The Importance of Asking God, in Prayer

From William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour.

I’m sorry I can’t give you the page because I’m now reading it in ebook (perhaps, LOC 21844-21868, but that may vary by ebook), but I give you this extended quote below because I can not come near to saying it like Gurnall did. I hope you can make your way through the old English, as well as the Latin (that’s mostly translated); it will be well worth it. Let’s not let Satan win by us thinking prayer doesn’t move mountains; God does answer.

“We read of taking heaven ‘by force,’ Matt. 11:12.  If ever this may be said to be done it is in prayer. Cælum tundimus et misericordiam extorquemus, saith Tertullian—we knock at heaven, and the merciful heart of God flies open, which we bring away with us.  And in the same apology he speaks of Christians, how they went to pray, as an enemy doth to besiege a town, and take it by storm—coimus in coetum et congregationem, ut ad Deum quasi manufactuâ præcationibus ambiamus orantes.  And then he adds, hæc vis Deo grata est—this holy violence we offer to God in prayer is very pleasing to him.  Surely, if it were not, he would neither help the Christian so in the work, nor reward him for it when it is done.  Whereas he doth both.  He helped Jacob to overcome: ‘By his strength he had power with God,’ Hosea 12:3.  That is, not by his own, but by the strength he had from God.  And then he puts honour upon him for the victory, ‘Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed,’ Gen. 32:28.  It were easy here to expatiate into a large history of the great exploits which prayer is renowned for in holy writ.  James 5:17; Isa. 37; Dan 2:18; II Sam. 15:31; Est. 4:16; Acts 12:5; John 11:41; Jonah 2:2; Joshua 10:12, 14; II Kings 20:10; Ps. 106:23; Eze. 22:30.  This is the key that hath opened and again shut heaven.  It hath vanquished mighty armies, and unlocked such secrets as passed the skill of the very devil himself to find out.  It hath strangled desperate plots in the very womb wherein they were conceived, and made those engines of cruelty prepared against the saints recoil upon the inventors of them; so that they have inherited the gallows which they did set up for others.  At the knock of prayer, prison doors have opened, the grave hath delivered up its dead; and the sea’s leviathan, not able to digest his prey, hath been made to vomit it up again.  It hath stopped the sun’s chariot in the heavens, yea made it go back.  And that which surpasseth all, it hath taken hold of the Almighty, when on his full march against persons and people, and hath put him into a merciful retreat.  Indeed, by the power prayer hath with God, it comes to prevail over all the rest.

He that hath a key to God’s heart cannot be shut out, or stopped at the creature’s door.  Now prayer moves God and overcomes him, not by causing any change in the divine will, and making God to take up new thoughts of doing that for his people which he did not before intend.  No, God is immutable, and what good he doth in time for his people he purposed before any time was.  But prayer is said to more than overcome God; because he then gives, what from eternity he purposed to give upon their praying to him. For when God decreed what he would do for his saints, he also purposed that they should pray for the same.  ‘I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them,’ Eze. 36:37.  Prayer’s midwifery shall be used to deliver the mercies God purposeth and promiseth.  Hezekiah understood this when he calls the prophet to the church’s labour, and bids because ‘the children’—that is, deliverance —stuck in her birth, that he should therefore ‘lift up a prayer,’ Isa. 37:3, 4.  And when Daniel had found the full reckoning of the promise—how long it had to go with the deliverance promised for their return from captivity—perceiving it hastened, he therefore falls hard to prayer, knowing God’s purpose to give doth not discharge us from our duty to ‘ask,’ Dan. 9:3.”

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