“The Power of Prayer”, from R.A. Torrey (united prayer, worship, God who Loves)

The Power of Prayer from R.A. Torrey (excepted, “What is a Real Prayer Meeting”)

A “Real Prayer Meeting” is when God’s presence overcomes his people and His manifest presence is undeniable.

What is a “Real Prayer Meeting?” It is united prayer. “The prayer that God particularly delights to answer is united prayer. There is power in the prayer of a single individual, and the prayer of individuals has wrought great things, but there is far greater power in united prayer.” (R.A. Torrey The Power of Prayer)

“The prayer meeting is the rallying point where the power of faith in the church concentrates and takes hold on the arm that moves the world.” (The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston)

How important is the prayer meeting? “As prayer meetings fail in a congregation, so will the ministrations of the pastor become unfruitful, the preaching of the word fail to convert sinners and promote holiness in the professors of religion.”

(The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston)
“It is reported that the Moravian Pentecost that God gave in a prayer meeting at Herrnhut in 1731 resulted in unbroken prayer day and night for a hundred years and was part of the key to God’s tremendous blessing upon the Moravians as they scattered the message of Christ around the world.” (Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Wesley Duewel p 125-6.)

“A setting for a filling station commercial was being readied in Hollywood. In order to be
realistic, it was set up along the street in the scene of passing traffic. Its station, pumps,
and signs were indistinguishable from the genuine establishment. It was not too
surprising that, while cameras were being positioned, people would pull up with their
cars and ask for a tank full of gasoline. The actors, in their filling-station uniforms,
turned many such cars away within the hour.

Finally, one actor with a certain whimsy decided to relieve the ennui by enacting the following charade.

“Another car pulled up. The man rolled down his window and said, “Fill ‘er up.” The
“attendant” politely complied by placing the nozzle of the hose into the tank and, while wiping the windows, pretended that he was dispensing gasoline out of the empty pump. When he was finished, he approached the car window, and the customer asked, “How much is it?” The “attendant” replied, “You are the hundredth customer today, so we’re giving it to you free of charge.” The man drove off in his car grinning at his good fortune, apparently never bothering to check his gauge.

“A parable for the Gathered Church leaps out of this. “He came empty and went away
empty and never knew it.” How many come among us in their condition of emptiness
and depart even emptier because they find no evidence of the power and presence of God in the midst of His people? They have, unfortunately, encountered a dead congregation whose self-recognition as the Easter people has dwindled, and who have no excitement over the presence of their Lord.” (The Praying Church, Donald M. Hulstrand, p 3.)

For over a hundred years it has been popularly defined as an “ask and get meeting,” self Centered as opposed to worship centered, “a meeting where the people can participate,” “a practical Bible study.” It would be better defined as “open corporate worship dialogue with the Triune God.”

“open”

The prayer meeting must-have preparation and leadership but it should include the
participation of the believers/members of the church.

“corporate”

The prayer meeting should function as a body in unity, focus, and objective.

“worship”

Most prayer meetings are dead and boring because they focus on man and his needs. Focusing on the infinite, glorious and loving God cannot be boring.

“dialogue”

Prayer is not a “performance”. It is an interaction. God does not speak back with audible words but He can speak to our hearts.

“with the Triune God “

God is one but He is “three” in one. Our prayers need to reflect this as we speak to Him (Them).

R.A Torrey “The Power of Prayer”, excerpted, What is a Real Prayer Meeting?

“Odes to the Joy of Prayer; quotes that delight in God’s Presence” from L.Willows

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To me, prayer is the passageway to God, a gift that he has bestowed upon and into our hearts. He has placed within us an open door to himself by which we have access to his throne.

It is humbling and thrilling at the same time to realize that at any moment of the day or night we can not only reach our Creator but that God wishes to love, guide and intimately converse with us. Prayer is an act of love rather than one of desire and wanting. It worships, praises and surrenders to God’s will before the will of self. We trust that his goodness is even more than what we can fathom for ourselves, that he is there beside us as we speak every word. The Presence; His Presence- is palpable. It grows miraculously to become one’s greatest joy. L.Willows

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction
that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed
insufficient for the day.”
-Abraham Lincoln

“God has instituted prayer so as to confer upon his creatures the dignity of being causes.”
-Blaise Pascal

There is a place where thou canst touch the eyes
Of blinded men to instant, perfect sight;
There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night;
There is a place where thou canst reach the store
Of hoarded gold and free it for the Lord;
There is a place–upon some distant shore–
Where thou canst send the worker and the Word.
Where is that secret place–dost thou ask, “Where?”
O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.”
-Victor Hugo

“Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell God your troubles, that God may comfort you; tell God your joys, that God may sober them; tell God your longings, that God may purify them; tell God your dislikes, that God may help you conquer them; talk to God of your temptations, that God may shield you from them: show God the wounds of your heart, that God may heal them. If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. Talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration say just what you think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God.”
-Francois Fenelon

“God does not delay to hear our prayers because He has no mind to give; but that, by enlarging our desires, He may give us the more largely.”
-Anselm of Canterbury

