Avoiding disappointment in prayer

Just a decade or so before his death Charles H. Spurgeon, the famous 19th century London preacher, granted an interview about his long career. The interviewer asked if Spurgeon, well-known for his strong belief in prayer, had changed his mind about the power of intercession.Spurgeon

At that, Spurgeon told of a woman who came to his office distressed and needing advice. She had heard the preacher speak and his sermon so touched her that she thought he was aware of her problem – her husband had deserted her, leaving her penniless.

Spurgeon assured her that he had known nothing of her misfortune, but agreed to pray with her.  “There is nothing we can do but to kneel down and cry to the Lord for the immediate conversion of your husband.”

After the prayer he said, “Do not fret about the matter. I feel sure that your husband will come home, and that he will yet become connected to our church.”

Several months later the woman asked to see Spurgeon again, this time with a man whom she introduced as her husband. He had returned home as a converted Christian.

When Spurgeon and the woman compared notes, they found that the very same hour they had prayed together her husband, on board a ship at sea, had picked up a stray copy of one of Spurgeon’s sermons. When he read it, his heart melted. He cried out to God to save him, and made plans to rejoin his wife as soon as possible.

He and his wife both became members of Spurgeon’s church and never doubted the role of prayer in their reconciliation. As Spurgeon put it, “That woman does not doubt the power of prayer. All the infidels in the world could not shake her conviction that there is a God who answers prayer.”

Spurgeon also reminded the interviewer of the orphanage that the preacher’s ministry supported. The annual cost was 10,000 pounds, with only 1,400 pounds being guaranteed each year by endowment. The other 8,600 had to come in answer to prayer.

Speaking of the annual shortage of funds he said, “I do not know where I shall get it from day to day. I ask God for it, and he sends it. Mr. Muller, of Bristol, does the same on a far larger scale, and his experience is the same as mine.”

“The constant inflow of funds – of all the funds necessary to carry on these works – is not stimulated by advertisements, by begging letters, by canvassing… we ask God for the cash, and he sends it.”

After a lifetime of praying and seeing answers Spurgeon said, “It is not a matter of faith with me, but of knowledge and everyday experience. I am constantly witnessing the most unmistakable instances of answers to prayer. My whole life is made up of them.”

Did you catch that last phrase? It’s the key to avoiding disappointment in prayer. Make prayer a way of life, expecting answers, and you’ll see the larger picture of how God works when we ask.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2 NIV)

(See Touching Incidents & Remarkable Answers to Prayer)

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