NASHVILLE (BP) — Eighteenth-century British Baptist pastor/theologian Andrew Fuller had a profound impact on the lives and ministries of William Carey, the father of the modern missions movement, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon, renowned Baptist preacher and author of “The Soul-Winner.” The collected works of Fuller fill three volumes of more than 800 pages each. His first published essay, buried near the end of the third volume of his collected works, is called “A Few Persuasives to ‘A General Union in Prayer’ for the Revival of Religion.” What follows are a few excerpts from this essay on prayer.
Considering the backwardness and inattention common to us all in this world, you will not think it superfluous in this case to urge a few motives, for the purpose of stimulating us to wrestle hard with God.
1. Consider Christ’s readiness to hear and answer prayer, especially on these subjects. Christ takes great care to let us know how ready he is to hear prayer, especially in behalf of his own cause, in that he directs us to pray … for the coming of his kingdom before we ask for our daily bread.
Christ’s heart is in this work; for he laid down his life as a ground whereon to rear the structure. The foundation of the glorious kingdom was laid in blood — not, like too many earthly kingdoms, in the blood of the conquered, but in that of the conqueror. Yes, he died that he might live and see a numerous seed of converts
2. Consider what the Lord has done in times past, and that in answer to prayer.
When Israel, who was God’s church at that time, was in Egypt, and things looked very dark indeed, they cried, and the Lord heard their cry, and came down to deliver them.
When Judah groaned before Babel’s yoke, Daniel set his face three times a day toward Jerusalem; at length his prayers and supplications are heard, and an angel is sent to comfort him, yea, to inform him that at the beginning of his supplications the commandment in favor of Judah came forth.
The church of God was reduced exceedingly low just before the coming of Christ, but what was the conduct of those few who were on God’s side? Some of them are distinguished by the character of those who “looked for redemption in Jerusalem,” and others are said to “have continued in prayer night and day.” At length, through the tender mercy of God, their prayers were answered, and “the day-spring from on high visited them!”
3. Let the present religious state of the world be considered to this end. Christianity has not yet made its way, even in name, over one-fifth part of the world…. Surely it is high time for us to awake out of sleep, and to send our united cries to heaven in behalf of our fellow creatures!
4. Consider what God has promised to do for his church in times to come. For an absolute impossibility we can have no hope, and for what God hath declared shall never come to pass we can have no warrant to pray; but when we pray for the spread of Christ’s kingdom, our object is clogged with neither of these difficulties. On the contrary, it is accompanied with the strongest assurances of success. Let us not imagine that God has yet done all he intends to do for his church.
5. If we have any regard for the welfare of our countrymen, connexions, and friends, let that stimulate us in this work. Few of us are wholly unconnected with heathen neighbors, heathen relations, or stubborn or unbelieving children. Let these be borne in the arms of prayer before the Lord.
Were it possible for a Christian to be amongst wicked neighbors and wicked relations and, seeing he is safe himself, care nothing about them, surely he must be beside himself! How unlike would this be to the spirit of his Lord and Savior — he wept over those who wept not for themselves.
6. Consider that what is requested is very small. It is hoped that Christians will feel a pleasure, and find a benefit, in [prayer] meetings, that will induce them of their own accord to meet more frequently … either on Lord’s-day mornings, or on any convenient opportunities, for the same most desirable purposes.
7. And lastly, It will not be in vain, whatever the immediate and apparent issue of it. Whenever these glorious outpourings of God’s Spirit shall come, all over the world, no doubt it will be in answer to the prayers of his people. — But suppose we should never live to see those days, still our labor shall not be in vain in the Lord. God would be glorified.