Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep --
August 17 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

Christian parents have for generations taught their small children to pray a simple prayer that begins with the words, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” It is a good beginning, for it creates in a child’s mind not only recognition of God’s sovereignty, but also seeks to instill a sincere dependence on Him.

Children, with continued guidance, later learn to add their own thoughts to their prayers: “Bless mama and daddy, and grandmamma, and granddaddy, etc.” One little girl prayed, “And God, please make my brother stop hitting me.” After a pause she continued, “And Lord, as you will remember, I’ve mentioned this before.”

The honesty of children’s prayers is both wonderful and amusing. For example, a six-year-old girl kneeling beside her bed one night remembered her baby sister in this way, “And dear God, I’m saying prayers also for my little sister, Becky, because she’s too little to pray for herself. Why, she isn’t even toilet-trained.”

The tragedy is that many children drop the habit of praying long before they become adults. Other interests and priorities claim their attention, and time spent in prayer gets pushed to the periphery, or is left off each day’s agenda altogether.

Because evening is wind down time, we may think our prayers lack power and conviction that is available earlier in the day. However, prayer at any time of the day can have powerful effect on our lives and on our world. For instance:
  • Queen Mary said she feared the prayers of John Knox more than she feared all the armies of Scotland.
  • John Wesley’s prayers brought spiritual renewal to England, sparing his fellow citizens the horrors of the French Revolution.
  • Revival spread throughout the 13 original colonies in America when Jonathan Edwards prayed.
Prayer has shaped history many times. History could be altered in constructive ways again if Christians fell on their knees regularly in believing prayer.

Matthew 14:23 tells us Jesus sought to be alone with the Father after an extremely exhausting day of preaching, teaching, and healing the multitudes. If the Son of God during the days of His flesh thought that the end of a tiring day was a good time to pray, surely each of us should see the importance of ending each day with prayer.

Tonight, why not speak honestly and openly with the Lord about your concerns, and make your petitions known? Then cast all your care on Him, and commit yourself afresh to Him.  

Recognize, as the early American preacher, Phillips Brooks, once said, “Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of God’s willingness.”

Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which is outside the will of God. But even God, who is sovereign and has unlimited power, cannot answer a prayer that has not been prayed.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University (B.A.), Southeastern Seminary (M. Div. and Th.M.), and Campbell University  (D.D.).  He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on September 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958.  He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

8/17/2009 3:17:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 1 comments

Dr. James Willingham
To add to what Del said about Jonathan Edwards, it might be added that Edwards' tract calling for united prayer for the propagation of the Gospel among the heathen, Humble Attempt, inspired William Carey and others in England to pray for such a thing. Out of that prayer effort in England came what Kenneth Scott Latourette called, The Great Century of Missions. I also suspect that out of that tract came the praying that brought about the Second Great Awakening which occurred in this area as it did in others in America. Both the First nd the Second Great Awakenings and the origins of the Great Century of Missions along with the tract by Edwards offer us an incentive to pray for such a visitation again. While my prayers are poor, I have been asking God for a Third Great Awakening for 36 yrs. Ever since I pastored in the Sandy Creek Assn. which was one of the associations affected by the Second Awakening (and it was founded by people who had been converted in the First Great Awakening). Those two Awakenings along with the Century of Missions are three events in world history that are almost as momentous as the the First Coming of our Lord and Savior to save sinners. The Third Awakening might well win the whole earth with every last soul in it in one generation and pehaps for a 1000 more generations after it in order to fulfil the promise of Christ having "a number no man can number" Zep.2:11 promises God will be so awesome that He will emaciate all the false gods of this world. Could it be that He will appear so wonderful that one, everyone will gladly embrace the Savior? "So wonderful that," as one young lady of 20 yrs. of age over 40 yrs. go, said to a Southern Baptist Pastor by the name of Spurgeon who had witnessed to her, "I could not resist it." What an answer to the public atheists of our day who say the God we present is a meglamaniac. Hmmn, "So wonderful that I could no resist it." I saw Jesus standing, knocking at a door just like it says in Rev. 3:20, when I was a full-fledged, practicing atheist, making converts to atheism. My response was to run, but before I got very far He did for me what He did for Lydia, namely, "whose heart the Lord opened." (Acts.16:14). Let us pray that God might be pleased for he glory of Christ and the good of souls to do it again.
8/20/2009 1:45:11 PM