Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 1, 1968
NUMBER 13, PAGE 12-13


Edward Fudge

The Privilege Of Prayer

The story is told of a Roman army returning to the Capital following a strategic military victory at an imperial outpost. Crowds lined the highways. Suddenly a little boy broke through the ranks and ran toward the chariot of the emperor. A soldier caught him. "You cannot do that. He is the Emperor!" Without hesitation the boy replied, "Your Emperor, but my father!"

"If you ask anything of the Father," said Jesus, "he will give it to you in my name" (John 16:23). Bonhoeffer commented on this passage: "The disciples are permitted to pray because Jesus tells them they may — and he knows the Father." What a privilege, through Christ, to come before God Himself! "Since we have the blood of Jesus,...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:19-22).

A realization of the privilege should prompt reverence in prayer. Twain's Huckleberry Finn too often illustrates our apathetic regard toward this exercise.

When you got to the table you couldn't go right to eating, but you had to wait for the widow to tuck down her head and grumble a little over the victuals, though there warn't really anything the matter with them...

Let us hope that Huck experienced a change of heart before he reached "maturity"!

When John Knox of Scotland was dying he began to pray. After "Our Father," he paused, and said "Who can pronounce words so holy?" Isaiah, the Dean of the Prophets, began his successful ministry by an humbling encounter with the Eternal King (chapter six). At one time the Hebrew people would not even pronounce the sacred name of God (Yahweh, or Jehovah), lest they sometime take it in vain. Ralph Turnbull well commented: "How much we need in modern life to pause in our feverish rush to look afresh at the throne of God." Read Isaiah 40. Then speak to our Father in heaven.

The Presence Of Christ

Jesus promises that "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). And although His statement appears in a setting of church discipline, the promise is equally effective in a worship gathering. It is a sad fact that in too many churches worship is not a moving experience. And Voices of Concern writer Ralph Graham should be heard when he suggests that "a real sense that Christ is living and present would bring warmth to devotions."

A friend in one northern city once told in a personal letter of the vitality that constant prayer had brought his life. I do not believe he would mind my quoting him here.

Great things are happening in my own life and God is opening up tremendous doors of opportunity for witness to Jewish businessmen; Negroes in the heart of the inner city ghetto; hippies and flower children on university campuses; and others. Life is not drab or boresome in these days, and for that praise His name!

Eugene Clevenger has said, "Christianity is a matter of our being in Christ...and Christ being in us." Constant prayer gives a sense of nearness to Christ. It gives a new outlook on life — a life of faith. Homer Hailey used to say, when lecturing on Hebrews 11, "It is an exciting thing to walk by faith!" And men and women throughout the world who have experienced such a walk will answer "Amen"!

The Power Of God

J. B. Phillips, in Your God Is Too Small speaks of some who look at God "as though they were revering the memory of a Grand Old Man, who was a great power in His day, but who could not possibly be expected to keep pace with modern progress!" In this connection, too, one might give some thought to an observation made by Jerry Phillips that when children are asked how they suppose God "looks," they almost always describe Him as an old man, if not with whiskers. Where might they have learned such a notion?

Paul spoke in these terms:

That you may know the immeasureable greatness of His power in us who believe... (Eph. 1:19)

To Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think...(Eph. 3:20)

That you may be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might... (Col. 1:11)

God already has raised Jesus from the dead! How much power did that take? HIS power is sufficient for His work today.

What a privilege to pray! What an obligation to come with reverence! What a thrill to be aware of His presence! And what a challenge to be an instrument of His power! All this - and more - if we take the time to pray.

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