|No Easy Road: Discover the Extraordinary Power of Personal Prayer, 30th Anniversary Edition|
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When you pray, you engage in the most remarkable act a human can perform and in so doing, unleash God's sustaining power. But prayer is an art requiring constant cultivation, says Dick Eastman. In No Easy Road he offers challenge, guidance and encouragement to help you on the sometimes difficult, though always rewarding, journey of prayer. This best-selling classic tracks a Pilgrim's Progress-like progression down the road of prayer. Using stories and examples from biblical times to today, it walks you through:
No Easy Road also includes an appendix entitled "Practical Praying" that provides valuable hints on how and where to pray. Designed for all believers who seek to revitalize their prayer lives, it is also a pertinent resource for pastors, prayer leaders, missionaries and others who wish to mobilize people to pray.
- the Peak of Unbelief
- the Avalanche of Excuses
- the Plateau of Intercession
- the Mountain of Self-will
- the Cove of Holiness
- and more
|No Easy Road
Years ago, before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, a young communist editor compared the Christian Gospel to communism. Although his prophecy of the ultimate success of communism clearly failed, his conclusions captured their intense commitment to the communist cause. He confessed, "The Gospel is a much more powerful weapon for the renovation of society than our Marxist view. Yet it is we who shall conquer you in the end. We Communists do not play with words. We are realists, and because we are determined to reach our end, we also know how to provide necessary means."
Speaking of sacrifice, he said, "Of our salaries and wages we keep only what is absolutely necessary and the rest we give for propaganda purposes. To this same propaganda, we also devote leisure time and part of our vacation. You, however, give only a little time and scarcely any money for the spreading of Christs' Gospel."
The angry editor then sneered, "How can anyone believe in the all-surpassing value of your Gospel if you do not practice it, if you do not spread it, if you sacrifice neither your time nor your money for that purpose? Believe me, it is we who shall conquer, because we believe in our Communist gospel and are willing to sacrifice everything, even life itself. But you, you are afraid of soiling your hands."
Communism may have failed in various parts of our world, but the editor's assessment of lack of commitment in the Church still rings true. Many believers seem to seek an easy Christianity in the age of affluence. The Christian life, however, is not always an easy road. Rather, it is a challenging journey demanding much of its travelers. Daily we strive in hopeful anticipation for the prize before us. Paul testifies, "I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize..." (Philippians 3:14).
A most vital though challenging element of the Christian life is prayer. F.J. Huegel writes, "Prayer is work of such a sublime order that it lies beyond the imagination of men." E.M. Bounds emphasizes, "Prayer is not a little habit pinned on to us while we were tied to our mother's apron strings; neither is it a little decent quarter of a minute's grace said over an hour's dinner, but it is a most serious work of our most serious years." This great intecessor adds, "Spiritual work is taxing work, and men are loath to do it. Praying, true praying, costs an outlay of serious attention and of time, which flesh and blood do not relish."
|Price of Prayer
Relating incidents of the closing days of John Hyde, India's great pray-er, a friend told of the time when his health declined. Deeply concerned, the friend insisted Hyde visit a doctor. Later the physician said, "His heart is an awful condition. I have never had such a serious case. The heart has shifted from its normal position to the right side. Because of stress and strain it is in such terrible condition that months of strictly quiet life will be required to bring the heart back to anything like its normal state." What caused this rare condition? Praying Hyde's friend says, "We who knew him, knew his cause: his life of incessant prayers day and night, prayers accompanied by exceedingly many tears for his converts, for his fellow-laborers, for his friends, and for the church in India."
Prayer, genuine prayer, has its price. Praying Hyde lost health but gained results few attain in this life. Even after a physician's examination, John Hyde retired to a night of passionate prayer. This new century, with all its social and political problems, cries for another man of prayer like Hyde. One Hyde consumed in prayer could revolutionize the world. Truly God's pray-ers are societies' best revolutionaries.
Prayer indeed is work. But even more, prayer is an art requiring constant cultivation. Charles Spurgeon declared, "Prayer itself is an art which only the Holy Ghost can teach us. He is the giver of all prayer. Pray for prayer - pray till you can pray."
To learn prayer we must pray. We only learn prayer's deepest depths in prayer, not from books. We reach prayer's highest heights in prayer, not from sermons. The only place to learn prayer, is in prayer, bent and broken on our knees. Prayer is a skill developed through experience. Learning to pray is like learning a trade. We are apprentices and must serve time at it. Consistent care, thought, practice, and time are needed to become a skillful pray-er.
|Great Men Pray
The Road of Prayer, though tough and rugged, was well-traveled by those who reached spiritual heights. Samuel Rutherford accomplished immeasurable amounts of work for Christ. What was his secret? He rose each morning at three o'clock to converse with God. Scotland's quiet night air was laden with anguished cries penetrating the darkness as John Welch prayed. Once he remarked his day was ill spent if he could not stay eight or ten hours in secret solitude. It is said of the distinguished and effective Bishop Andrews that he spent more than five hours daily in prayer and Bible study. Charles Simeon rose each day from his bunk to bow on bended knees from four to eight. Martin Luther proclaimed prayer a saintly work of grave necessity. He confessed, "If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer."
