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PRAYER is measured, not by time, but by intensity. Earnest souls who read of men like Praying Hyde are today anxiously asking, "Are we expected to pray like that?"

We hear of others who sometimes remain on their knees before God all day or all night, refusing food and scorning sleep, whilst they pray and pray and pray. We naturally wonder, "Are we to do the same? Must all of us follow their examples?" We must remember that those men of prayer did not pray by time. They continued so long in prayer because they could not stop praying.

Some have ventured to think that we must all follow in their train. Let's not let any such thought -- such fear? -- distress us. Let's just be willing to do what He will have us do---what He leads us to do. Let's think about it; pray about it. We're bidden by the Lord Jesus to pray to our loving Heavenly Father. We sometimes sing, "Oh, how He loves!" And nothing can fathom that love.

Prayer is not given us as a burden to be borne, or an irksome duty to fulfil, but to be a joy and power to which there is no limit. It's given us that we "may find grace to help us in time of need." (Heb. 4:16, R.V.) And every time is a "time of need." "Pray ye" is an invitation to be accepted rather than a command to be obeyed. Is it a burden for a child to come to his father to ask for some boon? How a father loves his child, and seeks its highest good! How he shields that little one from any sorrow or pain or suffering! Our heavenly Father loves us infinitely more than any earthly father. The Lord Jesus loves us infinitely more than any earthly friend. God forgive me if any words of mine, on such a precious theme as prayer, have wounded the hearts or consciences of those who are yearning to know more about prayer. "Your heavenly Father knoweth," said our Lord: and if He knows, we can but trust and not be afraid.

A schoolmaster may blame a boy for neglected homework, or unpunctual attendance, or frequent absence; but the loving father in the home knows all about it. He knows all about the devoted service of the little laddie in the home circle, where sickness or poverty throws so many loving tasks in his way. Our dear, loving Father knows all about us. He sees. He knows how little leisure some of us have for prolonged periods of prayer.

For some of us, God makes leisure. He makes us lie down (Psa. 23:2) that He may make us look up. Even then, weakness of body often prevents prolonged prayer. Yet I question if any of us, however great and reasonable our excuses, spend enough thought over our prayers. Some of us are bound to be much in prayer. Our very work demands it. We may be looked upon as spiritual leaders; we may have the spiritual welfare or training of others. God forbid that we should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray enough for them. (I Sam. 12:23) Yes, with some it is our very business---almost our life's work---to pray, Others--- Have friends who give them pain, Yet have not sought a friend in Him. For them they cannot help praying.

If we have the burden of souls upon us, we shall never ask, "How long need I pray?"

But how will we know the difficulties, which surround the prayer-life of many! A little pile of letters lies before me as I write. They are full of excuses, and kindly protests, and reasonings it is true. But is that why they're written? No! No! Far from it. In every one of them there's an undercurrent of deep yearning to know God's will, and how to obey the call to prayer amid all the countless claims of life.

Those letters tell of many, who can't get away from others for times of secret prayer; of those who share even bedrooms; of busy mothers, and maids, and mistresses who scarcely know how to get through the endless washing and cooking, mending and cleaning, shopping and visiting; of tired workers, who are too weary to pray when the day's work is done.

Our heavenly Father knows all about it! He's not a taskmaster. He's our Father! If we have no time for prayer, or no chance of secret prayer, why, let's just tell Him all about it---and we'll discover that we're praying!

To those who seem unable to get any solitude at all, or even the opportunity of stealing into a quiet church for a few moments, may we point to the wonderful prayer-life of St. Paul ? Did it ever occur to us that he was in prison when he wrote most of those marvelous prayers of his which we possess? Picture him. He was chained to a Roman soldier day and night, and was never alone for a moment. Epaphias was there part of the time, and caught something of his master's passion for prayer. St. Luke may have been there. What prayer-meetings! No opportunity for secret prayer. No! but how much we owe to the uplifting of those chained hands! You and I may never be, or rarely ever, alone, but at least our hands are not fettered with chains, and our hearts are not fettered, nor our lips.

Can we make time for prayer? I may be wrong, but my own belief is, that it's not God's will for most of us---and perhaps not for any of us---to spend so much time in prayer as to injure our physical health through getting insufficient food or sleep. With very many it's a physical impossibility, because of bodily weakness, to remain long in the spirit of intense prayer.

The posture in which we pray is immaterial, I think. God will listen whether we kneel, or stand, or sit, or walk, or work.

We're quite aware that many have testified to the fact that God sometimes gives special strength to those who curtail their hours of rest in order to pray more. At one time, the writer tried getting up very early in the morning---and every morning---for prayer and communion with God. After a time he found that his daily work was suffering in intensity and effectiveness, and that it was difficult to keep awake during the early evening hours! But do we pray as much as we might do? It's a lasting regret to me that I allowed the days of youth and vigor to pass by without laying more stress upon those early hours of prayer.

Now, the inspired command is clear enough: "Pray without ceasing." (I Thess. v. 17) Our dear Lord said, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" -- "and never lose heart." (Weymouth) (Luke 18:1)

This, of course, cannot mean that we are to be always on our knees. I'm convinced that God does not wish us to neglect rightful work in order to pray. But it is equally certain that we might work better and do more work if we gave less time to work and more to prayer.

Let's work well. We're to be "not slothful in business." (Rom. 7:11) St. Paul says, "We exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more; and that ye. . . do your own business, and to work with your hands. . . that ye may walk honestly . . . and have need of nothing." (I Thess. 4:11, 12). "If any will not work, neither let him eat." (I Thess. 3:10)

But are there not endless opportunities during every day of "lifting, up holy hands" -- or at least holy hearts -- in prayer to our Father? Do we seize the opportunity, as we open our eyes upon each new day, of praising and blessing our Redeemer? Every day is an Easter day to the Christian. We can pray as we dress. Without a reminder we shall often forget. Stick a piece of stamp-paper in the corner of your mirror, bearing the words, -- "Pray without ceasing." Try it. We can pray as we go from one duty to another. We can often pray at our work. The washing and the writing, the mending and the minding, the cooking and the cleaning will be done all the better for it.

Do not children, both young and old, work better and play better when some loved one is watching? Will it not help us ever to remember that the Lord Jesus is always with us, watching? Aye, and helping.

The very consciousness of His eye upon us will be the consciousness of His power within us. [ The End ]

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