C. H. Spurgeon
Sermon Notes From Charles Spurgeon
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9. Unseasonable Prayer.

Wherefore criest thou unto me? Exodus 14:15

There may come a time when this question needs to be asked even of a Moses. There is a period when crying should give place to action: when prayer is heard and the Red Sea is dividing, it would be shameful disobedience to remain trembling and praying. Therefore Moses must lift his rod and speak to the children of Israel that they go forward. Every fruit of the Spirit comes in its season, and is then most precious: out of season even prayer comes not to perfection. Ask, by all means; but prepare yourself to receive. Seek earnestly; but do not hold back when the hour arrives for you to find. Knock, and knock again; but hasten to enter as soon as the door is open.

When we ought to believe that we have the mercy, why do we continue to cry for it as though we had not obtained it? When increased faith is all that is wanted, why are we seeking the blessing which God places within reach of our faith? When duty is quite clear, why hesitate to perform it and make prayer an excuse for our delay?

The question should be asked of all who pray, "Wherefore criest thou unto me?"


1. Because I was brought up to do so. Some have perpetrated gross hypocrisy through repeating forms of prayer which they learned in childhood. We have heard of one who prayed for his father and mother in his old age (John 9:24).

2. It is a part of my religion. These pray as a Dervish dances or a Fakir holds his arm aloft; but they know nothing of the spiritual reality of prayer (Matt. 6:7).

3. It is a right thing to do. So indeed it is if we pray aright; but the mere repetition of pious words is vanity (Isa. 29:13).

4. I feel easier in my mind after it. Ought you to feel easier? May not your formal prayers be a mockery of God and so an increase of sin (Isa. 1:12-15; Ezek. 20:31)?

5. I think it meritorious and saving. This is sheer falsehood, and a high offence against the merit and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.


1. When it hinders immediate repentance. Instead of quitting sin and mourning over it, some men talk of praying. "To obey is better than sacrifice" and better than supplication.

2. When it keeps from faith in Jesus. The gospel is not "pray and be saved"; but "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Matt. 7:21; John 6:47).

3. When we suppose that it fits us for Jesus. We must come to him as sinners, and not set up our prayers as a sort of righteousness (Luke 18:11, 12).

4. When we think that prayer alone will bring a blessing.


1. Because I must. I am in trouble, and must pray or perish. Sighs and cries are not made to order, they are the irresistible outbursts of the heart (Ps. 42:1; Rom. 8:26).

2. Because I know I shall be heard, and therefore I feel a strong desire to deal with God in supplication. "Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him" (Ps. 116:2).

3. Because I delight in it: it brings rest to my mind, and hope to my heart. It is a sweet means of communion with my God. "It is good for me to draw near to God" (Ps. 73:28).

4. Because I feel that I can best express the little faith and repentance I have by crying to the Lord for more.

5. Because these grow as I pray. No doubt we may pray ourselves into a good frame if God the Holy Ghost blesses us.

6. Because I look for all from God, and therefore I cry to him (Ps. 62:5). He will be enquired of by us (Ezek. 36: 37).

Where must those be who depend upon their own prayers?

What are those who live without prayer?

What are those who can give no reason for praying, but superstitiously repeat words without heart?

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