Five Outlets Of Power
Five Outlets of Power.
A great sorrow has come into the heart of God. Let it be told only in
hushed voice--one of His worlds is _a prodigal_! Hush your voice yet
more--_ours_ is that prodigal world. Let your voice soften down still
more--_we_ have _consented_ to the prodigal part of the story. But, in
softest tones yet, He has won some of us back with His strong tender love.
And now let the
oice ring out with great gladness--we won ones may be the
pathway back to God for the others. That is His earnest desire. That
should be our dominant ambition. For that purpose He has endowed us with
There is one inlet of power in the life--anybody's life--any kind of
power: just one inlet--the Holy Spirit. He is power. He is in every one
who opens his door to God. He eagerly enters every open door. He comes in
by our invitation and consent. His presence within is the vital thing.
But with many of us while He is in, He is not in control: in as guest; not
as host. That is to say He is hindered in His natural movements; tied up,
so that He cannot do what He would. And so we are not conscious or only
partially conscious of His presence. And others are still less so. But to
yield to His mastery, to cultivate His friendship, to give Him full
swing--that will result in what is called power. One inlet of power--the
Holy Spirit in control.
There are five outlets of power: five avenues through which this One
within shows Himself, and reveals His power.
First: through the life, what we are. Just simply what we are. If we be
right the power of God will be constantly flowing out, though we be not
conscious of it. It throws the keenest kind of emphasis on a man being
right in his life. There will be an eager desire to serve. Yet we may
constantly do more in what we are than in what we do. We may serve better
in the lives we live than in the best service we ever give. The memory of
that should bring rest to your spirit when a bit tired, and may be
disheartened because tired.
Second: through the lips, what we say. It may be said stammeringly and
falteringly. But if said your best with the desire to please the Master it
will be God-blest. I have heard a man talk. And he stuttered and blushed
and got his grammar badly tangled, but my heart burned as I listened. And
I have heard a man talk with smooth speech, and it rolled off me as easily
as it rolled out of him. Do your best, and leave the rest. If we are in
touch with God His fire burns whether the tongue stammer or has good
control of its powers.
Third: through our service, what we do. It may be done bunglingly and
blunderingly. Your best may not be the best, but if it be your best it
will bring a harvest.
Fourth: through our money, what we do not keep, but loosen out for God.
Money comes the nearest to omnipotence of anything we handle.
And, fifth: through our prayer, what we claim in Jesus' name.
And by all odds the greatest of these is the outlet through prayer. The
power of a life touches just one spot, but the touch is tremendous. What
is there we think to be compared with a pure, unselfish, gently strong
life. Yet its power is limited to one spot where it is being lived. Power
through the lips depends wholly upon the life back of the lips. Words that
come brokenly are often made burning and eloquent by the life behind them.
And words that are smooth and easy, often have all their meaning sapped by
the life back of them. Power through service may be great, and may be
touching many spots, yet it is always less than that of a life. Power
through money depends wholly upon the motive back of the money. Begrudged
money, stained money, soils the treasury. That which comes nearest to
omnipotence also comes nearest to impotence. But the power loosened out
through prayer is as tremendous, at the least, to say no more just now, is
as tremendous as the power of a true fragrant life and, mark you, _and_,
may touch not one spot but wherever in the whole round world you may
choose to turn it.
The greatest thing any one can do for God and for man is to pray. It is
not the only thing. But it is the chief thing. A correct balancing of the
possible powers one may exert puts it first. For if a man is to pray
right, he must first _be_ right in his motives and life. And if a man _be_
right, and put the practice of praying in its right place, then his
serving and giving and speaking will be fairly fragrant with the presence
The great people of the earth to-day are the people who pray. I do not
mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in
prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer; but I mean these
people who _take_ time and _pray_. They have not time. It must be taken
from something else. This something else is important. Very important, and
pressing than prayer. There are people that put prayer first, and group
the other items in life's schedule around and after prayer.
These are the people to-day who are doing the most for God; in winning
souls; in solving problems; in awakening churches; in supplying both men
and money for mission posts; in keeping fresh and strong these lives far
off in sacrificial service on the foreign field where the thickest
fighting is going on; in keeping the old earth sweet awhile longer.
