Now look around over the world. How few seem to have their supreme delight in God. How few are seeking communion and fellowship with God. How few make union with God the supreme end of their lives. It is not strange then that our prayers are not answered. The conditions of prevailing prayer are not fulfilled. Many pray because they are pressed up to it by conviction, not because their soul pants after communion with God, and delights itself in God. Instead of loving to dwell in the Bible, and in the house of God, and in the closet--in short, instead of delighting itself in God, it is constantly roving about here and there, to see if it cannot find some good. "Who will show us any good?" seems to be its constant inquiry. Now those who are in this state cannot have their desires granted.
Nothing can be more important than that we should thoroughly understand the conditions of prevailing prayer. If we fail thus to understand them, we shall very probably fail to fulfill them, and of course fail to offer prevailing prayer. Alas, how ruinous a failure must this be to any soul!
It now becomes us to enquire most diligently and most earnestly for the conditions of prevailing prayer. This point I shall enter upon in my next discourse.
11. God may answer the mere cry of distress when benevolence does not forbid it. He often does hear the sailor in the storm--the young ravens in their hunger; but this is a very different thing from that prayer which God has pledged himself by promise to hear and answer on the fulfilment of certain conditions.This Brings Us To A Consideration Of The Conditions Of Prevailing Prayer.
(3.) It often happens that professors of religion are exceedingly careless in respect to the conditions of prevailing prayer. What! Christian men and women in such a state that they will not speak to each other! In such relations to each other that they are ready to injure one another in the worst way--ready to mangle and rend each other's characters! Away with it! It is an offence to God! It is an utter abomination in his sight! He loathes the prayers and the professed worship of such men, as he loathes idolatry itself.Now although cases as outrageous as those I have described, do not occur very frequently, yet many cases do occur which involve substantially the same principle. In respect to all such, let it be known that God is infinitely honest, and so long as he is so, he will not hold communion and fellowship with one who is dishonest. He expects us to be honest and truthful, willing ever to obey him, and ever anxious to meet all the conditions of acceptable prayer. Until this is the case with us, He cannot and will not hear us, however much and long we pray. Why should he? "Thou requirest truth in the inward parts," said the Psalmist of his God, as if fully aware that entire sincerity of heart, and of course uprightness of life towards others, is an unalterable condition of acceptance before God. It is amazing to see how much insincerity there often is among professed Christians, both in their mutual relations to each other, and also in the relations to God.
THE CONDITIONS OF PREVAILING PRAYER
The Penny Pulpit, No. 1,559. [First in a series of three "Lectures on the Conditions of Prevailing Prayer."]
THE subject to which I spoke last evening I shall continue this evening--The Conditions of Prevailing Prayer. I noticed last evening several of these conditions, and announced that this evening I should pursue the subject. I was speaking of Perseverance being made a condition of prevailing with God. Sometimes. however, the circumstances are of such a character that there is no time for perseverance, in any such sense as to protract; if the prayers must necessarily be repeated, the object cannot be attained at all. But often there are very good reasons why the supplicant should be left to wrestle and persevere. God is anxious, by this means, to develops a certain state of mind, sometimes for the petitioner's benefit, sometimes for the benefit of others, or both of these together. Some came of this kind are recorded in Scripture, where God declined to answer at once, in order that he might develop a certain state of mind in the petitioner for the benefit of others. I shall instance some came of this kind. I noticed last evening that of Jacob as an example of perseverance in struggling--persisting in supplication, until he prevailed. I noticed, also the case of Moses, and was about to mention that of Elijah.
[*The last of a series of three "Lectures on the Conditions of Prevailing Prayer."]
IN passing over the Conditions of Prevailing Prayer, I noticed one--that prayer should be made in the name of Christ. In speaking further on this subject from these words--
I PROPOSE to consider the conditions of prevailing prayer.