Prayer A War Measure

Prayer a War Measure.

This world is God's prodigal son. The heart of God's bleeds over His

prodigal. It has been gone so long, and the home circle is broken. He has

spent all the wealth of His thought on a plan for winning the prodigal

back home. Angels and men have marvelled over that plan, its sweep, its

detail, its strength and wisdom, its tenderness. He needs man for His

plan. He will _u
e_ man. That is true. He will _honour_ man in service.

That is true. But these only touch the edge of the truth. The pathway from

God to a human heart is through a human heart. When He came to the great

strategic move in His plan, He Himself came down as a man and made that

move. _He needs man for His plan._

The greatest agency put into man's hands is prayer. To understand that at

all fully one needs to define prayer. And to define prayer adequately one

must use the language of war. Peace language is not equal to the

situation. The earth is in a state of war. It is being hotly besieged and

so one must use war talk to grasp the facts with which prayer is

concerned. _Prayer from God's side is communication between Himself and

His allies in the enemy's country_. Prayer is not persuading God. It does

not influence God's purpose. It is not winning Him over to our side; never

that. He is far more eager for what we are rightly eager for than we ever

are. What there is of wrong and sin and suffering that pains you, pains

Him far more. He knows more about it. He is more keenly sensitive to it

than the most sensitive one of us. Whatever of heart yearning there may be

that moves you to prayer is from Him. God takes the initiative in all

prayer. It starts with Him. True prayer moves in a circle. It begins in

the heart of God, sweeps down into a human heart upon the earth, so

intersecting the circle of the earth, which is the battle-field of prayer,

and then it goes back again to its starting point, having accomplished its

purpose on the downward swing.

Three Forms of Prayer.

Prayer is the word commonly used for all intercourse with God. But it

should be kept in mind that that word covers and includes three forms of

intercourse. All prayer grows up through, and ever continues in three


The first form of prayer is _communion_. That is simply being on good

terms with God. It involves the blood of the cross as the basis of our

getting and being on good terms. It involves my coming to God through

Jesus. Communion is fellowship with God. Not request for some particular

thing; not asking, but simply enjoying Himself, loving Him, thinking about

Him, how beautiful, and intelligent, and strong and loving and lovable He

is; talking to Him without words. That is the truest worship, thinking how

worthy He is of all the best we can possibly bring to Him, and infinitely

more. It has to do wholly with God and a man being on good terms with each

other. Of necessity it includes confession on my part and forgiveness upon

God's part, for only so can we come into the relation of fellowship.

Adoration, worship belong to this first phase of prayer. Communion is the

basis of all prayer. It is the essential breath of the true Christian

life. It concerns just two, God and myself, yourself. Its influence is

directly subjective. _It affects me._

The second form of prayer is _petition_. And I am using that word now in

the narrower meaning of asking something for one's self. Petition is

definite request of God for something I need. A man's whole life is

utterly dependent upon the giving hand of God. Everything we need comes

from Him. Our friendships, ability to make money, health, strength in

temptation, and in sorrow, guidance in difficult circumstances, and in all

of life's movements; help of all sorts, financial, bodily, mental,

spiritual--all come from God, and necessitate a constant touch with Him.

There needs to be a constant stream of petition going up, many times

wordless prayer. And there will be a constant return stream of answer and

supply coming down. The door between God and one's own self must be kept

ever open. The knob to be turned is on our side. He opened His side long

ago, and propped it open, and threw the knob away. The whole life hinges

upon this continual intercourse with our wondrous God. This is the second

stage or form of prayer. It concerns just two: God and the man dealing

with God. It is subjective in its influence: _its reach is within_.

The third form of prayer is _intercession_. True prayer never stops with

petition for one's self. It reaches out for others. The very word

intercession implies a reaching out for some one else. It is standing as a

go-between, a mutual friend, between God and some one who is either out of

touch with Him, or is needing special help. Intercession is the climax of

prayer. It is the outward drive of prayer. It is the effective end of

prayer _outward_. Communion and petition are upward and downward.

Intercession rests upon these two as its foundation. Communion and

petition store the life with the power of God; intercession lets it out on

behalf of others. The first two are necessarily for self; this third is

for others. They ally a man fully with God: it makes use of that alliance

for others. Intercession is the full-bloomed plant whose roots and

strength lie back and down in the other two forms. _It_ is the form of

prayer that helps God in His great love-plan for winning a planet back to

its true sphere. It will help through these talks to keep this simple

analysis of prayer in mind. For much that will be said will deal chiefly

with this third form, intercession, the outward movement of prayer.

