From the back cover, “The Spurgeon Speaks Series begins in Volume 1 where Spurgeon always began: with prayer. You’ll be encouraged-not shamed- to deepen your experience of prayer and make speaking with your heavenly Father a priority in your life.” They weren’t wrong.
Before I get into specifics, let’s start with a general overview. Spurgeon on the Priority of Prayer is a book of select sermons on prayer compiled by Jason Allen (president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & Spurgeon College). The book consists of 8 chapters, just shy of 155 pages. The chapter titles are The conditions of Power in Prayer, Praying and waiting, David’s Dying Prayer, The Golden Key of Prayer, Prayer the Proof of Godliness, Lead Us Not into Temptation, Pray without Ceasing, Thanksgiving and Prayer.
This book challenged, encouraged, and convicted me. I like to think that I have a good prayer life. It’s not the best, but I pray, and I enjoy it. However, the Lord used this book to increase, even more, my desire to pray. Spurgeon pulls no punches. He’s honest, Biblical, and uncomplicated. From the first chapter, my highlighter didn’t stop.
The Conditions of Power in Prayer
For Spurgeon, he said one of the essential elements for powerful prayer is childlike reverence. He writes, “We must have a childlike reverence of God so that we feel, Lord, if what I ask for does not please you, neither would it please me. My desires are put into your hands to be corrected. Strike the pen through every petition I offer that is not right, and put in whatever I have omitted. Good Lord, if I ought to have desired it, hear me as if I had desired it. Not as I will, but as you will (19).” Wow. Yes, God, may that be true for me! May my heart only be pleased by what pleases God. Is this your heart while praying?
The Prevalence of these Essentials
For one, Spurgeon says these essentials (childlike obedience, reverence, trust, and love) provide confidence in God. He writes, “He who has a clear conscience comes to God with confidence, and that confidence of faith ensures the answer of his prayer. Childlike confidence makes us pray as none else can (25).” In another chapter, Spurgeon says, “when you are in a right state of heart, praying is as simple as breathing (81).” When I read these two quotes, I couldn’t help but agree wholeheartedly. There are moments when I don’t want to pray or have very little confidence in prayer, and those moments are when I am walking in unrepentant sin before God. But, when I confess, repent, and receive the Lord’s mercy, I am more eager/confident to pray. Sin will hinder, if not wholly cripple, our prayer life. Examine your heart today. As Spurgeon said, “If anything leads you to decline in prayerfulness, or to abstain altogether from prayer, it is an evil thing, disguise it as you may (80).”
Think about that last quote for a moment. Maybe it’s not a blatant sin that is hindering your prayer life. Perhaps it’s busyness. I have experienced this personally and observed it in the lives of others. Sometimes we’re “too busy” to pray. Well, Spurgeon has a thought or two on that as well. He writes, “We do not forget to eat; we do not forget to take the shop shutters down; we do not forget to be diligent in business; we do not forget to go to our beds to rest; but we often do forget to wrestle with God in prayer and to spend, as we ought to spend, long periods in consecrated fellowship with our Father and our God (65).”
That hurt. Perhaps you are convicted as well. What encourages us to pray? What will be our motivator?
The Power of Prayer
Spurgeon wrote, “My belief in the prevalence of my prayer, to a great extent, must depend upon my conviction of my interest in Christ (35).” Let me ask you, do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you think that God answers prayer? No, not think. Do you honestly believe God answers prayer? If so, pray. God answers prayer. If you are in Christ, the mere fact that you are in Christ is an answer to prayer. Spurgeon said, “answers to prayer are some of the best supports to our faith as to the future success of our petitions (36).” I would encourage you to keep a prayer journal of sorts. Write down your prayers and wait for the answer. When you receive it, mark it down. Then, read those prayers later and be encouraged to pray. What a God we serve!
I honestly wish I could write all my highlighted material from the book in this review. I can’t. But what I can say is that I would strongly encourage this book to you. If you’re a Christian, you need this book. If you’re a pastor or leader in the local church, I encourage you to buy a couple and give them to your members. You and they will benefit greatly. This isn’t an overly dense book, but it is Spurgeon, so be ready for illustrations and phrases that may be outdated. However, you won’t regret having this in your library. “Prayer is natural to the godly man (81).”
I leave you with one more thought. Dr. Allen, in the introduction, writes, “May this book not only acquaint you with Spurgeon and his sermons on prayer, but may it acquaint you with how to pray more biblically, more faithfully, and, in the end, more effectively (11).” After reading, I can honestly say that he was successful if that was Dr. Allen’s intent. I finish this book thankful and pray it will encourage you as well.
**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.