The Apostle Paul had a purpose in saying: ‘Pray without ceasing’. Are we then to ceaselessly bend our knees, to lie prostrate, or to lift up our hands? …. there is another, interior kind of prayer without ceasing, namely, the desire of the heart. … The constancy of your desire will itself be the ceaseless voice of your prayer.”
-Saint Augustine

“Prayer transforms us by God’s Presence”, from Rev. Ben Patterson author of God’s Prayer Book

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What is Prayer by Ben Patterson from “God’s Prayer Book; the Power and Pleasure of Praying the Psalms”

Prayer is more than a tool for self-expression, a means to get God to give us what we want. It is a means he uses to give us what he wants and to teach us to want what he wants. Holy Scripture in general, and the Psalms, in particular, teach us who God is and what he wants to give. When the members of his synagogue complained that the words of the liturgy did not express what they felt, Abraham Heschel, the great philosopher of religion, replied wisely and very biblically. He told them that the liturgy wasn’t supposed to express what they felt; they were supposed to feel what the liturgy expressed.

To be taught by the Bible to pray is to learn to want and feel what the Bible expresses—to say what it means and mean what it says. Those who have practiced this kind of prayer over time make a surprising discovery: As they learn to feel what the Psalms express, their hearts and desires are enlarged. They find that what they once regarded as strong desires were really weak, puerile little wishes, debased inklings of what is good.

Of course! Would not the God who made us in his own image understand better than we ever could what we really need? And shouldn’t we ask him for it? As C. S. Lewis put it, God Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

The best part of prayer is who you pray to. Answers to prayer are wonderful, but the Answerer is better. Spend enough time with Jesus, and you’ll start to look and think and act like Jesus. Seeing is becoming. The church father Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.” It’s true: God is never more glorified than when we come alive to the vision of God. Prayer is anticipation and preparation for the great day promised in Scripture when we will see Christ fully and “will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.”

Augustine prayed,
How shall I call upon my God, my God, and my Lord, since in
truth when I call upon him I call him into myself? Is there any
place within me where God can dwell? How can God come into
me, God who made heaven and earth? O Lord my God, is there
any place in me that can contain you?

Is there any place in us that can contain God? No, there is not. Something must expand us for that to happen. The Psalms are God’s gracious gift to us to do that very thing. How sweet and kind of God to give us a book of prayers in his Word. This Word “is alive and powerful . . . sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
This is the very Word he gives us to pray in the Psalms!

Paul coined a word to describe the character of Scripture: He said it is “inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek is literally “God-breathed.” The breath of God permeates the Bible. The breath of God is the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who spoke light into darkness and turned dust into living beings made in the image of God. This is the Spirit who God speaks to us in the Bible, making it “useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.

It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16). With this thought, no doubt in mind, the poet George Herbert described prayer as “God’s breath in man returning to his birth.” The same Breath that gives us breath to pray comes to us through the God-breathed Scriptures. What we inhale in the Word of God, we exhale in prayer. Like language, what comes in comes out, changing us in the process.

Certainly, God invites us to pour out our hearts to him. The Psalms, which John Calvin called “an anatomy of all parts of the human soul,” can help us do that. All the joys, pleasures, hopes, fears, despairs, doubts, heartaches, terrors, and longings of which we are capable are mirrored, clarified, sanctified, and transformed in the Psalms, as are all the ways we may pray: supplication, intercession, praise, thanks, lament, and meditation. The Psalms, as many have said, are a mirror; they will reveal you. Yet they are much more. Read them and they will read you. Pray them and they will change you.

Prayer is better than a tool for mere self-expression, unless the self being expressed is the self being shaped by the Word of God into the image of Christ. And who is Christ, but the new Adam, the true human, the faithful Son who lived as we were all created by God to live? When we sin we are apt to excuse ourselves and say, “I’m only human.” But Jesus knows better. He points to himself and says, in effect, “When you sin, you are less than human.” We say, “Just be yourself when you pray.” Jesus says, in effect, “You need to be a self, a true self, before you can be yourself.”

To be in God’s presence is to be transformed. At the end of The Divine Comedy, Dante writes of passing through the levels of hell and purgatory before ascending through heaven into God’s very presence. He tries to describe what he saw when he looked into the face of God. Words fail him, for human language cannot express such a sight. But he does describe the effect gazing into the face of God has on his will and desire: But now my desire and will were revolved, like a wheel which is moved evenly, by the love that moves the sun and other stars.

The same love that moves stars and constellations and nebulae moves you. The apostle Paul said that to be in the presence of God is to have a veil lifted so we “. . . can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

Source: God’s Prayer Book, The Power and Pleasure of Praying the Psalms by Ben Patterson by Tyndale House Publishers

Reverend Ben Patterson is the Campus Pastor at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. He served previously as the founding pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church (California), senior pastor of New Providence Presbyterian Church (New Jersey), and Dean of the Chapel at Hope College from 1993 to 2000. He is a contributing editor to “Christianity Today” and “Leadership Journal,” and the author of several books; his most recent work, a “Prayer Devotional Bible,” was released this past spring. Ben earned his bachelor’s degree from La Verne University in 1966 and his master’s of divinity from The American Baptist Seminary of the West in 1972.