WRESTLERS WITH GOD
William Bramwell writes in one of his letters, 'Almost every
night there has been a shaking among the people, and I have seen
nearly twenty set at liberty.' Then he adds these heart-searching
words: 'I believe I should have seen many more, but I cannot yet
find one pleading man. There are many good people, but I have found
no wrestlers with God.'
O my Lord, that is what we want! In these days of organization, of
societies, leagues, committees, multiplied and diversified,
soul-saving and ecclesiastical machinery, together with world-wide
opportunity, above all things else we want 'wrestlers with God ' --
men and women who know how to pray and who do pray. Not men and
women who say prayers, but who pour out their hearts to Him, who
call Him to remembrance and keep not silence, and give Him no rest,
till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth'
(Isa. lxii. 6, 7).
Some weeks ago I went to a corps for the Sunday morning meeting,
just the one meeting. Not many people knew I was coming. No special
preparation was made; snow was on the ground, and less than one
hundred people were present. But a wrestler with God was there, and
oh, how he prayed! My heart melts within me yet as I think of it. He
pleaded with God, he poured out his heart before Him. In his manner
and words he was wondrously familiar with God, but it was that sweet
familiarity that comes from utter self-abasement and deepest
humility, and which enables its possessor to come with unabashed
faith right face to face with God and ask great things of Him,
because asking only for His honour and the glory of His Son. That
morning twenty-four people were at the Penitent-form seeking the
Several years ago I wrote an article on the prayers of soul-winners.
It fell into the hands of two young officers, one of whom is now in
India, and they began to pray, and one of them it was reported,
prayed all Saturday night. The next day they went to a hard corps,
where it had almost been impossible to get anyone to make a start
for Heaven, and that day they saw sixty-two people seeking God.
The same article was read by a Captain in a certain corps. She
became interested and read it to her soldiers, urging them to
greater diligence in prayer. The spirit of prayer fell on the
soldiers, and some of them used to ask the Captain for the key and
spend half the night in the hall wrestling with God until His power
fell on the people, and scores of sinners were converted, and the
largest corps in that State was built up, and the whole city was
The other day, a staff officer in charge of a band of boys told me
that a short time before, he went with his boys into a town, and
after two hours' wrestling with God, he got the assurance of a
revival. In eighteen days they saw one hundred and fifty people
seeking salvation, and fifty more seeking the blessing of a clean
More than all else the Lord wants these wrestling, pleading men.
Indeed, there are many good men, but few wrestlers with God. There
are many who are interested in the cause of Christ, and who are
pleased to see it prosper in their corps, their church, their city,
their country. But there are but few who bear the burden of the
world upon their souls day and night, who make His cause in every
clime their very own, and who, like Eli, would die if the ark of God
were taken; who feel it an awful shame and a consuming sorrow, if
victory is not continually won in His name.
This spirit of prayer is fed on the Word of God. He who neglects
diligent, daily study of and meditation in the Word of God will soon
neglect secret prayer, while he who feeds upon it will be constantly
pouring out his heart in prayer and praise, and in this as in all
things, regular practice will cultivate, increase and perfect the
spirit of prayer.
Again, this spirit of prayer will only thrive where faith is active.
Lazy, slow faith, quenches prayer.
Prayer must be followed by watchfulness and dead-in-earnest, patient
work, else it will soon grow sickly and die.
Light and foolish talking and jesting, pride, over-sensitiveness
that leads to suspicion, jealousy, envy, selfish ambition even in
Christian work, indulgence of appetite, love of the applause of men
and desire for the honour that man can give, an uncharitable spirit,
criticism and the like, will surely quench the spirit of prayer.
Jesus says, 'Men ought always to pray, and not to faint' (Luke
xviii. 1), while Paul says, 'Pray without ceasing' (i Thess. v.17).