I recently finished a book I’ve had on my shelf for five years. I bought it knowing I could learn from it, but the content and length had frightened me away. The book is Spurgeon’s Sermons on Prayer. The author was pastor of London’s New Park Street Chapel for almost 40 years in the late1800s.
The book has proven to be challenging. The language and stories are not easy to relate to our modern way of living. And yet the sermons have been a great help to me as I seek to understand how to become more effective in prayer.
One story has been emblazoned on my brain. I can’t forget it. Pastor Spurgeon told of a man who was converted to Christ from a very sinful background. He had lived a rough life. In fact, it had been so difficult, and he had been in that way so long, that he had one major fear. He was afraid that he might be drawn back to his old ways. He was afraid that he might hurt the reputation of the church and even of the Lord if he were to do that.
As he met with Spurgeon the man finally said to his pastor, "I want to pray right now." They bowed and he prayed aloud words something like this. "Lord. It’s going to be hard for me to change my ways. I’ve been such a sinner for so long that I don’t know if I can do it, even with your help. Lord, you know all things, and you know the future. If you see that I am going to return to my old ways and thus hurt the cause of the kingdom, will you strike me down and take me home."
Dr. Spurgeon went on to say that within a week of this prayer that gentleman died. To say that grabbed my attention would be an understatement. So many thoughts cross my mind as I try to comprehend it. I want to touch on just two.
First, God heard this man’s prayer. It’s not your normal prayer. But when a child of God bows to speak to the Lord we can be certain that God is listening.
Second, this man was fully committed to the Lord. He wanted God’s will to be done, no matter what it cost him. I wonder, do I have that kind of love for God? Do I want his will more than I want to live?
I pray that I will be as wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord as this man was. God can do great things with those who are so steadfast. And the rewards for doing so are, as they say, "out of this world."