If you cannot find

When the Apostle Paul came to Ephesus, he found a little group of twelve
disciples of Christ. There was something about these twelve disciples
that struck Paul unfavourably. We are not told what it was. It may be
that he did not find in them that overflowing joyfulness that one learns
to expect in all Christians who have really entered into the fullness
of blessing that there is for them in Christ. It may be that Paul was
troubled at the fact that there were only twelve of them, thinking that
if these twelve were what they ought to be, there would certainly have
been more than twelve of them by this time. Whatever it may have been
that impressed Paul unfavourably, he went right to the root of the
difficulty at once by putting to them the question, “Did ye receive the
Holy Ghost when ye believed?” (Acts 19: 2, R. V.). It came out at once
that they had not received the Holy Ghost, that in fact they did not
know that the Holy Ghost had been given. Then Paul told them that the
Holy Ghost had been given, and also showed them just what they must do
to receive the Holy Ghost then and there, and before that gathering
was over the Holy Ghost came upon them. From that day on there was a
different state of affairs in Ephesus. A great revival sprang up at once
so that the whole city was shaken, “So mightily grew the Word of God and
prevailed” (Acts 19: 20). Paul’s question to these young disciples in
Ephesus should be put to young disciples everywhere, “Have ye received
the Holy Ghost?” In _receiving the Holy Spirit_ is the great secret of
joyfulness in our own hearts, of victory over sin, of power in prayer,
and of effective service.

Every one who has truly received Jesus must have the Holy Spirit dwelling
in him in some sense; but in many believers, though the Holy Spirit
dwells in them, He dwells way back in some hidden sanctuary of their
being, back of consciousness. It is something quite different, something
far better than this, to receive the Holy Spirit in the sense that Paul
meant in his question. To receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense that
one knows experimentally that he has received the Holy Spirit, to receive
the Holy Spirit in such a sense that we are conscious of the joy with
which He fills our hearts different from any joy that we have ever known
in the world; to receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense that He rules
our life and produces within us in ever increasing measure the fruit
of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance; to receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense
that we are conscious of His drawing our hearts out in prayer in a way
that is not of ourselves; to receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense that
we are conscious of His help when we witness for Christ, when we speak
to others individually and try to lead them to accept Christ, or when we
teach a Sunday-school class, or speak in public, or do any other work for
the Master. Have you received the Holy Spirit? If you have not, let me
tell you how you may.

1. First of all in order to receive the Holy Spirit, one must be resting
in the death of Christ on the cross for us as the sole and all-sufficient
ground upon which God pardons all our sins and forgives us.

2. In order to receive the Holy Spirit we must put away every known sin.
We should go to our heavenly Father and ask Him to search us through and
through and bring to light anything in our life, our outward life or our
inward life, that is wrong in His sight, and if He does bring anything to
light that is displeasing to Him, we should put it away, no matter how
dear it is to us. There must be a complete renunciation of all sin in
order to receive the Holy Spirit.

3. In the third place, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, there must
be an open confession of Christ before the world. The Holy Spirit is not
given to those who are trying to be disciples in secret, but to those who
obey Christ and publicly confess Him before the world.

4. In the fourth place, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, there must
be an absolute surrender of our lives to God. You must go to Him and say,
“Heavenly Father, here I am. Thou hast bought me with a price. I am Thy
property. I renounce all claim to do my own will, all claim to govern my
own life, all claim to have my own way. I give myself up unreservedly to
Thee—all I am and all I have. Send me where Thou wilt, use me as Thou
wilt, do with me what Thou wilt—I am Thine.” If we hold anything back
from God, no matter how small it may seem, that spoils it all. But if we
surrender all to God, then God will give all that He has to us. There
are some who shrink from this absolute surrender to God, but absolute
surrender to God is simply absolute surrender to infinite love. Surrender
to the Father, to the Father whose love is not only wiser than any
earthly father’s, but more tender than any earthly mother’s.

5. In order to receive the Holy Spirit there should be definite asking
for the Holy Spirit. Our Lord Jesus says in Luke 11: 13, “If ye then,
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more
shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”
Just ask God to give you the Holy Spirit and expect Him to do it, because
He says He will.

6. Last of all, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, there must be faith,
simply taking God at His Word. No matter how positive any promise of
God’s Word may be, we enjoy it personally only when we believe. Our Lord
Jesus says, “All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye
have received them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11: 24, R. V.). When
you pray for the Holy Spirit you have prayed for something according
to God’s will and therefore you may know that your prayer is heard and
that you have what you asked of Him (1 John 5: 14, 15). You may feel no
different, but do not look at your feelings but at God’s promise. Believe
the prayer is heard, believe that God has given you the Holy Spirit and
you will afterwards have in actual experience what you have received in
simple faith on the bare promise of God’s Word.

It is well to go often alone and kneel down and look up to the Holy
Spirit and put into His hands anew the entire control of your life.
Ask Him to take the control of your thoughts, the control of your
imagination, the control of your affections, the control of your desires,
the control of your ambitions, the control of your choices, the control
of your purposes, the control of your words, the control of your actions,
the control of everything, and just expect Him to do it. The whole secret
of victory in the Christian life is letting the Holy Spirit who dwells
within you, have undisputed right of way in the entire conduct of your

If we are to run with patience the race that is set before us, we must
always keep looking unto Jesus (Heb. 12: 1-3). One of the simplest and
yet one of the mightiest secrets of abiding joy and victory is to _never
lose sight of Jesus_.

1. First of all _we must keep looking at Jesus as the ground of our
acceptance before God_. Over and over again Satan will make an attempt
to discourage us by bringing up our sins and failures and thus try to
convince us that we are not children of God, or not saved. If he succeeds
in getting us to keep looking at and brooding over our sins, he will soon
get us discouraged, and discouragement means failure. But if we will keep
looking at what God looks at, the death of Jesus Christ in our place that
completely atones for every sin that we ever committed, we will never be
discouraged because of the greatness of our sins. We shall see that while
our sins are great, very great, that they have all been atoned for. Every
time Satan brings up one of our sins, we shall see that Jesus Christ has
redeemed us from its curse by being made a curse in our place (Gal. 3:
13). We shall see that while in ourselves we are full of unrighteousness,
nevertheless in Christ we are made the righteousness of God, because
Christ was made to be sin in our place (2 Cor. 5: 21). We will see that
every sin that Satan taunts us about has been borne and settled forever
(1 Pet. 2: 24; Is. 53: 6). We shall always be able to sing,

“Jesus paid my debt,
All the debt I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.”

