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Saturday, September 27, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
To God man is first an objective point, and then, without ceasing to be that, he further becomes a distributing centre. God ever thinks of a man doubly: first for his own self, and then for his possible use in reaching others. Communion and petition fix and continue one's relation to God, and so prepare for the great outreaching form of prayer--intercession. Prayer must begin in the first two but reaches its climax in the third. Communion and petition are of necessity self-wide. Intercession is world-wide in its reach. And all true rounded prayer will ever have all three elements in it. There must be the touch with God. One's constant needs make constant petition. But the heart of the true follower has caught the warm contagion of the heart of God and reaches out hungrily for the world. Intercession is the climax of prayer.
Much is said of the subjective and objective value of prayer; its influence upon one's self, and its possible influence upon persons and events quite outside of one's self. Of necessity the first two sorts of prayer here named are subjective; they have to do wholly with one's self. Of equal necessity intercessory prayer is objective; it has to do wholly with others. There is even here a reflex influence; in the first two directly subjective; here incidentally reflex. Contact with God while dealing with Him for another of necessity influences me. But that is the mere fringe of the garment. The main driving purpose is outward.
Just now in certain circles it seems quite the thing to lay great stress upon the subjective value of prayer and to whittle down small, or, deny entirely its value in influencing others. Some who have the popular ear are quite free with tongue and pen in this direction. From both without and within distinctly Christian circles their voices come. One wonders if these friends lay the greater emphasis on the subjective value of prayer so as to get a good deep breath for their hard drive at the other. Yet the greater probability is that they honestly believe as they say, but have failed to grasp the full perspective of the picture. In listening to such statements one remembers with vivid distinctness that the scriptural standpoint always is this: that things quite outside of one's self, that in the natural order of prevailing circumstances would not occur, are made to occur through prayer. Jesus constantly so assumed. The first-flush, commonsense view of successful prayer is that some actual result is secured through its agency.
It is an utter begging of the question to advance such a theory as a sufficient explanation of prayer. For prayer in its simplest conception supposes something changed that is not otherwise reachable. Both from the scriptural, and from a rugged philosophical standpoint the objective is the real driving point of all full prayer. The subjective is in order to the objective, as the final outward climactic reach of God's great love-plan for a world.
Posted by Catholic Prayers
Friday, July 4, 2008
Prayer is the word commonly used for all intercourse with God. But it should be kept in mind that that word covers and includes three forms of intercourse. All prayer grows up through, and ever continues in three stages.
The first form of prayer is communion. That is simply being on good terms with God. It involves the blood of the cross as the basis of our getting and being on good terms. It involves my coming to God through Jesus. Communion is fellowship with God. Not request for some particular thing; not asking, but simply enjoying Himself, loving Him, thinking about Him, how beautiful, and intelligent, and strong and loving and lovable He is; talking to Him without words. That is the truest worship, thinking how worthy He is of all the best we can possibly bring to Him, and infinitely more. It has to do wholly with God and a man being on good terms with each other. Of necessity it includes confession on my part and forgiveness upon God's part, for only so can we come into the relation of fellowship. Adoration, worship belong to this first phase of prayer. Communion is the basis of all prayer. It is the essential breath of the true Christian life. It concerns just two, God and myself, yourself. Its influence is directly subjective. It affects me.
The second form of prayer is petition. And I am using that word now in the narrower meaning of asking something for one's self. Petition is definite request of God for something I need. A man's whole life is utterly dependent upon the giving hand of God. Everything we need comes from Him. Our friendships, ability to make money, health, strength in temptation, and in sorrow, guidance in difficult circumstances, and in all of life's movements; help of all sorts, financial, bodily, mental, spiritual--all come from God, and necessitate a constant touch with Him. There needs to be a constant stream of petition going up, many times wordless prayer. And there will be a constant return stream of answer and supply coming down. The door between God and one's own self must be kept ever open. The knob to be turned is on our side. He opened His side long ago, and propped it open, and threw the knob away. The whole life hinges upon this continual intercourse with our wondrous God. This is the second stage or form of prayer. It concerns just two: God and the man dealing with God. It is subjective in its influence: its reach is within.
The third form of prayer is intercession. True prayer never stops with petition for one's self. It reaches out for others. The very word intercession implies a reaching out for some one else. It is standing as a go-between, a mutual friend, between God and some one who is either out of touch with Him, or is needing special help. Intercession is the climax of prayer. It is the outward drive of prayer. It is the effective end of prayer outward. Communion and petition are upward and downward. Intercession rests upon these two as its foundation. Communion and petition store the life with the power of God; intercession lets it out on behalf of others. The first two are necessarily for self; this third is for others. They ally a man fully with God: it makes use of that alliance for others. Intercession is the full-bloomed plant whose roots and strength lie back and down in the other two forms. It is the form of prayer that helps God in His great love-plan for winning a planet back to its true sphere. It will help through these talks to keep this simple analysis of prayer in mind. For much that will be said will deal chiefly with this third form, intercession, the outward movement of prayer.
