Does God Answer Prayer?

suppose there has been no word on Christians' lips so frequently at this time
as the word "prayer," and there is not one in this hall who has not
thought often, during the last forty-eight hours, of the importance of prayer.

During this week of
prayer, they are a great many not only thinking about it, but talking about
it. When there is a special interest and awakening in the community on the
subject of religion, then it is that a great many skeptics and infidels, and
a great many mere nominal professors of Christianity - we will not judge them
- begin talking against "prayer."

They say, "The author
of the world doesn't change His plans because of these prayers. The world
goes right on. You cannot move God to change His mind or His doings." You
hear this on every side. These young converts hear it. I have no doubt that
many are staggered by it, and when you kneel down you say, `Is it a fact that
God answers prayer? Is there anything in it?'

I think it would do
us good in the week of prayer to take the word "prayer," and run through
the Bible tracing it out. Read about nothing else. I think you would be perfectly
amazed if you took up the word "prayer," and counted the cases in
the Bible where people are recorded as praying, and God answering their prayers.

A great many think
it is only the perfectly righteous and pure that pray. But you remember who
it was who prayed in this fashion, "Lord remember me when Thou comest into
Thy Kingdom." You remember that Christ answered the dying thief's prayer.

We cannot but notice
that every man of God spoken of in the Bible was a man of prayer.
You have therefore very good authority and encouragement for asking God to
hear your prayers, and for praying on behalf of others, as we are daily requested
to do. Many are surprised at these requests. But many mothers and fathers
are rejoicing that they sent them in. The prayers offered up here have been
answered, and their children have been saved.

Last night I was more
confirmed in my views regarding the power of prayer than ever. "This
is all excitement," some say; "it is got up by earnest appeals that work on
the feelings of people, and move their impulses, making them uneasy and anxious."
Now, for example, there was nothing said last night to speak of, and I never
was more disgusted with myself than I was on Sunday -night. It seemed as if
I could not preach the Gospel, as if my tongue would not speak. But still
the number of inquirers was extraordinary.

Last night, when there
was no speaking at all, and when I just came in and asked that any inquirers
might follow me into the moderator's room, taking a few with me, and expecting
to come in and ask out a few more when I had seen these, the number was so
great that came out without solicitation that I did not need to return. I
saw over a hundred inquirers last night, and there were from fifty to seventy
that I had to close the door on, being unable to see them.

A great many who have
not been at the meetings at all, have been converted in their own homes. God
is working, not we. Oh! that we would keep ourselves down in the dust, and
every one of us get out of the way, and let God work. It would be so easy
for Him to go into every dwelling in Edinburgh, and convict and convert ten
thousand souls.

Look at the 6th verse
of the 4th chapter of Philippians. "Be careful for nothing, but in everything"
- mark that - "by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests
be made known unto God." He doesn't say He will answer all, but He says, "And
the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts
and minds through Jesus Christ."

He tells us to make
our wants known; to make our requests known to Him by prayer and supplication.
It is right to come and make our requests known. He has told us to come and
pray for the conversion of souls.

It is said by many
people that God does not do anything supernatural in answer to prayer; that
the God of nature moves right on and never changes His decrees. Read the first
six verses of the 20th chapter of 2nd Kings, and see - "In those days was
Hezekiah sick unto death: and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, came to
him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for
thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed
unto the Lord, saying, I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked
before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is
good in Thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah
was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him,
saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah, the captain of my people, Thus saith
the Lord, the God of David, thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen
thy tears, behold I will heal thee; on the third day thou shalt go up unto
the house of the Lord, and I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will
deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the King of Assyria; and I will
defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake."

Was not that a direct
answer to prayer? Hezekiah was only praying for his own life; we are come
together to pray for the life of others, and not their temporal but their
eternal welfare. He was not praying for Christ's sake as we now do, but we
can come to-day and ask God to save the souls of men for Christ's sake, not
only for our sake, but for the sake of the beloved Son. He loves to honor
that Son, and to see Christ honored. We can come now and ask Him to save souls,
that it might bring glory and honor to the Son of His bosom, and glory and
honor to the Son He delights to honor. "I will," He says to Hezekiah, "defend
the city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake." That is only
one instance.

Look also at Daniel
praying. It was his prayers that took the Jews back to Jerusalem. It was his
prayers that turned Nebuchadnezzar to the God of Israel, and brought Gabriel
down from heaven to tell him he was greatly beloved. He had power with God.

See also how God answered
Jacob's prayers and Isaac's prayers. All through the Bible we have records
of the answers to prayers. It would be terrible to think that God did not
delight to answer prayer.

Turn to the 20th chapter
of 2nd Chronicles. There we read that the Moabites, the Ammonites, and others
coming against Jehoshaphat, he was afraid, "and set himself to seek the Lord,"
and that afterwards Judah "gathered themselves together to ask help of the
Lord." That is what we want - to seek the Lord not only here in the public
assembly, but alone. If you have got an unconverted friend, and are anxious
that he should be saved, go and tell it privately to Jesus, and if a blessing
does not come, like Jehoshaphat, spend a few days in fasting, and prayer,
and humiliation.

"If when evil cometh
upon us, as the sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine, we stand before this
house, and in Thy presence (for Thy name is in this house), and cry unto Thee
in our affliction, then Thou wilt hear and help."

When I go into the
streets, and see the terrible wickedness, and blasphemy, and drunkenness that
is in them, it seems dark, but I look up and think that God can repel those
dark waves of sin and iniquity. Let us pray that God will bless this land
of Scotland, bless and save all the people in it. It would be a great thing
for us, but very little for God. May God give us faith!

delivered by Dwight L. Moody at the noon prayer-meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland,
Jan. 6, 1874.