Spurgeon and the Priority of Prayer

Charles_Haddon_Spurgeon_by_Alexander_Melville

Spurgeon’s life and teaching also demonstrate the importance of prayer in the life of a minister. In Spurgeon’s Lectures to my Students he points to the great importance that prayer has for the work of the minister. In his address to me studying for the ministry Spurgeon makes it very clear that above all else a minister is to be a man of prayer, and even more so then an ordinary Christian. Prayer, according to Spurgeon, is greatly useful and important for the preparation and preaching of sermons.1 All of work must be infused with the spirit of prayer if the minister would see it used of God. To fail to make prayer central to our lives and work is to fail to rely upon the power that only God can provide. It is unbiblical to think that one can minister without making use of prayer.

Spurgeon did not just teach the importance of prayer, he also modeled it for all who ever heard him pray from the pulpit or in family worship. Dalimore recounts D.L. Moody’s reply to someone inquiry of whether he had heard Spurgeon preach to which Moody replied, “Yes, but better still I heard him pray.”2 This is a great testimony to the place of prayer in his ministry. His practice of prayer is worth noting as it seems to be against many preconceived notions of how a minister must pray. Dalimore states that Spurgeon while being a man of prayer did not spend long periods of time in prayer. He goes on to recount an American pastor’s experience with Spurgeon in prayer, the pastor said “Then, rising from his knees he went strolling on, talking about this and that. The prayer was no parenthesis interjected. It was something that belonged as much to the habit of his mind as breathing did to the habit of the his body.”3 This is a good model for pastors to follow. Prayer ought to more then an interjection in the life of the pastor, prayer is to be the breath of the ministerial life. This is not to say that praying long periods cannot also be useful and necessary in the minister’s life. While it might not have been his common practice there are at least two times where Spurgeon felt it necessary to spend a whole night in prayer, one being when his son was to leave for Australia and the other being too sacred to be mentioned.4 Spurgeon’s life gives us general principals to apply in regards to prayer, rather then a set pattern of prayer.

1 Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), pp. 42-54.

2Arnold Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography, (Carlilse, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2009),

3 Ibid., p. 178.

4 Ibid., p. 185.

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