Normal School and Instruction Society
PRAYER UNION PAPER. — January 1, 1879.
THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER.
"It came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed." Exod. xvii. 11.
WE are sometimes told by scientific men that there is no efficacy in prayer — that God governs the universe by certain fixed and unalterable laws, and whether we pray or not the result is the same. It is easy to make assertions, it is not so easy to disprove facts. I would ask, Was it in accordance with the fixed laws of Nature that, in answer to the prayer of Elijah, fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and licked up the water that was in the trench? (1 Kings xviii. 38.) Was it in accordance with the laws of Nature that, in answer to Hezekiah's prayer, the sun returned ten degrees backwards on the sun-dial of Ahaz ? (Isaiah xxxviii. 8.) Was it in accordance with the invariable laws of Nature that the iron gate outside the prison in which St. Peter had been confined opened of its own accord? We should have thought that the law of gravitation would have kept it closed, and prevented it from opening, even if it had not been barred and bolted; and so it would, but God was pleased, in answer to the prayers of the Church, which were made without ceasing, to suspend the law of Nature, and to throw open the gate for His servant's deliverance (Acts xii. 5-10). And so in the case before us: while Joshua was fighting in the plain, Moses was praying on the mount; and it was while his hand was lifted up to heaven in the attitude of prayer, it was while he recognised the God of battles, and sought His aid and blessing, that Israel prevailed over their enemies. We do not half realise, as we ought to do, the mighty power of prayer. We oftentimes go forth to the conflict, like Samson shorn of his locks, in feebleness and ill helplessness, because we go forth without fully realising our entire dependence upon God. It is wonderful how difficulties are smoothed down, and obstacles removed from the path, when we spread them before the Lord in earnest and believing prayer. Reader, have you not often found it so ? Can I not appeal to your experience in confirmation of what I say ? Some difficulty has risen up before you, and you could not see how it was to be overcome. Your business went wrong — your plans have been upset and