Sunday, November 14, 2010

Charles Spurgeon: A Man of Prayer

As committed as he was to reading and study, Spurgeon was equally committed to prayer. On one occasion Spurgeon mused,

I am persuaded we only want more prayer, and there is no limit to the blessing. You may Christianize the world, if you but know how to pray. Prayer can get anything from God, prayer can get everything. God denies nothing to the man who knows how to ask. The Lord never shuts his storehouse till you shut your mouth. God will never stop his arm till you stop your tongue.”

What a representation of a vibrant faith in the living God. This level of vibrancy can only be cultivated in fervent and consistent prayer. Spurgeon’s level of fervency in prayer is exemplified in his ability to engage in prevailing prayer. He was a man who would spend hours weeping for saints and sinners alike on their behalf. Spurgeon once said, “No prayer ever prevailed with God more surely than a liquid petition, which, being distilled from the heart, trickles from the eye and waters the cheek. Then is God won when he hears the voice of your weeping.” This level of prayer is motivated by godly compassion, and is the result of spending much time with God. He, no doubt, honored the command that is extended to all men of God who are to lead God’s people; he gave himself continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). Spurgeon did things God’s way and reaped bountifully God’s results. When one touches heaven with ones prayers, one is touched by heaven. Spurgeon’s attests to this kind of a heart after God, which resulted in having a heart that was a mirror image of the heart of God.

His heart for God translated into a heart for the lost. Though he was a staunch Calvinist, he had a heart to see as many people saved as he could. He is famous for saying “God save your elect then save some more.” It was prayer that cultivated this attitude in Spurgeon. It was Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, the German Pietist and Bishop of the Moravian Church, who said, “I have but one passion; it is He, He only.” Similarly Spurgeon had the same passion for God, and that translated into a passion for souls. Possibly, his longing for God was similar to that of Thomas Aquinas who said, "Bestow upon me, O Lord my God, understanding to know thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee." If Spurgeon prayed a similar, his prayer was indeed answered.

Spurgeon also understood that it was prayer that produced Spirit empowered ministry, and he felt that this was essential to success. He made several references to this fact throughout his ministry. He felt that Spirit empowered ministry was indispensable if one hoped to be effective as the following statements made by Spurgeon confirms.

If there were only one prayer which I might pray before I died, it should be this: “Lord, send thy church men filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
Without the Spirit of God we can do nothing. We are as ships without wind or chariots without steeds. Like braches without sap, we are withered. Like coals without fire, we are useless. As an offering without the sacrificial flame, we are unaccepted.

It is better to speak six words in the power of the Holy Ghost than to preach seventy years of sermons without the Spirit.
All the hope our ministry lies in the Spirit of God operating on the spirits of men.

However, it is also important to understand that Spurgeon heavily emphasized that one should pray with perseverance, fervency, and much zeal. It was Bill Thrasher, in his book A Journey to Victorious Praying, who said “Perseverance in prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but rather laying hold of God’s willingness. Our sovereign God has purposed to sometimes require persevering prayer as the means to accomplish His will.” This is something that Spurgeon not only believed, but practiced and taught, as the following three statements reflect:

He who prays without fervency does not pray at all. We cannot commune with God, who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), if there is no fire in our prayers.
I know no better thermometer to your temperature than this, the measure of intensity of your prayers.

It is the beginning lava of the soul that has a furnace within – a very volcano of grief and sorrow – it is that burning lava of prayer that finds its way to God. No prayer ever reaches God’s heart which does not come from our hearts.
We must get rid of the icicles that hang about our lips. We must ask the Lord to thaw the ice caves of our soul and to make our hearts like a furnace of fire heated seven times hotter. If our hearts do not burn within us, we may well question whether Jesus is with us. Those who are neither cold nor hot, he has threatened to spew out of his mouth (Rev. 3:16). How can we expect his favor if we fall into a condition so obnoxious to him?

It is clear from the aforementioned quotes that Spurgeon recognized that it wasn’t man’s ingenuity, prowess, or sophistication that would produce salvations or changed lives. It wouldn’t be find sounding arguments done with fleshly effort that would convince the hard hearted jade their need for God. Rather, it is ministry done in the power of the Spirit that would change lives. Paul gave the prerequisite for effective ministry, a sentiment later echoed by Spurgeon, when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Ministry requires that one dies, and lets Christ minister through him. This requires embracing first the cross and then allowing the Resurrection power of God to minister through you.

In 2 Peter 1:21, Peter shows that it was the Holy Spirit that spoke through the prophets that wrote the Old Testament when he says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The same is true for the New Testament writers. And the same is true for God’s spokesmen today, even though today’s preacher does not speak in an inerrant way since we now have a closed canon. Nevertheless, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, and Him working through the life of the believer, that God’s Word is to go forth with power. This can only take place as God’s spokesman spends time in God’s presence and in total and absolute dependence upon God.

1 comment:

  1. Tim this is very good. Prayer is powerful. I need to do more of it myself.