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THE KNEELING CHRISTIAN
by Unknown Christian
A traveller in China visited a heathen temple on a great feast day. Many were the worshippers of
the hideous idol enclosed in a sacred shrine. The visitor noticed that most of the devotees brought
with them small pieces of paper on which prayers had been written or printed. These they would
wrap up in little balls of stiff mud and fling at the idol. He enquired the reason for this strange
proceeding, and was told that if the mud ball stuck fast to the idol, then the prayer would assuredly
be answered; but if the mud fell off, the prayer was rejected by the god.
We may smile at this peculiar way of testing the acceptability of a prayer. But is it not a fact that
the majority of Christian men and women who pray to a Living God know very little about real
prevailing prayer? Yet prayer is the key which unlocks the door of God's treasure house.
It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life, all victory over temptation, all
confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of
great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God, depend upon the practice of secret
This book was written by request, and with much hesitancy. It goes forth with much prayer. May
He Who said, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint," "teach us to pray."
1. GOD'S GREAT NEED
2. ALMOST INCREDIBLE PROMISES
3. "ASK OF ME AND I WILL GIVE"
4. ASKING FOR SIGNS
5. WHAT IS PRAYER?
6. HOW SHALL I PRAY?
7. MUST I AGONIZE?
8. DOES GOD ALWAYS ANSWER PRAYER?
9. ANSWERS TO PRAYER
10. HOW GOD ANSWERS PRAYER
11. HINDRANCES TO PRAYER
12. WHO MAY PRAY?
CHAPTER 1: GOD'S GREAT NEED
"GOD Wondered." This is a very striking thought! The very boldness of the idea ought surely to
arrest the attention of every earnest Christian man, woman and child. A wondering God! Why, how
staggered we might well be if we knew the cause of God's "wonder"! Yet we find it to be, apparently,
a very little thing. But if we are willing to consider the matter carefully, we shall discover it to be
one of the greatest possible importance to every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else is
so momentous, so vital, to our spiritual welfare.
God "wondered that there was no intercessor" (Isa. lix. 16), 'none to interpose" (R.V., marg.).
But this was in the days of long ago, before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ "full of grace and
truth", before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, full of grace and power, "helping our infirmity,"
"Himself making intercession for us" and in us (Rom. viii. 26). Yes, and before the truly amazing
promises of our Savior regarding prayer; before men knew very much about prayer; in the days
when sacrifices for their sins loomed larger in their eyes than supplication for other sinners.
Oh, how great must be God's wonder today! For how few there are among us who know what
prevailing prayer really is! Every one of us would confess that we believe in prayer, yet how many
of us truly believe in the power of, prayer? Now, before we go a step farther, may the writer most
earnestly implore you not to read hurriedly what is contained in these chapters. Much, very much,
depends upon the way in which every reader receives what is here recorded. For everything
depends upon prayer.
Why are many Christians so often defeated? Because they pray so little. Why are many
church workers so often discouraged and disheartened? Because they pray so little.
Why do most men see so few brought "out of darkness to light" by their ministry? Because they
pray so little.
Why are not our churches simply on fire for God? Because there is so little real prayer.
The Lord Jesus is as powerful today as ever before. The Lord Jesus is as anxious for men to be
saved as ever before. His arm is not shortened that it cannot save: but He cannot stretch forth His
arm unless we pray more, and more really.
We may be assured of this, the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.
If God "wondered" in the days of Isaiah, we need not be surprised to find that in the days of His
flesh our Lord "marvelled." He marvelled at the unbelief of some, unbelief which actually
prevented Him from doing any mighty work in their cities (Mark vi. 6).
But we must remember that those who were guilty of this unbelief saw no beauty in Him that they
should desire Him, or believe on Him. What then must His "marvel" be today, when He sees
amongst us who do truly love and adore Him, so few who really "stir themselves up to take hold
of God" (Isa. lxiv. 7). Surely there is nothing so absolutely astonishing as a practically prayerless
Christian? These are eventful and ominous days. In fact, there are many evidences that these are
"the last days" in which God promised to pour out His Spirit, the Spirit of supplication, upon
all flesh (Joel ii. 28). Yet the vast majority of professing Christians scarcely know what
"supplication" means; and very many of our churches not only have no prayer meeting, but
sometimes unblushingly condemn such meetings, and even ridicule them.
The Church of England, recognizing the importance of worship and prayer, expects her clergy to
read prayers in Church every morning and evening.
But when this is done, is it not often in an empty church? And are not the prayers frequently raced
through at a pace which precludes real worship? "Common prayer," too, often must necessarily be
rather vague and indefinite.
And what of those churches where the old fashioned weekly prayer meeting is retained? Would
not "weakly" be the more appropriate word? C. H. Spurgeon had the joy of being able to say that
he conducted a prayer meeting every Monday night "which scarcely ever numbers less than from
a thousand to twelve hundred attendants."
My brothers, have we ceased to believe in prayer? If you still hold your weekly gathering for prayer,
is it not a fact that the very great majority of your church members never come near it? Yes, and
never even think of coming near it. Why is this? Whose fault is it?
"Only a prayer meeting", how often we have heard the utterance! How many of those reading
these words really enjoy a prayer meeting? Is it a joy or just a duty? Please forgive me for asking
so many questions and for pointing out what appears to be a perilous weakness and a lamentable
shortcoming in our churches. We are not out to criticize, far less to condemn. Anybody can do
that. Our yearning desire is to stir up Christians "to take hold of" God, as never before. We wish
to encourage, to enhearten, to uplift.
We are never so high as when we are on our knees.
Criticize? Who dare criticize another? When we look back upon the past and remember how much
prayerlessness there has been in one's own life, words of criticism of others wither away on the
But we believe the time has come when a clarion call to the individual and to the Church is needed, a call to prayer.
Now, dare we face this question of prayer? It seems a foolish query, for is not prayer a part and
parcel of all religions? Yet we venture to ask our readers to look at this matter fairly and squarely.
Do I really believe that prayer is a power? Is prayer the greatest power on earth, or is it not? Does
prayer indeed "move the Hand that moves the world"?
Do God's prayer-commands really concern Me? Do the promises of God concerning prayer still
hold good? We have all been muttering "Yes, Yes, Yes" as we read these questions. We dare
not say "No" to any one of them. And yet!
Has it ever occurred to you that our Lord never gave an unnecessary or an optional command? Do
we really believe that our Lord never made a promise which He could not, or would not, fulfil?
Our Savior's three great commands for definite action were:
Are we obeying Him? How often His command, "Do this," is reiterated by our preachers today!
One might almost think it was His only command! How seldom we are reminded of His bidding
to "Pray" and to "Go." Yet, without obedience to the "Pray ye," it is of little or no use at all either
to "Do this" or to "Go."
In fact, it can easily be shown that all want of success, and all failure in the spiritual life and in
Christian work, is due to defective or insufficient prayer. Unless we pray aright we cannot live
aright or serve aright. This may appear, at first sight, to be gross exaggeration, but the more we
think it over in the light Scripture throws upon it, the more convinced shall we be of the truth of
Now, as we begin once more to see what the Bible has to say about this mysterious and wonderful
subject, shall we endeavor to read some of our Lord's promises, as though we had never heard
them before. What will the effect be?