John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 44

*Counting on Prayer

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 7:21 NIV

Our Lord’s expression in this text implies (to begin at the lowest point) all good words, all verbal religion. It includes whatever creeds we may recite, whatever professions of faith we make, whatever numbers of prayers we may repeat, whatever thanksgivings we read or say to God.

We may speak well of his name and declare his lovingkindness to all. We may be talking of all His mighty acts and telling of his salvation from day to day.

By comparing spiritual things with spiritual, we may show the meaning of the Word of God. We may explain the mysteries of the kingdom which have been hid from the beginning of the world.

We may speak with the tongues of angels rather than men concerning the deep things of God. We may proclaim to sinners, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (see John 1:29).

Yes, and we may do this with such a measure of the power of God and such demonstration of His Spirit, as to save many souls from death and hide a multitude of sins. Yet it is very possible, all this may be no more than saying, “Lord, Lord.” I may have this successfully preached to others, snatching many souls from hell, yet still drop into it when I am done. May God have mercy on us all.

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this forty-fourth lesson on prayer, Wesley draws on Matthew 7:21. I think it necessary to read Matthew 7:13-29 so that we can gain a clearer picture, in context, from the words of Jesus:

13” Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19” Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21” Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22” Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ 24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.” 28When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes (NASB).

Wesley begins with, “Our Lord’s expression in this text implies (to begin at the lowest point) all good words, all verbal religion. It includes whatever creeds we may recite, whatever professions of faith we make, whatever numbers of prayers we may repeat, whatever thanksgivings we read or say to God.” He goes on to list a number of things that, on the outside, may resemble good fruit. He then concludes, “Yes, and we may do this with such a measure of the power of God and such demonstration of His Spirit, as to save many souls from death and hide a multitude of sins. Yet it is very possible, all this may be no more than saying, ‘Lord, Lord.’ I may have this successfully preached to others, snatching many souls from hell, yet still drop into it when I am done. May God have mercy on us all.

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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