Jack Jackson - How to Pray - Milltown, Washington - November 1924

If I was asked what I would prefer above everything else to take place during the coming year, I would rather that the Lord teach us how to pray. If we can do this, it will result in our having sufficient grace and power, and everything that is needed to keep us right, and help others to keep right, in any Christian experience.


It seems to be difficult to pray. I don' t mean going through the form, nor the matter of getting alone (I don't mean it is so easy to do that either), but after succeeding to do that. The matter of honestly and truly praying. It is good to be able to talk to God as a friend, as you and I talk as we walk down the road together, and hear certain things that He would say.


First of all, it is a little difficult to get into the quiet place. Jesus tried to teach them to get away from everything that distracted them. We read of others who got the victory by getting into the secret place. They were alone and there was nobody there but Jesus. But sometimes even after that it is difficult to pray, many things entering in, in one-half minute. Did you ever find it difficult to be separated in thought so that He could talk to you as a friend? And you could talk to Him as a friend?


Through prayer, there can be more accomplished than any other way. Because of that, from the time we think of praying and the time we would do it, the devil would dog our steps, anxious to get us to do other things, and if he doesn't succeed in that, he will try again when we get into the secret place. There are things that are accomplished as a result of the children of God praying, that could not be accomplished otherwise. Things have been invented, wonderful things have been done, and yet at the same time, we read certain things being accomplished which no invention of man could ever accomplish. We read of one who prayed God that it would rain. How many inventions of man could have made it rain?


A couple of servants may be going, perhaps tomorrow, over there to a certain place, to talk to some men about an opening in a school or other building, to get to preach the Gospel. In the district, there are people whom the Lord longs to save, and the probabilities are that if the servants of God get an opening, they go and get saved, as I did myself. Then I try and think first of all, before the servants sought to get to that district, the devil fought a hard battle to keep them from going there so that those people for whom Christ died would never get a chance to hear the Gospel. Then in spite of him, they came. Will he be satisfied now? I can't think that he will. Then the thought comes to mind is, as they go there, he will just try and put it into that man that they can't have the building, and if he can't succeed in that way, he will try something else.


When I think like that, it makes it clearer to me, the reason for much repetition there by the servants of God in the epistles, as Paul was writing to the saints, in asking them to pray that his ministry may be acceptable where he is going, that a door that is effectual may be opened. Doors like that have been opened, and men and women have been saved. It is reasonable to think that the devil will try to do everything in his power to get us not to think or pray for them. If they pray and go and talk to God, they will certainly do something to hurt my kingdom and I will just nip it in the bud, and do all I can to hinder them. If he does go to pray and has only half an hour to spend there, I will occupy that half hour for him, so that there won't be much talking with God. And for that reason, I would say again friend, that that is about the hardest thing in your christian experience.


We can be glad if God can teach us how to pray, to pray a little every day. Did you ever find anything that would help you to pray? Sometimes when I find I am fighting my battle or struggling and trying to talk with God, and my mind is so filled with other things, I can't do it. I say to myself, "Mr., you have got to either pray or perish." When Peter was trying to walk on the water he had to either pray or perish, "Lord, save me. I am going down." He got help too. He did not put a whole lot of words into his prayer, either. He didn't have time for long words, as by that time he would have drowned. It was simple, but very effective. When Hannah was praying from the bitterness of her heart, Eli did not know what she was praying for, but he saw her lips moving. Maybe she was finding it just as we find it to pray.


I have sometimes found it helpful to go away into a field and talk with God, as if I were talking with a person. Another thing I have found helpful is thinking of my brethren. We were hearing about the churches in Asia. John was in the Spirit, in the Isle of Patmos. He woke up on Sunday morning, and begins to think of all the little churches coming together that morning, and he goes over seven of them. I have enjoyed thinking sometimes, in connection with those churches, that John was thinking about them, praying for them, even though he wasn't there. Thinking of it in this way - there was John, here was Jesus, and the two came together, and they go from one to the other and have a little talk over each.


Have you ever noticed the geographical position of those seven churches? On the coast is Ephesus, and next is Smyrna. Up a little farther north from the coast is Pergamos, etc. Now, John would be thinking Sunday morning of those churches, and God would be meeting with them, and they will be breaking bread, and in his mind, he makes a little trip with Jesus: first to Ephesus, and he talks with Jesus about this church, and he gets a little message that Jesus wants to send them. Then to Smyrna, then to Pergamos, then go back the other way, and take in the other four, and the result is, that John has a little message for each, that is a help to them, and also to us today.


People in the world are very interested in knowing about any earthly battle, portions that have been taken, and if any have been lost, and would to God, that we as the people of God, would be interested in the armies that follow the battle line. Keep moving on, and keeping track of where they are, and yet not forgetting the little spots that have been taken. That is kept in mind as I go away to pray. It helps us to have these thoughts, as we go to seek His face. This warfare is going on, and I must hurry and go and talk with Him about these things, and not let other things hinder. Whatever we do, let us pray.


I heard from one of the brothers in the South, "Tell our friends in Georgia, that what we said when we saw them last, we still say, 'Brethren, pray for us!'" Some of us may little know what was behind those words, but I know a little more of it. Paul repeated it over and over again, "Pray for us." He knew that if they would do it, the devil could do his best, but he couldn't hinder.