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THE

P R AY E R MOTIVATOR

BIBLE King James Version

Daniel Whyte III GENERAL EDITOR

PUBLISHED BY TORCH LEGACY PUBLICATIONS


The Prayer Motivator Bible Copyright 2012 by Torch Legacy Publications All rights reserved. The text only of the King James Version is in public domain and may be copied freely.

Hardback

ISBN ### ### ####

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible. Public domain. Page design and layout by Torch Legacy Publications. Printed in the United States of America.


For the glory of God. And to the memory of E.M. Bounds who God used to teach me the power of prayer. Daniel Whyte III GENERAL EDITOR


Introduction “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” -Jesus Christ, Luke 18:1 “As is the business of tailors to make clothes and cobblers to make shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.” -Martin Luther I am convinced that most people do not need to learn how to pray; they need to Just Pray! Prayer is like any other important discipline in the Christian life. If you don’t do it, you won’t reap the benefits and blessings that God wants you to have. If you want to reap the benefits and blessings of prayer, then you need to Just Pray! This is what The Prayer Motivator Bible is all about. In this special volume, we have gathered together all of the verses and passages in the Bible regarding prayer, numbering 408 verses and 180 passages of Scripture. Down through the years, nothing has motivated me to pray more than verses on prayer in the Bible and powerful quotes from saints of the past and present regarding their experience with prayer. So, we have included a prayer related quote to go along with each passage of scripture that will help motivate you to pray. In addition to that, each passage of Scripture is explained and expounded on from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” -Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:7 The simple but powerful verse above uttered by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was what turned me on to prayer when I was a young Christian. Soon after that, someone introduced me to a series of wonderful books on prayer written by E. M. Bounds. I devoured them all, and this started me on my


prayer journey with the Lord. Prayer to God has been the center and the highlight of my life ever since the beginning of this exciting journey. In spite of myself, God has been very good to me and to my family in many ways, but the thing that stands out the most to me are the thousands of answers to prayer over the past thirty years of full-time ministry and twenty-three years of marriage with a family of nine. Below are some benefits that I have received from prayer to God, and that I know you can receive as well. These are not things I THINK God can do through prayer; these are things I KNOW God will do through prayer: • •

• • •

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Prayer to God can bring you the mate that He wants you to have. Prayer to God can keep your marriage and family together against the odds with joy and happiness, and let nobody fool you, “the family that prays together, still stays together”. The reason why the divorce rate in the church is equal to the divorce rate in the world today is for no other reason than a lack of prayer. Prayer to God can bring healing to the heart, mind, soul, and body. Prayer to God can keep your teenagers on track. Prayer to God will guide you at the many crossroads of life. Prayer to God will give you wisdom, knowledge, understanding, insight, and discernment, and having these wonderful gifts will save you a lot of trouble, money, and time. Prayer to God will make money come to you when you need it most. Prayer to God will make things happen for you, right in the nick of time. Prayer to God will give you a great night of sleep. Prayer to God will give you peace and joy even though you don’t deserve it. Prayer to God can supply your needs. Prayer to God can lift burdens, worries, fears, and cares. Prayer to God can cause your ministry to flourish beyond your wildest imaginations. Prayer to God will help you to be a better witness for the Lord. Prayer to God will help you have good relationships with other people. Prayer to God will deliver you from temptation, evil, and sin. Prayer to God will protect you from hurt, harm, and danger. Prayer to God will deliver you out of bad situations and trouble. Prayer to God will do things for you “exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think.”


We hope that this special prayer-focused edition of the Bible will inspire, encourage, and motivate you to pray daily and throughout the day so that you can receive the benefits and blessings of a prayerful life. Remember, this was put together to inspire action on your part. If you have no interest in actually doing the sometimes difficult work of prayer, then you do not need this Bible. This simple volume is designed to motivate you to pray. Because if I can get you to pray, all sorts of wonderful things will begin to happen for you, your family, and whatever God has called you to do. As the Lord allowed me to travel on this journey of prayer (which included preaching in churches across the United States and in over twenty foreign countries), I began to see, to my amazement, how that many Christians struggled to pray. Even more shocking than this, I discovered that not only were many in the pews struggling to pray or not praying at all, but many in the pulpit were struggling to pray as well. After I would preach one of my revival sermons titled “A Praying Time” or “Prayer: The Main Ingredient”, many pastors, in private conversation, would share with me, ‘Bro. Whyte, I hate to admit it, but I don’t pray as I should.’ One dear pastor picked me up from an airport in a European country, where I was to preach a revival in his church, and he frankly told me, ‘I really have not been praying for this revival as I should, and I really don’t know if I want revival.’ I concluded from this discovery that the problem was not that many Christians didn’t know how to pray or that they were never taught how to pray. Rather, the problem was, these people simply didn’t pray, because if they had been praying as they should have, they would know the benefits and blessings of prayer, and that would have motivated them to continue praying no matter how difficult it was. I noticed five hinderances that stood in the way of these dear Christians praying as they should. God revealed to me that if they could only get over these five hurdles they would then pray more effectively and begin to reap the benefits and blessings of prayer to God. These five hurdles are: 1. Spiritual Inertia 2. The Flesh 3. Satan and his Demons 4. Doubt and Unbelief 5. The “Busy”ness of life (the World)


The simple purpose of this Bible is to encourage and motivate you to get off the ball regarding prayer, and take the little faith you may have and Just Pray! Before you pray and even while you are praying, you may often times feel at your lowest—Just Pray! Before you pray and even when you begin to pray, you may feel as though you are the worst sinner in the world—Just Pray! Before you pray and even when you begin to pray, you will be distracted with bad things as well as good things—Just Pray! Before you pray and even while you are praying, your wife, your husband, your children or some other human being may do something to upset you—Just Pray! This book is designed to help you get over spiritual inertia, your sinful flesh, the devil and his demons, doubt and unbelief, your busy life and the world, so that you can hit “pray dirt” and God will do the rest. Just open your mouth and start praying. JUST PRAY! and watch God do things beyond your wildest imaginations. —Daniel Whyte III General Editor Dallas, Texas


Table of Contents Old Testament Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Esther Job Psalms Proverbs

Ecclesiastes Song of Songs Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

New Testament Matthew Mark Luke John Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Revelation


THE OLD TESTAMENT


A PRAYER FOR LIFE: GENESIS 20:7 FROM THE BIBLE: "Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Go to God by prayer for a key to unlock the mysteries of His Word. It is not the plodding but the praying soul, that will get this treasure of Scripture knowledge. God often brings a truth to the Christian’s hand as a return of prayer, which he had long hunted for in vain with much labour and study: “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets” (Dan. 2:28); and where doth He reveal the secrets of His world but at the throne of grace?" --William Gurnall

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He charges him to make restitution: Now therefore, not that thou art better informed, restore the man his wife, Gen. 20:7. Note, Ignorance will excuse no longer than it continues. If we have entered upon a wrong course through ignorance this will not excuse our knowingly persisting in it, Lev. 5:3-5. The reasons why he must be just and kind to Abraham are, (1.) Because he is a prophet, near and dear to God, for whom God does in a particular manner concern himself. God highly resents the injuries done to his prophets, and takes them as done to himself. (2.) Being a prophet, he shall pray for thee; this is a prophet’s reward, and a good reward it is. It is intimated that there was great efficacy in the prayers of a prophet, and that good men should be ready to help those with their prayers that stand in need of them, and should make, at least, this return for the kindnesses that are done them. Abraham was accessory to Abimelech’s trouble, and therefore was obliged in justice to pray for him. (3.) It is at thy peril if thou do not restore her: Know thou that thou shalt surely die. Note, He that does wrong, whoever he is, prince or peasant, shall certainly receive for the wrong which he has done, unless he repent and make restitution, Col. 3:25. No injustice can be made passable with God, no, not by Caesar’s image stamped upon it.

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JACOB CALLS OUT TO GOD BEFORE HE FACES ESAU: GENESIS 32:9-12 FROM THE BIBLE: And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer without study is presumption. Study without prayer is atheism. --Bishop Sanderson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Our rule is to call upon God in the time of trouble; we have here an example to this rule, and the success encourages us to follow this example. It was now a time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it; and here we have him praying for that salvation, Jer. 30:7. In his distress he sought the Lord, and he heard him. Note, Times of fear should be times of prayer; whatever frightens us should drive us to our knees, to our God. Jacob had lately seen his guard of angels, but, in this distress, he applied to God, not to them; he knew they were his fellow-servants, Rev. 22:9. Nor did he consult Laban’s teraphim; it was enough for him that he had a God to go to. To him he addresses himself with all possible solemnity, so running for safety into the name of the Lord, as a strong tower, Prov. 18:10. This prayer is the more remarkable because it won him the honour of being an Israel, a prince with God, and the father of the praying remnant, who are hence called the seed of Jacob, to whom he never said, Seek you me in vain. Now it is worth while to enquire what there was extraordinary in this prayer, that it should gain the petitioner all this honour.

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I. The request itself is one, and very express: Deliver me from the hand of my brother, Gen. 32:11. Though there was no human probability on his side, yet he believed the power of God could rescue him as a lamb out of the bloody jaws of the loin. Note, 1. We have leave to be particular in our addresses to God, to mention the particular straits and difficulties we are in; for the God with whom we have to do is one we may be free with: we have liberty of speech (parresia) at the throne of grace. 2. When our brethren aim to be our destroyers, it is our comfort that we have a Father to whom we may apply as our deliverer. II. The pleas are many, and very powerful; never was cause better ordered, Job 23:4. He offers up his request with great faith, fervency, and humility. How earnestly does he beg! Deliver me, I pray thee, Gen. 32:11. His fear made him importunate. With what holy logic does he argue! With what divine eloquence does he plead! Here is a noble copy to write after. 1. He addresses himself to God as the God of his fathers, Gen. 32:9. Such was the humble self-denying sense he had of his own unworthiness that he did not call God his own God, but a God in covenant with his ancestors: O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac; and this he could the better plead because the covenant, by divine designation, was entailed upon him. Note, God’s covenant with our fathers may be a comfort to us when were are in distress. It has often been so to the Lord’s people, Ps. 22:4, 5. Being born in God’s house, we are taken under his special protection. 2. He produces his warrant: Thou saidst unto me, Return unto thy country. He did not rashly leave his place with Laban, nor undertake this journey out of a fickle humour, or a foolish fondness for his native country, but in obedience to God’s command. Note, (1.) We may be in the way of our duty, and yet may meet with trouble and distress in that way. As prosperity will not prove us in the right, so cross events will not prove us in the wrong; we may be going whither God calls us, and yet may think our way hedged up with thorns. (2.) We may comfortably trust God with our safety, while we carefully keep to our duty. If God be our guide, he will be our guard. 17


3. He humbly acknowledges his own unworthiness to receive any favour from God (Gen. 32:10): I am not worthy; it is an unusual plea. Some would think he should have pleaded that what was now in danger was his own, against all the world, and that he had earned it dear enough; no, he pleads, Lord, I am not worthy of it. Note, Self-denial and self-abasement well become us in all our addresses to the throne of grace. Christ never commended any of his petitioners so much as him who said, Lord, I am not worthy (Matt. 8:8), and her who said, Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table, Matt. 15:27. Now observe here, (1.) How magnificently and honourably he speaks of the mercies of God to him. We have here, mercies, in the plural number, and inexhaustible spring, and innumerable streams; mercies and truth, that is, past mercies given according to the promise, and further mercies secured by the promise. Note, What is laid up in God’s truth, as well as what is laid out in God’s mercies, is the matter both of the comforts and the praises of active believers. Nay, observe, it is all the mercies, and all the truth; the manner of expression is copious, and intimates that his heart was full of God’s goodness. (2.) How meanly and humbly he speaks of himself, disclaiming all thought of his own merit: “I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, much less am I worthy of so great a favour as this I am now suing for.” Jacob was a considerable man, and, upon many accounts, very deserving, and, in treating with Laban, had justly insisted on his merits, but not before God. I am less than all thy mercies; so the word is. Note, The best and greatest of men are utterly unworthy of the least favour from God, and just be ready to own it upon all occasions. It was the excellent Mr. Herbert’s motto, Less than the least of all God’s mercies. Those are best prepared for the greatest mercies that see themselves unworthy of the least. 4. He thankfully owns God’s goodness to him in his banishment, and how much it had outdone his expectations: “With my staff I passed over this Jordan, poor and desolate, like a forlorn and despised pilgrim;” he had no guides, no companions, no attendants, no conve18


niences for travel, but his staff only, nothing else to stay himself upon; “and now I have become two bands, now I am surrounded with a numerous and comfortable retinue of children and servants:” though it was his distress that had now obliged him to divide his family into two bands, yet he makes use of that for the magnifying of the mercy of his increase. Note, (1.) The increase of our families is then comfortable indeed to us when we see God’s mercies, and his truth, in it. (2.) Those whose latter end greatly increases ought, with humility and thankfulness, to remember how small their beginning was. Jacob pleads, “Lord, thou didst keep me when I went out with only my staff, and had but one life to lose; wilt thou not keep me now that so many are embarked with me?” 5. He urges the extremity of the peril he was in: Lord, deliver me from Esau, for I fear him, Gen. 32:11. The people of God have not been shy of telling God their fears; for they know he takes cognizance of them, and considers them. The fear that quickens prayer is itself pleadable. It was not a robber, but a murderer, that he was afraid of; nor was it his own life only that lay at stake, but the mothers’ and the children’s, that had left their native soil to go along with him. Note, Natural affection may furnish us with allowable acceptable pleas in prayer. 6. He insists especially upon the promise God had made him (Gen. 32:9): Thou saidst, I will deal well with thee, and again, in the close (Gen. 32:12): Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good. Note, (1.) The best we can say to God in prayer is what he has said to us. God’s promises, as they are the surest guide of our desires in prayer, and furnish us with the best petitions, so they are the firmest ground of our hopes, and furnish us with the best pleas. “Lord, thou saidst thus and thus; and wilt thou not be as good as thy word, the word upon which thou had caused me to hope?” Ps. 119:49. (2.) The most general promises are applicable to particular cases. “Thou saidst, I will do thee good; Lord, do me good in this matter.” He pleads also a particular promise, that of the multiplying of his seed. “Lord, 19


what will become of that promise, if they be all cut off ?” Note, [1.] There are promises to the families of good people, which are improvable in prayer for family-mercies, ordinary and extraordinary, Gen. 17:17; Ps. 112:2; Ps. 102:28. [2.] The world’s threatenings should drive us to God’s promises.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER E. M. Bounds E. M. Bounds in his book "Prayer and Praying Men", wrote "Elijah learned new and higher lessons of prayer while hidden away by God and with God." This statement is certainly also true of its author. E. M. Bounds was a man hidden away by God and with God in prayer. During his lifetime he never attracted a large following or gained the success and reputation that one might expect. After forty-six years of faithful ministry he still was virtually unknown. Out of the eight classics on prayer he wrote, only two were published during his lifetime. Though hidden and unrecognized while alive, E.M. Bounds is now considered by most evangelicals as the most prolific and fervent author on the subject of prayer. E. M. Bounds was born on August 15th, 1835 and died on August 24th, 1913. Some may be surprised by this fact, assuming Bounds to be a contemporary author, because of his clear and forthright writing style. As a young man E. M. Bounds practiced law until feeling called to the ministry. He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1859. E. M. Bounds also served as a Confederate Army Chaplain during the Civil War. As a result he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for a short time. After his incarceration, Bounds returned to Franklin, Tennessee, where he and Confederate Troops had suffered a bloody defeat. Bounds could not forget about Franklin, where so many had been ravaged by the Civil War. “When Brother Bounds came to Franklin he found the Church in a wretched state.� Immediately he sought out a half dozen men who really believed in the power of prayer. Every Tuesday night they got on their knees to pray for revival, for themselves, the Church and the town. "For over a year this faithful band called upon the Lord until God finally answered by fire. The revival came down without any previous announcement or plan, and without the pastor sending for an 21


evangelist to help him." It became increasingly apparent that E. M. Bounds was gifted in building and reviving the Church. This prophet of prayer often made preachers uncomfortable with his call for holiness and his attacks on lusting for money, prestige and power. “His constant call for revival annoyed those who believed that the Church was essentially sound...” God gave him a great prayer commission, requiring daily intercession. He labored in prayer for the sanctification of preachers, revival of the Church in North America and the spread of holiness among professing Christians. He spent a minimum of three to four hours a day in fervent prayer. “Sometimes the venerable mystic would lie flat on his back and talk to God; but many hours were spent on his knees or lying face down where he could be heard weeping...” W. H. Hodge, who is responsible for putting most of Bounds' writings into print, gives us some personal insights into Bounds' life. He writes, "I have been among many ministers and slept in the same room with them for several years. They prayed, but I was never impressed with any special praying among them until one day a small man with gray hair and an eye like an eagle came along. We had a ten day convention. We had some fine preachers around the home, and one of them was assigned to my room. I was surprised early next morning to see a man bathing himself before day and then see him get down and begin to pray. I said to myself, ‘He will not disturb us, but will soon finish’; he kept on softly for hours, interceding and weeping softly, for me and my indifference, and for all the ministers of God. He spoke the next day on prayer. “I became interested for I was young in the ministry, and had often desired to meet with a man of God that prayed like the saints of the Apostolic age. Next morning he was up praying again, and for ten days he was up early praying for hours. I became intensely interested and thanked God for sending him. ‘At last,’ I said, I have found a man that really prays. I shall never let him go. He drew me to him with hooks of steel.” From Prayer Makes History by David Smithers

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MOSES' PRAYER FOR HIS PEOPLE: EXODUS 32:31-32 FROM THE BIBLE: And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Some say pray and pray and don’t lean on the unspiritual work of human study. Others say, study and study because God is not going to tell you the meaning of a word in prayer. But the Bible will not have anything to do with this dichotomy. We must study and accurately handle the Word of God, and we must pray or we will not see in the Word the one thing needful, the glory of God in the face of Christ. --John Piper

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He intercedes with God for mercy. Observe, How pathetic his address was. Moses returned unto the Lord, not to receive further instructions about the tabernacle: there were no more conferences now about that matter. Thus men’s sins and follies make work for their friends and ministers, unpleasant work, many times, and give great interruptions to that work which they delight in. Moses in this address expresses, (1.) His great detestation of the people’s sin, Exod. 32:31. He speaks as one overwhelmed with the horror of it: Oh! this people have sinned a great sin. God had first told him of it (Exod. 32:7), and now he tells God of it, by way of lamentation. He does not call them God’s people, he knew they were unworthy to be called so; but this people, this treacherous ungrateful people, they have made for themselves gods of gold. It is a great sin indeed to make gold our god, as those do that make it their hope, and set their heart on it. He does not go about to excuse or extenuate the sin; but what he had said to them by way of conviction he says to God by way of confession: They have sinned a great sin; he came not to make apologies, but to make atonement. “Lord, pardon the sin, for it is great,” Ps. 25:11. 23


(2.) His great desire of the people’s welfare (Exod. 32:32): Yet now it is not too great a sin for infinite mercy to pardon, and therefore if thou wilt forgive their sin. What then Moses? It is an abrupt expression, “If thou wilt, I desire no more; if thou wilt, thou wilt be praised, I shall be pleased, and abundantly recompensed for my intercession.” It is an expression like that of the dresser of the vineyard (Luke 13:9), If it bear fruit; or, If thou wilt forgive, is as much as, “O that thou wouldest forgive!” as Luke 19:42; If thou hadst known is, O that thou hadst known. “But if not, if the decree has gone forth, and there is no remedy, but they must be ruined; if this punishment which has already been inflicted on many is not sufficient (2 Cor. 2:6), but they must all be cut off, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which thou hast written;” that is, “If they must be cut off, let me be cut off with them, and cut short of Canaan; if all Israel must perish, I am content to perish with them; let not the land of promise be mine by survivorship.” This expression may be illustrated from Ezek. 13:9; where this is threatened against the false prophets, They shall not be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel. God had told Moses that, if he would not interpose he would make of him a great nation, Exod. 32:10. “No,” says Moses, “I am so far from desiring to see my name and family built up on the ruins of Israel, that I will choose rather to sink with them. If I cannot prevent their destruction, let me not see it (Num. 11:15); let me not be written among the living (Isa. 4:3), nor among those that are marked for preservation; even let me die in the last ditch.” Thus he expresses his tender affection for the people, and is a type of the good Shepherd, that lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:11), who was to be cut off from the land of the living for the transgression of my people, Isa. 53:8; Dan. 9:26. He is also an example of public-spiritedness to all, especially to those in public stations. All private interests must be made subordinate to the good and welfare of communities. It is no great matter what becomes of us and our families in this world, so that it go well with the church of God, and there be peace upon Israel. Moses thus importunes for a pardon, and wrestles with God, not prescribing to him (“If thou wilt not forgive, thou art either unjust or unkind”); no, he is far from that; but, “If not, let me die with the Israelites, and the will of the Lord be done.”

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MOSES ASKS FOR GOD'S GUIDANCE: EXODUS 33:12-14 FROM THE BIBLE: And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Remember, Christ’s scholars must study upon their knees. --C.H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Moses, having returned to the door of the tabernacle, becomes a humble and importunate supplicant there for two very great favours, and as a prince he has power with God, and prevails for both: herein he was a type of Christ the great intercessor, whom the Father heareth always. I. He is very earnest with God for a grant of his presence with Israel in the rest of their march to Canaan, notwithstanding their provocations. The people had by their sin deserved the wrath of God, and for the turning away of that Moses had already prevailed, Exod. 32:14. But they had likewise forfeited God’s favourable presence, and all the benefit and comfort of that, and this Moses is here begging for the return of. Thus, by the intercession of Christ, we obtain not only the removal of the curse, but an assurance of the blessing; we are not only saved from ruin, but become entitled to everlasting happiness. Observe how admirably Moses orders this cause before God, and fills his mouth with arguments. What a value he expresses for God’s favour, what a concern for God’s glory and the welfare of Israel. How he pleads, and how he speeds. 1. How he pleads. (1.) He insists upon the commission God had given him to bring up this people, Exod. 33:12. This he begins with: “Lord, it is thou thy25


self that employest me; and wilt thou not own me? I am in the way of my duty; and shall I not have thy presence with me in that way?” Whom God calls out to any service he will be sure to furnish with necessary assistances. “Now, Lord, thou hast ordered me a great work, and yet left me at a loss how to go about it, and to through with it.” Note, Those that sincerely design and endeavour to do their duty may in faith beg of God direction and strength for the doing of it. (2.) He improves the interest he himself had with God, and pleads God’s gracious expressions of kindness to him: Thou hast said, I know thee by name, as a particular friend and confidant, and thou hast also found grace in my sight, above any other. Now, therefore, says Moses, if it be indeed so, that I have found grace in thy sight, show me the way, Exod. 33:13. What favour God had expressed to the people they had forfeited the benefit of, there was no insisting upon that; and therefore Moses lays the stress of his plea upon what God had said to him, which, though he owns himself unworthy of, yet he hopes he has not thrown himself out of the benefit of. By this therefore he takes hold on God: “Lord, if ever thou wilt do any thing for me, do this for the people.” Thus our Lord Jesus, in his intercession, presents himself to the Father, as one in whom he is always well pleased, and so obtains mercy for us with whom he is justly displeased; and we are accepted in the beloved. Thus also men of public spirit love to improve their interest both with God and man for the public good. Observe what it is he is thus earnest for: Show me thy way, that I may know that I find grace in thy sight. Note, Divine direction is one of the best evidences of divine favour. By this we may know that we find grace in God’s sight, if we find grace in our hearts to guide and quicken us in the way of our duty. God’s good work in us is the surest discovery of his good-will towards us. (3.) He insinuates that the people also, though most unworthy, yet were in some relation to God: “Consider that this nation is thy people, a people that thou hast done great things for, redeemed to thyself, and taken into covenant with thyself; Lord, they are thy own, do not leave them.” The offended father considers this, “My child is foolish and froward, but he is my child, and I cannot abandon him.” (4.) He expresses the great value he had for the presence of God. When God said, My presence shall go with thee, he caught at that word, as that which he could not live and move without: “If thy presence go not with me, carry us 26


not up hence,” Exod. 33:15. He speaks as one that dreaded the thought of going forward without God’s presence, knowing that their marches could not be safe, nor their encampments easy, if they had not God with them. “Better lie down and die here in the wilderness than go forward to Canaan without God’s presence.” Note, Those who know how to value God’s favours are best prepared to receive them. Observe how earnest Moses is in this matter; he begs as one that would take no denial. “Here we will stay till we obtain thy favour; like Jacob, I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” And observe how he advances upon God’s concessions; the kind intimations given him make him yet more importunate. Thus God’s gracious promises, and the advances of mercy towards us, should not only encourage our faith, but excite our fervency in prayer. (5.) He concludes with an argument taken from God’s glory (Exod. 33:16): “Wherein shall it be known to the nations that have their eyes upon us that I and thy people (with whom my interests are all blended) have found grace in thy sight, distinguishing favour, so as to be separated from all people on earth? How will it appear that we are indeed thus honoured? Isa. it not in that thou goest with us? Nothing short of this can answer these characters. Let it never be said that we are a peculiar people, and highly favoured, for we stand but upon a level with the rest of our neighbours unless thou go with us; sending an angel with us will not serve.” He lays a stress upon the place—“here in this wilderness, whither thou hast led us, and where we shall be certainly lost if thou leave us.” Note, God’s special presence with us in this wilderness, by his Spirit and grace, to direct, defend, and comfort us, is the surest pledge of his special love to us and will redound to his glory as well as our benefit. 2. Observe how he speeds. He obtained an assurance of God’s favour, (1.) To himself (Exod. 33:14): “I will give thee rest, I will take care to make thee easy in this matter; however it be, thou shalt have satisfaction.” Moses never entered Canaan, and yet God made good his word that he would give him rest, Dan. 12:13. (2.) To the people for his sake. Moses was not content with that answer which bespoke favour to himself only, he must gain a promise, an express promise, for the people too, or he is not at rest; gracious generous souls think it not enough to get to heaven themselves, but would have all their friends go thither too. And in this also Moses prevailed: I will do this thing also that thou hast 27


spoken, Exod. 33:17. Moses is not checked as an unreasonable beggar, whom no saying would serve, but he is encouraged. God grants as long as he asks, gives liberally, and does not upbraid him. See the power of prayer, and be quickened hereby to ask, and seek, and knock, and to continue instant in prayer, to pray always and not to faint. See the riches of God’s goodness. When he has done much, yet he is willing to do more: I will do this also— above what we are able to ask or think. See, in type, the prevalency of Christ’s intercession, which he ever lives to make for all those that come to God by him, and the ground of that prevalency. It is purely his own merit, not any thing in those for whom he intercedes; it is because thou hast found grace in my sight. And now the matter is settled, God is perfectly reconciled to them, his presence in the pillar of cloud returns to them and shall continue with them; all is well again, and henceforth we hear no more of the golden calf. Lord, who is a God like unto thee, pardoning iniquity?

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MOSES ASKS GOD FOR MERCY: EXODUS 34:8-9 FROM THE BIBLE: And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Without prayer the study of Scripture can turn into a merely intellectual exercise. Prayer without Scripture will lack needed motivation and guidance. -Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: 1. What impression it made upon him: Moses made haste, and bowed his head, Exod. 34:8. Thus he expressed, (1.) His humble reverence and adoration of God’s glory, giving him the honour due to that name he had thus proclaimed. Even the goodness of God must be looked upon by us with a profound veneration and holy awe. (2.) His joy in this discovery which God had made of himself, and his thankfulness for it. We have reason gratefully to acknowledge God’s goodness to us, not only in the real instances of it, but in the declarations he has made of it by his word; not only that he is, and will be, gracious to us, but that he is pleased to let us know it. (3.) His holy submission to the will of God, made known in this declaration, subscribing to his justice as well as mercy, and putting himself and his people Israel under the government and direction of such a God as Jehovah had now proclaimed himself to be. Let this God be our God for ever and ever. 2. What improvement he made of it. He immediately grounded a prayer upon it (Exod. 34:9); and a more earnest affectionate prayer it is, (1.) For the presence of God with his people Israel in the wilderness: “I pray thee, go among us, for thy presence is all in all to our safety and success.” (2.) For pardon of sin: “O pardon our iniquity and our sin, else we cannot expect thee to go among us.” And, (3.) For the privileges of a peculiar people: “Take us for thy inheritance, which thou wilt have a particular eye to, and concern for, and 29


delight in.” These things God had already promised, and given Moses assurances of, and yet he prays for them, not as doubting the sincerity of God’s grants, but as one solicitous for the ratification of them. God’s promises are intended, not to supersede, but to direct and encourage, prayer. Those who have some good hopes, through grace, that their sins are pardoned, must yet continue to pray for pardon, for the renewing of their pardon, and the clearing of it more and more to their souls. The more we see of God’s goodness the more ashamed we should be of our own sins, and the more earnest for an interest in it. God had said, in the close of the proclamation, that he would visit the iniquity upon the children; and Moses here deprecates that. “Lord, do not only pardon it to them, but to their children, and let our covenantrelation to thee be entailed upon our posterity, as an inheritance.” Thus Moses, like a man of a truly public spirit, intercedes even for the children that should be born. But it is a strange plea he urges: For it is a stiff-necked people. God had given this as a reason why he would not go along with them, Exod. 33:3. “Yea,” says Moses, “the rather go along with us; for the worse they are the more need they have of thy presence and grace to make them better.” Moses sees them so stiff-necked that, for his part, he has neither patience nor power enough to deal with them. “Therefore, Lord, do thou go among us, else they will never be kept in awe. Thou wilt spare, and bear with them, for thou art God, and not man,” Hos. 11:9.

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PRINCESS OF PRAYER Sarah Cooke Often God's most precious gifts are hidden in the most obscure and common vessels. The costly pearl is found hidden in the plain gray oyster shell, and the Savior Himself was revealed in the form of a humble carpenter. Yet, we still too often expect to find the glory of God on some grand stage, bathed in bright lights. (1 Cor. 1:26-29) Sarah Cooke (better know as Auntie Cooke) was one of the Master's hidden pearls. Her ministry was primarily that of fervent intercession. Though frail and small, Auntie Cooke prevailed with God and man through the power of prayer. Her ministry was unseen, yet it influenced those who were highly respected and esteemed. She touched the lives of men like Samuel Brengle, G. Campbell Morgan, B. T. Roberts, John Wesley Redfield, S. B. Shaw and D. L. Moody. All these and many more were impacted by this one little praying woman. Sarah Cooke recognized true prayer as fervent, earnest and a wrestling in the Spirit. She considered every moment spent in real prayer as a moment spent in the refreshing fire of the Holy Spirit. She was always ready to help support God's reviving work with the weapon of prayer. Mrs. Cooke's autobiography is rich with examples of her prayer ministry. She writes, "It was at Ross that the work broke out in great power. There seemed to be an outburst of the cloud of mercy. For miles and miles around 'mercy drops' fell on the people. Conviction seized men fifteen miles away, who had not been near the meeting. We passed a place one day where the men had stopped their threshingmachine and were having a prayer-meeting. A little farther on, more reapers had stopped their work, and were down on their knees in prayer... There were frequent seasons of earnest, prevailing prayer, lively singing, followed by short burning messages and testimonies. We had no formal, dry services. The blessed Holy Spirit breathed life and power on us in every service. Sudden outbursts of cries for mercy and shouts of praise were heard in most of the meetings." Another story that describes the fruitfulness of Auntie Cooke's prayer ministry involves the famous D. L. Moody. Mrs. Cooke describes her encounter with the evangelist. "Mr. Moody was an earnest, whole-souled worker, but to me there seemed such a lack in his words. It seemed more the human, the natural 31


energy and force of character of the man, than anything spiritual. I felt he lacked what the apostles received on the day of Pentecost. Dear sister Hawxhurst and myself would, after the evening meetings, talk with him about it. At first he seemed surprised, then convicted. Then he asked us to meet with him on Friday afternoon for prayer. At every meeting he would get more in earnest, in an agony of desire for the fullness of the Spirit." Soon after these prayer meetings, Mr. Moody was baptized with the Spirit. While walking down Broadway in New York City, "suddenly the Holy Spirit fell upon him, and he staggered under the weight of Glory and the wealth of love. He was so overwhelmed by the revelation of Christ within him that he cried out, 'Oh, Lord, stay Thy hand, stay Thy hand, or the vessel will break.' Moody went back to Chicago and, as he said himself, he preached the same sermons, but where before he had ten converted, he now had hundreds." All of this can be traced back, in large measure to little Auntie Cooke's constant intercession for Mr. Moody. Samuel Brengle described Sarah Cooke as one of the most jubilant women he ever knew. Jesus was the passion and joy of her soul. "She let no opportunity pass by to speak to saint or sinner of Christ's great salvation. Dr. Campbell Morgan tells how he stepped onto a streetcar one day and saw a man sitting alone in one of the seats. He felt an impulse to speak to him about his soul, but hesitated to gather his courage. When he turned to take the seat he found it occupied by a little woman, who was now earnestly speaking to the man." That little woman was Sarah Cooke. Mrs. Cooke was many times broken-hearted by the sin of prayerlessness among Christians. In closing, let us open our hearts as Mrs. Cooke describes how prayer is often neglected in the Church. "I was in a meeting in Illinois where more than twenty preachers were present, every day a prayer meeting was held at six o'clock. Three mornings the hour came, but not one of the twenty preachers were there. My soul was stirred within me. If alive to God, would they not have been there to take hold of the blessing of God for the people who would gather there through the day? Awake beloved preacher of the Gospel!" "You have not, because you ask not." James 4:2. From the Awake and Go! Global Prayer Network

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MOSES ASKS FOR HELP WHEN HIS LOAD IS TOO HEAVY: NUMBERS 11:11-14 FROM THE BIBLE: And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible. But I often spent a quarter of an hour to an hour on my knees struggling to pray while my mind wandered. Now I rarely have this problem. As my heart is nourished by the truth of the Word, I am brought into true fellowship with God. I speak to my Father and to my Friend (although I am unworthy) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word. --George Muller

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Moses himself, though so meek and good a man, is uneasy upon this occasion: Moses also was displeased. Now, 1. It must be confessed that the provocation was very great. These murmurings of theirs reflected great dishonour upon God, and Moses laid to heart the reproaches cast on himself; they knew that he did his utmost for their good, and that he neither did nor could do any thing without a divine appointment; and yet to be thus continually teased and clamoured against by an unreasonable ungrateful people would break in upon the temper even of Moses himself. God considered this, and therefore we do not find that he chided him for his uneasiness. 2. Yet Moses expressed himself otherwise than became him upon this provocation, and came short of his duty both to God and Israel in these expostulations.

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(1.) He undervalues the honour God had put upon him, in making him the illustrious minister of his power and grace, in the deliverance and guidance of that peculiar people, which might have been sufficient to balance the burden. (2.) He complains too much of a sensible grievance, and lays too near his heart a little noise and fatigue. If he could not bear the toil of government, which was but running with the footman, how would he bear the terrors of war, which was contending with horses? He might easily have furnished himself with considerations enough to enable him to slight their clamours, and make nothing of them. (3.) He magnifies his own performances, that all the burden of the people lay upon him; whereas God himself did in effect ease him of all the burden. Moses needed not to be in care to provide quarters for them, or victuals; God did all. And, if any difficult case happened, he needed not to be in any perplexity, while he had the oracle to consult, and in it the divine wisdom to direct him, the divine authority to back him and bear him out, and almighty power itself to dispense rewards and punishments. (4.) He is not so sensible as he ought to be of the obligation he lay under, by virtue of the divine commission and command, to do the utmost he could for his people, when he suggests that because they were not the children of his body therefore he was not concerned to take a fatherly care of them, though God himself, who might employ him as he pleased, had appointed him to be a father to them. (5.) He takes too much to himself when he asks, Whence should I have flesh to give them (Num. 11:13), as if he were the housekeeper, and not God. Moses gave them not the bread, John 6:32. Nor was it expected that he should give them the flesh, but as an instrument in God’s hand; and if he meant, “Whence should God have it for them?� he too much limited the power of the Holy One of Israel. (6.) He speaks distrustfully of the divine grace when he despairs of being able to bear all this people, Num. 11:14. Had the work been much less, he could not have gone through it in his own strength; but had it been much greater, through God strengthening him, he might have done it. (7.) It was worst of all passionately to wish for death, and desire to be killed 34


out of hand, because just at this time his life was made a little uneasy to him, Num. 11:15. Isa. this Moses? Isa. this the meekest of all the men on the earth? The best have their infirmities, and fail sometimes in the exercise of that grace for which they are most eminent. But God graciously overlooked Moses’s passion at this time, and therefore we must not be severe in our animadversions upon it, but pray, Lord, lead us not into temptation.

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THE PEOPLE ASK MOSES TO PRAY FOR THEM: NUMBERS 21:7 FROM THE BIBLE: Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The mightiest prayers are often those drenched with the Word of God. -Herbert Lockyer

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Their repentance and supplication to God under this judgment, Num. 21:7. They confess their fault: We have sinned. They are particular in their confession: We have spoken against the Lord, and against thee. It is to be feared that they would not have owned the sin if they had not felt the smart; but they relent under the rod; when he slew them, then they sought him. They beg the prayers of Moses for them, as conscious to themselves of their own unworthiness to be heard, and convinced of the great interest which Moses had in heaven. How soon is their tone altered! Those who had just before quarrelled with him as their worst enemy now make their court to him as their best friend, and choose him for their advocate with God. Afflictions often change men’s sentiments concerning God’s people, and teach them to value those prayers which, at a former period, they had scorned. Moses, to show that he had heartily forgiven them, blesses those who had cursed him, and prays for those who had despitefully used him Herein he was a type of Christ, who interceded for his persecutors, and a pattern to us to go and do likewise, and thus to show that we love our enemies.

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MOSES' REQUEST DENIED: DEUTERONOMY 3:23-27 FROM THE BIBLE: And I besought the Lord at that time, saying, O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: It is hypocritical to pray for victory over our sins yet be careless in our intake of the Word of God. --Jerry Bridges

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: What he begs: I pray thee let me go over, Deut. 3:25. God had said he should not go over; yet he prays that he might, not knowing but that the threatening was conditional, for it was not ratified with an oath, as that concerning the people was, that they should not enter. Thus Hezekiah prayed for his own life, and David for the life of his child, after both had ben expressly threatened; and the former prevailed, though the latter did not. Moses remembered the time when he had by prayer prevailed with God to recede from the declarations which he had made of his wrath against Israel, Exod. 32:14. And why might he not hope in like manner to prevail for himself ? Let me go over and see the good land. Not, “Let me go over and be a prince and a ruler there;” he seeks not his own honour, is content to resign the government to Joshua; but, “Let me go to be a spectator of thy kindness to Israel, to see what I believe concerning the goodness of the land of promise.” How pathetically does he speak of Canaan, that good land, that goodly mountain! Note, Those may hope to obtain and enjoy God’s favours that know how to value them. What he means by that goodly mountain we may learn from Ps. 78:54; where it is 37


said of God’s Israel that he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain which his right hand had purchased, where it is plainly to be understood of the whole land of Canaan, yet with an eye to the sanctuary, the glory of it. 2. God’s answer to this prayer had in it a mixture of mercy and judgment, that he might sing unto God of both. (1.) There was judgment in the denial of his request, and that in something of anger too: The Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, Deut. 3:26. God not only sees sin in his people, but is much displeased with it; and even those that are delivered from the wrath to come may yet lie under the tokens of God’s wrath in this world, and may be denied some particular favour which their hearts are much set upon. God is a gracious, tender, loving Father; but he is angry with his children when they do amiss, and denies them many a thing that they desire and are ready to cry for. But how was he wroth with Moses for the sake of Israel? Either, [1.] For that sin which they provoked him to; see Ps. 106:32, 33. Or, [2.] The removal of Moses at that time, when he could so ill be spared, was a rebuke to all Israel, and a punishment of their sin. Or, [3.] It was for their sakes, that it might be a warning to them to take heed of offending God by passionate and unbelieving speeches at any time, after the similitude of his transgression; for, if this were done to such a green tree, what should be done to the dry? He acknowledges that God would not hear him. God had often heard him for Israel, yet he would not hear him for himself. It was the prerogative of Christ, the great Intercessor, to be heard always; yet of him his enemies said, He saved others, himself he could not save, which the Jews would not have upbraided him with had they considered that Moses, their great prophet, prevailed for others, but for himself he could not prevail. Though Moses, being one of the wrestling seed of Jacob, did not seek in vain, yet he had not the thing itself which he sought for. God may accept our prayers, and yet not grant us the very thing we pray for. (2.) Here is mercy mixed with this wrath in several things:—[1.] God quieted the spirit of Moses under the decree that had gone forth by that word (Deut. 3:26), Let it suffice thee. With this word, no doubt, a divine power went to reconcile Moses to the will of God, and to bring him to acquiesce in it. If God does not by his providence give us what we desire, yet, if by his grace he makes us content without it, it comes much to one. “Let it suffice thee to have God for they father, and heaven for thy portion, though thou hast not 38


every thing thou wouldest have in this world. Be satisfied with this, God is all-sufficient.� [2.] He put an honour upon his prayer in directing him not to insist upon this request: Speak no more to me of this matter. It intimates that what God does not think fit to grant we should not think fit to ask, and that God takes such a pleasure in the prayer of the upright that it is no pleasure to him, no, not in any particular instance, to give a denial to it. [3.] He promised him a sight of Canaan from the top of Pisgah, Deut. 3:27. Though he should not have the possession of it, he should have the prospect of it; not to tantalize him, but such a sight of it as would yield him true satisfaction, and would enable him to form a very clear and pleasing idea of that promised land. Probably Moses had not only his sight preserved for other purposes, but greatly enlarged for this purpose; for, if he had not had such a sight of it as others could not have from the same place, it would have been no particular favour to Moses, nor the matter of a promise. Even great believers, in this present state, see heaven but at a distance.

