There is an interesting anecdote about General Stonewall Jackson, who was a general during the Civil War and it is a story worth repeating.
Once an officer stormed into Jackson’s barrack and demanded that the general would punish the soldiers in a certain tent.
“What is the problem?” the general asked.
“They are praying,” the outraged officer explained. “And before that they have been singing too.”
The general raised his eyebrows. “What’s wrong with that?”
“Everything,” said the man with a scowl. “It says in the book of conduct that no unusual noise in the camp may be permitted. There needs to be a punishment for this offense.”
“My dear officer,” the General said, “God forbid that praying and singing praises to God will be seen as an unusual noise. If the time has come in which praying and worshiping God are unusual noises I will resign, for in that case I have no hope anyone will survive the war.”
Praying is the communion of a respectful heart with the Father. Without prayer, it is virtually impossible to have a deep relationship with God.
Without prayer, there are no miracles, no true holiness and no assurance of God’s care watching over His children in an unstable, fearful world.
Prayer is like the life-giving sap in a tree that flows up from the roots and goes all the way to the tiniest leaf. As prayer makes the tree grow strong and sturdy, so praying strengthens man. It is through prayer that we give God the chance to form our hearts and mold our lives after His will.
The world, of course, doesn’t believe in prayer, but by doing so it cuts itself off from the true flow of life.
Can only praying people be good people then? E.M. Bounds sheds light on that question. He wrote once, “Unbelieving people are capable of doing a lot of good things and yet they are not holy in heart or righteous in conduct.” Prayer can make the difference. What matters to God is not necessarily our works and good deeds, but the state of our hearts.
But, the Spirit of God is very sensitive and gentle. It doesn’t land on a heart that does not truly want it. Wherever the Spirit is met with harshness or resistance, he withdraws. The Spirit is likened unto a dove and the dove is a picture of tender humility.
When there is pride, selfishness or any of the other attitudes that are not a reflection of the Kingdom of God, the Spirit will not come down.
In such a heart no miracles happen and prayers remain unanswered. God seeks hearts that are hungry for true fellowship with the Creator. Hearts that long to listen to the still, small voice of God and to the truth about our need for God’s help in this fallen and sin sick world.
The Bible mentions that “God is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart”* People with a broken heart know they can’t do it alone.They know they need help and do no longer seek to save themselves.
Prayer is the great divider between the world and the believer.
In the world, you have to create your own miracles by working just a bit harder than your neighbor. You just have to be a little smarter, faster and stronger than the other person. You are your own road to success. Prayer is for the weak; a nice social time waster for the church on Sunday. But real men take care of the real problems.
Author Ronald Dunn* gave a comical illustration of the world’s view on prayer. He described a scene with a mighty cowboy who had just heard about a gang of thugs who had robbed the bank and kidnapped the pretty daughter of the local politician. He was just about ready to go after the bad guys with his loaded pistols and an extra shotgun when the local priest whimpered, “Let me come along and help.” But the cowboy looked at the pastor and said after he spat on the ground, “Nah, father. Let me take care of it. But if you wish you can pray and in the meantime, I will take care of the real work.”
That is not to say we should only pray and never go after the bad guys. Of course, there has to be a time of action. Jesus was full of action, but to say that the real work is in the doing and that praying is something for the old ladies and the weak priests while others do the real work is a grave error.
Our present society is ample proof of the fruits of a world that does not pray. People harden their hearts and fear is lurking around every corner.
Jeremiah 29:12 says “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
God doesn’t force us to believe in Him. He doesn’t force us to pray, but He is definitely trying to get everyone’s attention and He encourages us to let the Spirit into our lives through our sincere communion with God.
Don’t underestimate the Spirit of God which is different from the spirit of the world with its loud, pushy and selfish agenda.
God is patient and He’s got all the time in the world…We, however, don’t have all the time in the world, so seek Him today when our salvation draweth nigh.
* Ronald Dunn – Don’t just stand there, pray something