The Gospel of Prayer
Written by: Ravenhill, Leonard Posted on: 04/10/2003
BY LEONARD RAVENHILL
The Gospel Of Prayer
There's nothing more transfiguring than prayer. People often
ask, "Why do you insist on prayer so much?" The answer is very
simple - because Jesus did. You could change the title of the
Gospel according to St. Luke to the Gospel of Prayer. It's the
prayer life of Jesus. The other evangelists say that Jesus was in
the Jordan and the Spirit descended on Him as a dove - Luke
says it was *while He was praying* that the Spirit descended on
Him. The other evangelists say that Jesus chose 12 disciples -
Luke says it was after He spent *a night in prayer* that He chose
12 disciples. The other evangelists say that Jesus died on a
cross - Luke says that even when He was dying *Jesus was praying*
for those who persecuted Him. The other evangelists say Jesus
went on a mount and He was transfigured - Luke says it was *while
He was praying* that He was transfigured. There's nothing more
transfiguring than prayer.
The Scriptures say that the disciples went to bed, but Jesus
went *to pray* - as was His custom. It was His custom to pray.
Now Jesus was the Son of God - He was definitely anointed for
His ministry. If Jesus needed all that time in prayer, don't you
and I need time in prayer? If Jesus needed it in every crisis,
don't you and I need it in every crisis?
The story goes that a group of tourists visiting a picturesque
village saw an old man sitting by a fence. In a rather
patronizing way, one of the visitors asked, "Were any great men
born in this village?" Without looking up the old man replied,
"No, only babies." The greatest men were once babies. The
greatest saints were once toddlers in the things of the Spirit.
C. H. Spurgeon was converted at the age of 16 and began
preaching in London at the age of 19. When he was 27, they built
him a tabernacle seating 6,000 which he packed twice on Sundays -
that's 12,000 - and once on Thursday nights. How? He waited on
God. He got alone with God. He studied...and he prayed.
God makes all His best people in loneliness. Do you know what
the secret of praying is? *Praying in secret.* "But you, when you
pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your
door..." (Matt. 6:6). You can't show off when the door's shut and
nobody's there. You can't display your gifts. You can impress
others, but you can't impress God.
I Samuel 1:1-15 gives an account of the yearly trip Elkanah and
his wife, Hannah, made to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the
Lord. During this time, Hannah had been distressed that she was
not able to bear a son for her husband. This passage of Scripture
gives quite a descriptive account of her time in prayer
concerning the barrenness of her womb. It says that Hannah wept.
More than this, she wept until she was sore. She poured out her
soul before the Lord. Her heart was grieving; she was bitter of
soul, provoked, and of a sorrowful spirit.
Now that's a pretty good list of afflictions - sorrow,
hardship, and everything else that came upon this woman. But the
key to the whole situation is that she was a praying woman. In
verse 20 it says that she reaped her reward. "And it came about
in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a
son; and she named him Samuel, saying, 'Because I have asked him
of the Lord.'"
Now I say very often - and people don't like it - that God
doesn't answer prayer. He answers *desperate* prayer! Your prayer
life denotes how much you depend on your own ability, and how
much you really believe in your heart when you sing, "Nothing in
my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling...." The more self-
confidence you have, the less you pray. The less self-confidence
you have, the more you *have* to pray.
What does the Scripture say? It says that God takes the lowly,
the things that are not. Paul says in I Corinthians 1:28 that God
takes the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that
are, so that no flesh should glory in His presence. We need a
bunch of "are nots" today.
The Language of the Poor
Prayer is the language of the poor. Over and over again David,
the King of Israel, says, "Incline Thine ear, O Lord, and answer
me; for I am afflicted and needy" (Psalm 86:1). And do you
remember that one of the greatest psalms he wrote says, "This
poor man cried and the Lord heard him..." (Psalm 34:6).
The apostle Paul overwhelms me with his spirituality, his
pedigree, his colossal intellect. Yet he says that he's very
conscious that when he's weak, he is strong. He was always trying
to prove to himself and to others that he was a nobody.
True prayer is a two-way communication. I speak to God and God
speaks to me. I don't know how the Spirit makes communication -
or why God needs me to pray - but that's how God works.
"Get Up And Pray!"
One day I was at a conference with Dr. V. Raymond Edman of
Wheaton College, one of the greatest Christian educators in this
country. He told us of an experience he had while he was in
Ecuador as a missionary. He hadn't been there long before he was
sick and dying. He was so near death that they had already dug
his grave. He had great beads of sweat on his brow and there was
a death rattle in his throat. But suddenly he sat straight up in
bed and said to his wife, "Bring me my clothes!" Nobody knew what
Many years later he was retelling the story in Boston.
Afterward, a little old lady with a small, dog-eared, beaten-up
book, approached him and asked, "What day did you say you were
dying? What time was it in Ecuador? What time would it be in
Boston?" When he answered her, her wrinkled face lit up.
