John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 72

*The Life of God in the Soul

“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen.”

Luke 21:36 NIV

The life of God in the soul of the believer immediately and necessarily implies a continual action of God upon the soul by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit and a reaction of the soul upon God by an unceasing return of love, prayer, and praise.

From this, we may infer the absolute necessity of this continual reaction of the soul upon God in order to the continuance of the divine life in the soul. It plainly appears that God does not continue to act upon the soul unless the soul continues to react upon God.

It is easy to understand how these children of God, David, Barnabas, and Peter, might be moved from their steadfastness, and yet the great truth of God, declared by the apostle John, remain steadfast and unshaken. They did not keep themselves by the grace of God, which was sufficient for each one. Each fell, step by step, first into negative, inward sin, not “stirring up the gift of God which was in him,” not “watching unto prayer,” not “pressing on to the mark of the prize for his high calling.” He went into positive inward sin, inclining to wickedness in his heart, giving way to some evil desire or temper. Next, he lost his faith, his sight of a pardoning God, and, consequently, his love of God. Being then weak and like any other man, he was capable of committing even outward sin.

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

In this seventy-second lesson on prayer, Wesley emphasizes the necessity of staying continuously plugged into God. He speaks again of the reciprocal nature of God’s gracious act of breathing life into us and our reaction of love, prayer, and praise in return. If there is a breech in this back and forth with God, it is caused on our end, not God’s. The Psalmist, in Psalm 33, speaks well of this reciprocal relationship, in declaring,

1 Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. 2Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. 3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. 4 For the word of the LORD is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness. 5He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the LORD. 6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. 7He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. 10The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. 12Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance. 13The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; 14From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth, 15He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works. 16The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength. 17A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength. 18Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, 19To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine. 20Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. 21For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name. 22Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in You” (Psa. 33 NASB).

Wesley, speaking of men of God who at one time failed in holding up their end of a relationship with God, says, “They did not keep themselves by the grace of God, which was sufficient for each one. Each fell, step by step, first into negative, inward sin, not “stirring up the gift of God which was in him,” not “watching unto prayer,” not “pressing on to the mark of the prize for his high calling.”

Let us be mindful to any coolness of our heart toward God that may lead to our falling away from God’s grace.

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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