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Praying and Working
‘If any man see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death.’—1 John 5:16
‘Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works’ these words in Hebrews express what lies at the very root of a life of good works—the thoughtful loving care we have for each other, that not one may fall away. As it is in Galatians: ‘Even if a man be overtaken in a trespass, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness.’ Or as Jude writes, apparently of Christians who were in danger of falling away, ‘Some save, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear.’ As Christ’s doing good to men’s bodies ever aimed at winning their souls, all our ministry of love must be subordinated to that which is God’s great purpose and longing—the salvation unto life eternal.148
In this labour of love praying and working must ever go together. At times prayer may reach those whom the words cannot reach. At times prayer may chiefly be needed for ourselves, to obtain the wisdom and courage for the words. At times it may be specially called forth for the soul by the very lack of fruit from our words. As a rule, praying and working must be inseparable—the praying to obtain from God what we need for the soul; the working to bring to it what God has given us. The words of John here are most suggestive as to the power of prayer in our labour of love. It leads us to think of prayer as a personal work; with a very definite object; and a certainty of answer.
Let prayer be a personal effort. If any man see his brother he shall ask. We are so accustomed to act through societies and associations that we are in danger of losing sight of the duty resting upon each of us to watch over those around him. Every member of my body is ready to serve any other member. Every believer is to care for the fellow-believers who are within his reach, in his church, his house, or social circle. The sin of each is a loss and a hurt to the body of Christ. Let your eyes be open to the sins of your brethren around you; not to speak evil or judge or helplessly 149 complain, but to love and help and care and pray. Ask God to see your brother’s sin, in its sinfulness, its danger to himself, its grief to Christ, its loss to the body; but also as within reach of God’s compassion and deliverance. Shutting our eyes to the sin of our brethren around us is not true love. See it, and take it to God, and make it part of your work for God to pray for your brother and seek new life for him.
Let prayer be definite. If any man see his brother sinning let him ask. We need prayer from a person for a person. Scripture and God’s spirit teach us to pray for all society, for the Church with which we are associated, for nations, and for special spheres of work. Most needful and blessed. But somehow more is needed—to take of those with whom we come into contact, one by one, and make them the subjects of our intercession. The larger supplications must have their place, but it is difficult with regard to them to know when our prayers are answered. But there is nothing will bring God so near, will test and strengthen our faith, and make us know we are fellowworkers with God, as when we receive an answer to our prayers for individuals. It will quicken in us the new and blessed consciousness that we indeed have power with 150God. Let every worker seek to exercise this grace of taking up and praying for individual souls.11 This thought is very strikingly put in a penny tract, One by One, to be obtained from the author, Mr. Thomas Hogben, Welcome Mission, Portsmouth.
Count upon an answer. He shall ask, and God will give him (the one who prays) life for them that sin. The words follow on those in which John had spoken about the confidence we have of being heard, if we ask anything according to His will. There is often complaint made of not knowing God’s will. But here there is no difficulty. ‘He willeth that all men should be saved.’ If we rest our faith on this will of God, we shall grow strong and grasp the promise. ‘He shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin.’ The Holy Spirit will lead us, if we yield ourselves to be led by Him, to the souls God would have us take as our special care, and for which the grace of faith and persevering prayer will be given us. Let the wonderful promise: God will give to him who asks life for them who sin, stir us and encourage us to our priestly ministry of personal and definite intercession, as one of the most blessed 151among the good works in which we can serve God and man.
Praying and working are inseparable. Let all who work learn to pray well. Let all who pray learn to work well.
1. To pray Thee confidently, and, if need be, perseveringly, for an individual, needs a close walk with God, and the faith that we can prevail with Him.
2. In all our work for God, prayer must take a much larger place. If God is to work all; if our posture is to be that of entire dependence, waiting for Him to work in us; if it takes time to persevere and to receive in ourselves what God gives us for others; there needs to be a work and a labouring in prayer.
3. Oh that God would open our eyes to the glory of this work of saving souls, as the one thing God lives for, as the one thing He wants to work in us.
4. Let us pray for the love and power of God to come on us, for the blessed work of soul-winning.
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