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THE VALUE OF PRAYER.
By Rev. Arthur G. Jones, D. D. The New Clmllenge. The war has bo broadened the scope o <t human interest and has so Interwoven the destinies of the na tions that there is in the heart of the world today a new consciousness of the unity of mankind. Not since the Apostles received the Lord's com mand to teach all nations has the whole world loomed so clearly in the horizon of the Church or the complex needs of all mankind so definitely ap pealed for the ministry and power ot the Christian gospel as now. The hand of God has been laid upon the nations and the citadels of despotism and the institutions of oppression are falling before the onward march of the hosts of freedom. This mighty crusade for human justice has given a new birth to the heroic spirit in the life of men. The hearts of the multitudes have seen a new vision of the glory of the sacrificial elements in human destiny and have gone glad ly to the altar. The peoples of the earth are beginning to gird them selves for new liberties and achieve ments. Old conditions are being fused and the thought and desire of the human race are fluid today and ready to be run into new moulds. The days ahead are the most critical days in the history of mankind. In all this there is a new chal lenge to the Church of God. Mighty guns and the enginery of destruction may break the chains of tyranny and But after the general program has defined the objectives which are ac cording to the mind of the great Cap tain, the loyalty of the unit in the ranks is essential to victory. The mass of the Christian army must see the light. The individual disciple can determine his personal objective only In the vision which comes by prayer. The question of personal duty to the advance of the gospel is too much determined by caprice or Impulse or In utterly casual fashion. The great need of the present crisis is that every Christian of every sort everywhere shall go to his closet and shut the door upon all worldly distractions and make the peoples of the earth free but only the Spirit of Christ can win the battles for righteousness in the world's life. The goal of political freedom may be won by martial cour age, but only the incorporation of the ideals of God in the people's heart will make the victory secure. The light of God's face shining upon the dial of history today marks the era of the Church's unprecedented oppor tunity. The mind of the Church must begin to think great thoughts; the heart of the Church must begin anew to thrill with the very passion of Christ for humanity; the hands of the Church must engage valiantly in a battle plan as complex and exten sive as the life of all mankind. This challenge is immediate because the day of opportunity will not wait. Old schedules are out of date. Smallv cam paigns are destined to failure. There Is no call for a new gospel or a new Church, but the times demand a new awakening of God's people to equip the Church for a new application of the old gospel, and therewith to Christianize America and evangelize the world. The Church is not Indif ferent to this challenge. With zeal and courage it is planning larger ac tivities. It is formulating a program of twelve millions for the next three years for the better capitalization of all phases of its work both at home and abroad. This program, be it em phasized, is not merely a drive for funds, but for a quickening of tho people's heart for the Lord's work, a revival of piety, a new consciousness of that sacred stewardship of life which is the high calling of every Christian. The Call to Prayer. Amid all these appeals of the world's need and the stirring of the Church's heart to respond to them, the one indispensable factor of suc cess is God. It is a subtle heresy of the age that with able men and ade quate money and right methods any results can be attained, but it is not so in tho Church's ministry to the world. Without God and the imme diate power of His Spirit victory is impossible. As we gird ourselves for the battle we must remember that victory is with the Lord, and the su preme duty of the Church is prayer. The Perspective of Prayer. It is only by prayer that the Church can see the meaning and the magni tude of its ministry in a true per spective. Only as tho windows of the soul are open toward God and we see the world in the light of His purpose can the Church understand the campaign to which she is called. Many are the oppressions which have held down the masses of humanity in misery and despair, but the great op pressor is Bin. Many are the cru sades for the deliverance of mankind from tyranny of every sort, but hu man life will not be really or safely free until it receives that liberty which Christ brings to the bouI. There must be in the Church a new conviction of the reality of this moral and spiritual darkness which hangs like a pall over the life of mankind. The Church must have a clearer con sciousness of this shadow of the world's despair as it is illumined by the light of the heart of God who so loves the world He has given His only begotten Son, that whosoever be lleveth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. The heart of the Church must be purified of Its worldllnesB and selfishness; its hori zon cleared of all earthly fogs and confusion, until it shall rejoice with a new passion In the glory of the Lord's coming misBlon to go and teach all nations. There must be in the Lord's host a new confidence that this campaign 1b going forward until to Christ shall be given the nations for his inheritance and the uttermost part of the earth for his possession The Church must have a new revela tion of her mission as it stands forth in the light of God, and the one and only avenue to thiB light 1b prayer. The Program of Prayer. Human wisdom may formulate its programs for the Lord's work, but there can be no assurance that the program will ever be either right or adequate except it be according to the pattern revealed upon the holy mount of prayer. This is true of the program of oui Church as a whole. We are a part of a mightier host. Organic divisions and denominational banners may be seen hore and there, but the great Christian army is one, and the bat talions of the Lord marshaled upon their far-flung battle line are advanc ing under the one banner of the cross. There is unity of command, and the one Generalissimo of this mighty host as it is campaigning in all the earth is the Lord himself. Our Church is a divisional unit holding a sector in the campaign. Facing these facts, the first and supreme question is not "what may be our opinion of the duty of the Southern Presbyterian Church," but "what is the mind of Christ." What we may