by J. C. Ryle
"Men ought always to pray." Luke 18:1
I have a question to offer you. It is contained in three words, do you pray?
The question is one that none but you can answer. Whether you attend public worship or not, your minister knows. Whether you have family prayers in your house or not, your relations know. But whether you pray in private or not, is a matter between yourself and God.
I beseech you in all affections to attend to the subject I bring before you. Do not say that my question is too close. If your heart is right in the sight of God, there is nothing in it to make you afraid. Do not turn off my question by replying that you say your prayers. It is one thing to say your prayers and another to pray. Do not tell me that my question is unnecessary. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you good reasons for asking it.
Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion. All other subjects are second to it. Reading the Bible, listening to sermons, attending public worship, going to the Lord's Table—all these are very important matters. But none of them are so important as private prayer.
I propose in this paper to offer seven clear reasons why I use such strong language about prayer. I draw to these reasons the attention of every thinking man into whose hands this paper may fall. I venture to assert with confidence that they deserve serious consideration.
A Call to Prayer was one of J.C. Ryle’s best received works in his day and has remained so ever since. It is a direct exhortation to pray fervently and without ceasing. “I want the times we live in to be praying times. I want the Christians of our day to be praying Christians. I want the church to be a praying church. My heart’s desire and prayer in sending forth this tract is to promote a spirit of prayerfulness. I want those who never prayed yet, to arise and call upon God, and I want those who do pray, to see that they are not praying amiss.”—from the Conclusion.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Prayer Is Needful to Salvation
2. The Habit of Prayer: Mark of a True Christian
3. Prayer: The Most Neglected Duty
4. Prayer Produces Great Encouragement
5. Diligence in Prayer, the Secret of Holiness
6. Prayer and Backsliding
7. Prayer and Contentment
8. Advice to the Unregenerate
9. Counsel to the Saints