“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
It must be admitted that the believer requires constant exhortation to the sweet and precious privilege of communion with his heavenly Father—that he needs to be urged by the strongest arguments and the most persuasive motives to avail himself of the most costly and glorious privilege this side of glory. Does it not seem like pleading with a man to live?—reminding him that he must breath, if he would maintain life? Without the exercise of prayer, we tell a child of God, he cannot live; that this is the drawing in of the Divine life, and the breathing of it forth again; that the spiritual nature requires constant supplies of spiritual nourishment; and that the only evidence of its healthy existence is its constant rising towards God. We tell him, Cease to pray, and your grace withers, your vigor decays, and your comfort dies.
Observe how prayer, as a duty, is enjoined in God’s word—”Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” As though the Lord had said, “Call upon me when all is dark, when all is against you. I speak not now of the day of prosperity, of the sunny hour, when your soul prospers, when all things go smooth with you, and the sky above you is cloudless, and the sea beneath you is unruffled; but call upon me in the day of trouble, the day of want, the day of adversity, the day of disappointment and of rebuke, the day when friends forsake, and the world frowns upon you, the day of broken cisterns and withered gourds—call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you.” Observe, too, how our dear Lord enjoined this precious duty upon His disciples—”You, when you pray, enter into your closet, and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret.”
And observe how He also encouraged it—”Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you.” In harmony with this, is the sweet exhortation of the apostle—”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” And what a striking unfolding of the true nature of prayer does the same writer give us in another passage—”Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” The apostle James bears the same testimony—”If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not, and it shall be given him.”
But we take higher ground than this; we urge the exercise of prayer, not merely as a solemn duty to be observed, but also as a precious privilege to be enjoyed. Happy is that believer, when duties come to be viewed as privileges. What! is it no privilege to have a door of access ever open to God? is it no privilege when the burden crushes to cast it upon One who has promised to sustain? When the corruptions of an unsanctified nature are strong, and temptations thicken, is prayer no privilege then? And when perplexed to know the path of duty, and longing to walk complete in all the will of God, and, as a child, fearing to offend a loving Father, is it then no privilege to have a throne of grace, an open door of hope? When the world is slowly stealing upon the heart, or when that heart is wounded through the unkindness of friends, or is bleeding under severe bereavement, is it then no privilege to go and tell Jesus? Say, you poor, you needy, you tried, you tempted souls! say, if prayer is not the most precious and costly privilege this side heaven.