In July 17, 1887 Augustus Strong and John D. Rockefeller visited Charles Spurgeon at his home in London.
After two hours, the leading Baptist theologian and the wealthy U.S. tycoon uncovered the secret of Spurgeon’s ministry: “He seemed to be a man of prayer” (Crerar Douglas, Autobiography of Augustus Hopkins Strong, 300).
Spurgeon’s prayers made you feel “the throbbing of that mighty heart” (C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers, vii).
Spurgeon once said, “Prayer has become as essential to me as the heaving of my lungs, and the beating of my pulse” (MTP 49:476).
Prayer was the underbelly of Spurgeon’s ministry.
“Let me know the day when you give up praying for me,” he said, “for then I must give up preaching” (Autobiography 2:335).
Spurgeon teaches us how to pray. Here are nine ways to pray like Charles Spurgeon.
1. Grapple with God.
“It is on our knees that we overcome” (MTP 7:94).
“Unanswered petitions are not unheard” (MTP 13:74).
“That which is gained speedily by a single prayer is sometimes only a second rate blessing; but that which is gained after many a desperate tug, and many an awful struggle, is a full weighted and precious blessing. . . . The blessing which costs us the most prayer will be worth the most” (MTP 17:612).
2. Ask boldly! You are the beloved.
“Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it” (Morning and Evening, November 3, AM, italics in the original).
“Do not let us go to God as though we were strangers, or as though he were unwilling to give—we are greatly beloved” (MTP 13:82).
“It would be of no use to knock at a wall, but you may wisely knock at a door, for it is arranged for opening” (MTP 29:306).
“God keeps a file for our prayers—they are not blown away by the wind, they are treasured in the King’s archives” (Morning and Evening, March 29, PM).
3. Hold God to his promises.
“He can reverse nature, but he cannot reverse his own nature, and he must do this before he forebear to hear and answer prayer” (MTP 7:93).
“A true prayer is the echo of the eternal purpose” (MTP 48:487).
“The Spirit of God leads us to desire exactly what God has decreed” (MTP 48:487).
“The best praying man is the man most believingly familiar with the promises of God. After all, prayer which is not based on a promise has no true foundation” (MTP 34:21).
4. Pray fervently when you don’t feel it.
“If you do not pray except when you feel like praying, you will not pray much, nor pray when you most need it. My brethren, when you do not feel like praying, you ought to pray all the more, and go to the Lord to help you to pray” (MTP 35:583).
“We must get rid of the icicles that hang about our lips. We must ask the Lord to thaw the ice-caves of our soul and to make our hearts like a furnace of fire heated seven times hotter” (MTP 13:79).
“We cannot commune with God, who is a consuming fire, if there is no fire in our prayers. . . . Prayers which are filled with doubt, are requests for refusal” (MTP 28:547).
5. Pray privately.
“The less prayer is observed on earth, the more it is observed in heaven” (MTP 30:136).
“You are no Christian if you do not pray. A prayerless soul is a Christless soul” (MTP 48:483).
6. Pray patiently.
“When prayer is long in the answering it will be all the sweeter in the receiving, like fruit which is well ripened by hanging longer on the tree” (MTP 20:306).
“Prayer does move the arm that moves the world” (MTP 41:524).
“The act of prayer is blessed, the habit of prayer is more blessed, but the spirit of prayer is the most blessed of all” (MTP 29:532).
7. Measure prayer by weight, not length.
“Short prayers are long enough. . . . Not length but strength is desirable” (Morning and Evening, January 14, AM).
“Some brethren pray by the yard; but true prayer is measured by weight, and not by length. A single groan before God may have more fulness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length” (MTP 34:16).
8. Groan your way to God.
“The essence of prayer lies in the heart drawing near to God: and it can do that without words” (MTP 24:214).
“It may suit a teacher of English composition to criticize your sentences, but God thinks much more of your desires than of the words in which they are expressed. It may be natural for a scholar to consider the accuracy of your terms, but God specially marks the earnestness of your soul” (MTP 48:483).
“I would sooner see you eloquent with God than with men” (An All-Round Ministry, 314).
“A sigh, a sob, is the most you can get out. . . . The inward moanings of a broken heart are music in the ears of the Infinite Jehovah, and he accepteth the sincere prayers of his people” (MTP 60:512).
“Our poor prayers are blotted, and blurred, and stained with sin, but our great High Priest sprinkles them with his own most precious blood, and so purifies them, and then, with his own dear hand, he lays them before the mercy-seat, and for his sake they are sure to be accepted” (MTP 48:487-88).
9. Pray always.
“Souls abiding in Jesus open the day with prayer; prayer surrounds them as an atmosphere all day long; at night they fall asleep praying. I have known them even [to] dream a prayer” (MTP 34:15).
“Prayer is now as much a necessity of our spiritual life as breath is of our natural life” (MTP 34:15).
“These are dark days, but you can bring on a spiritual summertime if you know how to pray” (MTP 48:491).
“Continue, then, in prayer. Never let your fire go out” (MTP 7:92).
A Prayerful Plea from Spurgeon
“My dear friends, wait upon God much in prayer, and you have the promise that he will do greater things for you than you know of” (Spurgeon’s Prayers, 30).