Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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I have seen men ruin themselves with too much prayer. The only right time to pray is when the holy Ghost leads us to pray. But I have seen self-willed men pray until their hearts were turned over to their own will by God. Jesus warned us not to think that we would be heard by God because of “much praying”. I know that it has happened, but I personally have never seen anyone do well in God after spending a great amount of time in prayer. On the contrary, for the ones I have personally seen do it, those long hours spent in prayer led to disaster for them.
God is looking for quality, not quantity. No amount of praying is acceptable to God as a substitute for obedience. I once knew a man and his wife who attempted to appease God with much prayer and religious activity instead of simply obeying God’s clear commandment to them. They soon fell from righteousness and today they are both lying helpless at one of the decorated gates of hell. “To obey”, said the prophet Samuel, “is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1Sam. 15:22-23).
If you rebel against the holy Ghost and pray when it is not leading you to pray, and if you are going to stubbornly persist in prayer rather than do the will of God for you at that time, you are in God’s sight as a witch and an idolater, and you are worthy of death.
Prayer is not a gimmick that fools or forces God to do our will. When we kneel before God in prayer, no matter what we think, we are asking, first of all, for judgment on our own souls. The men I have seen who prayed excessively fell victim to the judgment they were unknowingly asking for. They were unworthy to spend that much time alone with God in His holy presence, and they suffered for assuming that they could do so. They may have had other things on their mind, but “judgment begins at the house of God”, and those who enter into God’s presence in prayer must survive the judgment before they can attain to any blessing they may be seeking.
We are exhorted by all the righteous in history to seek God in prayer; at the same time, we are sternly warned to prepare our hearts before we seek Him. Otherwise, when we approach God, we will be condemned, no matter how long or how fervently we pray.
Those in history who have prepared their hearts before seeking God in much prayer have been greatly rewarded and greatly used by God for the blessing of others, but they all approached God with a pure heart and in complete humility. None of them approached God in their own will, at their own time, and for their own reasons. And it was because of that, that they were blessed.