By Andrew Gray
Christ was much in prayer, and will you neglect prayer or pray very rarely? Prayer is the ordinary exercise of every child of God. Why do you not pray? Are you so rich, that you need no supplies of grace; or so careless, that you desire them not? Oh, learn of Christ to be frequent, and fervent, and reverent in prayer! To be frequent, Christ prayed early and late, night and day. “In the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). Yes, “He continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). Did Christ spend nights in prayer, and will you not spend hours in prayer? Why do you pray by fits, and not constantly? Why are you so seldom with God, pouring out your hearts to Him?
Are you afraid of coming to God too often? You may come too seldom, but you can never come too often to God. Is there not occasion for prayer to God early and late? Are there not sins early and late to be pardoned, mercies early and late to be procured, mischiefs early and late to be averted, duties early and late to be performed, afflictions early and late to be endured, and temptations early and late to be broken? Now, whence comes your health and strength? Is it not from heaven? And how does it come, but by prayer? Oh above all things, be much in seeking God! You have the very key of heaven, if you have the gift and grace of praying.
Learn of Christ to be fervent; Christ’s prayers were earnest and fervent. “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:44). Did Christ pray fervently, and will you pray slightly, coldly, drowsily, as if you were asleep, or as if you cared not much whether you prayed or not? By this you expose yourselves to the eminent danger of losing your prayers. Cold prayers speak of denial. They are but carcasses of duty, carnal and sinful services which the Lord detests, and will never accept. The greatest liveliness suits us, when speaking in the ears of the living God. Luther was so ardent in prayer, they who stood under his window where he stood praying, might see his tears falling and dropping down. Bishop Latimer, in his prayers, used constantly to beg that the God of mercy would restore His gospel to England once again. He often reiterated, and with such ardency as if he had seen God before him and had spoken to Him face to face. “I care not how long or how short thy prayers be (said Johan Picus, Earl of Mirand, to his nephew) but let them be ardent, and rather interrupted and broken between with sighs, than drawn out with a continual number of words.” The more earnest you are in prayer, the more you resemble Christ “who in the days of His flesh, he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7).