There are six suggestions here on how to pray. First—we need time for prayer, unhurried time, daily time, time enough to forget about how much time it is. I do not mean now: rising in the morning at the very last moment, and dressing, it may be hurriedly, and then kneeling a few moments so as to feel easier in mind: not that. I do not mean the last thing at night when you are jaded and fagged, and almost between the sheets, and then remember and look up a verse and kneel a few moments: not that. That is good so far as it goes. I am not criticising that. Better sweeten and sandwich the day with all of that sort you can get in. But just now I mean this: taking time when the mind is fresh and keen, and the spirit sensitive, to thoughtfully pray. We haven't time. Life is so crowded. It must be taken from something else, something important, but still less important than this.
Sacrifice is the continual law of life. The important thing must be sacrificed to the more important. One needs to cultivate a mature judgment, or his strength will be frizzled away in the less important details, and the greater thing go undone, or be done poorly with the fag-ends of strength. If we would become skilled intercessors, and know how to pray simply enough, we must take quiet time daily to get off alone.
The second suggestion: we need a place for prayer. Oh! you can pray anywhere, on the street, in the store, travelling, measuring dry goods, hands in dishwater,—where not. But you are not likely to unless you have been off in some quiet place shut in alone with God. The Master said: "Enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door": that door is important. It shuts out, and it shuts in. "Pray to thy Father who is in secret." God is here in this shut-in spot. One must get alone to find out that he never is alone. The more alone we are as far as men are concerned the least alone we are so far a; God is concerned.
The quiet place and time are needful to train the ears for keen hearing. A mother will hear the faintest cry of her babe just awaking. It is up-stairs perhaps; the tiniest bit of a sound comes; nobody else hears; but quick as a flash the mother's hands are held quiet, the head alert, then she is off. Her ears are trained beyond anybody's else; love's training. We need trained ears. A quiet place shuts out the outer sounds, and gives the inner ear a chance to learn other sounds.
A man was standing in a telephone booth trying to talk, but could not make out the message. He kept saying, "I can't hear, I can't hear." The other man by and by said sharply, "If you'll shut that door you can hear." His door was shut and he could hear not only the man's voice but the street and store noises too. Some folks have gotten their hearing badly confused because their doors have not been shut enough. Man's voice and God's voice get mixed in their ears. They cannot tell between them. The bother is partly with the door. If you'll shut that door you can hear.
The third suggestion needs much emphasis to-day: give the Book of God its place in prayer. Prayer is not talking to God—simply. It is listening first, then talking. Prayer needs three organs of the head, an ear, a tongue and an eye. First an ear to hear what God says, then a tongue to speak, then an eye to look out for the result. Bible study is the listening side of prayer. The purpose of God comes in through the ear, passes through the heart taking on the tinge of your personality, and goes out at the tongue as prayer. It is pathetic what a time God has getting a hearing down here. He is ever speaking but even where there may be some inclination to hear the sounds of earth are choking in our ears the sound of His voice. God speaks in His Word. The most we know of God comes to us here. This Book is God in print. It was inspired, and it is inspired. God Himself speaks in this Book. That puts it in a list by itself, quite apart from all others. Studying it keenly, intelligently, reverently will reveal God's great will. What He says will utterly change what you will say.