to date version is out there from one other ministry birthed within the age of Moody and Revell: Moody Publishers (my present place of employment).
The factor you discover instantly once you choose up this forgotten traditional is that Moody had no doubts about prayer’s efficacy. He cites with approval the 19th-century aphorism, broadly quoted as early as 1836, that “prayer moves the arm that moves the world.” When earnest prayers go as much as God, divine solutions roll down like rainfall. The rationale Christians don’t prevail in prayer, Moody believed, is just that they don’t do it. And he’s proper. Isn’t this exactly what Scripture teaches? The apostle James reminds us, “You do not have because you do not ask” (4:2)
But even after we do trouble to ask issues of God, we typically discover he doesn’t reply. James goes on to inform us why our prayers are hindered: We ask wrongly, to spend our achieve on egocentric passions (4:3). Moody would’ve agreed. Prayers that get answered by God have a sure disposition, with out which they won’t prevail. Finally, this disposition is the easy perception that prayer truly works (James 5:13–18). “[T]hrough all the Scriptures,” Moody declares, “you will find that when believing prayer went up to God, the answer came down.”
9 Necessities for Victorious Praying
For Moody, the prayer warrior’s easy confidence is structured round 9 totally different attitudes—and actions—that should be current for the prayer to be efficacious. He particulars every in flip. Some might be identified to trendy readers by means of the favored acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), which is broadly used right now however truly goes again to publications from Moody’s period. To those 4, he provides a couple of others. His expanded record is:
- Adoration: “Let us, as Christians, when we draw near to God in prayer, give him his right place.”
- Confession: “[Y]ou will find that the men who lived nearest to God, and had the most power with him, were those who confessed their sins and failures.”
- Restitution: “It may be that there is something in our lives that needs straightening out; something that happened perhaps 20 years ago, and that has been forgotten till the Spirit of God brought it to our remembrance. If we are not willing to make restitution, we cannot expect God to give us great blessing. Perhaps that is the reason so many of our prayers are not answered.”
- Thanksgiving: “Here we are, getting blessings from God day after day; yet how little praise and thanksgiving there is in the church of God!”
- Forgiveness: “I believe this is keeping more people from having power with God than any other thing—they are not willing to cultivate the spirit of forgiveness.”
- Unity: “Where there is union I do not believe any power, earthly or infernal, can stand before the work. When the church, the pulpit, and the pew get united, and God’s people are all of one mind, Christianity is like a red-hot ball rolling over the earth, and all the hosts of death and hell cannot stand before it.”
- Religion: “Unbelief sees something in God’s hand, and says, ‘I cannot get it.’ Faith sees it, and says, ‘I will have it.’”
- Petition: “Some people think that God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The only way to trouble God is not to come at all. He encourages us to come to him repeatedly, and press our claims.”
- Submission: “All true prayer must be offered in full submission to God. After we have made our requests known to him, our language should be, ‘Thy will be done.’ I would a thousand times rather that God’s will should be done than my own. I cannot see into the future as God can; therefore, it is a good deal better to let him choose for me than to choose for myself.”
Traditional for the Ages
A remaining chapter on “answered prayer” highlights Moody’s timeless reminder that the wrestle to attend for God’s blessing is tough—although by no means futile. “If our prayers are not answered,” Moody writes, “it may be that we have prayed without the right motive; or that we have not prayed according to the Scriptures. So let us not be discouraged, or give up praying, although our prayers are not answered in the way we want them.” God’s timing is at all times his personal—and at all times finest.
All through its pages, Prevailing Prayer overflows with explanations of the Good E-book that Moody, the uneducated shoe-salesman-turned-international-preacher, knew so effectively. He additionally provides the reader with many homely tales and illuminating episodes from his lengthy and superb ministry. Quotations abound from the pantheon of Protestant saints, reflecting Moody’s deep-seated ecumenism. He cites Anglican prelate Jeremy Taylor; Puritan theologian Richard Baxter; Presbyterian biblical commentator Matthew Henry; and Plymouth Brethren evangelist and orphan-care advocate George Müller, simply to call a couple of.
Though printed 135 years in the past, Prevailing Prayer remains to be related right now. Maybe an exhortation from Moody’s opening chapter is the proper technique to sum up the e book: “As we go to the throne of grace, let us remember that GOD ANSWERS PRAYER.”
All we’ve got to do is get on our knees and begin anticipating massive issues.