The Power Of Prayer And The Prayer Of Power
By R. A. Torrey
[Editor’s Note: The following four excerpts are from "The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power" by R.A. Torrey. If you would like a free copy of this classic book in magazine format, you are invited to request one when you write to Herald of His Coming. We will gladly send a copy as the Lord enables and while our supply lasts.]
Prayer Brings Blessing to Churches
...Prayer will bring blessing, definite and rich and immeasurable blessing, to the church; praying will do more to make the church what it ought to be than anything else we can do. Prayer will do more to root out heresy than all the heresy trials that were ever held. Prayer will do more to straighten out tangles and misunderstandings and unhappy complications in the life of a church than all the councils and conferences that were ever held. Prayer will do more to bring a deep and lasting and sweeping revival, a revival that is real and lasting and altogether of the right sort, than all the organizations that were ever devised by man.
The history of the church of Jesus Christ on earth has been largely a history of revivals. When you read many of the church histories that have been written the impression that you naturally get is, that the history of the church of Jesus Christ here on earth has been very largely a history of misunderstandings, disputes, doctrinal differences and bitter conflicts; but, if you will study the history of the living church, you will find it has been very largely a history of revivals. Humanly speaking, the church of Jesus Christ owes its very existence today to revivals. Time and time again the church has seemed to be on the verge of utter shipwreck; but just then God has sent a great revival and saved it. And if you will study the history of revivals you will find that every real revival in the church has been the child of prayer. There have been revivals without much preaching; there have been revivals with absolutely no organization; but there has never been a mighty revival without mighty praying.
...Oh, that is what we need more than anything else today in our own land and in all lands, a real, mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God. The most fundamental trouble with most of our present-day so-called revivals is, that they are manmade and not God-sent. They are worked up (I had almost said faked up) by man’s cunningly devised machinery – not prayed down. Oh, for an old-time revival, a revival that is really and not spuriously of the Pentecostal pattern; for that revival was born out of a prayer meeting. But let us not merely sigh for it; let us cry for it, cry to God, cry long and cry loud if need be, and then it will surely come.
The Holy Spirit Helps Us Pray
...Have you never had this experience, that when you knelt to pray it seemed as if there were no one there, as if you were just talking into the air, or into empty space? What shall we do at such a time as that? Shall we stop praying and wait until some time when we feel like praying? No, when we least feel like praying, and when God is least real to us, that is the time we most need to pray. What shall we do then? Simply be quiet and look up to God and ask God to fulfill His promise and to send His Holy Spirit to lead us into His presence and to make Him real to us, and then wait and expect. And He will come, and He will take us into God’s presence, and He will make God real to us. I can testify today that some of the most wonderful seasons of prayer I have ever had, have been times when as I first knelt to pray I had no real sense of God. There seemed to be no one there, it seemed as if I were talking into empty space; and then I have just looked up to God and asked Him and trusted Him to send His Holy Spirit to teach me to pray, to lead me into His presence, and to make Him real to me, and the Spirit has come, and He has made God so real to me that it almost seemed that if I opened my eyes I could see Him, in fact I did see Him with the eyes of my soul.
...We need God the Father to pray to; we need Jesus Christ the Son to pray through; and we need the Holy Spirit to pray in. It is the prayer that is to God the Father, through Jesus Christ the Son, under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit, that God the Father answers.
Praying in the Name of Jesus
...While we have no claims upon God because of any goodness or service of our own, Jesus Christ, as we have said, has infinite claims upon God and has given us the right to approach God in His name, and we ought to go very boldly to God and ask great things of God. Oftentimes when we pray and ask something that seems to be pretty big, the devil will come and say to us, "You ought not to pray for anything so great as that; you are such a poor Christian that is more than you deserve." Yes, it is more than we deserve, but it is not as much as Jesus Christ deserves.
Time and time again Satan has said to me when I have dared to ask something of God that seemed very large, "Oh, don’t dare to ask, so great a thing as that," and I have replied, "I know that I am not worthy of anything so great as that. I am not worthy of anything at all, but Jesus Christ is worthy of that and I am asking not on the ground of my claims upon God but on the ground of His."
And sometimes as I think of how precious the name of Jesus Christ is to God, how He delights to honor the name of His Son, I grow very bold and ask God for great things. Once when I was kneeling in prayer, as I was thinking of how infinite was the worth of Jesus Christ, how infinite were His claims upon God, and how God delights to give great things in His name, I grew very bold and I asked God to send me around the world preaching the Gospel and to give me to see many thousands saved in Japan, China, and Australia, and New Zealand, and Tasmania, and India, and England, and Scotland, and Ireland, and Germany, and France, and Switzerland, and other lands. And as I thought of the power of Jesus’ name, I knew that God had heard my prayer and that I was going around the world and was going to see thousands saved in many lands.
Do you realize that we honor the name of Christ by asking great things in that name? Do you realize that we dishonor that name by not daring to ask great things in that name? Oh, have faith in the power of Jesus’ name and dare to ask great things in His name.
During our Civil War there was a father and mother in Columbus, Ohio, who had an only son, the joy of their hearts. Soon after the outbreak of the war he came home one day and said to his father and mother, "I have enlisted in the army." Of course, they felt badly to have their son leave home, but they loved their country and were willing to make the sacrifice of giving their son to go to the war and fight for his country.
After he had gone to the front he wrote home regularly, telling his father and mother about his experiences in camp and elsewhere. His letters were full of brightness and good cheer, and brought joy to the father’s and mother’s lonely hearts. But one day at the regular time no letter came. Days passed, and no letter. Weeks passed, and they wondered what might have happened to their boy. One day a letter came from the United States Government and in it they were told that there had been a great battle, and that many had been killed, and that their son was among those who had been killed in battle. The light went out of that home.
Days and weeks, months and years passed by. The war came to an end. One morning as they were sitting at the breakfast table the maid came in and said, "There is a poor, ragged fellow out at the door and he wanted to speak to you. But I knew you did not wish to speak to a man like him, and he handed me this note and asked me to put it in your hand." And she put in the hands of the father a soiled and crumpled piece of paper. The father opened it and when he glanced at it his eyes fell upon the writing, then he started, for he recognized the writing of his son. The note said:
"Dear Father and Mother:
I have been shot and have only a short time to live, and I am writing you this last farewell note. As I write there is kneeling beside me my most intimate friend in the company, and when the war is over he will bring you this note, and when he does be kind to him for Charlie’s sake. Your Son, Charles."
There was nothing in that house that was too good for that poor tramp "for Charlie’s sake." And there is nothing in heaven or on earth too good, or too great, for you and me in Jesus’ name. Oh, be bold and ask great things of God in Jesus’ name.
Prayer for Revival
Prayer could work as marvelous results today as it ever could, if the church would only betake itself to praying, real praying, prevailing prayer. There seem to be increasing signs that the church is awakening to that fact. Here and there God is laying upon individual ministers and churches a burden of prayer that they have never known before. Many are getting entirely disgusted with mere machinery and with manmade revivals, and are learning to depend more upon God. Ministers are crying to God day and night for power. In a few places, perhaps many, churches or portions of churches are meeting together in the early morning hours and the late night hours crying to God for abundant rain. There are indications of the coming of a mighty and widespread revival.
...It is not necessary that the whole church get to praying to begin with. Great revivals always begin first in the hearts of a few men and women whom God arouses by His Spirit to believe in Him as a living God, as a God who answers prayer, and upon whose heart He lays a burden from which no rest can be found except in importunate crying unto God. Oh, may He, by His Spirit, lay such a burden upon our hearts today. I believe He will.