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According to J C Ryle, private prayer is the most neglected of all Christian duties. That is most unfortunate because private prayer is the true measure of a Christian’s walk before God and ‘the pith and marrow of practical Christianity’. To bestir his readers to the practice and privilege of private prayer, Ryle points out both the blessings of prayer and the grave dangers of prayerlessness.
Prayer under the blessing of God leads to the new birth, strengthens faith, moves mountains, and promotes spiritual growth and contentment that rises above circumstances. Prayerlessness, on the other hand, is the broad road leading to Hell for the unbeliever and the major cause of backsliding in the Christian. Ryle observes that ‘men fall in private long before they fall in public’. His warning is surely a word in season to our contemporary evangelical church, whose witness during the last generation to a lost and perishing world has been sorely compromised by scandals involving so-called Christian leaders.