Wednesday, August 17, 2022

If You Will Ask by Oswald Chambers

If You Will Ask: Reflection on the Power of Prayer
Oswald Chambers
Published 1937

This book came out of nowhere (a friend sent it to me and told me it looked really good). Obviously, it was not on my reading list for the year, but it seemed urgent enough and pertinent to read ASAP; and hence, I began reading a little every night. It is twelve short chapters, under 100 pages long. 

Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for His Highest (another book I should read), asked the question: "What's the good of prayer?" Prayer is "an interruption of personal ambition, and no person who is busy has time to pray. If we do not pray, what...suffers is the life of God in us, which is nourished not by food but by prayer." 

Prayer is more than "meditation." When a Christian is saved or born again, prayer is the means of maturing the life of God in him, or else that life will suffer. Prayer is how we know God and grow our life with Him. Prayer nourishes that [relationship] and prevents worry

Worry, by the way, means we are not having our way, and in reality,

that is personal irritation with God. 

Prayer also changes people, and in essences changes things or circumstances. We need prayer because human common sense, human will, and human wisdom are finite. We must pray to know God, to intercede for others, and to do God's will. And we can pray by asking, seeking, and knocking. That is how prayer influences conditions and people through us.

Prayer is easy because of the work that Jesus did on the cross. When you pray, recall what it cost God to make possible for us to pray and live a holy life, which was His agony for our redemption. It puts prayer into perspective.

Prayer is putting on the armor of God. It is "the place where God puts His soldiers, clad in His armor, and indwelt by his Spirit." And Christians are to pray everywhere always and for every little and big thing. 

Prayer is watching and waiting. "Over and over again, God has to teach us how to stand and endure, watching actively and in wonder," while we wait to see how God will answer prayer. 

There are times when God is silent. God always answers prayer, but during times of silence, he expects us to rely on him. They are signs that "God knows you can stand more of a revelation than you think you can." Your prayer is part of His purpose. He will answer. 

Be eager and earnest in praying.

If God knows what we need, then why pray? Again, praying is how we know God, and we know God by praying through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is how we learn to "stand," "withstand," and "wrestle" through "flesh-and-blood circumstances" that mean to impede our prayer life. 

Chambers encourages Christians to maintain a "childlike" habit and reliance on the Holy Spirit, always "exclaiming your heart to God." And remember: our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we must be vigilant to keep it "undefiled for Him." 

My house shall be called a house of prayer.  (Matthew 21:13)

What is sanctification? It is being separated for God, and it is seeing the world through God's point of view. Christians are made ONE WITH GOD IN MIND AND BODY, ONE IDENTITY. Christians do not get to pick and choose what to believe or what to obey. It is all or nothing. A man or woman full of the Holy Spirit demonstrates a "strong family likeness to Jesus and freedom from everything unlike Jesus."

Prayer is the essential work, not the prep-work. Prayer is intercession. When we fail to pray, we leave God out and make our business about us. We rely on ourselves, making us our own master. (How does praying to yourself work?)

Pray for others because you know not the work being done in them. This "kind of intercession...does the most damage to Satan's kingdom." God has told us to pray because it is "grounded on His redemption" and is "the mightiest factor He has put into our hands."  Also, it is essential because of "the personal presence of the Holy Spirit." 

Therefore pray.

Prayer is labor, not agony, but labor on the ground of our Lord's redemption in simple confidence in Him.

Prayer is simple to us because it cost Him so much to make it possible. 

Prayer is God's answer to our poverty.

Is the Holy Spirit able to work God's will in you, or is He having to move aside for the countless desires of your heart? Is our every thought and imagination captive to Jesus Christ?

Finally, "when we are born again" and "indwelt by the Holy Spirit, He intercedes for us with a tenderness and an understanding akin to the Lord Jesus Christ God -- that is, He expresses the unutterable for us."  All the circumstances of the believer are ordered by God, not by chance, and are in the hand of God. Christians intercede for the people God has placed in their lives, and the Holy Spirit then intercedes for them. 

* * *

Obviously, this is a book for Christians interested in knowing more about the Christian walk, especially prayer, which -- after reading this -- I now understand is one of the most important and essential responsibilities of our walk and life in Christ. 


  1. I've only read his My Utmost - actually I just go through it mostly every year; it's so rich & I love his direct way of saying things. You might like the bio of his wife, Mrs. Oswald Chambers by Michelle Ule. It was very inspiring. :)

    1. Thanks, Carol. I will take a look at that. I am curious: is My Utmost available to read free online? I once thought I found a site that made it available, but then I wasn't sure it was the actual publication or something else that used portions of his writing for daily prayer???

  2. How lovely that your friend sent you this book. It sounds like a good, supportive, encouraging read too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi Ruth, my apologies for not answering sooner! Yes, it's here:

    1. No problem. So I'm assuming it is a year long devotional? Great! Thank you. I wasn't sure I had the right resource bc I did not know what is looked like. Thank you!!!

  4. Yes it is. They are fairly short but very pithy.

  5. Yes, it is. They are quite short but excellent.


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