[stextbox id=”pp”]I have tremendous respect for the person, life and ministry of Charles G. Finney. God used him in a mighty and powerful revivals and conversions during his day. This long post, going into multiple pages is infact a chapter, ‘Prevailing Prayer’ from his book, Power From on High. I would encourage you to read, re-read and even study this post, I am sure it will revolutionize your prayer life as it has mine own. Also, try to purchase this book and read it in its entireity. It talks about the essentiality of a Holy Spirit baptism.[/stextbox]
Prevailing prayer is that which secures an answer. Saying prayers is not offering prevailing prayer. The prevalence of prayer does not depend so much on quantity as on quality. I do not know how better to approach this subject than by relating a fact of my own experience before I was converted. I relate it because I fear such experiences are but too common among unconverted men.
I do not recollect having ever attended a prayer meeting until after I began the study of law. Then, for the first time, I lived in a neighborhood where there was a prayer meeting weekly.
I had neither known, heard, nor seen much of religion; hence I had no settled opinions about it. Partly from curiosity and partly from an uneasiness of mind upon the subject, which I could not well define, I began to attend that prayer meeting. About the same time I bought the first Bible that I ever owned, and began to read it. I listened to the prayers which I heard offered in those prayer meetings with all the attention that I could give to prayers so cold and formal. In every prayer they prayed for the gift and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Both in their prayers and in their remarks, which were occasionally interspersed, they acknowledged that they did not prevail with God. This was most evident, and had almost made me a skeptic.
Seeing me so frequently in their prayer meeting, the leader, on one occasion, asked me if I did not wish them to pray for me. I replied: “No.” I said: “I suppose that I need to be prayed for, but your prayers are not answered. You confess it yourselves.” I then expressed my astonishment at this fact, in view of what the Bible said about the prevalence of prayer. Indeed, for some time my mind was much perplexed and in doubt in view of Christ’s teaching on the subject of prayer and the manifest facts before me, from week to week, in this prayer meeting. Was Christ a divine teacher? Did He actually teach what the Gospels attributed to Him? Did He mean what He said? Did prayer really avail to secure blessings from God? If so, what was I to make of what I witnessed from week to week and month to month in that prayer meeting? Were they real Christians? Was that which I heard real prayer, in the Bible sense? Was it such prayer as Christ had promised to answer? Here I found the solution.
I became convinced that they were under a delusion; that they did not prevail because they had no right to prevail. They did not comply with the conditions upon which God had promised to hear prayer. Their prayers were just such as God had promised not to answer. It was evident they were overlooking the fact that they were in danger of praying themselves into skepticism in regard to the value of prayer.
In reading my Bible I noticed such revealed conditions as the following:
1. Faith in God as the answerer of prayer. This, it is plain, involves the expectation of receiving what we ask.
2. Another revealed condition is the asking according to the revealed will of God. This plainly implies asking not only for such things as God is willing to grant, but also asking in such a state of mind as God can accept. I fear it is common for professed Christians to overlook the state of mind in which God requires them to be as a condition of answering their prayers.
For example: In offering the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” it is plain that sincerity is a condition of prevailing with God. But sincerity in offering this petition implies the whole heart and life devotion of the petitioner to the building up of this kingdom. It implies the sincere and thorough consecration of all that we have and all that we are to this end. To utter this petition in any other state of mind involves hypocrisy, and is an abomination.
So in the next petition, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” God has not promised to hear this petition unless it be sincerely offered. But sincerity implies a state of mind that accepts the whole revealed will of God, so far as we understand it, as they accept it in heaven. It implies a loving, confiding, universal obedience to the whole known will of God, whether that will is revealed in His Word, by His Spirit, or in His providence. It implies that we hold ourselves and all that we have and are as absolutely and cordially at God’s disposal as do the inhabitants of heaven. If we fall short of this, and withhold anything whatever from God, we “regard iniquity in our hearts,” and God will not hear us.
Sincerity in offering this petition implies a state of entire and universal consecration to God. Anything short of this is withholding from God that which is His due. It is “turning away our ear from hearing the law.” But what saith the Scriptures? “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” Do professed Christians understand this?
What is true of offering these two petitions is true of all prayer. Do Christians lay this to heart? Do they consider that all professed prayer is an abomination if it be not offered in a state of entire consecration of all that we have and are to God? If we do not offer ourselves with and in our prayers, with all that we have; if we are not in a state of mind that cordially accepts and, so far as we know, perfectly conforms to the whole will of God, our prayer is an abomination. How awfully profane is the use very frequently made of the Lord’s Prayer, both in public and in private. To hear men and women chatter over the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” while their lives are anything but conformed to the known will of God is shocking and revolting. To hear men pray, “Thy kingdom come,” while it is most evident that they are making little or no sacrifice or effort to promote this kingdom, forces the conviction of bare-faced hypocrisy. Such is not prevailing prayer.