It is wholly a secret service. We do not know who these people are, though
sometimes shrewd guesses may be made. I often think that sometimes we pass
some plain-looking woman quietly slipping out of church; gown been turned
two or three times; bonnet fixed over more than once; hands that have not
known much of the softening of gloves; and we hardly giver her a passing
thought, and do not know, nor guess, that perhaps _she_ is the one who is
doing far more for her church, and for the world, and for God than a
hundred who would claim more attention and thought, _because she prays_;
truly prays as the Spirit of God inspires and guides.
Let me put it this way: God will do as a result of the praying of the
humblest one here what otherwise He _would_ not do. Yes, I can make it
stronger than that, and I must make it stronger, for the Book does.
Listen: God will do in answer to the prayer of the weakest one here what
otherwise he _could_ not do. "Oh!" someone thinks, "you are getting that
too strong now." Well, you listen to Jesus' own words in that last long
quiet talk He had with the eleven men between the upper room and the
olive-green. John preserves much of that talk for us. Listen: "Ye did not
choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear
fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that"--listen, a part of the
purpose why we have been chosen--"that whatsoever ye shall ask of the
Father in My name, He _may_ give it you." Mark that word "may"; not
"shall" this time but _may_. "Shall" throws the matter over on God--His
purpose. "May" throws it over upon us--our cooperation. That is to say our
praying makes it possible for God to do what otherwise He could not do.
And if you think into it a bit, this fits in with the true conception of
prayer. In its simplest analysis prayer--all prayer--has, must have, two
parts. First, a God to give. "Yes," you say, "certainly, a God wealthy,
willing, all of that." And, just as certainly, there must be a second
factor, _a man to receive_. Man's willingness is God's channel to the
earth. God never crowds nor coerces. Everything God does for man and
through man He does with man's consent, always. With due reverence, but
very plainly, let it be said that God can do nothing for the man with shut
hand and shut life. There must be an open hand and heart and life
_through_ which God can give what He longs to. An open life, an open hand,
open upward, is the pipe line of communication between the heart of God
and this poor befooled old world. Our prayer is God's opportunity to get
into the world that would shut Him out.
In touch with a planet.
Prayer opens a whole planet to a man's activities. I can as really be
touching hearts for God in far away India or China through prayer, as
though I were there. Not in as many ways as though there, but as truly.
Understand me, I think the highest possible _privilege_ of service is in
those far off lands. There the need is greatest, the darkness densest, and
the pleading call most eloquently pathetic. And if one _may_ go
there--happy man!--if one be _privileged_ to go to the honoured place of
service he may then use all five outlets direct in the spot where he is.
Yet this is only one spot. But his relationship is as wide as his Master's
and his sympathies should be. A man may be in Africa, but if his heart be
in touch with Jesus it will be burning for _a world_. Prayer puts us into
direct dynamic touch with a world.
A man may go aside to-day, and shut his door, and as really spend a
half-hour in India--I am thinking of my words as I say them, it seems so
much to say, and yet it is true--as really spend a half hour of his life
in India for God as though he were there in person. _Is_ that true? If it
be true, surely you and I must get more half-hours for this secret
service. Without any doubt he may turn his key and be for a bit of time as
potentially in China by the power of prayer, as though there in actual
bodily form. I say _potentially_ present. Of course not consciously
present. But in the _power exerted upon men_ he may be truly present at
the objective point of his prayer. He may give a new meaning to the
printed page being read by some native down in Africa. He may give a new
tongue of flame to the preacher or teacher. He may make it easier for men
to accept the story of Jesus, and then to yield themselves to
Jesus--yonder men swept and swayed by evil spirits, and by prejudices for
generations--make it easier for them to accept the story, and, if need be,
to cut with loved ones, and step out and up into a new life.
Some earnest heart enters an objection here, perhaps. You are thinking
that if you were there you could influence men by your personal contact,
by the living voice. So you could. And there must be the personal touch.
