The Influence of Prayer Upon Character
Psalm 27:4
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life…

I. PRAYERFUL HABITS TEND TO CULTIVATE A FORM OF SUSTAINED THOUGHT. True prayer engages the understanding in its most vigorous efforts, and always in a definite direction — that of God. Prayer, if not a supreme intellectual effort, certainly exercises our highest faculties. As an educational discipline it is very apparent in godly men who have had no scholarly training. They have a power of fixing their attention and of thoughtfully considering a matter in all its bearings, which is of the utmost value to win conclusions.

II. THEY GIVE DECISION OF CHARACTER. Prayer brings the soul into the holy calm of that presence where they are no longer carried to and fro by every passing wind of opinion. In His presence we are enabled to feel, and that with power, that to our own Master we stand or fall. A man can hardly be habitually prayerful and yet be changeable and unreliable. For in God's presence we are lifted into a region where the passions and conflicts of this world cannot enter, and where all seem to say to the agitated soul, "Peace, be still." There have been times when a tumultuous crowd, rushing into a venerable church, where a single priest was saying the sacred office, or where a little company of kneeling worshippers bore witness to other and higher interests than those which stirred the passions of the hour — has been awed, arrested, and turned back from its sacrilegious purpose. The sound of the bell summoning to the accustomed evening prayer has been found sufficient to calm passionate excitement, because of the obedience to the summons it secured, and the consequent soothing influence which was obtained through drawing near to God.

III. PRAYER HAS VERY BLESSED SOCIAL EFFECTS. For it "gilds social intercourse and conduct with a tenderness, an unobtrusiveness, a sincerity, a frankness, an evenness of temper, a cheerfulness, a collectedness, a constant consideration for others, united to a simple loyalty to truth and duty, which leavens and strengthens society."

IV. IN ALL SPIRITUAL WORK OUR EFFICIENCY MAY BE MEASURED BY OUR PRAYERFULNESS. A great deal of the religious teaching of the day is coldly intellectual, and therefore powerless, because it has not been nourished and quickened at the bosom of prayer. But we must not, we cannot, maintain the habit of prayer simply because of these subjective benefits upon our souls. If we do not believe that God answers prayer we shall soon cease to pray.

(E. W: Shalders, B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.

WEB: One thing I have asked of Yahweh, that I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to see Yahweh's beauty, and to inquire in his temple.

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