¯Thy paths drop fatness.¯
Many are ¯the paths of the Lord¯ which ¯drop fatness,¯ but an especial one is the path of prayer. No believer, who is much in the closet, will have need to cry, ¯My leanness, my leanness; woe unto me.¯ Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy- seat, and become like the parched fields in times of drought. Prevalence with God in wrestling prayer is sure to make the believer strong¯if not happy. The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of the heavenly grace. Much alone, and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus, your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint; since no high attainments are required; since you are not bidden to come because you are an advanced saint, but freely invited if you be a saint at all; see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the way of private devotion. Be much on your knees, for so Elijah drew the rain upon famished Israel¯s fields.
There is another especial path dropping with fatness to those who walk therein, it is the secret walk of communion. Oh! the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth hath no words which can set forth the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus¯ bosom. Few Christians understand it, they live in the lowlands and seldom climb to the top of Nebo: they live in the outer court, they enter not the holy place, they take not up the privilege of priesthood. At a distance they see the sacrifice, but they sit not down with the priest to eat thereof, and to enjoy the fat of the burnt offering. But, reader, sit thou ever under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of the branches thereof; let thy beloved be unto thee as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, and thou shalt be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. O Jesus, visit us with thy salvation!
¯Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.¯
Saul had been commanded to slay utterly all the Amalekites and their cattle. Instead of doing so, he preserved the king, and suffered his people to take the best of the oxen and of the sheep. When called to account for this, he declared that he did it with a view of offering sacrifice to God; but Samuel met him at once with the assurance that sacrifices were no excuse for an act of direct rebellion. The sentence before us is worthy to be printed in letters of gold, and to be hung up before the eyes of the present idolatrous generation, who are very fond of the fineries of will-worship, but utterly neglect the laws of God. Be it ever in your remembrance, that to keep strictly in the path of your Saviour¯s command is better than any outward form of religion; and to hearken to his precept with an attentive ear is better than to bring the fat of rams, or any other precious thing to lay upon his altar. If you are failing to keep the least of Christ¯s commands to his disciples, I pray you be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the devout actions which you may perform, are no recompense for disobedience. ¯To obey,¯ even in the slightest and smallest thing, ¯is better than sacrifice,¯ however pompous. Talk not of Gregorian chants, sumptuous robes, incense, and banners; the first thing which God requires of his child is obedience; and though you should give your body to be burned, and all your goods to feed the poor, yet if you do not hearken to the Lord¯s precepts, all your formalities shall profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be teachable as a little child, but it is a much more blessed thing when one has been taught the lesson, to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples and decorate their priests, but refuse to obey the word of the Lord! My soul, come not thou into their secret.
Prayer Must Have Priority
By Armin Gesswein
................. continued ..................
(3) Prayer is likewise number one with and in the Holy Spirit. He "maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26). God only blesses that which comes from Himself. The Holy Spirit is a praying Spirit, and as the Administrator of the Godhead, brings forth Christ¯s own praying in us. Actually, only the praying that is in the Spirit is really effective and is answered. In the Spirit prayer becomes intercessory.
Anyone filled with the Spirit of God will be an intercessor. The more godly, the more Christ-like, the more full of the Spirit we become, the more prayerful our lives will be on earth. The life of the Spirit is a life of prayer.
Fletcher of Madeley was a man who knew this. It was said of him that he would have been a saint in any denomination! One of his sayings was, "Do I greet you praying?" The ministry of the Holy Spirit, like that of Christ, is essentially a ministry of prayer, and only the works wrought by Him will abide the fires of judgment. How we need to learn this in a day of frustration, fears and failures; of powerlessness because of prayerlessness.
(4) Prayer is the number one purpose and use of God¯s Word. The Bible has many uses, but prayer is its number one design, and its highest. The Bible is the real and great prayer book.
An old Methodist brother said to me early in my ministry, "Young man, learn to plead the promises of God."
That taught me the real secret of intercession. I have prayed differently ever since. Rather than lift my longings, desires and aspirations to God in prayer, I learned to remind God of His own promises.
This gave me faith. Is not this the very heart of being the Lord¯s "remembrancers" ¯ to remind God of His own Word? (Isa. 62:6). Prayer should take the size and shape of God¯s promises. Here also, prayer has its origin in God.
We see this number one use of God¯s Word also in the Book of Acts. In chapter four, they have a prayer meeting in which the pleading of God¯s Word gives body and power to their praying. The ancient Scriptures they plead shape up to a point ¯ the point of a sword ¯ enabling them to prevail. They have now learned what could be called the prayer-method of getting things done. The rest of chapter four and five follow as a creation of that prayer meeting.
All through the Book of Acts the Christians are either on their knees or on their feet. Knee-action and foot-work, in that order. Like Jesus and with Him, they pray their next steps and chapters into being. All is by intercession. All stands in the nature of answered prayer. There is a high Upper Room level all the way through those twenty-eight chapters.
The level of prayer is the level of power. It is one and the same level. To rob their power, the devil need only break up their praying. Power and prayer always go together; but of the two, prayer is number one. Intercession is God¯s own mighty method.
Right here let us beware of the delusion, "God will do it anyway, whether I pray as I should or not." Nothing is closer to reason at times; and nothing is further from Scripture.
God does everything by intercession ¯ His own for us, and in us ¯ in His redemptive plan. God¯s mighty works and wonders are all by prayer.
God will not do apart from intercession what He has promised to do by it, and we must diligently search the Scriptures to find out what that is. Look where we will in the Bible, and the answer is the same: prayer is not everything, but with God everything is by prayer (Phil. 4:6).%%detect_both%%