*Praying for Grace
Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path.
Psalm 27:11 NIV
By observing the order in which God leads a sinner, we may learn what means to recommend to any particular end. If any thing will teach a careless sinner, it is probably hearing, or conversation, if he ever has any thought about salvation. To one who begins to feel the weight of his sins, not only hearing the Word of God, but reading it, too, and perhaps other serious books, might be a means of deeper conviction. He is well advised also to meditate on what he reads that it may have its full force upon his heart. And to speak freely, particularly among those who walk in the same path. When trouble and heaviness take hold upon him, he should then be earnestly exhorted to pour out his soul before God, always to pray and not lose heart. And when he feels the worthlessness of his own prayers, remind him of going up into the house of the Lord, to pray with all who fear Him. But if he does this, the word of his Lord will soon be brought to his remembrance to eat and drink the Lord’s Supper.
We should second the motions of the blessed Spirit, for one is thus led, step by step, through all the means God has ordained—not according to our own will, but just as the providence and the Spirit of God go before and open the way.
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this forty-first lesson on prayer, Wesley encourages us to be mindful of the means of grace we see open up before the sinner, and how we can cooperate with the Spirit in directing one toward salvation.
Sometimes we try to lead others to salvation by a predetermined path of our own understanding. We might have been trained to use one of the many evangelistic formulas, strategies, approaches and techniques that are available in the evangelical world. But without discerning how the Holy Spirit is moving in a person’s life, we sometimes lag behind or get ahead of the Lord’s plan in drawing that person to Himself.
A psalm that comes to mind says in part:
1O LORD, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 7Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. 17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.”
Knowing the Lord knows that person best, we can take Wesley’s final advise, “We should second the motions of the blessed Spirit, for one is thus led, step by step, through all the means God has ordained—not according to our own will, but just as the providence and the Spirit of God go before and open the way.”