Would that there were many times more going for that blessed personal
touch. But this is the thing to mark keenly both for those who may go, and
for those who must stay: no matter where you are you do more through your
praying than through your personality. If you were in India you could _add
your personality to your prayer_. That would be a great thing to do. But
whether there or here, you must first win the victory, every step, every
life, every foot of the way, in secret, in the spirit-realm, and then add
the mighty touch of your personality in service. You can do _more _ than
pray, _after_ you have prayed. But you can _not_ do more than pray _until_
you have prayed. And just there is where we have all seemed to make a
slip at times, and many of us are yet making it--a bad slip. We think we
can do more where we are through our service: then prayer to give power to
service. _No_--with the blackest underscoring of emphasis, let it be
said--NO. We can do no thing of real power until we have done the prayer
Here is a man by my side. I can talk to him. I can bring my personality to
bear upon him, that I may win him. But before I can influence his will a
jot for God, I must first have won the victory in the secret place.
Intercession is winning the victory over the chief, and service is taking
the field after the chief is driven off. Such service is limited by the
limitation of personality to one place. This spirit-telegraphy called
prayer puts a man into direct dynamic touch with a planet.
There are some of our friends who think themselves of the practical sort
who say, "the great thing is work: prayer is good, and right, but the
great need is to be doing something practical." The truth is that when one
understands about prayer, and puts prayer in its right place in his life,
he finds a new motive power burning in his bones to be _doing_; and
further he finds that it is the doing that grows out of praying that is
mightiest in touching human hearts. And he finds further yet with a great
joy that he may be _doing_ something for an entire world. His service
becomes as broad as his Master's thought.
Intercession is Service.
It helps greatly to remember that intercession is service: the chief
service of a life on God's plan. It is unlike all other forms of service,
and superior to them in this: that it has fewer limitations. In all other
service we are constantly limited by space, bodily strength, equipment,
material obstacles, difficulties involved in the peculiar differences of
personality. Prayer knows no such limitations. It ignores space. It may be
free of expenditure of bodily strength, where rightly practiced, and one's
powers are under proper control. It goes directly, by the telegraphy of
spirit, into men's hearts, quietly passes through walls, and past locks
unhindered, and comes into most direct touch with the inner heart and will
to be affected.
In service, as ordinarily understood, one is limited to the space where
his body is, the distance his voice can reach, the length of time he can
keep going before he must quit to eat, or rest, or sleep. He is limited by
walls, and locks, by the prejudices of men's minds, and by those peculiar
differences of temperament which must be studied in laying siege to men's
The whole circle of endeavour in winning men includes such an infinite
variety. There is speaking the truth to a number of persons, and to one at
a time; the doing of needed kindly acts of helpfulness, supplying food,
and the like; there is teaching; the almost omnipotent ministry of money;
the constant contact with a pure unselfish life; letter writing; printer's
ink in endless variety. All these are in God's plan for winning men. But
the intensely fascinating fact to mark is this:--that the real victory in
all of this service is won in secret, beforehand, by prayer, and these
other indispensable things are the moving upon the works of the enemy, and
claiming the victory already won. And when these things are put in their
proper order, prayer first, and the other things second; _second_, I say,
not omitted, not slurred over; done with all the earnestness and power of
brain and hand and heart possible; but done _after_ the victory has been
won in secret, against the real foe, and done _while_ the winner is still
claiming the victory already assured,--then will come far greater
achievements in this outer open service.
Then we go into this service with that fine spirit of expectancy that
sweeps the field at the start, and steadily sticks on the stubbornly
contested spots until the whipped foe turns tail, and goes. Prayer is
striking the winning blow at the concealed enemy. Service is gathering up
the results of that blow among the men we see and touch. Great patience
and tact and persistence are needed in the service because each man must
be influenced in his own will. But the shrewd strategy that wins puts the
keen stiff secret fighting first.
The Spirit Switchboard.
Electricity is a strange element. It is catalogued in the study of
physics. It is supposed to be properly classed among the forces of nature.
Yet it seems to have many properties of the spirit world. Those who know
most of it say they know least of what it is. Some of the laws of its
being have been learned, and so its marvellous power harnessed for man's
use, but in much ignorance of what it is. It seems almost to belong
somewhere in between the physical and spirit realms. It furnishes many
similes of graphic helpfulness in understanding more nearly much truth of
the Spirit life.
