“It becomes a soldier to die fighting, ‘and a minister to die preaching,’ and a Christian to die praying.”
– Rev. John Flavel (1627-1691 A.D.)
I have been reading through the Sermons of the Rev. John Flavel and last night I ran across this quotation. What a powerful statement to make. Why exactly does the Reverend make such a grandiose claim? Why does he elevate prayer to such an important place, when much of the protestant world has forgotten the practice of prayer?
To understand the statement one needs to understand the context in which it is made. Flavel is preaching on Christ’s last night in the Garden of Gethsemane and sees his time of prayer as his last preparative act before the crucifixion. Of all the things Jesus could have engaged in on his last night, he wanted to leave a poignant example of what is most important when one is facing danger, difficulty, struggle, persecution or death. And that thing which is most important is to pray.
As he goes on to state,
That [final] prayer [of Christ in Gethsemane] is a singular preparative for, and relief under, the greatest troubles. It is sweet, when troubles find us in the way of our duty. The best posture we can wrestle with afflictions in, is to engage them upon our knees.
The life of Christ sets us an example of how to engage in our life. When God allows troubles to come, when He allows the testing of our faith, when He allows our character to be tried, then, and especially then we must be found on our knees seeking the power and the strength of God to persevere. To do anything else would be to assure utter failure, for we are not strong enough to stand upon our own feet, we need to rest upon the strength of Christ.