Prayer, The Proof Of Godliness
By Charles H. Spurgeon
“For this shall every one that is godly pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found...” (Psa. 32:6).
When a man is beginning to be godly, this is the first sign of the change that is being worked in him, “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9:11). Prayer is the mark of godliness in its infancy. Until he has come to pleading and petitioning, we cannot be sure that the divine life is in him at all. If he does not pray, you may suspect that he has only a name to live – and that he lacks true spiritual life.
A Spiritual Thermometer
And as prayer is the mark of godliness in its infancy, it is equally the mark of godliness in all stages of its growth. The man who has most grace will pray most. Take my word for it as certain that when you and I have most grace, we may judge of it by the fact that there is more of prayer and praise in us than there was before. If you pray less than you once did, then judge yourself to be less devout, to be less in fellowship with God, to be, in fact, less godly! I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this – the measure of the intensity of your prayer. I am not speaking about the quantity of it, for there are some who, for a pretense, make long prayers. I am speaking about the reality of it, the intensity of it. Prayer is best measured by weight rather than by length and breadth, and, in proportion as you grow in grace, you will grow in prayerfulness, depend upon it! When the child of God reaches the measure of the fullness of the stature of a man in Christ Jesus, then he becomes like Elijah, a man mighty in prayer. One such man in a church may save it from ruin! I go further and say that one such man in a nation may bring down upon it untold blessings! He is the godliest man who has most power with God in his secret pleadings – and he who has most power with God in his secret pleadings has it because he abounds in godliness! Everyone that is godly shall pray unto the Lord, whether he is but the babe in grace who lisps his few broken sentences, or the strong man in Christ who lays hold upon the covenant angel with Jacob’s mighty resolve, “...I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me” (Gen. 32:26). The prayers may vary as the degree of godliness differs, but every godly man has, from the beginning to the end of his spiritual life, this distinguishing mark, “Behold, he prayeth.”
If you do not pray, remember that old true saying, “A prayerless soul is a Christless soul.” If anything leads you to decline in prayerfulness, or to abstain altogether from prayer, it is an evil thing, disguise it as you may!
The Natural Outflow
Once more, beloved, prayer is natural to the godly man. What you need is the prayer that rises from you freely, like the fountain that leaped from the smitten rock. Prayer should be the natural outflow of the soul – you should pray because you must pray, not because the set time for praying has arrived – but because your heart must cry unto your Lord.
“But,” says one, “sometimes I do not feel that I can pray.” Ah, then, indeed, you need most to pray! If, when the time has come for you to draw near to God – you have the opportunity and the leisure for it, but you feel no inclination for the holy exercise – depend upon it that there is something radically wrong with you! There is a deadly disease in your system and you should, at once, call in the heavenly Physician. You have need to cry, “Lord, I cannot pray. There is some strange mischief and mystery about me. There is something that ails me! Come, O Lord, and set me right, for I cannot continue to abide in a prayerless condition!” A prayerless condition should be a miserable and unhappy condition to a child of God – and he should have no rest until he finds that once more his spirit can truly pour itself out before the living God!
– Condensed from a sermon.