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John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 71

*Called to God

Do not be conceited, but fear.

Romans 11:20 NASB

God goes before us with the blessings of His goodness. He first loves us and manifests Himself unto us. While we are yet afar off, he calls us to Himself and shines upon our hearts. But if we do not then love Him who first loved us nor hearken to His voice, turn our eye away from Him and not attend to the light which he pours in upon us, His Spirit will not always strive (see Genesis 6:3). He will gradually withdraw and leave us to the darkness of our hearts. He will not continue to breathe into our soul, unless our soul breathes toward Him again, unless we unceasingly return to Him our love, praise, and prayer, the thoughts of our hearts, our words, and works: body, soul, and spirit in a holy, acceptable sacrifice (see Romans 12:1).

Let us learn to follow that direction of the great apostle, “Be not high-minded, but fear.” Let us fear sin, more than death or hell. Let us have a jealous (though not painful) fear, lest we should lean to our own deceitful hearts. “Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall.” Even he who now stands fast in the grace of God, in the faith that overcometh the world, may fall into inward sin and thereby “make shipwreck of his faith.” How easily then will outward sin regain its dominion over him! Watch, therefore, that you may pray without ceasing, at all times, and in all places, pouring out your heart before Him! So shall you always believe, always love, and never commit sin!

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this seventy-first lesson on prayer, Wesley reminds us of the necessity of humility and its manifestation in a reverential fear of God coupled with unceasing prayer. Proverbs 1:7-9 reminds us, “7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8Hear, my son, your father’s instruction And do not forsake your mother’s teaching; 9 Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head And ornaments about your neck” (NASB).

Wesley draws from Romans 12:1-3, where the apostle Paul says, “1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

Returning to provers, we read in chapter 2, verses 2-8,

2Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.”

From Psalm 1 we read,

1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.”

Wesley once said, “God’s command to ‘pray without ceasing’ is founded on the necessity we have of His grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air.” Wesley ends this lesson with “Watch, therefore, that you may pray without ceasing, at all times, and in all places, pouring out your heart before Him! So shall you always believe, always love, and never commit sin!”


Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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