The precious grace of entire sanctification brings to the heart a prayerful spirit. Prayer becomes the normal occupation of the soul. One is surprised to discover that while it was formerly difficult, if not irksome, to pray at times, now one prays because it is delightful and easy.
Many of us have been surprised to read in the biographies of pious men and women that they frequently spent hours in prayer. But the sanctified man understands all that now. He can readily believe that De Renty heard not the voice of his servant, so intent was he gazing into the Father's face. He does not doubt that Whitefield in his college room was "prostrate upon the floor many days, praying for the baptism with the Holy Ghost."
The writer remembers of reading when just a child the thrilling life of John Wesley Redfield. There was nothing which struck the boy-reader with greater force than the prayerfulness of the man. It awed him, and made him long to enjoy such an experience as would make prayer so delightful. In the golden experience of sanctification he found that prayer was delightsome and blessed. Such is the uniform testimony of all who have been cleansed from depravity and anointed with the Holy Ghost.
PRAYER HAS ITS ANSWER.
God means true prayer to have audience. We can not understand how God can vouchsafe to us such tremendous effects as He asserts shall follow prayer. We can not defend prayer philosophically; but either "he that asketh receiveth," or the Bible is misleading and untrustworthy.
But what is "true prayer"? In the first place, it is prayer which says, "Thy will be done." If we pray selfishly, "asking amiss," we can hope for no answer. We will get no hearing. We must ask with the thought, "What is the Father's will? What does He consider best?"
True prayer must be earnest. It was the IMPORTUNATE widow that was heard, and it is the importunate seeker that never fails of an answer. If when sinners, backsliders, or believers come to the altar they would pray with earnestness and desperation, there would be a far larger PER CENT. of them who would go away fully satisfied. God never gives great blessings to indifferent people. When He sees a man in an agony of desire and longing, then He hastens to gladden his heart with an answer.
Prayer must be full of faith. James makes this clear to us. "Let him ask in faith nothing wavering." God cannot bestow a blessing upon us if we doubt Him. If a neighbor doubts your character, how much of your heart do you let him see? If a fellow-preacher imputes selfish motives to your acts, how often do you go to him and pour your heart out to him? But those who believe in us -- how frequently we run to them, unlock our hearts and tell them all! It is thus with God. If we believe His word, if we are sure of the veracity of His promise, and are confidently expecting an answer, He will not, can not disappoint us.
THE FORGIVING SPIRIT.
There must be in us a forgiving spirit if our prayers are to be heard. Forgiveness of our enemies precedes blessing for ourselves. "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive your trespasses." If I am bitter in my heart toward any creature, God can not but be deaf to all my cries. If I nourish hatred, or meditate revenge, or plot the downfall of any man, my prayers are vain; yea, all my hope in Christ is futile!
O that God may send us all the prayerful blessing! It is better that we pray than that we discuss politics or talk "shop," or gossip or jest. If we preachers and evangelists at camps and conventions would pray more instead of getting in groups and talking about a world of nothings, our sermons would mean full as much to those whom we address.
Sanctification makes it possible for us to "pray without ceasing." The indwelling Paraclete keeps the heart in a constant spirit of prayer, so that at all hours and in all places prayers ascend. Communication is kept up between the heart and the throne of Grod. No snows break the wires. No floods wash away the poles. From the pulpit, from the sidewalk, from the counter, from the railway coach, from the sick bed, an ever-steady stream of prayer is kept up. They may befoul our names, but they can not stop our praying. They may "cast us out as evil," and may deny us pulpit privileges, and take away our salaries, but prayer and praise they can not stifle nor hinder.
INCENSE AND THUNDER.
The prayers of God's people are sweet to Him. "With much incense" burning in a golden censer (Rev. viii.3) they float to His throne. But notice the effect of the prayers of saints. Not only is there a silence of an half-hour but "voices and thunderings and lightnings and an earthquake" are observed in the earth. The children of God, if they but pray and believe, can pull spiritual fire and earthquakes down upon earth and effect great things for God and His Church.