By-products of Prayer --Part 1

By-products of Prayer
Part 1

W. Ross Rainey

The question is often asked, either inwardly or outwardly “Why pray?” There are many reasons why the Christian ought to pray, (e.g., he is commanded to pray — Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17; Col. 4:2; the example of Christ — Luke 3:21; 5:16; 9:29; 22:39-46; 23:34; etc.; God has revealed in His Word that He desires and needs the fellowship of His own —1 Pet. 5:7), and among the chief reasons is one generally overlooked by many — the products of prayer.

Just as petroleum yields many byproducts, so also does prayer. These spiritual rewards, to which no earthly evaluation can be attached, are the blessed experience of all who persevere and prevail in prayer. That few today really engage in this arduous yet richly rewarding task is sadly evident. Who among us would not value an audience with a well-known king, prime minister, or president? At any time we may seek the face of Him who is the “King Of Kings, and Lord Of Lords,” One who is infinitely more interested in our individual welfare than any earthly ruler or sovereign. Yet, how little we avail ourselves of this wonderful privilege! We are glad and grateful for camps and conferences, rallies and retreats, teen-times and tea-talks, but these can never serve as a substitute for personal, private prayer in the life of the believer.

In his instructive and valuable little book, Method in Prayer, W. Graham Scroggie has aptly said:

“One of the greatest mistakes that a Christian can make, is to imagine that increased social or spiritual activity can be any compensation for the lack of secret communion with God. A prayerful life is always a powerful life; and a prayerless life is always a powerless life. If we cannot pray aright, we really can do nothing aright; but how slow we are to believe that. We find a spiritual law at work in the uniform experience that the more we pray, the more we need to, and want to; and the less we pray, the less is the desire to do so” (p. 11).

Why is it that we do not pray more? This question may be answered in just one word: LAZINESS! The words of Dr. L. S. Chafer will stay with me as long as I live, for sitting in a classroom one day at Dallas, Texas, he quietly yet forcefully said to us students, “Men, prayer is hard work, and we are inherently lazy.”

To be acquainted with the by-products of prayer should alone be sufficient stimuli to make us want to throw off our lethargy and pray more than ever, especially as this age draws to its climatic close. True, a price must be paid — namely, time. But is there any better investment of our precious time than to daily lay hold of God in prayer, preferably having a set time, or times, as was Daniel’s habit (Dan. 6:10)? Even the world will tell us that anything really worthwhile will cost us something.

The Holy Scriptures reveal at least seven by-products of prayer (perhaps you can ferret out others), and presently we want to briefly focus our attention on each one, the first being:

Fortifying Peace

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee” (Isa26:3).

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

“Why pray when you can worry?” or “worry now and pray later” seems to be the evident philosophy of some Christians, but this sort of thing even though somewhat facetiously stated, is completely contrary to God’s will and only demonstrates a lack of faith and obedience. How such conduct on our part must grieve the heart of our gracious God!

It was as a young boy that the words of Isaiah 26:3 were indelibly impressed upon me by my godly grandmother, and I never read or recall this text but what I think of her. Do others ever think of us in this way? An invalid during the last seven years of her earthly life, and never uttering a word of complaint, she was a splendid example of the above quoted texts. What was her secret? She possessed “perfect peace.” How? Her mind was stayed and stopped on God, and day by day she breathed freely and deeply of the refreshing atmosphere of the Throne of Grace. Quietly and sweetly submissive to His will, having known “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) for at least half a century, she continually realized the promise of the “peace of God” in Philippians 4:7 simply because she obeyed the prescription of 4:6.

These familiar verses need little, if any, explanation. What is needed is the daily appropriation and consequent exemplification of them. Remember the old saying, “Anxious for nothing, prayerful in everything, thankful for anything?” This sums up the simple prescription for realizing the fortifying “peace of God” which passeth and surpasseth all understanding, and misunderstanding, too!

Renewed Spiritual Strength

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isa.- 40:31).

Over and over again in the Scriptures, especially in the Psalms, we are exhorted by example and precept to wait upon God (cf. Ps. 27:14; 37 : 9, 34 ; 40 :1; 65 : 1,5 ; Prov. 20 : 22) . Unless we learn to truly Wait upon Him, we can never hope to Worship, War, Work, Walk and Witness effectively for His glory. The word “wait” can have at least three distinct meanings in connection with this promise: (1) to stop; (2) to be in an attitude of expectation; and (3) to bind together by twisting (this is the meaning of the Hebrew word), much as a vine binds itself to the trunk and branches of a great tree.

Yesterday’s strength will not do for today, nor will today’s strength do for tomorrow. Even as Israel gathered fresh manna every morning, with the exception of the Sabbath, so must we seek daily to wait upon the Lord that we might exchange our weakness for His strength.

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The remainder of this splendid article on the By-Products of Prayer will appear in the August issue. Do not miss it. We regret that space did not permit inserting the entire subject in the July number.—Editor.