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Sweet Hour of Prayer William Walford and William B. Bradbury Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! That calls me from a world of care, And bids me at my Father’s throne Make all my wants and wishes known. In seasons of distress and grief, My soul has often found relief And oft escaped the tempter’s snare By thy return, sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! The joys I feel, the bliss I share, Of those whose anxious spirits burn With strong desires for thy return! With such I hasten to the place Where God my Savior shows His face, And gladly take my station there, And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! Thy wings shall my petition bear To Him whose truth and faithfulness Engage the waiting soul to bless. And since He bids me seek His face, Believe His Word and trust His grace, I’ll cast on Him my every care, And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! May I thy consolation share, Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height, I view my home and take my flight: This robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise To seize the everlasting prize; And shout, while passing through the air, “Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!” 40


GIDEON'S PRAYERS: JUDGES 36-40 FROM THE BIBLE: And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: We cannot be men of prevailing prayer unless we study God's Word to find out His will for us. --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The signs which God gratified him with, for the confirming both of his own faith and that of his followers; and perhaps it was more for their sakes than for his own that he desired them. Or, perhaps, he desired by these to be satisfied whether this was the time of his conquering the Midianites, or whether he was to wait for some other opportunity. Observe, 1. His request for a sign (Jdg. 6:36, 37): “Let me by this know that thou wilt save Israel by my hand, let a fleece of wool, spread in the open air, be wet with the dew, and let the ground about it be dry.” The purport of this is, Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief. He found his own faith weak and wavering, and therefore begged of God by this sign to perfect what was lacking in it. We may suppose that God, who intended to give him these signs, for the glorifying of his own power and goodness, put it into his heart to ask them. Yet, when he repeated his request for a second sign, the reverse of the former, he did it with a very humble apology, deprecating God’s displeasure, because it looked so like a peevish humoursome distrust of God and dissatisfaction with the many assurances he had already given him (Jdg. 6:39): Let not thy 41


anger be hot against me. Though he took the boldness to ask another sign, yet he did it with such fear and trembling as showed that the familiarity God had graciously admitted him to did not breed any contempt of God’s glory, nor presumption on God’s goodness. Abraham had given him an example of this, when God gave him leave to be very free with him (Gen. 18:30, 32), O let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. God’s favour must be sought with great reverence, a due sense of our distance, and a religious fear of his wrath. 2. God’s gracious grant of his request. See how tender God is of true believers though they be weak, and how ready to condescend to their infirmities, that the bruised reed may not be broken nor the smoking flax quenched. Gideon would have the fleece wet and the ground dry; but then, lest any should object, “It is natural for wool, if ever so little moisture fall, to drink it in and retain it, and therefore there was nothing extraordinary in this,” though the quantity wrung out was sufficient to obviate such an objection, yet he desires that next night the ground might be wet and the fleece dry, and it is done, so willing is God to give to the heirs of promise strong consolation (Heb. 6:17, 18), even by two immutable things. He suffers himself, not only to be prevailed with by their importunities, but even to be prescribed to by their doubts and dissatisfactions. These signs were, (1.) Truly miraculous, and therefore abundantly serving to confirm his commission. It is said of the dew that it is from the Lord, and tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men (Mic. 5:7); and yet God here in this matter hearkened to the voice of a man; as to Joshua, in directing the course of the sun, so to Gideon in directing that of the dew, by which it appears that it falls not by chance, but by providence. The latter sign inverted the former, and, to please Gideon, it was wrought backward and forward, whence Dr. Fuller observes that heaven’s real miracles will endure turning, being inside and outside both alike. (2.) Very significant. He and his men were going to engage the Midianites; could God distinguish between a small fleece of Israel and the vast floor of Midian? Yes, by this he is made to know that he can. Isa. Gideon desirous that the dew of divine grace might descend upon himself in particular? He sees the fleece wet with dew to assure him of it. Does he desire that God will be as the dew to all Israel? Behold, all the ground is wet. Some make this fleece an 42


emblem of the Jewish nation, which, when time was, was wet with the dew of God’s word and ordinances, while the rest of the world was dry; but since the rejection of Christ and his gospel they are dry as the heath in the wilderness, while the nations about are as a watered garden.

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THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL CONFESS THEIR SIN AND ASK FOR DELIVERANCE: JUDGES 10:15 FROM THE BIBLE: And the children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer that is born of meditation upon the Word of God is the prayer that soars upward most easily to God’s listening ears. --R.A. Torrey

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: A humble submission which Israel hereupon made to God’s justice, with a humble application to his mercy, Jdg. 10:15. The children of Israel met together, probably in a solemn assembly at the door of the tabernacle, received the impressions of the message God had sent them, were not driven by it to despair, though it was very threatening, but resolve to lie at God’s feet, and, if they perish, they will perish there. They not only repeat their confession, We have sinned, but, 1. They surrender themselves to God’s justice: Do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Hereby they own that they deserved the severest tokens of God’s displeasure and were sure he could do them no wrong, whatever he laid upon them; they humbled themselves under his mighty and heavy hand, and accepted of the punishment of their iniquity, which Moses had made the condition of God’s return in mercy to them, Lev. 26:41. Note, True penitents dare and will refer themselves to God to correct them as he thinks fit, knowing that their sin is highly malignant in its deserts, and that God is not rigorous or extreme in his demands. 2. They supplicate for God’s mercy: Deliver us only, we pray thee, this day, from this enemy. They acknowledge what they deserved, yet pray to God not to deal with them according to their deserts. Note, We must submit to God’s justice with a hope in his mercy. 44


SAMSON'S PRAYER: JUDGES 16:28 FROM THE BIBLE: And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Great pray-ers have always been great students of the Word of God. --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: That strength which he had lost by sin he, like a true penitent, recovers by prayer; as David, who, when he had provoked the Spirit of grace to withdraw, prayed (Ps. 51:12), Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit. We may suppose that this was only a mental prayer, and that his voice was not heard (for it was made in a noisy clamorous crowd of Philistines); but, though his voice was not heard of men, yet his prayer was heard of God and graciously answered, and though he lived not to give an account himself of this his prayer, as Nehemiah did of his, yet God not only accepted it in heaven, but, by revealing it to the inspired penmen, provided for the registering of it in his church. He prayed to God to remember him and strengthen him this once, thereby owning that his strength for what he had already done he had from God, and begged it might be afforded to him once more, to give them a parting blow. That it was not from a principle of passion or personal revenge, but from a holy zeal for the glory of God and Israel, that he desired to do this, appears from God’s accepting and answering the prayer. Samson died praying, so did our blessed Saviour; but Samson prayed for vengeance, Christ for forgiveness.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER John Sung China was in turmoil. The Boxer Rebellion, civil wars, foreign aggressions, Anti-Christian movements, liberal theology, the Second World War...one event after another erupted over that vast land. Just when China needed a nationwide spiritual revival, God blessed China with a man who was utterly fearless and dedicated in the manner of those ancient prophets: Dr. John Sung. Dr. Sung (1901-44) came from a family with 11 children. His father was a poor, rural pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church in Fukien province (opposite Taiwan). With the encouragement and support of friends, John Sung went to the United States, enrolling at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1919. He graduated with top honors. He continued at Ohio State University for his Master's and Doctor's degrees in chemistry--a unique accomplishment for a Chinese of that time. Confronted with the claims of the Gospel ministry, he was encouraged to go to Union Theological Seminary. Its doctrine and teaching distressed him. But as he studied the Bible through the night, he experienced a transformation of soul that caused him to weep and shout for joy. The seminary thought he had gone crazy and threw him into the insane asylum. For some 6 months, he was confined there...but he read the Bible over 40 times! Upon the intercession of an American friend and the Chinese Embassy, he was released and headed back to China. When his ship entered the China Sea, John Sung made a crucial decision. Taking his doctor's degree, academic gold key, and other certificates of scientific attainments, he dumped them all into the sea! From now on, he was to follow Jesus Christ completely…no turning back! John Sung preached extensively all over China. He early decided NOT to wpreach the social gospel, which was in vogue at that time. He confined his messages to the subjects of the Cross, salvation, filling of the Holy Spirit, the

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power of Jesus' blood, etc. His best preaching was on "Sin," where hundreds would cry out for salvation, repent, and changed their old lives. He dug deep into the Scriptures and had a devotional approach to Bible interpretation. Dr. John Sung was part of an evangelistic band which went all over China. Half a million people heard the Gospel. All over the China coast, north and south of the Yangtze River, infaraway Northeast China, and overseas into Southeast Asia, as far as Indonesia. Today, thousands of Chinese all over Asia still speak lovingly of his ministry and effects on their lives. John Sung was the greatest evangelist China ever had before or after. What was the secret of his success? Writer Bobby Sng of Singapore said that one reason was that "He was A Man of Prayer�. He would pray aloud, intimately with God, like someone was in the room with him. He knew God like he knew a close friend. Dr. Timothy Tow of Singapore tells of his having several big suitcases of about 10,000 names--people who had written him on a particular need, desiring his prayer, and attaching a photograph. John Sung died at age 43, dying from the effects of pouring out his life unceasingly in strenuous preaching and Christian service. by Dr. Paul Lee Tan

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SAMUEL GATHERS ISRAEL FOR PRAYER AND FASTING: I SAMUEL 7:5-8 FROM THE BIBLE: And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord. And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh. And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The word of God is the food by which prayer is nourished and made strong. -E.M. Bounds

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: They obey his summons, and not only come to the meeting, but conform to the intentions of it, and appear there very well disposed, 1 Sam. 7:6. (1.) They drew water and poured it out before the Lord, signifying, [1.] Their humiliation and contrition for sin, owning themselves as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again (2 Sam. 14:14), so mean, so miserable, before God, Ps. 22:14. The Chaldee reads it, They poured out their hearts in repentance before the Lord. They wept rivers of tears, and sorrowed after a godly sort, for it was before the Lord and with an eye to him. [2.] Their earnest prayers and supplications to God for mercy. The soul is, in prayer, poured out before God, Ps. 62:8. [3.] Their universal reformation; they thus expressed their willingness to part with all their sins, and to retain no more of the relish or savour of them than the vessel does of the water that is poured out of it. They were free and full in their confession, and fixed in their resolution to cast away from them all their transgressions. Israel is now baptized from their idols, so Dr. Lightfoot. [4.] Some think it signifies their joy in the 48


hope of God’s mercy, which Samuel had assured them of. This ceremony was used with that signification at the feast of tabernacles, John 7:37, 38, and see Isa. 12:3. Taking it in this sense, it must be read, They drew water after they had fasted. In the close of their humiliation they thus expressed their hope of pardon and reconciliation. (2.) They fasted, abstained from food, afflicted their souls, so expressing repentance and exciting devotion. (3.) They made a public confession: We have sinned against the Lord, so giving glory to God and taking shame to themselves. And, if we thus confess our sins, we shall find our God faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Israel cleaves closely to Samuel, as their best friend, under God, in this distress; though he was no military man, nor ever celebrated as a mighty man of valour, yet, being afraid of the Philistines, for whom they thought themselves an unequal match, they engaged Samuel’s prayers for them: Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, 1 Sam. 7:8. They were here unarmed, unprepared for war, come together to fast and pray, not to fight; prayers and tears therefore being all the weapons many of them are now furnished with, to these they have recourse. And, knowing Samuel to have a great interest in heaven, they earnestly beg of him to improve it for them. They had reason to expect it, because he had promised to pray for them (1 Sam. 7:5), had promised them deliverance from the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:3), and they had been observant of him in all that which he had spoken to them from the Lord. Thus those who sincerely submit to Christ, as their lawgiver and judge, need not doubt of their interest in his intercession. They were very solicitous that Samuel should not cease to pray for them: what military preparations were to be made they would undertake them, but let him continue instant in prayer, perhaps remembering that when Moses did but let down his hand ever so little Amalek prevailed. O what a comfort is it to all believers that our great intercessor above never ceases, is never silent, for he always appears in the presence of God for us!

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THE PEOPLE ASK SAMUEL TO INTERCEDE FOR THEM: I SAMUEL 12:19 FROM THE BIBLE: And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: It is said that the weekly prayer meeting is the spiritual barometer for any local church. You can tell with a fair degree of accuracy what the church is like by the demeanour or substance of the weekly prayer meeting. Is there genuine evangelistic concern? If so it will be expressed in the prayers. Is there a heartfelt longing for the conversion of unconverted family members If so that is sure to surface. Is there a world vision and a fervent desire for revival and the glory of our Redeemer among the nations of the world? Such a burden cannot be suppressed. Intercession in the prayer meeting will soon reveal a loving church that cares for those who are oppressed and weighed down with trials and burdens. Those bearing trials too painful or personal to be described in public will nevertheless find comfort in the prayer meeting, for there the Holy Spirit is especially at work. --Erroll Hulse

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: They owned their sin and folly in desiring a king: We have added to all our sins this evil, 1 Sam. 12:19. Some people will not be brought to a sight of their sins by any gentler methods than storms and thunders. Samuel did not extort this confession from them till the matter was settled and the king confirmed, lest it should look as if he designed by it rather to establish himself in the government than to bring them to repentance. Now that they were flattering themselves in their own eyes, their iniquity was found to be hateful, Ps. 36:2. They earnestly begged Samuel’s prayers (1 Sam. 12:19): Pray for thy servants, that we die not. They were apprehensive of their danger from the wrath of God, and could not expect that he should hear their prayers for themselves, and therefore they entreat Samuel to pray for them. Now they see their need of him whom awhile ago they slighted. Thus many that will not have Christ to 50


reign over them would yet be glad to have him intercede for them, to turn away the wrath of God. And the time may come when those that have despised and ridiculed praying people will value their prayers, and desire a share in them. “Pray” (say they) “to the Lord thy God; we know not how to call him ours, but, if thou hast any interest in him, improve it for us.”

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SAMUEL PROMISES NOT TO STOP PRAYING FOR HIS PEOPLE: I SAMUEL 12:23-24 FROM THE BIBLE: Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting. --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He comforts them with an assurance that he would continue his care and concern for them, 1 Sam. 12:23. They desired him to pray for them, 1 Sam. 12:19. He might have said, “Go to Saul, the king that you have put in my room,� and get him to pray for you; but so far is he from upbraiding them with their disrespect to him that he promised them much more than they asked. (1.) They asked it of him as a favour; he promised it as a duty, and startles at the thought of neglecting it. Pray for you! says he, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in not doing it. Note, It is a sin against God not to pray for the Israel of God, especially for those of them that are under our charge: and good men are afraid of the guilt of omissions. (2.) They asked him to pray for them at this time, and upon this occasion, but he promised to continue his prayers for them and to cease as long as he lived. Our rule is to pray without ceasing; we sin if we restrain prayer in general, and in particular if we cease praying for the church. (3.) They asked him only to pray for them, but he promised to do more for 52


them, not only to pray for them, but to teach them; though they were not willing to be under his government as a judge, he would not therefore deny them his instructions as a prophet. And they might be sure he would teach them no other than the good and the right way: and the right way is certainly the good way: the way of duty is the way of pleasure and profit.

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‘I HAVE NOT MADE SUPPLICATION’: 1 SAMUEL 13:12 FROM THE BIBLE: "Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "The neglect of prayer proves to my mind, that there is a large amount of practical infidelity. If the people believed that there was a real, existing, personal God, they would ask Him for what they wanted, and they would get what they asked. But they do not ask, because they do not believe or expect to receive." - Brownlow North

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Just a Closer Walk with Thee I am weak, but Thou art strong; Jesus, keep me from all wrong; I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to Thee. Refrain Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be. Through this world of toil and snares, If I falter, Lord, who cares? Who with me my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee. When my feeble life is o’er, Time for me will be no more; Guide me gently, safely o’er To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

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DAVID'S PRAYER: II SAMUEL 7:18-29 FROM THE BIBLE: Then went king David in, and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God? And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant. For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, Lord, art become their God. And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said. And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee. For thou, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee. And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: I have found it helpful to begin my day by systematically reading the Bible and 56


giving God the opportunity to direct my attention to certain truths. These truths become the springboard to begin speaking to the Lord. --Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We have here the solemn address David made to God, in answer to the gracious message God had sent him. We are not told what he said to Nathan; no doubt he received him very kindly and respectfully as God’s messenger. But his answer to God he took himself, and did not send by Nathan. When ministers deliver God’s message to us, it is not to them, but to God, that our hearts must reply; he understands the language of the heart, and to him we may come boldly. David had no sooner received the message than, while the impressions of it were fresh, he retired to return an answer. Observe, I. The place he retired to: He went in before the Lord, that is, into the tabernacle where the ark was, which was the token of God’s presence; before that he presented himself. God’s will now is that men pray everywhere; but, wherever we pray, we must set ourselves as before the Lord and set him before us. II. The posture he put himself into: He sat before the Lord. 1. It denotes the posture of his body. Kneeling or standing is certainly the most proper gesture to be used in prayer; but the Jews, from this instance, say, “It was allowed to the kings of the house of David to sit in the temple, and to no other.” But this will by no means justify the ordinary use of that gesture in prayer, whatever may be allowed in a case of necessity. David went in, and took his place before the Lord, so it may be read; but, when he prayed, he stood up as the manner was. Or he went in and continued before the Lord, staid some time silently meditating, before he began his prayer, and then remained longer than usual in the tabernacle. Or, 2. It may denote the frame of his spirit at this time. He went in, and composed himself before the Lord; thus we should do in all our approaches to 3f38 God. O God, my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed. III. The prayer itself, which is full of the breathings of pious and devout affection towards God.

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1. He speaks very humbly of himself and his own merits. So he begins as one astonished: Who am I, O Lord God! and what is my house? 2 Sam. 7:18. God had reminded him of the meanness of his original (2 Sam. 7:8) and he subscribed to it; he had low thoughts, (1.) Of his personal merits: Who am I? He was upon all accounts a very considerable and valuable man. His endowments both of body and mind were extraordinary. His gifts and graces were eminent. He was a man of honour, success, and usefulness, the darling of his country and the dread of its enemies. Yet, when he comes to speak of himself before God, he says, “Who am I? A man not worth taking notice of.” (2.) Of the merits of his family: What is my house? His house was of the royal tribe, and descended from the prince of that tribe; he was allied to the best families of the country, and yet, like Gideon, thinks his family poor in Judah and himself the least in his father’s house, Jdg. 6:15. David thus humbled himself when Saul’s daughter was proposed to him for a wife (1 Sam. 18:18), but now with much more reason. Note, It very well becomes the greatest and best of men, even in the midst of the highest advancements, to have low and mean thoughts of themselves; for the greatest of men are worms, the best are sinners, and those that are highest advanced have nothing but what they have received: “What am I, that thou hast brought me hitherto, brought me to the kingdom, and to a settlement in it, and rest from all my enemies?” It intimates that he could not have reached this himself by his own management, if God had not brought him to it. All our attainments must be looked upon as God’s vouchsafements. 2. He speaks very highly and honourably of God’s favours to him. (1.) In what he had done for him: “Thou hast brought me hitherto, to this great dignity and dominion. Hitherto thou hast helped me.” Though we should be left at uncertainty concerning further mercy, we have great reason to be thankful for that which has been done for us hitherto, Acts 26:22. (2.) In what he had yet further promised him. God had done great things for him already, and yet, as if those had been nothing, he had promised to do much more, 2 Sam. 7:19. Note, What God has laid out 58


upon his people is much, but what he has laid up for them is infinitely more, Ps. 31:19. The present graces and comforts of the saints are invaluable gifts; and yet, as if these were too little for God to bestow upon his children, he has spoken concerning them for a great while to come, even as far as eternity itself reaches. Of this we must own, as David here, [1.] That it is far beyond what we could expect: Isa. this the manner of men? that is, First, Can man expect to be so dealt with by his Maker? Isa. this the law of Adam? Note, Considering what the character and condition of man are, it is very surprising and amazing that God should deal with him as he does. Man is a mean creature, and therefore under a law of distance—unprofitable to God, and therefore under a law of disesteem and disregard—guilty and obnoxious, and therefore under a law of death and damnation. But how unlike are God’s dealings with man to this law of Adam! He is brought near to God, purchased at a high rate, taken into covenant and communion with God; could this ever have been thought of ? Secondly, Do men usually deal thus with one another? No, the way of our God is far above the manner of men. Though he be high, he has respect to the lowly; and is this the manner of men? Though he is offended by us, he beseeches us to be reconciled, waits to be gracious, multiplies his pardons: and is this the manner of men? Some give another sense of this, reading it thus: And this is the law of man, the Lord Jehovah, that is, “This promise of one whose kingdom shall be established for ever must be understood of one that is a man and yet the Lord Jehovah, this must be the law of such a one. A Messiah from my loins must be man, but, reigning for ever, must be God.” [2.] That beyond this there is nothing we can desire: “And what can David say more unto thee? 2 Sam. 7:20. What can I ask or wish for more? Thou, Lord, knowest thy servant, knowest what will make me happy, and what thou hast promised is enough to do so.” The promise of Christ includes all. If that man, the Lord God, be ours, what can we ask or think of more? Eph. 3:20. The promises of the covenant of grace are framed by him that knows us, and therefore knows how to adapt them to every branch of our necessity. He knows us better than we know ourselves; and therefore let us be satisfied with the provision he has made for us. What can we say more for ourselves in our prayers than he has said for us in his promises? 3. He ascribes all to the free grace of God (2 Sam. 7:21), both the 59


great things he had done for him and the great things he had made known to him. All was, (1.) For his word’s sake, that is, for the sake of Christ the eternal Word; it is all owing to his merit. Or, “That thou mayest magnify thy word of promise above all thy name, in making it the stay and storehouse of thy people.” (2.) According to thy own heart, thy gracious counsels and designs, ex mero motu—of thy own good pleasure. Even so, Father, because it seemed good in thy eyes. All that God does for his people in his providences, and secures to them in his promises, is for his pleasure and for his praise, the pleasure of his will and the praise of his word. 4. He adores the greatness and glory of God (2 Sam. 7:22): Thou art great, O Lord God! for there is none like thee. God’s gracious condescension to him, and the honour he had put upon him, did not at all abate his awful veneration for the divine Majesty; for the nearer any are brought to God the more they see of his glory, and the dearer we are in his eyes the greater he should be in ours. And this we acknowledge concerning God, that there is no being like him, nor any God besides him, and that what we have seen with our eyes of his power and goodness is according to all that we have heard with our ears, and the one half not told us. 5. He expresses a great esteem for the Israel of God, 2 Sam. 7:23, 24. As there was none among the gods to be compared with Jehovah, so none among the nations to be compared with Israel, considering, (1.) The works he had done for them. He went to redeem them, applied himself to it as a great work, went about it with solemnity. Elohim halecu, dii iveruni—Gods went, as if there was the same consultation and concurrence of all the persons in the blessed Trinity about the work of redemption that there was about the work of creation, when God said, Let us make man. Whom those that were sent of God went to redeem; so the Chaldee, meaning, I suppose, Moses and Aaron. The redemption of Israel, as described here, was typical of our redemption by Christ in that, [1.] They were redeemed from the nations and their gods; so are we from all iniquity and all conformity to this 60


present world. Christ came to save his people from their sins. [2.] They were redeemed to be a peculiar people unto God, purified and appropriated to himself, that he might make himself a great name and do for them great things. The honour of God, and the eternal happiness of the saints, are the two things aimed at in their redemption. (2.) The covenant he had made with them, 2 Sam. 7:24. It was, [1.] Mutual: “They to be a people to thee, and thou to be a God to them; all their interests consecrated to thee, and all thy attributes engaged for them.” [2.] Immutable: “Thou hast confirmed them.” He that makes the covenant makes it sure and will make it good. 6. He concludes with humble petitions to God. (1.) He grounds his petitions upon the message which God had sent him (2 Sam. 7:27): Thou hast revealed this to thy servant, that is, “Thou hast of thy own good will given me the promise that thou wilt build me a house, else I could never have found in my heart to pray such a prayer as this. I durst not have asked such great things if I had not been directed and encouraged by thy promise to ask them. They are indeed too great for me to beg, but not too great for thee to give. Thy servant has found in his heart to pray this prayer;” so it is in the original, and the LXX. Many, when they go to pray, have their hearts to seek, but David’s heart was found, that is, it was fixed, gathered in from its wanderings, and entirely engaged to the duty and employed in it. That prayer which is found in the tongue only will not please God; it must be found in the heart; the heart must be lifted up and poured out before God. My son, give God thy heart. (2.) He builds his faith and hopes to speed upon the fidelity of God’s promise (2 Sam. 7:25): “Thou art that God (thou art he, even that God, the Lord of hosts, and God of Israel, or that God whose words are true, that God whom one may depend upon); and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant, which I am therefore bold to pray for.” (3.) Thence he fetches the matter of his prayer, and refers to that as the guide of his prayers. [1.] He prays for the performance of God’s promise (2 Sam. 7:25): “Let the word be made good to me, on which thou hast caused me to hope (Ps. 119:49) and do as thou hast said; I desire no more, and I expect no less; so full is the promise, and so 61


firm.” Thus we must turn God’s promises into prayers, and then they shall be turned into performances; for, with God, saying and doing are not two things, as they often are with men. God will do as he hath said. [2.] He prays for the glorifying of God’s name (2 Sam. 7:26): Let thy name be magnified for ever. This ought to be the summary and centre of all our prayers, the Alpha and the Omega of them. Begin with Hallowed be thy name, and end with Thine is the glory for ever. “Whether I be magnified or no, let thy name be magnified.” And he reckons that nothing magnifies God’s name more than this, to say, with suitable affections, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel. This bespeaks the God of Israel gloriously great, that he is the Lord of hosts; and this bespeaks the Lord of hosts gloriously good, that he is God over Israel. In both, let his name be magnified for ever. Let all the creatures and all the churches give him the glory of these two. David desired the performance of God’s promise for the honour, not of his own name, but of God’s. Thus the Son of David prayed, Father, glorify thy name (John 12:28), and (John 17:1), Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may also glorify thee. [3.] He prays for his house, for to that the promise has special reference, First, That it might be happy (2 Sam. 7:29): Let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant; and again, with thy blessing. “Let the house of thy servant be truly and eternally blessed. Those whom thou blessest are blessed indeed.” The care of good men is very much concerning their families; and the best entail on their families is that of the blessing of God. The repetition of this request is not a vain repetition, but expressive of the value he had of the divine blessing, and his earnest desire of it, as all in all to the happiness of his family. Secondly, That the happiness of it might remain: “Let it be established before thee (2 Sam. 7:26); let it continue for ever before thee.” 2 Sam. 7:29. He prayed, 1. That the entail of the crown might not be cut off, but remain in his family, that none of his might ever forfeit it, but that they might walk before God, which would be their establishment. 2. That his kingdom might have its perfection and perpetuity in the kingdom of the Messiah. When Christ for ever sat down on the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12), and received all possible assurance that his seed and throne shall be as the days of heaven, this prayer of David the son of Jesse for his seed was abundantly answered, that it might continue before God for ever. See Ps. 72:17. The perpetuity of the Messiah’s kingdom is the desire and faith of all good people. 62


PRINCE OF PRAYER Robert Murray McCheyne "It is not how long you live, but how you live that counts." Robert Murray M'Cheyne was a living example of this often neglected truth. At twenty-three years old he was ordained and inducted into the church of St. Peters at Dundee. At thirty years old he finished his course, dying in the spring of 1843. Like John the Baptist and the Savior Himself, M'Cheyne ushered in Christ's kingdom in just a few short years. It was during his brief public ministry that Scotland experienced one of its greatest revivals. From 1839-1842 much of Scotland was turned upside down through the Spirit-filled labors of W. C. Burns and Robert Murray M'Cheyne. For every time M'Cheyne directed men to look at their sins he pointed them ten times to look on Jesus. This was the key to his tender and passionate preaching. To him Christ was not just one of many theological concepts in a message, Christ Jesus was the message! M'Cheyne's power in the pulpit was the result of his intimate knowledge of Jesus. He could boldly say, "I am better acquainted with Jesus Christ than I am with any man in the world." Often as he preached the entire congregation was brought to tears. M'Cheyne's diary and letters describe for us some of these precious meetings. He wrote, "It was like a pent-up flood breaking forth; tears were streaming from the eyes of many, and some fell on the ground groaning and weeping and crying for mercy." At other times men and women were so overcome with grief and conviction that they literally had to be carried out of the church - "In some areas whole congregations were frequently moved as one man, and the voice of the minister was drowned out by the cries of anxious souls." M'Cheyne's voice, eyes and gestures spoke of the tenderness of Christ. It was not Robert Murray M'Cheyne the people saw, it was Jesus. M'Cheyne declared, "A man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake - until he gives up striving to attract people to himself and seeks only to attract them to Christ." Perhaps more powerful than M'Cheyne's preaching was his praying. To him the prayer closet was a refuge of fellowship, holiness and intercession. 63


M'Cheyne's diary and letters are replete with examples of his prayerful life. He wrote, "I rose early to seek God, and found Him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company?" "King Jesus is a Good Master. I have had some sweet seasons of communion with the unseen God which I would not give up for thousands worth of gold and silver." Only a few months before his death M'Cheyne drew up some considerations concerning "Reformation in Secret Prayer". "I ought", said M'Cheyne, "to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God. It is my noblest and most fruitful employment." It is said that Robert Murray M'Cheyne had a special place in his church where he would pour over the names on the church role and weep with groans of intercession. Though only a young man, M'Cheyne possessed that rarest of jewels; a TRUE shepherd's heart. M'Cheyne fervently labored among the people of Dundee, as if he somehow knew he would soon die. He was a man motivated by eternity. He wrote, "As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell. Oh how I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had a frame like iron, that I might visit every one and say, 'Escape for thy life! Ah sinner! You little know how I fear that you will lay the blame of your damnation at my door.'" To love Jesus is to love holiness. Many professing Christians shrink from the message of purity and thus draw back from the Savior they claim to love. Robert Murray M'Cheyne understood the necessity of a holy life. He wrote, "Study holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this, for your sermons last but an hour or two; your life preaches all the week. If Satan can only make a covetous minister, a lover of praise, and pleasure, he has ruined your ministry. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God. A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart is full of God's Spirit is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin." Lying upon his deathbed with a raging fever, M'Cheyne lifted his hands in prayer, he exclaimed, "This parish Lord, this people, this whole place." Robert Murray M'Cheyne ended his life like he lived it, full of fervent prayer. by David Smithers

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SOLOMON'S PRAYER AT THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE: I KINGS 8:22-54 FROM THE BIBLE: And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart: Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me. And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place: and hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest, forgive. If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house: Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.

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When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake; (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house; Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name. If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name: Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.

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If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them: For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee. For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God. And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Without prayer the study of Scripture can turn into a merely intellectual exercise. Prayer without Scripture will lack needed motivation and guidance. -Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Solomon having made a general surrender of this house to God, which God had signified his acceptance of by taking possession, next follows Solomon’s prayer, in which he makes a more particular declaration of the uses of that 67


surrender, with all humility and reverence, desiring that God would agree thereto. In short, it is his request that this temple may be deemed and taken, not only for a house of sacrifice (no mention is made of that in all this prayer, that was taken for granted), but a house of prayer for all people; and herein it was a type of the gospel church; see Isa. 56:7; compared with Matt. 21:13. Therefore Solomon opened this house, not only with an extraordinary sacrifice, but with an extraordinary prayer. I. The person that prayed this prayer was great. Solomon did not appoint one of the priests to do it, nor one of the prophets, but did it himself, in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, 1 Kgs. 8:22. 1. It was well that he was able to do it, a sign that he had made a good improvement of the pious education which his parents gave him. With all his learning, it seems, he learnt to pray well, and knew how to express himself to God in a suitable manner, pro re nata—on the spur of the occasion, without a prescribed form. In the crowd of his philosophical transactions, his proverbs, and songs, he did not forget his devotions. He was a gainer by prayer (1 Kgs. 3:11-14), and, we may suppose, gave himself much to it, so that he excelled, as we find here, in praying gifts. 2. It was well that he was willing to do it, and not shy of performing divine service before so great a congregation. He was far from thinking it any disparagement to him to be his own chaplain and the mouth of the assembly to God; and shall any think themselves too great to do this office for their own families? Solomon, in all his other glory, even on his ivory throne, looked not so great as he did now. Great men should thus support the reputation of religious exercises and so honour God with their greatness. Solomon was herein a type of Christ, the great intercessor for all over whom he rules. II. The posture in which he prayed was very reverent, and expressive of humility, seriousness, and fervency in prayer. He stood before the altar of the Lord, intimating that he expected the success of his prayer in virtue of that sacrifice which should be offered up in the fulness of time, typified by the sacrifices offered at that altar. But when he addressed himself to prayer, 1. He kneeled down, as appears, 1 Kgs. 8:54; where he is said to rise from his knees; compare 2 Chron. 6:13. Kneeling is the most proper posture for prayer, Eph. 3:14. The greatest of men must not think it below them to kneel before the Lord their Maker. Mr. Herbert says, “Kneeling never spoiled silk stocking.� 2. He spread forth his hands towards heaven, and (as it should seem by 1 Kgs. 8:54) continued so to the end of the prayer, hereby expressing his desire towards, and expectations from, God, as a Father in heaven. He spread forth his 68


hands, as it were to offer up the prayer from an open enlarged heart and to present it to heaven, and also to receive thence, with both arms, the mercy which he prayed for. Such outward expressions of the fixedness and fervour of devotion ought not to be despised or ridiculed. III. The prayer itself was very long, and perhaps much longer than is here recorded. At the throne of grace we have liberty of speech, and should use our liberty. It is not making long prayers, but making them for a pretence, that Christ condemns. In this excellent prayer Solomon does, as we should in every prayer, 1. Give glory to God. This he begins with, as the most proper act of adoration. He addresses himself to God as the Lord God of Israel, a God in covenant with them And, (1.) He gives him the praise of what he is, in general, the best of beings in himself (“There is no God like thee, none of the powers in heaven or earth to be compared with thee”), and the best of masters to his people: “Who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants; not only as good as thy word in keeping covenant, but better than thy word in keeping mercy, doing that for them of which thou hast not given them an express promise, provided they walk before thee with all their heart, are zealous for thee, with an eye to thee.” (2.) He gives him thanks for what he had done, in particular, for his family (1 Kgs. 8:24): “Thou hast kept with thy servant David, as with thy other servants, that which thou promisedst him.” The promise was a great favour to him, his support and joy, and now performance is the crown of it: Thou hast fulfilled it, as it is this day. Fresh experiences of the truth of God’s promises call for enlarged praises. 2. He sues for grace and favour from God. (1.) That God would perform to him and his the mercy which he had promised, 1 Kgs. 8:25, 26. Observe how this comes in. He thankfully acknowledges the performance of the promise in part; hitherto God had been faithful to his word: “Thou hast kept with thy servant David that which thou promisedst him, so far that his son fills his throne and has built the intended temple; therefore now keep with thy servant David that which thou hast further promised him, and which yet remains to be fulfilled in its season.” Note, The experiences we have had of God’s performing his promises should encourage us to depend upon them and plead them with God: and those who expect further mercies must be thankful for former mercies. Hitherto God has 69


helped, 2 Cor. 1:10. Solomon repeats the promise (1 Kgs. 8:25): There shall not fail thee a man to sit on the throne, not omitting the condition, so that thy children take heed to their way; for we cannot expect God’s performance of the promise but upon our performance of the condition. And then he humbly begs this entail (1 Kgs. 8:26): Now, O God of Israel! let thy word be verified. God’s promises (as we have often observed) must be both the guide of our desires and the ground of our hopes and expectations in prayer. David had prayed (2 Sam. 7:25): Lord, do as thou hast said. Note, Children should learn of their godly parents how to pray, and plead in prayer. (2.) That God would have respect to this temple which he had now taken possession of, and that his eyes might be continually open towards it (1 Kgs. 8:29), that he would graciously own it, and so put an honour upon it. To this purpose, [1.] He premises, First, A humble admiration of God’s gracious condescension (1 Kgs. 8:27): “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Can we imagine that a Being infinitely high, and holy, and happy, will stoop so low as to let it be said of him that he dwells upon the earth and blesses the worms of the earth with his presence—the earth, that is corrupt, and overspread with sin— cursed, and reserved to fire? Lord, how is it?” Secondly, A humble acknowledgment of the incapacity of the house he had built, though very capacious, to contain God: “The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee, for no place can include him who is present in all places; even this house is too little, too mean to be the residence of him that is infinite in being and glory.” Note, When we have done the most we can for God we must acknowledge the infinite distance and disproportion between us and him, between our services and his perfections. [2.] This premised, he prays in general, First, That God would graciously hear and answer the prayer he was now praying, 1 Kgs. 8:28. It was a humble prayer (the prayer of thy servant), an earnest prayer (such a prayer as is a cry), a prayer made in faith (before thee, as the Lord, and my God): “Lord, hearken to it, have respect to it, not as the prayer of Israel’s king (no man’s dignity in the world, or titles of honour, will recommend him to God), but as the prayer of thy servant.” Secondly, That God would in like manner hear and answer all the prayers that should, at any time hereafter, be made in or towards this house which he had now built, and of which God had said, My name shall be there (1 Kgs. 8:29), his own prayers (Hearken to the prayers which thy ser70


vant shall make), and the prayers of all Israel, and of every particular Israelite (1 Kgs. 8:30): “Hear it in heaven, that is indeed thy dwelling-place, of which this is but a figure; and, when thou hearest, forgive the sin that separates between them and God, even the iniquity of their holy things.� a. He supposes that God’s people will ever be a prayer people; he resolves to adhere to that duty himself. b. He directs them to have an eye, in their prayers, to that place where God was pleased to manifest his glory as he did not any where else on earth. None but priests might come into that place; but, when they worshipped in the courts of the temple, it must be with an eye towards it, not as the object of their worship (that were idolatry), but as an instituted medium of their worship, helping the weakness of their faith, and typifying the mediation of Jesus Christ, who is the true temple, to whom we must have an eye in every thing wherein we have to do with God. Those that were at a distance looked towards Jerusalem, for the sake of the temple, even when it was in ruins, Dan. 6:10. c. He begs that God will hear the prayers, and forgive the sins, of all that look this way in their prayers. Not as if he thought all the devout prayers offered up to God by those who had no knowledge of this house, or regard to it, were therefore rejected; but he desired that the sensible tokens of the divine presence with which this house was blessed might always give sensible encouragement and comfort to believing petitioners. [3.] More particularly, he here puts divers cases in which he supposed application would be made to God by prayer in or towards this house of prayer. First, If God were appealed to by an oath for the determining of any controverted right between man and man, and the oath were taken before this altar, he prayed that God would, in some way or other, discover the truth, and judge between the contending parties, 1 Kgs. 8:31, 32. He prayed that, in difficult matters, this throne of grace might be a throne of judgment, from which God would right the injured that believingly appealed to it, and punish the injurious that presumptuously appealed to it. It was usual to swear by the temple and altar (Matt. 23:16, 18), which corruption perhaps took its rise from this supposition of an oath taken, not by the temple or altar, but at or near them, for the greater solemnity. Secondly, If the people of Israel were groaning under any national calamity, or any particular Israelite under any personal calamity, he desired that the prayers they should make in or towards this house might be heard and answered. 71