In the power-house where the electricity is being wooed into man's
harnessing, or generated, as the experts say, is found a switchboard, or
switch-room with a number of boards. Here in a large city plant a man may
go and turn a switch, that is, move a little handle, a very short
distance. It is a very simple act, easily performed, involving almost no
strength. But that act has loosened the power in the house back of the
switchboard out along the wires, and perhaps lighted a whole section of
the city. He goes in again at another hour, and turns _this_ set of
switches, and _this_, and sets in motion maybe scores of cars, carrying
swiftly, hundreds of passengers. Again he goes in, and moves the little
handles and sets in motion the wheels in some factory employing hundreds
It is a secret service, usually as far as any observers are concerned. It
is a very quiet, matter of fact service. But the power influenced is
unmeasured and immeasurable. And no one, seemingly, thus far, can explain
the mysterious but tremendous agent involved. Does the fluid--it a fluid?
or, what?--pass _through_ the wire? or, _around_ the wire? The experts say
they do not know. But the laws which it obeys are known. And as men comply
with them its almost omnipotence is manifested.
Just such a switch-room in the spirit realm is one's prayer-room. Every
one who will may have such a spirit switching-board in his life. There he
may go and in compliance with the laws of the power used loosen out the
gracious persuasive irresistible power of God _where he wills to_; now in
Japan; now in China; among the hungry human hearts of India's plains and
mountains; again in Africa which is full as near to where Jesus sits as is
England or America; and now into the house across the alley from your
home; and down in the slum district; and now into your preacher's heart
for next Sunday's work; and now again unto the hearts of those you will be
meeting in the settlement house, or the mission school.
Children are not allowed at the electrical switchboard, nor any unskilled
hand. For misuse means possibility of great damage to property and life.
And the spirit switchboard does not yield to the unskilled touch. Though
sometimes there seems to be much tampering by those with crude fingers,
and with selfish desire to turn this current to personal advantage merely.
It takes skill here. Yet such is our winsome God's wondrous plan that
skill may come to any one who is willing; simply that--who is willing; and
it comes _very simply_ too.
Strange too, as with the electrical counterpart, the thing is beyond full
or satisfying explanation.
How does it come to pass that a man turns a few handles, and miles away
great wheels begin to revolve, and enormous power is manifested? Will some
one kindly explain? Yet we know it is so, and men govern their actions by
How does it come to pass that a woman in Iowa prays for the conversion of
her skeptical husband, and he, down in the thick of the most absorbing
congress Washington has known since the civil war, and in full ignorance
of her purpose becomes conscious and repeatedly conscious of the presence
and power of the God in whose existence he does not believe; and months
afterwards with his keen, legally trained mind, finds the calendar to fit
together the beginning of her praying with the beginning of his unwelcome
consciousness? Will some one kindly explain? Ah! who can, adequately! Yet
the facts, easy ascertainable, are there, and evidenced in the complete
change in the life and calling of the man.
How comes it to pass that a woman in Missouri praying for a friend of keen
intellectual skeptically in Glasgow, who can skillfully measure and parry
argument, yet finds afterwards that the time of her praying is the time of
his, at first decidedly unwelcome, but finally radical change of
convictions! Yet groups of thoughtful men and women know these two
instances to be even so though unable to explain how.
And as the mysterious electrical power is being used by obedience to its
laws, even so is the power of prayer being used by many who understand
simply enough of its laws to obey, and to bring the stupendous results.
The Broad Inner Horizon.
This suggests at once that the rightly rounded Christian life has two
sides; the _out_-side, and the _inner_ side. To most of us the outer side
seems the greater. The living, the serving, the giving, the doing, the
absorption in life's work, the contact with men, with the great majority
the sheer struggle for existence--these take the greater thought and time
of us all. They seem to be the great business of life even to those of us
who thoroughly believe in the inner life.
But when the real eyes open, the inner eyes that see the unseen, the
change of perspective is first ludicrous, then terrific, then pathetic.
