20. The Pastor’s Need Of The People’s Prayers. 2 Cor. 1:11

Only A Prayer Meeting by C. H. Spurgeon

“Ye also helping together by prayer for us” – 2 Corinthians 1:11.

There is a short sentence, written by the apostle Paul, which I very earnestly commend to your serious attention, though I shall only speak upon it briefly. In the second Epistle to the Corinthians, the first chapter, and the eleventh verse, you will find these words, – “Ye Also Helping Together By Prayer For Us.” Dear friends, we are most of us members of one church, we are enlisted under one banner, and we are sworn to be faithful to one great purpose, namely, to live for Jesus, and to seek to glorify God. Now, we cannot all of us do the same thing for our Lord; we have each one some office, differing from all the rest of our brethren and sisters in Christ. Here let me pause, and say that everyone who has a work to do for Christ needs the prayers of his fellow-Christians, therefore I urge you all to ask for them. You may be the teacher of the infant class in the Sunday-school, or you may be only able to talk with one or two individuals now and then about your Saviour; but, whatever your service is, do not neglect to entreat the prayers of your brethren for a blessing upon your work; however limited may be your sphere, you will not get on without the supplications of others. “Ye also helping together by prayer for us,” may be the utterance of the weakest and feeblest brother; and he may, because of his weakness and feebleness, all the more powerfully appeal to his Christian brethren and sisters to help together by prayer for him.

But the most conspicuous person in the church is the one who has, from week to week, to preach the Gospel to the great assembly; and he may, therefore, as the apostle does in this case, plead for himself, and say to the saints, “Ye also helping together by prayer for us.” Oh, dear friends, do pray for all who preach the Gospel, whether to many or to few! They all need your sympathy and help; but I make a specially earnest, personal appeal for my own self. I crave, beyond all things, your constant prayers; for I think a burden is laid upon me more than is borne by any other man, because of the vastness of this congregation, and because of the multitude of agencies connected with this great church. Many of the works are carried on by others, and I can take small personal part in them; and yet, somehow, I have to take the most difficult part, that, of helping in every time of need, mending up any weak places when they are discovered, and keeping all things in good order. A great care comes upon me, and not for this church only, but for many other churches, in various parts of the country, which have been formed by the brethren who have gone out from the College; and I have to deal with all sorts of difficult cases all over England, and I might almost say all over the world,- things that try the mind, and exercise the judgment, and sometimes fret the heart; and therefore I must have your prayers.

Now, there are some of you who cannot do anything in the way of preaching; I do not want that you should try, and there are other agencies to which you could not put your hand; to you especially I may say, “Ye also helping together by your prayers for us.” Here is a way in which you can really help, substantially help, wonderfully help; and this you can do even if you should become bed-ridden, you could even then lie still, and invoke a blessing from God upon our ministry. You can do this also if you are dumb so far as public speaking is concerned; you can, in the silence of your spirit, lay hold upon the Angel of the covenant, and wrestle and prevail. Amazing possibilities lie within the reach of the believing man. “All things are possible to him that believeth.” I have always, with my whole heart, and without any sort of untruthfulness, ascribed all the success I ever had to the prayers of God’s people, and I unfeignedly do the same now. God the Holy Spirit has ever given the blessing in answer to your supplications. You have asked in faith for a blessing, and it has come, and it will come as long as such prayers are continued. If I should be called to lie down in the grave, if I should retire from the Lord’s service through utter inability, it would be infinitely to be preferred to the sad end of the man who falls because those who used to hold him up are gone. It is hard to fight like Joshua, when there is no Moses on the hill-top, nor any Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands in prayer. I appeal to those of you who have been with me from the beginning, that you will never cease crying to God at the throne of grace. Never neglect that holy privilege and sacred duty, I implore you.

I appeal to those who have been converted here,- and they are not a few,- that they will not forget to ask for a blessing upon others: “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.” You want to praise God, you say. I was glad our brother, who prayed just now, began by praising the Lord for His goodness. Many pray for their minister, and they are the people who also praise God for their minister; how many there are who have praised God for us, we could not possibly tell. I have a family of spiritual children in Heaven, and no small one; they will go on praising and magnifying the Name of the Lord to all eternity; and among believing men and women on earth,- I speak not egotistically, but only utter the plain and simple truth,- I think no one has more friends who are constantly praising God for the ministry in this house of prayer, and for the blessing they have received through reading the printed sermons. Therefore, while you are on your knees on earth, your prayers and praises are in harmony with the melody of the harps of Heaven, and by your supplications you are calling down blessings which will make music for God in thousands of hearts of persons whom you never will know till you meet them in glory.

I wonder whether it strikes anybody that it is a very difficult task to keep on preaching when almost every word you say gets printed; I do not know whether anyone ever thinks of the sore travail of this brain in trying to find fresh subjects, and fresh matter upon those subjects. If I begin to repeat myself in the pulpit, we shall have a great sleeping society here instead of a living church, or the members will go their way to some other place. And what if the subject and material upon it are given, yet how is one always to keep up a lively spirit without the continual supplication of believers? Do you not feel, sometimes, my brother, or my sister, that you are very stupid when you are studying your subject? I know that I do; and then I say to myself, “This will not do, sir, this will not do; you cannot go to the pulpit in this way, you must wake yourself up, you must get to your knees, you must draw nigh to God somehow, it will not do to go into the pulpit like a dead man, to talk of a dead gospel to dead hearers.”