a. In case of public judgments, war (1 Kgs. 8:33), want of rain (1 Kgs. 8:35), famine, or pestilence (1 Kgs. 8:37), and he ends with an et cetera—any plague or sickness; for no calamity befals other people which may not befal God’s Israel. Now he supposes, (a.) That the cause of the judgment would be sin, and nothing else. “If they be smitten before the enemy, if there be no rain, it is because they have sinned against thee.” It is sin that makes all the mischief. (b.) That the consequence of the judgment would be that they would cry to God, and make supplication to him in or towards that house. Those that slighted him before would solicit him then. Lord, in trouble have they visited thee. In their afflictions they will seek me early and earnestly. (c.) That the condition of the removal of the judgment was something more than barely praying for it. He could not, he would not, ask that their prayer might be answered unless they did also turn from their sin (1 Kgs. 8:35) and turn again to God (1 Kgs. 8:33), that is, unless they did truly repent and reform. On no other terms may we look for salvation in this world or the other. But, if they did thus qualify themselves for mercy, he prays, [a.] That God would hear from heaven, his holy temple above, to which they must look, through this temple. [b.] That he would forgive their sin; for then only are judgments removed in mercy when sin is pardoned. [c.] That he would teach them the good way wherein they should walk, by his Spirit, with his word and prophets; and thus they might be both profited by their trouble (for blessed is the man whom God chastens and teaches), and prepared for deliverance, which then comes in love when it finds us brought back to the good way of God and duty. [d.] That he would then remove the judgment, and redress the grievance, whatever it might be—not only accept the prayer, but give in the mercy prayed for. b. In case of personal afflictions, 1 Kgs. 8:38-40. “If any man of Israel has an errand to thee, here let him find thee, here let him find favour with thee.” He does not mention particulars, so numerous, so various, are the grievances of the children of men. (a.) He supposes that the complainants themselves would very sensibly feel their own burden, and would open that case to God which otherwise they kept to themselves and did not make any man acquainted with: They shall know every man the plague of his own heart, what it is that pains him, and (as we say) where the shoe pinches, and shall spread their hands, that is, spread their case, as Hezekiah spread the letter, in prayer, towards this house; whether the trouble be of body or mind, they shall represent it before God. Inward burdens seem especially meant. Sin is the plague of our own heart; our indwelling corruptions are our spiritual diseases. Every Israelite indeed endeavours to know these, that he may mortify them and watch 72


against the risings of them. These he complains of. This is the burden he groans under: O wretched man that I am! These drive him to his knees, drive him to the sanctuary. Lamenting these, he spreads forth his hands in prayer. (b.) He refers all cases of this kind, that should be brought hither, to God. [a.] To his omniscience: “Thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men, not only the plagues of their hearts, their several wants and burdens” (these he knows, but he will know them from us), “but the desire and intent of the heart, the sincerity or hypocrisy of it. Thou knowest which prayer comes from the heart, and which from the lips only.” The hearts of kings are not unsearchable to God. [b.] To his justice: Give to every man according to his ways; and he will not fail to do so, by the rules of grace, not the law, for then we should all be undone. [c.] To his mercy: Hear, and forgive, and do (1 Kgs. 8:39), that they may fear thee all their days, 1 Kgs. 8:40. This use we should make of the mercy of God to us in hearing our prayers and forgiving our sins, we should thereby he engaged to fear him while we live. Fear the Lord and his goodness. There is forgiveness with him, that he may be feared. c. The case of the stranger that is not an Israelite is next mentioned, a proselyte that comes to the temple to pray to the God of Israel, being convinced of the folly and wickedness of worshipping the gods of his country. (a.) He supposed that there would be many such (1 Kgs. 8:41, 42), that the fame of God’s great works which he had wrought for Israel, by which he proved himself to be above all gods, nay, to be God alone, would reach to distant countries: “Those that live remote shall hear of thy strong hand, and thy stretchedout arm; and this will bring all thinking considerate people to pray towards this house, that they may obtain the favour of a God that is able to do them a real kindness.” (b.) He begged that God would accept and answer the proselyte’s prayer (1 Kgs. 8:43): Do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for. Thus early, thus ancient, were the indications of favour towards the sinners of the Gentiles: as there was then one law for the native and for the stranger (Exod. 12:49), so there was one gospel for both. (c.) Herein he aimed at the glory of God and the propagating of the knowledge of him: “O let the stranger, in a special manner, speed well in his addresses, that he may carry away with him to his own country a good report of the God of Israel, that all people may know thee and fear thee (and, if they know thee aright, they will fear thee) as do thy people Israel.” So far was Solomon from monopolizing the knowledge and service of God, and wishing to have them confined to Israel only (which was the envious desire of the Jews in the days of Christ and his apostles), that 73


he prayed that all people might fear God as Israel did. Would to God that all the children of men might receive the adoption, and be made God’s children! Father, thus glorify thy name. d. The case of an army going forth to battle is next recommended by Solomon to the divine favour. It is supposed that the army is encamped at a distance, somewhere a great way off, sent by divine order against the enemy, 1 Kgs. 8:44. “When they are ready to engage, and consider the perils and doubtful issues of battle, and put up a prayer to God for protection and success, with their eye towards this city and temple, then hear their prayer, encourage their hearts, strengthen their hands, cover their heads, and so maintain their cause and give them victory.� Soldiers in the field must not think it enough that those who tarry at home pray for them, but must pray for themselves, and they are here encouraged to hope fore a gracious answer. Praying should always go along with fighting. e. The case of poor captives is the last that is here mentioned as a proper object of divine compassion. (a.) He supposes that Israel will sin. He knew them, and himself, and the nature of man, too well to think this a foreign supposition; for there is no man that sinneth not, that does not enough to justify God in the severest rebukes of his providence, no man but what is in danger of falling into gross sin, and will if God leave him to himself. (b.) He supposes, what may well be expected, that, if Israel revolt from God, God will be angry with them, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies, to be carried captive into a strange country, 1 Kgs. 8:46. (c.) He then supposes that they will bethink themselves, will consider their ways (for afflictions put men upon consideration), and, when once they are brought to consider, they will repent and pray, will confess their sins, and humble themselves, saying, We have sinned and have done perversely (1 Kgs. 8:47), and in the land of their enemies will return to God, whom they had forsaken in their own land. (d.) He supposes that in their prayers they will look towards their own land, the holy land, Jerusalem, the holy city, and the temple, the holy house, and directs them so to do (1 Kgs. 8:48), for his sake who gave them that land, chose that city, and to whose honour that house was built. (e.) He prays that then God would hear their prayers, forgive their sins, plead their cause, and incline their enemies to have compassion on them, 1 Kgs. 8:49, 50. God has all hearts in his hand, and can, when he pleases, turn the strongest stream the contrary way, and make those to pity his people who have been their most cruel persecutors. See this prayer answered, Ps. 106:46. He made them to be 74


pitied of those that carried them captive, which, if it did not release them, yet eased their captivity. (f.) He pleads their relation to God, and his interest in them: “They are thy people, whom thou hast taken into thy covenant and under thy care and conduct, thy inheritance, from which, more than from any other nation, thy rent and tribute of glory issue and arise (1 Kgs. 8:51), separated from among all people to be so and by distinguishing favours appropriated to thee,� 1 Kgs. 8:53. Lastly, After all these particulars, he concludes with this general request, that God would hearken to all his praying people in all that they call unto him for, 1 Kgs. 8:52. No place now, under the gospel, can be imagined to add any acceptableness to the prayers made in or towards it, as the temple then did. That was a shadow: the substance is Christ; whatever we ask in his name, it shall be given us.

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GOD'S REPLY TO SOLOMON'S PRAYER: I KINGS 9:1-9 FROM THE BIBLE: And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king's house, and all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do, That the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon. And the Lord said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually. And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The church upon its knees would bring heaven upon the earth. --E.M. Bounds

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IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: God had given a real answer to Solomon’s prayer, and tokens of his acceptance of it, immediately, by the fire from heaven which consumed the sacrifices (as we find 2 Chron. 7:1); but here we have a more express and distinct answer to it. Observe, I. In what way God gave him this answer. He appeared to him, as he had done at Gibeon, in the beginning of his reign, in a dream or vision, 1 Kgs. 9:2. The comparing of it with that intimates that it was the very night after he had finished the solemnities of his festival, for so that was, 2 Chron. 1:6, 7. And then 1 Kgs. 9:1; speaking of Solomon’s finishing all his buildings, which was not till many years after the dedication of the temple, must be read thus, Solomon finished (as it is 2 Chron. 7:11), and 1 Kgs. 9:2 must be read, and the Lord had appeared. II. The purport of this answer. 1. He assures him of his special presence in the temple he had built, in answer to the prayer he had made (1 Kgs. 9:3): I have hallowed this house. Solomon had dedicated it, but it was God’s prerogative to hallow it—to sanctify or consecrate it. Men cannot make a place holy, yet what we, in sincerity, devote to God, we may hope he will graciously accept as his; and his eyes and his heart shall be upon it. Apply it to persons, the living temples. Those whom God hallows or sanctifies, whom he sets apart for himself, have his eye, his heart, his love and care, and this perpetually. 2. He shows him that he and his people were for the future upon their good behaviour. Let them not be secure now, as if they might live as they please now that they have the temple of the Lord among them, Jer. 7:4. No, this house was designed to protect them in their allegiance to God, but not in their rebellion or disobedience. God deals plainly with us, sets before us good and evil, the blessing and the curse, and lets us know what we must trust to. God here tells Solomon, (1.) That the establishment of his kingdom depended upon the constancy of his obedience (1 Kgs. 9:4, 5): “If thou wilt walk before me as David did, who left thee a good example and encouragement enough to follow it (and advantage thou wilt be accountable for if thou do not improve it), if thou wilt walk as he did, in integrity of heart and uprightness” (for that is the main matter— no religion without sincerity), “then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom, and not otherwise,” for on that condition the promise was made, Ps. 77


132:12. If we perform our part of the covenant, God will not fail to perform his; if we improve the grace God has given us, he will confirm us to the end. Let not the children of godly parents expect the entail of the blessing, unless they tread in the steps of those that have gone before them to heaven, and keep up the virtue and piety of their ancestors. (2.) That the ruin of his kingdom would be the certain consequence of his or his children’s apostasy from God (1 Kgs. 9:6): “But know thou, and let thy family and kingdom know it, and be admonished by it, that if you shall altogether turn from following me” (so it is thought it should be read), “if you forsake my service, desert my altar, and go and serve other gods” (for that was the covenant-breaking sin), “if you or your children break off from me, this house will not save you. But, [1.] Israel, though a holy nation, will be cut off (1 Kgs. 9:7), by one judgment after another, till they become a proverb and a by-word, and the most despicable people under the sun, though now the most honourable.” This supposes the destruction of the royal family, though it is not particularly threatened; the king is, of course, undone, if the kingdom be. [2.] “The temple, though a holy house, which God himself has hallowed for his name, shall be abandoned and laid desolate (1 Kgs. 9:8, 9): This house which is high.” They prided themselves in the stateliness and magnificence of the structure, but let them know that it is not so high as to be out of the reach of God’s judgments, if they vilify it so as to exchange it for groves and idoltemples, and yet, at the same time, magnify it so as to think it will secure the favour of God to them though they ever so much corrupt themselves. This house which is high. Those that now pass by it are astonished at the bulk and beauty of it; the richness, contrivance, and workmanship, are admired by all spectators, and it is called a stupendous fabric; but, if you forsake God, its height will make its fall the more amazing, and those that pass by will be as much astonished at its ruins, while the guilty, self-convicted, self-condemned, Israelites, will be forced to acknowledge, with shame, that they themselves were the ruin of it; for when it shall be asked, Why hath the Lord done thus to his house? they cannot but answer, It was because they forsook the Lord their God. See Deut. 29:24, 25. Their sin will be read in their punishment. They deserted the temple, and therefore God deserted it; they profaned it with their sins and laid it common, and therefore God profaned it with his judgments and laid it waste. God gave Solomon fair warning of this, now that he had 78


newly built and dedicated it, that he and his people might not be high-minded, but fear.

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JEROBOAM ASKS THE MAN OF GOD TO PRAY FOR HIM: I KINGS 13:6 FROM THE BIBLE: And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the Lord, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is an instinct of the soul but how to pray can only be learned from the inspired Scriptures. --Graham Scroggie

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The sudden healing of the hand that was suddenly dried up, upon his submission, 1 Kgs. 13:6. That word of God which should have touched his conscience humbled him not, but this which touched his bone and his flesh brings down his proud spirit. He looks for help now, 1. Not from his calves, but from God only, from his power and his favour. He wounded, and no hand but his can make whole. 2. Not by his own sacrifice or incense, but by the prayer and intercession of the prophet, whom he had just now threatened and aimed to destroy. The time may come when those that hate the preaching would be glad of the prayers of faithful ministers. “Pray to the Lord thy God,” says Jeroboam; “thou hast an interest in him; improve it for me.” But observe, He did not desire the prophet to pray that his sin might be pardoned, and his heart changed, only that his hand might be restored; thus Pharaoh would have Moses to pray that God would take away this death only (Exod. 10:17), not this sin. The prophet, as became a man of God, renders good for evil, upbraids not Jeroboam with his impotent malice, nor triumphs in his submission, but immediately addresses himself to God for him. Those only are entitled to the blessing Christ pronounced on the persecuted that learn of him to pray for their persecutors, Matt. 5:10, 44. When the 80


prophet thus honoured God, by showing himself of a forgiving spirit, God put this further honour upon him, that at his word he recalled the judgment and by another miracle healed the withered hand, that by the goodness of God Jeroboam might be led to repentance, and, if he were not broken by the judgment, yet might be melted by the mercy. With both he seemed affected for the present, but the impressions wore off.

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ELIJAH PRAYS FOR A CHILD TO COME BACK ALIVE: I KINGS 17:19-22 FROM THE BIBLE: And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer [is] the genesis of revival. The beginning of a time of revival invariably has been marked by quickening of the ordinary prayer meetings, resulting in new vitality, more participation, more sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and more unction in intercession. --Erroll Hulse

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The prophet’s address to God upon this occasion. He gave no answer to her expostulation, but brought it to God, and laid the case before him, not knowing what to say to it himself. He took the dead child from the mother’s bosom to his own bed, 1 Kgs. 17:19. Probably he had taken a particular kindness to the child, and found the affliction his own more than by sympathy. He retired to his chamber, and, 1. He humbly reasons with God concerning the death of the child, 1 Kgs. 17:20. He sees death striking by commission from God: Thou hast brought this evil for is there any evil of this kind in the city, in the family, and the Lord has not done it? He pleads the greatness of the affliction to the poor mother: “It is evil upon the widow; thou art the widow’s God, and dost not usually bring evil upon widows; it is affliction added to the afflicted.” He pleads his own concern: “It is the widow with whom I sojourn; wilt thou, that art my God, bring evil upon one of the best of my benefactors? I shall be reflected upon, and others will be afraid of entertaining me, if I bring death into the 82


house where I come.� 2. He earnestly begs of God to restore the child to life again, 1 Kgs. 17:21. We do not read before this of any that were raised to life; yet Elijah, by a divine impulse, prays for the resurrection of this child, which yet will not warrant us to do the like. David expected not, by fasting and prayer, to bring his child back to life (2 Sam. 12:23), but Elijah had a power to work miracles, which David had not. He stretched himself upon the child, to affect himself with the case and to show how much he was affected with it and how desirous he was of the restoration of the child—he would if he could put life into him by his own breath and warmth; also to give a sign of what God would do by his power, and what he does by his grace, in raising dead souls to a spiritual life; the Holy Ghost comes upon them, overshadows them, and puts life into them. He is very particular in his prayer: I pray thee let this child’s soul come into him again, which plainly supposes the existence of the soul in a state of separation from the body, and consequently its immortality, which Grotius thinks God designed by this miracle to give intimation and evidence of, for the encouragement of his suffering people.

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If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again John Whitfield “Whit” Vaughan and James Rowe How sweet and happy seem those days of which I dream, When memory recalls them now and then! And with what rapture sweet my weary heart would beat, If I could hear my mother pray again. Refrain: If I could hear my mother pray again, If I could hear her tender voice as then! So glad I’d be, ’twould mean so much to me, If I could hear my mother pray again. She used to pray that I on Jesus would rely, And always walk the shining gospel way; So trusting still His love, I seek that home above, Where I shall meet my mother some glad day. Within the old home-place her patient, smiling face Was always spreading comfort, hope and cheer; And when she used to sing to her eternal King, It was the songs the angels loved to hear. Her work on earth is done, the life-crown has been won, And she will be at rest with Him above; And some glad morning she, I know, will welcome me To that eternal home of peace and love.

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ELISHA'S PRAYER FOR HIS SERVANT: II KINGS 6:17 FROM THE BIBLE: And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is helplessness plus faith. - Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: [1.] It seems Elisha was much concerned for the satisfaction of his servant. Good men desire, not only to be easy themselves, but to have those about them easy. Elisha had lately parted with his old man, and this, having newly come into his service, had not the advantage of experience; his master was therefore desirous to give him other convincing evidence of that omnipotence which employed him and was therefore employed for him. Note, Those whose faith is strong ought tenderly to consider and compassionate those who are weak and of a timorous spirit, and to do what they can to strengthen their hands. [2.] He saw himself safe, and wished no more than that his servant might see what he saw, a guard of angels round about him; such as were his master’s convoy to the gates of heaven were his protectors against the gates of hell— chariots of fire, and horses of fire. Fire is both dreadful and devouring; that power which was engaged for Elisha’s protection could both terrify and consume the assailants. As angels are God’s messengers, so they are his soldiers, his hosts (Gen. 32:2 ), his legions, or regiments, (Mt. 26:53 ), for the good of his people. [3.] For the satisfaction of his servant there needed no more than the opening of his eyes; that therefore he prayed for, and obtained for him: Lord, open his eyes that he may see. The eyes of his body were open, and with them he saw the danger. "Lord, open the eyes of his faith, that with them he may see the 85


protection we are under.’’ Note, First, The greatest kindness we can do for those that are fearful and faint-hearted is to pray for them, and so to recommend them to the mighty grace of God. Secondly, The opening of our eyes will be the silencing of our fears. In the dark we are most apt to be frightened. The clearer sight we have of the sovereignty and power of heaven the less we shall fear the calamities of this earth.

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ELISHA PRAYS FOR THE SYRIANS TO BE BLINDED: II KINGS 6:18 FROM THE BIBLE: And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Great grief prays with great earnestness. Prayer is not a collection of balanced phrases; it is the pouring out of the soul. What is love if it be not fiery? What are prayers if the heart be not ablaze? They are the battles of the soul. In them men wrestle with principalities and powers...The prayer that prevails is not the work of lips and fingertips. It is the cry of a broken heart and the travail of a stricken soul. - Samuel Chadwick

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He prayed to God to smite them with blindness, and they were all struck blind immediately, not stone-blind, nor so as to be themselves aware that they were blind, for they could see the light, but their sight was so altered that they could not know the persons and places they were before acquainted with, v. 18. They were so confounded that those among them whom they depended upon for information did not know this place to be Dothan nor this person to be Elisha, but groped at noon day as in the night (Isa. 59:10; Job. 12:24, Job. 12:25); their memory failed them, and their distinguishing faculty. See the power of God over the minds and understanding of men, both ways; he enlightened the eyes of Elisha’s friend, and darkened the eyes of his foes, that they might see indeed, but not perceive, Isa. 6:9 For this twofold judgment Christ came into this world, that those who see not might see, and that those who see might be made blind (Jn. 9:39 ), a savour of life to some, of death to others.

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KING HEZEKIAH CALLS ON ISAIAH TO PRAY FOR THE REMNANT: II KINGS 19:1-4 FROM THE BIBLE: And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be the Lord thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. But Scripture and experience combine to teach that the united prayers of many righteous accomplish still more. --Oswald Sanders

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The contents of Rabshakeh’s speech being brought to Hezekiah, one would have expected (and it is likely Rabshakeh did expect) that he would call a council of war and it would be debated whether it was best to capitulate or no. Before the siege, he had taken counsel with his princes and his mighty men, 2 Chron. 32:3. But that would not do now; his greatest relief is that he has a God to go to, and what passed between him and his God on this occasion we have here an account of. I. Hezekiah discovered a deep concern at the dishonour done to God by Rabshakeh’s blasphemy. When he heard it, though at second hand, he rent his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth, 2 Kgs. 19:1. Good men were wont to do so when they heard of any reproach cast on God’s name; and great 88


men must not think it any disparagement to them to sympathize with the injured honour of the great God. Royal robes are not too good to be rent, nor royal flesh too good to be clothed with sackcloth, in humiliation for indignities done to God and for the perils and terrors of his Jerusalem. To this God now called, and was displeased with those who were not thus affected. Isa. 22:12-14, Behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, though it was a day of trouble and perplexity in the valley of vision (2 Kgs. 19:5), which refers to this very event. The king was in sackcloth, but many of his subjects were in soft clothing. II. He went up to the house of the Lord, according to the example of the psalmist, who, when he was grieved at the pride and prosperity of the wicked, went into the sanctuary of God and there understood their end, Ps. 73:17. He went to the house of God, to meditate and pray, and get his spirit into a sedate composed frame, after this agitation. He was not considering what answer to return to Rabshakeh, but refers the matter to God. “Thou shalt answer, Lord, for me.”—Herbert. In the house of the Lord he found a place both of rest and refuge, a treasury, a magazine, a council-chamber, and all he needed, all in God. Note, When the church’s enemies are very daring and threatening it is the wisdom and duty of the church’s friends to apply to God, appeal to him, and leave their cause with him. III. He sent to the prophet Isaiah, by honourable messengers, in token of the great respect he had for him, to desire his prayers, 2 Kgs. 19:2-4. Eliakim and Shebna were two of those that had heard the words of Rabshakeh and were the better able both to acquaint and to affect Isaiah with the case. The elders of the priests were themselves to pray for the people in time of trouble (Joel 2:17); but they must go to engage Isaiah’s prayers, because he could pray better and had a better interest in heaven. The messengers were to go in sackcloth, because they were to represent the king, who was so clothed. 1. Their errand to Isaiah was, “Lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left, that is, for Judah, which is but a remnant now that the ten tribes are gone—for Jerusalem, which is but a remnant now that the defenced cities of Judah are taken.” Note, (1.) It is very desirable, and what we should be desirous of when we are in trouble, to have the prayers of our friends for us. In begging to have them we honour God, we honour prayer, and we honour our brethren. (2.) When we desire the prayers of others for us we must not think we are excused from praying for ourselves. When Hezekiah sent to Isaiah to pray for 89


him he himself went into the house of the Lord to offer up his own prayers. (3.) Those who speak from God to us we should in a particular manner desire to speak to God for us. He is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, Gen. 20:7. The great prophet is the great intercessor. (4.) Those are likely to prevail with God that lift up their prayers, that is, that lift up their hearts in prayer. (5.) When the interests of God’s church are brought very low, so that there is but a remnant left, few friends, and those weak and at a loss, then it is time to lift up our prayer for that remnant. 2. Two things are urged to Isaiah, to engage his prayers for them:— (1.) Their fears of the enemy (2 Kgs. 19:3): “He is insolent and haughty; it is a day of rebuke and blasphemy. We are despised. God is dishonoured. Upon this account it is a day of trouble. Never were such a king and kingdom so trampled on and abused as we are: our soul is exceedingly filled with the contempt of the proud, and it is a sword in our bones to hear them reproach our confidence in God, and say, Where is now your God? and, which is worst of all, we see not which way we can help ourselves and get clear of the reproach. Our cause is good, our people are faithful; but we are quite overpowered with numbers. The children are brought to the birth; now is the time, the critical moment, when, if ever, we must be relieved. One successful blow given to the enemy would accomplish our wishes. But, alas! we are not able to give it: There is not strength to bring forth. Our case is as deplorable, and calls for as speedy help, as that of a woman in travail, that is quite spent with her throes, so that she has not strength to bear the child. Compare with this Hos. 13:13. We are ready to perish; if thou canst do any thing, have compassion upon us and help us.” (2.) Their hopes in God. To him they look, on him they depend, to appear for them. One word from him will turn the scale, and save the sinking remnant. If he but reprove the words of Rabshakeh (that is, disprove them, 2 Kgs. 19:4)- if he undertake to convince and confound the blasphemer—all will be well. And this they trust he will do, not for their merit’s sake, but for his own honour’s sake, because he has reproached the living God, by levelling him with deaf and dumb idols. They have reason to think the issue will be good, for they can interest God in the quarrel. Ps. 74:22; Arise O God! plead thy own cause. “He is the Lord thy God,” say they to Isaiah—“thine, whose glory thou art concerned for, and whose favour thou art interested in. He has heard

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and known the blasphemous words of Rabshakeh, and therefore, it may be, he will hear and rebuke them. We hope he will. Help us with thy prayers to bring the cause before him, and then we are content to leave it with him."

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KING HEZEKIAH ASKS GOD TO SPARE HIS LIFE: II KINGS 20:1-5 FROM THE BIBLE: In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: When thou prayest before others, observe on what thou bestowest thy chief care and zeal, whether in the externals or internals of prayer, that which is exposed to the eye and ear of men, or that which should be prepared for the eye and ear of God; the devout posture of thy body, or the inward devotion of thy soul; the pomp of thy words or the power of thy faith; the agitation of thy bodily spirits in the vehemency of thy voice, or the fervency of thy spirit in heartbreaking affections. These inward workings of the soul in prayer, are the very soul of prayer. --William Gurnall

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The historian, having shown us blaspheming Sennacherib destroyed in the midst of the prospects of life, here shows us praying Hezekiah delivered in the midst of the prospects of death—the days of the former shortened, of the latter prolonged. I. Here is Hezekiah’s sickness. In those days, that is, in the same year in which the king of Assyria besieged Jerusalem; for he reigning reigned? in all twentynine years, and surviving this fifteen years, this must be in his fourteenth year, and so was that, 2 Kgs. 18:13. Some think it was at the time that the Assyrian 92


army was besieging the city or preparing for it, because God promises (2 Kgs. 20:6): I will defend the city, which promise was afterwards repeated, when the danger came to be most imminent, 2 Kgs. 19:34. Others think it was soon after the defeat of Sennacherib; and then it shows us the uncertainty of all our comforts in this world. Hezekiah, in the midst of his triumphs in the favour of God, and over the forces of his enemies, is seized with sickness, and under the arrest of death. We must therefore always rejoice with trembling. It should seem he was sick of the plague, for we read of the boil or plague-sore, 2 Kgs. 20:7. The same disease which was killing to the Assyrians was trying to him; God took it from him, and put it upon his enemies. Neither greatness nor goodness can exempt us from sickness, from sore and mortal sicknesses. Hezekiah, lately favoured of heaven above most men, yet is sick unto death—in the midst of his days (under forty) and yet sick and dying; and perhaps he was the more apprehensive of its being fatal to him because his father died when he was about his age, two or three years younger. “In the midst of life we are in death.” II. Warning brought him to prepare for death. It is brought by Isaiah, who had been twice, as stated in the former chapter, a messenger of good tidings to him. We cannot expect to receive from God’s prophets any other than what they have received from the Lord, and we must welcome that, be it pleasing or unpleasing. The prophet tells him, 1. That his disease is mortal, and, if he be not recovered by a miracle of mercy, will certainly be fatal: Thou shalt die, and not live. 2. That therefore he must, with all speed, get ready for death: Set thy house in order. This we should feel highly concerned to do when we are in health, but are most loudly called to do when we come to be sick. Set the heart in order by renewed acts of repentance, and faith, and resignation to God, with cheerful farewells to this world and welcomes to another; and, if not done before (which is the best and wisest course), set the house in order, make thy will, settle thy estate, put thy affairs in the best posture thou canst, for the ease of those that shall come after thee. Isaiah speaks not to Hezekiah of his kingdom, only of his house. David, being a prophet, had authority to appoint who should reign after him, but other kings did not pretend to bequeath their crowns as part of their goods and chattels. III. His prayer hereupon: He prayed unto the Lord, 2 Kgs. 20:2. Isa. any sick? 93


Let him be prayed for, let him be prayed with, and let him pray. Hezekiah had found, as recorded in the foregoing chapter, that it was not in vain to wait upon God, but that the prayers of faith bring in answers of peace; therefore will he call upon God as long as he lives. Happy experiences of the prevalency of prayer are engagements and encouragements to continue instant in prayer. He had now received the sentence of death within himself, and, if it was reversible, it must be reversed by prayer. When God purposes mercy he will, for this, be enquired of, Ezek. 36:37. We have not if we ask not, or ask amiss. If the sentence was irreversible, yet prayer is one of the best preparations for death, because by it we fetch in strength and grace from God to enable us to finish well. Observe, 1. The circumstances of this prayer. (1.) He turned his face to the wall, probably as he lay in his bed. This he did perhaps for privacy; he could not retire to his closet as he used to do, but he retired as well as he could, turned from the company that were about him, to converse with God. When we cannot be so private as we would be in our devotions, nor perform them with the usual outward expressions of reverence and solemnity, yet we must not therefore omit them, but compose ourselves to them as well as we can. Or, as some think, he turned his face towards the temple, to show how willingly he would have gone up thither, to pray this prayer (as he did, 2 Kgs. 19:1, 14), if he had been able, and remembering what encouragements were given to all the prayers that should be made in or towards that house. Christ is our temple; to him we must have an eye in all our prayers, for no man, no service, comes to the Father but by him. (2.) He wept sorely. Some gather from this that he was unwilling to die. It is in the nature of man to have some dread of the separation of soul and body, and it was not strange if the Old-Testament saints, to whom another world was but darkly revealed, were not so willing to leave this as Paul and other NewTestament saints were. There was also something peculiar in Hezekiah’s case: he was now in the midst of his usefulness, had begun a good work of reformation, which he feared would, through the corruption of the people, fall to the ground, if he should die. If this was before the defeat of the Assyrian army, as some think, he might therefore be loth to die, because his kingdom was in imminent danger of being ruined. However, it does not appear that he had now any son: Manasseh, that succeeded him, was not born till three years after; and, if he should die childless, both the peace of his kingdom and the 94


promise to David would be in danger. But perhaps these were only tears of importunity, and expressions of a lively affection in prayer. Jacob wept and made supplication; and our blessed Saviour, though most willing to die, yet offered up strong cries, with tears, to him whom he knew to be able to save him, Heb. 5:7. Let Hezekiah’s prayer interpret his tears, and in that we find nothing that intimates him to have been under any of that fear of death which has either bondage or torment. 2. The prayer itself: “Remember now, O Lord! how I have walked before thee in truth; and either spare me to live, that I may continue thus to walk, if, if my work be done, receive me to that glory which thou hast prepared for those that have thus walked.” Observe here, (1.) The description of Hezekiah’s piety. He had had his conversation in the world with right intentions (“I have walked before thee, as under thy eye and with an eye ever towards thee”), from a right principle (“in truth, and with an upright heart”), and by a right rule—“I have done that which is good in thy sight.” (2.) The comfort he now had in reflecting upon it; it made his sick-bed easy. Note, The testimony of conscience for us that we have walked with God in our integrity will be much our support and rejoicing when we come to look death in the face, 2 Cor. 1:12. (3.) The humble mention he makes of it to God. Lord, remember it now; not as if God needed to be put in mind of any thing by us (he is greater than our hearts, and knows all things), or as if the reward were of debt, and might be demanded as due (it is Christ’s righteousness only that is the purchase of mercy and grace); but our own sincerity may be pleaded as the condition of the covenant which God has wrought in us: “It is the work of thy own hands. Lord, own it.” Hezekiah does not pray, “Lord, spare me,” or, “Lord, take me; God’s will be done;” but, Lord, remember me; whether I live or die, let me be thine. IV. The answer which God immediately gave to this prayer of Hezekiah. The prophet had got but to the middle court when he was sent back with another message to Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 20:4, 5), to tell him that he should recover; not that there is with God yea and nay, or that he ever says and unsays; but upon Hezekiah’s prayer, which he foresaw and which his Spirit inclined him to, 95


God did that for him which otherwise he would not have done. God here calls Hezekiah the captain of his people, to intimate that he would reprieve him for his people’s sake, because, in this time of war, they could ill spare such a captain: he calls himself the God of David, to intimate that he would reprieve him out of a regard to the covenant made with David and the promise that he would always ordain a lamp for him. In this answer, 1. God honours his prayers by the notice he takes of them and the reference he has to them in this message: I have heard thy prayers, I have seen thy tears. Prayers that have much life and affection in them are in a special manner pleasing to God. 2. God exceeds his prayers; he only begged that God would remember his integrity, but God here promises (1.) To restore him from his illness: I will heal thee. Diseases are his servants; as they go where he sends them, so they come when he remands them. Matt. 8:8, 9. I am the Lord that healeth thee, Exod. 15:26. (2.) To restore him to such a degree of health that on the third day he should go up to the house of the Lord, to return thanks. God knew Hezekiah’s heart, how dearly he loved the habitation of God’s house and the place where his honour dwelt, and that as soon as he was well he would go to attend on public ordinances; thitherward he turned his face when he was sick, and thitherward he would turn his feet when he was recovered; and therefore, because nothing would please him better, he promises him this, Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee. The man whom Christ healed was soon after found in the temple, John 5:14. (3.) To add fifteen years to his life. This would not bring him to be an old man; it would reach but to fifty-four or fifty-five; yet that was longer than he had lately expected to live. His lease was renewed, which he thought was expiring. We have not the instance of any other that was told before-hand just how long he should live; that good man no doubt made a good use of it; but God has wisely kept us at uncertainties, that we may be always ready. (4.) To deliver Jerusalem from the king of Assyria, 2 Kgs. 20:6. This was the thing which Hezekiah’s heart was upon a much as his own recovery, and therefore the promise of this is here repeated. If this was after the raising of the siege, yet there was cause to fear Sennacherib’s rallying again. “No,” says God, “I will defend this city.”

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PRINCE OF PRAYER Watchman Nee Early Ministry Shortly after Watchman Nee was saved, he began to love the Lord and was intensely burdened to preach the gospel to his schoolmates and countrymen in season and out of season. Through his preaching nearly all his schoolmates were led to the Lord, and a revival was brought into his school and spread extensively to the people of his hometown in 1923. Hundreds were saved and had their lives changed. Watchman Nee did not attend a theological school or Bible institute. Most of what he learned concerning Christ, the things of the Spirit, and church history was acquired through studying the Bible and reading the books of spiritual men. Watchman Nee was not only an excellent student of the Bible; he was also a studious reader of spiritual books. He was brilliantly gifted in being able to select, comprehend, discern, and memorize appropriate material. He could easily grasp the points of a book at a glance. A Living Faith Because of overwork and lack of adequate physical care, Watchman Nee became sick with tuberculosis of the lungs in 1924. It became so serious that rumors were spread that he had died. During this time of illness, he was greatly exercised to trust in God for his existence, and God faithfully cared for him. God graciously healed him of tuberculosis, but sovereignly left him with angina pectoris. He could have died at any moment. This spontaneously ushered him into a full trust in the Lord for his existence. Moment by moment he existed by faith in God, and all through the years God sustained him with His gracious care and resurrection life until he died. Through such physical hardship, he experienced and enjoyed God much more than would have been possible if he had not had such an entangling and exhausting disease. The kind of divine healing Watchman Nee experienced was not merely a miraculous act of God; it was the working out of the resurrection life through the procedure of grace by the exercise of living faith in the faithful Word of God for edification and growth of life. It was not merely a miracle of divine power; it was absolutely a matter of grace and of the divine life.

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Life and Work Whenever Watchman Nee was asked a question, his answer was always practical, to the point, clear, full of anointing, and filled with light. His manner was very normal and open, and he was easy to approach. He had a great capacity and a broad heart. In spiritual matters, he climbed to the heights and touched the depths. Concerning God's principle and purpose, he was very rich in understanding and experience. He always left a very sweet impression, yet one did not lose the sense of respect. His attitude was gentle and meek, and his words were full of anointing. In conversation with him, there was no sense of distance but a sense of being watered and supplied. The impression left by his words and manner are unforgettable. Watchman Nee saw that the important thing regarding our work is not its quantity but its quality. The real work is the outflow of life. Imprisonment In February of 1949 after much prayer and consideration, Watchman Nee made the decision to remain in Shanghai because of his burden for the churches, the co-workers, and the Lord's testimony on the mainland. On the one hand, he fully trusted in the Lord's sovereignty; on the other hand, he realized the risk and was prepared to be sacrificed for the Lord's testimony. In the spring of 1952, he was arrested and imprisoned for his faith; and in the summer of 1956, after a long trial, he was sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment. He was, however, never released. During his imprisonment, only his wife was allowed an occasional visit; She passed away on November 7, 1971. His wife's death was a great sorrow, and it cut him off from any contact with the outside. Not long after her death, on May 30, 1972, Watchman Nee also came to the end of his pilgrimage on this earth and rested with Christ, whom he served at the cost of his life. He left a piece of paper under his pillow, which had several lines of big words written in a shaking hand: He wanted to testify to the truth which he had even until his death, with his lifelong experience. That truth is-- 'Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe. I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee.' by Living Stream Books

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DAVID'S PRAYER: 1 CHRONICLES 17:16-27 FROM THE BIBLE: And David the king came and sat before the Lord, and said, Who am I, O Lord God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And yet this was a small thing in thine eyes, O God; for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree, O Lord God. What can David speak more to thee for the honour of thy servant? for thou knowest thy servant. O Lord, for thy servant's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. O Lord, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people whom thou hast redeemed out of Egypt? For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, Lord, becamest their God. Therefore now, Lord, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said. Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The Lord of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee. For thou, O my God, hast told thy servant that thou wilt build him an house: therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray before thee.

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And now, Lord, thou art God, and hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: Now therefore let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may be before thee for ever: for thou blessest, O Lord, and it shall be blessed for ever.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer...is the very way God Himself has chosen for us to express our conscious need of Him and our humble dependence on Him. - John Stott

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We have here David’s solemn address to God, in answer to the gracious message he had now received from him. By faith he receives the promises, embraces them, and is persuaded of them, as the patriarchs, Heb, 11:13. How humbly does he here abase himself, and acknowledge his own unworthiness! How highly does he advance the name of God and admire his condescending grace and favour! With what devout affections does he magnify the God of Israel and what a value has he for the Israel of God! With what assurance does he build upon the promise, and with what a lively faith does he put it in suit! What an example is this to us of humble, believing, fervent prayer! The Lord enable us all thus to seek him! These things were largely observed, 2 Sa. 7. We shall therefore here observe only those few expressions in which the prayer, as we find it here, differs from the record of it there, and has something added to it. That which is there expressed by way of question (Is this the manner of men, O Lord God?) is here an acknowledgment: "Thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree. Thou hast made me a great man, and then treated me accordingly.’’ God, by the covenant-relations into which he admits believers, the titles he gives them, the favours he bestows on them, and the preparations he has made for them, regards them according to the estate of men of high degree, though they are mean and vile. Having himself distinguished them, he treats them as persons of distinction, according to the quality he has been pleased to put upon them. Some give these words here another reading: "Thou hast looked upon me in the form of a man who art in the highest, the Lord God; or, Thou hast made me to see according to the form of a man the majesty of the Lord God.’’ And so it points at the Messiah; 100


for, as Abraham, so David, saw his day and was glad, saw it by faith, saw it in fashion as a man, the Word made flesh, and yet saw his glory as that of the only-begotten of the Father. And this was that which God spoke concerning his house for a great while to come, the foresight of which affected him more than any thing. And let it not be thought strange that David should speak so plainly of the two natures of Christ who in spirit called him Lord, though he knew he was to be his Son (Ps. 110:1 ), and foresaw him lower than the angels for a little while, but afterwards crowned with glory and honour, Heb. 2:6, Heb. 2:7. After the words What can David say more unto thee, it is here added, for the honour of they servant? v. 18. Note, The honour God puts upon his servants, by taking them into covenant and communion with himself, is so great that they need not, they cannot, desire to be more highly honoured. Were they to sit down and wish, they could not speak more for their own honour than the word of God has spoken. It is very observable that what in Samuel is said to be for thy word’s sake is here said to be for thy servant’s sake, v. 19. Jesus Christ is both the Word of God (Rev. 19:13 ) and the servant of God (Isa. 42:1 ), and it is for his sake, upon the score of his meditation, that the promises are both made and made good to all believers; it is in him that they are yea and amen. For his sake is all kindness done, for his sake it is made known; to him we owe all this greatness and from him we are to expect all these great things; they are the unsearchable riches of Christ, which, if by faith we see in themselves and see in the hand of the Lord Jesus, we cannot but magnify as great things, the only true greatness, and speak honourably of accordingly. In Samuel, the Lord of hosts is said to be the God over Israel; here he is said to be the God of Israel, even a God to Israel, v. 24. His being the God of Israel bespeaks his having the name of their God and so calling himself; his being a God to Israel bespeaks his answering to the name, his filling up the relation, and doing all that to them which might be expected from him. There were those that were called gods of such and such nations, gods of Assyria and Egypt, gods of Hamad and Arpad; but they were no gods to them, for they stood them in no stead at all, were mere ciphers, nothing but a name. But the God of Israel is a God to Israel; all his attributes and perfections redound to their real benefit and advantage. Happy therefore, thrice happy, is the people whose God is Jehovah; for he will be a God to them, a God all-sufficient. 101


The closing words in Samuel are, With thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed forever. That is the language of a holy desire. But the closing words here are the language of a most holy faith: For thou blessest, O Lord! and it shall be blessed for ever, v. 27. He was encouraged to beg a blessing because God had intimated to him that he had blessings in store for him and his family: "Thou blessest, O Lord! and therefore unto thee shall all flesh come for a blessing; unto thee do I come for the blessing promised to me.’’ Promises are intended to direct and excite prayer. Has God said, I will bless? Let our hearts answer, Lord, bless me, 2. He was earnest for the blessing because he believed that those whom God blesses are truly and eternally blessed: Thou blessest, and it shall be blessed. Men can but beg the blessing; it is God that commands it. What he designs he effects; what he promises he performs; saying and doing are not two things with him. Nay, it shall be blessed for ever. His blessings shall not be revoked, cannot be opposed, and the benefits conferred by them are such as will survive time and days. David’s prayer concludes as God’s promise did (v. 14) with that which is for ever. God’s word looks at things eternal, and so should our desires and hopes.

