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A Call to Prayer Paperback – January 1, 2005
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About the Author
John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836. After holding a curacy at Exbury in Hampshire, he became rector of St Thomas's, Winchester (1843), rector of Helmingham, Suffolk (1844), vicar of Stradbroke (1861), honorary canon of Norwich (1872), and dean of Salisbury (1880). However before taking the latter office, he was advanced to the new see of Liverpool, where he remained until his resignation, which took place three months before his death at Lowestoft. His appointment to Liverpool was at the recommendation of the outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856 69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was an athlete who rowed and played Cricket for Oxford, where he took a first class degree in Greats and was offered a college fellowship (teaching position) which he declined. The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish vicar, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings. In 1880, at age 64, he became the first bishop of Liverpool, at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. He retired in 1900 at age 83 and died later the same year. He is buried in the All Saints' Church, Childwall, Liverpool. In his diocese, he formed a clergy pension fund for his diocese and built over forty churches. Controversially, he emphasized raising clergy salaries ahead of building a cathedral for his new diocese. Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community.
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Yet he goes beyond the question to the meat of the issue giving strong arguments for why prayer, the most neglected duty in religion according to Ryle, is so necessary for the spiritual well-being of an individual. Once he has made his point, and made it well, Ryle turns his attention to how a person should pray. This work of prayer, according to Ryle, is so often neglected because it is such an arduous task cutting against the flesh and standing (or kneeing in this case) in direct opposition and defiance of Satan himself. Ryle encourages the Christian to pray with reverence and humility, spiritually, as a regular part of their business of life, with all perseverance, in earnestness, in faith, with boldness, with fullness, on behalf of others, with thankfulness and with watchfulness over one's prayers. He writes this to state his position on the importance of prayer: "Tell me what a man's prayers are, and I will soon tell you the state of his soul. Prayer is the spiritual pulse."
I am gaining in my appreciation for the works of J.C. Ryle - wonderfully written, challenging, yet encouraging to the heart of a true follower of Christ. Here is a man that walked with the Lord in humility and with passion and reading his works must be Timothy getting a letter from Paul. I would highly recommend A Call to Prayer to anyone wanting to know why to pray or how to pray.
This is not exactly a "how to" book, though it does contain many practical examples. The book is exactly what its title says, a call to the reader to increase and strengthen prayer in his/her own life.
Ryle gives many reasons to do so and roots them firmly in scripture, as he should. I found myself inspired to do what he urges as I read. Seeing the benefits and importance of prayer so clearly laid out was helpful.
To consider how we in the new covenant have direct access to God is overwhelming and humbling. Men of old could have only dreamed of such access but we have the privilege and we must take advantage of it. To be allowed to speak with the living God of the Universe is beyond comprehension and to recognize my negligence in my communing with Him is heartbreaking.
Ryle has greatly encouraged and challenged my prayer life and communion with my God. I know I do not pray like men in the Bible or great men in church history butit is my hearts desire to pray in this way. I want to know the Godhead intimately and prayer is the means to the throne of grace. It is necessary that I give more time to prayer knowing that prayer is one of the means of grace God has blessed those whom he has
adopted with. Ryle has encouraged me to pray with reverence, humility, perseverance and earnestness, in faith, in boldness, on behalf of others, with thankfulness, and watchfulness.
"Do not lose heaven for want of asking."~pg. 29