by Charles G. Finney
Prevailing prayer for revival must be persevering prayer. Prayer is not effectual unless offered in an agony of desire to God.
I will mention some things that a person must do in order to prevail in prayer.
He must pray for a definite object. He must have an object distinctly before his mind. Instead of having anything definite to say, many people pray for just what comes into their minds, the floatings of their imaginations. This is not effectual prayer
Prayer, to be effectual, must be in accordance with the revealed will of God. There are three ways in which God reveals His will to men for guidance in prayer: (a) By His promises, (b) By His providences, and (c) By His Spirit.
Effectual prayer implies a desire for its object on an equal with its importance. If the desire for an object is strong, and not contrary to the providence of God, the presumption is that it will be granted.
Prayer to be effectual must not be selfish, but dictated by a supreme regard for the glory of God. The temptation to selfish motives is so strong that there is a reason to fear that a great many parental prayers never rise above the yearnings of parental tenderness. They do not think how such amiable and lovely children are dishonoring God by their sins. And that is the reason why so many pious, praying parents, have ungodly children.
If you mean to pray effectually, you must pray a great deal. It is said of the apostle James that after he was dead it was found that his knees were calloused like a camel’s.
You must pray in faith. You need not look for an answer if you pray without any expectation of obtaining it.
Finally, prevailing prayer must be persevering prayer. Do not think you are prepared to offer effectual prayer if your feelings will let you pray once for this object and then leave it. Most Christians come up to prevailing prayer through a protracted process. Their minds gradually become filled with anxiety, sighing out their heart desires to God.
Prayer is not effectual unless it is offered with an agony of desire. The apostle Paul speaks of it as a travail of the soul. I have known persons to pray till the blood started from the nose. Others till they were all wet with perspiration in the coldest of winter weather. Others till their strength was exhausted with the agony of their minds. Such prayers prevail with God!
by Charles G. Finney