"THE MOST IMPORTANT SUBJECT" Part 2
“Men ought always to pray.”-Luke 18:1
“I have carefully looked over the lives of God’s saints in the Bible. I cannot find one of whose history is much told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a man of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly that they “call on the Father,” that they “call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked that they “call not upon the LORD” (1 Pe 1:17, 1 Co 1:2; Psa 14:4).
I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned and some unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, some Presbyterians, some Baptists, some Independents. Some were Calvinists and some Arminians. Some have loved to use a liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing, I see, they all had in common. They have all been men of prayer…
I do not deny that a man can pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not pretend for a moment to say that the mere fact of a person praying proves everything about his soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this: there is plenty of deception and hypocrisy.
But this I do say-that not praying is clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins. He cannot love God. He cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ. He cannot long after holiness. He cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again. He has yet to be made a new creature. He may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope, and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured, it is all vain talk if he does not pray.
I say furthermore that of all the evidences of real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books, make fine speeches, seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet and pours out his soul before God in secret unless he is in earnest. The Lord Himself has set His stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, He gave him no other evidence of [Saul’s] change of heart than this: “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11).
I know that the elect of God are chosen to salvation from all eternity. I do not forget that the Holy Spirit, Who calls them in due time, in many instances leads them by very slow degrees to acquaintance with Christ…I cannot call any one justified until he believes. I dare not say that any one believes until he prays…The first act of faith will be to speak to God. Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to life. How a man can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a man can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.”
-J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) from Practical Religion Banner of Truth Trust www.banneroftruth.org