Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): This man knew how to pray, and did not need instruction about prayer. You notice the first word “Oh.” I would remind you again that true praying is always characterized by the use of that word, “Oh”—“Ohhh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens.” There is no word that is more expressive of longing than that word. It expresses the thirst of deep desire, it is the cry of a man at the end of his resources, and waiting and looking for, and longing for God.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): I have often been struck with how often preachers and others misquote Luke 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray,” by inserting “teach us how to pray.” Man is occupied with the “how,” but God with the “pray”—which is often an inarticulated groan!
JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Prayer is an affectionate pouring out of the soul to God. O the heat, strength, life vigour, and affection, that is in right prayer! “I have longed after thy precepts,” Psalm 119:40. “I have longed for thy salvation,” verse 174. “My soul longeth, yes even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God,” Psalm 82:4. “My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times,” Psalm 119:20. Mark here, “My soul longeth,”―it longeth, it longeth―O what affection is here discovered in prayer! The like you have in Daniel: “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God,” Daniel 9:19. Every syllable carrieth a mighty vehemency in it. This is called the fervent, or the working prayer, by James. And so again, “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly,” Luke 22:44―Or, [Christ] had His affections more and more drawn out after God for His helping hand. O how wide are the most of men with their prayers from this prayer, that is, prayer in God’s account!
J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): You may depend upon it, a living soul can never be satisfied with mere wordy prayer; I mean by the [mere] expression―words and no more. O, true prayer is something deeper than this! it is to have the groans, sighs, pantings, breathings, longings, hungerings and thirstings of a believing heart… How few we hear at a prayer-meeting whose prayers drop into our conscience! and, though I am a minister myself, yet, I must say, there are very few men who stand up in the pulpit whose prayers seems indited by the Holy Ghost in their souls. They appear to have no pantings and longings for His felt presence; no hungering and thirstings after the dew of His Spirit on their branch: but round and round they travel through their usual form.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): How many prayers are like the grocer’s bills―“Ditto, ditto, ditto,” or “as per usual.”
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: So much of our praying is halting, lacking in any warmth or inspiration.
A. W. PINK: One cannot “pray to order.” Real prayer is in-breathed by the Holy Spirit, laying a burden on the heart. I have no sympathy with this modern method of keeping a “prayer list,” nor have I ever attempted to pray by the clock!
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You cannot pray to order. You can get on your knees to order; but how to pray? I have found nothing more important than to learn how to get oneself into that frame and condition in which one can pray…No, there is nothing for us to do but to say, “Oh Lord!” Is there an ‘Oh’ in your praying? That is another very good test of prayer, that this ‘Ohhh!’ comes in: “Ohhh Lord!”
JOHN BUNYAN: The best prayers have often more groans than words.
THOMAS GOUGE (1605-1681): Indeed, the very soul of prayer lies in the pouring out of the soul before God.
RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): In the same duty where gifts and grace are both required, as in prayer, it is more important to perform it with evidence of great grace than with great skill…It is a business more of the heart than of the tongue, more of groans, than of words, which groans and sighs the Spirit will always stir up, even in the worst condition.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We could not pray at all were it not for the Holy Spirit…This is the most vital thing of all. This, I suppose, is our greatest lack at the present time: this ability to pray in the Spirit. There is nothing more inadequate about us all than our prayer life, private and public. And this is the thing we need above everything else: the ability to pray in the Spirit, or by the Spirit.
ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): Oh cry, “Will thou not revive us again?”
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Or are you such good people, and doing such excellent work as evangelicals, busy with this organization and the other, that all you need do is to ask God to bless you and to keep on? Do you know what it is to say, “Oh Lord”? That is how the prophet prayed: this “Ohhh!” Somebody once said that the best sign of a coming revival is that the word “Oh” begins to enter into the prayers of the people: “Ohhh Lord!”