Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History
Reading: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Ephesians 6:18
We considered yesterday the two points from which Patrick’s prayer life developed: self-sacrificing zeal and a love of God. Out of these twin graces Patrick discovered that as he developed in his prayer life the Lord helped him, first, through the answers to prayer. Second, the Lord helped him in prayer; grace was added to grace, and Patrick was greatly encouraged as he engaged in prayer that the Lord engaged in prayer with him. He “remembered the apostle’s words: ‘The Spirit helps the weaknesses of our prayer’ (Romans 8.26)” (Confession, sec. 25).
In those early days of Patrick’s Christian experience as he prayed on Slemish Mountain and grew into a man of prayer, the Lord began to answer his prayer and he says, “The Spirit was burning in me at that time” (Confession, sec. 16). It was there on that mountain alone with God that God met with him powerfully and that power became evident in subsequent occasions throughout his life.
But that power in the place of prayer was seen in another mark of a vibrant prayer-life: the spirit of prayer, not just the act of praying but living in the spirit of prayer, or, as Paul speaks of it “praying always” (Ephesians 6:18). Patrick found, as Nehemiah did, that in moments of great need and danger, he could pray effectively “to the God of Heaven” (Nehemiah 2:4). He speaks of an occasion when he was escaping from Ireland and he was refused passage on the merchant ship: “On hearing this I left them to go to the hut where I was staying, and on the way I began to pray and before I had finished my prayer I heard one of them; he was shouting loudly after me: ‘Come quickly!’” (Confession, sec. 18).
Christian, is this not the kind of vibrant Christianity you want, where prayer is intimate and powerful, fresh and attractive? Lord, teach us to pray!
“If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”—C. H. Spurgeon