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“How often have I said, ‘All our strength lies in prayer!'”
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
Of course growing as a Christian involves gaining more knowledge of God’s Word; it implies a life of prayer and witness. But these are all the results of something more basic. Being a Christian means knowing God. Growing as a Christian means increasing in our desire to know God. This is the sum of the Christian life. Jesus himself said: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God” (John 17:3).
The true men and women of faith are “the people who know their God” (Daniel 11:32). That is why, in the Old Testament, one of the anticipated blessings of the new age which the Messiah would inaugurate was that then men and women would “know the Lord” Jeremiah 31:34). This is the heart of the Christian life. It is fundamental to all spiritual growth. If we are not growing in the knowledge of God, we are not growing at all.
by Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813 – 1843)
Robert Murray M’Cheyne was a nineteenth-century Church of Scotland minister revered for the depth of his piety. Upon hearing him preach, a listener once wrote, “I saw in you a beauty in holiness that I never saw before.”1 He served two churches, including St. Peter’s Church in Dundee, before dying at age 29.
Upon M’Cheyne’s death, ministerial colleague Andrew Bonar published a biography that included many of his manuscripts and letters. Taken from that work, this selection illustrates his determination to fight sin through spiritual disciplines. It shows the intensity with which this servant of God craved communion with his Heavenly Father.
I ought to pray before seeing any one. Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, and then have family prayer, and breakfast, and forenoon callers, often it is eleven or twelve o’clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system. It is unscriptural. Christ rose before day, and went into a solitary place. David says, ‘Early will I seek Thee; Thou shalt early hear my voice.’ Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre while it was yet dark. Family prayer loses much of its power and sweetness; and I can do no good to those who come to seek from me. The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, the lamp not trimmed. Then, when secret prayer comes, the soul is often out of tune. I feel it is far better to begin with God—to see his face first—to get my soul near him before it is near another. ‘When I awake I am still with Thee.’
If I have slept too long, or am going [on] an early journey, or my time is any way shortened, it is best to dress hurriedly, and have a few minutes alone with God, than to give it up for lost.
“Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows Himself.”
“There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.”
“Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber.”
“A dynamic praying church must be built from the inside out, employing all four levels of prayer: the secret closet, the family altar, small group praying and finally, the congregational setting.”
~ Richard Burr