It is man’s business to pray; and it takes manly men to do it. It is godly business to pray and it takes godly men to do it. And it is godly men who give over themselves entirely to prayer. Prayer is far-reaching in its influence and in its gracious effects. It is intense and profound business which deals with God and his plans and purposes, and it takes whole-hearted men to do it. No half-hearted, half-brained, half-spirited effort will do for this serious, all important, heavenly business. The whole heart, the whole brain, the whole spirit, must be in the matter of praying, which is so mightily to affect the characters and destinies of men.
Have you ever thought about how your destiny may be affected when you pray? We are always seeking to see the answers to our prayer and yet never stop to think about the destiny that may come out of our prayer for ourselves. I found that as I asked for more of God’s wisdom instead of my own, the Lord has used that prayer to cause me to step in a direction I never imagined I would go. Not recognizing it as such I have stumbled along thinking “what am I doing”? It has opened my mind and my heart to how much more the Lord has for me than I could possibly imagine. The thought that “I” in my safe little sanctuary here could have a destiny borne out of prayer is amazing. Yet, the “I” in that destiny is not truly mine. It is His for me and for His purpose, not mine. I pray that I will always keep that focus.
The answer of Jesus to the scribe as to what was the first and greatest commandment was as follows:
The Lord our God is one Lord; And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with they soul, and with all they mind, and with all they strength.
In one word, the entire man without reservation must love God. So it takes the same entire man to do the praying which God requires of men. All the powers of man must be engaged in it. God cannot tolerate a divided heart in the love he requires of men, neither can he bear with a divided man in praying. How good is our God that He cannot tolerate a divided man or a divided heart? Whether it be in prayer or in reverence He demands all! Amen.
In the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm the psalmist teaches this very truth in these words:
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and seek him with the whole heart.
It takes whole-hearted men to keep God’s commandments and its demands the same sort of men to seek God. These are they who are counted “blessed.” Upon these whole-hearted ones God’s approval rests.
Bringing the case closer home to himself, the psalmist makes this declaration as to his practice: “With my whole heart have I sought Thee; O let me not wander from they commandments.”
And further on, giving us his prayer for a wise and understanding heart, he tells us his purposes concerning the keeping of God’s law: “Give me understanding and I shall keep thy law; Yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Just as it requires a whole heart given to God to gladly and fully obey God’s commandments, so it takes a whole heart to do effectual praying.
Because it requires the whole man to pray, praying is no easy task. Praying is far more than simply bending the knee and saying a few words by rote.
Tis not enough to bend the knee,
And words of prayer to say;
The heart must with the lips agree,
Or else we do not pray.
Praying is no light and trifling exercise. While children should be taught early to pray, praying is no child’s task. Prayer draws upon the whole nature of man. Prayer engages all the powers of man’s moral and spiritual nature. It is this which explains somewhat the praying of our Lord as described in Heb_5:7:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared.
It takes only a moment’s thought to see how such praying of our Lord drew mightily upon all the powers of his being, and called into exercise every part of his nature. This is the praying which brings the soul close to God and which brings God down to earth.
Body, soul and spirit are taxed and brought under tribute to prayer. David Brainerd makes this record of his praying:
God enabled me to agonize in prayer till I was wet with perspiration, though in the shade and in a cool place.
The Son of God in Gethsemane was in an agony of prayer, which engaged his whole being:
And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray ye that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luk_22:40-44). “In agony, he prayed more earnestly”…I cannot for the life of me envision Christ being more earnest than praying for His Father to “remove this cup from me” and yet, His love was so great there was more.
Here was praying which laid its hands on every part of our Lord’s nature, which called forth all the powers of his soul, his mind and his body. This was praying which took in the entire man. Oh, that I would pray from this depth.
Paul was acquainted with this kind of praying. In writing to the Roman Christians, he urges them to pray with him after this fashion:
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.
The words, “strive together with me,” tells of Paul’s praying, and how much he put into it. It is not a docile request, not a little thing, this sort of praying, this “striving with me.” It is of the nature of a great battle, a conflict to win, a great battle to be fought. The praying Christian, as the soldier, fights a life-and-death struggle. His honor, his immortality, and eternal life are all in it. This is praying as the athlete struggles for the mastery, and for the crown,and as he wrestles or runs a race. Everything depends on the strength he puts in it. Energy, ardor, swiftness, every power of his nature is in it. Every power is quickened and strained to its very utmost. Littleness, half-heartedness, weakness and laziness are all absent. One of the definitions of the word “strive” is to contend. Follow that out with a definition of contend and you will find “to defend and preserve”. So when we pray with our whole man, are we in reality not just making a request but defending and preserving Christ?
Just as it takes the whole man to pray successfully, so in turn the whole man receives the benefits of such praying. As every part of man’s complex being enters into true praying, so every part of that same nature receives blessings from God in answer to such praying. This kind of praying engages our undivided hearts, our full consent to be the Lord’s, our whole desires.
God sees to it that when the whole man prays, in turn the whole man shall be blessed. His body takes in the good of praying, for much praying is done specifically for the body. Food and raiment, health and bodily vigor, come in answer to praying. Clear mental action, right thinking, an enlightened understanding, and safe reasoning powers, come from praying. Divine guidance means God so moving and impressing the mind, that we shall make wise and safe decisions. “The meek will he guide in judgment.” Ah, the “Divine Benefits Package” of Psalm 103. And yes kids, I will eventually get the Smoke and Mirrors study posted. You know how this ties in.
Many a praying preacher has been greatly helped just at this point. The unction of the Holy One which comes upon the preacher invigorates the mind, loosens up thought and gives utterance. This is the explanation of former days when men of very limited education had such wonderful liberty of the Spirit in praying and in preaching. Their thoughts flowed as a stream of water. Their entire intellectual machinery felt the impulse of the divine Spirit’s gracious influences.
And, of course, the soul receives large benefits in this sort of praying. Thousands can testify to this statement. So we repeat, that as the entire man comes into play in true, earnest effectual praying, so the entire man, soul, mind and body, receives the benefits of prayer.
This is the place that I am loving being right now. And why I am so fond of what I lovingly call “the Dead Guys”. They didn’t have much of the garbage we have to contend with today. Both in the world and the church. It was simple. Prayer was prayer.
By Edward McKendree Bounds