Sermon. A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle

A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle

I found this on The Christian Mind Website (Copied here because so many sites seem to disappear after a while). Ryle’s writings are all in the Public Domain now.

This is an extract from a sermon by J.C.Ryle (1816 – 1900), a nineteenth-century preacher and Anglican bishop of the city of Liverpool.

I ask again whether you pray, because a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.

All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect. From the moment there is any life and reality about their religion, they pray. Just as the first sign of the life of an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying.

This is one of the common marks of all the elect of God, “They cry unto him day and night.” Luke 18:1. The Holy Spirit who makes them new creatures, works in them a feeling of adoption, and makes them cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15. The Lord Jesus, when he quickens them, gives them a voice and a tongue, and says to them, “Be dumb no more.” God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They cannot do otherwise than they do. They must pray.

I have looked carefully over the lives of God’s saints in the Bible. I cannot find one whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a person of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that “they call on the Father,” that “they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked, that “they call not upon the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 14:4.

I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, and some were unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, and some were Christians of other names. Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians. Some have loved to use liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing I see they all had in common. They have all been people of prayer.

I have studied reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with joy that lost men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in India, in China. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect. But one striking thing I observe at all the missionary stations: the converted people always pray.

I do not deny that a person may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact of a person’s praying proves everything about their soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there may be deception and hypocrisy.

But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a person is not yet a true Christian. They cannot really feel their sins. They cannot love God. They cannot feel themselves a debtor to Christ. They cannot long after holiness. They cannot desire heaven. They have yet to be born again. They have yet to be made a new creature. They may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if they do not pray.

And I say furthermore, that of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A person may preach from false motives. A person may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a person seldom goes into their closet and pours out their soul before God in secret, unless they are in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, “Behold he prayeth.” Acts 9:11.

I know that much may go on in a person’s mind before they are brought to pray. They may have many convictions, desires, wishes, feelings, intentions, resolutions, hopes, and fears. But all these things are very uncertain evidences. They are to be found in ungodly people, and often come to nothing. In many a case they are not more lasting than the morning cloud and dew that passes away. A real hearty prayer, moving from a broken and contrite spirit, is worth all these things put together.

I know that the Holy Spirit, who calls sinners from their evil ways, does in many instances lead them by very slow degrees to acquaintance with Christ. But the eye of man can only judge by what it sees. I can not call anyone justified until they believe. I dare not say that anyone believes until they pray. I cannot understand a dumb faith. The first act of faith will be to speak to God. Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body. How a person can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a person can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.

Never be surprised if you hear ministers of the gospel dwelling much on the importance of prayer. This is the point they want to bring to you. They want to know that you pray. Your views of doctrine may be correct. Your love of Protestantism may be warm and unmistakable. But still this may be nothing more than head knowledge and party spirit. They want to know whether you are actually acquainted with the throne of grace, and whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God.

A Call To Prayer: Expanded upon by J.C. Ryle in a Pamphlet he wrote after preaching to encourage Christians into a deeper prayer life and a closer walk with Jesus.

via A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle | The Christian Mind.

Call no man Father

Call no man Father.

Daily Spirit & Word, 472: Call no man ‘father’.

Call no man ‘Master’, ‘Rabbi’, ‘Teacher’ or ‘Lord’.

or the modern equivalent “Call no one “Man of God””.

Good morning my friends, I’ve got that Friday feeling 🙂 Sunday’s coming, but we’ve also got a lovely wedding on Saturday. Anyway, each day has enough worries for itself.

On Wednesday we had the St Luke’s School visit the Church, they came for the Easter Service before they break up for the Easter Holidays. The children and teachers have been working hard in class to undergird the teaching and worship with a Bible understanding of the Cross, the Crucifixion and the Easter Message. I’ve been impressed by their efforts going around the school and visiting the classes whilst the teachers teased out the deeper meaning, so on Wednesday they communicated and worshipped with; Songs, Poetry, Dance and Bible Readings. It was clear they’d really grasped the full meaning of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. Praise the Lord!

However, one thing spoiled it for me; It was all looking good at the start of the service, then one of the teachers welcomed everybody and introduced me, “I’m going to ask Father Donald”…. A shudder went down my spine. I hate being called ‘Father Donald’. Why? I hate it because of what the Bible teaches; I don’t know how many times I’ve told the school to call me Donald or Reverend, but don’t call me ‘Father’…. Am I being a little bit too sensitive? Let’s see what the Bible, the Word of the LORD, has to say about the matter.

Matthew 23:1-12 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2  “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3  So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4  They crush people with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. 5  “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6  And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honour in the synagogues. 7  They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’ 8  “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. 9  And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10  And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11  The greatest among you must be a servant. 12  But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I may do a weekly study after Easter on these Seven Woes of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 23.

By calling someone ‘Father’ or looking to them as a Teacher (Rabbi) or even as your Master, you are substituting them for the position that Christ alone must have in your heart and affections. You are giving attention to mere men as you should only give it to the Lord of Heaven. Christ must be your Lord, your Master, your Teacher, your Rabbi, your Messiah and God alone is your spiritual Father in Heaven. We are not to have earthly ‘spiritual’ fathers to replace or substitute the place of our Father God in Heaven. It’s also breaking the first of the Ten Commandments and possibly the second as well.

 Modern Terminology “Man of God”…

There is a tendency amongst some of my African brothers and sisters, both here in the UK and in Africa to do the same thing Jesus is warning us about today. They don’t use; ‘Master’ or ‘Rabbi’ or ‘Father’ or anything like that, but they’ve now invented another title; they call people who are, they suppose, ‘anointed’ with the Holy Spirit; “Man of God”… They’ll say, “The Man of God says this…” or “The Man of God instructs such-n-such” as if the so called ‘Man of God’ was a god himself. He’s taken over the place reserved for Christ alone in the hearts and affections of the People of God. The Holy Spirit who interprets God’s Word in our hearts is crying out to the Church today, let those who have ears to hear, listen to the voice of the Spirit of God. He’s a jealous God and He hates it when others get His glory. He knows how bad and evil it is for human beings to let themselves or others be in the place of God. That was the first sin in the Garden of Eden and it’s the sin that will make men stumble even in the body of Christ today. Whenever we place a man or woman in such a position of affection, we’re substituting mere human beings for our precious Lord of Heaven.

When the Bible refers to the term, “Man of God” it’s normally warning Believers in the Lord Jesus to flee from worldly affections, sins, seeking riches, desiring to be wealthy, staying pure, holy and contented with life. Something, that very few of the modern, so called, “Men of God” actually model for their followers.

  •  Christ Alone – Cornerstone. 

  • Christ Alone is the Capstone.

  • The Stone that makes men stumble.

  • The Rock that crushes.

So my friends, we’re not to call anyone: “Father, Rabbi, Teacher, Master or Lord” for we have already got ONE Master, Lord, Saviour, Rabbi, Teacher, Father in Heaven: The Lord Jesus Christ. Remember yesterday’s teaching, “He and the Father along with the Holy Spirit are ONE”.

Each member of Father God’s family is a Brother or Sister; nothing more, nothing less.

Stay blessed my brothers and sisters in Christ.


Call no man Father.