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DAVID'S CHOICE: 1 CHRONICLES 21:17 FROM THE BIBLE: And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. And Joab answered, The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel? Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword. But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab. And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. And the Lord spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

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And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father's house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: It is good to be conscious that we are always in the presence of God. It is better to gaze upon Him in adoration. But it is best of all to commune with Him as a Friend – and that is prayer. - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Numbering the people, one would think, was no bad thing. Why should not the shepherd know the number of his flock? But God sees not as man sees. It is plain it was wrong in David to do it, and a great provocation to God, because he did it in the pride of his heart; and there is no sin that has in it more of contradiction and therefore more of offence to God than pride. The sin was David’s; he alone must bear the blame of it. But here we are told,I. How active the tempter was in it (v. 1): Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to do it. Is is said (2 Sa. 24:1 ) that the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David to do it. The righteous judgments of God are to be observed and acknowledged even in the sins and unrighteousness of men. We are sure that God is not the author of sin—he tempts no man; and 104


therefore, when it is said that he moved David to do it, it must be explained by what is intimated here, that, for wise and holy ends, he permitted the devil to do it. Here we trace this foul stream to its foundation. That Satan, the enemy of God and all good, should stand up against Israel, is not strange; it is what he aims at, to weaken the strength, diminish the numbers, and eclipse the glory of God’s Israel, to whom he is Satan, a sworn adversary. But that he should influence David, the man of God’s own heart to do a wrong thing, may well be wondered at. One would think him one of those whom the wicked one touches not. No, even the best saints, till they come to heaven, must never think themselves out of the reach of Satan’s temptations. Now, when Satan meant to do Israel a mischief, what course did he take? He did not move God against them to destroy them (as Job, ch. 2:3 ), but he provoked David, the best friend they had, to number them, and so to offend God, and set him against them. Note, 1. The devil does us more mischief by tempting us to sin against our God than he does by accusing us before our God. He destroys none but by their own hands, 2. The greatest spite he can do to the church of God is to tempt the rulers of the church to pride; for none can conceive the fatal consequences of that sin in all, especially in church-rulers. You shall not be so, Lu. 22:26 .II. How passive the instrument was. Joab, the person whom David employed, was an active man in public business; but to this he was perfectly forced, and did it with the greatest reluctance imaginable.1. He put in a remonstrance against it before he began it. No man more forward that he in any thing that really tended to the honour of the king or the welfare of the kingdom; but in this matter he would gladly be excused. For, (1.) It was a needless thing. there was not occasion at all for it. God had promised to multiply them, and he needed not question the accomplishment of that promise. They were all his servants, and he needed not doubt of their loyalty and affection to him. Their number was as much his strength as he could desire. (2.) It was a dangerous thing. In doing it he might be a cause of trespass to Israel, and might provoke God against them. This Joab apprehended, and yet David himself did not. The most learned in the laws of God are not always the most quick-sighted in the application of those laws.2. He was quite weary of it before he had done it; for the king’s word was abominable to Joab, v. 6. Time was when whatever king David did pleased all the people, 2 Sa. 3:36. But now there was a general disgust at these orders, which confirmed Joab in his dislike of them. so that, though the produce of this muster was really very great, yet he had no heart to perfect it, but left two tribes unnumbered (v. 5, v. 6), two considerable ones, Levi and Benjamin, and perhaps was not very exact in numbering the rest, because he did not do it 105


with any pleasure, which might be one occasion of the difference between the sums here and 2 Sa. 24:9. David is here under the rod for numbering the people, that rod of correction which drives out the foolishness that is bound up in the heart, the foolishness of pride. Let us briefly observe,I. How he was corrected. If God’s dearest children do amiss, they must expect to smart for it. 1. He is given to understand that God is displeased; and that it is no small uneasiness to so good a man as David, v. 7. God takes notice of, and is displeased with, the sins of his people; and no sin is more displeasing to him than pride of heart: nor is anything more humbling, and grieving, and mortifying to a gracious soul, than to see itself under God’s displeasure. He is put to his choice whether he will be punished by war, famine, or pestilence; for punished he must be, and by one of these. Thus, for his further humiliation, he is put into a strait, a great strait, and has the terror of all the three judgments impressed upon his mind, no doubt to his great amazement, while he is considering which he shall choose. 3. He hears of 70,000 of his subjects who in a few hours were struck dead by the pestilence, v. 14. He was proud of the multitude of his people, but divine Justice took a course to make them fewer. Justly is that taken from us, weakened, or embittered to us, which we are proud of. David must have the people numbered: Bring me the number of them, says he, that I may know it. But now God numbers them after another manner, numbers to the sword, Isa. 65:12 . And David had another number of them brought, more to his confusion than was to his satisfaction, namely, the number of the slain—a black bill of mortality, which is a drawback to his muster-roll. 4. He sees the destroying angel, with his sword drawn against Jerusalem, v. 16. This could not but be very terrible to him, as it was a visible indication of the anger of Heaven, and threatened the utter destruction of that beloved city. Pestilences make the greatest devastations in the most populous places. The sight of an angel, though coming peaceably and on a friendly errand, has made even mighty men to tremble; how dreadful then must this sight be of an angel with a drawn sword in his hand, a flaming sword, like that of the cherubim, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life! While we lie under the wrath of God the holy angels are armed against us, though we see them not as David did.II. How he bore the correction. 1. He made a very penitent confession of his sin, and prayed earnestly for the pardon of it, v. 8. Now he owned that he had sinned, had sinned greatly, had done foolishly, very foolishly; and he entreated that, however he might be corrected for it, the iniquity of it might be done away. 2. He accepted the punishment of his iniquity: "Let thy hand be 106


on me, and on my father’s house, v. 17. I submit to the rod, only let me be the sufferer, for I am the sinner; mine is the guilty head at which the sword should be pointed.’’ 3. He cast himself upon the mercy of God (though he knew he was angry with him) and did not entertain any hard thoughts of him. However it be, Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercies are great, v. 13. Good men, even when God frowns upon them, think well of him. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. 4. He expressed a very tender concern for the people, and it went to his heart to see them plagued for his transgression: These sheep, what have they done?

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Prayer For A Friend Casting Crowns Lord, I lift my friend to You, I've done all that I know to do I lift my friend to You Complicated circumstances have clouded his view Lord, I lift my friend up to You I fear that I won't have the words that he needs to hear I pray for Your wisdom, oh God, and a heart that's sincere Lord, I lift my friend up to You Lord, I lift my friend to You My best friend in the world, I know he means much more to You I want so much to help him, but this is something he has to do And Lord, I lift my friend up to You 'cause there's a way that seems so right to him But You know where that leads He's becoming a puppet of the world, too blind to see the strings Lord, I lift my friend up to You My friend up to You Lord, I lift my friend to You, I've done all that I know to do I lift my friend to You

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SOLOMON'S PRAYER AT THE DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE: II CHRONICLES 6:12-42 FROM THE BIBLE: And he stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands: For Solomon had made a brasen scaffold of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven. And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heaven, nor in the earth; which keepest covenant, and shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts: Thou which hast kept with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him; and spakest with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Now therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that which thou hast promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel; yet so that thy children take heed to their way to walk in my law, as thou hast walked before me. Now then, O Lord God of Israel, let thy word be verified, which thou hast spoken unto thy servant David. But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built! Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee: That thine eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place whereof thou hast said that thou wouldest put thy name there; to hearken unto the prayer which thy servant prayeth toward this place. Hearken therefore unto the supplications of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, which they shall make toward this place: hear thou from thy dwelling place, even from heaven; and when thou hearest, forgive.

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If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house; Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness. And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance. If there be dearth in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blasting, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillers; if their enemies besiege them in the cities of their land; whatsoever sore or whatsoever sickness there be: Then what prayer or what supplication soever shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house: Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men:) That they may fear thee, to walk in thy ways, so long as they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name's sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name. 110


If thy people go out to war against their enemies by the way that thou shalt send them, and they pray unto thee toward this city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name; Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. If they sin against thee, (for there is no man which sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near; Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly; If they return to thee with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, whither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee. Now, my God, let, I beseech thee, thine eyes be open, and let thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness. O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine anointed: remember the mercies of David thy servant.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Brothers and sisters, I really feel that I’ve heard from God about the future of our church. While I was away, I was calling out to God to help us – to help me – understand what He wants most from us. And I believe I’ve heard an answer. It’s not fancy or profound or spectacular. But I want to say to you with all the seriousness I can muster: From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens Tuesday night will be the gauge by which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure by which God blesses us… No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer. --Jim Cymbala

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IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Solomon had, in the foregoing verses, signed and sealed, as it were, the deed of dedication, by which the temple was appropriated to the honour and service of God. Now here he prays the consecration-prayer, by which it was made a figure of Christ, the great Mediator, through whom we are to offer all our prayers, and to expect all God’s favours, and to whom we are to have an eye in every thing where we have to do with God. We have opened the particulars of this prayer (1 Kgs. 8:12-53) and therefore shall now only glean up some few passages in it which may be the proper subjects of our meditation. I. Here are some doctrinal truths occasionally laid down. As, 1. That the God of Israel is a being of incomparable perfection. We cannot describe him; but this we know, there is none like him in heaven or in earth, 2 Chron. 6:14. All the creatures have their fellow-creatures, but the Creator has not his peer. He is infinitely above all, and over all, God blessed for ever. 2. That he is, and will be, true to every word that he has spoken; and all that serve him in sincerity shall certainly find him both faithful and kind. Those that set God always before them, and walk before him with all their hearts, shall find him as good as his word and better; he will both keep covenant with them and show mercy to them, 2 Chron. 6:14. 3. That he is a being infinite and immense, whom the heaven, and heaven of heavens, cannot contain, and to whose felicity nothing is added by the utmost we can do in his service, 2 Chron. 6:18. He is infinitely beyond the bounds of the creation and infinitely above the praises of all intelligent creatures. 4. That he, and he only, knows the hearts of the children of men, 2 Chron. 6:30. All men’s thoughts, aims, and affections, are naked and open before him; and, however the imaginations and intents of our hearts may be concealed from men, angels, and devils, they cannot be hidden from God, who knows not only what is in the heart, but the heart itself and all the beatings of it. 5. That there is no such thing as a sinless perfection to be found in this life (2 Chron. 6:36): There is no man who sinneth not; nay, who doeth good and sinneth not; so he writes, agreeable to what he here says, Eccl. 7:20. II. Here are some suppositions or cases put which are to be taken notice of. 1. He supposed that if doubts and controversies arose between man and man both sides would agree to appeal to God, and lay an oath upon the person whose testimony must decide the matter, 2 Chron. 6:22. The religious reverence of an oath, as it was ancient, so, it may be presumed, it will continue as 112


long as there are any remains of conscience and right reason among men. 2. He supposed that, though Israel enjoyed a profound peace and tranquillity, yet troublesome times would come. He did not think the mountain of their prosperity stood so strong but that it might be moved; nay, he expected sin would move it. 3. He supposed that those who had not called upon God at other times, yet, in their affliction, would seek him early and earnestly. “When they are in distress they will confess their sins, and confess thy name, and make supplication to thee.” Trouble will drive those to God who have said to him, Depart, 2 Chron. 6:24, 26, 28. 4. He supposed that strangers would come from afar to worship the God of Israel and to pay homage to him; and this also might reasonably be expected, considering what worthless things the gods of the nations were, and what proofs the God of Israel had given of his being Lord of the whole earth. III. Here are petitions very pertinent. 1. That God would own this house, and have an eye to it, as the place of which he had said that he would put his name there, 2 Chron. 6:20. He could not, in faith, have asked God to show such peculiar favour to this house above any other if he himself had not said that it should be his rest for ever. The prayer that will speed must be warranted by the word. We may with humble confidence pray to God to be well pleased with us in Jesus Christ, because he had declared himself well pleased in him—This is my beloved Son; but he says not now of any house, “This is my beloved place.” 2. That God would hear and accept the prayers which should be made in or towards that place, 2 Chron. 6:21. He asked not that God should help them whether they prayed for themselves or no, but that God would help them in answer to their prayers. Even Christ’s intercessions do not supersede but encourage our supplications. He prayed that God would hear from his dwelling-place, even from heaven. Heaven in his dwelling-place still, not this temple; and thence help must come. When thou hearest forgive. Note, The forgiveness of our sins is that which makes way for all the other answers to our prayers, Removendo prohibens— The evil which it drives away it keeps away. 3. That God would give judgment according to equity upon all the appeals that should be made to him, 2 Chron. 6:23, 30. This we may, in faith, pray for, for we are sure it shall be done. God sitteth on the throne judging right. 113


4. That God would return in mercy to his people when they repented, and reformed, and sought unto him, 2 Chron. 6:25, 27, 38, 39. This we also may, in faith, pray for, building upon the repeated declarations God has made of his readiness to accepts penitents. 5. That God would bid the strangers welcome to this house, and answer their prayers (2 Chron. 6:33); for, if there be in duty, why should there not be in privilege one law for the stranger and for one born in the land? Lev. 24:22. 6. That God would, upon all occasions, own and plead the cause of his people Israel, against all the opposers of it (2 Chron. 6:35): Maintain their cause; and again, 2 Chron. 6:39. If they be the Israel of God, their cause is the cause of God, and he would espouse it. 7. He concludes this prayer with some expressions which he had learned of his good father, and borrowed from one of his psalms. We had then not in the Kings, but here we have them, 2 Chron. 6:41, 42. The whole word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; and how can we express ourselves in better language to God than that of his own Spirit? But these words were of use, in a special manner, to direct Solomon, because they had reference to this very work that he was now doing. We have them, Ps. 132:8-10. He prayer (2 Chron. 6:41), (1.) That God would take possession of the temple, and keep possession, that he would make it his resting-place: Thou and the ark; what will the ark do without the God of the ark-ordinances without the God of the ordinances? (2.) That he would make the ministers of the temple public blessings: Clothe them with salvation, that is, not only save them, but make them instrumental to save others, by offering the sacrifices of righteousness. (3.) That the service of the temple might turn abundantly to the joy and satisfaction of all the Lord’s people: Let thy saints rejoice in goodness, that is, in the goodness of thy house, Ps. 65:4. “Let all that come hither to worship, like the eunuch, go away rejoicing.” He pleads two things, 2 Chron. 6:42. [1.] His own relation to God: “Turn not away the face of thy anointed. Lord, thou hast appointed me to be king, and wilt not thou own me?” [2.] God’s covenant with his father: Remember the mercies of David thy servant—the piety of David towards God (so some understand it and so the word sometimes signi114


fies), his pious care of the ark, and concern for it (see Ps. 132:1, 2), or the promises of God to David, which were mercies to him, his great support and comforts in all his troubles. We may plead, as Solomon does here, with an eye to Christ:—“We deserve that God should turn away our face, that he should reject us and our prayers; but we come in the name of the Lord Jesus, thy anointed, thy Messiah (so the word is), thy Christ, so the LXX. Him thou hearest always, and wilt never turn away his face. We have no righteousness of our own to plead, but, Lord, remember the mercies of David thy servant.” Christ is God’s servant (Isa. 42:1), and is called David, Hos. 3:5. “Lord, remember his mercies, and accept us on the account of them. Remember his tender concern for his Father’s honour and man’s salvation, and what he did and suffered from that principle. Remember the promises of the everlasting covenant, which free grace has made to us in Christ, and which are called the sure mercies of David,” Isa. 55:3; Acts 13:34. This must be all our desire and all our hope, all our prayer and all our plea; for it is all our salvation.

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GOD'S REPLY TO KING SOLOMON: II CHRONICLES 7:12-15 FROM THE BIBLE: And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: A man who prays much in private will make short prayers in public. --D.L. Moody

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: That God accepted Solomon’s prayer appeared by the fire from heaven. But a prayer may be accepted and yet not answered in the letter of it; and therefore God appeared to him in the night, as he did once before (2 Chron. 1:7), and after a day of sacrifice too, as then, and gave him a peculiar answer to his prayer. We had the substance of it before, 1 Kgs. 9:2-9. I. He promised to own this house for a house of sacrifice to Israel and a house of prayer for all people (Isa. 56:7): My name shall be there for ever (2 Chron. 7:12, 16), that is, “There will I make myself known, and there will I be called upon.” II. He promised to answer the prayers of his people that should at any time be made in that place, 2 Chron. 7:13-15. National judgments are here supposed (2 Chron. 7:13), famine, and pestilence, and perhaps war, for by the locusts devouring the land meant enemies as greedy as locusts, and laying all waste. 2. National repentance, prayer, and reformation, are required, 2 Chron. 7:14. God expects that his people who are called by his name, if they have 116


dishonoured his name by their iniquity, should honour it by accepting the punishment of their iniquity. They must be humble themselves under his hand, must pray for the removal of the judgment, must seek the face and favour of God; and yet all this will not do unless they turn from their wicked ways, and return to the God from whom they have revolted. 3. National mercy is then promised, that God will forgive their sin, which brought the judgment upon them, and then heal their land, redress all their grievances. Pardoning mercy makes ways for healing mercy, Ps. 103:3; Matt. 9:2.

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JOYFUL PRAYER: II CHRONICLES 30:25-27 FROM THE BIBLE: And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came out of Israel, and the strangers that came out of the land of Israel, and that dwelt in Judah, rejoiced. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The thermometer of a church is its prayer meeting. --Vance Havner

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: All this they did with gladness (2 Chron. 30:23); they all rejoiced, and particularly the strangers, 2 Chron. 30:25. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, 2 Chron. 30:26. Never was the like since the dedication of the temple in Solomon’s time. Note, Holy duties should be performed with holy gladness; we should be forward to them, and take pleasure in them, relish the sweetness of communion with God, and look upon it as matter of unspeakable joy and comfort that we are thus favoured and have such earnests of everlasting joy. 7. The congregation was at length dismissed with a solemn blessing, 2 Chron. 30:27. (1.) The priests pronounced it; for it was part of their office to bless the people (Num. 6:22, 23), in which they were both the people’s mouth to God by way of prayer and God’s mouth to the people by way of promise; for their blessing included both. In it they testified both their desire of the people’s welfare and their dependence upon God and that word of his grace to which they commended them. What a comfort is it to a congregation to be sent home thus crowned! (2.) God said Amen to it. The voice of the priests, when they blessed the people, was heard in heaven and came up to the habitation of God’s holiness. When they pronounced the blessing God commanded it, and perhaps gave some sensible token of the ratification of it. The prayer that comes up to heaven in a cloud of incense will come down again to this earth in showers of blessings. 118


KING MANASSEH HUMBLES HIMSELF BEFORE GOD: II CHRONICLES 33:13 FROM THE BIBLE: And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "The right way to pray is to stretch out our hands and ask of One who we know has the heart of a Father." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The expressions of his repentance (2 Chron. 33:12, 13): When he was in affliction he had time to bethink himself and reason enough too. He saw what he had brought himself to by his sin. He found the gods he had served unable to help him. He knew that repentance was the only way of restoring his affairs; and therefore to him he returned from whom he had revolted. 1. He was convinced the Jehovah is the only living and true God: Then he knew (that is, he believed and considered) that the Lord he was God. He might have known it at a less expense if he would have given due attention and credit to the word written and preached: but it was better to pay thus dearly for the knowledge of God than to perish in ignorance and unbelief. Had he been a prince in the palace of Babylon, it is probable he would have been confirmed in his idolatry; but, being a captive in the prisons of Babylon, he was convinced of it and reclaimed from it. 2. He applied to him as his God now, renouncing all others, and resolving to cleave to him only, the God of his fathers, and a God on covenant with him.

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3. He humbled himself greatly before him, was truly sorry for his sins, ashamed of them, and afraid of the wrath of God. It becomes sinners to humble themselves before the face of that God whom they have offended. It becomes sufferers to humble themselves under the hand of that God who corrects them, and to accept the punishment of their iniquity. Our hearts should be humbled under humbling providences; then we accommodate ourselves to them, and answer God’s end in them. 4. He prayed to him for the pardon of sin and the return of his favour. Prayer is the relief of penitents, the relief of the afflicted. That is a good prayer, and very pertinent in this case, which we find among the apocryphal books, entitled, The prayer of Manasses, king of Judah, when he was holden captive in Babylon. Whether it was his or no is uncertain; if it was, in it he gives glory to God as the God of their fathers and their righteous seed, as the Creator of the world, a God whose anger is insupportable, and yet his merciful promise unmeasurable. He pleads that God has promised repentance and forgiveness to those that have sinned, and has appointed repentance unto sinners, that they may be saved, not unto the just, as to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to me (says he) that am a sinner; for I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea: so he confesses his sin largely, and aggravates it. He prays, Forgive me, O Lord! forgive me, and destroy me not; he pleads, Thou art the God of those that repent, etc., and concludes, Therefore I will praise thee for ever, etc.

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KING MANASSEH'S PRAYERS RECORDED: II CHRONICLES 33:18 FROM THE BIBLE: Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the Lord God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the Lord God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sins, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: I have known men…who have been utterly, entirely orthodox, but the churches to which they belonged not only did not have prayer meetings, but they did not believe in prayer meetings. You could not wish for anything better from the standpoint of orthodoxy, but they do not believe in prayer meetings. Prayer has very little place in their lives. Now while they may be orthodox, I take leave to suggest that they are not truly evangelical. This element of prayer is essential to the evangelical; it is his life; it is vital to him. --Martyn LloydJones

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Lastly, Here is the conclusion of his history. The heads of those things for a full narrative of which we are referred to the other writings that were then extant are more than of any of the kings, 2 Chron. 33:18, 19. A particular account, it seems, was kept, 1. Of all his sin, and his trespass, the high places he built, the groves and images he set up, before he was humbled. Probably this was taken from his own confession which he made of his sin when God gave him repentance, and which he left upon record, in a book entitled, The words of the seers. To 121


those seers that spoke to him (2 Chron. 33:18) to reprove him for his sin he sent his confession when he repented, to be inserted in their memoirs, as a token of his gratitude to them for their kindness in reproving him. Thus it becomes penitents to take shame to themselves, to give thanks to their reprovers, and warning to others. 2. Of the words of the seers that spoke to him in the name of the Lord (2 Chron. 33:10, 18), the reproofs they gave him for his sin and their exhortations to repentance. Note, Sinners ought to consider, that, how little notice soever they take of them, an account is kept of the words of the seers that speak to them from God to admonish them of their sins, warn them of their danger, and call them to their duty, which will be produced against them in the great day. 3. Of his prayer to God (this is twice mentioned as a remarkable thing) and how God was entreated of him. This was written for the generations to come, that the people that should be created might praise the Lord for his readiness to receive returning prodigals. Notice is taken of the place of his burial, not in the sepulchres of the kings, but in his own house; he was buried privately, and nothing of that honour was done him at his death that was done to his father. Penitents may recover their comfort sooner than their credit.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER William Booth On April 9,1865, Lee met Grant in the parlor of a private home at Appomattox Court House. He surrendered his army and brought an end to four long years of death and devastation called the Civil War. In the same year a 36 year old Englishman by the name of William Booth declared war on the powers of darkness by founding the Salvation Army. One of the most effective weapons in General Booth's arsenal was fervent prayer. It was not unusual for Booth to hold "an all night of prayer" when he came to preach the Word of God. People would flood the altars every where he went. "The power of God was wonderfully manifest in the meetings . . . people were frequently, struck down, overwhelmed with a sense of the presence and power of God." The Salvation Army's success at freeing the captives was uncanny, especially when one considers those who it strived to reach. General Booth's battle cry was "Go for souls and go for the worst." The worst of sinners were saved, saloons were closed and entire cities were shaken. Booth's success attracted not only supporters but also enemies. Those who served in the Army were pelted with hot coals, sprayed with tar and burning sulphur, beat, stoned and even kicked to death in the streets. The Salvation Army resisted their enemies with a cheerful "God bless you", and a prayer. General Booth, himself was often in the thick of it. When spit on during the Midlands tour, Booth encouraged his fellow soldiers, "Don't rub it off - it's a medal!" Night after night Booth would come home bleeding and bruised after being attacked for preaching in the slums of England. After such nights of testing he would take his wife's hand and say, "Kate, let me pray with you." After praying with Catherine he would rise from his knees armed with fresh courage and hope. Booth needed all the valor his wife Catherine could inspire in him. She encouraged him, "if we get tired we had better go and be done with, anything is better than a dead church." Despite the grinding pressures of the ministry the Booths had a happily united family. The General had nine children and loved to play and romp with them, especially in their favorite game of "Fox and Geese." 123


Once while traveling, General Booth's car was detained. He took advantage of the opportunity and exhorted some idle factory workers. He said, "some of you men never pray, you gave up praying long ago. But I'm going to say to you, won't you pray for your children, that they may be different?" Within minutes, 700 men knelt in silent prayer. At another time, two Salvation Army officers set out to found a new work, only to meet with failure and opposition. Frustrated and tired they appealed to the General to close the rescue mission. General Booth sent back a telegram with two words on it, "TRY TEARS." They followed his advice and they witnessed a mighty revival. During the course of William Booths ministry he traveled 5,000,000 miles and preached 60,000 sermons. God help us in this desperate and distracted day in which we live to heed the General's advice. "Work as if everything depended upon your work, and pray as if everything depended upon your prayer." by David Smithers

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NEHEMIAH'S PRAYER FOR HIS PEOPLE: NEHEMIAH 1:4-11 FROM THE BIBLE: And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The true man of God is heartsick, grieved at the worldliness of the Church...grieved at the toleration of sin in the Church, grieved at the prayerlessness in the Church. He is disturbed that the corporate prayer of the Church no longer pulls down the strongholds of the devil. --Leonard Ravenhill

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IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We have here Nehemiah’s prayer, a prayer that has reference to all the prayers which he had for some time before been putting up to God day and night, while he continued his sorrows for the desolations of Jerusalem, and withal to the petition he was now intending to present to the king his master for his favour to Jerusalem. We may observe in this prayer, I. His humble and reverent address to God, in which he prostrates himself before him, and gives unto him the glory due unto his name, Neh. 1:5. It is much the same with that of Daniel, Neh. 9:4. It teaches us to draw near to God, 1. With a holy awe of his majesty and glory, remembering that he is the God of heaven, infinitely above us, and sovereign Lord over us, and that he is the great and terrible God, infinitely excelling all the principalities and powers both of the upper and of the lower world, angels and kings; and he is a God to be worshipped with fear by all his people, and whose powerful wrath all his enemies have reason to be afraid of. Even the terrors of the Lord are improvable for the comfort and encouragement of those that trust in him. 2. With a holy confidence in his grace and truth, for he keepeth covenant and mercy for those that love him, not only the mercy that is promised, but even more than he promised: nothing shall be thought too much to be done for those that love him and keep his commandments. II. His general request for the audience and acceptance of all the prayers and confessions he now made to God (Neh. 1:6): “Let thy ear be attentive to the prayer, not which I say (barely saying prayer will not serve), but which I pray before thee (then we are likely to speed in praying when we pray in praying), and let they eyes be open upon the heart from which the prayer comes, and the case which is in prayer laid before thee.” God formed the eye and planted the ear; and therefore shall he not see clearly? shall not he hear attentively? III. His penitent confession of sin; not only Israel has sinned (it was no great mortification to him to own that), but I and my father’s house have sinned, Neh. 1:6. Thus does he humble himself, and take shame to himself, in this confession. We have (I and my family among the rest) dealt very corruptly against thee, Neh. 1:7. In the confession of sin, let these two things be owned as the malignity of it—that it is a corruption of ourselves and an affront to God; it is dealing corruptly against God, setting up the corruptions of our own hearts in opposition to the commands of God. 126


IV. The pleas he urges for mercy for his people Israel. 1. He pleads what God had of old said to them, the rule he had settled of his proceedings towards them, which might be the rule of their expectations from him, Neh. 1:8, 9. He had said indeed that, if they broke covenant with him, he would scatter them among the nations, and that threatening was fulfilled in their captivity: never was people so widely dispersed as Israel was at this time, though at first so closely incorporated; but he had said withal that if they turned to him (as now they began to do, having renounced idolatry and kept to the temple service) he would gather them again. This he quotes from Deut. 30:1-5, and begs leave to put God in mind of it (though the Eternal Mind needs no remembrancer) as that which he guided his desires by, and grounded his faith and hope upon, in praying this prayer: Remember, I beseech thee, that word; for thou hast said, Put me in remembrance. He had owned (Neh. 1:7), We have not kept the judgments which thou commandedst thy servant Moses; yet he begs (Neh. 1:8), Lord, remember the word which thou commandedst thy servant Moses; for the covenant is often said to be commanded. If God were not more mindful of his promises than we are of his precepts we should be undone. Our best pleas therefore in prayer are those that are taken from the promise of God, the word on which he has caused us to hope, Ps. 119:49. 2. He pleads the relation wherein of old they stood to God: “These are thy servants and thy people (Neh. 1:10), whom thou hast set apart for thyself, and taken into covenant with thee. Wilt thou suffer thy sworn enemies to trample upon and oppress thy sworn servants? If thou wilt not appear for thy people, whom wilt thou appear for?” See Isa. 63:19. As an evidence of their being God’s servants he gives them this character (Neh. 1:11): “They desire to fear thy name; they are not only called by thy name, but really have a reverence for thy name; they now worship thee, and thee only, according to thy will, and have an awe of all the discoveries thou art pleased to make of thyself; this they have a desire to do,” which denotes, (1.) Their good will to it. “It is their constant care and endeavour to be found in the way of their duty, and they aim at it, though in many instances they come short.” (2.) Their complacency in it. “They take pleasure to fear thy name (so it may be read), not only do their duty, but do it with delight.” Those shall graciously be accepted of God that truly desire to fear his name; for such a desire is his own work.

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3. He pleads the great things God had formerly done for them (Neh. 1:10): “Whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, in the days of old. Thy power is still the same; wilt thou not therefore still redeem them and perfect their redemption? Let not those be overpowered by the enemy that have a God of infinite power on their side.� Lastly, He concludes with a particular petition, that God would prosper him in his undertaking, and give him favour with the king: this man he calls him, for the greatest of men are but men before God; they must know themselves to be so (Ps. 9:20), and others must know them to be so. Who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid of a man? Mercy in the sight of this man is what he prays for, meaning not the king’s mercy, but mercy from God in his address to the king. Favour with men is then comfortable when we can see it springing from the mercy of God.

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PRAYING AND WATCHING: NEHEMIAH 4:7-9 FROM THE BIBLE: But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: No amount of good talking can make a good prayer-meeting. The impression prevails in some quarters that little homilies, pious exhortations, interesting anecdotes with a religious bearing, and well-selected quotations from popular religious writers are of equal value with prayer in a prayer-meeting. This cannot be true. In the former case we are talking among ourselves. It may be very edifying and helpful; but in the latter instance we are doing business directly with God. An ounce of believing prayer is worth a ton of edifying talk, if the Scriptures are good authority. To be sure, no prayer-meeting leader should object to a personal testimony, or to any contribution calculated to edify, but at the same time there is great need, in the average prayer-meeting, of developing the volume of prayer. --J.F. Cowan

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The conspiracy which the Jews’ enemies formed against them, to stay the building by slaying the builders. The conspirators were not only Sanballat and Tobiah, but other neighbouring people whom they had drawn into the plot. They flattered themselves with a fancy that the work would soon stand still of itself; but, when they heard that it went on a prospered, they were angry at the Jews for being so hasty to push the work forward and angry at themselves for being so slow in opposing it (Neh. 4:7): They were very wroth. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath, for it was cruel. Nothing would serve but they would fight against Jerusalem, Neh. 4:8. Why, what quarrel had they with the Jews? Had they done them any wrong? Or did they design 129


them any? No, they lived peaceably by them; but it was merely out of envy and malice; they hated the Jews’ piety, and were therefore vexed at their prosperity and sought their ruin. Observe, 1. How unanimous they were: They conspired all of them together, though of different interests among themselves, yet one in their opposition to the work of God. 2. How close they were; they said, “They shall not know, neither see, till we have them at our mercy.” Thus they took crafty counsel, and digged deep to hide it from the Lord, and promised themselves security and success from the secresy of their management. 3. How cruel they were: We will come and slay them. If nothing less than the murder of the workmen will put a stop to the work, they will not stick at that; nay, it is their blood they thirst for, and they are glad of any pretence to glut themselves with it. 4. What the design was and how confident they were of success: it was to cause the work to cease (Neh. 4:11), and this they were confident that they should effect. The hindering of good work is that which bad men aim at and promise themselves; but good work is God’s work, and it shall prosper.

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'THANKSGIVING IN PRAYER': NEHEMIAH 11:17 FROM THE BIBLE: And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer: and Bakbukiah the second among his brethren, and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask. --Billy Graham

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‘Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer Fanny Crosby and W. Howard Doane ‘Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when our hearts lowly bend, And we gather to Jesus, our Savior and Friend; If we come to Him in faith, His protection to share, What a balm for the weary, O how sweet to be there! REFRAIN Blesscd hour of prayer, blessed hour of prayer, What a balm for the weary, O how sweet to be there! ‘Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the Savior draws near, With a tender compassion His children to hear; When He tells us we may cast at His feet every care, What a balm for the weary, O how sweet to be there! ‘Tis the blessed hour of prayer, when the tempted and tried To the Savior Who loves them their sorrow confide; With a sympathizing heart He removes every care; What a balm for the weary, O how sweet to be there! At the blessed hour of prayer, trusting Him, we believe That the blessing we’re needing we’ll surely receive; In the fullness of the trust we shall lose every care; What a balm for the weary, O how sweet to be there!

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‘SEEK UNTO GOD’ JOB 8:5 FROM THE BIBLE: "If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;"

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness." - Martin Luther

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He put Job in hope that, if he were indeed upright, as he said he was, he should yet see a good issue of his present troubles: “Although thy children have sinned against him, and are cast away in their transgression (they have died in their own sin), yet if thou be pure and upright thyself, and as an evidence of that wilt now seek unto God and submit to him, all shall be well yet,” Job 8:5-7. This may be taken two ways, either, 1. As designed to prove Job a hypocrite and a wicked man, though not by the greatness, yet the by the continuance, of his afflictions. “When thou wast impoverished, and thy children were killed, if thou hadst been pure and upright, and approved thyself so in the trial, God would before now have returned in mercy to thee and comforted thee according to the time of thy affliction; but, because he does not so, we have reason to conclude thou art not so pure and upright as thou pretendest to be. If thou hadst conducted thyself well under the former affliction, thou wouldst not have been struck with the latter.” Herein Bildad was not in the right; for a good man may be afflicted for his trial, not only very sorely, but very long, and yet, if for life, it is in comparison with eternity but for a moment. But, since Bildad put it to this issue, God was pleased to join issue with him, and proved his servant Job an honest man by Bildad’s own argument; for, soon after, he blessed his latter end more than his beginning. Or, 2. As designed to direct and encourage Job, that he might not thus run himself into despair, and give up all for gone; there might yet be hope if he would take the right course. I am apt to think Bildad here intended to condemn Job, yet 133


would be thought to counsel and comfort him. (1.) He gives him good counsel, yet perhaps not expecting he would take it, the same that Eliphaz had given him (Job 5:8), to seek unto God, and that betimes (that is, speedily and seriously), and not to be dilatory and trifling in his return and repentance. He advises him not to complain, but to petition, to make his supplication to the Almighty with humility and faith, and to see that there was (what he feared had hitherto been wanting) sincerity in his heart (“thou must be pure and upright”) and honesty in his house—“that must be the habitation of thy righteousness, and not filled with ill-gotten goods, else God will not hear thy prayers,” Ps. 66:18. It is only the prayer of the upright that is the acceptable and prevailing prayer, Prov. 15:8. (2.) He gives him good hopes that he shall yet again see good days, secretly suspecting, however, that he was not qualified to see them. He assures him that, if he would be early in seeking God, God would awake for his relief, would remember him and return to him, though now he seemed to forget him and forsake him—that if his habitation were righteous it should be prosperity. When we return to God in a way of duty we have reason to hope that he will return to us in a way of mercy. Let not Job object that he had so little left to being the world with again that it was impossible he should ever prosper as he had done; no, “Though thy beginning should be ever so small, a little meal in the barrel and a little oil in the cruse, God’s blessing shall multiply that to a great increase.” This is God’s way of enriching the souls of his people with graces and comforts, not per saltum—as by a bound, but per gradum—step by step. The beginning is small, but the progress is to perfection. Dawning light grows to noonday, a grain of mustard seed to a great tree. Let us not therefore despise the day of small things, but hope for the day of great things.

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'RESTRAINING PRAYER': JOB 15:4 FROM THE BIBLE: Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: What a company we have here tonight! It fills my heart with gladness, and my eyes with tears of joy, to see so many hundreds of persons gathered together at what is sometimes wickedly described as “only a prayer meeting.” It is good for us to draw night unto God in prayer, and specially good to make up a great congregation for such a purpose. We have attended little prayer meetings of four or five, and we have been glad to be there, for we had the promise of our Lord’s presence; but our minds are grieved to see so little attention given to united prayer by many of our churches. We have longed to see great numbers of God’s people coming up to pray, and we now enjoy this sight. Let us praise God that it is so. How could we expect a blessing if we were too idle to ask for it? How could we look for a Pentecost if we never met with one accord, in one place, to wait upon the Lord? Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians. --C.H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He charges him with impiety and irreligion (Job 15:4): “Thou castest off fear,” that is, “the fear of God, and that regard to him which thou shouldst have; and then thou restrainest prayer.” See what religion is summed up in, fearing God and praying to him, the former the most needful principle, the latter the most needful practice. Where no fear of God is no good is to be expected; and those who live without prayer certainly live without God in the world. Those who restrain prayer do thereby give evidence that they cast off fear. Surely those have no reverence of God’s majesty, no dread of his wrath, and are in no care about their souls and eternity, who make no applications to God for his grace. Those who are prayerless are fearless and graceless. When the fear of God is cast off all sin is let in and a door opened to all manner of profaneness. It is especially bad with those who have had some fear of God, but have now cast it off—have been frequent in prayer, but now restrain it. How have they fallen! How is their first love lost! It denotes a kind of force put upon themselves. The fear of God would cleave to them, but they throw it off; 135


prayer would be uttered, but they restrain it; and, in both, they baffle their convictions. Those who either omit prayer or straiten and abridge themselves in it, quenching the spirit of adoption and denying themselves the liberty they might take in the duty, restrain prayer. This is bad enough, but it is worse to restrain others from prayer, to prohibit and discourage prayer, as Darius, Dan. 6:7.

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'MY PRAYER IS PURE': JOB 16:16-17 FROM THE BIBLE: My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; Not for any injustice in mine hands: also my prayer is pure.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: [Prayer] is very hard work, why else is the prayer meeting the worst attended meeting in any church? For that is where the battle is. --Melvin Tinker

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Job’s condition was very deplorable; but had he nothing to support him, nothing to comfort him? Yes, and he here tells us what it was. I. He had the testimony of his conscience for him that he had walked uprightly, and had never allowed himself in any gross sin. None was ever more ready than he to acknowledge his sins of infirmity; but, upon search, he could not charge himself with any enormous crime, for which he should be made more miserable than other men, Job 16:17. 1. He had kept a conscience void of offence, (1.) Towards men: “Not for any injustice in my hands, any wealth that I have unjustly got or kept.” Eliphaz had represented him as a tyrant and an oppressor. “No,” says he, “I never did any wrong to any man, but always despised the gain of oppression.” (2.) Towards God: Also my prayer is pure; but prayer cannot be pure as long as there is injustice in our hands, Isa. 1:15. Eliphaz had charged him with hypocrisy in religion, but he specifies prayer, the great act of religion, and professes that in that he was pure, though not from all infirmity, yet from reigning and allowed guile: it was not like the prayers of the Pharisees, who looked no further than to be seen of men, and to serve a turn.

