THE WALK OF INTERCESSION
The memory of Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been cherished
among evangelical Christians for over the past 100 years. Many
Christian leaders consider him one of the greatest preacher’s England ever produced. He is commonly hailed as the “Prince of Preachers”. Over 63 volumes of published sermons still bear witness to the richness and success of C. H. Spurgeon’s ministry. Though known as a great preacher, it was not preaching that made Spurgeon such an inspiration. Mr. Spurgeon repeatedly acknowledged his success as
the direct result of his congregation’s faithful prayers. It has often been remarked that the whole church helped produce Spurgeon. It was not his ability or talent that brought conviction to the heart of the listener – it was through his humility that God’s anointing could be generated. When visitors would come to Spurgeon’s church, he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. Then Spurgeon would declare, “Prayer is the refining fire of the spirit and the powerhouse of this church.”
Spurgeon in his autobiography described his gratefulness for being blessed with such a praying church. “I always give all the glory to God, and I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the beginning to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession.” Spurgeon regarded the prayer meeting as the spiritual thermometer of an individual and a body of believers. His church’s Monday night prayer meetings had a worldwide testimony for many years. Every week a large portion of Spurgeon’s sanctuary was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors. In Spurgeon’s eyes, the prayer-meeting was the most important gathering of the week. However, it is here many of us find ourselves in conflict with Mr. Spurgeon. We love our meetings for preaching and praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of Spurgeon’s greatest concerns was that Christians everywhere would desire and learn to truly pray. He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his example than by any preaching. Visitors heard him pray with such reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of words. Throughout his entire ministry, many hearers remarked how his preaching moved them, yet still his praying inspired them even more. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being asked upon his return to America, “Did you hear Spurgeon preach?” He replied, “Yes, but better still I heard him pray.” A close friend of Spurgeon’s, commented on his prayer life, “His public prayers were an inspiration, but his prayers with the family were to me even more anointed. Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory.”
Spurgeon fully recognized that the Church’s greatest need was not to have another, “Prince of Preachers”, but to have more princes of prayer. One of his many published sermons expressed his feelings on this. He wrote, “Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? I have preached my very heart out. I could not say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? The new trends of modern church religion do not teach about “agonizing” in prayer. There has been much talk lately about pockets of revival springing up in our nation. Many are saying they desire such revivals in our own local churches, and cities. Yet, is it not the prayer meetings that are still the most neglected? If Christ Jesus were to visit us today with His glorious, anointed power, how could such a blessing be sustained where there is no ground work laid in prayer? To merely exercise our words about miracles and not our knees is hypocrisy! It is time to make the prayer-meeting as exciting as our favorite preaching and praise meetings.”
“It is amazing when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? However, we had some places where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn’t even faze us.” -Leonard Ravenhill
“We cannot be certain that a thing is right because it is old, for
Satan is old, and sin is old, and death is old, and hell is old; yet
none of these things are right and desirable on that account alone.” -C.H. Spurgeon
“If Jesus had preached the same soft and compromising message that many ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” – Leonard Ravenhill
“In the New Testament church it says they were all amazed – And now in our churches everybody wants to be amused.”
“The men that have been the most heroic for God, have had the
greatest devotional lives.” -Leonard Ravenhill
“An unholy church! it is useless to the world, and of no esteem among men. It is an abomination, hell’s laughter, heaven’s abhorrence. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world have been brought upon her by an unholy church.”
E. M. Bounds in his classic little book “Power through Prayer”
wrote, “What the Church needs today is not more or better
machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods,
but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of faith, men
mighty in prayer.” Edward Payson was just such a man, a man mighty in prayer. He prayed without ceasing and felt safe nowhere but at the throne of grace. He may be said to have studied theology on his knees, as much of his time he spent literally prostrated with his Bible open before him pleading the promise; “I will send the comforter and when He, The Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.” Payson’s advice to his fellow Christians was, “prayer is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing necessary to be a follower of Christ. Pray then my dear people, pray, pray.” It has been well said that the secret of Edward Payson’s ministry was that he prayed much in secret. The scars on his bedroom floor testify to this fact. Next to Payson’s bed were deep grooves in the hardwood floor where his knees had pressed repeatedly in times of travail. To read “Praying Payson’s” diary is to be touched by his tender love for Jesus and burden for the lost.
On January 4, 1807, he wrote, “I was favored with a spirit of prayer beyond all my former experience. I was in great agony and wrestled for both others and myself with great power. God seemed to bow the heavens and come down and open all His treasures, bidding me, to take what I would.”
January 29th, “I never felt such longings after God or such a desire to depart to be with Christ. My soul thirsted for a more filled communion with my God and Savior. I do not now feel satisfied as I used to with the manifestations of the divine presence, but still feel hungry and craving.”
February 18, “I was enabled to lie at Jesus’ feet and to wash them with the tears of contrition. No pleasure I have ever found in the Christian life is superior to this.”
February 28, “I was favored with great enlargement in prayer. I seemed to be carried out of myself into the presence of God.”
Like all true men of prayer, Payson understood the need for true humility. It was the burden of his secret prayers that he might be delivered from pride, from self-seeking, from preaching himself instead of Christ Jesus the Lord. Through humility and fervent prayer, he was always in hopes of seeing a fresh wave of spiritual renewal. The revivals which took place under his labors were numerous and characterized by a depth and power seldom seen. Often Payson’s congregation was overwhelmed with a sense of Christ’s presence and power and irresistibly brought to tears. Mr. Payson’s diary testifies that without prayer there can be no passion of the soul for God’s presence.
September 27th, “It seemed as if God would deny me nothing, and I wrestled for multitudes of souls, and could not help weeping that God would set on fire the hearts of the people.”
September 28, “I was favored with the greatest degree of freedom and fervency in interceding for others. I seemed to travail in birth with lost sinners and could not help hoping that God is about to do something for His glory and the good of souls.” Within days, “Praying Payson” saw his prayers answered through a miracle of many souls being saved.
On April 23, 1808, Edward Payson wrote, “My heart seemed
ready to break with its longings after holiness.” Such desires for heart purity, holy passion and the person of Jesus are the marks of a healthy and normal Christian life. The lack of these precious things in the modern Church reveals a nominal, cold religious life. Too much of what is called the Church today is not fit to live or die. The lukewarm Christian is unprepared to deal with our demon possessed age or the coming judgment seat of Christ. Truly, the greatest need for the body of Christ today is to see the need to be mighty in prayer. That is the problem; many only pray fervently when they are desperate. When they are content, they do not feel the need to intercede. When we see life as God sees it, the eyes of our heart will be opened to the convicting burden to intercede for others. Selah.