The Climax of Prayer.

To God man is first an objective point, and then, without ceasing to be

that, he further becomes a distributing centre. God ever thinks of a man

doubly: first for his own self, and then for his possible use in reaching

others. Communion and petition fix and continue one's relation to God, and

so prepare for the great outreaching form of prayer--intercession. Prayer

must begin in the first two but reaches its climax in the third. Communion

and petition are of necessity self-wide. Intercession is world-wide in its

reach. And all true rounded prayer will ever have all three elements in

it. There must be the touch with God. One's constant needs make constant

petition. But the heart of the true follower has caught the warm contagion

of the heart of God and reaches out hungrily for the world. Intercession

is the climax of prayer.

Much is said of the subjective and objective value of prayer; its

influence upon one's self, and its possible influence upon persons and

events quite outside of one's self. Of necessity the first two sorts of

prayer here named are subjective; they have to do wholly with one's self.

Of equal necessity intercessory prayer is objective; it has to do wholly

with others. There is even here a reflex influence; in the first two

directly subjective; here incidentally reflex. Contact with God while

dealing with Him for another of necessity influences me. But that is the

mere fringe of the garment. The main driving purpose is outward.

Just now in certain circles it seems quite the thing to lay great stress

upon the subjective value of prayer and to whittle down small, or, deny

entirely its value in influencing others. Some who have the popular ear

are quite free with tongue and pen in this direction. From both without

and within distinctly Christian circles their voices come. One wonders if

these friends lay the greater emphasis on the subjective value of prayer

so as to get a good deep breath for their hard drive at the other. Yet the

greater probability is that they honestly believe as they say, but have

failed to grasp the full perspective of the picture. In listening to such

statements one remembers with vivid distinctness that the scriptural

_standpoint_ always is this: that things quite outside of one's self, that

in the natural order of prevailing circumstances would not occur, are made

to occur through prayer. Jesus constantly so _assumed_. The first-flush,

commonsense view of successful prayer is that some actual result is

secured through its agency.

It is an utter begging of the question to advance such a theory as a

sufficient explanation of prayer. For prayer in its simplest conception

supposes something changed that is not otherwise reachable. Both from the

scriptural, and from a rugged philosophical standpoint the objective is

the real driving point of all full prayer. The subjective is in order to

the objective, as the final outward climactic reach of God's great

love-plan for a world.

Six Facts Underlying Prayer.

It will help greatly to step back and up a bit for a fresh look at certain

facts that underlie prayer. Everything depends on a right point of view.

There may be many view-points, from which to study any subject; but of

necessity any one view-point must take in all the essential facts

concerned. If not, the impression formed will be wrong, and a man will be

misled in his actions. In these talks I make no attempt to prove the

Bible's statements, nor to suggest a common law for their interpretation.

That would be a matter for quite a separate series of talks. It clears the

ground to assume certain things. I am assuming the accuracy of these

scriptural statements. And I am glad to say I have no difficulty in doing


Now there are certain facts constantly stated and assumed in this old

Book. They are clearly stated in its history, they are woven into its

songs, and they underlie all these prophetic writings, from Genesis clear

to the end of John's Patmos visions. Possibly they have been so familiar

and taken for granted so long as to have grown unfamiliar. The very old

may need stating as though very new. Here is a chain of six facts:

First:--The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.[3] His by

creation and by sovereign rule. The Lord sat as King at the flood.[4]

Second:--God gave the dominion of the earth to man. The kingship of its

life, the control and mastery of its forces.[5]

Third:--Man, who held the dominion of the earth in trust from God,

transferred his dominion to somebody else, by an act which was a double

act. He was deceived into doing that act. It was an act of disobedience

and of obedience. Disobedience to God, and obedience to another one, a

prince who was seeking to get the dominion of the earth into his own

hands. That act of the first man did this. The disobedience broke with

God, and transferred the allegiance from God. The obedience to the other

one transferred the allegiance, and through that, the dominion to this

other one.

The fourth fact is this:--The dominion or kingship of this earth so far

as given to man, is now not God's, for He gave it to man. And it is not

man's, for he has transferred it to another. It is in the control of that

magnificent prince whose changed character supplies his name--Satan, the

hater, the enemy. Jesus repeatedly speaks of "the prince"--that is the

ruling one--"of this world."[6] John speaks in his vision-book of a time

coming when "the kingdom (not kingdoms, as in the old version) of the

world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ."[7] By clear

inference previous to that time it is somebody's else kingdom than His.

