Years ago, we attended a funeral visitation for the father of a friend of ours in a Sunday School class. The deceased had had his “three score and ten” plus some extra years, and this was less a sad occasion than more of a recognition that a life well lived had ended, and a soul was now in heaven.
Draped across the open coffin was a narrow scroll of paper. It was one of the things the man was known for – his prayer list. If your name or request was on thatlist, you knew he was praying for you.
The list was over 12 feet long.
I suspect my friend’s father was one wealthy man.
Led by Tim Challies at Informing the Reforming, we’ve been reading David McIntyre’s The Hidden Life of Prayer: The Life Blood of the Christian. Today we finish the book with the final two chapters – on the riches of prayer and the reality of prayers being answered.
McIntyre cites three specific “riches” – what today we would call benefits – of prayer.
A continuous and regular prayer life leads to “a singular serenity of spirit.”
A life of prayer means we will be ruling our lives according to God’s will.
And a life of prayer will result in us having “a richer influence and a wider usefulness.”
Those are the “riches” that your time in the hidden room of prayer will lead to. They’re certainly not riches as defined by the world, even though most of us would crave a serenity of spirit and even desire influence and usefulness, regardless of whether we’re Christians or not. The world would find it alien and rather bizarre, however, to achieve those things through prayer.
And it does seem contradictory. By praying alone in a “hidden room,” you will increase your influence and usefulness?
McIntyre answers yes – and it’s because prayer places the believer in the correct position and relationship to his or her creator.
He indirectly adds a fourth source of “riches” in the final chapter – important things not only happen because of prayer, they simply won’t happen without prayer: “…every gracious work which has been accomplished within the Kingdom of God has been begun, fostered and consummated by prayer.”
I think back to that funeral service, and the 12-foot-long prayer list, and I know the man died a wealthy man indeed.
To see the discussion on these final two chapters, please visit Tim Challies at Informing the Reforming.