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This world is God's prodigal son. The heart of God's bleeds over His prodigal. It has been gone so long, and the home circle is broken. He has spent all the wealth of His thought on a plan for winning the prodigal back home. Angels and men have marvelled over that plan, its sweep, its detail, its strength and wisdom, its tenderness. He needs man for His plan. He will use man. That is true. He will honour man in service. That is true. But these only touch the edge of the truth. The pathway from God to a human heart is through a human heart. When He came to the great strategic move in His plan, He Himself came down as a man and made that move. He needs man for His plan.
The greatest agency put into man's hands is prayer. To understand that at all fully one needs to define prayer. And to define prayer adequately one must use the language of war. Peace language is not equal to the situation. The earth is in a state of war. It is being hotly besieged and so one must use war talk to grasp the facts with which prayer is concerned. Prayer from God's side is communication between Himself and His allies in the enemy's country. Prayer is not persuading God. It does not influence God's purpose. It is not winning Him over to our side; never that. He is far more eager for what we are rightly eager for than we ever are. What there is of wrong and sin and suffering that pains you, pains Him far more. He knows more about it. He is more keenly sensitive to it than the most sensitive one of us. Whatever of heart yearning there may be that moves you to prayer is from Him. God takes the initiative in all prayer. It starts with Him. True prayer moves in a circle. It begins in the heart of God, sweeps down into a human heart upon the earth, so intersecting the circle of the earth, which is the battle-field of prayer, and then it goes back again to its starting point, having accomplished its purpose on the downward swing.
Posted by Catholic Prayers
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The Victor's best ally in this conflict is the man, who while he remains
down on the battle-field, puts his life in full touch with his
Saviour-Victor, and then incessantly, insistently, believingly claims
_victory in Jesus' name_. He is the one foe among men whom Satan cannot
withstand. He is projecting an irresistible spirit force into the spirit
realm. Satan is obliged to yield. We are so accustomed through history's
long record to seeing victories won through force, physical force, alone,
that it is difficult for us to realize that moral force defeats as the
other never can. Witness the demons in the gospels, and in modern days in
China, clearly against their own set purpose, notwithstanding intensest
struggle on their part obliged to admit defeat, and even to ask favours of
their Conqueror. The records of personal Christian service give
fascinating instances of fierce opposition utterly subdued and individuals
transformed through such influence.
Had we eyes to see spirit beings and spirit conflicts we would constantly
see the enemy's defeat in numberless instances through the persistent
praying of some one allied to Jesus in the spirit of his life. Every time
such a man prays it is a waving of the red-dyed flag of Jesus Christ above
Satan's head in the spirit world. Every such man who freely gives himself
over to God, and gives himself up to prayer is giving God a new spot in
the contested territory on which to erect His banner of victory.
The Japanese struggled for weeks to get a footing on the Port Arthur
peninsula, even after the naval victories had practically rendered Russia
helpless on the seas. It was an unusual spectacle to witness such
difficulty in getting a landing after such victories. But with the bulldog
tenacity that has marked her fighting Japan fought for a footing. Nothing
could be done till a footing was gotten.
Prayer is man giving God a footing on the contested territory of this
earth. The man in full touch of purpose with God praying, insistently
praying--that man is God's footing on the enemy's soil. The man wholly
given over to God gives Him a new sub-headquarters on the battle-field
from which to work out. And the Holy Spirit within that man, on the new
spot, will insist on the enemy's retreat in Jesus the Victor's name. That
is prayer. Shall we not, every one of us, increase God's footing down upon
His prodigal earth!
Posted by Catholic Prayers
Monday, June 23, 2008
Now prayer is a spirit force, it has to do wholly with spirit beings and
forces. It is an insistent claiming, by a man, an embodied spirit being,
down on the contested earth, that the power of Jesus' victory over the
great evil-spirit chieftain shall extend to particular lives now under his
control. The prayer takes on the characteristic of the man praying. He is
a spirit being. It becomes a spirit force. It is a projecting into the
spirit realm of his spirit personality. Being a spirit force it has
certain qualities or characteristics of unembodied spirit beings. An
unembodied spirit being is not limited by space as we embodied folk are.
It can go as swiftly as we can think. If I want to go to London it will
take at least a week's time to get my body through the intervening space.
But I can think myself into London more quickly than I can say the words,
and be walking down the Strand. Now a spirit being can go as quickly as I
Further, spirit beings are not limited by material obstructions such as
the walls of this building. When I came in here to-day I came in by this
door. You all came in by these doors. We were obliged to come in either by
doors or windows. But the spirit beings who are here listening to us, and
deeply concerned with our discussion did not bother with the doors. They
came in through the walls, or the roof, if they were above us, or through
the floor here, if they happened to be below this level.
Prayer has these qualities of spirit beings of not being limited by space,
or by material obstacles. Prayer is really projecting my spirit, that is,
my real personality to the spot concerned, and doing business there with
other spirit beings. For example there is a man in a city on the Atlantic
seaboard for whom I pray daily. It makes my praying for him very tangible
and definite to recall that every time I pray my prayer is a spirit force
instantly traversing the space in between him and me, and going without
hindrance through the walls of the house where he is, and influencing the
spirit beings surrounding him, and so influencing his own will.
