From the Pulpit of a Holiness Preacher
An email newsletter ministry of Richard D. Swift publishing the sermons of Rev. Reed A. Swift (1899-1973), a holiness preacher
This message was preached on the radio Monday, August 29, 1938, while Rev. Swift was pastoring the Free Methodist Church of Phoenix Arizona. It is titled Radio Talk No.1. It is type written on four pages. Radio Talk No.2 will be sent out next month.
What is Prayer?
Scripture Lesson, Luke 18:1-8 Song: Blessed Hour of Prayer
If we would be encouraged in these days of natural discouragement on every hand, we should be Bible Christians and heed the Scriptural admonition in Luke 18:1, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint." This implies that we will not faint if we pray and also if we are fainting we are not praying.
The question arises, "What is prayer?" Some people think it is standing with bowed heads and saying words, supposedly to God. Others think that praying is to sit with bowed heads and whisper their desires to God. Still others feel that kneeling with bowed heads will surely bring their hearts desires to them.
In the first place, prayer is not so much the posture of the body as it is to the attitude of the heart when you pray. Rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart. There can be no true prayer when the heart is not in submission to the Divine will of God; for all true prayer is based on the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ.
The poet expressed it wel when he said:
"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire;
Uttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.
Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,
Returning from his ways;
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, 'Behold, he prays!'
Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air,
The watchword at the gates of death;
he enters heaven with prayer.
O thou, by whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer thyself hast trod;
Lord, teach us how to pray!"
When this is the attitude and condition of our hearts God will answer all our prayers. He doesn't always say, "Yes", but He always supplies the crying need of our hearts. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord", and sometimes the stops. There are times we must stand still to see the answers to our prayers; and at other times we must go forward at God's command and help bring them to pass. Always keep step with God; and watch, and pray, and not faint.
Elijah prayed and asked to die when he was out in the desert under a juniper tree; but God said, "No!" because He had something better for him. There was still work for Elijah to do, and when he was faithful in performing what God required of him, then God took him to heaven in a chariot of fire.
Then again; God's delays do not always mean denials. We see this in the case of Moses, who wanted to go into the promised land. Moses died, "not having recieved the promise." But Moses believed God, 1400 years later was privileged to go down to the Mount of Transfiguration, where Jesus was talking to His Father. And there Moses enjoyed looking over the country. Joshua and Caleb, his contemporaries, had many years of hard fighting against giants and walled cities and armies of the Canaanites before they could enjoy the same privilege.
Many delayed prayers are recorded in the scriptures which were not denials. For example: Joseph, who waited in prison because of his loyalty to Christian principles and was later given great power. Hannah, who prayed for a son from God, had to wait until she became a proper mother to bring forth a prophet and ruler for Israel into the world. Paul prayed that his thorn in the flesh might be removed, but instead, God gave him grace to bear his affliction.
Prayer is emphasized in the Bible more than anything else. Paul says to "pray without ceasing," meaning to be in constant communion with the Lord. Many professed Christians, who are filled with levity and nonsense, wonder how this possible. With them, fainting spiritually is more common than a prayerful, worshipful attitude.
God cannot help us if we donot pray. God is willing and able to supply our every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, our Lord; but, He says we must ask in Jesus Name and according to His will. Then we know He hears us and we have the petition granted according to our good and His glory. Such praying revives man's soul with courage, faith, and victory.
We are not creators, we are merely servants to laws already created by God. If we obey God's natural laws those laws will obey us. If we obey God's spiritual laws, those laws will obey us.
Men who pray, without ceasing, donot faint. To faint is to fail, not to finish. We donoyt reach any goal by quitting. we must not expect an answer to prayer without praying; and we must not pray unless we expect an answer.
[Ed Note: Inserted in the sermon material, there is this quote on prayer, titled "Prayer".]
"Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the inspired word to you, and give you a mind to understand it, a memory to retain it, a heart to love it, and a tongue to proclaim it." [Read by George]
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."
[This concludes my grandfather's sermon]
Yours for Radical Holiness,
Richard D. Swift
505 Hickory Hills Dr
Dexter MO 63841