The Cure for Cold and Chill Prayers

I will be glad and rejoice in Thee: I will sing praise to Thy name, O Thou Most High. – Psalm 9:2

I believe it is the experience of many who love secret devotion that at times they cannot pray, for their heart seems hard, cold, dumb, and almost dead. Do not pump up unwilling and formal prayer, my brethren; but take down the hymn-book and sing. While you praise the Lord for what you have, you will find your rocky heart begin to dissolve and flow in rivers. You will be encouraged to plead with the Lord because you will remember what you have aforetime received at His hand. If you had an empty wagon to raise to the mouth of a coal-pit, it might be a very difficult task for you; but the work is managed easily by the common-sense of the miners. They make the full wagons, as they run down, pull the empty wagons up the incline. Now, when your heart is loaded with praise for mercy received, let it run down the incline, and draw up the empty wagon of your desires, and you will thus find it easy to pray. Cold and chill prayers are always to be deplored, and if by so simple a method as entreating the Lord to accept our thanksgiving our hearts can be warmed and renewed, let us by all means take care to use it.

Lastly, I believe that when a man begins to pray with thanksgiving he is upon the eve of receiving the blessing. God’s time to bless you has come when you begin to praise Him as well as pray to Him. God has His set time to favour us, and He will not grant us our desire until the due season has arrived. But the time has come when you begin to bless the Lord. ~ C.H. Spurgeon


This Divine Rest of Spirit

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

The presence of thanksgiving in the heart together with prayer is productive of peace. “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.” Now that peace, that conscious calm, that divine serenity, which is described as the peace of God, is not produced by prayer alone, but by prayer with thanksgiving. Some men pray, and therein they do well; but for lack of mixing thanksgiving with it their prayer agitates them, and they come away from the closet even more anxious than when they entered it. If they mingled in their petitions that sweet powder of the merchants, which is called praise, and mixed it after the art of the apothecary, in due proportions, the blessing of God would come with it, causing repose of heart. If we bless our gracious Lord for the very trouble we pray against; if we bless Him for the very mercy which we need, as though it had already come; if we resolve to praise Him whether we receive the boon or not, learning in whatsoever state we are therewith to be content, then “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds by Christ Jesus.” Brethren, as you value this divine rest of spirit, as you prize constant serenity of soul, I beseech you, mingle praises with your prayers.~ C.H. Spurgeon

The Basis of Prevalence in Prayer

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16

Prayer is the shadow of the decrees of the Eternal. God has willed such a thing, and He makes His saints to will it, and express their will in prayer. It is written, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” It is not said that He will give the desire of his heart to every Jack and Tom; but you must first delight in the Lord, and when your mind finds all her joy in God then it is clear that God and you, as far as it can be, are standing on the same plane and moving in the same direction, and now you shall have the desire of your heart because the desire of your heart is the desire of God’s heart. Character, as much as faith, lies at the basis of prevalence in prayer. I do not mean in the case of the prayer of the sinner when he is seeking mercy, but I mean in the habitual prayers of the godly. There are some men who cannot pray so as to prevail, for sin has made them weak, and God walks contrary to them because they walk contrary to Him. He who has lost the light of God’s countenance has also lost much of the prevalence of his prayers. You do not suppose that every Israelite could have gone to the top of Carmel and opened the windows of heaven as Elijah did. No, he must first be Elijah, for it is the effectual, fervent prayer, not of every man, but of a righteous man, that availeth much; and when the Lord has put your heart and my heart into an agreement with Him then we shall pray and prevail. What did our Lord say, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Doubtless many lose power in prayer because their lives are grievous in the sight of the Lord, and He cannot smile upon them. Will any father listen to the requests of a child who has set himself up in opposition to parental authority? The obedient, tender, loving child, who would not wish for anything which you did not think right to give, is he whose requests you are pleased to consider and fulfill; yea, more, you even anticipate the wishes of such a child, and before he calls you answer him. May we be such children of the great God.~ C.H. Spurgeon

Are We Like a Naughty Child?