If you are this moment troubled about any sin that you have ever
committed, either in the past or in the present, just look at Jesus on
the cross; believe what God tells you about Him, that this sin which
troubles you was laid upon Him (Is. 53: 6). Thank God that the sin is
all settled; be full of gratitude to Jesus who bore it in your place and
trouble about it no more. It is an act of base ingratitude to God to
brood over sins that He in His infinite love has cancelled. Keep looking
at Christ on the cross and walk always in the sunlight of God’s favour.
This favour of God has been purchased for you at great cost. Gratitude
demands that you should always believe in it and walk in the light of it.

2. In the second place, _we must keep looking at Jesus as our risen
Saviour, who has all power in heaven and on earth and is able to keep
us every day and every hour_. Are you tempted to do some wrong at this
moment? If you are, remember that Jesus rose from the dead, remember
that at this moment He is living at the right hand of God in the glory;
remember that He has all power in heaven and on earth, and that,
therefore, He can give you victory right now. Believe what God tells
you in His Word that Jesus has power to save you this moment “to the
uttermost” (Heb. 7: 25). Believe that He has power to give you victory
over this sin that now besets you. Ask Him to give you victory, expect
Him to do it. In this way by looking unto the risen Christ for victory
you may have victory over sin every day, every hour, every moment.
“Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead” (2 Tim. 2: 8, R. V.).

God has called every one of us to a victorious life, and the secret of
this victorious life is always looking to the risen Christ for victory.
Through looking to Christ crucified we obtain pardon and enjoy peace.
Through looking to the risen Christ we obtain present victory over the
power of sin. If you have lost sight of the risen Christ and have yielded
to temptation, confess your sin and know that it is forgiven because God
says so (1 John 1: 9) and look to Jesus, the risen One, again to give
you victory now and keep looking to Him.

3. In the third place, _we must keep looking to Jesus as the One whom
we should follow in our daily conduct_. Our Lord Jesus says to us, His
disciples to-day, as He said to His early disciples, “Follow Me.” The
whole secret of true Christian conduct can be summed up in these two
words “Follow Me.” “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself so to
walk _even as He walked_” (1 John 2: 6). One of the commonest causes of
failure in Christian life is found in the attempt to follow some good
man, whom we greatly admire. No man and no woman, no matter how good,
can be safely followed. If we follow any man or woman, we are bound to
go astray. There never has been but one absolutely perfect Man upon this
earth—the Man Christ Jesus. If we try to follow any other man we are more
sure to imitate his faults than his excellencies. Look at Jesus and Jesus
only as your Guide.

If at any time you are in any perplexity as to what to do, simply ask
the question, What would Jesus do? Ask God by His Holy Spirit to show
you what Jesus would do. Study your Bible to find out what Jesus did
do and follow Jesus. Even though no one else seems to be following
Jesus, be sure that you follow Him. Do not spend your time or thought in
criticising others because they do not follow Jesus. See that you follow
Him yourself. When you are wasting your time criticising others for not
following Jesus, Jesus is always saying to you, “What is that to thee;
follow THOU Me” (John 21: 22). The question for you is not what following
Jesus may involve for other people. The question is what does following
Jesus mean for you?

This is the really simple life, the life of simply following Jesus. Many
perplexing questions will come to you, but the most perplexing question
will soon become as clear as day if you determine with all your heart to
follow Jesus in everything. Satan will always be ready to whisper to you,
“Such and such a good man does it,” but all you need to do is to answer,
“It matters not to me what this or that man may do or not do. The only
question to me is, What would Jesus do?” There is wonderful freedom in
this life of simply following Jesus. This path is straight and plain.
But the path of the one who tries to shape his conduct by observing the
conduct of others is full of twists and turns and pitfalls. Keep looking
at Jesus. Follow on trustingly where He leads. This is the path of the
just which shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Prov. 4: 18). He
is the Light of the World, any one who follows Him shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the light of life all along the way (John 8:

No young Christian and no old Christian can have real success in the
Christian life without the fellowship of other believers. The church
is a divine institution, built by Jesus Christ Himself. It is the one
institution that abides. Other institutions come and go; they do their
work for their day and disappear, but the church will continue to the
end. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16: 18).
The church is made up of men and women, imperfect men and women, and
consequently is an imperfect institution, but none the less it is of
divine origin and God loves it, and every believer should realize that
he belongs to it and should openly take his place in it and bear his
responsibilities regarding it.

The true church consists of all true believers, all who are united to
Jesus Christ by a living faith in Himself. In its outward organization
at the present time, it is divided into numberless sects and local
congregations, but in spite of these divisions the true church is one. It
has one Lord, Jesus Christ. It has one faith, faith in Him as Saviour,
Divine Lord and only King; one baptism, the baptism in the one Spirit
into the one body (Eph. 4: 4, 5; 1 Cor. 12: 13). But each individual
Christian needs the fellowship of individual fellow believers. The
outward expression of this fellowship is in membership in some organized
body of believers. If we hold aloof from all organized churches, hoping
thus to have a broader fellowship with all believers belonging to all
the churches, we deceive ourselves. We will miss the helpfulness that
comes from intimate union with some local congregation. I have known many
well-meaning persons who have held aloof from membership in any specific
organization, and I have never known a person who has done this, whose
own spiritual life has not suffered by it. On the day of Pentecost the
three thousand who were converted were at once baptized and were added
to the church (Acts 2: 41, 47), and “They continued steadfastly in the
apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in
prayers.” Their example is the one to follow. If you have really received
Jesus Christ, hunt up as soon as possible some company of others who have
received Jesus Christ and unite yourself with them.

