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Friday, August 10, 2012

"God Has No Dumb Children"

There is no better way to summarize J.C. Ryle’s 28 page tract, “A Call to Prayer” than with this remarkable sentence found in the second section of this monumental tract: “God has no dumb children.” Divided into nine sections, Ryle centers the subject concerning prayer on Paul’s comment to Timothy, “I will that men pray everywhere” (1 Timothy 2:1) and keeps one question ever before the reader’s eye: “Do you pray?”

Ryle begins with “Prayer is Needful to a Man’s Salvation.” Here we first encounter the question, “Do you pray?” with the understanding that “whether you pray in private or not is a matter between yourself and God.” Prayer is the way one asks of God, regardless of geography, education or physical condition—and every person is responsible to pray.

Ryle identifies those who pray as children of God, and “God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry.” Those who do not pray prove themselves to be unfeeling of sin; out of love for God; no debtor to Christ; without longing for holiness or heaven. “A man seldom goes into his closet and pours out his soul before God in secret unless he is in earnest.”

“The Most Neglected Duty” of prayer exists in a world abounding in religious profession. Of all the activities that fill the day, there is no transaction between soul and God. “They behave like creatures without souls. They have not one word to say to him in whose hand are their life and breath . . .” There are those who use the form of prayer, but this is all they are doing: using a form, saying words without heart. Ryle gives four reasons why men do not pray: prayer is not natural nor is it fashionable; there is no separation from sin; there has never been a proper introduction to God. His details are most compelling.

The fourth section, “Prayer Produces Great Encouragement” is built on the readiness of God to make prayer easy: first, He makes a way for us to draw near in Jesus Christ; He provides an Advocate and Intercessor in Jesus Christ, our High Priest; He assists by the Holy Spirit. God grants magnificent promises to those who pray! “The Secret of Holiness” is “Diligence in Prayer” and this diligence is the “immense interval between the foremost and the hindermost in the army of God.” Why is there a difference? Why are some spiritually stronger than others? These questions are answered by observing those who pray little and those who pray much. Ryle explains: “ . . . when a man is once converted to God, his progress in holiness will be much in accordance with his own diligence in the use of God’s appointed means. And I assert confidently that the principle means by which most believers have become great in the church of Christ is the habit of diligent private prayer.” Prayer is powerful because the Holy Spirit is constantly flowing, a bulwark against sin, the flesh and the devil. “That sin will never stand firm which is heartily prayed against.”

Ryle again presents his central question with the view to help the reader discover the cause of backsliding: the neglect of private prayer. “You may be sure men fall in private long before they fall in public. They are backsliders on their knees long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world . . . The world takes notice of their fall, and scoffs loudly. But the world knows nothing of the real reason.” Prayer is the means for happiness and contentment as we take everything to God in prayer. Our friend is Jesus who must be trusted when we call on Him. He lightens our load. “Do you pray?”

Ryle concludes his tract with “Advice to the Unsaved.” First, there is no excuse to say “you know not how to pray,” as this is “the simplest act in all religion.” There is no excuse to say “there is no place to pray.” How can this be if one can find a place in which to sin, even secretly? There is no excuse to say “you have no time” or that you must wait until you have faith. The new heart does not come apart from prayer! If you desire salvation, you will pray—without doubt!

Saints, be encouraged. “I believe we are very poor judges of the goodness of our prayers, and that they prayer which pleases use least, often pleases God most.” Pray with reverence and humility, in the Spirit. Prayer should be regular practice, the business of life. Prayer with earnest, in faith, with boldness. Ask of God, fully and particularly. Intercede for others, with thanksgiving and watchfulness.

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