Beware of the evil of mistaking preaching for prayer. The friends who were reputed to be ‘gifted’ indulged themselves in public prayer with a review of their own experience, a recalling of their creed, an occasional running commentary upon a chapter or Psalm, or even a criticism upon the Pastor and his sermons. It was too often quite forgotten that the brother was addressing the divine Majesty, before whose wisdom a display of our own knowledge is impertinence, and before whose glory an attempt at swelling words and pompous periods is little short of profanity; the lecture was evidently intended for man rather than God, and on some occasions did not contain a single petition from the beginning to end.
We hope that good men are stopping this unhallowed practice, and are beginning to see that sermons and doctrinal dissertations are miserable substitutes for earnest wrestling prayers, when our place is before the mercy-seat, and our engagement is intercession with the Most High. If each person will offer the petition most pressing upon his heart by the Holy Spirit, and then make room for another, the evening will be far more profitable, and the prayers incomparably more fervent than if each brother ran round the whole circle of petition without dwelling on one point. Compare your topics of prayer to so many nails; it will be better for an intercessor to drive one nail home with repeated blows, than to deal one ineffectual tap to them one after another.
Let as many as possible take part in the prayer of the church’s desires; the change of voice will prevent weariness, and the variety of subjects will excite attention. Better to have six pleading earnestly, than two drowsily; far better for the whole meeting, that the many needs should be represented experimentally by many intercessors, than formally by two or three.
- Charles Spurgeon