In many communities there may be no choice of churches, for there is only
one. In other communities one will be faced with the question, “With
what body of believers shall I unite?” Do not waste your time looking for
a perfect church. There is no perfect church. If you wait until you find
a perfect church before you unite with any, you will unite with none,
and thus you will belong to a church in which you are the only member
and that is the most imperfect church of all. I would rather belong to
the most imperfect Christian church I ever knew than not to belong to
any church at all. The local churches in Paul’s day were very imperfect
institutions. Let one read the epistles to the Corinthians and see how
imperfect was the church in Corinth, see how much there was that was evil
in it, and yet Paul never thought of advising any believer in Corinth
to get out of this imperfect church. He did tell them to come out of
heathenism, to come out from fellowship with infidels (2 Cor. 6: 14-18),
but not a word on coming out of the imperfect church in Corinth. He did
tell the church in Corinth to separate from their membership certain
persons whose lives were wrong (1 Cor. 5: 11, 12), but he did not tell
the individual members of the church in Corinth to get out of the church
because these persons had not yet been separated from their fellowship.

As you cannot find a perfect church, find the best church you can. Unite
with a church where they believe in the Bible and where they preach
the Bible. Avoid the churches where words are spoken open or veiled
that have a tendency to undermine your faith in the Bible as a reliable
revelation from God Himself, the all-sufficient rule of faith and
practice. Unite with a church where there is a spirit of prayer, where
the prayer-meetings are well kept up. Unite with a church that has a real
active interest in the salvation of the lost, where young Christians are
looked after and helped, where minister and people have a love for the
poor and outcast, a church that regards its mission in this world to
be the same as the mission of Christ, “to seek and to save the lost.”
As to denominational differences, other things being equal, unite with
that denomination whose ideas of doctrine and of government and of the
ordinances are most closely akin to your own. But it is better to unite
with a live church of some other denomination than to unite with a dead
church of your own. We live in a day when denominational differences are
becoming ever less and less, and oftentimes they are of no practical
consequence whatever; and one will often feel more at home in a church
of some other denomination than in any accessible church of his own
denomination. The things that divide the denominations are insignificant
compared with the great fundamental truths and purposes and faith that
unite them.

If you cannot find the church that agrees with the pattern set forth
above, find the church that comes nearest to it. Go into that church
and by prayer and by work try to bring that church as nearly as you can
to the pattern of what you think a church of Christ ought to be. But do
not waste your strength in criticism against either church or minister.
Seek for what is good in the church and in the minister and do your best
to strengthen it. Hold aloof firmly, though unobtrusively, from what is
wrong and seek to correct it. Do not be discouraged if you cannot correct
it in a day or a week or a month or a year. Patient love and prayer
and effort will tell in time. Drawing off by yourself and snarling and
grumbling will do no good. They will simply make you and the truths for
which you stand repulsive.

There is nothing more important for the development of the spiritual life
of the Christian than regular, systematic Bible study. It is as true in
the spiritual life as it is in the physical life that health depends upon
what we eat and how much we eat. The soul’s proper food is found in one
book, the Bible. Of course, a true minister of the gospel will feed us on
the Word of God, but that is not enough. He feeds us but one or two days
in the week and we need to be fed every day. Furthermore, it will not
do to depend upon being fed by others. We must learn to feed ourselves.
If we study the Bible for ourselves as we ought to study it, we shall
be in a large measure independent of human teachers. Even if we are so
unfortunate as to have for our minister a man who is himself ignorant of
the truth of God we shall still be safe from harm.

We live in a day in which false doctrine abounds on every hand and the
only Christian who is safe from being led into error is the one who
studies his Bible for himself daily. The Apostle Paul warned the elders
of the church in Ephesus that the time was soon coming when grievous
wolves should enter in among them not sparing the flock and when of
their own selves men should arise speaking perverse things to draw away
the disciples after them, but he told them how to be safe even in such
perilous times as these. He said, “I commend you to God and to the
Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an
inheritance among them which are sanctified.” Through meditation on the
Word of God’s grace they would be safe even in the midst of abounding
error on the part of the leaders in the church (Acts 20: 29-32). Writing
later to the Bishop of the church in Ephesus Paul said, “But evil men and
impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2
Tim. 3: 13, R. V.) but he goes on to tell Bishop Timothy how he and his
fellow believers could be safe even in such times of increasing peril as
were coming. That way was through the study of the Holy Scriptures, which
are able to make wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3: 14, 15). “All Scripture,”
he adds, “is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the
man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
That is to say, through the study of the Bible one will be sound in
doctrine, will be led to see his sins and put them away, will find
discipline in the righteous life and attain unto complete equipment for
all good works. Our spiritual health, our growth, our strength, our
victory over sin, our soundness in doctrine, our joy and peace in Christ,
our cleansing from inward and outward sin, our fitness for service, all
depend upon the study of the Word of God. The one who neglects his Bible
is bound to make a failure of the Christian life. The one who studies his
Bible in the right spirit and by a true method is bound to make a success
of the Christian life.

This brings us face to face with the question, “What is the right way to
study the Bible?”

1. First of all, we should _study it daily_ (Acts 17: 11). This is of
prime importance. No matter how good the methods of Bible study that one
follows may be, no matter how much time one may put into Bible study now
and then, the best results can only be secured when one makes it a matter
of principle never to let a single day go by without earnest Bible study.
This is the only safe course. Any day that is allowed to pass without
faithful Bible study is a day thrown open to the advent into our hearts
and lives of error or of sin. The writer has been a Christian for more
than a quarter of a century and yet to-day he would not dare to allow
even a single day to pass over his head without listening to the voice
of God as it speaks to him through the pages of His Book. It is at this
point that many fall away. They grow careless and let a day pass, or even
several days pass, without going alone with God and letting Him speak to
them through His Word. Mr. Moody once wisely said, “In prayer we talk to
God. In Bible study, God talks to us, and we had better let God do most
of the talking.”

A regular time should be set apart each day for the study of the Bible.
I do not think it is well as a rule to say that we shall study so many
chapters in a day, for that leads to undue haste and skimming and
thoughtlessness, but it is well to set apart a certain length of time
each day for Bible study. Some can give more time to Bible study than
others, but no one ought to give less than fifteen minutes a day. I set
the time so low in order that no one may be discouraged at the outset.
If a young Christian should set out to give an hour or two hours a day
to Bible study, there is a strong probability that he would not keep
to the resolution and he might become discouraged. Yet I know of many
very busy people who have given the first hour of every day for years to
Bible study and some who have given even two hours a day. The late Earl
Cairns, Lord Chancellor of England, was one of the busiest men of his
day, but Lady Cairns told me a few months ago that no matter how late he
reached home at night he always arose at the same early hour for prayer
and Bible study. She said, “We would sometimes get home from Parliament
at two o’clock in the morning, but Lord Cairns would always arise at the
same early hour to pray and study the Bible.” Lord Cairns is reported as
saying, “If I have had any success in life, I attribute it to the habit
of giving the first two hours of each day to Bible study and prayer.”

