Oak Grove Baptist Church

Striving to become the church of choice for this generation.


The hymn writer, James Montgomery, wrote this hymn about prayer in around 1818:

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer, the sublimest strains
That reach The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
His watchword at the gates of death;
He enters Heav’n with prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, “Behold, he prays!”

The saints in prayer appear as one
In word, in deed, and mind,
While with the Father and the Son
Sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone
The Holy Spirit pleads,
And Jesus, on th’eternal throne,
For sinners intercedes.

O Thou by Whom we come to God,
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray.

We want to focus on the words, "Prayer is the Christian's vital breath, it is the Christian's native air".  What exactly did Montgomery mean to teach us?  There are several things we can learn from a consideration of these words and all of them find their origin in the teaching of the Bible.

First, we learn that where there is true spiritual life, there must and there will be prayer.  It is the "vital" breath of the believer - an indication that he or she is truly alive.  We have seen this in an earlier "reason".

Second, the converse is true.  If prayer demonstrates true spiritual life, it also is vital to the continuation of evident spiritual life.  If someone stops breathing, they quickly grow weak and soon after die.  If they do not breath well because of disease or illness, they are likely to remain severely weakened through lack of oxygen.  In the same way, a believer who does not pray or who prays weakly is likely to be deprived of the grace needed for strong spiritual life and for growth.  In this respect, prayer is a vital breath for the believer.

Finally, note that Montgomery says prayer is the Christian's native air.  This is where he or she belongs, the air that is specially suited to the being and the wellbeing of every child of God.

Every city has a characteristic smell.  You go there and breath the air and you know without any visual cues that you are in that city (be it New York, Paris, London).  It is the same with the City of God, only here the air is filled with prayer and praise.  When the believer prays, then, they know that they are in God's City.  The prayers of the saints are like incense to perfume the air.  This is where they belong, this is their native city, here is the air that characterizes it!

Let's breath deeply, regularly and freely of the native air of prayer in this coming week, making the most of every opportunity that God provides and enjoying the aroma of the City where we truly belong!

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