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
The following sermon was first preached as "Radio Message #2 as a followup to the Radio Message #1, published last month. This was also preached on the radio in Phoenix, Arizona in 1938 while he was pastoring the Phoenix Free Methodist Church. It was preached with additions (making it rather confusing and difficult to connect the parts)in the Free Methodist Churches of Phoenix, Arizona; Pomona, California; and Mira Loma, California and in the Four Square Gospel Church of Mira Loma, California.
Ministry of Prayer
Ephesians 6:18 Text
Introduction: Luke 11:1 says, "Lord teach us to pray." This is a good prayer [the Lord's prayer]. All great men were men of prayer.
Old testament Men: Abraham, Jacob, Elijah, Daniel, The three Hebrew men, Solomon, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, Jonah
New Teatament Men: Apostles (cast out devils, healed the sick, fasting, prayer in prison), Crucified thief who was converted, Publican, the early Church, Christ- Example- Early rising, solitary place, Gethsemsane.
Pray for not deliverance from sufffering but from evil.
Intercessory prayer brought Pentecost and it will today
Importunate prayer: Example of mother coming to Jesus for her son, George Mueller and the sea captain.
Various forms of prayer: Social, Family, and private
Prayer must be in the Spirit (Paul said, "and with the understanding also.). This prayer is simple yet powerful, uttered or unspoken.
Prayer is a refuge. Harbor for ships, Dug-outs for cyclones, cellars for earthquakes, and Mountains for floods but Prayer is for every storm. It is an anchor for the soul. A ship needs an anchor and the church needs prayer. Men pray when in trouble.
I. Call to Prayer
A. Few pray.
B. Call is universal. Luke 18:1- "Men ought always to pray and not faint." IThessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."
C. Prayer changes things.
1. Praying from a pure heart. Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; Psalm 139:23,24; James 5:16; mark 11:25
2. Praying with right motive. James 4:3- Not for pride or vain glory but for the glory of God.
3. Prayer must be sincere and earnest.
4. Pray with faith. Hebrews 11:6; Mark 11:24 Romans 10:17
5. Ask according to God's will. IJohn 5:14; James 1:5; Romans 8:26,27
II. How to Succeed in Prayer
A. Aquire a relish for prayer or a habit. How?
1. By promptly obeying the Spirit's call to prayer.
2. As we enter the immediate presence of God, we should leave every worldly care and thought outside.
3. Redeem every moment for prayer.
B. Attitude of prayer.
C. Life of prayer.
1. Search my prayer life. In prayer, we need daily renewing of the Holy Ghost. "Though the outward man perisheth, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (IICorinthians 4:16) Family, private, public.
Prayer is the only source of a healthy daily grwoth.
Another man's trifling is obvious to all, but what am I doing to improve my time?
Am I in vital daily touch with God through earnest daily prayer?
E.M Bounds says that unction and power comes from the secret place and not the study, although both are necessary.
Praying hearts only are filled hearts.
Praying lips only have the words of life.
What are yours? Idle chit-chat or gossip?
Pentecost came by continuing steadfast in prayer. Hearts were purified. James was killed, but Peter was delivered. Herod had killed James and planned to do likewise with Peter, but the church went to prayer.
Herod's plans, soldiers' guards, chains, locked gates, bars and walls meant nothing before a praying church.
Bishop Fairbairn says, "That reading of the Word, meditating on the Word, and praying in the Holy Ghost, fasting to give power to prayer, this is the secret of obtaining, retaining, and maintaining Holy unction."
More solititude in prayer is needed today.
It takes prayer, faith, and patience to make us saints.
It is easier to read, write, talk, and hear, than to pray.
All things are possible to the heart that is in the spirit of faith and prayer. Payson says, "Pray 1st, 2nd, and 3rd."
Devotional habits are lacking in ministers and people today. E.M.Bounds says the pride of learning has crowded out the dependent humility of prayer. Pray! pray! Pray! or your life will be powerless. God gives His power according to our asking in prayer. God's revelation to man is according to man's longings in importunate prayer. Read [Andrew] Murray's Ministry of Intercession with your Bible.