Pointing to her book, she said. "There it is, you see? At 2 a.m.
God said to get up and pray - the devil's trying to kill Raymond
Edman in Ecuador." And she'd gotten up and prayed.
Duncan Campbell told the story of hearing a farmer in his field
who was praying. He was praying about Greece. Afterward, he
asked him why he was praying. The man said, "I don't know. I had
a burden in the spirit and God said, 'You pray; there's someone
in Greece that is in a bad situation.' I prayed until I got a
release." Two or three years later the farmer was in a meeting
listening to a missionary. The man described a time when he was
working in Greece. He had been in serious trouble. The time? Two
or three years ago. The men compared notes and discovered that it
was the very same day that God had burdened a farmer, on a little
island off the coast of Scotland, to pray for a man in Greece
whose name he didn't even know.
It may seem the Lord gives you strange things. I don't care. If
the Lord tells you something, carry on with what the Lord tells
Who Shall Ascend to the Hill of the Lord?"
There's another experience Duncan Campbell told about when he
was working in Scotland.
"I couldn't preach," he said. "I couldn't get through to God.
The heavens were solid. It was as though there was a 10 ft.
ceiling of steel." So he quit trying to preach. He asked a young
man named John Cameron to pray. The boy stood up and said,
"What's the use of praying if we're not right with God?" He
quoted the 24th Psalm, "Who may ascend into the hill of the
You can't approach God unless your hands are clean, which means
your relationships with others are clean *and* your heart is
clean. "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? He who has
clean hands and a pure heart..." (Psalm 24.3-4).
After the boy recited Psalm 24 he began to pray. He prayed 10,
15, 20 minutes. Then he suddenly said, "Excuse me, Lord, while I
resist the devil." He turned around and began to tell the devil
where to go and how to get there. He fought for all he was worth.
You talk about having on the armor of God and resisting the
devil! When he finished resisting the devil, he finished his
prayer. He prayed for 45 minutes! When he finished praying it was
just as though God had pulled a little switch in heaven. The
Spirit of God came down on that church, that community, on the
dance hall at the other end of town, and the tavern on this end
of town. Revival was born in that prayer!
At the end of Malachi it says, "And the Lord, whom you seek,
will *suddenly* (that's the word I like, *suddenly*) come to his
temple" (Malachi 3:1). Remember what it says about the shepherds?
They were watching their flocks by night when *suddenly* there
was the sound of the heavenly host. Do you remember a bunch of
men that had been waiting in the upper room? *Suddenly* the Holy
Spirit came on them in that room.
There's a date in history that I love very much. It was
Wednesday, August 13, 1737. A little group of people in Moravia
were waiting in a prayer meeting. At 11:00 *suddenly* the Holy
Spirit came. Do you know what happened? The prayer meeting that
began at 11:00 lasted 100 years! That's right. That prayer room
was not empty for a century! It's the longest prayer among men
and women that I know of. Even children six and seven years old
travailed in prayer for countries the names of which they
couldn't even spell.
Why We Don't Have Revival
In an old town in Ireland they'll show you with reverence a
place where four young men met night after night after night
praying for revival. In Wales, there's a place in the hills where
three or four young men only 18 or 19 years old met and prayed
night after night. They wouldn't let God go; they would not take
no for an answer. As far as humanly possible they prayed a
revival into birth. If you're thinking of revival at your church
without any inconvenience, forget it. Revival costs a lot.
I can give you one simple reason why we don't have revival in
America. Because we're content to live without it. We're not
seeking God - we're seeking miracles, we're seeking big crusades,
we're seeking blessings. In Numbers 11, Moses said to God,
"You're asking me to carry a burden I can't handle. Do something
or kill me!" Do you love America enough to say, "God, send
revival or kill me"? Do you think it's time we changed Patrick
Henry's prayer from, "Give me liberty or give me death," to "Give
me revival or let me die"?
In the 30th chapter of Genesis, Rachael goes to Jacob and
throws herself down in despair. She says, "Give me children or
else I die." Are you willing to throw yourself down before God to
seek the spiritual birth of spiritual children in our country?
People say, "I'm filled with the Holy Spirit." If the coming of
the Spirit didn't revolutionize your prayer life, you'd better
check on it. I'm not so sure you got what God wanted you to get.
We've said that prayer changes things. No! Prayer doesn't
change things. Prayer changes *people* and *they* change things.
We all want Gabriel to do the job. God says do it yourself - with
My sufficiency and My strength.
We need to get like this woman, Hannah. What did she do? She
wept, she was grieved, she said she had a complaint, she fasted -
and she prayed.
Jesus, the anointed of God, made prayer His custom. Paul, with
his background and intellect, depended on prayer because he said
he was weak. David, the king, called himself a poor man and cried
to the Lord. Hannah prayed for a son and gave birth to a prophet.
The prayers of a handful of young men sparked revival.
There's nothing more transfiguring than prayer.
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