by Jonathan Edwards
We are abundantly instructed in scripture, that true Christians do lead a holy life; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Hebrews 12:14; and that every one that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as Christ is pure, I John 3:3.
But how is a life, in a great measure prayerless, consistent with a holy life? To lead a holy life is to lead a life devoted to God; a life of worshipping and serving God’ a life consecrated to the service of God. But how doth he lead such a life who doth not so much as maintain the duty of prayer? How can such a man be said to walk by the Spirit and to be a servant of the Most High God? A holy life is a life of faith. The life that true Christians live in the world they live by the faith of the Son of God. Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life; and to say a man lives a life of faith, and yet lives a prayerless life, is every whit as inconsistent and incredible, as to say, that a man lives without breathing. He that lives a prayerless life, lives without God in the world.
How can you expect to dwell with God forever, if you so neglect and forsake Him here? This your practice shows, that you place not your happiness in God, in nearness to Him, and communion with Him. Now, if this be the case with you respecting God, then how can you expect to have it for your happiness to all eternity to be with God, and to enjoy holy communion with Him?
Let those persons who hope they are converted, and yet have in a great measure left off the duty of secret prayer, and whose manner it is ordinarily to neglect it, for their own sake seriously consider these things.
It is not very likely that you will ever be constant and persevering in this duty, until you shall have obtained a better principle in your hearts. The seed that is sown in stony places, though it seem to flourish at present, yet as the sun shall rise with a burning heat, will wither away. None will bring forth fruit with patience, but those whose hearts are become good ground.
Lost Without Him
To move you to persevere in the duty of prayer, consider how much you always stand in need of the help of God. We cannot draw a breath without his help. You need his help every day, for the supply of your outward wants; and especially you stand in continual need of him to help your souls. You continually need the instructions and directions of God. What can a little child do, in a vast and howling wilderness, without some one to guide it, and to lead it in the right way? Without God you will soon fall into snares, and p[its, and many fatal calamities. Seeing therefore you stand in such continual need of the help of God, how reasonable is it that you should continually seek it of him, and perseveringly acknowledge your dependence upon him, by resorting to him, to spread your needs before him, and to offer up your request to him in prayer.
-from Prayer Point, a prayer ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, Volume 14, Number 4, 2013.
-the above text is edited from Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) sermon, “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer.”