Dear Emmaus Sisters and Brothers,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As I type this letter on my computer in my study at home, I can look up above the computer and read these words imprinted on a wooden plaque
I received as a Christmas gift this year:
THIS IS GOD
I WILL BE handling
Imprinted to the right of the message is a very colorful rooster!
I am indeed a creature of habit and I follow the same routine every morning. As I sit on the side of the bed before getting up, I say a brief prayer: “This the day that the LORD has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” After using the bathroom and turning on the coffee pot, I retreat to my study to begin a new entry in my Journal, which I now maintain on my computer. As of today, June 16, there are 28,378 pages in my Journal that I started on my first Fourth Day following my Emmaus Walk. According to my Journal, this is my 13,091st Fourth Day. I also record my weight on each entry but I don’t think I want to share that with you!
Let me stop at this point and alert you to some great news: the Upper Room Emmaus leaders have created what they are calling Day Four Restore, which is a new one-day retreat designed to refresh the spirit and renew the commitment of those who have attended any Walk to Emmaus Fourth Day event. Please be advised that the Louisville Emmaus Community will be holding a Day Four Restore retreat on Saturday, August 27, at Crestwood United Methodist Church. We encourage you to plan on attending this event. More information will be forthcoming soon about cost, etc.
This plaque, I previously mentioned, reminds me that I need to have my devotions and I normally do so prior to breakfast after downloading and printing the several e-devotionals I receive via email on my computer. As I have mentioned in the last couple of messages to the Emmaus Community, one of the weekly devotionals comes from Rush Hunt, the co-director of the Main Street Prayer in Madisonville, Kentucky. Over the past three weeks, Brother Rush has been learning about prayer from some of the giants of our faith. Like Rush, I have been challenged by the material he has presented in his messages.
In Rush’s most recent mailing, he presents his first effort to put their wisdom into a summary so he and his readers can each learn and grow. I you have been reading my letters over the past several months, you no doubt have discovered the theme of my messages is prayer. My interest in prayer flows out of my Emmaus Walk experience and consequently I am always looking for ways to enhance my prayer and devotional life.
Rush begins his summary on prayer by quoting several of his “Giants of the Faith.” First he shares a thought by Corrie ten Boom: “Make a non-negotiable time and place for personal prayer. Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.”
He follows this with a quotation by E. M Bounds, who wrote: “Ideally, prayer is the first thing in the morning. The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in last place the remainder of the day. It is best to have at least one hour alone with God before engaging in anything else.”
Rush wrote that “One quote that has stuck with him is the one by Hudson Taylor, maybe because of the clear image of it.” Hudson Taylor said: “I do not want to ask God to use me and be an instrument that is out of tune! Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”
John Wesley preached 40,000 sermons, road throughout England on horseback 250,000 miles (about the distance from earth to the moon); and he prays several hours a day! Wesley wrote: “I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.”
In his devotional, Rush says we need to “Focus our prayers on God.” He shares that Andrew Murray was sixty years in ministry, authored 240 books and tracts, established schools, organized extensive social work for the poor, and served on international church councils. He set aside time everyday to pray. Murray wrote: “Shut the world out, withdraw from all worldly thoughts and occupations, and shut yourself in alone with God, to pray to him in secret. Let this be your chief object in prayer, to realize the presence of your Heavenly Father.”
The life and ministry of George Muller obviously had an amazing effect on Brother Rush. He relates how Murray “housed, educated and cared for 10,000 orphans and never asked for a penny. He preached most weeks, gave away thousands of Bibles and religious tracts, supported many missionaries, and in his early 70s went around the world for nearly 20 years preaching. Did I say he never asked for a penny? The donations to his long ministry in today’s equivalent: $200 million! His secret – prayer. Really! He prayed for everything.” He quotes Murray who wrote: “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord…not how much I might serve the Lord…I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.”
Then Rush turns his attention to the topic of “Be persist in prayer” which George Muller advocated and he admitted that “This one is a challenge for me, I get discouraged. But then I remember that Muller wrote every prayer down and continued to pray until he saw the answer. And did he see answers! Muller wrote: “I’m making a prayer list with a new focus. It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time in prayer; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer.”
One has to be impressed with the writing of Corrie ten Boom. Rush shares yet another of her quotes: “We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.”
Hudson Taylor is mentioned in the devotional as an exponent of persistent prayer. Taylor is quoted as writing: “I have seen many men work without praying though I have never seen any good come from it; but I have never seen a man pray without working.” Rush shared the following with regard to Taylor: “ He prayed and he did work – 51 years as a missionary in China, he recruited and lead 800 missionaries during his years in China, and started 125 schools.
Next, Rush shares that we should “Believe in the power of prayer” and mentions the fat that “Charles Spurgeon preached up to 13 times a week, pastored a large church in England that seated about 5000, and millions of his sermons were printed and distributed, in as many as 40 languages. He was a busy guy who believed in the power of prayer! Charles Spurgeon wrote: “If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Rush shares another quote from Andrew Murray: “Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God’s messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us.”
According to Rush, R.A.Torrey was “Yale educated with a heart for evangelism and went around the world preaching the gospel, authored over 40 books, lead the Moody Bible Institute and later Biola University. Rev. Torrey wrote: “The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of the battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came. Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory.”
Rush concludes his devotional by reminding us that “The secret is daily prayer.” He writes: “Don’t you always wonder if there is a secret others know and you don’t? Apparently there is! Andrew Murray tells us what it is, so I leave you with the secret.” Murray indeed knows the secret. He wrote: “Just pray everyday. Many Christians backslide…They are unable to stand against the temptations of the world, or of their old nature. They strive to do their best to fight against sin, and to serve God, but they have no strength. They have never really grasped the secret: The Lord Jesus will every day from heaven continue His work in me. But on one condition – the soul must give Him time each day to impart His love and His grace. Time alone with the Lord Jesus each day is the indispensable condition of growth and power.”
My friends, I know that has been a very long message but what I learn from the writing of Rush Hunt always inspires me so much that I feel the need to share it with everyone, especially my Emmaus friends. I trust that you will be moved to evaluate your prayer life in accordance with the words of these Giants of the Faith. Be blessed!
Louisville Walk to Emmaus # 1, Table of Mark
Pastor at Overdale United Methodist Church
Spiritual Director of the Louisville Emmaus Community