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IS THERE PROFIT IN PRAYER?: JOB 21:15 FROM THE BIBLE: What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is a golden chain: one end tied to the tongue of man, the other to the ear of God. - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: See how they argue against God and religion (v. 15): What is the Almighty? Strange that ever creatures should speak so insolently, that ever reasonable creatures should speak so absurdly and unreasonably. The two great bonds by which we are drawn and held to religion are those of duty and interest; now they here endeavour to break both these bonds asunder. [1.] They will not believe it is their duty to be religious: What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? Like Pharaoh (Ex. 5:2 ), Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? Observe, First, How slightly they speak of God: What is the Almighty? As if he were a mere name, a mere cipher, or one they have nothing to do with and that has nothing to do with them. Secondly, How hardly they speak of religion. They call it a service, and mean a hard service. Is it not enough, they think, to keep up a fair correspondence with the Almighty, but they must serve him, which they look upon as a task and drudgery. Thirdly, How highly they speak of themselves: "That we should serve him; we who are rich and mighty in power, shall we be subject and accountable to him? No, we are lords,’’ Jer. 2:31 . [2.] They will not believe it is their interest to be religious: What profit shall we have if we pray unto him? All the world are for what they can get, and therefore wisdom’s merchandise is neglected, because they think there is nothing to be got by it. It is vain to serve God, Mal. 3:13, Mal. 3:14 . Praying will not pay debts nor portion children; nay, perhaps serious godliness may hinder a man’s preferment and expose him to losses; and what then? Is nothing to be called gain but the wealth and honour of this world? If we obtain the favour of God, and spiritual and eternal blessings, we have no reason to complain of 138


losing by our religion. But, if we have not profit by prayer, it is our own fault (Isa. 58:3, Isa. 58:4 ), it is because we ask amiss, Jam. 4:3 . Religion itself is not a vain thing; if it be so to us, we may thank ourselves for resting in the outside of it, Jam. 1:26.

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'HE SHALL HEAR THEE': JOB 22:27 FROM THE BIBLE: Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The neglected heart will soon be a heart overrun with worldly thoughts; the neglected life will soon become a moral chaos; the church that is not jealously protected by mighty intercession and sacrificial labors will before long become the abode of every evil bird and the hiding place for unsuspected corruption. The creeping wilderness will soon take over that church that trusts in its own strength and forgets to watch and pray. --A.W. Tozer

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: That he should maintain a constant communion with God, “The correspondence, once settled, shall be kept up to thy unspeakable satisfaction. Letters shall be both statedly and occasionally interchanged between thee and heaven,” Job 22:27. [1.] “Thou shalt by prayer send letters to God: Thou shalt make thy prayer” (the word is, Thou shalt multiply thy prayers) “unto him, and he will not think thy letters troublesome, though many and long. The oftener we come to the throne of grace the more welcome. Under all thy burdens, in all thy wants, cares, and fears, thou shalt send to heaven for guidance and strength, wisdom, and comfort, and good success.” [2.] “He shall, by his providence and grace, answer those letters, and give thee what thou askest of him, either in kind or kindness: He shall hear thee, and make it to appear he does so by what he does for thee and in thee.” [3.] “Then thou shalt by thy praises reply to the gracious answers which he sent thee: Thou shalt pay thy vows, and that shall be acceptable to him and fetch in further mercy.” Note, When God performs that which in our distress we prayed for we must make conscience of performing that which we then promised, else we do not deal honestly. If we promised nothing else we promised to be thankful, and that is enough, for it includes all, Ps. 116:14. 140


'PRAY UNTO GOD': JOB 33:26 FROM THE BIBLE: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is more than something we do it is something that God does through us. - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: So here, interest him in the ransom, and then his flesh shall be fresher than a child’s and there shall be no remains of his distemper, but he shall return to the days of his youth, to the beauty and strength which he had then. When the distemper that oppressed nature is removed how strangely does nature help itself, in which the power and goodness of the God of nature must be thankfully acknowledged! By such merciful providences as these, which afflictions give occasion for, God speaketh once, yea, twice, to the children of men, letting them know (if they would but perceive it) their dependence upon him and his tender compassion of them. His soul recovers it peace, v. 26. The patient, being a penitent, is a supplicant, and has learned to pray. He knows God will be sought unto for his favours, and therefore he shall pray unto God, pray for pardon, pray for health. Is any afflicted, and sick? Let him pray. When he finds himself recovering he shall not then think that prayer is no longer necessary, for we need the grace of God as much for the sanctifying of a mercy as for the sanctifying of an affliction. His prayers are accepted. God will be favourable to him, and be well pleased with him; his anger shall be turned away from him, and the light of God’s countenance shall shine upon his soul; and then it follows, That he has the comfort of communion with God. He shall now see the face of God, which before was hid from him, and he shall see it with joy, for what sight can be more reviving? See Gen. 33:10 , As though I had seen the face of 141


God. All true penitents rejoice more in the returns of God’s favour than in any instance whatsoever of prosperity or pleasure, Ps. 4:6, Ps. 4:7 . He has a blessed tranquility of mind, arising from the sense of his justification before God, who will render unto this man his righteousness. He shall receive the atonement, that is, the comfort of it, Rom. 5:11 . Righteousness shall be imputed to him, and peace thereupon spoken, the joy and gladness of which he shall then be made to hear though he could not hear them in the day of his affliction. God will now deal with him as a righteous man, with whom it shall be well. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, even righteousness, Ps. 24:5 . God shall give him grace to go and sin no more. Perhaps this may denote the reformation of his life after his recovery. As he shall pray unto God, whom before he had slighted, so he shall render to man his righteousness, whom before he had wronged, shall make restitution, and for the future do justly.

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JOB WILL PRAY FOR HIS FRIENDS: JOB 42:8 FROM THE BIBLE: Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept : lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of God’s willingness. - Phillips Brooks

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Job was in the right, and his friends were in the wrong, and yet he was in pain and they were at ease—a plain evidence that we cannot judge of men and their sentiments by looking in their faces or purses. He only can do it infallibly who sees men’s hearts. He will pass his word for Job that, notwithstanding all the wrong his friends had done him, he is so good a man, and of such a humble, tender, forgiving spirit, that he will very readily pray for them, and use his interest in heaven on their behalf: "My servant Job will pray for you. I know he will. I have pardoned him, and he has the comfort of pardon, and therefore he will pardon you.’’ He appoints him to be the priest of this congregation, and promises to accept him and his mediation for his friends. "Take your sacrifices to my servant Job, for him will I accept.’’ Those whom God washes from their sins he makes to himself kings and priests. True penitents shall not only find favour as petitioners for themselves, but be accepted as intercessors for others also. It was a great honour that God hereby put upon Job, in appointing him to offer sacrifice for his friends, as formerly he used to do for his own children, ch. 1:5 . And a happy presage it was of his restoration to his prosperity again, and indeed a good step towards it, that he was thus restored to the priesthood. Thus he became a type of Christ, through whom alone we and our spiritual 143


sacrifices are acceptable to God; see 1 Pt. 2:5 . "Go to my servant Job, to my servant Jesus’’ (from whom for a time he hid his face), "put your sacrifices into his hand, make use of him as your Advocate, for him will I accept, but, out of him, you must expect to be dealt with according to your folly.’’ And, as Job prayed and offered sacrifice for those that had grieved and wounded his spirit, so Christ prayed and died for his persecutors, and ever lives making intercession for the transgressors.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER James O. Frasier James O. Fraser, of the China Inland Mission, was one of those choice servants of God who was content to labor in almost total obscurity. This gifted man was a preacher, linguist, musical genius and engineer. He came to the Yunnan Province of China in 1910 with a heart longing for the souls of the forgotten Lisu tribal people. As Fraser gave himself to the work of reaching the Lisu, he became somewhat forgotten. For years he lived alone, hidden behind the great mountain ranges of China's far west. Few people really knew James Fraser. There was an air of mystery about this talented man who had chosen a primitive pioneers life over the applause of a English concert hall. Some said that it was absolutely wrong for Fraser to waste and bury his gifts on the mission field. Yet, Mr. Fraser was greatly used of God through prayer and loving labor to turn multitudes of Lisu from their slavery of demon-worship to Jesus Christ. After mastering the difficult Lisu language, he developed his own "Fraser Script" and translated the Scriptures into the tribal dialect. By 1916 there was a real move of the Spirit among the Lisu, resulting in sixty thousand baptisms within only two years. The Lisu church continued to grow and eventually became one of the largest tribal Christian bodies in the world. J. O. Fraser's success was not the result of his impressive talents or giant intellect. Mr. Fraser succeeded where others often fail, because he had learned how to touch God through prayer. Isolated and hidden away behind the mountains, he was compelled to seek God for his every need. "To know the real Fraser one needed to hear him in prayer. Prayer was the very breath of life to him, and in prayer he seemed to slip from time into eternity." For many of us prayer is not a first choice, but a last resort. Fraser had learned out of sheer necessity to pray fervently and continuously. "Frequently the mountainside would witness the piercing, importunate pleadings of this man who counted his prayer-time not by minutes but by hours." Fraser was not a man who merely said prayers, he TRAVAILED in prayer. He knew the spiritual necessity of wrestling and agonizing in prayer. He writes, "How much of our prayer is of the quality we find in Hannah's bitterness of soul, 'when she prayed unto the Lord?' How many times have we ever 'WEPT SORE' before the Lord? We 145


have prayed much perhaps, but our longings have not been deep compared with hers. We have spent much time upon our knees, it may be, without our hearts going out in agony of desire. But real supplication is the child of heartfelt desire, and cannot prevail without it; a desire not of earth nor issuing from our own sinful hearts, but wrought into us by God Himself. Oh for such desires. Oh for Hannah's earnestness, not in myself only but in all who are joining in prayer for these poor heathen aborigines." To our shame, some of the most basic spiritual disciplines of our godly forefathers have become strange and unfamiliar to many of us. One of the most effective weapons of the praying saints of old was the discipline of, "praying through." J. O. Fraser both encouraged and practiced this powerful reality. Upon this subject Mr. Fraser writes, "We must be prepared for serious warfare, 'and having done all, to stand,' we must fight through, and then stand victorious on the battlefield. Is not this another secret of many unanswered prayers, that they are not fought through? If the result is not seen as soon as expected, Christians are apt to lose heart, and if it is still longer delayed, to abandon it altogether. You know the name they give to places in England when the building (or whatever it is) is abandoned, when only half of it is completed - So and so's 'Folly'. I wonder whether some of our prayers do not deserve the same stigma. Luke 14: 28-30 applies to prayers as well as towers. We must count the cost before praying the prayer of faith. We must be willing to pay the price. We must mean business. We must set ourselves to 'see things through' (Eph. 6:18, 'In all perseverance')." Wrestling with demonic spirits is a daily reality of spiritual survival. Spiritual warfare is not learned in our leisure time, but is thrust upon us as we begin to threaten the kingdom of darkness. In 1913-1914, James Fraser went through a time of deep spiritual oppression that forced him to deal with issues many would rather ignore. As Fraser reached out to the spiritually blinded Lisu, he became the object of an intense demonic attack. He found himself slipping into a paralyzing depression and despair. He soon began to question even the very foundations of his faith in God. "Deeply were the foundations shaken in those days and nights of conflict, until Fraser realized that behind it all were 'powers of darkness', seeking to overwhelm him. He had dared to invade Satan's kingdom, undisputed for ages. At first, vengeance had fallen on the Lisu inquirers, an easy prey. Now, he was himself attacked, and it was war to the death, spiritually." Fraser was greatly helped in this spiritual struggle by the timely arrival of a magazine produced by Jessie Penn-Lewis called The Overcomer. "What it 146


showed me," Fraser writes, "was that deliverance from the power of the evil one comes through definite resistance on the ground of The Cross. I am an engineer and believe in things working. I want to see them work. I had found that much of the spiritual teaching one hears does not seem to work. My apprehension at any rate of other aspects of truth had broken down. The passive side of leaving everything to the Lord Jesus as our life, while blessedly true, was not all that was needed just then. Definite resistance on the ground of The Cross was what brought me light. For I found that it worked. I felt like a man perishing of thirst, to whom some beautiful, clear, cold water had begun to flow. People will tell you, after a helpful meeting perhaps, that such and such a truth is the secret of victory. No: we need different truth at different times. 'Look to the Lord,' some will say. 'Resist the devil,' is also Scripture (James 4:7) and I found it worked! That cloud of depression dispersed. I found that I could have victory in the spiritual realm whenever I wanted it. The Lord Himself resisted the devil vocally: 'Get thee behind me, Satan!' I, in humble dependence on Him, did the same. I talked to Satan at that time, using the promises of Scripture as weapons. And they worked. Right then, the terrible oppression began to pass away." "The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the VIOLENT take it by force." Matthew 11:12. James Fraser's life was a living example of this verse. Like Fraser, we must cloth ourselves in humility as we run to wage war in the fight of faith. Our prayers must go beyond mere sentimental and religious rhetoric. What we need is the violent groans and cries of travailing prayer! We must learn how to be violent in prayer with both Satan and our own sinful PRIDE. King Jesus is searching for a people who will be subject to Him in all holiness and humility, and yet stand in bold faith against the powers of darkness. (James 4:7). Humility apart from courageous faith becomes despair, and faith apart from broken humility becomes presumption. True revival VICTORY will finally come when the poor in spirit learn how to walk in the authority and power of the Spirit. by David Smithers

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"HEAR ME WHEN I CALL": PSALM 4:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total… Yet many of our church prayer meetings have dwindled in size and influence. Ultimately, the explanation can be traced to spiritual warfare. If, as the hymn writer says, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees,” then we may be sure that he and his minions will be working hard to discredit the value of united prayer. The Evil One has scored a great victory in getting sincere believers to waver in their conviction that prayer is necessary and powerful. --Alistair Begg

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David addresses himself to God, Ps. 4:1. Whether the sons of men, to whom he is about to speak, will hear, or whether they will forbear, he hopes and prays that God will give him a generous audience, and an answer of peace: “Hear me when I call, and accept my adorations, grant my petitions, and judge upon my appeals; have mercy upon me, and hear me.” All the notice God is pleased to take of our prayers, and all the returns he is pleased to make to them, must be ascribed, not to our merit, but purely to his mercy. “Hear me for thy mercy-sake” is our best plea. Two things David here pleads further:— 1. “Thou art the God of my righteousness; not only a righteous God thyself, but the author of my righteous dispositions, who hast by the grace wrought that good that is in me, hast made me a righteous man; therefore hear men, and so attest thy own work in me; thou art also the patron of my righteous cause, the protector of my wronged innocency, to whom I commit my way, and whom I trust to bring forth my righteousness as the light.” When men condemn us unjustly, this is our comfort, It is God that justifies; he is the God of a believer’s righteousness.

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"IN THE MORNING": PSALM 5:2-3 FROM THE BIBLE: Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer meetings were the arteries of the early church. Through them, lifesustaining power was derived. --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: God is a prayer-hearing God. Such he has always been, and he is still as ready to hear prayer as ever. The most encouraging principle of prayer, and the most powerful plea in prayer, is, to look upon him as our King and our God. David also prays to a sin-hating God. sin is folly, and sinners are the greatest of all fools; fools of their own making. Wicked people hate God; justly are they hated of him, and this will be their endless misery and ruin. Let us learn the importance of truth and sincerity, in all the affairs of life. Liars and murderers resemble the devil, and are his children, therefore it may well be expected that God should abhor them. These were the characters of David's enemies; and such as these are still the enemies of Christ and his people. What David here promises, as the condition on his part to be performed, fulfilled, and kept, that he might obtain this gracious acceptance; this may guide and govern us in our addresses to God, that we may present them aright, for we ask, and have not, if we ask amiss. Four things David here promises, and so must we:— (1.) That he will pray, that he will make conscience of praying, and make a business of it: Unto thee will I pray. “Others live without prayer, but I will pray.” Kings on their own thrones (so David was) must be beggars at God’s throne. “Others pray to strange gods, and expect relief from them, but to thee, to thee only, will I pray.” The assurances God has given us of his readiness to hear prayer should confirm our resolution to live and die praying. (2.) That he will pray in the morning. His praying voice shall be heard then, 149


and then shall his prayer be directed; that shall be the date of his letters to heaven, not that only (“Morning, and evening, and at noon, will I pray, nay, seven times a day, will I praise thee”), but that certainly. Morning prayer is our duty; we are the fittest for prayer when we are in the most fresh, and lively, and composed frame, got clear of the slumbers of the night, revived by them, and not yet filled with the business of the day. We have then most need of prayer, considering the dangers and temptations of the day to which we are exposed, and against which we are concerned; by faith and prayer, to fetch in fresh supplies of grace. (3.) That he will have his eye single and his heart intent in the duty: I will direct my prayer, as a marksman directs his arrow to the white; with such a fixedness and steadiness of mind should we address ourselves to God. Or as we direct a letter to a friend at such a place so must we direct our prayers to God as our Father in heaven; and let us always send them by the Lord Jesus, the great Mediator, and then they will be sure not to miscarry. All our prayers must be directed to God; his honour and glory must be aimed at as our highest end in all our prayers. Let our first petition be, Hallowed, glorified, by thy name, and then we may be sure of the same gracious answer to it that was given to Christ himself: I have glorified it, and I will glorify it yet again. (4.) That he will patiently wait for an answer of peace: “I will look up, will look after my prayers, and hear what God the Lord will speak (Ps. 85:8; Hab. 2:1), that, if he grant what I asked, I may be thankful—if he deny, I may be patient—if he defer, I may continue to pray and wait and may not faint.” We must look up, or look out, as he that has shot an arrow looks to see how near it has come to the mark. We lose much of the comfort of our prayers for want of observing the returns of them. Thus praying, thus waiting, as the lame man looked stedfastly on Peter and John (Acts 3:4), we may expect that God will give ear to our words and consider them, and to him we may refer ourselves, as David here, who does not pray, “Lord, do this, or the other, for me;” but, “Hearken to me, consider my case, and do in it as seemeth good unto thee.”

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'THE LORD HATH HEARD': PSALM 6:9 FROM THE BIBLE: The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The simple fact is, we are too vague and, as a consequence, too indifferent in our prayers and prayer meetings. We do not seem like people asking for what they want, and waiting for what they ask. This is what destroys our prayer meetings, rendering them pithless, pointless, powerless; turning them into teaching or talking meetings, rather than deep-toned, earnest prayer meetings. --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He assures himself that God was, and would be, propitious to him, notwithstanding the present intimations of wrath which he was under. 1. He is confident of a gracious answer to this prayer which he is now making. While he is yet speaking, he is aware that God hears (as Isa. 65:24; Dan. 9:20), and therefore speaks of it as a thing done, and repeats it with an air of triumph, “The Lord hath heard” (Ps. 6:8), and again (Ps. 6:9), “The Lord hath heard.” By the workings of God’s grace upon his heart he knew his prayer was graciously accepted, and therefore did not doubt but it would in due time be effectually answered. His tears had a voice, a loud voice, in the ears of the God of mercy: The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. Silent tears are not speechless ones. His prayers were cries to God: “The Lord has heard the voice of my supplication, has put his Fiat—Let it be done, to my petitions, and so it will appear shortly.” 2. Thence he infers the like favourable audience of all his other prayers: “He has heard the voice of my supplication, and therefore he will receive my prayer; for he gives, and does not upbraid with former grants.”

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'GIVE EAR UNTO MY PRAYER': PSALM 17:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The prayer meeting answers to this demand of the spiritual brotherhood, with more exclusiveness and direct fitness than any other ordinance of religious worship… There is a power in conferring and covenanting, on the part of kindred spirits, to come before God, and plead together some special promise… The prayer meeting is a divine ordinance, founded in man’s social nature… The prayer meeting is a special means of developing and cultivating Christian graces, and of promoting individual and social edification. --J.B. Johnson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: See what his appeal is; and here observe, What the court is to the cognizance and determination of which he makes his appeal; it is the court of heaven. “Lord, do thou hear the right, for Saul is so passionate, so prejudiced, that he will not hear it. Lord, let my sentence come forth from thy presence, Ps. 17:2. Men sentence me to be pursued and cut off as an evil-doer. Lord, I appeal from them to thee.” This he did in a public remonstrance before Saul’s face (1 Sam. 24:12; The Lord judge between me and thee), and he repeats it here in his private devotions. Note, (1.) The equity and extent of God’s government and judgment are a very great support to injured innocency. If we are blackened, and abused, and misrepresented, by unrighteous men, it is a comfort that we have a righteous God to go to, who will take our part, who is the patron of the oppressed, whose judgment is according to truth, by the discoveries of which every person and every cause will appear in a true light, stripped of all false colours, and by the decisions of which all unrighteous dooms will be reversed, and to every man will be rendered according to his work. 152


(2.) Sincerity dreads no scrutiny, no, not that of God himself, according to the tenour of the covenant of grace: Let thy eyes behold the things that are equal. God’s omniscience is as much the joy of the upright as it is the terror of hypocrites, and is particularly comfortable to those who are falsely accused and in any wise have wrong done them.

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‘I CRIED TO THEE’: PSALM 30:8 FROM THE BIBLE: "I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "In all moods and in all seasons pour out the soul in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, and if the Spirit groans in intercession do not be afraid of the agony of prayer. There are blessings of the Kingdom that are only yielded to the violence of the vehement soul." - Bruce Wilkinson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: When his mountain was shaken he lifted up his eyes above the hills. Prayer is a salve for every sore; he made use of it accordingly. Isa. any afflicted? Isa. any troubled? Let him pray. Though God hid his face from him, yet he prayed. If God, in wisdom and justice, turn from us, yet it will be in us the greatest folly and injustice imaginable if we turn from him. No; let us learn to pray in the dark (Ps. 30:8): I cried to thee, O Lord! It seems God’s withdrawings made his prayers the more vehement. We are here told, for it seems he kept account of it,

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THE PRAYER OF THE GODLY: PSALM 32:6 FROM THE BIBLE: For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found : surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is a humble act of declaring our dependence on God. - Karl Graustein

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Concerning the good use that we are to make of the experience David had had of God’s readiness to forgive his sins (v. 6): For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee. Note, 1. All godly people are praying people. As soon as ever Paul was converted, Behold, he prays, Acts. 9:11. You may as soon find a living man without breath as a living Christian without prayer. 2. The instructions given us concerning the happiness of those whose sins are pardoned, and the easiness of obtaining the pardon, should engage and encourage us to pray, and particularly to pray, God be merciful to us sinners. For this shall every one that is well inclined be earnest with God in prayer, and come boldly to the throne of grace, with hopes to obtain mercy, Heb. 4:16 . Those that would speed in prayer must seek the Lord in a time when he will be found. When, by his providence, he calls them to seek him, and by his Spirit stirs them up to seek him, they must go speedily to seek the Lord (Zec. 8:21 ) and lose no time, lest death cut them off, and then it will be too late to seek him, Isa. 55:6. Behold, now is the accepted time, 2 Co. 6:2, 2 Co. 6:4 . Those that are sincere and abundant in prayer will find the benefit of it when they are in trouble: Surely in the floods of great waters, which are very threatening, they shall not come nigh them, to terrify them, or create them any uneasiness, much less shall they overwhelm them. Those that have God nigh unto them in all that which they call upon him for, as all upright, penitent, praying people have, are so guarded, so advanced, that no waters—no, not great waters—no, not floods 155


of them, can come nigh them, to hurt them. As the temptations of the wicked one touch them not (1 Jn. 5:18 ), so neither do the troubles of this evil world; these fiery darts of both kinds, drop short of them.

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'HUMBLED WITH FASTING': PSALM 35:13 FROM THE BIBLE: But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: All revival begins, and continues, in the prayer meeting. Some have also called prayer the "great fruit of revival." In times of revival, thousands may be found on their knees for hours, lifting up their heartfelt cries, with thanksgiving, to heaven. --Henry T. Blackaby

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: How tenderly, and with what a cordial affection, he had behaved towards them in their afflictions (Ps. 35:13, 14): They were sick. Note, Even the palaces and courts of princes are not exempt from the jurisdiction of death and the visitation of sickness. Now when these people were sick, (1.) David mourned for them and sympathized with them in their grief. They were not related to him; he was under no obligations to them; he would lose nothing by their death, but perhaps be a gainer by it; and yet he behaved himself as though they had been his nearest relations, purely from a principle of compassion and humanity. David was a man of war, and of a bold stout spirit, and yet was thus susceptible of the impressions of sympathy, forgot the bravery of the hero, and seemed wholly made up of love and pity; it was a rare composition of hardiness and tenderness, courage and compassion, in the same breast. Observe, He mourned as for a brother or mother, which intimates that it is our duty, and well becomes us, to lay to heart the sickness, and sorrow, and death of our near relations. Those that do not are justly stigmatized as without natural affection. (2.) He prayed for them. He discovered not only the tender affection of a man, but the pious affection of a saint. He was concerned for their precious souls, and, since he helped them with his prayers to God for mercy and grace; and the prayers of one who had so great an interest in heaven were of more value than perhaps they knew or considered. With his prayers he joined humiliation and self-affliction, both in his diet (he fasted, at least from pleasant 157


bread) and in his dress; he clothed himself with sackcloth, thus expressing his grief, not only for their affliction, but for their sin; for this was the guise and practice of a penitent. We ought to mourn for the sins of those that do not mourn for them themselves. His fasting also put an edge upon his praying, and was an expression of the fervour of it; he was so intent in his devotions that he had no appetite to meat, nor would allow himself time for eating: “My prayer returned into my own bosom; I had the comfort of having done my duty, and of having approved myself a loving neighbour, though I could not thereby win upon them nor make them my friends.� We shall not lose by the good offices we have done to any, how ungrateful soever they are; for our rejoicing will be this, the testimony of our conscience.

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'GIVE EAR UNTO MY CRY': PSALM 39:12 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Every convert is the result of the Holy Spirit's pleading in answer to the prayers of some believer. --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He pleads the good impressions made upon him by his affliction. He hoped that the end was accomplished for which it was sent, and that therefore it would be removed in mercy; and unless an affliction has done its work, though it may be removed, it is not removed in mercy. [1.] It had set him a weeping, and he hoped God would take notice of that. When the Lord God called to mourning, he answered the call and accommodated himself to the dispensation, and therefore could, in faith, pray, Lord, hold not thy peace at my tears, Ps. 39:12. He that does not willingly afflict and grieve the children of men, much less his own children, will not hold his peace at their tears, but will either speak deliverance for them (and, if he speak, it is done) or in the mean time speak comfort to them and make them to hear joy and gladness. [2.] It had set him a praying; and afflictions are sent to stir up prayer. If they have that effect, and when we are afflicted we pray more, and pray better, than before, we may hope that God will hear our prayer and give ear to our cry; for the prayer which by his providence he gives occasion for, and which by his Spirit of grace he indites, shall not return void. [3.] It had helped to wean him from the world and to take his affections off from it. Now he began, more than ever, to look upon himself as a stranger and sojourner here, like all his fathers, not at home in this world, but travelling through it to another, to a better, and would never reckon himself at home till he came to heaven. He pleads it with God: “Lord, take cognizance of me, and 159


of my wants and burdens, for I am a stranger here, and therefore meet with strange usage; I am slighted and oppressed as a stranger; and whence should I expect relief but from thee, from that other country to which I belong?�

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'MY PRAYER UNTO GOD': PSALM 42:8 FROM THE BIBLE: Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Our continuing to pray for someone is a testimony of our faith not in them or in ourselves, but in God. --Mark Dever

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He expected his deliverance to come from God’s favour (Ps. 42:8): Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness. Things are bad, but they shall not always be so. Non si male nunc et olim sic erit—Though affairs are now in an evil plight, they may not always be so. After the storm there will come a calm, and the prospect of this supported him when deep called unto deep. Observe (1.) What he promised himself from God: The Lord will command his lovingkindness. He eyes the favour of God as the fountain of all the good he looked for. That is life; that is better than life; and with that God will gather those from whom he has, in a little wrath, hid his face, Isa. 54:7, 8. God’s conferring his favour is called his commanding it. This intimates the freeness of it; we cannot pretend to merit it, but it is bestowed in a way of sovereignty, he gives like a king. It intimates also the efficacy of it; he speaks his lovingkindness, and makes us to hear it; speaks, and it is done. He commands deliverance (Ps. 44:4), commands the blessing (Ps. 133:3), as one having authority. By commanding his lovingkindness, he commands down the waves and the billows, and they shall obey him. This he will do in the daytime, for God’s lovingkindness will make day in the soul at any time. Though weeping has endured for a night, a long night, yet joy will come in the morning. (2.) What he promised for himself to God. If God command his lovingkindness for him, he will meet it, and bid it welcome, with his best affections and devotions. [1.] He will rejoice in God: In the night his song shall be with me. The mercies we receive in the day we ought to return thanks for at night; when others are 161


sleeping we should be praising God. See Ps. 119:62; At midnight will I rise to give thanks. In silence and solitude, when we are retired from the hurries of the world, we must be pleasing ourselves with the thoughts of God’s goodness. Or in the night of affliction: “Before the day dawns, in which God commands his lovingkindness, I will sing songs of praise in the prospect of it.” Even in tribulation the saints can rejoice in hope of the glory of God, sing in hope, and praise in hope, Rom. 5:2, 3. It is God’s prerogative to give songs in the night, Job 35:10. [2.] He will seek to God in a constant dependence upon him: My prayer shall be to the God of my life. Our believing expectation of mercy must not supersede, but quicken, our prayers for it. God is the God of our life, in whom we live and move, the author and giver of all our comforts; and therefore to whom should we apply by prayer, but to him? And from him what good may not we expect? It would put life into our prayers in them to eye God as the God of our life; for then it is for our lives, and the lives of our souls, that we stand up to make request.

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'HEAR MY PRAYER': PSALM 54:2 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: We need to learn how wrong it is to think of prayer as a way of getting something from God. People often think of prayer as a way of talking God into doing what they want Him to do. This is what lies behind "name it and claim it" Christianity, the idea that I can influence God by offering the right kind of prayer. But that attitude ultimately leads to hell. As C. S. Lewis once observed, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it." Besides, why would anyone want to change God's mind? The Bible says that His will is "good, pleasing and perfect" (Rom. 12:2). Imagine what a mess our lives would be in if God always did what we wanted Him to do! For unlike God's will, our own wills are evil, displeasing, and imperfect. --Philip Graham Ryken

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David appeals to God’s strength, by which he was able to help him, and to his name, by which he was engaged to help him, and begs he would save him from his enemies and judge him, that is, plead his cause and judge for him. David has no other plea to depend upon than God’s name, no other power to depend upon than God’s strength, and those he makes his refuge and confidence. This would be the effectual answer of his prayers (Ps. 54:2), which even in his flight, when he had not opportunity for solemn address to God, he was ever and anon lifting up to heaven: Hear my prayer, which comes from my heart, and give ear to the words of my mouth.

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'HIDE NOT FROM MY SUPPLICATION': PSALM 55:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: He has told us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). And if we have ever prayed that prayer and meant it – even once – we have ourselves shut the door on thousands of things for which we might foolishly ask. --Tom Wells

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David praying. Prayer is a salve for every sore and a relief to the spirit under every burden: Give ear to my prayer, O God! Ps. 55:1, 2. He does not set down the petitions he offered up to God in his distress, but begs that God would hear the prayers which, at every period, his heart lifted up to God, and grant an answer of peace to them: Attend to me, hear me. Saul would not hear his petitions; his other enemies regarded not his pleas; but, “Lord, be thou pleased to hearken to me. Hide not thyself from my supplication, either as one unconcerned and not regarding it, nor seeming to take any notice of it, or as one displeased, angry at me, and therefore at my prayer.” If we, in our prayers, sincerely lay open ourselves, our case, our hearts, to God, we have reason to hope that he will not hide himself, his favours, his comforts, from us.

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'CRY ALOUD': PSALM 55:17 FROM THE BIBLE: Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray , and cry aloud : and he shall hear my voice.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is nothing but the breathing that out before the Lord, that was first breathed into us by the Spirit of the Lord. - Thomas Brooks

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David perseveres in his resolution to pray frequently, every day, and three times a day—evening, and morning, and at noon. It is probable that this had been his constant practice, and he resolves to continue it now that he is in his distress. Then we may come the more boldly to the throne of grace in trouble when we do not then first begin to seek acquaintance with God, but it is what we have constantly practised, and the trouble finds the wheels of prayer going. Those that think three meals a day little enough for the body ought much more to think three solemn prayers a day little enough for the soul, and to count it a pleasure, not a task. As it is fit that in the morning we should begin the day with God, and in the evening close it with him, so it is fit that in the midst of the day we should retire awhile to converse with him. It was Daniel’s practice to pray three times a day, and noon was one of Peter’s hours of prayer. Let not us be weary of praying often, for God is not weary of hearing.

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'HEAR MY CRY': PSALM 61:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: It has been said that no great work in literature or in science was ever wrought by a man who did not love solitude. We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often long alone with God. --Austin Phelps

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David’s close adherence and application to God by prayer in the day of his distress and trouble: “Whatever comes, I will cry unto thee (Ps. 61:2), --not cry unto other gods, but to thee only,—not fall out with thee because thou afflictest me, but still look unto thee, and wait upon thee,—not speak to thee in a cold and careless manner, but cry to thee with the greatest importunity and fervency of spirit, as one that will not let thee go except thou bless me.” This he will do, Notwithstanding his distance from the sanctuary, the house of prayer, where he used to attend as in the court of requests: “From the end of the earth, or of the land, from the most remote and obscure corner of the country, will I cry unto thee.” Note, Wherever we are we may have liberty of access to God, and may find a way open to the throne of grace. Undique ad coelos tantundem est viae—Heaven is equally accessible from all places. “Nay, because I am here in the end of the earth, in sorrow and solitude, therefore I will cry unto thee.” Note, That which separates us from our other comforts should drive us so much the nearer to God, the fountain of all comfort.

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'HEAR MY VOICE': PSALM 64:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Power helpeth our infirmity in prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Life ends our deadness in prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Wisdom delivers us from ignorance in this holy art of prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Fire delivers us from coldness in prayer. The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Might comes to our aid in our weakness as we pray. --Leonard Ravenhill

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He earnestly begs of God to preserve him (Ps. 64:1, 2): Hear my voice, O God! in my prayer; that is, grant me the thing I pray for, and this is it, Lord, preserve my life from fear of the enemy, that is, fro the enemy that I am in fear of. He makes request for his life, which is, in a particular manner, dear to him, because he knows it is designed to be very serviceable to God and his generation. When his life is struck at it cannot be thought he should altogether hold his peace, Est. 7:2, 4. And, if he plead his fear of the enemy, it is no disparagement to his courage; his father Jacob, that prince with God, did so before him. Gen. 32:11; Deliver me from the hand of Esau, for I fear him. Preserve my life from fear, not only from the thing itself which I fear, but from the disquieting fear of it; this is, in effect, the preservation of the life, for fear has torment, particularly the fear of death, by reason of which some are all their life-time subject to bondage. He prays, “Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the mischief which they secretly consult among themselves to do against me, and from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity, who join forces, as they join counsels, to do me a mischief.” Observe, The secret counsel ends in an insurrection; treasonable practices begin in treasonable confederacies and conspiracies. “Hide me from them, that they may not find me, that they may not reach me. Let me be safe under thy protection.”

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'THOU THAT HEAREST PRAYER': PSALM 65:2 FROM THE BIBLE: O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Personal working for souls is good. Giving money is good. But praying is best of all. By prayer we reach Him without whom work and money are alike in vain. We obtain the aid of the Holy Spirit. Money can hire workers. Universities can give learning. Congregations may elect. Bishops may ordain. But the Holy Spirit alone can make ministers of the Gospel, and raise up lay workmen in the spiritual harvest, who need not be ashamed. Never, never may we forget that if we would do good to the world, our first duty is to pray! --J.C. Ryle

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David gives God glory for hearing prayer (Ps. 65:2): Praise waits for thee; and why is it so ready? (1.) “Because thou art ready to grant our petitions. O thou that hearest prayer! thou canst answer every prayer, for thou art able to do for us more than we are able to ask or think (Eph. 3:20), and thou wilt answer every prayer of faith, either in kind or kindness.” It is much for the glory of God’s goodness, and the encouragement of ours, that he is a God hearing prayer, and has taken it among the titles of his honour to be so; and we are much wanting to ourselves if we do not take all occasions to give him his title. (2.) Because, for that reason, we are ready to run to him when we are in our straits. “Therefore, because thou art a God hearing prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come; justly does every man’s praise wait for thee, because every man’s prayer waits on thee when he is in want or distress, whatever he does at other times. Now only the seed of Israel come to thee, and the proselytes to their religion; but, when thy house shall be called a house of prayer to all people, then unto thee shall all flesh come, and be welcome,” Rom. 10:12, 13. To him let us come, and come boldly, because he is a God that hears prayer. 168


'GOD HATH HEARD ME': PSALM 66:19 FROM THE BIBLE: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is the most effective means of pastoral care… We have been set apart as shepherds and teachers so that we may give time to intercessory prayer. It is no accident that the one present activity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, to which the New Testament refers is His continuing intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). We are never closer to His heart than when we intercede in His Name for His sheep. --Derek Prime and Alistair Begg

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The Ps. 66:18, 19 are the major and minor propositions of a syllogism: If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear my prayer; that is the proposition: but verily God has heard me; that is the assumption, from which he might have rationally inferred, “Therefore I do not regard iniquity in my heart;” but, instead of taking the comfort to himself, he gives the praise to God: Blessed be God. Whatever are the premises, God’s glory must always be the conclusion. God has heard me, and therefore blessed be God. Note, What we win by prayer we must wear with praise. Mercies in answer to prayer do, in a special manner, oblige us to be thankful. He has not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy. Lest it should be thought that the deliverance was granted for the sake of some worthiness in his prayer, he ascribes it to God’s mercy. This he adds by way of correction: “It was not my prayer that fetched the deliverance, but his mercy that sent it.” Therefore God does not turn away our prayer, because he does not turn away his own mercy, for that is the foundation of our hopes and the fountain of our comforts, and therefore ought to be the matter of our praises.

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'AN ACCEPTABLE TIME': PSALM 69:13 FROM THE BIBLE: But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: It is possible to move men, through God, by prayer alone. --Hudson Taylor

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: That he might have a gracious audience given to his complaints, the cry of his affliction, and the desire of his heart. Hear me (Ps. 69:13), and again, Hear me, O Lord! (Ps. 69:16), Hear me speedily (Ps. 69:17), not only hear what I say, but grant what I ask. He pleads God’s mercy and truth (Ps. 69:13): In the multitude of thy mercy hear me. There is mercy in God, a multitude of mercies, all kinds of mercy, inexhaustible mercy, mercy enough for all, enough for each; and hence we must take our encouragement in praying. The truth also of his salvation (the truth of all those promises of salvation which he has made to those that trust in him) is a further encouragement. He repeats his argument taken from the mercy of God: “Hear me, for thy lovingkindness of good. It is so in itself; it is rich and plentiful and abundant. It is so in the account of all the saints; it is very precious to them, it is their life, their joy, their all. O let me have the benefit of it!

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CONTINUAL PRAYER: PSALM 72:15 FROM THE BIBLE: And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The story of every great Christian achievement is the history of answered prayer. --E.M. Bounds

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David prays that he shall be honoured and beloved by all his subjects (Ps. 72:15): He shall live; his subjects shall desire his life (O king! live for ever) and with good reason; for he has said, Because I live, you shall live also; and of him it is witnessed that he liveth, ever liveth, making intercession, Heb. 7:8, 25. He shall live, and live prosperously; and, 1. Presents shall be made to him. Though he shall be able to live without them, for he needs neither the gifts nor the services of any, yet to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba—gold, the best of metals, gold of Sheba, which probably was the finest gold; for he that is best must be served with the best. Those that have abundance of the wealth of this world, that have gold at command, must give it to Christ, must serve him with it, do good with it. Honour the Lord with thy substance. 2. Prayers shall be made for him, and that continually. The people prayed for Solomon, and that helped to make him and his reign so great a blessing to them. It is the duty of subjects to make prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, for kings and all in authority, not in compliment to them, as is too often done, but in concern for the public welfare. But how is this applied to Christ? He needs not our prayers, nor can have any benefit by them. But the Old-Testament saints prayed for his coming, prayed continually for it; for they called him, He that should come. And now that he has come we must pray for the success of his gospel and the advancement of his kingdom, which he calls praying for him (Hosanna to the Son of David, prosperity to his reign), and we must pray for his second coming. It may be read, Prayer shall be made through him, or for his sake; whatsoever we ask of the Father shall be in his 171


name and in dependence upon his intercession. 3. Praises shall be made of him, and high encomiums given of his wisdom, justice, and goodness: Daily shall he be praised. By praying daily in his name we give him honour. Subjects ought to speak well of the government that is a blessing to them; and much more ought all Christians to praise Jesus Christ, daily to praise him; for they owe their all to him, and to him they lie under the highest obligations.

