This week is traditionally the week of prayer and fasting in our denomination. On Sunday, Pastor Galen taught on that same topic using the Lord's Prayer found in the Gospel of Matthew as a guide. In his sermon, Pastor Galen gave a summary of J. Sidlow Baxter's struggle to form a new pattern of prayer. Below is J. Sidlow Baxter's account in his own words!
“The Battle to Pray”
~ J. Sidlow Baxter ~
“One morning the voice of the Spirit was calling him to pray. That morning Sidlow Baxter took a good look into his heart, and found there was a part of him which did not want to pray and a part that did. The part which did not want to was his emotions; the part which did want to was his will. This analysis paved the way to victory. In Dr. Baxter’s own words:
“As never before, my will and I stood face to face. I asked my will the straight question, “Will, are you ready for an hour of prayer?” Will answered, “Here I am, and I’m quite ready, if you are.” So will and I linked arms and turned to go for our time of prayer. At once all the emotions began pulling the other way and protesting. “We’re not coming.” I saw Will stagger just a bit, so I asked, “Can you stick it out, Will?” and Will replied, “Yes, if you can.” So, Will and I went, and we got down to prayer, dragging those wriggling, obstreperous emotions with us. It was a struggle all the way through. At one point, when Will and I were in the middle of an earnest intercession, I suddenly found one of those traitorous emotions had snared my imagination and had run off to the golf course; and it was all I could do to drag the wicked rascal back. A bit later, I found another of the emotions had sneaked away with some off-guard thought and was in the pulpit, two days ahead of schedule, preaching a sermon that I had not yet finished preparing!
At the end of that hour, if you had asked me, “Have you had a ‘good time’? I would have had to reply, “No, it has been a wearying wrestle with contrary emotions and a truant imagination from beginning to end.” That battle with the emotions continued for between two and three weeks, and if you had asked me at the end of the period, “Have you had a ‘good time’ in your daily praying?” I would have had to confess, “NO. At times it has seemed as thought the heavens were brass, and God to distant to hear, and the Lord Jesus strangely aloof, and prayer accomplished nothing.”
Yet something was happening. For one thing, Will and I really taught the emotions that we were completely independent of them. Then, one morning, about two weeks after the contest began, just when Will and I were going for another time of prayer, I overheard one of the emotions whisper to the other, “Come on you guys, it’s no use wasting any more time resisting: They’ll go just the same.” That morning, for the first time, even though the emotions were still uncooperative, they at least allowed Will and me to get on with prayer undistracted.
Then, another couple of weeks later, during one of our prayer times, when Will and I were no more thinking of the emotions than of the man in the moon, one of the most vigorous of the emotions unexpectedly sprang up and shouted, “Hallelujah!” at which all the other emotions exclaimed, “Amen!” and for the first time, the whole of my being – will and emotions – were united in one coordinated prayer operation. All at once, God was real, heaven was open, the Lord Jesus was luminously present, the Holy Spirit was indeed moving through my longings, and prayer was surprisingly vital.”