When it became clear to me some few years ago that my Master would not
have me go yet to those parts of the earth where the need is greatest, a
deep tinge of disappointment came over me. Then as I realized the wisdom
of His sovereignty in service, it came to me anew that I could exert a
positive influence in those lands for Him by prayer. As many others have
done, I marked out a daily schedule of prayer. There are certain ones for
whom I pray by name, at certain intervals. And it gives great simplicity
to my faith, and great gladness to my heart to remember that every time
such prayer is breathed out, my spirit personality is being projected
yonder, and in effect I am standing in Shanghai, and Calcutta and Tokyo in
turn and pleading the power of Jesus' victory over the evil one there, and
on behalf of those faithful ones standing there for God.
It is a fiercely contested conflict. Satan is a trained strategist, and an
obstinate fighter. He refuses to acknowledge defeat until he must. It is
the fight of his life. Strange as it must seem, and perhaps absurd, he
apparently hopes to succeed. If we knew all, it might seem less strange
and absurd, because of the factors on his side. There is surely much down
in the world of the sort which we can fully appreciate to give colour to
his expectations. Prayer is insisting upon Jesus' victory, and the retreat
of the enemy on each particular spot, and heart and problem concerned.
The enemy yields only what he must. He yields only what is taken.
Therefore the ground must be taken step by step. Prayer must be definite.
He yields only when he must. Therefore the prayer must be persistent. He
continually renews his attacks, therefore the ground taken must be _held_
against him in the Victor's name. This helps to understand why prayer
must be persisted in after we have full assurance of the result, and even
after some immediate results have come, or, after the general results have
Posted by Catholic Prayers
Saturday, June 21, 2008
In its simplest meaning prayer has to do with a conflict. Rightly
understood it is the deciding factor in a spirit conflict. The scene of
the conflict is the earth. The purpose of the conflict is to decide the
control of the earth, and its inhabitants. The conflict runs back into the
misty ages of the creation time.
The rightful prince of the earth is Jesus, the King's Son. There is a
pretender prince who was once rightful prince. He was guilty of a breach
of trust. But like King Saul, after his rejection and David's anointing in
his place, he has been and is trying his best by dint of force to hold the
realm and oust the rightful ruler.
The rightful Prince is seeking by utterly different means, namely by
persuasion, to win the world back to its first allegiance. He had a fierce
set-to with the pretender, and after a series of victories won the great
victory of the resurrection morning.
There is one peculiarity of this conflict making it different from all
others; namely, a decided victory, and the utter vanquishing of the
leading general has not stopped the war. And the reason is remarkable. The
Victor has a deep love-ambition to win, not merely against the enemy, but
_into men's hearts, by their free consent_. And so, with marvellous
love-born wisdom and courage, the conflict is left open, for men's sake.
It is a spirit conflict. The earth is swung in a spirit atmosphere. There
are unnumbered thousands of spirit beings good and evil, tramping the
earth's surface, and filling its atmosphere. They are splendidly organized
into two compact organizations.
Man is a spirit being; an embodied spirit being. He has a body and a mind.
He is a spirit. His real conflicts are of the spirit sort; in the spirit
realm, with other spirit beings.
Satan is a spirit being; an unembodied spirit being. That is, unembodied,
save as in much cunning, with deep, dark purpose he secures embodiment in
The only sort of power that influences in the spirit realm is _moral_
power. By which is not meant _goodness_, but that sort of power either bad
or good which is not of a physical sort: that higher, infinitely higher
and greater power than the mere physical. Moral power is the opposite of
violent or physical power.
God does not use force, violent physical force. There are some exceptions
to this statement. There have been righteous wars, righteous on one side.
Turning to the Bible record, in emergencies, in extreme instances God has
ordered war measures. The nations that Israel was told to remove by the
death of war would have inevitably worn themselves out through their
physical excesses, and disobedience of the laws of life. But a wide view
of the race revealed an emergency which demanded a speedier movement. And
as an exception, for the sake of His plan for the ultimate saving of a
race, and a world, God gave an extermination order. The emergency makes
the exception. There is one circumstance under which the taking of human
life is right, namely, when it can be clearly established that God the
giver and sovereign of life has so directed. But the rule clearly is that
God does not use force.
But note sharply in contrast with this that physical force is one of
Satan's chief weapons. But mark there two intensely interesting facts:
first, he can use it only as he secures man as his ally, and uses it
through him. And, second, in using it he has with great subtlety sought to
shift the sphere of action. He knows that in the sphere of spirit force
pure and simple he is at a disadvantage: indeed, worse yet, he is
defeated. For there is a moral force on the other side greater than any at
his command. The forces of purity and righteousness he simply _can_not
withstand. Jesus is the personification of purity and righteousness. It
was on this moral ground, in this spirit sphere that He won the great
victory. He ran a terrific gauntlet of tests, subtle and fierce, through
those human years, and came out victor with His purity and righteousness
Posted by Catholic Prayers