Ludicrous, because of the change of proportions; terrific, because of the
issues at stake; pathetic, because of strong men that see not, and push on
spending splendid strength whittling sticks. The outer side is narrow in
its limits. It has to do with food and clothing, bricks and lumber, time
and the passing hour, the culture of the mind, the joys of social contact,
the smoothing of the way for the suffering. And it needs not to be said,
that these are right; they belong in the picture; they are its physical
The inner side _includes all of these_, and stretches infinitely beyond.
Its limits are broad; broad as the home of man; with its enswathing
atmosphere added. It touches the inner spirit. It moves in upon the
motives, the loves, the heart. It moves out upon the myriad spirit-beings
and forces that swarm ceaselessly about the earth staining and sliming
men's souls and lives. It moves up to the arm of God in cooperation with
His great love-plan for a world.
Shall we follow for a day one who has gotten the true perspective? Here is
the outer side: a humble home, a narrow circle, tending the baby,
patching, sewing, cooking, calling; _or_, measuring dry goods, chopping a
typewriter, checking up a ledger, feeding the swift machinery, endless
stitching, gripping a locomotive lever, pushing the plow, tending the
stock, doing the chores, tiresome examination papers; and all the rest of
the endless, endless, doing, day by day, of the commonplace treadmill
things, that must be done, that fill out the day of the great majority of
human lives. This one whom we are following unseen is doing quietly,
cheerily his daily round, with a bit of sunshine in his face, a light in
his eye, and lightness in his step, and the commonplace place becomes
uncommon by reason of the presence of this man with the uncommon spirit.
He is working for God. No, better, he is working with God. He has an
unseen Friend at his side. That changes all. The common drudgery ceases to
be common, and ceases to be drudgery because it is done for such an
uncommon Master. That is the outer, the narrow side of this life: not
narrow in itself but in its proportion to the whole.
Now, hold your breath, and look, for here is the inner side where the
larger work of life is being done. Here is the quiet bit of time alone
with God, with the Book. The door is shut, as the Master said. Now it is
the morning hour with a bit of made light, for the sun is busy yet farther
east. Now it is the evening hour, with the sun speeding towards western
service, and the bed invitingly near. There is a looking up into God's
face; then keen but reverent reading, and then a simple intelligent
pleading with its many variations of this--"Thy will be done, in the
Victor's name." God Himself is here, in this inner room. The angels are
here. This room opens out into and is in direct touch with a spirit space
as wide as the earth. The horizon of this room is as broad as the globe.
God's presence with this man makes it so.
To-day a half hour is spent in China, for its missionaries, its native
Christians, its millions, the printed page, the personal contact, the
telling of the story, the school, the dispensary, the hospital. And in
through the petitions runs this golden thread--"Victory in Jesus' name:
victory in Jesus' name; to-day: to-day: Thy will be being done: the other
will undone: victory in Jesus' name." Tomorrow's bit of time is largely
spent in India perhaps. And so this man with the narrow outer horizon and
the broad inner horizon pushes his spirit-way through Japan, India,
Ceylon, Persia, Arabia, Turkey, Africa, Europe's papal lands, the South
American States, the home land, its cities, frontiers, slums, the home
town, the home church, the man across the alley; in and out; out and in;
the tide of prayer sweeps quietly, resistlessly day by day.
This is the true Christian life. This man is winning souls and refreshing
lives in these far-off lands and in near-by places as truly as though he
were in each place. This is the Master's plan. The true follower of Jesus
has as broad a horizon as his Master. Jesus thought in continents and
seas. His follower prays in continents and seas. This man does not know
what is being accomplished. Yes! He _does_ know, too. He knows by the
inference of faith.
This room where we are meeting and talking together might be shut up so
completely that no light comes in. A single crack breaking somewhere lets
in a thin line of light. But that line of light shining in the darkness
tells of a whole sun of light flooding the outer world.
There comes to this man occasional, yes frequent, evidences of changes
being wrought, yet he knows that these are but the thin line of glory
light which speaks of the fuller shining. And with a spirit touched with
glad awe that he can and may help God, and a heart full alike of peace and
of yearning, and a life fragrant with an unseen Presence he goes steadily
on his way, towards the dawning of the day.