The following is part 7 from a blog series based on R.A. Torrey’s classicThe Power of Prayer. R.A. Torrey (1856-1928) was an American evangelist, professor, pastor, and author. He is one of the three editors of The Fundamentals, an early 20th century defense of orthodox Protestant beliefs. Find more from R.A. Torrey at the BLB.
Ye have not, because ye ask not (James 4:2 KJV).
Not only will prayer promote as almost nothing else our personal holiness, but prayer will also bring the power of God into our work. We read in Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk [plod right along day after day, which is far harder than running or flying], and not faint.”
It is the privilege of every child of God to have the power of God in his service. And the verse just quoted tells us how to obtain it, and that is by “waiting upon the Lord.” Sometimes you will hear people stand up in a meeting, not so frequently perhaps in these days as in former days, and say: “I am trying to serve God in my poor, weak way.” Well, if you are trying to serve God in your poor, weak way, quit it; your duty is to serve God in His strong, triumphant way. But you say, “I have no natural ability.” Then get supernatural ability.
The religion of Jesus Christ is a supernatural religion from start to finish, and we should live our lives in supernatural power, the power of God through Jesus Christ, and we should perform our service with supernatural power, the power of God ministered by the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. You say, “I have no natural gifts.” Then get supernatural gifts. The Holy Spirit is promised to every believer in order that he may obtain the supernatural gifts which qualify him for the particular service to which God calls him. “He [The Holy Spirit] divideth to each one [that is, to each and every believer] severally even as he will” ([Corinthians 12:11). It is ours to have the power of God if we will only seek it by prayer in any and every line of service to which God calls us.
Are you a mother or a father? Do you wish power from God to bring your own children up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”? God commands you to do it and especially commands the father to do it. God says in Ephesians 6:4: “Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Now, God never commands the impossible, and as He commands us fathers, and the mothers also, to bring our children up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord, it is possible for us to do it. If any one of your children is not saved, the first blame lies at your own door. Paul said to the jailer in Philippi: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31).
Yes, it is the solemn duty of every father and mother to have every one of their children saved. But we can never accomplish it unless we are much in prayer to God for power to do it. In my first pastorale I had as a member of my church a most excellent Christian woman, but she had a little boy of six who was one of the most incorrigible youngsters I ever knew in my life. He was the terror of the community. One Sunday, at the close of the morning service, his mother came to me and said: “You know-?” (calling her boy by his first name).
“Yes,” I replied, “I know him.” Everybody in town knew him. “Yes,” I replied, “I know he is not a very good boy.” Indeed, that was a decidedly euphemistic way of putting it; in point of fact he was the terror of the neighborhood.
Then this heavy-hearted mother said, “What shall I do?”
I replied, “Have you ever tried prayer?”
“Why,” she said, “of course I pray.”
“Oh,” I said, “that is not what I mean. Have you ever asked God definitely to regenerate your boy and expected Him to do it?”
“I do not think I have ever been as definite as that.”
“Well,” I said, “you go right home and be just as definite as that.”
She went home and was just as definite as that, and I think it was from that very day, certainly from that week, that the boy was a transformed boy and grew up into fine young manhood.
Oh, mothers and fathers, it is your privilege to have every one of your children saved. But it costs something to have them saved. It costs your spending much time alone with God, to be much in prayer, and it costs also your making those sacrifices and straightening out those things in your life that are wrong; it costs the fulfilling the conditions of prevailing prayer. And if any of you have unsaved children, when you go home today get alone with God and ask God to show you what it is in your own life that is responsible for the present condition.