Happy with hiddenness

Sandra has been reading Ole Hallesby’s classic on prayer. The book by the Norwegian theologian and author was originally published in 1931. We want to share the below excerpt from his chapter, The School of Prayer as it syncs with our previous post, ‘The nameless pray-ers’:

There is something about prayer and intercession which calls for more self-denial than any other work to which the Spirit calls us. The greater part of the work of intercession is, of course, done in secret; and work of this kind requires the expenditure of greater effort than work which can be seen of men.  It is astonishing to see how much it means to us to have others see what we do. It is not only that we all have a great weakness for the praise of others, but the fact that our work is appreciated and valued is a remarkable stimulant to us.

Furthermore, we all love to see results from our labors. But the work of prayer is of such a nature that it is impossible for us always to know definitely whether what happens is a fruit of our own intercession or that of others.

Both of these facts call for a great deal of self-denial in connection with prayer. That is why it is difficult for the Lord to get enough people to carry on this work. It is easy enough to get people to preach. Many are anxious to preach and are offended if not asked to do so. And we who are asked to do so, are so zealous that when we once get into the pulpit it is difficult to get us out again. But there are not many who are willing to take upon themselves the self-denying work connected with prayer, because it is neither seen not appreciated by men.

You may perhaps have prayed for some unconverted people in your neighborhood, perhaps for many years. Then a revival starts in your neighborhood, and the first ones to be converted are the very ones for whom you have been praying so faithfully. No one besides yourself, however, knows anything about that. You have kept it, as right and proper, a secret between yourself and God.  Consequently, no one talks about what you have been doing.  But the name of the preacher who has spoken at the meetings is, on the other hand, on everybody’s lips. All are loud in their praises of him and say, “My, what a great evangelist!”

My friend, when you begin to grow tired of the quiet, unnoticed work of praying, then remember that He who seeth in secret shall reward you openly.  He has heard your prayers, and He knows exactly what you have accomplished by means of them…

O. Hallesby, Prayer (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1959), 163-4