Playing At Prayer

Spurgeon did not make the gathering of a crowd his first interest. In view of the spiritual warfare in which the Christian is placed, he was concerned first of all that his people learn truly to pray.

Of course, during previous months the New Park Street people had prayed. But their prayers were little more than nicely worded phrases, unctionless petitions uttered in a rather formal manner.

To Spurgeon prayer was something far superior to mere surface activity. He talked with God in reverence but with freedom and familiarity. In his prayers there were none of the tired expressions many ministers use, but he spoke as a child coming to a loving parent. A fellow minister declared, “Prayer was the instinct of his soul and the atmosphere of his life. It was his ‘vital breath’ and ‘native air.’ He sped on eagles wings into the heaven of God,” as he prayed. (C.H. Spurgeon’s Prayers, p. vi)

So real was Spurgeon’s praying that the formal effort showed in glaring contrast beside it. “I can readily tell,” he stated, “when a brother is praying, or when he is only performing, or playing at prayer…Oh for a living groan! One sigh of the soul has more power in it than half an hour’s recitation of pretty pious words. Oh! for a sob from the soul, or a tear from the heart.” (The Forgotten Spurgeon, p. 33)

He knew that God’s power was manifested in the services in proportion as God’s people truly prayed, and that in such proportion also souls were brought under conviction and drawn to Christ.

Some of them undoubtedly had a difficult struggle to overcome the formal practices of previous years, but they persisted, and little by little they began to wrestle with God in true prayer… Numerous men and women were converted, several institutions developed, various buildings were erected, and their work had its effect to the ends of the earth. All the time true prayer rose to God.

When someone once asked Spurgeon the secret of his success, he replied, “My people pray for me.” He meant not prayer in the usual formal and unexpectant manner but wrestling with God in living faith that He would answer.

The above post is selected expert from page 48-49 of Arnold Dallimore’s book “Spurgeon: A New Biography.”


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Filed under Book Quotes, Christian Living, Discipleship, Pastoral Ministry, Prayer, The Church

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