The kingship or rulership of the earth which was given to man is now


The fifth fact:--God was eager to swing the world back to its original

sway: for His own sake, for man's sake, for the earth's sake. You see, we

do not know God's world as it came from His hand. It is a rarely beautiful

world even yet--the stars above, the plant life, the waters, the exquisite

colouring and blending, the combinations of all these--an exquisitely

beautiful world even yet. But it is not the world it was, nor that some

coming day it will be. It has been sadly scarred and changed under its

present ruler. Probably Eve would not recognize in the present world her

early home-earth as it came fresh from the hand of its Maker.

God was eager to swing the old world back to its original control. But to

do so He must get a man, one of the original trustee class through whom He

might swing it back to its first allegiance. It was given to man. It was

swung away by man. It must be swung back by man. And so a Man came, and

while Jesus was perfectly and utterly human, we spell that word Man with a

capital M because He was a man quite distinct from all men. Because He was

more truly human than all other men He is quite apart from other men. This

Man was to head a movement for swinging the world back to its first


The sixth fact is this:--These two, God's Man, and the pretender-prince,

had a combat: the most terrific combat ever waged or witnessed. From the

cruel, malicious cradle attack until Calvary's morning and two days longer

it ran. Through those thirty-three years it continued with a terrificness

and intensity unknown before or since. The master-prince of subtlety and

force did his best and his worst, through those Nazareth years, then into

the wilderness,--and Gethsemane--and Calvary. And that day at three

o'clock and for a bit longer the evil one thought he had won. And there

was great glee up in the headquarters of the prince of this world. They

thought the victory was theirs when God's Man lay in the grave under the

bars of death, within the immediate control of the lord of death. But the

third morning came and the bars of death were snapped like cotton thread.

_Jesus rose a Victor._ For it was not possible that such as _He_ could be

held by death's lord. And then Satan knew that he was defeated. Jesus,

God's Man, the King's rightful prince, had gotten the victory.

But, please mark very carefully four sub-facts on Satan's side. First, he

refuses to acknowledge his defeat. Second, he refuses to surrender his

dominion until he must. He yields only what he must and when he must.

Third, he is supported in his ambitions by man. He has man's consent to

his control. The majority of men on the earth to-day, and in every day,

have assented to his control. He has control only through man's consent.

(Satan _can_not get into a man's heart without his consent, and God _will_

not.) And, fourth, he hopes yet to make his possession of the earth


The Victor's Great Plan.

Now, hold your breath and note, on the side of the Victor-prince, this

unparalleled and unimitated action: He has left the conflict open, and the

defeated chief on the field that He may win not simply against the chief,

but through that victory may win the whole prodigal race back to His

Father's home circle again. But the great pitched battle is yet to come. I

would better say _a_ pitched battle, for the greatest one is past. Jesus

rides into the future fight a Victor. Satan will fight his last fight

under the shadow and sting of a defeat. Satan is apparently trying hard to

get a Jesus. That is to say Jesus was God's Man sent down to swing the

world back. Satan is trying his best to get _a man_--one of the original

trustee class, to whom the dominion of the earth was intrusted--a man who

will stand for him even as Jesus stood for God. Indeed a man who will

personify himself even as Jesus was the personification of God, the

express image of His person. When he shall succeed in that the last

desperate crisis will come.

_Now prayer is this: A man_, one of the original trustee class, who

received the earth in trust from God, and who gave its control over to

Satan; a man, _on the earth_, the poor old Satan-stolen, sin-slimed,

sin-cursed, contested earth; a man, on the earth, _with his life in full

touch with the Victor, and sheer out of touch with the pretender-prince,

insistently claiming that Satan shall yield before Jesus'-victory, step by

step, life after life_. Jesus is the victor. Satan knows it, and fears

Him. He must yield before His advance, and he must yield before this man

who stands for Jesus down on the earth. And he _will_ yield. Reluctantly,

angrily, as slowly as may be, stubbornly contesting every inch of ground,

his clutches will loosen and he will go before this Jesus-man.

Jesus said "the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in Me."[8]

When you and I say, as we may say, very humbly depending on His grace,

very determinedly in the resolution of our own imperial will, "though the

prince of this world come he shall have nothing in me, no coaling station

however small on the shores of my life," then we shall be in position

where Satan must yield as we claim--victory in the Victor's Name.