Pulpit Prayer Part 2: Lengthy Prayer, the Murderer of Fervency

2 Chronicles 6:13; 7:1
      Solomon had made a brazen scaffold…and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven, and said, O LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth…
      Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Praying is a very important part of public worship…What we have now to consider is the most edifying manner of conducting public prayer.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I usually feel more dissatisfied with my prayers than anything else I do. I believe it is difficult to pray in public so as to properly conduct the devotions of a large congregation.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): So much of our praying is halting, lacking in any warmth or inspiration.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice was the solemn token of acceptance [of prayer in Old Testament]. Fire from heaven is the token still, even a holy ardour, wrought in us by the Spirit.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And this of course is something that is beyond dispute altogether. You can’t read a book like the book of Acts of the Apostles without being conscious of that warmth, that fire of the Spirit…Fervent desire in praying. This is always something that always happens when the Holy Spirit is leading our prayer, and when we are truly praying in the Spirit. Can’t you see the complete contrast between this, and cold, mechanical, so-called “beautiful” prayers, which neither move you, nor are fervent?

C. H. SPURGEON: If you could pray the best prayer in the world without the Holy Spirit, God would have nothing to do with it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Well, this is all important…and there is nothing more vital for us than that we should clearly grasp this, so we don’t think so much in terms of beautiful services, as in spiritual services―the presence, the leading, the power, the inditing by the Spirit, the promptings by the Spirit; and we are aware that we are in the realm of the Spirit, and that He is leading and guiding and directing us.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Though I am a minister myself, yet, I must say, there are very few men who stand up in the pulpit whose prayers seem indited by the Holy Ghost in their souls―round and round they travel through their usual form, as though they were speaking to man, and not the Lord of heaven and earth.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): It is much to be desired, that our hearts might be so affected with a sense of divine things and so closely engaged when we are worshipping God, that it might not be in the power of little circumstances to interrupt and perplex us, and to make us think the service wearisome and the time which we employ in it tedious. But as our infirmities are many and great, and the enemy of our souls is watchful to discompose us, if care is not taken by those who lead in social prayer, the exercise which is approved by the judgment may become a burden and an occasion of sin. Complaints of this kind are frequent, and might, perhaps, be easily be rectified, if the persons chiefly concerned were spoken to in love.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): When thou prayest let thy words be few, but thy thoughts and affections many, and above all let them be profound. The less thou speakest the better thou prayest.

JOHN NEWTON: The chief fault of some good prayers is that they are too long; not that I think we should pray by the clock, and limit ourselves precisely to a certain number of minutes; but it is better of the two that the hearers should wish the prayer had been longer, than spend half the time in wishing it was over.

A. P. GIBBS (1890-1967): The longest prayer recorded in the Bible is that of Solomon at the dedication of the temple. This can be read, reverently, in about seven minutes.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I had often said that I had rather be able to pray like Daniel than preach like Gabriel. What we want is men that know how to pray, who know how to call down fire from heaven…I tell you, friends, some people’s prayers need to be cut at both ends and set fire to in the middle.

C. H. SPURGEON: Long prayers and long sermons tend to quench the fire instead of kindling it.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Luther’s usual prayer before his sermon was this: “Confirm, O God, in us what Thou hast wrought; and perfect the work that Thou hast begun to Thy glory. Lord, open our eyes, that we may see the wonders of Thy law…” Zwingli began his public lectures thus: “O Almighty, everlasting and merciful God, whose Word is a light to our feet, and a lantern to our paths, open and enlighten our minds, that we may piously and holily understand Thine oracles, and be so transformed thereunto, that we may not in anything displease Thy majesty, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Brethren, in these matters we cannot acquit ourselves, and I fear that much more than this will be necessary before our sin is fully unveiled. We have limited the Holy One in other ways, and I may remark that we have done this with regard to our prayers…


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