The very final message at the Banner ended up being on fervent prayer. Warren Peel gave us a very challenging second message on Epaphras urging us to interecessory prayer for the peopl.
He again used the same pattern moving from Epaphras back to Jesus and on to us - all of us being ministers to God's people
Early on he quoted John Owen
If men are but as they used to be, I do not believe any minister, any pastor in the world, can keep up a due love to his church, who doth not pray for them. He will meet with so many provocations, imprudences, and miscarriages, that nothing can keep up his heart with inflamed love towards them, but by praying for them continually. That will conquer all prejudices, — if he continues so doing.
Also I think
My last reason is this, — in our prayers for our people, God will teach us what we shall preach unto them. We cannot pray for them, but we must think on what it is we pray for, and that is the consideration of their condition; and therein God teaches the ministers of the gospel. If it be so with them, this is that they should teach them. The more we pray for our people, the better shall we be instructed what to preach to them. The apostles, to take us off from all other occasions, “gave themselves to prayer and the word,” Acts vi. 4.
In Acts 4 prayer is in the first place. This is not personal but ministerial prayer for the church and the progress of the gospel. He highlighted the manner adn the matter
This is hand to hand combat. It takes pains. It is like wrestling.
Why is prayer so hard? It is a spiritual battle.
That you may stand mature and fully ...
We can learn this from Christ. There are lots and lots of examples of his prayers in the Gospels. Further, he is now interceding in heaven.
Are we wrestling? Do we have a system? Is it part of our work schedule? If a performance review was done for the last five years what woudl it reveal? Would I still have a job?
It is not the only factor but it is important.
Very valuable was the dying testimony of the great and godly Andrew Fuller:
I wish I had prayed more for the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in studying and preaching my sermons John Smith
Prayer often gains success to little talents, while the greatest, without it, are useless or pernicious.
The great Welsh preacher, Mr. Williams of Wern one of the princely trio of that land of great preachers (with John Elias, William Williams and Christmas Evans) left this testimony:
“The old ministers were not much better preachers than we are, and in many respects they were inferior, but there was an unction about their ministry, and success attended upon it now but seldom witnessed. And what was the cause of the difference? They prayed more than we do. If we would prevail and have power with men, we must first prevail and have power with God. It was on his knees that Jacob became a prince, and if we would become princes we must be oftener and more importunate upon our knees.”
Dr. Griffin remarked of a young man, a pupil of his who had just commenced preaching
“He has an active mind and superior talents. The only question I have about him is, whether he will pray down the Holy Spirit while he preaches.” The probability of any minister’s success is in the question, “Will he pray down the Holy Spirit?”
I could add the exhortation of the noble French preacher, Massillon, cannot be too attentively studied: “Accompany your labours with your prayers. Speak of the disorders of your people more frequently to God than to them. Complain to him of the obstacles put in the way of their conversion by your unfaithfulness more frequently than of those which their obstinacy may present. Blame yourself alone at his feet for the small fruit of your ministry. As a tender father apologize to him for the faults of your children, and accuse only yourself.”
He also mentioned and commended Intercessory Prayer: A Ministerial Task by Eugene Bradford