It is important that one choose the right time for this study. Wherever
it is possible, the best time for this study is immediately after arising
in the morning. The worst time of all is the last thing at night. Of
course, it is well to give a little while just before we retire to Bible
reading, in order that God’s voice may be the last to which we listen,
but the bulk of our Bible study should be done at an hour when our minds
are clearest and strongest. Whatever time is set apart for Bible study
should be kept sacredly for that purpose.

2. We should _study the Bible systematically_. Much time is frittered
away in random study of the Bible. The same amount of time put into
systematic study would yield far larger results. Have a definite place
where you are studying and have a definite plan of study. A good way for
a young Christian to begin the study of the Bible is to read the Gospel
of John. When you have read it through once, begin and read it again
until you have gone over the Gospel five times. Then read the Gospel of
Luke five times in the same way; then read the Acts of the Apostles five
times, then 1 Thessalonians five times, then 1 John five times, then
Romans five times, then Ephesians five times.

By this time you will be ready to take up a more thorough method of Bible
study. A good method is to begin at Genesis and read the Bible through
chapter by chapter. Read each chapter through several times and then
answer the following questions on the chapter:

(1) What is the principal subject of the chapter? (State the principal
contents of the chapter in a single phrase or sentence.)

(2) What is the truth most clearly taught and most emphasized in the

(3) What is the best lesson?

(4) What is the best verse?

(5) Who are the principal people mentioned?

(6) What does the chapter teach about Jesus Christ? Go through the entire
Bible in this way.

Another and more thorough method of Bible chapter study, which cannot
be applied to every chapter in the Bible, but which will yield excellent
results when applied to some of the more important chapters of the Bible,
is as follows:

(1) Read the chapter for to-day’s study five times, reading it aloud at
least once. Each new reading will bring out some new point.

(2) Divide the chapter into its natural divisions and find headings
for each division that describes in the most striking way the contents
of that division. For example, suppose the chapter studied is 1 John
5. You might divide it in this way: First division, verses 1-3, The
Believer’s Noble Parentage. Second division, verses 4, 5, The Believer’s
Glorious Victory. Third division, verses 6-10, The Believer’s Sure Ground
of Faith. Fourth division, verses 11, 12, The Believer’s Priceless
Possession. Fifth division, verse 13, The Believer’s Blessed Assurance.
Sixth division, verses 14, 15, The Believer’s Unquestioning Confidence.
Seventh division, verses 16, 17, The Believer’s Great Power and
Responsibility. Eighth division, verses 18, 19, The Believer’s Perfect
Security. Ninth division, verse 20, The Believer’s Precious Knowledge.
Tenth division, verse 21, The Believer’s Constant Duty.

(3) Note the important differences between the Authorized Version and the

(4) Write down the leading facts of the chapter in their proper order.

(5) Make a note of the persons mentioned in the chapter and of any light
thrown upon their character.

(6) Note the principal lessons of the chapter. It would be well to
classify these. For instance lessons about God; lessons about Christ,
lessons about the Holy Spirit, etc.

(7) Find the central truth of the chapter.

(8) The key verse of the chapter, if there is one.

(9) The best verse in the chapter. Mark it and memorize it.

(10) Write down what new truth you have learned from the chapter.

(11) Write down what truth already known has come to you with new power.

(12) What definite thing have you resolved to do as a result of studying
this chapter. It would be well to study in this way, all the chapters in
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts; the first eight chapters of Romans; 1
Cor. 12, 13 and 15; first six chapters of 2 Corinthians; all the chapters
in Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, First Thessalonians and First
Epistle of John. It would be well at times to vary this by taking up
other methods of study for a time.

Another profitable method of Bible study is the topical method. This was
Mr. Moody’s favourite method of study. Take up the great topics of which
the Bible teaches such as, the Holy Spirit, Prayer, the Blood of Christ,
Sin, Judgment, Grace, Justification, the New Birth, Sanctification,
Faith, Repentance, the Character of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ,
the Ascension of Christ, the Second Coming of Christ, Assurance, Love of
God, Love (to God, to Christ, to Christians, to all men), Heaven, Hell.
Get a Bible text-book and go through the Bible on each one of these
topics. (Other methods of Bible study, and more thorough methods for the
advanced student, will be found in the author’s book “HOW TO STUDY THE

3. We should _study the Bible comprehensively_—the whole Bible. Many who
read their Bibles make the great mistake of confining all their reading
to certain portions of the Bible that they enjoy, and in this way they
get no knowledge of the Bible as a whole. They miss altogether many of
the most important phases of Bible truth. Begin and go through the Bible
again and again—a certain portion each day from the Old Testament and a
portion from the New Testament. Read carefully at least one Psalm every

It is well oftentimes to read a whole book of the Bible through at a
single sitting. Of course, with a few books of the Bible this would take
one or two hours, but with most of the books of the Bible it can be done
in a few minutes. With the shorter books of the Bible they should be read
through again and again at a single sitting.

4. _Study the Bible attentively._ Do not hurry. One of the worst faults
in Bible study is haste and heedlessness. The Bible only does good by the
truth that it contains. It has no magic power. It is better to read one
verse attentively than to read a dozen chapters thoughtlessly. Sometimes
you will read a verse that takes hold of you. Don’t hurry on. Linger and
ponder that verse. As you read, mark in your Bible what impresses you
most. One does not need an elaborate system of Bible marking, simply
mark what impresses you. Meditate upon what you mark. God pronounces
that man blessed who “meditates” in God’s law day and night (Ps. 1: 2).
It is wonderful how a verse of Scripture will open if one reads it over
and over again and again, paying attention to each word as he reads
it, trying to get its exact meaning and its full meaning. Memorize the
passages that impress you most (Ps. 119: 11, R. V.). When you memorize
a passage of Scripture, memorize its location as well as its words. Fix
in your mind chapter and verse where the words are found. A busy but
spiritually-minded man who was hurrying to catch a train once said to
me, “Tell me in a word how to study my Bible.” I replied, “Thoughtfully.”

