Regular readers will know only too well that I have been looking afresh recently at the life and writings of Spurgeon, in preparation for a planned documentary for which a team of my friends are currently seeking crowd-sourced funding. Reading Spurgeon afresh, it has struck me again just how much he has to teach us. God seems to have uniquely gifted him with great insight into a broad range of subjects, as I am sure you have already seen in the quotes I have shared over on Desiring God about responding to culture and faithfully pursuing fruitfulness.
One of my motivations in studying Spurgeon is of course to look for any keys to his remarkable success. Of course, none of us can ever expect to be the next Spurgeon (there will only ever be one of him!). But, what lessons did he learn that he himself associated with the remarkable success that God sovereignly granted him? You might be surprised that probably his most common answer to that question was simply prayer. Not just his own prayers, but the prayers of his church. Before looking for new-fangled methods, Spurgeon would urge us to learn to pursue God in prayer that great blessing would be granted:
How much better we might preach if our people prayed more for us! I stand here to confess frankly that from my inmost heart I attribute the large prosperity which God has given to this Church vastly more to the prayers of the people than to anything that God may have given to me. I know it is so. I am sometimes—I hope not superstitious, but I do think I am sensitively conscious of the amount of prayer there is in this Church. I seem to feel—I know not how it is, but the Spirit of God that worketh in us makes us feel—when you are prayerful, and to feel when the spirit of prayer begins to grow at all dull among us.
Oh, never let us slacken in prayer! Do plead that everyone whom God anoints to any service may have strength given him. Take up the case of those of God’s servants who are not successful. They need much to be upheld in labouring, perhaps where their non-success is no fault of theirs. Pray for them; and pray that the time of their sowing may not last for ever, but may it be followed by a blessed reaping.
If we could but once get the entire Church to pray we might rest quite assured that God would bless the entire country. We often wish to see enquirers, but we must be enquirers ourselves first. “For this will I be enquired of by the House of Israel to do it for them.”
A prayerful Church is a powerful Church. I think there will be less fault to find with the ministry when there shall be less fault to find with believers in their closets. You shall find yourselves edified when you have brought your quota of prayerful anxiety with you to enrich the Church of God.
C. H. Spurgeon, Able to the Uttermost: Twenty Gospel Sermons (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 170-71.