Prayer is man giving God a footing on the contested territory of this earth. The man in full touch of purpose with God praying, insistently praying—that man is God’s footing on the enemy’s soil. The man wholly given over to God gives Him a new sub-headquarters on the battle-field from which to work out. And the Holy Spirit within that man, on the new spot, will insist on the enemy’s retreat in Jesus the Victor’s name. That is prayer. Shall we not, every one of us, increase God’s footing down upon His prodigal earth!
The Earth, the Battle-Field in Prayer
Prayer a War Measure.
This world is God’s prodigal son. The heart of God’s bleeds over His prodigal. It has been gone so long, and the home circle is broken. He has spent all the wealth of His thought on a plan for winning the prodigal back home. Angels and men have marvelled over that plan, its sweep, its detail, its strength and wisdom, its tenderness. He needs man for His plan. He will use man. That is true. He will honour man in service. That is true. But these only touch the edge of the truth. The pathway from God to a human heart is through a human heart. When He came to the great strategic move in His plan, He Himself came down as a man and made that move. He needs man for His plan.
The greatest agency put into man’s hands is prayer. To understand that at all fully one needs to define prayer. And to define prayer adequately one must use the language of war. Peace language is not equal to the situation. The earth is in a state of war. It is being hotly besieged and so one must use war talk to grasp the facts with which prayer is concerned. Prayer from God’s side is communication between Himself and His allies in the enemy’s country. Prayer is not persuading God. It does not influence God’s purpose. It is not winning Him over to our side; never that. He is far more eager for what we are rightly eager for than we ever are. What there is of wrong and sin and suffering that pains you, pains Him far more. He knows more about it. He is more keenly sensitive to it than the most sensitive one of us. Whatever of heart yearning there may be that moves you to prayer is from Him. God takes the initiative in all prayer. It starts with Him. True prayer moves in a circle. It begins in the heart of God, sweeps down into a human heart upon the earth, so intersecting the circle of the earth, which is the battle-field of prayer, and then it goes back again to its starting point, having accomplished its purpose on the downward swing.
Three Forms of Prayer.
Prayer is the word commonly used for all intercourse with God. But it should be kept in mind that that word covers and includes three forms of intercourse. All prayer grows up through, and ever continues in three stages.