The other day a young person asked me something to the effect of, “Is it really necessary to pray really hard like holiness people do?” This is not the first time a young person has asked me that. I'm glad that they asked me.
My answer in essence follows and applies to not just prayer, but
to all aspects of spiritual sacrifice.
The the greater the sacrifice or the more that is given up as an
offering to God and others, the greater yield that God will cause its
seed to eventually bring forth. Although others may look at such as
foolish or as a waste.
Jesus for our full salvation laid aside His glory, left His
rightful place to humble himself and take upon himself a body like
ours, and then he offered up prayers and supplications to God in the
garden with “strong crying and tears.” And He later gave up his
life for us, for those who didn't even want Him.
God says, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous
man availeth much.”
Should we pray like this only when we feel the urge. No, we take
ourselves by the nape of the neck and willfully do that which we know
we ought to do. If we wait til we “feel so moved” our
ease-loving, sluggish human nature may never do what's best.
Souls are even now dropping into hell. There is spiritual warfare
to wage. Christ came to set the captive free, and I in prayer and in
life must fight to release souls from destruction. So should I spend
my days in wonderful “quiet times” of staring out the window at
the peaceful scenery over a steaming mug of coffee telling God how
wonderful He is? I'm not saying that this isn't good, but is this
the best that God wants from us? What soul saving, sin killing, fire
baptizing revival has ever broken out with this kind of prayer?
The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it
by force. If a building is ablaze and people around me are sleeping,
this calls for more than cool contemplations. God uses us to set up
His kingdom, and His hard soldiers give all their strength to serving
Him and others. And when they reach the end of their strength, He
pours out His grace and His strength is made perfect in their
Again, the greater the sacrifice offered up in the will of God for
Him and for others in His name, the greater yield its seed will
eventually bring forth, even though it seems to others a waste of
Abraham left his father's house and country. He wandered
aimlessly as a foreigner in obedience to God. Though he and Sarah
were old, he expected a son for years because God had promised him
such. He later offered that son back to God in the deepest act of
worship when it made no sense at all.
Robert Murray McCheyne, I understand, excelled in sports and
academics and loved studying Biblical languages and theology. But
even as a young man he left sports and laid aside the other
intellectual and spiritual pursuits to pray for revival and weep for
souls. Like his Saviour, he poured out his life as a sacrifice for
others. He died at the young age of 29 during an epidemic, but God
sent revival to his church in answer to his prayers and today many
years later, and his life still continues bearing ever more fruit,
much more fruit than if he would have lived is life pursuing his own
good interests. (A note of interest, I've found out that a good
number in Chinese churches and other churches across the world follow
the Bible study schedule which he laid out.)
David Brainerd gave his short life to much and fervent prayer
while serving some wicked Indians. He carried such a burden it
carried him to pray much in spite of those bitter cold colonial New
Jersey winters. He was known to have prayed so much and so fervently
that the snow around him melted. Often deprived of needful food he
had little to eat due to lack of missionary support. Yet he carried
on pouring out his life in offering to God and others. Near the end
of his life God mightily answered his prayers and changed the
drunken, God despising Indians to the point that they feared God,
left sin, began worshiping God, and weeping at even the mention of
God. I've heard others criticize Brainerd burning out his life for
God at only 29 years of age, but many of the greatest of modern
missionaries took with them a Bible and Brainerd's journal to inspire
them while counting all things but loss to gain Christ. I believe
that millions of souls will have found Christ in part due to
Brainerd. Like his Saviour, he also ministered in a small location.
Like his Saviour, he offered up prayer to God with strong crying and
tears. Like his Saviour, he poured out his life in death. What an
offering to God, an offering which others may say was a waste! What
a harvest God will bring forth!
“Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it
abideth alone...” Jesus is that first seed. And we also may be
crucified with Christ? Have we offered up ourselves once and for all
a holy, living sacrifice through faith? And now do we like Paul
offer up ourselves and die daily? “... and if that seed die, it
bringeth forth much fruit.”
Our heritage of great prayer, fervency, revival, and sacrifice is
much more than that of the holiness movement. It is born of the
heart throb of passion and hunger and more so from Christ himself.
And such has been shared throughout the history of Christ's church by
those who have shared the same fervent burden of prayer which was
also in Christ Jesus.
If you lay aside something of value to spend that time with God in
costly, fervent prayer. You will reap much more than you can yet
know. If you lay aside popularity or favor to obey God or to lift up
Christ to others, you will reap from that seed planted. Some may not
understand your heart cry born of a fervent hunger for God. But God
understands. For He created that burning in your heart for His
glory. He fuels it. And He intends to answer such prayer. Give
much; you will reap many fold.