5. _Study your Bible comparatively._ That is compare Scripture with
Scripture. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. Wherever
you find a difficult passage in the Bible, there is always some passage
elsewhere that explains its meaning. The best book to use in this
comparison of Scripture with Scripture is “The Treasury of Scripture
Knowledge.” On every verse in the Bible this book gives a large number
of references. It is well to take up some book of the Bible and go
through that book verse by verse, looking up carefully and studying every
reference given in “The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge.” This is a very
fruitful method of Bible study. It is also well in studying the Bible by
chapters to look up the references on the more important verses in the
chapter. One will get more light on passages of Scripture by looking up
the references given in “The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge,” than in
any other way I know.

6. _Study your Bible believingly._ The Apostle Paul in writing to the
Christians in Thessalonica says, “For this cause also thank we God
without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard
of us, ye received it not as the Word of men, but as it is in truth,
the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1
Thess. 2: 13). Happy is the one who receives the Word of God as these
believers in Thessalonica received it, who receives it as what it really
is, the Word of God. In such a one it “works effectually.” The Bible is
the Word of God and we get the most out of any book by studying it as
what it really is. It is often said that we should study the Bible just
as we study any other book. That principle contains a truth, but it also
contains a great error. The Bible, it is true, is a book as other books
are books, the same laws of grammatical and literary construction hold
here as in other books, but the Bible is a unique book. It is what no
other book is, the Word of God. This can be easily proven to any candid
man.[1] The Bible ought then to be studied as no other book is. It should
be studied as the Word of God. This involves five things:

(1) A greater eagerness and more careful and candid study to find out
just what it teaches than is bestowed upon all other books. It is
important to know the mind of man. It is absolutely essential to know the
mind of God. The place to discover the mind of God is the Bible. This is
the book in which God reveals His mind.

(2) A prompt and unquestioning acceptance of, and submission to its
teachings when definitely ascertained. These teachings may appear to us
unreasonable or impossible, nevertheless we should accept them. If this
book is the Word of God, how foolish it is to submit its teachings to
the criticism of our finite reasoning. A little boy who discredits his
wise father’s statements simply because to his infant mind they appear
unreasonable, is not a philosopher, but a fool. But the greatest of
human thinkers is only an infant compared with the infinite God. And
to discredit God’s statements found in His Word because they appear
unreasonable to our infantile minds is not to act the part of the
philosopher, but the part of a fool. When we are once satisfied that the
Bible is the Word of God, its clear teachings must be for us the end of
all controversy and discussion.

(3) Absolute reliance upon all its promises in all their length and
breadth and depth and height. The one who studies the Bible as the Word
of God will say of any promise, no matter how vast and beyond belief it
appears, “God who cannot lie has promised this, so I will claim it for
myself.” Mark the promise you thus claim. Look each day for some new
promise from your infinite Father. He has put “His riches in glory”
at your disposal (Phil. 4: 19). I know of no better way to grow rich
spiritually than to search daily for promises, and when you find them
appropriate them to yourself.

(4) Obedience. Be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only deceiving
your own soul (James 1: 22). Nothing goes farther to help one understand
the Bible than the purpose to obey it. Jesus said, “If any man willeth
to do His will, he shall know of the teaching” (John 7: 17 R. V.). The
surrendered will means the clear eye. If our eye is single (that is, our
will is absolutely surrendered to God) our whole body shall be full of
light. But if our eye be evil (that is, if we are trying to serve two
masters and are not absolutely surrendered to one Master, God) our whole
body shall be full of darkness (Matt. 6: 22-24). Many a passage that
looks obscure to you now would become as clear as day if you were willing
to obey in all things what the Bible teaches. Each commandment discovered
in the Bible that is really intended as a commandment to us should be
obeyed instantly. It is remarkable how soon one loses his relish for
the Bible and how soon the mind becomes obscured to its teachings when
we disobey the Bible at any point. Many a time I have known persons who
have loved their Bibles and have been useful in God’s service and clear
in their views of the truth who have come to something in the Bible that
they were unwilling to obey, some sacrifice was demanded that they were
unwilling to make, and their love for the Bible has rapidly waned, their
faith in the Bible began to weaken, and soon they were drifting farther
and farther away from clear views of the truth. Nothing clears the mind
like obedience; nothing darkens the mind like disobedience. To obey a
truth you see prepares you to see other truths. To disobey a truth you
see darkens your mind to all truths.

Cultivate prompt, exact, unquestioning, joyous obedience to every command
that it is evident from its context applies to you. Be on the lookout for
new orders from your King. Blessing lies in the direction of obedience to
them. God’s commands are but sign-boards that mark the road to present
success and blessedness and to eternal glory.

(5) Studying the Bible as the Word of God involves studying it as His own
voice speaking directly to you. When you open the Bible to study realize
that you have come into the very presence of God and that now He is going
to speak to you. Realize that it is God who is talking to you as much as
if you saw Him standing there. Say to yourself, “God is now going to
speak to me.” Nothing goes farther to give a freshness and gladness to
Bible study than the realization that as you read God is actually talking
to you. In this way Bible study becomes personal companionship with God
Himself. That was a wonderful privilege that Mary had one day, of sitting
at the feet of Jesus and listening to His voice, but if we will study the
Bible as the Word of God and as if we were in God’s very presence, then
we shall enjoy the privilege of sitting at the feet of God and having Him
talk to us every day. How often what would otherwise be a mere mechanical
performance of a duty would become a wonderfully joyous privilege if one
would say as he opens the Bible, “Now God, my Father, is going to speak
to me.” Oftentimes it helps us to a realization of the presence of God to
read the Bible on our knees. The Bible became in some measure a new book
to me when I took to reading it on my knees.