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'HOW LONG?' PSALM 80:4 FROM THE BIBLE: O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: When a man’s mouth is thus opened, God’s ears are never closed. When the penitent is talking the Savior is listening. --W. Graham Scroggie

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David complains of God’s displeasure against them. God was angry, and he dreads that more than any thing, Ps. 80:4. 1. It was great anger. He apprehended that God was angry against the prayer of his people, not only that he was angry notwithstanding their prayers, by which they hoped to turn away his wrath from them, but that he was angry with their prayers, though they were his own people that prayed. That God should be angry at the sins of his people and at the prayers of his enemies is not strange; but that he should be angry at the prayers of his people is strange indeed. He not only delayed to answer them (that he often does in love), but he was displeased at them. If he be really angry at the prayers of his people, we may be sure it is because they ask amiss, Jas. 4:3. They pray, but they do not wrestle in prayer; their ends are not right, or there is some secret sin harboured and indulged in them; they do not lift up pure hands, or they lift them up with wrath and doubting. But perhaps it is only in their own apprehension; he seems angry with their prayers when really he is not; for thus he will try their patience and perseverance in prayer, as Christ tried the woman of Canaan when he said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs. 2. It was anger that had continued a great while: “How long wilt thou be angry? We have still continued praying and yet are still under thy frowns.” Now the tokens of God’s displeasure which they had been long under were both their sorrow and shame.

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'GIVE EAR': PSALM 84:8 FROM THE BIBLE: O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Through His Spirit, the Spirit of prayer, our life may be one of continual prayer. The Spirit of prayer will help you become an intercessor, asking great things of God for those around you. --Andrew Murray

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The psalmist prays for audience and acceptance with God, not mentioning particularly what he desired God would do for him. He needed to say no more when he had professed such an affectionate esteem for the ordinances of God, which now he was restrained and banished from. All his desire was, in that profession, plainly before God, and his longing, his groaning, was not hidden from him; therefore he prays (Ps. 84:8, 9) only that God would hear his prayer and give ear, that he would behold his condition, behold his good affection, and look upon his face, which way it was set, and how his countenance discovered the longing desire he had towards God’s courts. He calls himself (as many think) God’s anointed, for David was anointed by him and anointed for him. In this petition, 1. He has an eye to God under several of his glorious titles—as the Lord God of hosts, who has all the creatures at his command, and therefore has all power both in heaven and in earth,—as the God of Jacob, a God in covenant with his own people, a God who never said to the praying seed of Jacob, Seek you me in vain,—and as God our shield, who takes his people under his special protection, pursuant to his covenant with Abraham their father. Gen. 15:1; Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield. When David could not be hidden in the secret of God’s tabernacle (Ps. 27:5), being at a distance from it, yet he hoped to find God his shield ready to him wherever he was. 2. He has an eye to the Mediator; for of him I rather understand those words, Look upon the face of thy Messiah, thy anointed one, for of his anointing David spoke, Ps. 45:7. In all our addresses to God we must desire that he would look upon the face of Christ, accept us for his sake, and be well-pleased 174


with us in him. We must look with an eye of faith, and then God will with an eye of favour look upon the face of the anointed, who does show his face when we without him dare not show ours.

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'THE VOICE OF MY SUPPLICATIONS': PSALM 86:6 FROM THE BIBLE: Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: To pray at all times is to live in continual God consciousness, where everything we see and experience becomes a kind of prayer, lived in deep awareness of and surrender to our heavenly Father. To obey this exhortation means that, when we are tempted, we hold the temptation before God and ask for His help. When we experience something good and beautiful, we immediately thank the Lord for it. When we see evil around us, we pray that God will make it right and be willing to be used of Him to that end. When we meet someone who does not know Christ, we pray for God to draw that person to Himself and to use us to be a faithful witness. When we encounter trouble, we turn to God as our Deliverer. In other words, our life becomes a continually ascending prayer, a perpetual communing with our heavenly Father. To pray at all times is to constantly set our minds “on things that are above, not on the things that are on earth� (Col. 3:2). --John MacArthur

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'INCLINE THINE EAR': PSALM 88:2 FROM THE BIBLE: Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prevailing prayer takes the Christian to the mountain and enables him to cover heaven with clouds of blessings, and earth with floods of mercy. Prevailing prayer lifts the Christian and shows him his inheritance and transfigures him into the likeness of his Lord. If you would like to reach to something higher than ordinary groveling experience, look to the Rock that is higher than you, and gaze with the eye of faith through the window of consistent prayer. When you open the window on your side it will not be bolted on the other. --Charles H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He directed his prayer to God, and from him expected and desired an answer (Ps. 88:2): “Let my prayer come before thee, to be accepted of thee, not before men, to be seen of them, as the Pharisees’ prayers.” He does not desire that men should hear them, but, “Lord, incline thy ear unto my cry, for to that I refer myself; give what answer to it thou pleasest.”

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'UNTO THEE HAVE I CRIED': PSALM 88:13 FROM THE BIBLE: But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: All of our warfare and all of our activity must take place in the context of constant, unceasing prayer. Just as a soldier on the battle line has to keep in constant communication with his general headquarters and his commanding officer, so the Christian who is on the battle line must be in constant communication with his Lord. He might be fully equipped with all the armor, but if he is cut off from personal communication with his own commander, then he will be isolated and vulnerable. --R.C. Sproul

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David resolves to continue instant in prayer, and the more so because the deliverance was deferred (Ps. 88:13): “Unto thee have I cried many a time, and found comfort in so doing, and therefore I will continue to do so; in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.” Note, Though our prayers be not answered immediately, yet we must not therefore give over praying, because the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak and not lie. God delays the answer in order that he may try our patience and perseverance in prayer. He resolves to seek God early, in the morning, when his spirits were lively, and before the business of the day began to crowd in—in the morning, after he had been tossed with cares, and sorrowful thoughts in the silence and solitude of the night; but how could he say, My prayer shall prevent thee? Not as if he could wake sooner to pray than God to hear and answer; for he neither slumbers nor sleeps; but it intimates that he would be up earlier than ordinary to pray, would prevent (that is, go before) his usual hour of prayer. The greater our afflictions are the more solicitous and serious we should be in prayer. “My prayer shall present itself before thee, and be betimes with thee, and shall not stay for the encouragement of the beginning of mercy, but reach towards it with faith and expectation even before the day dawns.” God often prevents our prayers and expectations with his mercies; let us prevent his mercies with our prayers and expectations. 178


'HEAR MY PRAYER': PSALM 102:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: If a church is to be what it ought to be for the purposes of God, we must train it in the holy art of prayer. Churches without prayer-meetings are grievously common. Even if there were only one such, it would be one to weep over. In many churches the prayer-meeting is only the skeleton of a gathering: the form is kept up, but the people do not come. There is no interest, no power, in connection with the meeting. Oh, my brothers, let it not be so with you! Do train the people to continually meet together for prayer. Rouse them to incessant supplication. There is a holy art in it. Study to show yourselves approved by the prayerfulness of your people. If you pray yourself, you will want them to pray with you; and when they begin to pray with you, and for you, and for the work of the Lord, they will want more prayer themselves, and the appetite will grow. Believe me, if a church does not pray, it is dead. Instead of putting united prayer last, put it first. Everything will hinge upon the power of prayer in the church. --C.H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The psalmist humbly begs of God to take notice of his affliction, and of his prayer in his affliction, Ps. 102:1, 2. When we pray in our affliction, 1. It should be our care that God would graciously hear us; for, if our prayers be not pleasing to God, they will be to no purpose to ourselves. Let this therefore be in our eye that our prayer may come unto God, even to his ears (Ps. 18:6); and, in order to that, let us lift up the prayer, and our souls with it. 2. It may be our hope that God will graciously hear us, because he has appointed us to seek him and has promised we shall not seek him in vain. If we put up a prayer in faith, we may in faith say, Hear my prayer, O Lord! “Hear me,” that is, (1.) “Manifest thyself to me, hide not thy face from me in displeasure, when I am in trouble. If thou dost not quickly free me, yet let me know that thou 179


favourest me; if I see not the operations of thy hand for me, yet let me see the smiles of thy face upon me.” God’s hiding his face is trouble enough to a good man even in his prosperity (Ps. 30:7; Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled); but if, when we are in trouble, God hides his face, the case is sad indeed. (2.) “Manifest thyself for me; not only hear me, but answer me; grant me the deliverance I am in want of and in pursuit of; answer me speedily, even in the day when I call.” When troubles press hard upon us, God gives us leave to be thus pressing in prayer, yet with humility and patience.

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'THE PRAYER OF THE DESTITUTE': PSALM 102:17 FROM THE BIBLE: He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Let the fires go out in the boiler room of the church and the place will still look smart and clean, but it will be cold. The Prayer Room is the boiler room for its spiritual life. --Leonard Ravenhill

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The prayers of God’s people now seem to be slighted and no notice taken of them, but they will be reviewed and greatly encouraged (Ps. 102:17): He will regard the prayer of the destitute. It was said (Ps. 102:16) that God will appear in his glory, such a glory as kings themselves shall stand in awe of, Ps. 102:15. When great men appear in their glory they are apt to look with disdain upon the poor that apply to them; but the great God will not do so. Observe, The meanness of the petitioners; they are the destitute. It is an elegant word that is here used, which signifies the heath in the wilderness, a low shrub, or bush, like the hyssop of the wall. They are supposed to be in a low and broken state, enriched with spiritual blessings, but destitute of temporal good things— the poor, the weak, the desolate, the stripped; thus variously is the word rendered; or it may signify that low and broken spirit which God looks for in all that draw nigh to him and which he will graciously look upon. This will bring them to their knees. Destitute people should be praying people, 1 Tim. 5:5. 2. The favour of God to them, notwithstanding their meanness: He will regard their prayer, and will look at it, will peruse their petition (2 Chron. 6:40), and he will not despise their prayer. More is implied than is expressed: he will value it and be well pleased with it, and will return an answer of peace to it, which is the greatest honour that can be put upon it. But it is thus expressed because others despise their praying, they themselves fear God will despise it, and he was thought to despise it while their affliction was prolonged and their prayers lay unanswered. When we consider our own meanness and vileness, our darkness and deadness, and the manifold defects in our prayers, we have 181


cause to suspect that our prayers will be received with disdain in heaven; but we are here assured of the contrary, for we have an advocate with the Father, and are under grace, not under the law. This instance of God’s favour to his praying people, though they are destitute, will be a lasting encouragement to prayer (Ps. 102:18): This shall be written for the generation to come, that none may despair, though they be destitute, nor think their prayers forgotten because they have not an answer to them immediately. The experiences of others should be our encouragements to seek unto God and trust in him. And, if we have the comfort of the experiences of others, it is fit that we should give God the glory of them: The people who shall be created shall praise the Lord for what he has done both for them and for their predecessors. Many that are now unborn shall, by reading the history of the church, be wrought upon to turn proselytes. The people that shall be created anew by divine grace, that are a kind of first-fruits of his creatures, shall praise the Lord for his answers to their prayers when they were more destitute.

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ENEMIES

AND

PRAYER: PSALM 109:4-7

FROM THE BIBLE: For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: When God is about to bestow some great blessing on His church, it is often His manner, in the first place, so to order things in His providence as to show His church their great need of it, and to bring them into distress for want of it, and so put them upon crying earnestly to Him for it. --Jonathan Edwards

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He resolves to keep close to his duty and take the comfort of that: But I give myself unto prayer (Ps. 109:4), I prayer (so it is in the original); “I am for prayer, I am a man of prayer, I love prayer, and prize prayer, and practise prayer, and make a business of prayer, and am in my element when I am at prayer.” A good man is made up of prayer, gives himself to prayer, as the apostles, Acts 6:4. When David’s enemies falsely accused him, and misrepresented him, he applied to God and by prayer committed his cause to him. Though they were his adversaries for his love, yet he continued to pray for them; if others are abusive and injurious to us, yet let not us fail to do our duty to them, nor sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for them, 1 Sam. 12:23. Though they hated and persecuted him for his religion, yet he kept close to it; they laughed at him for his devotion, but they could not laugh him out of it. “Let them say what they will, I give myself unto prayer.” Now herein David was a type of Christ, who was compassed about with words of hatred and lying words, whose enemies not only persecuted him without cause, but for his love and his good works (John 10:32); and yet he gave himself to prayer, to pray for them. Father, forgive them. That he should be cast and sentenced as a criminal, with all the dreadful pomp of a trial, conviction, and condemnation (Ps. 109:6, 7): Set thou a wicked man over him, to be as cruel and oppressive to him as he has been to others; for God often makes one wicked man a scourge to another, to spoil the spoil183


ers and to deal treacherously with those that have dealt treacherously. Set the wicked one over him (so some), that is, Satan, as it follows; and then it was fulfilled in Judas, into whom Satan entered, to hurry him into sin first and then into despair. Set his own wicked heart over him, set his own conscience against him; let that fly in his face. Let Satan stand on his right hand, and be let loose against him to deceive him, as he did Ahab to his destruction, and then to accuse him and resist him, and then he is certainly cast, having no interest in that advocate who alone can say, The Lord rebuke thee, Satan (Zech. 3:1, 2); when he shall be judged at men’s bar let not his usual arts to evade justice do him any service, but let his sin find him out and let him be condemned; nor shall he escape before God’s tribunal, but be condemned there when the day of inquisition and recompence shall come. Let his prayer become sin, as the clamours of a condemned malefactor not only find no acceptance, but are looked upon as an affront to the court. The prayers of the wicked now become sin, because soured with the leaven of hypocrisy and malice; and so they will in the great day, because then it will be too late to cry, Lord, Lord, open to us.

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‘MY SUPPLICATION’: PSALM 119:170 FROM THE BIBLE: "Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel." - Thomas Watson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here we have, I. A general petition for audience repeated: Let my cry come near before thee; and again, Let my supplication come before thee. He calls his prayer his cry, which denotes the fervency and vehemence of it, and his supplication, which denotes the humility of it. We must come to God as beggars come to our doors for an alms. He is concerned that his prayer might come before God, might come near before him, that is, that he might have grace and strength by faith and fervency to lift up his prayers, that no guilt might interpose to shut out his prayers and to separate between him and God, and that God would graciously receive his prayers and take notice of them. His prayer that his supplication might come before God implied a deep sense of his unworthiness, and a holy fear that his prayer should come short or miscarry, as not fit to come before God; nor would any of out prayers have had access to God if Jesus Christ had not approached to him as an advocate for us. II. Two particular requests, which he is thus earnest to present:—1. That God, by his grace, would give him wisdom to conduct himself well under his troubles: Give me understanding; he means that wisdom of the prudent which is to understand his way; “Give me to know thee and myself, and my duty to thee.” 2. That God, by his providence, would rescue him out of his troubles: Deliver me, that is, with the temptation make a way to escape, 1 Cor. 10:13. III. The same general plea to enforce these requests—according to thy word. This directs and limits his desires: “Lord, give me such an understanding as thou hast promised and such a deliverance as thou hast promised; I ask for no other.” It also encourages his faith and expectation: “Lord, that which I pray for is what thou hast promised, and wilt not thou be as good as thy word?” 185


PRAY

FOR

PEACE: PSALM 122:6

FROM THE BIBLE: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total. - Alistair Begg

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here, David calls upon others to which well to Jerusalem, v. 6, v. 7. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for the welfare of it, for all good to it, particularly for the uniting of the inhabitants among themselves and their preservation from the incursions of enemies. This we may truly desire, that in the peace thereof we may have peace; and this we must earnestly pray for, for it is the gift of God, and for it he will be enquired of. Those that can do nothing else for the peace of Jerusalem can pray for it, which is something more than showing their good-will; it is the appointed way of fetching in mercy. The peace and welfare of the gospel church, particularly in our land, is to be earnestly desired and prayed for by every one of us. Now, We are here encouraged in our prayers for Jerusalem’s peace: Those shall prosper that love thee. We must pray for Jerusalem, not out of custom, nor for fashion’s sake, but out of a principle of love to God’s government of man and man’s worship of God; and, in seeking the public welfare, we seek our own, for so well does God love the gates of Zion that he will love all those that do love them, and therefore they cannot but prosper; at least their souls shall prosper by the ordinances they so dearly love. We are here directed in our prayers for it and words are put into our mouths (v. 7): Peace be within thy walls. He teaches us to pray, (1.) For all the inhabitants in general, all within the walls, from the least to the greatest. Peace be in thy fortifications; let them never be attacked, or, if they be, let them never be taken, but be an effectual security to the city. (2.) For the princes and rulers especially: Let prosperity be in the palaces of the great men that sit at the helm and have the direction of public affairs; for, if they prosper, it will be well for the public. The poorer sort are apt to envy the prosperity of the 186


palaces, but they are here taught to pray for it.II. He resolves that whatever others do he will approve himself a faithful friend to Jerusalem, In his prayers: "I will now say, now I see the tribes so cheerfully resorting hither to the testimony of Israel, and the matter settled, that Jerusalem must be the place where God will record his name, now I will say, Peace be within thee.’’ He did not say, "Let others pray for the public peace, the priests and the prophets, whose business it is, and the people, that have nothing else to do, and I will fight for it and rule for it.’’ No; "I will pray for it too.’’

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INCENSE: PSALM 141:1-2 FROM THE BIBLE: Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Precede all your labors with earnest, diligent prayer. Do not rest on the number of tracts you have given because a million tracts may not lead to the conversion of one single soul. Yet, a blessing beyond calculation may result from one single tract. Expect everything to come from the blessing of the Lord and nothing at all from your own exertions. --George Muller

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: David loved prayer, and he begs of God that his prayers might be heard and answered, Ps. 141:1, 2. David cried unto God. His crying denotes fervency in prayer; he prayed as one in earnest. His crying to God denotes faith and fixedness in prayer. And what did he desire as the success of his prayer? 1. That God would take cognizance of it: “Give ear to my voice; let me have a gracious audience.” Those that cry in prayer may hope to be heard in prayer, not for their loudness, but their liveliness. 2. That he would visit him upon it: Make haste unto me. Those that know how to value God’s gracious presence will be importunate for it and humbly impatient of delays. He that believes does not make haste, but he that prays may be earnest with God to make haste. 3. That he would be well pleased with him in it, well pleased with his praying and the lifting up of his hands in prayer, which denotes both the elevation and enlargement of his desire and the out-goings of his hope and expectation, the lifting up of the hand signifying the lifting up of the heart, and being used instead of lifting up the sacrifices which were heaved and waved before the Lord. Prayer is a spiritual sacrifice; it is the offering up of the soul, and its best affections, to God. Now he prays that this may be set forth and directed before God as the incense which was daily burnt upon the golden altar, and as 188


the evening sacrifice, which he mentions rather than the morning sacrifice, perhaps because this was an evening prayer, or with an eye to Christ, who, in the evening of the world and in the evening of the day, was to offer up himself a sacrifice of atonement, and establish the spiritual sacrifices of acknowledgement, having abolished all the carnal ordinances of the law. Those that pray in faith may expect it will please God better than an ox or bullock. David was now banished from God’s court, and could not attend the sacrifice and incense, and therefore begs that his prayer might be instead of them. Note, Prayer is of a sweet-smelling savour to God, as incense, which yet has no savour without fire; nor has prayer without the fire of holy love and fervour.

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'PRAYER IN CALAMITIES': PSALM 141:5 FROM THE BIBLE: Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The best advice I can give about sharing your faith] 1. Pray for the chance to share your faith. 2. Pray to be ready to share your faith. 3. Pray for discretion in sharing your faith. 4. Pray for words to share your faith. 5. Pray for patience to listen as you share your faith. 6. Pray for God to prepare your friend’s heart and mind as you share your faith. 7. Pray to thank God for the opportunity to glorify His name. --J. Budziszewski

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here, David desires to be told of his faults. His enemies reproached him with that which was false, which he could not but complain of; yet, at the same time, he desired his friends would reprove him for that which was really amiss in him, particularly if there was any thing that gave the least colour to those reproaches (Ps. 141:5): let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness. The righteous God (so some); “I will welcome the rebukes of his providence, and be so far from quarrelling with them that I will receive them as tokens of love and improve them as means of grace, and will pray for those that are the instruments of my trouble.” But it is commonly taken for the reproofs given by righteous men; and it best becomes those that are themselves righteous to reprove the unrighteousness of others, and from them reproof will be best taken. But if the reproof be just, though the reprover be not so, we must make a good use of it and learn obedience by it. We are here taught how to receive the reproofs of the righteous and wise. 1. We must desire to be reproved for whatever is amiss in us, or is done amiss by us: “Lord, put it into the heart of the righteous to smite me and reprove 190


me. If my own heart does not smite me, as it ought, let my friend do it; let me never fall under that dreadful judgment of being let alone in sin.” 2. We must account it a piece of friendship. We must not only bear it patiently, but take it as a kindness; for reproofs of instruction are the way of life (Prov. 6:23), are means of good to us, to bring us to repentance for the sins we have committed, and to prevent relapses into sin. Though reproofs cut, it is in order to a cure, and therefore they are much more desirable than the kisses of an enemy (Prov. 27:6) or the song of fools, Eccl. 7:5. David blessed God for Abigail’s seasonable admonition, 1 Sam. 25:32. 3. We must reckon ourselves helped and healed by it: It shall be as an excellent oil to a wound, to mollify it and close it up; it shall not break my head, as some reckon it to do, who could as well bear to have their heads broken as to be told of their faults; but, says David, “I am not of that mind; it is my sin that has broken my head, that has broken my bones, Ps. 51:8. The reproof is an excellent oil, to cure the bruises sin has given me. It shall not break my head, if it may but help to break my heart.” 4. We must requite the kindness of those that deal thus faithfully, thus friendly with us, at least by our prayers for them in their calamities, and hereby we must show that we take it kindly. Dr. Hammond gives quite another reading of this verse: “Reproach will bruise me that am righteous, and rebuke me; but that poisonous oil shall not break my head (shall not destroy me, shall not do me the mischief intended), for yet my prayer shall be in their mischiefs, that God would preserve me from them, and my prayer shall not be in vain.”

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'I CRIED UNTO THE LORD': PSALM 142:1 FROM THE BIBLE: "I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prevailing or effectual prayer, is that prayer which attains the blessing that it seeks." - Charles G. Finney

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Whether it was in the cave of Adullam, or that of Engedi, that David prayed this prayer, is not material; it is plain that he was in distress. It was a great disgrace to so great a soldier, so great a courtier, to be put to such shifts for his own safety, and a great terror to be so hotly pursued and every moment in expectation of death; yet then he had such a presence of mind as to pray this prayer, and, wherever he was, still had his religion about him. Prayers and tears were his weapons, and, when he durst not stretch forth his hands against his prince, he lifted them up to his God. There is no cave so deep, so dark, but we may out of it send up our prayers, and our souls in prayer, to God. He calls this prayer Maschil—a psalm of instruction, because of the good lessons he had himself learnt in the cave, learnt on his knees, which he desired to teach others. In these verses observe, How David complained to God, Ps. 142:1, 2. When the danger was over he was not ashamed to own (as great spirits sometimes are) the fright he had been in and the application he had made to God. Let no men of the first rank think it any diminution or disparagement to them, when they are in affliction, to cry to God, and to cry like children to their parents when any thing frightens them. David poured out his complaint, which denotes a free and full complaint; he was copious and particular in it. His heart was as full of his grievances as it could hold, but he made himself easy by pouring them out before the Lord; and this he did with great fervency: He cried unto the Lord with his voice, with the voice of his mind (so some think), for, being hidden in the cave, he durst not speak with an audible voice, lest that should betray him; but mental prayer is vocal to God, and he hears the groanings which cannot, or dare not, be uttered, Rom. 8:26. Two things David laid open to 192


God, in this complaint:—1. His distress. He exhibited a remonstrance or memorial of his case: I showed before him my trouble, and all the circumstances of it. He did not prescribe to God, nor show him his trouble, as if God did not know it without his showing; but as one that put a confidence in God, desired to keep up communion with him, and was willing to refer himself entirely to him, he unbosomed himself to him, humbly laid the matter before him, and then cheerfully left it with him. We are apt to show our trouble too much to ourselves, aggravating it, and poring upon it, which does us no service, whereas by showing it to God we might cast the care upon him who careth for us, and thereby ease ourselves. Nor should we allow of any complaint to ourselves or others which we cannot with due decency and sincerity of devotion make to God, and stand to before him. 2. His desire. When he made his complaint he made his supplication (Ps. 142:1), not claiming relief as a debt, but humbly begging it as a favour. Complainants must be suppliants, for God will be sought unto.

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'ANSWER ME': PSALM 143:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Every true prayer has its background and its foreground. The foreground of prayer is the intense, immediate desire for a certain blessing which seems to be absolutely necessary for the soul to have; the background of prayer is the quiet, earnest desire that the will of God, whatever it may be, should be done. What a picture is the perfect prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane! In front burns the strong desire to escape death and to live; but behind there stands, calm and strong, the craving of the whole life for the doing of the will of God... Leave out the foreground, let there be no expression of the will of him who prays, and there is left a pure submission which is almost fatalism. Leave out the background, let there be no acceptance of the will of God, and the prayer is only an expression of self-will, a petulant claiming of the uncorrected choice of him who prays. Only when the two are there together, the special desire resting on the universal submission, the universal submission opening into the special desire is the picture perfect and the prayer complete. --Phillips Brooks

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here, David humbly begs to be heard (Ps. 143:1), not as if he questioned it, but he earnestly desired it, and was in care about it, for, having desired it, and was in care about it, for having directed his prayer, he looked up to see how it sped, Hab. 2:1. He is a suppliant to his God, and he begs that his requests may be granted: Hear my prayer; give ear to my supplications. He is an appellant against his persecutors, and he begs that his case may be brought to hearing and that God will give judgment upon it, in his faithfulness and righteousness, as the Judge of right and wrong. Or, “Answer my petitions in thy faithfulness, according to the promises thou hast made, which thou wilt be just to.” We have no righteousness of our own to plead, and therefore must plead God’s righteousness, the word of promise which he has freely given us and caused us to hope in.

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Prayer is the Soul's Sincere Desire James Montgomery Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, Unuttered or expressed; The motion of a hidden fire That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice, Returning from his ways, While angels in their songs rejoice And cry, “Behold, he prays!”

Prayer is the burden of a sigh, The falling of a tear The upward glancing of an eye, When none but God is near.

The saints in prayer appear as one In word, in deed, and mind, While with the Father and the Son Sweet fellowship they find.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech That infant lips can try; Prayer, the sublimest strains That reach The Majesty on high.

No prayer is made by man alone The Holy Spirit pleads, And Jesus, on th’ eternal throne, For sinners intercedes.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, The Christian’s native air, His watchword at the gates of death; He enters Heav’n with prayer.

O Thou by Whom we come to God, The Life, the Truth, the Way, The path of prayer Thyself hast trod: Lord, teach us how to pray.

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'PRAYER OF THE UPRIGHT': PROVERBS 15:8 FROM THE BIBLE: The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: As we seek to obey the Spirit’s guidance in prayer, let me tell you what will often happen – nothing! But sometimes “nothing” means that the Spirit desires to slow us down and lead us into silence. Our society is addicted to noise, and for that reason we are often insensitive to the Spirit of God. --Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: 1. God so hates wicked people, whose hearts are malicious and their lives mischievous, that even their sacrifices are an abomination to him. God has sacrifices brought him even by wicked men, to stop the mouth of conscience and to keep up their reputation in the world, as malefactors come to a sanctuary, not because it is a holy place, but because it shelters them from justice; but their sacrifices, though ever so costly, are not accepted of God, because not offered in sincerity nor from a good principle; they dissemble with God, and in their conversations give the lie to their devotions, and for that reason they are an abomination to him, because they are made a cloak for sin, Prov. 7:14. See Isa. 1:11. 2. God has such a love for upright good people that, though they are not at the expense of a sacrifice (he himself has provided that), their prayer is a delight to him. Praying graces are his own gift, and the work of his own Spirit in them, with which he is well pleased. He not only answers their prayers, but delights in their addresses to him, and in doing them good.

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'PRAYER OF THE RIGHTEOUS': PROVERBS 15:29 FROM THE BIBLE: The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Common sense tells us that the highest priority must be given to prayer if we hope to enhance our children’s spiritual development‌ Effective intercession for our children requires that we pray with the mind engaged, in detail, with appropriate earnestness, and that both parents should often pray for their children together. --Kent and Barbara Hughes

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: 1. God sets himself at a distance from those that set him at defiance: The wicked say to the Almighty, Depart from us, and he is, accordingly, far from them; he does not manifest himself to them, has no communion with them, will not hear them, will not help them, no, not in the time of their need. They shall be for ever banished from his presence and he will behold them afar off. Depart from me, you cursed. 2. He will draw nigh to those in a way of mercy who draw nigh to him in a way of duty: He hears the prayer of the righteous, accepts it, is well pleased with it, and will grant an answer of peace to it. It is the prayer of a righteous man that avails much, Jas. 5:16. He is nigh to them, a present help, in all that they call upon him for.

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'AN ABOMINATION': PROVERBS 28:9 FROM THE BIBLE: He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: A preacher who prays little may see some results of his labors, but if he does it will be because someone, somewhere is praying for him. The “fruit” is the pray-er’s – not the preacher’s. How surprised some of us preachers will be one day, when the Lord shall “reward every man according to his works.” “Lord! Those were my converts! It was I who conducted that mission at which so many were brought into the fold.” Ah, yes – I did the preaching, the pleading, the persuading; but was it “I” who did the praying? --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: 1. It is by the word and prayer that our communion with God is kept up. God speaks to us by his law, and expects we should hear him and heed him; we speak to him by prayer, to which we wait for an answer of peace. How reverent and serious should we be, whenever we are hearing from and speaking to the Lord of glory! 2. If God’s word be not regarded by us, our prayers shall not only not be accepted of God, but they shall be an abomination to him, not only our sacrifices, which were ceremonial appointments, but even our prayers, which are moral duties, and which, when they are put up by the upright, are so much his delight. See Isa. 1:11, 15. The sinner whose prayers God is thus angry at is one who wilfully and obstinately refuses to obey God’s commandments, who will not so much as give them the hearing, but causes his ear to decline the law, and refuses when God calls; God will therefore justly refuse him when he calls. See Prov. 1:24, 28.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER W.P. Nicholson True passionate preaching is the flower and fruit of passionate praying. The fiery preaching that transforms the Church and the market place is first kindled in the secret place. This truth is powerfully illustrated through the life of W. P. Nicholson. In the early 1920's, Northern Ireland passed through a period of great strife and bloodshed. These were times of great despair and apprehension. Fear gripped the heart of many and even spread to the churches and religious community. "In the mercy of God, an intervention came from an unexpected source. There began a series of evangelistic campaigns, which in the course of the following years had a profound effect upon the religious and communal life of the Province." The evangelist used of God during these meetings was W. P. Nicholson. He was a fearless individual, peculiar to some and offensive to others. Nicholson didn't care what others thought of his manner of speech or methods. He had been taught by God Himself in the secret place and as a result was quite unique in his preaching and dealings with men. To be all-out for the Kingdom of God and it's interests was his passion. Burning zeal was the chief characteristic of Nicholson's whole life and ministry. "Nicholson used to say that when a mission was begun it was not long before they had either a riot or revival. Sometimes we had more riot than revival, but never a revival without a riot." Nicholson wielded the Sword of the Spirit with a fury. His hearers were always affected one way or another. Some through his preaching were brought to humble repentance, while others resisted God's Word with indignation. Two favorite themes of Nicholson were "God's love" and "God's hell." W. P. Nicholson always preached the love of God with all the warmth and tenderness he could muster; but for those who rejected this Good News, he offered the only alternative, GOD'S HELL. He preached on every aspect of hell with such zeal and passion that his hearers claimed to be able to almost smell the burning sulphur. Still others, under deep conviction and anxiety, dripped with sweat and unconsciously shredded the hymn books they held in their laps. Through this kind of fervent preaching, God brought entire communities face to face with the question, "What shall I do with Jesus?" One elderly man who had recollections of the Ulster Revival of 1859 said

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that some of the effects of Nicholson's meetings even exceeded what happened in '59. Another commentator on Nicholson's work said that he had seen nothing like it since the days of D. L. Moody. Apart from prayer such revival power is unattainable. Mr. Nicholson was always a man of deep prayer. "Prayer might be called his habit, for he loved to pray. His campaigns had nights and half nights of prayer. Praying in the Spirit kept him in the spirit of prayer. From the prayer closet he mounted the pulpit endued." Mr. Lindsay Glegg wrote of W. P. Nicholson, "The secret of his power was no doubt in his prayer life. He stayed at our home . . . and he was up in the morning at six o'clock but he never appeared until twelve noon; he spent the hours wrestling with God in prayer. By his own special request he was not disturbed by telephone or visitor, however urgent." On another occasion the sheets of his bed were found to be torn to shreds. Mr. Glegg again commented; "What had happened was that he unconsciously, agonizing in prayer had ripped the sheets into strips . . ." Yes prayer was surely the secret of his powerful life and ministry. Perhaps the sweetest fruit of Nicholson's prayer life was the deep familiarity that was produced between himself and the person of Christ. In Nicholson's book, On Towards the Goal, he writes, "I do not know anyone in the world that I know better than the Lord. I do not know my wife or my mother the way I know the Lord. I do not know the best friends I ever had the way I know the Lord. We walk together, my Lord and I, because we are in fellowship, and there is nothing that I have but is His." Truly this is the essence and heart of revival, an intimate visitation and fellowship with Jesus Christ. Lord, will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice and delight in You? (Psa. 85:6). by David Smithers

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MOAB'S FUTILE PRAYER: ISAIAH 16:12 FROM THE BIBLE: And it shall come to pass, when it is seen that Moab is weary on the high place, that he shall come to his sanctuary to pray ; but he shall not prevail.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God. - E. Stanley Jones

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: III. In the close of the chapter we have, 1. The insufficiency of the gods of Moab, the false gods, to help them, v. 12. "Moab shall be soon weary of the high place. He shall spend his spirits and strength in vain in praying to his idols; they cannot help him, and he shall be convinced that they cannot.’’ It is seen that it is to no purpose to expect any relief from the high places on earth; it must come from above the hills. Men are generally so stupid that they will not believe, till they are made to see, the vanity of idols and of all creatureconfidences, nor will come off from them till they are made weary of them. But, when he is weary of his high places, he will not go, as he should, to God’s sanctuary, but to his sanctuary, to the temple of Chemosh, the principal idol of Moab (so it is generally understood); and he shall pray there to as little purpose, and as little to his own case and satisfaction, as he did in his high places; for, whatever honours idolaters give to their idols, they do not thereby make them at all the better able to help them. Whether they are the dii majorum gentium-gods of the higher order, or minorum—of the lower order, they are alike the creatures of men’s fancy and the work of men’s hands. Perhaps it may be meant of their coming to God’s sanctuary. When they found they could have no succours from their own high places some of them would come to the temple of God at Jerusalem, to pray there, but in vain; he will justly send them back to the gods whom they have served, Jdg. 10:14 . The sufficiency of the God of Israel, the only true God, to make good what he had spoken against them.

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'POURED OUT A PRAYER': ISAIAH 26:16 FROM THE BIBLE: Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The leader must use God’s power to move human hearts in the direction he believes to be the will of God. Through prayer the leader has the key to that complicated lock… In prayer we deal directly with God and only in a secondary sense other people. The goal of prayer is the ear of God. Prayer moves others through God’s influence on them. It is not the prayer that moves people, but the God to whom we pray. --Oswald Sanders

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The prophet remembers that when they were thus oppressed and carried captive they cried unto God, which was a good evidence that they neither had quite forsaken him nor were quite forsaken of him, and that there were merciful intentions in the judgments they were under (Isa. 26:16): Lord, in trouble have they visited thee. This was usual with the people of Israel, as we find frequently in the story of the Judges. When other lords had dominion over them they humbled themselves, and said, The Lord is righteous, 2 Chron. 12:6. See here, [1.] The need we have of afflictions. They are necessary to stir up prayer; when it is said, In trouble have they visited thee, it is implied that in their peace and prosperity they were strangers to God, kept at a distance from him, and seldom came near him, as if, when the world smiled upon them, they had no occasion for his favours. [2.] Th 4cfc e benefit we often have by afflictions. They bring us to God, quicken us to our duty, and show us our dependence upon him. Those that before seldom looked at God now visit him; they come frequently, they become friendly, and make their court to him. Before, prayer came drop by drop, but now they pour out a prayer; it comes now like water from a fountain, not like water from a still. They poured out a secret speech; so the margin. Praying is speaking to God, but it is a secret speech; for it is the language of the heart, 202


otherwise it is not praying. Afflictions bring us to secret prayer, in which we may be more free and particular in our addresses to him than we can be in public. In affliction those will seek God early who before sought him slowly, Hos. 5:15. It will make men fervent and fluent in prayer. “They poured out a prayer, as the drink-offerings were poured out, when thy chastening was upon them.� But it is to be feared, when the chastening is off them, they will by degrees return to their former carelessness, as they had often done.

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KING HEZEKIAH ASKS ISAIAH TO PRAY: ISAIAH 37:1-4 FROM THE BIBLE: And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "We may expect answers to prayer, and should not be easy without them any more than we should be if we had written a letter to a friend upon important business, and had received no reply." --C.H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We may observe here, 1. That the best way to baffle the malicious designs of our enemies against us is to be driven by them to God and to our duty and so to fetch meat out of the eater. Rabshakeh intended to frighten Hezekiah from the Lord, but it proves that he frightens him to the Lord. The wind, instead of forcing the traveller’s coat from him, makes him wrap it the closer about him. The more Rabshakeh reproaches God the more Hezekiah studies to honour him, by rending his clothes for the dishonour done to him and attending in his sanctuary to know his mind. 2. That it well becomes great men to desire the prayers of good men and good ministers. Hezekiah sent messengers, and honourable ones, those of the first rank, to Isaiah, to desire his prayers, remembering how much his prophecies 204


of late had plainly looked towards the events of the present day, in dependence upon which, it is probable, he doubted not but that the issue would be comfortable, yet he would have it to be so in answer to prayer: This is a day of trouble, therefore let it be a day of prayer. 3. When we are most at a plunge we should be most earnest in prayer: Now that the children are brought to the birth, but there is not strength to bring forth, now let prayer come, and help at a dead lift. When pains are most strong let prayers be most lively; and, when we meet with the greatest difficulties, then is a time to stir up not ourselves only, but others also, to take hold on God. Prayer is the midwife of mercy, that helps to bring it forth. 4. It is an encouragement to pray though we have but some hopes of mercy (Isa. 37:4): It may be the Lord thy God will hear; who knows but he will return and repent? The it may be of the prospect of the haven of blessings should quicken us with double diligence to ply the oar of prayer. 5. When there is a remnant left, and but a remnant, it concerns us to lift up a prayer for that remnant, Isa. 37:4. The prayer that reaches heaven must be lifted up by a strong faith, earnest desires, and a direct intention to the glory of God, all which should be quickened when we come to the last stake.

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GOD ANSWERS HEZEKIAH'S REQUEST: ISAIAH 38:5 FROM THE BIBLE: Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith. --George Muller

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: God has a gracious ear open to the prayers of his afflicted people. The same prophet that was sent to Hezekiah with warning to prepare for death is sent to him with a promise that he shall not only recover, but be restored to a confirmed state of health and live fifteen years yet. As Jerusalem was distressed, so Hezekiah was diseased, that God might have the glory of the deliverance of both, and that prayer too might have the honour of being instrumental in the deliverance. When we pray in our sickness, though God send not to us such an answer as he here sent to Hezekiah, yet, if by his Spirit he bids us be of good cheer, assures us that our sins are forgiven us, that his grace shall be sufficient for us, and that, whether we live or die, we shall be his, we have no reason to say that we pray in vain. God answers us if he strengthens us with strength in our souls, though not with bodily strength, Ps. 138:3. A good man cannot take much comfort in his own health and prosperity unless withal he see the welfare and prosperity of the church of God. Therefore God, knowing what lay near Hezekiah’s heart, promised him not only that he should live, but that he should see the good of Jerusalem all the days of his life (Ps. 128:5), otherwise he cannot live comfortably. Jerusalem, which is now delivered, shall still be defended from the Assyrians, who perhaps threatened to rally again and renew the attack. Thus does God graciously provide to make Hezekiah upon all accounts easy. God is willing to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his coun206


sel, that they may have an unshaken faith in it, and therewith a strong consolation. God had given Hezekiah repeated assurances of his favour; and yet, as if all were thought too little, that he might expect from him uncommon favours, a sign is given him, an uncommon sign. None that we know of having had an absolute promise of living a certain number of years to come, as Hezekiah had, God thought fit to confirm this unprecedented favour with a miracle. The sign was the going back of the shadow upon the sun-dial. The sun is a faithful measurer of time, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race; but he that set that clock a going can set it back when he pleases, and make it to return; for the Father of all lights is the director of them.

