POOR Ananias was afraid to go to Saul; he thought it was very much like stepping into a lion’s den. “If I go to his house,” he thought, “the moment he sees me, he will take me to Jerusalem at once, for I am one of Christ’s disciples; I dare not go. ” God says, “Behold he prayeth.” “Well,” says Ananias, “that is enough for me. If he is a praying man, he will not hurt me; if he is a man of real devotion, I am safe.” Be sure you may always trust a praying man. I do not know how it is, but even ungodly men always pay a reverence to a sincere Christian. A master likes to have a praying servant after all; if he does not regard religion himself, he likes to have a pious servant, and he will trust him rather than any other. True, there are some of your professedly praying people that have not a bit of prayer in them; but whenever you find a really praying man, you may trust him with untold gold. If he really prays, you need not be afraid of him. He who communes with God in secret may be trusted in public. I always feel safe with a man who is a visitor to the mercy-seat.
I have heard an anecdote of two gentlemen traveling together, somewhere in Switzerland. Presently they came into the midst of the forests; and you know the gloomy tales the people were wont to tell about the inns in the lone places — how dangerous it is to lodge in them. One of them, an infidel, said to the other, who was a Christian, “I don’t like stopping here at all, it is a very queer-looking house.” “Well,” said the other, “let us try.”
So they went into a house, but it looked so suspicious, that neither of them liked it: no doubt they would have greatly preferred being at home in England. Presently the landlord said, “Gentlemen, I always read and pray with my family before going to bed; will you allow me to do so to-night?” “Yes,” they said, “with the greatest pleasure.” When they went upstairs, the infidel said, “I am not at all afraid now.” “Why?” said the Christian. “Because our host has prayed.” “Oh!” said the other, “then it seems, after all, you think something of religion. Because a man prays you can go to sleep in his house without fear of being robbed or murdered.” And it was marvelous how both of them did sleep. Sweet dreams they had, for they felt that where the house had been roofed by prayer, and walled with devotion, none would do them wrong. This, then, was an argument to Ananias, that he might go with safety to Saul’s lodging.
Mrs. Berry used to say, “I would not be hired out of my closet for a thousand worlds.” Mr. Jay said, “If the twelve apostles were living near you, and you had access to them, if this intercourse drew you from the closet, they would prove a real injury to your souls.” Prayer is the ship which brings home the richest freight from the celestial shores. Prayer is the soil which yields the most abundant harvest.
Brother, when you rise in the morning, your business so presses, that with a hurried word or two, down you go into the world; and at night, jaded and tired, you give God the fag-end of the day, and the consequence is, that you have no communion with him. The reason we have not more true religion among us now, is because we have not more secret prayer. Sirs, I have no opinion of the churches of the present day that do not pray.
Say to your minister, “Sir, we must have more prayer.” Urge the people to more prayer. Have a prayer-meeting, even if you have it all to yourself; and if you are asked how many were present:. you can say, “Four.” “Four! how so?” “Why, there was myself, and God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and we have had a rich and real communion together.” We must have an outpouring of real devotion, or else what is to become of many of our churches? Oh, may God awaken us all, and stir us up to pray, for when we pray we shall be victorious! I should like to take you, as Samson did the foxes. He the firebrands of prayer to you, and send you in among the shocks of corn, till you set the whole field on a blaze. I should like to make a conflagration by my words, and set all the churches on fire with zeal for God’s glory.