There remains yet a word to be said about hindrances. It is a most important word; indeed the climactic word. What has been said is simply clearing the way for what is yet to be said. A very strange phase of prayer must be considered here. Strange only because not familiar. Yet though strange it contains the whole heart of the question. Here lies the fight of the fight. One marvels that so little is said of it. For if there were clear understanding here, and then faithful practicing, there would be mightier defeats and victories: defeats for the foe; victories for our rightful prince, Jesus.
The intense fact is this: Satan has the power to hold the answer back—for awhile; to delay the result—for a time. He has not the power to hold it back finally, if some one understands and prays with quiet, steady persistence. The real pitch of prayer therefore is Satanward.
Our generation has pretty much left this individual Satan out. It is partly excusable perhaps. The conceptions of Satan and his hosts and surroundings made classical by such as Dante and Milton and Dore have done much to befog the air. Almost universally they have been taken literally whether so meant or not. One familiar with Satan’s characteristics can easily imagine his cunning finger in that. He is willing even to be caricatured, or to be left out of reckoning, if so he may tighten his grip.
These suggestions of horns and hoofs, of forked tail and all the rest of it seek to give material form to this being. They are grotesque to an extreme, and therefore caricatures. A caricature so disproportions and exaggerates as to make hideous or ridiculous. In our day when every foundation of knowledge is being examined there has been a natural but unthinking turning away from the very being of Satan through these representations of him. Yet where there is a caricature there must be a true. To revolt from the true, hidden by a caricature, in revolting from the caricature is easy, but is certainly bad. It is always bad to have the truth hid from our eyes.
It is refreshing and fascinating to turn from these classical caricatures to the scriptural conception of Satan. In this Book he is a being of great beauty of person, of great dignity of position even yet, endowed with most remarkable intellectual powers, a prince, at the head of a most remarkable, compact organization which he has wielded with phenomenal skill and success in furthering his ambitious purposes.
And he is not chained yet. I remember a conversation with a young clergyman one Monday morning in the reading-room of a Young Men’s Christian Association. It was in a certain mining town in the southwest, which is as full of evil resorts as such places usually are. The day before, Sunday, had been one of special services, and we had both been busy and were a bit weary. We were slowing down and chatting leisurely. I remarked to my friend, “What