Mr. William Olney seems to be always alive, and active, and earnest; but I have no doubt that he would ask your prayers that he may be kept so. At any rate, I do, with my whole soul, ask you to carry out these words on my behalf, “Ye also helping together by prayer for us.”

It is not selfish to ask the prayers of so many for one man, since the reason is that, afterwards, the blessing may go out to the many through the preaching of the Gospel. If we are filled, it is that we may be emptied; if we receive, it is that we may give; for the apostle says what I, in my humble measure, can also say, “Whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; . . . or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” I do verily believe that, many a time, we have been chastened that we might be made a blessing to others; and we have had to carry the yoke of Christ more than we might have had to bear it on our own account, that so we might be better enabled to sympathize with the Lord’s tried and afflicted people. “Whether we be afflicted, or whether we be comforted,” it is for the same reason, “for your consolation and salvation.” And here, too, can I add with the apostle, “We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life – but we had the sentence of death in ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us.” Paul implicitly trusts in his God, yet he asks the people’s prayers as much as if he rested entirely in them, and so must we do. Oh, give us continually more and more of your supplications!

I should like to ask a special favour of all who are present to-night that, some time this week, each believer here would not only pray for a blessing upon the work of God in this place, but that each one would pray with some other one, better still, with some other two, or three, or four, or five, or six, but at least with some other one, and ask for a blessing on this church. Could you not each one make a point of saying, “I know whom I will get to join me”? You will do it, my sisters, I have no doubt; I am rather afraid of the brethren, yet I think all will join in this good work. Many of you will get together, I feel sure; and I cannot imagine a greater service that you can do to me, and to the church, than for two sisters, or two brethren, or more where it is possible, to meet together thus. Would you not also come together just a little before the Thursday-night service, say, at six o’clock, in the lecture-hall? I will be there at six o’clock, to have a little prayer with you, so as to sharpen my sword before I come into the pulpit.

And then one other thing I should like. Will everybody here try and bring some other person on Thursday night to hear the Gospel preached in this place? and I will ask the Lord to give me a soul-winning sermon, and I shall be very glad if you will all try to bring some fresh hearer to listen to it. Well, now, that is a little task for some of you; it may take some thought, and time, and effort, for you to accomplish it; but I really think it might be done. Let us see if every one of us can bring an unconverted person, I would aim at that; let each one say, “I will try what I can do, I think I know somebody I can get.” Let us do so, then, and also pray much about it, and then we will watch and see whether it be not a good thing. I hope many will, somehow or other, find the necessary time for it; try for once, and see what you can do. It appears to me to be a good suggestion: what do you think of it, Mr. William Olney?

MR. WILLIAM OLNEY: “It is a very excellent thing indeed, sir. I promise, by God’s help, to bring one, and more if I can. I will try to bring some of the men who work for me, and I will give them an hour less work on Thursday so that they may come.”

Others of you have workmen in your employ, some of you have servant girls, or else there is somebody in the house whom you could bring if you made an effort. Why might we not thus really bring some to the Saviour who, to all outward appearance, are at present beyond our reach? I shall be grateful to God and I shall also be thankful to you if it is so. What is more, God will bless this effort; I am sure He will, and you may live to thank God for what I have proposed to you this evening; and if not, many of those whom you bring will eternally have cause to bless the Lord for your loving service and your believing prayers. (It is worthy of note that the Pastor’s Thursday evening prayer-meeting, in the Tabernacle lecture-hall, thus commenced, has been continued until the present time, although over twenty years have elapsed since this address was delivered. The suggestion made by the beloved Pastor was evidently one of those happy inspirations with which the Lord often favoured him.) If I could not preach, I do think that one of the things I would do would be to bring others to hear the preachers of the Word. I should like to have a large number of friends like my brother Hobson, who used to sit up there in the gallery. Many persons joined the church through that dear old man, who is now in Heaven,- men who might not have come in here at all, but he used to be on the look-out for them, in Hyde Park and other places, and he would tell them that they must come and hear Mr. Spurgeon; he would offer them a seat in his pew, and, through coming, God met with them, and blessed and saved them.

Well, then, there is a task for you; but set about it with prayer. I come back to that point; my aim is to hit this nail on the head, and drive it home, and clinch it: “Ye also helping together by prayer for us.” Oh, may God send this rich abounding spirit of prayer upon us all at this very hour, and to Him shall be the praise!

I think I am right in begging this favour, for I remember that our dear brother George Muller, who is, as you know, a man mighty in prayer, yet found it needful, after he was seventy years of age, to make an appeal like this to the people, “I beseech you, deny me not your prayers,” and he stated that he rested, under God, in the prayers of the saints. Now, he is a man who can have anything he likes in answer to prayer; yet he entreats the petitions of others. We are none of us worthy to be placed beside him; but, if he needs prayer,- and he does,- how much more do we, who are weaker, need it; therefore, deny us not your supplications, I earnestly beg you.

Now let us come back to prayer again, and ask the Lord’s blessing upon this new work that we are hoping to do for Him.

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