Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
Do you ever feel discouraged with your prayer life? Do you feel that you can’t get any victory in prayer—no sustained interest and no specific answers? This age of instant meals, immediate credit, and high-speed Internet has undoubtedly affected the patience of the Christian for personal holiness: we expect too many results too soon. But spiritual life is not a magical zap of spiritual victory. It is growth and development, and it is hard, self-sacrificing work.
As you read through the Confession of Patrick you are struck with the power and presence of the Spirit in his life. One author wrote, “Patrick’s life was marked by intense and persistent prayer and from time to time he was conscious of an inner monition in which he recognized a divine response to his prayers” (F. F. Bruce). This ought to be my desire. But where did this prayer life come from and how did Patrick get it?
The first thing we learn from Patrick’s prayer life is that it developed out of a life of self-sacrifice. Patrick states, “I would even stay in the forests and on the mountain and would wake to pray before dawn in all weathers, snow, frost, rain” (Confession, sec. 16). God has told us that this earth and all in it is cursed, and we cannot expect the blessing of heaven if we hold onto the curse: “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).
But something else is noticeable in Patrick’s prayer life: it developed out of a love for Christ. “More and more did my love of God and my fear of Him increase, and my faith grew and my spirit was stirred, and as a result I would say up to a hundred prayers in one day, and almost as many at night” (Confession, sec. 16). Love for Christ was the breeding ground of prayer and the more Patrick prayed, the more he loved, and that in turn encouraged more prayer.
“Prayer is an art which only the Spirit can teach us. He is the giver of all prayer.”—C. H. Spurgeon