I had charge of our church's prayer meeting this week. While this probably never happens to you, each time I tried to prepare, something came up. So I did something I've never done before. I grabbed two dozen copies of J.C. Ryle's short booklet, "A Call to Prayer" from our packing room and headed out the door (this job does have its advantages but, for the record, they were charged to my account). I knew Ryle's message on prayer would far surpass my own thoughts, at that point in time. I was already familiar with the booklet, so I quickly chose sections to read since time wouldn't permit reading the whole thing. And that's what I did. Everyone had a copy. We sang "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." Then I began to read. And more people were pricked in their heart by that message than I was expecting, including me!
Throughout the booklet, multiple times, Ryle asks the question, "Do you pray?" "Do you pray?" "Do you pray?" not speaking of public or those before-the-meal prayers, but private, when-you're-alone prayer. He says:
(1) Prayer is absolutely needful to a man's salvation.
(2) A habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.
(3) There is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer.
(4) Diligence in prayer is the secret of eminent holiness.
(5) Neglect of prayer is one great cause of backsliding.
(6) Prayer is one of the best means of happiness and contentment.
Ryle ends with this: "I offer these points for your private consideration. I do it in all humility. I know no one who needs to be reminded of them more than I do myself. But I believe them to be God's own truth, and I desire myself and all I love to feel them more. I want the times we live in to be praying times. I want the Christians of our day to be praying Christians. I want the church to be a praying church. My heart's desire and prayer in sending forth this tract is to promote a spirit of prayerfulness. I want those who never prayed yet to arise and call upon God, and I want those who do pray to see that they are not praying amiss."