Secret Prayer: The First Sign of True Saving Faith

Acts 9:11
       Behold, he prayeth.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Here was an argument for Paul’s sincerity. Secret prayer is one of the best tests of sincere religion. If Jesus had said to Ananias, “Behold, he preacheth,” Ananias would have said, “that he may do, and yet be a deceiver.” If He had said, “He has gone to a meeting of the church,” Ananias would have said, “He may enter there as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” But when He said, “Behold, he prays,” that was argument enough―“Behold, he prayeth,” was the best argument that his religion was right.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): There is no question, saith Christ, but he is a true convert, for, behold he prayeth. Behold denotes the certainty of it. But was it such a strange thing for Saul to pray? Was he not a Pharisee? And have we not reason to think he did, as the rest of them did, make long prayers in the synagogues and the corners of the streets?

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): In secret, all but mere formalists commonly quit when they have said what was in their heart. There is seldom an inclination to make secret prayers too long. But the Pharisees used to offer their personal devotions in public, and pray by the hour. They were led on by the love of human applause.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): To say a prayer is not to pray.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): Saying prayers without praying is blasphemy! Remember that when a person puts himself in the attitude of prayer, he immediately, and by his own act and deed, invites the special attention of God. His position is then a very solemn one, and surely he should be careful what he says…To utter a string of petitions in which the heart takes no interest is, I again repeat, blasphemy, and not prayer, and they who are guilty of such sin do the devil service, while they provoke and dishonour God.

JOHN TRAPP: He never prayed till now, though a strict Pharisee.

MATTHEW HENRY: Yes―Now he began to pray after another manner than he had done; then he said his prayers, now he prayed them.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Prayer is a sincere and sensible pouring out of the heart or soul. It is not, as many take it to be, a few babbling, prating, complimentary expressions, but a sensible feeling in the heart.

JOHN TRAPP: Prayer is the breath of the Spirit, Romans 8:26; Jude 20. And prayer without the Spirit, is but an empty ring, a tinkling cymbal.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Wherever there is a true spirit of supplication, there is the spirit of grace. The true spirit of prayer is no other than God’s own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings…It leads to God, to converse with Him by prayer. Therefore the Spirit is said to make intercession for the saints with groanings which cannot be uttered, Romans 8:26. The Spirit of God makes intercession for them, as it is that Spirit which in some respect indites their prayers, and leads them to pour out their souls before God.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The very soul of prayer lies in the pouring out of the soul before God.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): If we never had the spirit of supplication, it is a sad sign that we never had the spirit of grace in our souls; and you may be assured you never did pray, unless you have felt yourselves sinners, and seen the want of Jesus to be your Saviour.

GEORGE OFFOR (1787-1864): Prayer is the first sign of spiritual life.

MATTHEW HENRY: Regenerating grace evermore sets people on praying; you may as soon find a living man without breath as a living Christian without prayer; if breathless, lifeless; and so, if prayerless, graceless.

JOHN BUNYAN: None of God’s people come into the world still-born…If we are prayerless, we are Christless.

C. H. SPURGEON: Prayer in the heart proves the reality of conversion.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Secret prayer, and the good Word, are the chief wells from whence we draw the water of salvation.

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): Abandon the secret chamber and the spiritual life will decay.

JONATHAN EDWARDS: He who prays only when he prays with others would not pray at all, were it not that the eyes of others are upon him.

C. H. SPURGEON: But oh! If I could trace him home; if I could see him go and pray alone, then I should feel sure; for he who prays in private is a real Christian…If any one should ask me for an epitome of the Christian religion, I should say it is in that one word—“prayer.” If asked, “What will take in the whole Christian experience?” I should answer, “prayer.” A man must have been convinced of sin before he could pray; he must have had some hope that there was mercy for him before he could pray. In fact, all the Christian virtues are locked up in that word, prayer. Do but tell me you are a man of prayer, and I will reply at once, “Sir, I have no doubt of the reality, as well as the sincerity, of your religion.”

JOHN BUNYAN: Sincerity is the same in a corner alone, as it is before the face of all the world. It knows not how to wear two masks, one for an appearance before men, and another for private use.


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