A Call To Prayer
J. C. Ryle
“Men ought always to pray.” Luke 18:1
“I will that men pray everywhere.” 1 Timothy 2:1
I have a question to offer you. It is contained in three words, DO YOU PRAY? The question is one that none but you can answer. Whether you attend public worship or not, your minister knows. Whether you have family prayers or not your relations know. But whether you pray in private or not, is a matter between yourself and God.
I beseech you in all affections to attend to the subject I bring before you.
- Do not say that my question is too close. If your heart is right in the sight of God, there is nothing in it to make you afraid.
- Do not turn off my question by replying that you say your prayers. It is one thing to say your prayers and another to pray.
- Do not tell me that my question is unnecessary. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you good reason for asking it.
Ryle’s Introduction is very short, but it’s definitely to the point and extremely challenging for the average Christian. However, his purpose was to encourage and motivate Believers in Jesus to spend much more time in prayer alone with Jesus Christ.
Ryle’s Vocabulary: We won’t often hear or read some of Ryle’s words or language today, my explanations are not because you don’t or won’t understand them or be able to discern their meaning from the context, but to throw even more light upon them.
The first word is ‘Beseech’: Meaning: Ask for or request earnestly.
Other words we’d use today: entreat, press-home, plead with, appeal to you… etc…
Ryle’s use of beseech here at the beginning of “A Call To Prayer” indicates the earnestness with which he writes to believers in Jesus. He’s discovered that there’s a real LACK of prayer amongst professing Christians. What was true over 100 years ago, is even more evident today. Just ask a few of your ‘Christian’ friends if they pray. They’ll probably say, “Of course I do” and may even seem a bit offended that you’ve asked such a question. However, Ryle knew that many didn’t have the first clue what he actually meant in asking “Do You Pray?”, because he was a Pastor too and he talked with those the Lord had called him to serve. He’d discovered a real lack in so many aspects of the ordinary Christian’s prayer life. And he wanted to do something about it.
Ryle did many things to address this want of prayer. He was an accomplished preacher and teacher and this was recognised at the time, he eventually became a Bishop in the Church of England. An unusual one though, because Ryle was thoroughly Evangelical. He knew Jesus and was acquainted with the Spirit’s fire, this was long before the Pentecostal Movement ever began. Pentecostals think they discovered a long lost aspect of the Christian life, the gifts and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, but just take a look through our own history books and writings of the old born again saints and you’ll discover they too were just as on fire and filled with God’s power. Ryle was a giant of a Christian who communicated with a passion to set others on fire too.