The power of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost came after days of prayer. The same is true today. Prevailing prayer brings the Holy Spirit.
The measure of power in your life is in direct proportion to the measure of prayer in your life. Ask in faith! My prayer life:
a. Has my prayer life been powerless because of some besetting sin?
b. Has my prayer life been hindered by haste, irregularity, lack of system, unpreparedness of spirit, or unbelief?
c. Has my prayer life been fruitless? Have I really had such power with God that I have power with souls?
d. Has my prayer life been limited to my own life, to my own work, to my own service for God?
e. Has my prayer life been intermittent and starved?
f. Has my prayer life been growing? Do I daily know more of the meaning , efficacy, and power of prayer?
g. Has my prayer life been sacrificial? What has it cost in time, strength, vitality, and love?
2. Our converstion should be more in heaven. Our words seasoned with salt, mercy, kindness, and truth. Can a fountain give forth bitter and sweet water? Or a tongue both blessing and cursing and please God? The poet [Charles Wesley] says,
"And must I be to judgment brought,
And answer in that day,
For every vain and idle thought,
And every word I say?
Yes, every secret of my heart,
Shall shortly be made known,
And I receive my just desert
For all that I have done.
How careful, then ought I to walk,
With what religious fear!
Who such a strict account must give
For my behavior here.
Were half the breath that's vainly spent
To heaven in supplication sent,
Our cheerful song would often be,
Hear what the Lord hath done for me!
[Thou awful Judge of quick and dead,
The watchful power bestow;
So shall I to my ways take heed,
To all I speak or do.
If now Thou standest at the door,
O let me feel Thee near,
And make my peace with God, before
I at Thy bar appear.]"
III. How to Hold Newly Obtained Ground- Satan fights a praying person the hardest. Watch!
IV. Effects of a Prayer Life on its Possessor
A. He has Holy Ghost power and is a reproof to sinners.
B. He gets burdened for the unsaved and detects compromise in the saints.
C. His spiritual vision is so clarified, he detects the shrewdest hypocrite.
D. Man of prayer sees the past, present, and future and is forewarned.
With praying Hyde, our sword, the sword of the Spirit, should be keen to win souls. We should sharpen it with prayer and the study of His Word. Prayer and the study of His Word are our most powerful weapons against sin and evil.
When praying Hyde wanted to resign because he was hard of hearing and slow of learning the language of India, the villagers of India told the Synod not to accept his resignation. They said, "If he never speaks the language of our lips, still he speaks the language of our hearts."
That is what we need today: a soul stir! Praying Hyde became a most fluent speaker of their language.
There is no failure in Christian work. The only failure is not doing it.
Sin in any man's life is only washed away when there is true repentance and confession.
Praise is the King's Highway.
Oh that we would make a Highway on which the Lord would come and bless us.
We must be crucified with Christ. Self must be destroyed that the glory of the Master might shine through us. The old man must be crucified, dead, and buried with Christ, and the new man must be renewed, raised, and seated. If the old man is not buried, the stench of him will frighten souls away.
When dying, praying Hyde shouted, "Bol, Yishu, Masih, Ki Jai!", India's battle cry. Shout the victory of Jesus Christ!
Read "Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret" by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor.
E.M.Bounds says, "Men are God's method. The Church is looking for better methods; but God is looking for better men. What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use- men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not come on machinery, but on men. he does not annoint plans, but men- men of prayer."
The training of the Twelve was a great, enduring work of Christ. It is not great talents or great learning, or great preachers that God needs, but men great in Holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God- men always preaching by holy sermons in the pulpit, by holy lives out of it. These mold a generation for God.
[This concludes my grandfather's sermon. Oh for a ministry of prayer! If I never pastor a church; If I never hold a revival; If I fulfill my call to preach by doing what God called me to do: standing in the gap and taking the Gospel of Full Salvation to the nursing homes, residential care facilities, and assisted living centers, thus "doing the work of an evangelist", may I have the ministry of prayer!]
Yours for Radical Holiness,
Richard D. Swift
505 Hickory Hills Drive
Dexter Mo 63841