"And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities." — Isaiah 64:7
The nation was Israel; its history is recorded, and the reasons for its demise are listed. Oh that we, will take heed; for the history of nations need not replay itself if we will seek his face and pray. If we will realize that prayer is the culmination of our right relationship to God, if we are sure that we are never so right with him in anything we do as in prayer, then prayer must have the greatest effect and value for our life, both in its purpose and its fashion, and in its spirit. Anything that puts us right morally, right with a Holy God as prayer does, must have a great shaping power on every part of our life.
The prayerless spirit saps a people’s moral strength because it blunts their thought and conviction of the holy. Prayerlessness is an injustice and a damage to our soul, both in what we do and what we think. The root of all deadly heresy is prayerlessness. Prayer draws a powerful circle around us over which the evil spirits may not pass.
"Prayer," says Vinet, "is like the air of certain ocean isles, which is so pure that there vermin cannot live. We should surround ourselves with this atmosphere, as the diver shuts himself into his bell before he descends into the deep."
A prayer is also a promise. Every true prayer carries with it a vow. If it does not, it is not in earnest. Can we pray in earnest if we do not in the act commit ourselves to do our best to bring about the answer? Can we escape some kind of hypocrisy? This is especially so with intercession. What is the value of praying for the poor if all the rest of our time and interest is given only to becoming rich? Where is the honesty of praying for our country if in our most active hours we are strangers to all sacrifice for it? Prayer is one form of sacrifice, but if it is the only form, it is vain oblation. If we pray for our child that he may have God’s blessing, we are really promising that nothing shall be lacking on our part to be a divine blessing to him; and if we have no kind of religious relation to him (as plenty of so-called Christian parents have none), our prayer is quite unreal, and its failure should not be a surprise.
To pray for God’s kingdom is also to engage ourselves to service and sacrifice for it. To begin our prayer with a petition for the hallowing of God’s name and to have no real and prime place for holiness in our life or faith is not sincere. The prayer of the vindictive for forgiveness is mockery. No such man could say the Lord’s Prayer but to his judgment. One has said that while prayer is the day’s best beginning, it must not be like the handsome title page of a worthless book.
In Isaiah’s day, true religion had given way to a cold formality and the reason is clear, no one from a sincere heart earnestly praying to the God of Heaven
Bradeen is pastor of House of Prayer Christian Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.