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'HOUSE

OF

PRAYER': ISAIAH 56:6-7

FROM THE BIBLE: Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: God's command to "pray without ceasing" is founded on the necessity we have of His grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air. --John Wesley

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: It is here promised that they shall now be welcome to the church, Isa. 56:6, 7. When God’s Israel come out of Babylon, let them bring as many of their neighbours along with them as they can persuade to come, and God will find room enough for them all in his house. And here, (as before) we may observe, (1.) Upon what terms they shall be welcome. Let them know that God’s Israel, when they come out of Babylon, will not be plagued, as they were when they came out of Egypt, with a mixed multitude, that went with them, but were not cordially for them; no, the sons of the strangers shall have a place and a name in God’s house provided, [1.] That they forsake other gods, all rivals and pretenders whatsoever, and join themselves to the Lord, so as to become one spirit, 1 Cor. 6:17. [2.] That they join themselves to him as subjects to their prince and soldiers to their general, by an oath of fidelity and obedience, to serve him, not occasionally, as one would serve a turn, but to be constantly his servants, entirely subject to his command, and devoted to his interest. [3.] That they join themselves to him as friends to his honour and the interests 208


of his kingdom in the world, to love the name of the Lord, to be well pleased with all the discoveries he has made of himself and all the memorials they make of him. Observe, Serving him and loving him go together; for those that love him truly will serve him faithfully, and that obedience is most acceptable to him, as well as most pleasant to us, which flows from a principle of love, for then his commandments are not grievous, 1 John 5:3. [4.] That they keep the sabbath from polluting it; for the stranger that is within thy gates is particularly required to do that. [5.] That they take hold of the covenant, that is, that they come under the bonds of it, and put in for the benefits of it. (2.) To what privileges they shall be welcome, Isa. 56:7. Three things are here promised them, in their coming to God:— [1.] Assistance: “I will bring them to my holy mountain, not only bid them welcome when they come, but incline them to come, will show them the way, and lead them in it.” David himself prays that God by his light and truth would bring them to his holy hill, Ps. 43:3. And the sons of the stranger shall be under the same guidance. The church is God’s holy hill, on which he hath set his King, and, in bringing them to Zion Hill, he brings them to be subjects to Zion’s King, as well as worshippers in Zion’s holy temple. [2.] Acceptance: “Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar, and be never the less acceptable for being theirs, though they are sons of the stranger.” The prayers and praises (those spiritual sacrifices) of devout Gentiles shall be as pleasing to God as those of the pious Jews, and no difference shall be made between them; for, though they are Gentiles by birth, yet through grace they shall be looked upon as the believing seed of faithful Abraham and the praying seed of wrestling Jacob, for in Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision. [3.] Comfort. They shall not only be accepted, but they themselves shall have the pleasure of it: I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. They shall have grace, not only to serve God, but to serve him cheerfully and with gladness, and that shall make the service the more acceptable to him; for, when we sing in the ways of the Lord, then great is the glory of our God. They shall go away and eat their bread with joy, because God now accepts their works, 209


Eccl. 9:7. Nay, though they came mourning to the house of prayer, they shall go away rejoicing, for they shall there find such ease, by casting their cares and burdens upon God, and referring themselves to him, that, like Hannah, they shall go away and their countenance shall be no more sad. Many a sorrowful spirit has been made joyful in the house of prayer. It is here promised that multitudes of the Gentiles shall come to the church, not only that the few who come dropping in shall be made welcome, but that great numbers shall come in, and the door be thrown open to them: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The temple was then God’s house, and to that Christ applies these words (Matt. 21:13), but with an eye to it as a type of the gospel church, Heb. 9:8, 9. For Christ calls it his house, Heb. 3:6. Now concerning this house it is promised, (1.) That it shall not be a house of sacrifice, but a house of prayer. The religious meetings of God’s people shall be meetings for prayer, in which they shall join together, as a token of their united faith and mutual love. (2.) That it shall be a house of prayer, not for the people of the Jews only, but for all people. This was fulfilled when Peter was made, not only to perceive it himself, but to tell it to the world, that in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him, Acts 10:35. It had been declared again and again that the stranger that comes nigh shall be put to death, but Gentiles shall now be looked upon no longer as strangers and foreigners, Eph. 2:19. And it appears by Solomon’s prayer, at the dedication of the temple, both that it was primarily intended for a house of prayer and that strangers should be welcome to it, 1 Kgs. 8:30, 41, 43. And it is intimated here (Isa. 56:8) that when the Gentiles are called in they shall be incorporated into one body with the Jews, that (as Christ says, John 10:16) there may be one fold and one Shepherd; for, [1.] God will gather the outcasts of Israel. Many of the Jews that had by their unbelief cast themselves out shall by faith be brought in again, a remnant according to the election of grace, Rom. 11:5. Christ came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 15:24), to gather their outcasts (Ps. 147:2), to restore their preserved (Isa. 49:6), and to be their glory, Luke 2:32. [2.] He will gather others also to him, besides his own outcasts that are gath-

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ered to him. Or, though some of the Gentiles have come over now and then into the church, that shall not serve (as some may think) to answer the extent of these promises; no, there are still more and more to be brought in: “I will gather others to him besides these; these are but the first-fruits in comparison with the harvest that shall be gathered for Christ in the nations of the earth, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in.� Note, The church is a growing body: when some are gathered to it we may still hope there shall be more, till the mystical body be completed. Other sheep I have.

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He Will Answer Every Prayer Mary Bernstecher and Daniel B. Towner God has given you His promise That He hears and answers prayer. He will heed your supplication If you cast on Him your care. REFRAIN He will answer every prayer, He will answer every prayer, Go to Him in faith believing, He will answer every prayer. He will not withhold one blessing, He will give you what is best. God will answer by His Spirit, Every one who makes request. He can hear the great petition, And the smallest, over there. Unto God pray without ceasing, He will answer every prayer. Take to God your plans and failures, Any time and anywhere. No one ever goes unanswered, For He answers every prayer.

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DON'T PRAY FOR THESE PEOPLE: JEREMIAH 7:16 FROM THE BIBLE: Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is not about getting what we want – the fulfillment of our will; it is about learning what God wants – the bending of our will to God’s will. Darrell L. Guder

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: God had shown them, in the foregoing verses, that the temple and the service of it, of which they boasted and in which they trusted, should not avail to prevent the judgment threatened. But there was another thing which might stand them in some stead, and which yet they had no value for, and that was the prophet’s intercession for them; his prayers would do them more good than their own pleas: now here that support is taken from them; and their case is said indeed who have lost their interest in the prayers of God’s ministers and people. God here forbids the prophet to pray for them (v. 16): "The decree has gone forth, their ruin is resolved on, therefore pray not thou for this people, that is, pray not for the preventing of this judgment threatened; they have sinned unto death, and therefore pray not for their life, but for the life of their souls,’’ 1 Jn. 5:16 . See here, 1. That God’s prophets are praying men; Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, and yet prayed for their preservation, not knowing that the decree was absolute; and it is the will of God that we pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Even when we threaten sinners with damnation we must pray for their salvation, that they may turn and live. Jeremiah was hated, and persecuted, and reproached, by the children of his people, and yet he prayed for them; for it becomes us to render good for evil.

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2. That God’s praying prophets have a great interest in heaven, how little soever they have on earth. When God has determined to destroy this people, he bespeaks the prophet not to pray for them, because he would not have his prayers to lie (as prophets’ prayers seldom did) unanswered. God said to Moses, Let me alone, Ex. 22:10 . It is an ill omen to a people when God restrains the spirits of his ministers and people from praying for them, and gives them to see their case so desperate that they have no heart to speak a good word for them. 3. Those that will not regard good ministers’ preaching cannot expect any benefit by their praying. If you will not hear us when we speak from God to you, God will not hear us when we speak to him for you. He gives him a reason for this prohibition. Praying breath is too precious a thing to be lost and thrown away upon a people hardened in sin and marked for ruin. They are resolved to persist in their rebellion against God, and will not be turned back by the prophet’s preaching.

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'I WILL NOT HEAR': JEREMIAH 11:14 FROM THE BIBLE: Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is nothing but the promise reversed, or God’s Word formed into an argument, and retorted by faith upon God again. - William Gurnall

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Jeremiah’s prayers shall not help them, v. 14. What God had said to him before ch. 7:16 ) he here says again, Pray not thou for this people. This is not designed for a command to the prophet, so much as for a threatening to the people, that they should have no benefit by the prayers of their friends for them. God would give no encouragement to the prophets to pray for them, would not stir up the spirit of prayer, but cast a damp upon it, would put it into their hearts to pray, not for the body of the people, but for the remnant among them, to pray for their eternal salvation, not for their deliverance from the temporal judgments that were coming upon them; and what other prayers were put up for them should not be heard. Those are in a sad case indeed that are cut off from the benefit of prayer. "I will not hear them when they cry, and therefore to not thou pray for them.’’ Note, Those that have so far thrown themselves out of God’s favour that he will not hear their prayers cannot expect benefit by the prayers of others for them.

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'PRAY NOT FOR THIS PEOPLE': JEREMIAH 14:11 FROM THE BIBLE: Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God for the things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, by the help of His Spirit, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies. - Erroll Hulse

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: That they had forfeited all benefit by the prophet’s prayers for them because they had not regarded his preaching to them. This is the meaning of that repeated prohibition given to the prophet (v. 11): Pray not thou for this people for their good, as before, ch. 7:15 ; 11:14. This did not forbid him thus to express his good-will to them (Moses continued to intercede for Israel after God had said, Let me alone, Ex. 32:10 ), but it forbade them to expect any good effect from it as long as they turned away their ear from hearing the law.

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JEREMIAH 36:7 FROM THE BIBLE: "It may be they will present their supplication before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the Lord hath pronounced against this people."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "I do not think that we should look upon... painful experiences too pessimistically. Surely they are more profitable than we think at the time we are going through the anguish connected with them. But if they are to be of any benefit to us, we must, in the first place, be truthful and not begin to practice deception, that is, excuse and defend our slovenly prayer life. We must admit our weakness in prayer, admit that we are faced with a problem which cannot be solved by our own efforts." - Ole Kristian O. Hallesby

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JOHANAN ASKS JEREMIAH TO PRAY FOR THE PEOPLE: JEREMIAH 42:1-3 FROM THE BIBLE: Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the Lord thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Rich is the person who has a praying friend." - Janice Hughes

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: They desire him by prayer to ask direction from God what they should do in the present critical juncture, Jer. 42:2, 3. They express themselves wonderfully well. 1. With great respect to the prophet. Though he was poor and low, and under their command, yet they apply to him with humility and submissiveness, as petitioners for his assistance, which yet they intimate their own unworthiness of: Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee. They compliment him thus in hopes to persuade him to say as they would have him say. 2. With a great opinion of his interest in heaven: “Pray for us, who know not how to pray for ourselves. Pray to the Lord thy God, for we are unworthy to call him ours, nor have we reason to expect any favour from him.

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GOD'S ANSWER TO JEREMIAH'S SUPPLICATION: JEREMIAH 42:7-10 FROM THE BIBLE: And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah. Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, And said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the Lord: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" - Corrie Ten Boom

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: That it is the will of God that they should stay where they are, and his promise that, if they do so, it shall undoubtedly be well with them he would have them still to abide in this land, Jer. 42:10. Their brethren were forced out of it into captivity, and this was their affliction; let those therefore count it a mercy that they may stay in it and a duty to stay in it. Let those whose lot is in Canaan never quit it while they can keep it. It would have been enough to oblige them if God had only said, “I charge you upon your allegiance to abide still in the land;” but he rather persuades them to it as a friend than commands it as a prince. (1.) He expresses a very tender concern for them in their present calamitous condition: It repenteth me of the evil that I have done unto you. Though they had shown small sign of their repenting of their sins, yet God, as one grieved for the misery of Israel (Jdg. 10:16), begins to repent of the judgments he had brought upon them for their sins. Not that he changed his mind, but he was very ready to change his way and to return in mercy to them. God’s time to repent himself concerning his servants is when he sees that, as here, their 219


strength is gone, and there is none shut up or left, Deut. 32:36. (2.) He answers the argument they had against abiding in this land. They feared the king of Babylon (Jer. 41:18), lest he should come and avenge the death of Gedaliah upon them, though they were no way accessory to it, nay, had witnessed against it. The surmise was foreign and unreasonable; but, if there had been any ground for it, enough is here said to remove it (Jer. 42:11): “Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, though he is a man of great might and little mercy, and a very arbitrary prince, whose will is a law, and therefore you are afraid he will upon this pretence, though without colour of reason, take advantage against you; be not afraid of him, for that fear will bring a snare: fear not him, for I am with you; and, if God be for you to save you, who can be against you to hurt you?” Thus has God provided to obviate and silence even the causeless fears of his people, which discourage them in the way of their duty; there is enough in the promises to encourage them. (3.) He assures them that if they will still abide in this land they shall not only be safe from the king of Babylon, but be made happy by the King of kings: “I will build you and plant you; you shall take root again, and be the new foundation of another state, a phoenix-kingdom, rising out of the ashes of the last.” It is added (Jer. 42:12), I will show mercies unto you. Note, In all our comforts we may read God’s mercies. God will show them mercy in this, that not only the king of Babylon shall not destroy them, but he shall have mercy upon them and help to settle them. Note, Whatever kindness men do us we must attribute it to God’s kindness. He makes those whom he pities to be pitied even by those who carried them captives, Ps. 106:46. “The king of Babylon, having now the disposal of the country, shall cause you to return it to your own land, shall settle you again in your own habitations and put you in possession of the lands that formerly belonged to you.” Note, God has made that our duty which is really our privilege, and our obedience will be its own recompence. “Abide in this land, and it shall be your own land again and you shall continue in it. Do not quit it now that you stand so fair for the enjoyment of it again. Be no so unwise as to forsake your own mercies for lying vanities.”

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'PRAY

FOR

US': JEREMIAH 42:20

FROM THE BIBLE: For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer helps us cling to the altar of God’s promises by which we lay hold of God Himself. - Joel R. Beeke

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: And here, (1.) He solemnly protests that he had faithfully delivered his message, v. 19. The conclusion of the whole matter is, "Go not down into Egypt; you disobey the command of God if you do, and what I have said to you will be a witness against you; for know certainly that, whether you will hear or whether you will forbear, I have plainly admonished you; you cannot now plead ignorance of the mind of God.’’ (2.) He charges them with base dissimulation in the application they made to him for divine direction (v. 20)

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PRINCE OF PRAYER Evan Roberts The seeds of revival are always nurtured in the hearts of the humble. And so it was with the great Welsh Revival of 1904. It was in a young coal miner named Evan Roberts that God imparted a burning vision for spiritual revival. Evan Roberts did not possess the gifts of a great intellect or eloquent speech, but simply a burning passion for Jesus. While other young men were sailing boats in the bay, young Roberts was faithfully attending prayer meetings. Though only 26 years old, Evan Roberts had no time for youthful entertainment and pleasure. "Day and night without ceasing, he prayed, wept and sighed for a great spiritual awakening . . ." Roberts writes, "for ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals." Eventually Evan Roberts was turned out of his lodging by his landlady who thought that in his enthusiasm he was possessed or somewhat mad. "He spent hours praying and preaching in his room until the lady became afraid of him, and asked him to leave." The role of Evan Roberts in the Welsh revival was anything but conventional. Often he would simply lead the people in prayer or read the Scriptures. Then at other times he sat silent, while, one after another, people confessed their sins or gave testimony of Christ's victory and power. There were also glorious times of worship which lasted literally hours. Roberts merely gave humble instruction from time to time and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. He was a constant example not of how to preach, but of how to be led by the Spirit. The Welsh revival was a mighty invasion of the Spirit; God's Kingdom radically manifested on earth. "The earnings of workmen, instead of being squandered on drink and vice, were now bringing great joy to their families. Outstanding debts were being paid by thousands of young converts. Restitution was the order of the day. The gambling and alcohol business lost their trade and the theaters closed down from lack of patronage. Football during this time was forgotten by both players and fans, though nothing was mentioned from the pulpits about it. The people had new lives and new interests. Political meetings 222


were cancelled or abandoned. They seemed completely out of the question since nobody was interested. The political leaders from parliament in London abandoned themselves to the revival meetings. The man-made denominational barriers completely collapsed as believers and pastors worshipped their majestic Lord together." One of the outstanding features of the revival was the confession of sin,not among the unsaved only, but among the saved. All were broken down and melted before the cross of Christ. Throughout the revival, Evan Roberts constantly stressed the necessity of dealing honestly with sin, complete obedience to the Holy Spirit, and the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evan Roberts was instrumental in bringing healing to an entire country because he cared and wept and prayed. He embraced the broken heart of God and offered it back up to Him through prayer and intercession. As a result "wherever he went, hearts were set aflame with the Love of God!" by David Smithers

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'HE SHUTTETH OUT MY PRAYER': LAMENTATIONS 3:8 FROM THE BIBLE: Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: From a biblical point of view, prayer is related to everything that we are and everything that God is. God does not respond to our prayers. God responds to us: to our whole life. What we say to Him cannot be separated from what we think, feel, will and do. Prayer is communication from whole persons to the Wholeness which is the living God. Prayer is misunderstood until we see it this way. --Bingham Hunter

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The prophet complains that God turns a deaf ear to his prayers (Lam. 3:8): “When I cry and shout, as one in earnest, as one that would make him hear, yet he shuts out my prayer and will not suffer it to have access to him.” God’s ear is wont to be open to the prayers of his people, and his door of mercy to those that knock at it; but now both are shut, even to one that cries and shouts. Thus sometimes God seems to be angry even against the prayers of his people (Ps. 80:4), and their case is deplorable indeed when they are denied not only the benefit of an answer, but the comfort of acceptance.

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BLOCKED PRAYERS: LAMENTATIONS 3:44 FROM THE BIBLE: Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: When prayer is a struggle, do not worry about the prayers that you cannot pray. You yourself are a prayer to God at that moment. All that is within you cries out to Him. And he hears all the pleas that your suffering soul and body are making to Him with groanings which cannot be uttered. --Ole Kristian O. Hallesby

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Their sin hindered their prayers from coming up unto God (Lam. 3:44): “Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud,” not like that bright cloud in which he took possession of the temple, which enabled the worshippers to draw near to him, but like that in which he came down upon Mount Sinai, which obliged the people to stand at a distance. “This cloud is so thick that our prayers seem as if they were lost in it; they cannot pass through; we cannot obtain an audience.” Note, The prolonging of troubles is sometimes a temptation, even to praying people, to question whether God be what they have always believed him to be, a prayer-hearing God.

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Prayer is the Key Unknown author Prayer is the key for the bending knee To open the morn’s first hours; See the incense rise to the starry skies, Like perfume from the flow’rs. Not a soul so sad, nor a heart so glad When cometh the shades of night, But the daybreak song will the joy prolong, And some darkness turn to light. Take the golden key in your hand and see, As the night-tide drifts away, How its blesscd hold is a crown of gold, Thro’ the weary hours of day. When the shadows fall, and the vesper call Is sobbing its low refrain, ’Tis a garland sweet to the toil-dent feet, And an antidote for pain. Soon our toils will cease, and will come release; Life’s tears shall be wiped away, As the pearl gates swing, and the gold harps ring, And we enter eternal day.

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THEY FOUND DANIEL PRAYING: DANIEL 6:11 FROM THE BIBLE: "Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer is the spirit speaking truth to Truth." - Philip James Bailey

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Proof made of Daniel’s praying to his God, notwithstanding the late edict to the contrary (Dan. 6:11): These men assembled; the came tumultuously together, so the word is, the same that was used Dan. 6:6; borrowed from Ps. 2:1; Why do the heathen rage? They came together to visit Daniel, perhaps under pretence of business, at that time which they knew to be his usual hour of devotion; and, if they had not found him so engaged, they would have upbraided him with his faint-heartedness and distrust of his God, but (which they rather wished to do) they found him on his knees praying and making supplication before his God. For his love they are his adversaries; but, like his father David, he gives himself unto prayer, Ps. 109:4. 2. Complaint made of it to the king. When they had found occasion against Daniel concerning the law of his God they lost no time, but applied to the king (Dan. 6:12), and having appealed to his whether there was not such a law made, and gained from him a recognition of it, and that it was so ratified that it might not be altered, they proceeded to accuse Daniel, Dan. 6:13.

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DANIEL'S PRAYER FOR HIS PEOPLE: DANIEL 9:3-22 FROM THE BIBLE: And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we 228


obeyed not his voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Whether we like it or not, asking is the rule of the Kingdom. If you may have everything by asking in His Name, and nothing without asking, I beg you to see how absolutely vital prayer is. --Charles Haddon Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: How serious and solemn his address to God was when he understood that the seventy years were just upon expiring (for it appears, by Ezekiel’s dating of his prophecies, that they exactly computed the years of their captivity), then he set his face to seek God by prayer.

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Note, God’s promises are intended, not to supersede, but to excite and encourage, our prayers; and, when we see the day of the performance of them approaching, we should the more earnestly plead them with God and put them in suit. So Daniel did here; he prayed three times a day, and, no doubt, in every prayer made mention of the desolations of Jerusalem; yet he did not think that enough, but even in the midst of his business set time apart for an extraordinary application to Heaven on Jerusalem’s behalf. God had said to Ezekiel that though Daniel, among others, stood before him, his intercession should not prevail to prevent the judgment (Ezek. 14:14), yet he hopes, now that the warfare is accomplished (Isa. 40:2), his prayer may be heard for the removing of the judgment. When the day of deliverance dawns it is time for God’s praying people to bestir themselves; something extraordinary is then expected and required from them, besides their daily sacrifice. Now Daniel sought by prayer and supplications, for fear lest the sins of the people should provoke him to defer their deliverance longer than was intended, or rather that the people might be prepared by the grace of God for the deliverance now that the providence of God was about to work it out for them. Now observe, (1.) The intenseness of his mind in this prayer; I set my face unto the Lord God to seek him, which denotes the fixedness of his thoughts, the firmness of his faith, and the fervour of his devout affections, in the duty. We must, in prayer, set God before us, an set ourselves as in his presence; to him we must direct our prayer and must look up. Probably, in token of his setting his face towards God, he did, as usual, set his face towards Jerusalem, to affect his own heart the more with the desolations of it. (2.) The mortification of his body in this prayer. In token of his deep humiliation before God for his own sins, and the sins of his people, and the sense he had of his unworthiness, when he prayed he fasted, put on sackcloth, and lay in as hes, the more to affect himself with the desolations of Jerusalem, which he was praying for the repair of, and to make himself sensible that he was now about an extraordinary work. We have here Daniel’s prayer to God as his God, and the confession which he joined with that prayer: I prayed, and made my confession. Note, In every prayer we must make confession, not only of the sins we have been guilty of (which we commonly call confession), but of our faith in God and dependence upon him, our sorrow for sin and our resolutions against it. It must be 230


our confession, must be the language of our own convictions and that which we ourselves do heartily subscribe to. Let us go over the several parts of this prayer, which we have reason to think that he offered up much more largely than is here recorded, these being only the heads of it. I. Here is his humble, serious, reverent address to God, 1. As a God to be feared, and whom it is our duty always to stand in awe of: “O Lord! the great and dreadful God, that art able to deal with the greatest and most terrible of the church’s enemies.” 2. As a God to be trusted, and whom it is our duty to depend upon and put a confidence in: Keeping the covenant and mercy to those that love him, and, as a proof of their love to him, keep his commandments. If we fulfil our part of the bargain, he will not fail to fulfil his. He will be to his people as good as his word, for he keeps covenant with them, and not one iota of his promise shall fall to the ground; nay, he will be better than his word, for he keeps mercy to them, something more than was in the covenant. It was proper for Daniel to have his eye upon God’s mercy now that he was to lay before him the miseries of his people, and upon God’s covenant now that he was to sue for the performance of a promise. Note, We should, in prayer, look both at God’s greatness and his goodness, his majesty and mercy in conjunction. II. Here is a penitent confession of sin, the procuring cause of all the calamities which his people had for so many years been groaning under, Dan. 9:5, 6. When we seek to God for national mercies we ought to humble ourselves before him for national sins. These are the sins Daniel here laments; and we may here observe the variety of words he makes use of to set forth the greatness of their provocations (for it becomes penitents to lay load upon themselves): We have sinned in many particular instances, nay, we have committed iniquity, we have driven a trade of sin, we have done wickedly with a hard heart and a stiff neck, and herein we have rebelled, have taken up arms against the King of kings, his crown and dignity. Two things aggravated their sins:— 1. That they had violated the express laws God had given them by Moses: “We have departed from they precepts and from thy judgments, and have not conformed to them. And (Dan. 9:10) we have not obeyed the voice of the 231


Lord our God.” That which speaks the nature of sin, that it is the transgression of the law, does sufficiently speak the malignity of it; if sin be made to appear sin, it cannot be made to appear worse; its sinfulness is its greatest hatefulness, Rom. 7:13. God has set his laws before us plainly and fully, as the copy we should write after, yet we have not walked in them, but turned aside, or turned back. 2. That they had slighted the fair warnings God had given them by the prophets, which in every age he had sent to them, rising up betimes and sending them (Dan. 9:6): “We have not hearkened to thy servants the prophets, who have put us in mind of thy laws, and of the sanctions of them; though they spoke in thy name, we have not regarded them; though they delivered their message faithfully, with a universal respect to all orders and degrees of men, to our kings and princes, whom they had the courage and confidence to speak to, to our fathers, and to all the people of the land, whom they had the condescension and compassion to speak to, yet we have not hearkened to them, nor heard them, or not heeded them, or not complied with them.” Mocking God’s messengers, and despising his words, were Jerusalem’s measure-filling sins, 2 Chron. 36:16. This confession of sin is repeated here, and much insisted on; penitents should again and again accuse and reproach themselves till they find their hearts thoroughly broken. All Israel have transgressed thy law, Dan. 9:11. It is Israel, God’s professing people, who have known better, and from whom better is expected—Israel, God’s peculiar people, whom he has surrounded with his favours; not here and there one, but it is all Israel, the generality of them, the body of the people, that have transgressed by departing and getting out of the way, that they might not hear, and so might not obey, thy voice. This disobedience is that which all true penitents do most sensibly charge upon themselves (Dan. 9:14): We obeyed not his voice, and (Dan. 9:15) we have sinned, we have done wickedly. Those that would find mercy must thus confess their sins. III. Here is a self-abasing acknowledgment of the righteousness of God in all the judgments that were brought upon them; and it is evermore the way of true penitents thus to justify God, that he may be clear when he judges, and the sinner may bear all the blame. 1. He acknowledges that it was sin that plunged them in all these troubles. Israel is dispersed through all the countries about, and so weakened, impoverished, and exposed. God’s hand has driven them hither and thither, some 232


near, where they are known and therefore the more ashamed, others afar off, where they are not known and therefore the more abandoned, and it is because of their trespass that they have trespassed (Dan. 9:7); they mingled themselves with the nations that they might be debauched by them, and now God mingles them with the nations that they might be stripped by them. 2. He owns the righteousness of God in it, that he had done them no wrong in all he had brought upon them, but had dealt with them as they deserved (Dan. 9:7): “O Lord! righteousness belongs to thee; we have no fault to find with thy providence, no exceptions to make against thy judgments, for (Dan. 9:14) the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he does, even in the sore calamities we are now under, for we obeyed not the words of his mouth, and therefore justly feel the weight of his hand.” This seems to be borrowed from Lam. 1:18. 3. He takes notice of the fulfilling of the scripture in what was brought upon them. In very faithfulness he afflicted them; for it was according to the word which he had spoken. The curse is poured upon us and the oath, that is, the curse that was ratified by an oath in the law of Moses, Dan. 9:11. This further justifies God in their troubles, that he did but inflict the penalty of the law, which he had given them fair notice of. It was necessary for the preserving of the honour of God’s veracity, and saving his government from contempt, that the threatenings of his word should be accomplished, otherwise they look but as bugbears, nay, they seem not at all frightful. Therefore he has confirmed his words which spoke against us because we broke his laws, and against our judges that judged us because they did not according to the duty of their place punish the breach of God’s laws. He told them many a time that if they did not execute justice, as terrors to evil-workers, he must and would take the work into his own hands; and now he has confirmed what he said by bringing upon us a great evil, in which the princes and judges themselves deeply shared. Note, It contributes very much to our profiting by the judgments of God’s hand to observe how exactly they agree with the judgments of his mouth. 4. He aggravates the calamities they were in, lest they should seem, having been long used to them, to make light of them, and so to lose the benefit of the chastening of the Lord by despising it. “It is not some of the common troubles of life that we are complaining of, but that which has in it some special marks of divine displeasure; for under the whole heaven has not been done as has been done upon Jerusalem,” Dan. 9:12. It is Jeremiah’s lamenta233


tion in the name of the church, Was ever sorrow like unto my sorrow? which must suppose another similar question, Was ever sin like unto my sin? 5. He puts shame upon the whole nation, from the highest to the lowest; and if they will say Amen to his prayer, as it was fit they should if they would come in for a share in the benefit of it, they must all put their hand upon their mouth, and their mouth in the dust: “To us belongs confusion of faces as at this day (Dan. 9:7); we lie under the shame of the punishment of our iniquity, for shame is our due.” If Israel had retained their character, and had continued a holy people, they would have been high above all nations in praise, and mane, and honour (Deut. 26:19); but now that they have sinned and done wickedly confusion and disgrace belong to them, to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the inhabitants both of the country and of the city, for they have been all alike guilty before God; it belongs to all Israel, both to the two tribes, that are near, by the rivers of Babylon, and to the ten tribes, that are afar off, in the land of Assyria. “Confusion belongs not only to the common people of our land, but to our kings, our princes, and our fathers (Dan. 9:8), who should have set a better example, and have used their authority and influence for the checking of the threatening torrent of vice profaneness.” 6. He imputes the continuance of the judgment to their incorrigibleness under it (Dan. 9:13, 14): “All this evil has come upon us, and has lain long upon us, yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, not in a right manner, as we should have made it, with a humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart. We have been smitten, but have not returned to him that smote us. We have not entreated the face of the Lord our God” (so the word is); “we have taken no care to make our peace with God and reconcile ourselves to him.” Daniel set his brethren a good example of praying continually, but he was sorry to see how few there were that followed his example; in their affliction it was expected that they would seek God early, but they sought him not, that they might turn from their iniquities and understand his truth. The errand upon which afflictions are sent is to bring men to turn from their iniquities and to understand God’s truth; so Elihu had explained them, Job 36:10. God by them opens men’s ears to discipline and commands that they return from iniquity. And if men were brought rightly to understand God’s truth, and to submit to the power and authority of it, they would turn from the error of their ways. Now the first step towards this is to make our prayer before the Lord our God, that the affliction may be sanctified before it is removed, and 234


that the grace of God may go along with the providence of God, to make it answer the end. Those who in their affliction make not their prayer to God, who cry not when he binds them, are not likely to turn from iniquity or to understand his truth. “Therefore, because we have not improved the affliction, the Lord has watched upon the evil, as the judge takes care that execution be done according to the sentence. Because we have not been melted, he has kept us still in the furnace, and watched over it, to make the heat yet more intense;” for when God judges he will overcome, and will be justified in all his proceedings. IV. Here is a believing appeal to the mercy of God, and to the ancient tokens of his favour to Israel, and the concern of his own glory in their interests. 1. It is some comfort to them (and not a little) that God has been always ready to pardon sin (Dan. 9:9): To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness; this refers to that proclamation of his name, Exod. 34:6, 7, The Lord God, gracious and merciful, forgiving iniquity. Note, It is very encouraging to poor sinners to recollect that mercies belong to God, as it is convincing and humbling to them to recollect that righteousness belongs to him; and those who give him the glory of his righteousness may take to themselves the comfort of his mercies, Ps. 62:12. There are abundant mercies in God, and not only forgiveness but forgivenesses; he is a God of pardons (Neh. 9:17; marg.); he multiplies to pardon, Isa. 55:7. Though we have rebelled against him, yet with him there is mercy, pardoning mercy, even for the rebellious. 2. It is likewise a support to them to think that God had formerly glorified himself by delivering them out of Egypt; so far he looks back for the encouragement of his faith (Dan. 9:15): “Thou hast formerly brought thy people out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and wilt thou not now with the same mighty hand bring them out of Babylon? Were they then formed into a people, and shall they not now be reformed and new-formed? Are they now sinful and unworthy, and were they not so then? Are their oppressors now mighty and haughty, and were they not so then? And has not God said the their deliverance out of Babylon shall outshine even that out of Egypt?” Jer. 16:14, 15. The force of this plea lies in that, “Thou hast gotten thyself renown, hast made thyself a name” (so the word is) “as at this day, even to this day, by bringing us out of Egypt; and wilt thou lose the credit of that by letting us perish in Babylon? Didst thou get a renown by that deliverance which we have so often commemorated, and wilt thou not now get thyself a renown by 235


this which we have so often prayed for, and so long waited for?” V. Here is a pathetic complaint of the reproach that God’s people lay under, and the ruins that God’s sanctuary lay in, both which redounded very much to the dishonour of God and the diminution of that name and renown which God had gained by bringing them out of Egypt. 1. God’s holy people were despised. By their sins and the iniquities of their fathers they had profaned their crown and made themselves despicable, and then though they are, in name and profession, God’s people, and upon that account truly great and honourable, yet they become a reproach to all that are round about them. Their neighbours laugh them to scorn, and triumph in their disgrace. Note, Sin is a reproach to any people, but especially to God’s people, that have more eyes upon them and have more honour to lose than other people. 2. God’s holy place was desolate. Jerusalem, the holy city, was a reproach (Dan. 9:16) when it lay in ruins; it was an astonishment and a hissing to all that passed by. The sanctuary, the holy house, was desolate (Dan. 9:17), the altars were demolished, and all the buildings laid in ashes. Note, The desolations of the sanctuary are the grief of all the saints, who reckon all their comforts in this world buried in the ruins of the sanctuary. VI. Here is an importunate request to God for the restoring of the poor captive Jews to their former enjoyments again. The petition is very pressing, for God gives us leave in prayer to wrestle with him: “O Lord! I beseech thee, Dan. 9:16. If ever thou wilt do any thing for me, do this; it is my heart’s desire and prayer. Now therefore, O our God! hear the prayer of thy servant and his supplication (Dan. 9:17), and grant an answer of peace.” Now what are his petitions? What are his requests? 1. That God would turn away his wrath from them; that is it which all the saints dread and deprecate more than any thing: O let thy anger be turned away from thy Jerusalem, thy holy mountain! Dan. 9:16. He does not pray for the turning again of their captivity (let the Lord do with them as seems good in his eyes), but he prays first for the turning away of Go 8000 d’s wrath. Take away the cause, and the effect will cease. 2. That he would lift up the light of his countenance upon them (Dan. 9:17): 236


“Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate; return in thy mercy to us, and show that thou art reconciled to us, and then all shall be well.” Note, The shining of God’s face upon the desolations of the sanctuary is all in all towards the repair of it; and upon that foundation it must be rebuilt. If therefore its friends would begin their work at the right end, they must first be earnest with God in prayer for his favour, and recommend his desolate sanctuary to his smiles. Cause thy face to shine and then we shall be saved, Ps. 80:3. 3. That he would forgive their sins, and then hasten their deliverance (Dan. 9:19): O Lord! hear; O Lord! forgive. “That the mercy prayed for may be granted in mercy, let the sin that threatens to come between us and it be removed: O Lord! hearken and do, not hearken and speak only, but hearken and do; do that for us which none else can, and that speedily—defer not, O my God!” Now that he saw the appointed day approaching he could in faith pray that God would make haste to them and not defer. David often prays, Make haste, O God! to help me. VII. Here are several pleas and arguments to enforce the petitions. God gives us leave not only to pray, but to plead with him, which is not to move him (he himself knows what he will do), but to move ourselves, to excite our fervency and encourage our faith. 1. They disdain a dependence upon any righteousness of their own; they pretend not to merit any thing at God’s hand but wrath and the curse (Dan. 9:18): “We do not present our supplications before thee with hope to speed for our righteousness, as if we were worthy to receive thy favour for any good in us, or done by us, or could demand any thing as a debt; we cannot insist upon our own justification, no, though we were more righteous than we are; nay, though we knew nothing amiss of ourselves, yet are we not thereby justified, nor would we answer, but we would make supplication to our Judge.” Moses had told Israel long before that, whatever God did for them, it was not for their righteousness, Deut. 9:4, 5. And Ezekiel had of late told them that their return out of Babylon would be not for their sakes, Ezek. 36:22, 32. Note, Whenever we come to God for mercy we must lay aside all conceit of, and confidence in, our own righteousness. 2. They take their encouragement in prayer from God only, as knowing that his reasons of mercy are fetched from within himself, and therefore from him 237


we must borrow all our pleas for mercy, and so give honour to him when we are suing for grace and mercy from him. (1.) “Do it for thy own sake (Dan. 9:19), for the accomplishment of thy own counsel, the performance of thy own promise, and the manifestation of thy own glory.” Note, God will do his own work, not only in his own way and time, but for his own sake, and so we must take it. (2.) “Do it for the Lord’s sake, that is, for the Lord Christ’s sake,” for the sake of the Messiah promised, who is the Lord (so the most and best of our Christian interpreters understand it), for the sake of Adonai, so David called the Messiah (Ps. 110:1), and mercy is prayed for for the church for the sake of the Son of man (Ps. 80:17), and for thy Word’s sake, he is Lord of all. It is for his sake that God causes his face to shine upon sinners when they repent and turn to him, because of the satisfaction he has made. In all our prayers that therefore must be our plea; we must make mention of his righteousness, even of his only, Ps. 71:16. Look upon the face of the anointed. He has himself directed us to ask in his name. (3.) “Do it according to all thy righteousness (Dan. 9:16), that is, plead for us against our persecutors and oppressors according to thy righteousness. Though we are ourselves unrighteous before God, yet with reference to them we have a righteous cause, which we leave it with the righteous God to appear in the defence of.” Or, rather, by the righteousness of God here is meant his faithfulness to his promise. God had, according to his righteousness, executed the threatening, Dan. 9:11. “Now, Lord, wilt thou not do according to all thy righteousness? Wilt thou not be as true to thy promises as thou hast been to thy threatenings and accomplish them also?” (4.) “Do it for thy great mercies (Dan. 9:18), to make it to appear that thou art a merciful God.” The good things we ask of God we call mercies, because we expect them purely from God’s mercy. And, because misery is the proper object of mercy, the prophet here spreads the deplorable condition of the church before God, as it were to move his compassion: “Open thy eyes and behold our desolations, especially the desolations of the sanctuary. O look with pity upon a pitiable case!” Note, The desolations of the church must in prayer be laid before God and then left with him. (5.) “Do it for the sake of the relation we stand in to thee. The sanctuary that 238


is desolate is thy sanctuary (Dan. 9:17), dedicated to thy honour, employed in thy service, and the place of thy residence. Jerusalem is thy city and thy holy mountain (Dan. 9:16); it is the city which is called by thy name,” Dan. 9:18. It was the city which God had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. “The people that have become a reproach are thy people, and thy name suffers in the reproach cast upon them (Dan. 9:16); they are called by thy name, Dan. 9:19. Lord, thou hast a property in them, and therefore art interested in their interests; wilt thou not provide for thy own, for those of thy own house? They are thine, save them,” Ps. 119:94.

