• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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May The Lord Give You A Holy, Praying People

Charles H. Spurgeon is here addressing a conference of ministers. He elaborates in the excerpts below on the necessity of church members to pray:

There is a sort of tutorage, as the French call it, in which love delights. Love’s manner of addressing men disregards all the dignities and the fineries of language, and only cares to impart its meaning, and infuse the blessing. To spread our heart right over another heart is better than adorning it with the paint and varnish of brilliant speech. If you greatly love, you are the kind of man that knows how to feel for men, and with them. Some men do not know how to handle a heart at all. . . . There is a way of handling men and women, and the art is acquired through intense love. . . . Get much love to Christ, and much love to immortal souls, and it is wonderful how wisely you will adapt your teaching to the need of those around you.

I will mention a few things more which are necessary to the full display of the power which regenerates sinners, and builds up saints. Much care should be bestowed upon our surroundings. Brethren, do not think that if you go, next Lord’s-day, to a place you have never visited before, you will find it as easy to preach there as it is at home among a loving, praying people. Are you not conscious, when going into some assemblies, that they are cold as ice-wells? You say to yourself, “How can I preach here? “You do not quite know why, but you are not happy. There is no quickening atmosphere, no refreshing dew, and no heavenly wind. Like your Lord, you cannot do anything because of the unbelief around you. When you begin to preach, it is like speaking inside a steam-boiler. No living hearts respond to your heart. They are a sleepy company, or a critical society; you can see it, and feel it. How they fix their eyes on you, and concentrate their spectacles! You perceive that they are in what a countryman called “a judgmatical frame of mind.” No good will come of your warm-hearted address. I have had great success in soul-winning, when preaching in different parts of the country; but I have never taken any credit for it; for I feel that I preach under great advantages: the people come with an intense desire to hear and with an expectation of getting a blessing; and hence every word has its due weight. When a congregation expects nothing, it generally finds nothing even in the best of preachers; but when they are prepared to make much of what they hear, they usually get what they come for. . . . Our work is, no doubt, greatly affected, for good or evil, by the condition of the congregation, the condition of the church, and the condition of the deacons.

Some churches are in such a state that they are enough to baffle any ministry. A brother minister told me of a Congregational chapel in which there has not been a prayer-meeting for the last fifteen years; and I did not wonder when he added that the congregation had nearly died out, and the minister was removing. It was time he should. What a blessing he will not be somewhere else! “But,” said he, “I cannot say much about this state of things; for in my own church I cannot get the people to pray. The bulk of them have not been in the habit of taking public part in the prayers, and it seems impossible to get them to do so. What shall I do?” “Well,” I replied, “it may help you if you call in your church officers on Sunday mornings, before the service, and ask them to pray for you, as my deacons and elders do for me. My officers know what a trembling creature I am; and when I ask them to seek strength for me, they do so with loving hearts.” Don’t you think that such exercises tend to train men in the art of public prayer? Besides, men are likely to hear better when they have prayed for the preacher. . . . Christ went up into the mountain and taught the crowd; and when you have a company of godly people around you, you do, as it were, go up into the mountain and speak with the people from a favored elevation. We need a holy people; but, alas! There is too often an Achan in the camp. Achan is more generally harbored than he used to be, because goodly Babylonish garments and wedges of silver are much in request, and weak faith feels that it cannot do without these spoils. Carnal policy whispers, “What shall we do with the chapel debt if the wealthy deacon leaves, and his silver goes with him? We should miss the respectability which his wife’s goodly Babylonish garment bestows upon the place. We have very few wealthy people, and we must strain a point to keep them.” Yes, that is the way in which the accursed thing is allowed to debase our churches and defeat our ministries. When this pest is in the air, you may preach your tongue out, but you will not win souls. One man may have more power for mischief than fifty preachers have power for good. May the Lord give you a holy, pleading people, whom he can bless! (Address to Ministers: “The Preacher’s Power and the Conditions of Obtaining it)

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