And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; (Luke 18:1)
May I once again bombard our souls with the need of fervent earnest praying; and in doing so, place myself in the same position as the reader – in the position of needed exhortation and correction? In our busy society, we can use our duties, tirednesses, illnesses, weaknesses, and vocations as an excuse for little time with the Lord in prayer. There arises a sense that when we are closeted with the Lord and pouring out our petitions to Him, we feel as if little is accomplished. Often I have asked myself – if I spent 2 hours of devotional reading and study of the Scriptures in combination with hearty petition before the Lord (neglecting the growing piles of administration, letters, visits, and phone call returns); am I really doing nothing? Or am I accomplishing that which is really primary and eternal? If at the end of the day my strength is gone due to the ministry of prayer (Acts 6:4), am I really negligent in my duties before the Lord? Or is this my duty?
In the midst of the demands of life and farm, the father of John Paton (missionary to the New Hebrides) would set aside prayer time for his family. May we be stirred, challenged, and finally doers of the exhortation; in order to seek the Lord for the souls of men, our churches, and our families. Lord be merciful to us in thy grace!
Our home consisted of a kitchen, a living room and a mid-room – or a chamber – called the “closet.” The closet was a very small compartment between the other two, have room only for a bed, a little table, and a chair, with a diminutive window shedding an extremely small amount of light on the scene. This was the sanctuary of that cottage home. Daily, and many times during the day, generally after each meal, we saw our father retire, and shut the door. We children got to understand by a sort of spiritual instinct (for the thing was too sacred to be talked about), that prayers were being poured out there for us, just as in the days of old by the High Priest within the veil in the Most Holy Place. We occasionally heard the pathetic echoes of a trembling voice, pleading as if for life. We learned to slip in and out past that door on tiptoe, so as not to disturb the holy colloquy. The outside world might not know, but we knew whence came that happy light, like that of a newborn smile, that always was dawning on my father’s face. It was a reflection from the divine Presence, in the consciousness of which he lived. Never, in temple or cathedral, in mountain or glen, can I hope to feel the Lord God more near, more visibly walking and talking with men, than He did under that humble cottage roof of thatch and oak framework (Dr. John G. Paton, Autobiography, pp. 10-11, emphasis added).