7. _Study the Bible prayerfully._ God, who is the author of the Bible,
is willing to act as interpreter of it. He does so when you ask Him to.
The one who prays with earnestness and faith the Psalmist’s prayer, “Open
Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Ps.
119: 18) will get his eyes opened to see new beauties and wonders in the
Word of God that he never dreamed of before. Be very definite about
this. Each time you open the Bible to study it, even though it is but for
a few minutes, ask God to give you an open and discerning eye, and expect
Him to do it. Every time you come to a difficulty in the Bible, lay it
before God and ask an explanation and expect it. How often we think as we
puzzle over hard passages, “Oh, if I only had some great Bible teacher
here to explain this to me!” God is always present. He understands the
Bible better than any human teacher. Take your difficulty to Him and ask
Him to explain it. Jesus said, “When He the Spirit of Truth is come,
He shall guide you into all the truth” (John 16: 13, R. V.). It is the
privilege of the humblest believer in Christ to have the Holy Spirit for
his guide in his study of the Word. I have known many very humble people,
people with almost no education, who got more out of their Bible study
than most of the great theological teachers that I have known; simply
because they had learned that it was their privilege to have the Holy
Spirit for their teacher as they studied the Bible. Commentaries on the
Bible are oftentimes of great value, but one will learn more of real
value from the Bible by having the Holy Spirit for his teacher when he
studies his Bible than he will from all the commentaries that were ever

8. _Improve spare moments for Bible study._ In almost every man’s life
many minutes each day are lost, while waiting for meals, riding on
trains, going from place to place in street-cars and so forth. Carry
a pocket Bible or Testament with you and save these golden moments by
putting them to the very best use, listening to the voice of God.

9. _Store away the Scripture in your mind and heart._ It will keep you
from sin (Ps. 119: 11, R. V.); from false doctrine (Acts 20: 29, 30, 32;
2 Tim. 3: 13-15). It will fill your heart with joy (Jer. 15: 16); and
peace (Ps. 85: 8). It will give you victory over the evil one (1 John
2: 14); it will give you power in prayer (John 15: 7); it will make you
wiser than the aged and your enemies (Ps. 119: 98, 100, 130); it will
make you “complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:
16, 17, R. V.). Try it. Do not memorize at random but memorize Scripture
in a connected way; memorize texts bearing on various subjects in proper
order; memorize by chapter and verse that you may know where to put
your finger on the text if any one disputes it. You should have a good
Bible for your study. One of the best is “The Oxford Two Version Bible,
Workers’ Edition.”



Sooner or later every young Christian comes across passages in the
Bible which are hard to understand and difficult to believe. To many
a young Christian, these difficulties become a serious hindrance in
the development of their Christian life. For days and weeks and months
oftentimes faith suffers partial or total eclipse. At just this point
wise counsel is needed. We have no desire to conceal the fact that these
difficulties exist. We rather desire to frankly face and consider them.
What shall we do concerning these difficulties that every thoughtful
student of the Bible will sooner or later encounter.

1. _The first thing we have to say about these difficulties is that from
the very nature of the case difficulties are to be expected._ Some people
are surprised and staggered because there are difficulties in the Bible.
I would be more surprised and more staggered if there were not. What is
the Bible? It is a revelation of the mind and will and character and
being of the infinitely great, perfectly wise, and absolutely holy God.
But to whom is this revelation made? To men and women like you and me, to
finite beings. To men who are imperfect in intellectual development and
consequently in knowledge, and in character and consequently in spiritual

There must, from the very necessities of the case, be difficulties
in such a revelation made to such persons. When the finite tries to
understand the infinite there is bound to be difficulty. When the
ignorant contemplate the utterances of one perfect in knowledge there
must be many things hard to be understood and some things which to their
immature and inaccurate minds appear absurd. When sinful beings listen to
the demands of an absolutely holy being they are bound to be staggered at
some of His demands, and when they consider His dealings they are bound
to be staggered at some of His dealings. These dealings will necessarily
appear too severe, stern, harsh, terrific. It is plain that there must be
difficulties for us in such a revelation as the Bible is proven to be. If
some one should hand me a book that was as simple as the multiplication
table and say, “This is the Word of God, in which He has revealed His
whole will and wisdom,” I would shake my head and say, “I cannot believe
it. That is too easy to be a perfect revelation of infinite wisdom.”
There must be in any complete revelation of God’s mind and will and
character and being, things hard for a beginner to understand, and the
wisest and best of us are but beginners.

2. _The second thing to be said about these difficulties is that a
difficulty in a doctrine, or a grave objection to a doctrine, does not
in any wise prove the doctrine to be untrue._ Many thoughtless people
fancy that it does. If they come across some difficulty in the way of
believing in the divine origin and absolute inerrancy and infallibility
of the Bible, they at once conclude that the doctrine is exploded. That
is very illogical. Stop a moment and think and learn to be reasonable and
fair. There is scarcely a doctrine in science commonly believed to-day
that has not had some great difficulty in the way of its acceptance. When
the Copernican theory, now so universally accepted, was first proclaimed,
it encountered a very grave difficulty. If this theory were true the
planet Venus should have phases as the moon has. But no phases could be
discovered by the best glass then in existence. But the positive argument
for the theory was so strong that it was accepted in spite of this
apparently unanswerable objection. When a more powerful glass was made,
it was discovered that Venus had phases after all. The whole difficulty
arose, as all those in the Bible arise, from man’s ignorance of some of
the facts in the case. According to the common sense logic recognized
in every department of science, if the positive proof of a theory is
conclusive, it is believed by rational men, in spite of any number of
difficulties in minor details. Now the positive proof that the Bible is
the Word of God, that it is an absolutely trustworthy revelation from God
Himself of Himself, His purposes and His will, of man’s duty and destiny,
of spiritual and eternal realities, is absolutely conclusive. Therefore
every rational man and woman must believe it in spite of any number of
difficulties in minor details. He is a shallow thinker who gives up a
well-attested truth because of some facts which he cannot reconcile with
that truth. And he is a very shallow Bible scholar who gives up the
divine origin and inerrancy of the Bible because there are some supposed
facts that he cannot reconcile with that doctrine.

3. _The third thing to be said about the difficulties in the Bible is
that there are many more and much greater difficulties in the way of a
doctrine that holds the Bible to be of human origin, and hence fallible,
than are in the way of the doctrine that holds the Bible to be of divine
origin and hence altogether trustworthy._ A man may bring you some
difficulty and say, “How do you explain that if the Bible is the Word
of God?” and perhaps you may not be able to answer him satisfactorily.
Then he thinks he has you, but not at all. Turn on him and ask him how do
you account for the fulfilled prophecies of the Bible if it is of human
origin? How do you account for the marvellous unity of the Book? How
do you account for its inexhaustible depth? How do you account for its
unique power in lifting men up to God? How do you account for the history
of the Book, its victory over all men’s attacks, etc., etc., etc. For
every insignificant objection he can bring to your view, you can bring
many deeply significant objections to his view, and no candid man will
have any difficulty in deciding between the two views. The difficulties
that confront one who denies that the Bible is of divine origin and
authority are far more numerous and weighty than those that confront the
ones who believes it is of divine origin and authority.

