Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:15
Private prayer is the gate of heaven. O the great things that private prayer has done with God! O the great mercies that have been obtained! O the great threats that have been diverted! Private prayers pierce the heavens and are commonly blessed and loaded with gracious and glorious returns. Hezekiah prayed and wept in private, and his prayer was heard, and God added fifteen years to his life. Jacob prevailed and became a prince with God (Gen. 32:24-28) as he wrestled alone with his God by the ford Jabbok. Jacob was never less alone than when he was all alone. He flew to God that he might not fall before his brother Esau. In a storm there is no shelter like the wings of God. He is safest, happiest, and wisest that lays himself under divine protection. Jacob kept his hold and spoke boldly to the Lord’s very face that he would not let him go unless he would bless him. O the power of private prayer! It has a kind of omnipotency in it; it takes God captive; it holds him as a prisoner; it binds the hands of the Almighty; yea, it will wring a mercy, a blessing, out of the hand of heaven itself. O the power of that prayer that makes a man victorious over the greatest, the highest power! Jacob was a worm that is easily crushed and trodden under foot, yet in private prayer he overcame the omnipotent God. As a prince, he overpowered the angel by that very power he had from the angel. The angel was freely and fully willing to be conquered by Jacob, as Jacob was willing to be the conqueror. The father, in wrestling with his child, is willing enough for his child’s comfort an encouragement to take a fall now and then. Now in this blessed story, as in a crystal glass, you may see the great prevailing power of private prayer; it conquerors the conqueror, and overcomes an omnipotent God.
In this classic devotional, John Calvin urges readers to apply the Christian life in a balanced way to mind, heart, and hand. Rather than focusing on contemplative otherworldliness, the book stresses the importance of a devotedly active Christian life. In style and spirit, this book is much like Augustine’s Confessions, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ. However, its intense practicality sets it apart, making it easily accessible for any reader seeking to carry out Christian values in everyday life. Chapter themes include obedience, self-denial, the significance of the cross, and how we should live our lives today.