Although John Wesley's life epitomized work, he gave his best hours to prayer. His motto: "The world is my parish." How did he achieve such saintly goals? He never traveled less than 4,500 miles annually, often as much as 8,000 miles in a single year. Most of the travel was on horseback. From age 36 he traveled Methodist circuits, riding over 225,000 miles, preaching over 40,000 sermons. He often spoke to crowds of 20,000 without benefit of modern audio equipment.
Weather never seemed to trouble Wesley. When rain fell in torrents or bitter frost gripped the frozen ground, his work continued. His sermons often lasted several hours. But behind every mile and every sermon was a prayer, and backing every campaign, many tears. Wesley's spiritual strength was gained through someone's faithful prayer.
Most remember the Wesley brothers' triumph and accomplishments, but overlook that value of a mother's prayers. While John and Charles held crusades she labored on calloused knees. Unfortunatly, we have little record of others who fasted and prayed for the Wesleys. Many worked as hard as these evangelists who preached and sang their way to Christian fame. No one cheered the labors of those silent servants. Few, if any, knew they contributed to the Wesley's spiritual impact. But mark one fact and mark it clearly; behind the saving grace for every soul was someone praying.
|Whosoever Will May Pray
The Road or Prayer may be traveled by all willing to pay the price. Preaching is the exclusive task of preachers. The foreign missionary's task is not for everyone. But anyone can pray! One may lack talent for doing great things, as men count greatness, but one's station in life does not determine greatness in the sight of God. He looks for dedicated hearts carrying prayerful burdens. God longs for those who work at prayer. His Word declares, "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results" (James 5:16). In other words, "He who is in good standing with God and works at prayer will see much done."
In the classic book, The Kneeling Christian, the author says, "Of all the millions in India living in the bondage of Hinduism, none may pray except the Brahmins! A millionaire merchant of any other caste must get a Brahmin - often a mere boy at school - to say his prayers for him. The Muslim cannot pray unless he has learned a few phrases in Arabic, for his god hears only prayers offered in what they believe to be the holy language."
Imagine the bondage Muslims or Hindus must experience when urgent needs arise. Consider the limitations placed on their prayer lives. Thank God, no limits restrict praying Christians. Nothing prevents our kneeling this moment, walking through sparkling gates of heaven, down shining streets of gold, and into the holiest of holies to stand in God's sweet presence. Thank God, whosoever will may pray.
|Obstacles on the Road of Prayer
Abundant distractions and seemingly overwhelming obstacles plague Christians who would make progress on the Road of Prayer. At the end of the road lies the prize, the unleashing of God's sustaining power to all who have made the arduous journey. Tragically few ever reach God's place of power. Few will pay the price of work and dedication. It has been said, "The lazy man does not, will not, cannot pray, for prayer demands energy." Because many lack spiritual energy, few conquer these obstacles on the Road of Prayer.
Beyond the spiraling Peak of Unbelief, the first mountain to be conquered, lies The Mountain of Sin, hindering many prayers we pray. Next we must pick our way through An Avalanche of Excuses, removing them from the road to The Peak of Habit. We choose to cross slowly The Plateau of Intercession, for vital lessons must be learned here. Next, we pause for a time in Holiness Cove. The road up the towering Mountain of Self-Will is especially arduous and our progress is sometimes slow. Then, The Bridge of Balance beckons. The Mountain of Self-Will is especially arduous and our progress is sometimes slow. Then, The Bridge of Balance beckons. The Mountain of Persistence presents another challenge. Beyond it lies the rugged trail to Burden's Outlook. Then our goal appears: Trail's End. At the summit we stand awed at the power of Christ's promise "Ask anything in my name, and I will do it." Let us move onward. Before us waits a crucial task. Beyond the obstacles, however, glows God's glory, the glory Moses sought when he pleaded with God: "Now show me your glory" (Exodus 33:18 NIV).
S.D. Gordon comments, "The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer, but I mean those people who take time to pray."
Glories of answered prayer linger before us as we travel. Prayer is work, taxing work, and our journey may be difficult. It is not an easy road! As one anonymous poet reminds:
|There's no easy path to glory
There's no rosy road to fame.
Prayer, no matter how you view it.
Is no simple parlor game.
But its prizes call for fighting.
For endurance and for grit;
For a rugged "I can do it"
And some "don't know when to quit."
Excerpted from No Easy Road: Discover the Extraordinary Power of Personal Prayer, 30th Anniversary Edition by Dick Eastman.
Baker Books, 2003
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