4. _The fourth thing to be said about the difficulties in the Bible
is the fact that you cannot solve a difficulty does not prove that it
cannot be solved, and the fact that you cannot answer an objection does
not prove at all that it cannot be answered._ It is passing strange how
often we overlook this very evident fact. There are many who, when they
meet a difficulty in the Bible and give it a little thought and can see
no possible solution, at once jump at the conclusion that a solution is
impossible by any one, and so throw up their faith in the reliability of
the Bible and in its divine origin. A little more of that modesty that
is becoming in beings so limited in knowledge as we all are would have
led them to say, “Though I see no possible solution to this difficulty,
some one a little wiser than I might easily find one.” Oh! if we would
only bear in mind that we do not know everything, and that there are a
great many things that we cannot solve now that we could easily solve
if we only knew a little more. Above all, we ought never to forget that
there may be a very easy solution to infinite wisdom of that which to
our finite wisdom—or ignorance—appears absolutely insoluble. What would
we think of a beginner in algebra who, having tried in vain for half an
hour to solve a difficult problem, declared that there was no possible
solution to the problem because he could find none? A man of much
experience and ability once left his work and came a long distance to see
me in great perturbation of spirit because he had discovered what seemed
to him a flat contradiction in the Bible. It had defied all his attempts
at reconciliation, but in a few moments he was shown a very simple and
satisfactory solution of the difficulty.

5. _The fifth thing to be said about the difficulties in the Bible is
that the seeming defects in the book are exceedingly insignificant
when put in comparison with its many and marvellous excellencies._ It
certainly reveals great perversity of both mind and heart that men spend
so much time expatiating on the insignificant points that they consider
defects in the Bible, and pass by absolutely unnoticed the incomparable
beauties and wonders that adorn and glorify almost every page. What
would we think of any man, who in studying some great masterpiece of
art, concentrated his entire attention upon what looked to him like
a fly-speck in the corner. A large proportion of what is vaunted as
“critical study of the Bible” is a laborious and scholarly investigation
of supposed fly-specks and an entire neglect of the countless glories of
the book.

6. _The sixth thing to be said about the difficulties in the Bible is
that the difficulties in the Bible have far more weight with superficial
readers of it than with profound students._ Take a man who is totally
ignorant of the real contents and meaning of the Bible and devotes his
whole strength to discovering apparent inconsistencies in it, to such
superficial students of the Bible these difficulties seem of immense
importance; but to the one who has learned to meditate on the Word of God
day and night they have scarce any weight at all. That mighty man of
God, George Müller, who had carefully studied the Bible from beginning to
end more than a hundred times, was not disturbed by any difficulties he
encountered. But to the one who is reading it through carefully for the
first or second time there are many things that perplex and stagger.

7. _The seventh thing to be said about the difficulties in the Bible is
that they rapidly disappear upon careful and prayerful study._ How many
things there are in the Bible that once puzzled us and staggered us that
have been perfectly cleared up, and no longer present any difficulty at
all! Is it not reasonable to suppose that the difficulties that still
remain will also disappear upon further study?

How shall we deal with the difficulties which we do find in the Bible?

1. First of all, _honestly_. Whenever you find a difficulty in the Bible,
frankly acknowledge it. If you cannot give a good honest explanation, do
not attempt as yet to give any at all.

2. _Humbly._ Recognize the limitations of your own mind and knowledge,
and do not imagine there is no solution just because you have found none.
There is in all probability a very simple solution. You will find it some
day, though at present you can find no solution at all.

3. _Determinedly._ Make up your mind that you will find the solution if
you can by any amount of study and hard thinking. The difficulties in the
Bible are your heavenly Father’s challenge to you to set your brains to

4. _Fearlessly._ Do not be frightened when you find a difficulty, no
matter how unanswerable it appears upon first glance. Thousands have
found such before you. They were seen hundreds of years ago and still the
Old Book stands. You are not likely to discover any difficulty that was
not discovered and probably settled long before you were born, though
you do not know just where to lay your hand upon the solution. The Bible
which has stood eighteen centuries of rigid examination and incessant and
awful assault, is not going under before any discoveries that you make
or any attacks of modern infidels. All modern infidel attacks upon the
Bible are simply a revamping of old objections that have been disposed
of a hundred times in the past. These old objections will prove no more
effective in their new clothes than they did in the cast-off garments of
the past.

5. _Patiently._ Do not be discouraged because you do not solve every
problem in a day. If some difficulty defies your best effort, lay it
aside for awhile. Very likely when you come back to it, it will have
disappeared and you will wonder how you were ever perplexed by it.
The writer often has to smile to-day when he thinks how sorely he was
perplexed in the past over questions which are now as clear as day.

6. _Scripturally._ If you find a difficulty in one part of the Bible,
look for other Scripture to throw light upon it and dissolve it. Nothing
explains Scripture like Scripture. Never let apparently obscure passages
of Scripture darken the light that comes from clear passages, rather let
the light that comes from the clear passage illuminate the darkness that
seems to surround the obscure passage.

7. _Prayerfully._ It is wonderful how difficulties dissolve when one
looks at them on his knees. One great reason why some modern scholars
have learned to be destructive critics is because they have forgotten how
to pray.



The one who would succeed in the Christian life must lead a life of
prayer. Very much of the failure in Christian living to-day, and in
Christian work, results from neglect of prayer. Very few Christians spend
as much time in prayer as they ought. The Apostle James told believers in
his day that the secret of the poverty and powerlessness of their lives
and service was neglect of prayer. “Ye have not,” says God through the
Apostle James, “because ye ask not.” So it is to-day. Why is it, many a
Christian is asking, that I make such poor headway in my Christian life?
Why do I have so little victory over sin? Why do I accomplish so little
by my effort? and God answers, “You have not because you ask not.”