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. – James 4:3

To refuse to praise unless we have our own way is great presumption, and shows that like a naughty child we will sulk if we cannot be master. I might illustrate the willfulness of many a supplication by that of a little boy who was very diligent in saying his prayers, but was at the same time disobedient, ill-tempered, and the pest of the house. His mother told him that she thought it was mere hypocrisy for him to pretend to pray. He replied, “No, mother, indeed it is not, for I pray God to lead you and father to like my ways better than you do.” Numbers of people want the Lord to like their ways better, but they do not intend to follow the ways of the Lord. Their minds are contrary to God and will not submit to His will, and therefore there is no thanksgiving in them. Praise in a prayer is indicative of an humble, submissive, obedient spirit, and when it is absent we may suspect willfulness and self-seeking. Very much of the prayer of rebellious hearts is the mere growling of an angry obstinacy, the whine of an ungratified self-conceit. God must do this and He must do that, or else we will not love Him. What baby talk! What spoiled children such are! A little whipping will do them good.

This will not do; this quarreling with God is poor work! Resignation comes to the heart like an angel unawares, and when we entertain it our soul is comforted… “If Thou shouldest take all away, yet still will I bless Thy name, O Thou Most High.” This is acceptable prayer, because it is not soured by the leaven of self-will, but salted with thankfulness. ~ C.H. Spurgeon

Have You No Thanks to Bring?

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Are we to be always receiving and never to return thanks? Aristotle rightly observes: “A return is required to preserve friendship between two persons,” and as we have nothing else to give to God except gratitude, let us abound therein. If we have no fruit of the field, let us at least render to Him the fruit of our lips. Have you no thanks to bring? How, then, can you expect further favours? Does not liberality itself close its hand when ingratitude stands in the way? What, never a word of gratitude to Him from whom all blessings flow! Then may even the ungodly despise you. It would argue great selfishness if we did not combine praise with prayer. Can it be right to think only of ourselves, to pray for benefits and never honour our Benefactor?…What, no thought for God’s glory? No idea of magnifying His great and blessed name! God forbid that we should fall into a spirit so mean and narrow. Healthy praise and thanksgiving must be cultivated, because they prevent prayer from becoming overgrown with the mildew of selfishness.

Thanksgiving also prevents prayer from becoming an exhibition of the want of faith; for indeed some prayer is rather a manifestation of the absence of faith than the exercise of confidence in God. If when I am in trouble I still bless the Lord for all I suffer, therein my faith is seen. If before I obtain the mercy, I thank God for the grace which I have not yet tasted, therein my faith is manifest. ~ C.H. Spurgeon

Still He is So Good, So Supremely Good

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. – Habakkuk 3:17

Brethren, if the Lord does not answer the prayer which we are offering, yet still He is so good, so supremely good, that we will bless Him whether or no. We ought even to praise Him when He does not answer us, ay, and bless Him for refusing our desires. How devoutly might some of us thank Him that He did not answer our prayers when we sought for evil things in the ignorance of our childish minds. We asked for flesh, and He might have sent us quails in His anger, and while the flesh was yet in our mouths His wrath might have come upon us; but in love He would not hear us. Blessed be His name for closing His ear in pity! Let us adore Him when He keeps us waiting at His doors; thank Him for rebuffs, and bless Him for refusals…Ralph Erskine spoke the truth when he said:

“I’m heard when answered soon or late,
Yea, heard when I no answer get:
Yea, kindly answered when refused,
And treated well when harshly used.”

Faith glorifies the love of God, for she knows that the Lord’s roughest usage is only love in disguise…Though He slay us we will trust in Him, much more if He decline our requests. We ask Him for our daily bread, and if He withhold it we will praise Him. Our praises are not suspended upon His answers to our prayers. If the labour of the olive should fail, and the field should yield no fruit; if the flock should be cut off from the fold, and the herd from the stall, yet still would we rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of our salvation. Blessed Spirit, raise us to this state of grace and keep us there. ~ C.H. Spurgeon