think are the proper objectives to be taken by our division In the great advance is beside the mark. What are the orders of the great Captain? What does he expect o f us? Only as we come into vital communication with him through triumphant prayer can we ever rightly appraise the mea sure of our duty as a Church. A clear vision of her proper part in a world campaign, a correct estimate of the necessary equipment for the winning of her Christ-given objectives, a true appraisal of the resources of the Church and higher application to the task ? all this must be seen in the light which comes from above. The one thing which is indispensable In determining the Church's program Is ambitions, and open the windows of the soul toward heaven and pray with honest heart, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" When the rank and file of our division in Christ's army get that spirit and begin to determine their individual duty In the light of Christ's will, then there will be good hope that the Church's program will be what It ought to be. There is no other way. The only place where the objective for the Church or for any individual soldier of Christ can be determined Is the altar of prayer. Power of Prayer. Ever and anon men deceive them selves into thinking they can take this or that feature of the program of Christianity and carry it to suc cess and get the blessing of it, with out humbling the heart before Qod and laying hold of H1b power. But the program of the gospel, even though it be according to the truth which Is from above, la Impotent If linked with only human resources. "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that bpilld it." When Christ says, "Without me y? can do nothing," he states a literal and permanent fact. The ultimate need of the Church is not program but power, and she has access to a power which is adequate for the world-wide triumph of her great mis sion. There are two BUbtle paths of temp tation along which her campaign will fall for lack of this divine power. In the pride of her own wisdom and the glory of her own strength, the Church may depend upon men and money and methods, and forget the words of the Lord Jesus, "Without me ye can do nothing." Or In the pessimism of unbelief, the Church may falter because of the difficulties which oppose her progress ? evil so deeply entrenched, the spiritual per versity of humanity so invincible, the power of Satan so rampant ? until in the face of these things she may weakly attempt no great things for Ood and thus fall to challenge his conquering power by the heroism of her faith. Between these two paths of defeat lies the path to victory. It is the path of prayer which is the path to power. Christ says today, a8 he did yonder at the beginning, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." In that power alone is the possibility of the Church's vic tory. Men using only worldly re sources may experiment with the gos pel program and find only disappoint ment and defeat. It has often been so, both out of the Church and in the Church. But it is the high and holy responsibility of the Church to get the power. If there Is any dis tinctive and peculiar function of the Christian Church it is this sacred stewardship of the power of Ood. For the Church to fall in this is her supreme shame. Pall she will with out a clear vision of the primacy of prayer in all the propagation of the gospel. There Is no lack of power with the Almighty ? power to over turn the strongholds of Satan, power to lead the Church In splendid tri umph to the liberation of the soola of all peoplee. The heart of God Is not Indifferent to the glory of His Son. Victory is waiting for the power of God and the power of God is wait ing for the Church with her whole heart to call upon him. "The Lord's hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his oar heavy that it cannot hear." As the hour conies to prepare our beloved Church for a new advance in the service of Christ both In the home land and abroad, the one thing which is indispensable is the prep aration of prayer. Let all pastors ap point special and repeated seasons of public prayer by which the heart of the Church will be led to seek a new baptism of the power which is from above. Let the Lord's people be urged to private prayer for this specific need ? a new personal consecration to the cause of Christ, and a new laying hold of the Saviour's power in which alone is the promise and pledge of victory. PASTORAL LETTERS. "Uncle Sam's" malls are a very use ful agency to busy pastors in enabling them to keep In close touch with the members of their congregation. The following Is but one of a number of letters sent out by a pastor during the recent epidemic, with excellent results: My Dear Friend: This Is a time of great testing. Many aYe carrying burdens almost unbearable. Their physical strength is being taxed to the utmost, while their mental and spirit ual powers are summoned to render service hitherto unimaginable. But If this is a time of severe testing. It is also a time of unparallel oppor tunity. Every temptation is also a challenge. In these days of great anxiety, sorrow and suffering, we are tempted to surrender to the spirit of despondency, despair and possibly even at times sullen rebellion. And now when our church is closed, and when I am unable to call upon all our homes, I want to write you this personal note to warn you of a grave danger. There is a tendency in a time like this for people to live in their low moods, to inhabit their spiritual cellars. They take habitual residence in imprisoning moods, and thus render themselves incapable of loving the wide horizons. For all such there is but one remedy, "Have fafth in God." Remember that the sun still shines, though the clouds at times obscure It; that God is in His heavens; that all things do indeed work together for good to them that love God, even right now when per haps we cannot see distinctly, and that back of all is an overruling wis dom, so that God's purpose in afflic tion may be made manifest; "that though no affliction for the present seemeth to be Joyous, but grievous, yet afterward It yieldeth the peace able fruit of righteousness." I want to give you the cheery words which a friend of mine sent me. "Look up, take hope, The sun still shines, Though clouds at times obscure it; ?The man who cries, and mopes, and pines, Will add to woe, not cure it. Look up, God lives, God loves, God reigns; Take heart, nor brood on sorrow; A bit of courage often gives The strength to meet to-morrow. A refreshing meal from the book, seasoned with prayer, will help us to do this. Allow me most heartily to commend this to you as your dally menu. Very eordlally your friend and fMtor.