It is easy enough to lead a life of prayer if one only sets about it.
Set apart some time each day for prayer. The rule of David and of Daniel
is a good one; three times a day. “Evening and morning and at noon,”
says David, “will I pray and cry aloud and He shall hear my voice” (Ps.
55: 17). Of Daniel we read, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing
was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his
chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day,
and prayed, and gave thanks before his God as he did aforetime” (Dan. 6:
10). Of course, one can pray while walking the street, or riding in the
car, or sitting at his desk, and one should learn to lift his heart to
God right in the busiest moments of his life, but we need set times of
prayer, times when we go alone with God, shut to the door and talk to our
Father in the secret place (Matt. 6: 6). God is in the secret place and
will meet with us there and listen to our petitions.

Prayer is a wonderful privilege. It is an audience with the King. It
is talking to our Father. How strange it is that people should ask the
question, “How much time ought I to spend in prayer?” When a subject is
summoned to an audience with his king, he never asks, “How much time must
I spend with the king?” His question is rather, “How much time will the
king give me?” And with any true child of God who realizes what prayer
really is, that it is an audience with the King of Kings, the question
will never be, “How much time must I spend in prayer,” but “How much time
may I spend in prayer with a due regard to other duties and privileges?”

Begin the day with thanksgiving and prayer. Thanksgiving for the definite
mercies of the past, prayer for the definite needs of the present day.
Think of the temptations that you are likely to meet during the day; ask
God to show you the temptations that you are likely to meet and get from
God strength for victory over these temptations before the temptations
come. The reason why many fail in the battle is because they wait until
the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have
gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came. Jesus
conquered in the awful battles of Pilate’s judgment hall and of the
cross because He had the night before in prayer anticipated the battle
and gained the victory before the struggle really came. He had told His
disciples to do the same. He had bidden them “Pray that ye enter not
into temptation” (Luke 22: 40), but they had slept when they ought to
have prayed, and when the hour of temptation came they fell. Anticipate
your battles, fight them on your knees before temptation comes and you
will always have victory. At the very outset of the day, get counsel and
strength from God Himself for the duties of the day.

Never let the rush of business crowd out prayer. The more work that any
day has to do, the more time must be spent in prayer in preparation for
that work. You will not lose time by it, you will save time by it. Prayer
is the greatest time saver known to man. The more the work crowds you the
more time take for prayer.

Stop in the midst of the bustle and hurry and temptation of the day for
thanksgiving and prayer. A few minutes spent alone with God at midday
will go far to keep you calm in the midst of the worries and anxieties of
modern life.

Close the day with thanksgiving and prayer. Review all the blessings
of the day and thank God in detail for them. Nothing goes farther to
increase faith in God and in His Word than a calm review at the close
of each day of what God has done for you that day. Nothing goes further
towards bringing new and larger blessings from God than intelligent
thanksgiving for blessings already granted.

The last thing you do each day ask God to show you if there has been
anything in the day that has been displeasing in His sight. Then wait
quietly before God and give God an opportunity to speak to you. Listen.
Do not be in a hurry. If God shows you anything in the day that has been
displeasing in His sight, confess it fully and frankly as to a holy and
loving Father. Believe that God forgives it all, for He says He does
(1 John 1: 9). Thus at the close of each day all your accounts with
God will be straightened out. You can lie down and sleep in the glad
consciousness that there is not a cloud between you and God. You can
arise the next day to begin life anew with a clean balance sheet. Do this
and you can never backslide for more than twenty-four hours. Indeed, you
will not backslide at all. It is very hard to straighten out accounts
in business that have been allowed to get crooked through a prolonged
period. No bank ever closes its business day until its balance is found
to be absolutely correct. And no Christian should close a single day
until his accounts with God for that day have been perfectly adjusted
alone with Him.

There should be special prayer in special temptation—that is when we
see the temptation approaching. If you possibly can, get at once alone
somewhere with God and fight your battle out. Keep looking to God. “Pray
without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5: 17). It is not needful to be on your knees
all the time but the heart should be on its knees all the time. We should
be often on our knees or on our faces literally. This is a joyous life,
free from worry and care. “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by
prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known
unto God, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall
guard your hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4: 6, 7, R. V.).

There are three things for which one who would succeed in the Christian
life must especially pray. 1. For wisdom. “If any of you lack wisdom (and
we all do) let him ask of God” (James 1: 5). 2. For strength. “For they
that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is. 40: 31). 3. For
the Holy Spirit. “Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to them
that ask Him” (Luke 11: 13). Even if you have received the Holy Spirit,
you should constantly pray for a new filling with the Holy Spirit and
definitely expect to receive it. We need a new filling with the Spirit
for every new emergency of Christian life and Christian service. The
Apostle Peter was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of
Pentecost (Acts 2: 1-4) but he was filled anew in Acts 4: 8 and Acts 4:
31. There are many Christians in the world who once had a very definite
baptism with the Holy Spirit and had great joy and were wonderfully
used, but who have tried to go ever since in the power of that baptism
received years ago, and to-day their lives are comparatively joyless and
powerless. We need constantly to get new supplies of oil for our lamps.
We get these new supplies of oil by asking for them.

It is not enough that we have our times of secret prayer to God alone
with Him, we also need fellowship with others in prayer. If they
have a prayer-meeting in your church attend it regularly. Attend it
for your own sake; attend it for the sake of the church. If it is a
prayer-meeting only in name and not in fact, use your influence quietly
and constantly (not obtrusively) to make it a real prayer-meeting. Keep
the prayer-meeting night sacredly for that purpose. Refuse all social
engagements for that night. A major-general in the United States army
once took command of the forces in a new district. A reception was
arranged for him for a certain night in the week. When he was informed
of this public reception he replied that that was prayer-meeting night
and everything else had to give way for prayer-meeting, that he could not
attend the reception on that night. That general had proved himself a
man that can be depended upon. The Church of Christ in America owes more
to him than to almost any other officer in the American army. Ministers
learn to depend upon their prayer-meeting members. The prayer-meeting
is the most important meeting in the church. If your church has no
prayer-meeting, use your influence to have one. It does not take many
members to make a good prayer-meeting. You can start with two but work
for many.

It is well to have a little company of Christian friends with whom you
are in real sympathy and with whom you meet regularly every week simply
for prayer. There has been nothing of more importance in the development
of my own spiritual life of recent years than a little prayer-meeting of
less than a dozen friends who have met every Saturday night for years.
We met and together we waited upon God. If my life has been of any use
to the Master, I attribute it largely to that prayer-meeting. Happy is
the young Christian that has a little band of friends like that that meet
together regularly for prayer.[2]