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PRINCESS OF PRAYER Pandita Ramabai Fire kindles more fire. In 1904 one of the most significant revivals of the modern Church age swept through Wales. News of the Welsh revival quickly encircled the globe, bringing with it sparks of hope and expectation. Soon revival fires were burning in India, China, Korea and America. Instrumental in the revival in India was a young woman by the name of Pandita Ramabai. Pandita established a center for young widows and orphans called "Mukti" meaning - salvation or deliverance. She longed to see a powerful revival among the neglected and helpless widows of India. In December 1904, after receiving word of the Welsh revival, her hunger for an outpouring of the Spirit intensified, "she started prayer circles of ten girls each, urging them to pray for the salvation of all nominal Christians in India and across the world. At first there were seventy in her prayer circles. She sent out a call for other prayer circles to be formed among friends and supporters, giving each a list of ten unsaved girls or women for whom to pray. Within six months there were 550 at Mukti who met twice a day to pray for revival." On June 29, 1905 the Spirit fell upon a large group of girls, with weeping, confession of sin and prayers for empowerment. The next day, June 30, while Ramabai taught from John 8, the Spirit came in power. All the women and girls began to weep and confess their sins. Many were stricken down under conviction of sin while attending to their daily studies and household duties. Lessons were suspended and the women gave themselves to continual prayer. During these days of heart-searching repentance many girls had visions of the "body of sin" within themselves. They testified that the Holy Spirit came into them with holy burning, which they called a baptism of fire, that was almost unbearable. Another reporter of these revival incidents stated, "the girls in India so wonderfully wrought upon and baptized with the Spirit, began by terrifically beating themselves, under pungent conviction of their need. Great light was given them. When delivered they jumped up and down for joy for hours without fatigue. They cried out with the burning that came into and upon them, while 240


the fire of God burned the members of the body of sin, pride, anger, love of the world, selfishness, uncleanness, etc. They neither ate nor slept until the victory was won. Then the joy was so great that for two or three days after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit they did not care for food." In such times of true revival the most basic dealings of the Holy Spirit suddenly became powerfully intensified. Both the conviction of sin and the joy of salvation are seemingly greatly exaggerated. G. H. Lang after spending some time at Mukti observing the revival wrote, "little girls were lost for hours in the transport of loving Jesus and praising Him. Young Christians were counting it a rare privilege to spend many successive hours in intercessory prayer for strangers never seen or known . . . In one meeting we were seventeen hours together; the following day more than fifteen hours passed before the meeting broke up with great joy." "Dr. Nicol MacNicol, the scholarly biographer of Pandita Ramabai reported that these who seemed to have such emotional blessings at the time of the revival were still living steadfast, godly lives twenty years later." The life of Pandita Ramabai is a strong encouragement for us to apply ourselves diligently to the word of hope. This precious young woman armed only with a God given vision and the news of Christ's fresh work in Wales took heart and set herself to pray like never before. In light of what God has done in the past for His Church have we not reason to hope? The Church is too often hopeless and prayerless because it has forgotten God's mighty acts. "Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually. Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth;..." (1 Chron. 16:11,12). by David Smithers

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'I REMEMBERED THE LORD': JONAH 2:7 FROM THE BIBLE: When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to Him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing. --E. M. Bounds

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Jonah reflects upon the favour of God to him when thus in his distress he sought to God and trusted him. (1.) He graciously accepted his prayer, and gave admission and audience to it (Jonah 2:7): My prayer, being sent to him, came in unto him, even into his holy temple; it was heard in the highest heavens, though it was prayed in the lowest deeps. (2.) He wonderfully wrought deliverance for him, and, when he was in the depth of his misery, gave him the earnest and assurance of it (Jonah 2:6): Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God! Some think he said this when he was vomited up on dry ground; and then it is the language of thankfulness, and he sets it over-against the great difficulty of his case, that the power of God might be the more magnified in his deliverance: The earth with her bars was about me for ever, and yet thou hast brought up my life from the pit, from the bars of the pit. Or, rather, we may suppose it spoken while he was yet in the fish’s belly, and then it is the language of his faith: “Thou hast kept me alive here, in the pit, and therefore thou canst, thou wilt, bring up my life from the pit;” and he speaks of it with as much assurance as if it were done already: Thou has brought up my life. Though he has not an express promise of deliverance, he has an earnest of it, and on that he depends: he has life, and therefore believes his life shall be brought up from corruption; and this assurance he addresses to God: Thou has done it, O Lord my God! Thou art the Lord, and therefore canst do it for me, my God, and therefore wilt do it. Note, If the Lord be our God, he will be to us the resur242


rection and the life, will redeem our lives from destruction, from the power of the grave.

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'I PRAY THEE': JONAH 4:2 FROM THE BIBLE: "And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "We might not be able to speak in any pulpit we choose, but we certainly can pray for any pulpit. People may not be willing to listen to us, but they cannot stop us from praying for them. We can only be in one place at one time, but our prayers can cover more than one continent. What an awesome opportunity to realize that you can cooperate with God and lift the spirit of an individual half a world away from you." - Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He quarreled with God about it. When his heart was hot within him, he spoke unadvisedly with his lips; and here he tells us what he said (Jonah 4:2, 3): He prayed unto the Lord, but it is a very awkward prayer, not like that which he prayed in the fish’s belly; for affliction teaches us to pray submissively, which Jonah now forgot to do. Being in discontent, he applied to the duty of prayer, as he used to do in his troubles, but his corruptions got head of his graces, and, when he should have been praying for benefit by the mercy of God himself, he was complaining of the benefit others had by that mercy. Nothing could be spoken more unbecomingly. (1.) He now begins to justify himself in fleeing from the presence of the Lord, when he was first ordered to go to Nineveh, for which he had before, with good reason, condemned himself: “Lord,” said he, “was not this my saying when I was in my own country? Did I not foresee that if I went to preach to Nineveh they would repent, and thou wouldst forgive them, and then thy word would be reflected upon and reproached as yea and nay?” What a strange sort of man was Jonah, to dread the success of his ministry! Many have been tempted to withdraw from their work because they had despaired of doing good by it, but Jonah declined preaching because he was afraid of doing good 244


by it; and still he persists in the same corrupt notion, for, it seems, the whale’s belly itself could not cure him of it. It was his saying when he was in his own country, but it was a bad saying; yet here he stands to it, and, very unlike the other prophets, desires the woeful day which he had foretold and grieves because it does not come. Even Christ’s disciples know not what manner of spirit they are of; those did not who wished for fire from heaven upon the city that did not receive them, much less did Jonah, who wished for fire from heaven upon the city that did receive him, Luke 9:55. Jonah thinks he has reason to complain of that, when it is done, which he was before afraid of; so hard is it to get a root of bitterness plucked out of the mind, when once it is fastened there. And why did Jonah expect that God would spare Nineveh? Because I knew that thou was a gracious God, indulgent and easily pleased, that thou wast slow to anger and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. All this is very true; and Jonah could not but know it by God’s proclamation of his name and the experiences of all ages; but it is strange and very unaccountable that that which all the saints had made the matter of their joy and praise Jonah should make the matter of reflection upon God, as if that were an imperfection of the divine nature which is indeed the greatest glory of it—that God is gracious and merciful. The servant that said, I knew thee to be a hard man, said that which was false, and yet, had it been true, it was not the proper matter of a complaint; but Jonah, though he says what is true, yet, speaking it by way of reproach, speaks very absurdly. Those have a spirit of contention and contradiction indeed that can find in their hearts to quarrel with the goodness of God, and his sparing pardoning mercy, to which we all owe it that we are out of hell. This is making that to be to us a savour of death unto death which ought to be a savour of life unto life. (2.) In a passion, he wishes for death (Jonah 4:3), a strange expression of his causeless passion! “Now, O Lord! take, I beseech thee, my life from me. If Nineveh must live, let me die, rather than see thy word and mine disproved, rather than see the glory of Israel transferred to the Gentiles,” as if there were not grace enough in God both for Jews and Gentiles, or as if his countrymen were the further off from mercy for the Ninevites being taken into favour. When the prophet Elijah had laboured in vain, he wished he might die, and it was his infirmity, 1 Kgs. 19:4. But Jonah labours to good purpose, saves a great city from ruin, and yet wishes he may die, as if, having done much good, he were afraid of living to do more; he sees of the travail of his soul, and is dissatisfied. What a perverse spirit is mingled with every word he says! When Jonah was brought alive out of the whale’s belly, he thought life a very valu245


able mercy, and was thankful to that God who brought up his life from corruption, (Jonah 2:6), and a great blessing his life had been to Nineveh; yet now, for that very reason, it became a burden to himself and he begs to be eased of it, pleading, It is better for me to die than to live. Such a word as this may be the language of grace, as it was in Paul, who desired to depart and be with Christ, which is far better; but here it was the language of folly, and passion, and strong corruption; and so much the worse, [1.] Jonah being now in the midst of his usefulness, and therefore fit to live. He was one whose ministry God wonderfully owned and prospered. The conversion of Nineveh might give him hopes of being instrumental to convert the whole kingdom of Assyria; it was therefore very absurd for him to wish he might die when he had a prospect of living to so good a purpose and could be so ill spared. [2.] Jonah being now so much out of temper and therefore unfit to die. How durst he think of dying, and going to appear before God’s judgment-seat, when he was actually quarrelling with him? Was this a frame of spirit proper for a man to go out of the world in? But those who passionately desire death commonly have least reason to do it, as being very much unprepared for it. Our business is to get ready to die by doing the work of life, and then to refer ourselves to God to take away our life when and how he pleases.

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HABAKKUK'S PRAYER: HABAKKUK 3 FROM THE BIBLE: A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the Lord displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.

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When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Nothing makes us so bold in prayer as when we can look into the eye of God and say to Him, "Thou knowest that I am not praying for personal advantage, nor to avoid hardship, nor that my own will in any way should be done, but only for this, that Thy name might be glorified. --Ole Kristian O. Hallesby

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The correspondence is kept up between God and his prophet. In the Hab. 1:117 he spoke to God, then God to him, and then he to God again; in the Hab. 2:1-20 God spoke wholly to him by the Spirit of prophecy; now, in Hab. 3:119, he speaks wholly to God by the Spirit of prayer, for he would not let the intercourse drop on his side, like a genuine son of Abraham, who “returned not to his place until God had left communing with him.” Gen. 18:33. The prophet’s prayer, in this chapter, is in imitation of David’s psalms, for it is directed “to the chief musician,” and is set to musical instruments. The prayer is left upon record for the use of the church, and particularly of the Jews in their captivity, while they were waiting for their deliverance, promised by the vision in the foregoing chapter. I. He earnestly begs of God to relieve and succour his people in affliction, to hasten their deliverance, and to comfort them in the mean time, Hab. 3:1. II. He calls to mind the experiences which the church formerly had of God’s glorious and gracious appearances on her behalf, when he brought Israel out of Egypt through the wilderness to Canaan, and there many a time wrought 248


wonderful deliverances for them, Hab. 3:3-15. III. He affects himself with a holy concern for the present troubles of the church, but encourages himself and others to hope that the issue will be comfortable and glorious at last, though all visible means fail, Hab. 3:16-19.

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Prayer is Appointed to Convey Joseph Hart and Giaochino A. Rossini Prayer is appointed to convey The blessings God designs to give: Long as they live should Christians pray; They learn to pray when first they live. If pain afflict, or wrongs oppress; If cares distract, or fears dismay; If guilt deject, if sin distress; In every case, still watch and pray. ’Tis prayer supports the soul that’s weak; Though thought be broken, language lame, Pray, if thou canst or canst not speak; But pray with faith in Jesus’ name. Depend on Him; thou canst not fail; Make all thy wants and wishes known; Fear not; His merits must prevail: Ask but in faith, it shall be done.

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'PRAY BEFORE THE LORD': ZECHARIAH 7:2 FROM THE BIBLE: When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the Lord, And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the Lord of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "That which begins not with prayer, seldom winds up with comfort." - John Flavel

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: What the errand was upon which they came. They were sent perhaps not with gold and silver (as those, Zech. 6:10, 11), or, if they were, that is not mentioned, but upon the two great errands which should bring us all to the house of God, (1.) to intercede with God for his mercy. They were sent to pray before the Lord, and, some think (according to the usage then), to offer sacrifice, with which they offered up their prayers. The Jews, in captivity, prayed towards the temple (as appears Dan. 6:10); but now that it was in a fair way to be rebuilt they sent their representatives to pray in it, remembering that God had said that his house should be called a house of prayer for all people, Isa. 56:7. In prayer we must set ourselves as before the Lord, must see his eye upon us and have our eye up to him. (2.) To enquire of God concerning his mind. Note, When we offer up our requests to God it must be with a readiness to receive instructions from him; for, if we turn away our ear from hearing his law, we cannot expect that our prayers should be acceptable to him. We must therefore desire to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life that we may enquire there (Ps. 27:4), asking, not only, Lord, what wilt thou do for me? but, Lord what wilt thou have me to do?

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MANY PEOPLE WILL SEEK THE LORD: ZECHARIAH 8:21 FROM THE BIBLE: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came...Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory." - R. A. Torrey

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: How unanimous they shall be in their accession to the church, and how zealous in exciting one another to it (Zech. 8:21): The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, as formerly when they went up from all parts of the country to worship at the yearly feasts; and they shall say, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord; I will go also. This intimates, (1.) That those who are brought into an acquaintance with Christ themselves should do all they can to bring others acquainted with him; thus Andrew invited Peter to Christ and Philip invited Nathanael. True grace hates monopolies. (2.) That those who are duly sensible of their need of Christ, and of the favour of God through him, will stir up themselves and others without delay to hasten to him: “Let us go speedily to pray; it is for our lives, and the lives of our souls, that we are to petition, and therefore it concerns us to lose no time; in a matter of such moment delays are dangerous.� (3.) That our communion with God is very much assisted and furthered by the 252


communion of saints. It is pleasant to go to the house of God in company (Ps. 55:14), with the multitude (Ps. 42:4), and it is of good use to those that do so to excite one another to go speedily and lose no time; we should be glad when it is said to us, Let us go, Ps. 122:1. As iron sharpens iron, so may good men sharpen the countenances and spirits one of another in that which is good. (4.) That those who stir up others to that which is good must take heed that they do not turn off, or tire, or draw back themselves; he that says, Let us go, says, I will go also. What good we put others upon doing we must see to it that we do ourselves, else we shall be judged out of our own mouths. Not, “Do you go, and I will stay at home;” but, “Do you go, and I will go with you.” “A singular pattern (says Mr. Pemble) of zealous charity, that neither leaves others behind nor turns others before it.”

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'MANY NATIONS': ZECHARIAH 8:22 FROM THE BIBLE: "Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "When we depend upon organizations, we get what organizations can do; when we depend upon education, we get what education can do; when we depend upon man, we get what man can do; but when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do." --A. C. Dixon In-Depth Commentary: How their accession to the church is described: They shall come to pray before the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts (Zech. 8:21); and, to show that this is the main matter in which their conversion consists, it is repeated (Zech. 8:22): They shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. No mention is made of their offering sacrifices, not only because these were not expected from the proselytes of the gate, but because, when the Gentiles should be brought in, sacrifice and offering should be quite abolished. See who are to be accounted converts to God and members of the church: and all that are converts to God are members of the church. (1.) They are such as seek the Lord of hosts, such as enquire for God their Maker, covet and court his favour, and are truly desirous to know his mind and will and sincerely devoted to his honour and glory. This is the generation of those that seek him. (2.) They are such as pray before the Lord,—such as make conscience, and make a business, of the duty of prayer,—such as dare not, would not, for all the world, live without it,—such as by prayer pay their homage to God, own their dependence upon him, maintain their communion with him, and fetch in mercy and grace from him. (3.) They are such as herein have an eye to the divine revelation and institution, which is signified by their doing this in Jerusalem, the place which God 254


had chosen, where his word was, where his temple was, which was a type of Christ and his mediation, which all faithful worshippers will have a believing regard to.

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THE NEW TESTAMENT


PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES: MATTHEW 5:43-44 FROM THE BIBLE: We have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "O believing brethren! What an instrument is this which God hath put into your hands! Prayer moves Him that moves the universe." - Robert Murray McCheyne

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We must pray for them: Pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you. Note, (1.) It is no new thing for the most excellent saints to be hated, and cursed, and persecuted, and despitefully used, by wicked people; Christ himself was so treated. (2.) That when at any time we meet with such usage, we have an opportunity of showing our conformity both to the precept and to the example of Christ, by praying for them who thus abuse us. If we cannot otherwise testify our love to them, yet this way we may without ostentation, and it is such a way as surely we durst not dissemble in. We must pray that God will forgive them, that they may never fare the worse for any thing they have done against us, and that he would make them to be at peace with us; and this is one way of making them so. Plutarch, in his Laconic Apophthegms, has this of Aristo; when one commended Cleomenes’s saying, who, being asked what a good king should do, replied, Tous men philous euergetein, tous de echthrous kakos poiein—Good turns to his friends, and evil to his enemies; he said, How much better is it tous men philous euergetein, tous de echthrous philous poiein—to do good to our friends, and make friends of our enemies. This is heaping coals of fire on their heads.

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DO NOT BE A HYPOCRITE: MATTHEW 6:5 FROM THE BIBLE: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "The shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: In prayer we have more immediately to do with God than in giving alms, and therefore are yet more concerned to be sincere, which is what we are here directed to. When thou prayest (Matt. 6:5). It is taken for granted that all the disciples of Christ pray. As soon as ever Paul was converted, behold he prayeth. You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. For this shall every one that is godly pray. If prayerless, then graceless. “Now, when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, nor do as they do,” Matt. 6:2. Note, Those who would not do as the hypocrites do in their ways and actions must not be as the hypocrites are in their frame and temper. He names nobody, but it appears by Matt. 23:13; that by the hypocrites here he means especially the scribes and Pharisees. Now there were two great faults they were guilty of in prayer, against each of which we are here cautioned—vain-glory (Matt. 6:5, 6); and vain repetitions, Matt. 6:7, 8. I. We must not be proud and vain-glorious in prayer, nor aim at the praise of men. And here observe, 1. What was the way and practice of the hypocrites. In all their exercises of devotion, it was plain, the chief thing they aimed at was to be commended by their neighbours, and thereby to make an interest for themselves. When they seemed to soar upwards in prayer (and if it be right, it is the soul’s ascent 260


toward God), yet even then their eye was downwards upon this as their prey. Observe, (1.) What the places were which they chose for their devotions; they prayed in the synagogues, which were indeed proper places for public prayer, but not for personal. They pretended hereby to do honour to the place of their assemblies, but intended to do honour to themselves. They prayed in the corners of the streets, the broad streets (so the word signifies), which were most frequented. They withdrew thither, as if they were under a pious impulse which would not admit delay, but really it was to cause themselves to be taken notice of. There, where two streets met, they were not only within view of both, but every passenger turning close upon them would observe them, and hear what they said. (2.) The posture they used in prayer; they prayed standing; this is a lawful and proper posture for prayer (Mark 11:25; When ye stand praying), but kneeling being the more humble and reverent gesture, Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Eph. 3:14; their standing seemed to savour of pride and confidence in themselves (Luke 18:11), The Pharisee stood and prayed. (3.) Their pride in choosing these public places, which is expressed in two things: [1.] They love to pray there. They did not love prayer for its own sake, but they loved it when it gave them an opportunity of making themselves noticed. Circumstances may be such, that our good deeds must needs be done openly, so as to fall under the observation of others, and be commended by them; but the sin and danger is when we love it, and are pleased with it, because it feeds the proud humour. [2.] It is that they may be seen of men; not that God might accept them, but that men might admire and applaud them; and that they might easily get the estates of widows and orphans into their hands (who would not trust such devout, praying men?) and that, when they had them, they might devour them without being suspected (Matt. 23:14); and effectually carry on their public designs to enslave the people. (4.) The product of all this, they have their reward; they have all the recompence they must ever expect from God for their service, and a poor recompence it is. What will it avail us to have the good word of our fellow-servants, if our Master do not say, Well done? But if in so great a transaction as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can take in so poor a consideration as the praise of men is, it is just that that should be all our reward. They did it to be 261


seen of men, and they are so; and much good may it do them. Note, Those that would approve themselves to God by their integrity in their religion, must have to regard to the praise of men; it is not to men that we pray, nor from them that we expect an answer; they are not to be our judges, they are dust and ashes like ourselves, and therefore we must not have our eye to them: what passes between God and our own souls must be out of sight. In our synagogue-worship, we must avoid every thing that tends to make our personal devotion remarkable, as they that caused their voice to be heard on high, Isa. 58:4. Public places are not proper for private solemn prayer. 2. What is the will of Jesus Christ in opposition to this. Humility and sincerity are the two great lessons that Christ teaches us; Thou, when thou prayest, do so and so (Matt. 6:6); thou in particular by thyself, and for thyself. Personal prayer is here supposed to be the duty and practice of all Christ’s disciples. Observe, (1.) The directions here given about it. [1.] Instead of praying in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, enter into thy closet, into some place of privacy and retirement. Isaac went into the field (Gen. 24:63), Christ to a mountain, Peter to a housetop. No place amiss in point of ceremony, if it do but answer the end. Note, Secret prayer is to be performed in retirement, that we may be unobserved, and so may avoid ostentation; undisturbed, and so may avoid distraction; unheard, and so may use greater freedom; yet if the circumstances be such that we cannot possibly avoid being taken notice of, we must not therefore neglect the duty, lest the omission be a greater scandal than the observation of it. [2.] Instead of doing it to be seen of men, pray to thy Father who is in secret; to me, even to me, Zech. 7:5, 6. The Pharisees prayed rather to men than to God; whatever was the form of their prayer, the scope of it was to beg the applause of men, and court their favours. “Well, do thou pray to God, and let that be enough for thee. Pray to him as a Father, as thy Father, ready to hear and answer, graciously inclined to pity, help, and succour thee. Pray to thy Father who is in secret.” Note, In secret prayer we must have an eye to God, as present in all places; he is there in thy closet when no one else is there; there especially nigh to thee in what thou callest upon him for. By secret prayer we give God the glory of his universal presence (Acts 17:24), and may take to ourselves the comfort of it.

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(2.) The encouragements here given us to it. [1.] Thy Father seeth in secret; his eye is upon thee to accept thee, when the eye of no man is upon thee to applaud thee; under the fig-tree, I saw thee, said Christ to Nathaniel, John 1:48. He saw Paul at prayer in such a street, at such a house, Acts 9:11. There is not a secret, sudden breathing after God, but he observes it. [2.] He will reward thee openly; they have their reward that do it openly, and thou shalt not lose thine for thy doing it in secret. It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging? The reward will be open; they shall not only have it, but have it honourably: the open reward is that which hypocrites are fond of, but they have not patience to stay for it; it is that which the sincere are dead to, and they shall have it over and above. Sometimes secret prayers are rewarded openly in this world by signal answers to them, which manifests God’s praying people in the consciences of their adversaries; however, at the great day there will be an open reward, when all praying people shall appear in glory with the great Intercessor. The Pharisees ha their reward before all the town, and it was a mere flash and shadow; true Christians shall have theirs before all the world, angels and men, and it shall be a weight of glory. II. We must not use vain repetitions in prayer, Matt. 6:7, 8. Though the life of prayer lies in lifting up the soul and pouring out the heart, yet there is some interest which words have in prayer, especially in joint prayer; for in that, words are necessary, and it should seem that our Saviour speaks here especially of that; for before he said, when thou prayest, he here, when ye pray; and the Lord’s prayer which follows is a joint prayer, and in that, he that is the mouth of others is most tempted to an ostentation of language and expression, against which we are here warned; use not vain repetitions, either alone or with others: the Pharisees affected this, they made long prayers (Matt. 23:14), all their care was to make them long. Now observe, 1. What the fault is that is here reproved and condemned; it is making a mere lip-labour of the duty of prayer, the service of the tongue, when it is not the service of the soul. This is expressed here by two words, Battologia, Polylogia. (1.) Vain repetitions—tautology, battology, idle babbling over the same words again and again to no purpose, like Battus, Sub illis montibus erant, erant sub montibus illis; like that imitation of the wordiness of a fool, Eccl. 10:14; A 263


man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him who can tell? which is indecent and nauseous in any discourse, much more in speaking to God. It is not all repetition in prayer that is here condemned, but vain repetitions. Christ himself prayed, saying the same words (Matt. 26:44), out of more than ordinary fervour and zeal, Luke 22:44. So Daniel, Dan. 9:18, 19. And there is a very elegant repetition of the same words, Ps. 136:1-26. It may be of use both to express our own affections, and to excite the affections of others. But the superstitious rehearsing of a tale of words, without regard to the sense of them, as the papists saying by their beads so many Ave-Marys and Paternosters; or the barren and dry going over of the same things again and again, merely to drill out the prayer to such a length, and to make a show of affection when really there is none; these are the vain repetitions here condemned. When we would fain say much, but cannot say much to the purpose; this is displeasing to God and all wise men. (2.) Much speaking, an affectation of prolixity in prayer, either out of pride or superstition, or an opinion that God needs either to be informed or argued with by us, or out of mere folly and impertinence, because men love to hear themselves talk. Not that all long prayers are forbidden; Christ prayed all night, Luke 6:12. Solomon’s was a long prayer. There is sometimes need of long prayers when our errands and our affections are extraordinary; but merely to prolong the prayer, as if it would make it more pleasing or more prevailing with God, is that which is here condemned; it is not much praying that is condemned; no, we are bid to pray always, but much speaking; the danger of this error is when we only say our prayers, and not when we pray them. This caution is explained by that of Solomon (Eccl. 5:2), Let thy words be few, considerate and well weighed; take with you words (Hos. 14:2), choose out words (Job 9:14), and do not say every thing that comes uppermost. 2. What reasons are given against this. (1.) This is the way of the heathen, as the heathen do; and it ill becomes Christians to worship their God as the Gentiles worship theirs. The heathen were taught by the light of nature to worship God; but becoming vain in their imaginations concerning the object of their worship, no wonder they became so concerning the manner of it, and particularly in this instance; thinking God altogether such a one as themselves, they thought he needed many words to make him understand what was said to him, or to bring him to comply with their requests; as if he were weak and ignorant, and hard to be entreated. Thus Baal’s priests were hard at it from morning till almost night with their 264


vain repetitions; O Baal, hear us; O Baal, hear us; and vain petitions they were; but Elijah, in a grave, composed frame, with a very concise prayer, prevailed for fire from heaven first, and then water, 1 Kgs. 18:26, 36. Liplabour in prayer, though ever so well laboured, if that be all, is but lost labour. (2.) “It need not be your way, for your Father in heaven knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him, and therefore there is no occasion for such abundance of words. It does not follow that therefore ye need not pray; for God requires you by prayer to own your need of him and dependence on him, and to please his promises; but therefore you are to open your case, and pour out your hearts before him, and then leave it with him.� Consider, [1.] The God we pray to is our Father by creation, by covenant; and therefore our addresses to him should be easy, natural, and unaffected; children do not use to make long speeches to their parents when they want any thing; it is enough to say, my head, my head. Let us come to him with the disposition of children, with love, reverence, and dependence; and then they need not say many words, that are taught by the Spirit of adoption to say that one aright, Abba, Father. [2.] He is a Father that knows our case and knows our wants better than we do ourselves. He knows what things we have need of; his eyes run to and fro through the earth, to observe the necessities of his people (2 Chron. 16:9), and he often gives before we call (Isa. 65:24), and more than we ask for (Eph. 3:20), and if he do not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good; and of that he is fitter to judge for us than we for ourselves. We need not be long, nor use many words in representing our case; God knows it better than we can tell him, only he will know it from us (what will ye that I should do unto you?); and when we have told him what it is, we must refer ourselves to him, Lord, all my desire is before thee, Ps. 38:9. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length or language of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26. We are not to prescribe, but subscribe to God.

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CLOSET PRAYER: MATTHEW 6:6 FROM THE BIBLE: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer does not change God’s will, it implements it." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: In prayer we have more immediately to do with God than in giving alms, and therefore are yet more concerned to be sincere, which is what we are here directed to. When thou prayest (Matt. 6:5). It is taken for granted that all the disciples of Christ pray. As soon as ever Paul was converted, behold he prayeth. You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. For this shall every one that is godly pray. If prayerless, then graceless. “Now, when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, nor do as they do,” Matt. 6:2. Note, Those who would not do as the hypocrites do in their ways and actions must not be as the hypocrites are in their frame and temper. He names nobody, but it appears by Matt. 23:13; that by the hypocrites here he means especially the scribes and Pharisees. Now there were two great faults they were guilty of in prayer, against each of which we are here cautioned—vain-glory (Matt. 6:5, 6); and vain repetitions, Matt. 6:7, 8. I. We must not be proud and vain-glorious in prayer, nor aim at the praise of men. And here observe, 1. What was the way and practice of the hypocrites. In all their exercises of devotion, it was plain, the chief thing they aimed at was to be commended by their neighbours, and thereby to make an interest for themselves. When they seemed to soar upwards in prayer (and if it be right, it is the soul’s ascent toward God), yet even then their eye was downwards upon this as their prey. Observe, 266


(1.) What the places were which they chose for their devotions; they prayed in the synagogues, which were indeed proper places for public prayer, but not for personal. They pretended hereby to do honour to the place of their assemblies, but intended to do honour to themselves. They prayed in the corners of the streets, the broad streets (so the word signifies), which were most frequented. They withdrew thither, as if they were under a pious impulse which would not admit delay, but really it was to cause themselves to be taken notice of. There, where two streets met, they were not only within view of both, but every passenger turning close upon them would observe them, and hear what they said. (2.) The posture they used in prayer; they prayed standing; this is a lawful and proper posture for prayer (Mark 11:25; When ye stand praying), but kneeling being the more humble and reverent gesture, Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Eph. 3:14; their standing seemed to savour of pride and confidence in themselves (Luke 18:11), The Pharisee stood and prayed. (3.) Their pride in choosing these public places, which is expressed in two things: [1.] They love to pray there. They did not love prayer for its own sake, but they loved it when it gave them an opportunity of making themselves noticed. Circumstances may be such, that our good deeds must needs be done openly, so as to fall under the observation of others, and be commended by them; but the sin and danger is when we love it, and are pleased with it, because it feeds the proud humour. [2.] It is that they may be seen of men; not that God might accept them, but that men might admire and applaud them; and that they might easily get the estates of widows and orphans into their hands (who would not trust such devout, praying men?) and that, when they had them, they might devour them without being suspected (Matt. 23:14); and effectually carry on their public designs to enslave the people. (4.) The product of all this, they have their reward; they have all the recompence they must ever expect from God for their service, and a poor recompence it is. What will it avail us to have the good word of our fellow-servants, if our Master do not say, Well done? But if in so great a transaction as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can take in so poor a consideration as the praise of men is, it is just that that should be all our reward. They did it to be seen of men, and they are so; and much good may it do them. Note, Those that would approve themselves to God by their integrity in their religion, must have to regard to the praise of men; it is not to men that we pray, nor 267


from them that we expect an answer; they are not to be our judges, they are dust and ashes like ourselves, and therefore we must not have our eye to them: what passes between God and our own souls must be out of sight. In our synagogue-worship, we must avoid every thing that tends to make our personal devotion remarkable, as they that caused their voice to be heard on high, Isa. 58:4. Public places are not proper for private solemn prayer. 2. What is the will of Jesus Christ in opposition to this. Humility and sincerity are the two great lessons that Christ teaches us; Thou, when thou prayest, do so and so (Matt. 6:6); thou in particular by thyself, and for thyself. Personal prayer is here supposed to be the duty and practice of all Christ’s disciples. Observe, (1.) The directions here given about it. [1.] Instead of praying in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, enter into thy closet, into some place of privacy and retirement. Isaac went into the field (Gen. 24:63), Christ to a mountain, Peter to a housetop. No place amiss in point of ceremony, if it do but answer the end. Note, Secret prayer is to be performed in retirement, that we may be unobserved, and so may avoid ostentation; undisturbed, and so may avoid distraction; unheard, and so may use greater freedom; yet if the circumstances be such that we cannot possibly avoid being taken notice of, we must not therefore neglect the duty, lest the omission be a greater scandal than the observation of it. [2.] Instead of doing it to be seen of men, pray to thy Father who is in secret; to me, even to me, Zech. 7:5, 6. The Pharisees prayed rather to men than to God; whatever was the form of their prayer, the scope of it was to beg the applause of men, and court their favours. “Well, do thou pray to God, and let that be enough for thee. Pray to him as a Father, as thy Father, ready to hear and answer, graciously inclined to pity, help, and succour thee. Pray to thy Father who is in secret.” Note, In secret prayer we must have an eye to God, as present in all places; he is there in thy closet when no one else is there; there especially nigh to thee in what thou callest upon him for. By secret prayer we give God the glory of his universal presence (Acts 17:24), and may take to ourselves the comfort of it. (2.) The encouragements here given us to it. [1.] Thy Father seeth in secret; his eye is upon thee to accept thee, when the 268


eye of no man is upon thee to applaud thee; under the fig-tree, I saw thee, said Christ to Nathaniel, John 1:48. He saw Paul at prayer in such a street, at such a house, Acts 9:11. There is not a secret, sudden breathing after God, but he observes it. [2.] He will reward thee openly; they have their reward that do it openly, and thou shalt not lose thine for thy doing it in secret. It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging? The reward will be open; they shall not only have it, but have it honourably: the open reward is that which hypocrites are fond of, but they have not patience to stay for it; it is that which the sincere are dead to, and they shall have it over and above. Sometimes secret prayers are rewarded openly in this world by signal answers to them, which manifests God’s praying people in the consciences of their adversaries; however, at the great day there will be an open reward, when all praying people shall appear in glory with the great Intercessor. The Pharisees ha their reward before all the town, and it was a mere flash and shadow; true Christians shall have theirs before all the world, angels and men, and it shall be a weight of glory. II. We must not use vain repetitions in prayer, Matt. 6:7, 8. Though the life of prayer lies in lifting up the soul and pouring out the heart, yet there is some interest which words have in prayer, especially in joint prayer; for in that, words are necessary, and it should seem that our Saviour speaks here especially of that; for before he said, when thou prayest, he here, when ye pray; and the Lord’s prayer which follows is a joint prayer, and in that, he that is the mouth of others is most tempted to an ostentation of language and expression, against which we are here warned; use not vain repetitions, either alone or with others: the Pharisees affected this, they made long prayers (Matt. 23:14), all their care was to make them long. Now observe, 1. What the fault is that is here reproved and condemned; it is making a mere lip-labour of the duty of prayer, the service of the tongue, when it is not the service of the soul. This is expressed here by two words, Battologia, Polylogia. (1.) Vain repetitions—tautology, battology, idle babbling over the same words again and again to no purpose, like Battus, Sub illis montibus erant, erant sub montibus illis; like that imitation of the wordiness of a fool, Eccl. 10:14; A man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him who can tell? which is indecent and nauseous in any discourse, much more in speaking to God. It is not all repetition in prayer that is here condemned, but vain repetitions. 269


Christ himself prayed, saying the same words (Matt. 26:44), out of more than ordinary fervour and zeal, Luke 22:44. So Daniel, Dan. 9:18, 19. And there is a very elegant repetition of the same words, Ps. 136:1-26. It may be of use both to express our own affections, and to excite the affections of others. But the superstitious rehearsing of a tale of words, without regard to the sense of them, as the papists saying by their beads so many Ave-Marys and Paternosters; or the barren and dry going over of the same things again and again, merely to drill out the prayer to such a length, and to make a show of affection when really there is none; these are the vain repetitions here condemned. When we would fain say much, but cannot say much to the purpose; this is displeasing to God and all wise men. (2.) Much speaking, an affectation of prolixity in prayer, either out of pride or superstition, or an opinion that God needs either to be informed or argued with by us, or out of mere folly and impertinence, because men love to hear themselves talk. Not that all long prayers are forbidden; Christ prayed all night, Luke 6:12. Solomon’s was a long prayer. There is sometimes need of long prayers when our errands and our affections are extraordinary; but merely to prolong the prayer, as if it would make it more pleasing or more prevailing with God, is that which is here condemned; it is not much praying that is condemned; no, we are bid to pray always, but much speaking; the danger of this error is when we only say our prayers, and not when we pray them. This caution is explained by that of Solomon (Eccl. 5:2), Let thy words be few, considerate and well weighed; take with you words (Hos. 14:2), choose out words (Job 9:14), and do not say every thing that comes uppermost. 2. What reasons are given against this. (1.) This is the way of the heathen, as the heathen do; and it ill becomes Christians to worship their God as the Gentiles worship theirs. The heathen were taught by the light of nature to worship God; but becoming vain in their imaginations concerning the object of their worship, no wonder they became so concerning the manner of it, and particularly in this instance; thinking God altogether such a one as themselves, they thought he needed many words to make him understand what was said to him, or to bring him to comply with their requests; as if he were weak and ignorant, and hard to be entreated. Thus Baal’s priests were hard at it from morning till almost night with their vain repetitions; O Baal, hear us; O Baal, hear us; and vain petitions they were; but Elijah, in a grave, composed frame, with a very concise prayer, prevailed for fire from heaven first, and then water, 1 Kgs. 18:26, 36. Lip270


labour in prayer, though ever so well laboured, if that be all, is but lost labour. (2.) “It need not be your way, for your Father in heaven knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him, and therefore there is no occasion for such abundance of words. It does not follow that therefore ye need not pray; for God requires you by prayer to own your need of him and dependence on him, and to please his promises; but therefore you are to open your case, and pour out your hearts before him, and then leave it with him.� Consider, [1.] The God we pray to is our Father by creation, by covenant; and therefore our addresses to him should be easy, natural, and unaffected; children do not use to make long speeches to their parents when they want any thing; it is enough to say, my head, my head. Let us come to him with the disposition of children, with love, reverence, and dependence; and then they need not say many words, that are taught by the Spirit of adoption to say that one aright, Abba, Father. [2.] He is a Father that knows our case and knows our wants better than we do ourselves. He knows what things we have need of; his eyes run to and fro through the earth, to observe the necessities of his people (2 Chron. 16:9), and he often gives before we call (Isa. 65:24), and more than we ask for (Eph. 3:20), and if he do not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good; and of that he is fitter to judge for us than we for ourselves. We need not be long, nor use many words in representing our case; God knows it better than we can tell him, only he will know it from us (what will ye that I should do unto you?); and when we have told him what it is, we must refer ourselves to him, Lord, all my desire is before thee, Ps. 38:9. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length or language of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26. We are not to prescribe, but subscribe to God.

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'VAIN REPETITIONS': MATTHEW 6:7 FROM THE BIBLE: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "We are never so high as when we are on our knees." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: In prayer we have more immediately to do with God than in giving alms, and therefore are yet more concerned to be sincere, which is what we are here directed to. When thou prayest (Matt. 6:5). It is taken for granted that all the disciples of Christ pray. As soon as ever Paul was converted, behold he prayeth. You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. For this shall every one that is godly pray. If prayerless, then graceless. “Now, when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, nor do as they do,” Matt. 6:2. Note, Those who would not do as the hypocrites do in their ways and actions must not be as the hypocrites are in their frame and temper. He names nobody, but it appears by Matt. 23:13; that by the hypocrites here he means especially the scribes and Pharisees. Now there were two great faults they were guilty of in prayer, against each of which we are here cautioned—vain-glory (Matt. 6:5, 6); and vain repetitions, Matt. 6:7, 8. I. We must not be proud and vain-glorious in prayer, nor aim at the praise of men. And here observe, 1. What was the way and practice of the hypocrites. In all their exercises of devotion, it was plain, the chief thing they aimed at was to be commended by their neighbours, and thereby to make an interest for themselves. When they seemed to soar upwards in prayer (and if it be right, it is the soul’s ascent toward God), yet even then their eye was downwards upon this as their prey. Observe,

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(1.) What the places were which they chose for their devotions; they prayed in the synagogues, which were indeed proper places for public prayer, but not for personal. They pretended hereby to do honour to the place of their assemblies, but intended to do honour to themselves. They prayed in the corners of the streets, the broad streets (so the word signifies), which were most frequented. They withdrew thither, as if they were under a pious impulse which would not admit delay, but really it was to cause themselves to be taken notice of. There, where two streets met, they were not only within view of both, but every passenger turning close upon them would observe them, and hear what they said. (2.) The posture they used in prayer; they prayed standing; this is a lawful and proper posture for prayer (Mark 11:25; When ye stand praying), but kneeling being the more humble and reverent gesture, Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Eph. 3:14; their standing seemed to savour of pride and confidence in themselves (Luke 18:11), The Pharisee stood and prayed. (3.) Their pride in choosing these public places, which is expressed in two things: [1.] They love to pray there. They did not love prayer for its own sake, but they loved it when it gave them an opportunity of making themselves noticed. Circumstances may be such, that our good deeds must needs be done openly, so as to fall under the observation of others, and be commended by them; but the sin and danger is when we love it, and are pleased with it, because it feeds the proud humour. [2.] It is that they may be seen of men; not that God might accept them, but that men might admire and applaud them; and that they might easily get the estates of widows and orphans into their hands (who would not trust such devout, praying men?) and that, when they had them, they might devour them without being suspected (Matt. 23:14); and effectually carry on their public designs to enslave the people. (4.) The product of all this, they have their reward; they have all the recompence they must ever expect from God for their service, and a poor recompence it is. What will it avail us to have the good word of our fellow-servants, if our Master do not say, Well done? But if in so great a transaction as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can take in so poor a consideration as the praise of men is, it is just that that should be all our reward. They did it to be seen of men, and they are so; and much good may it do them. Note, Those that would approve themselves to God by their integrity in their religion, must have to regard to the praise of men; it is not to men that we pray, nor 273


from them that we expect an answer; they are not to be our judges, they are dust and ashes like ourselves, and therefore we must not have our eye to them: what passes between God and our own souls must be out of sight. In our synagogue-worship, we must avoid every thing that tends to make our personal devotion remarkable, as they that caused their voice to be heard on high, Isa. 58:4. Public places are not proper for private solemn prayer. 2. What is the will of Jesus Christ in opposition to this. Humility and sincerity are the two great lessons that Christ teaches us; Thou, when thou prayest, do so and so (Matt. 6:6); thou in particular by thyself, and for thyself. Personal prayer is here supposed to be the duty and practice of all Christ’s disciples. Observe, (1.) The directions here given about it. [1.] Instead of praying in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, enter into thy closet, into some place of privacy and retirement. Isaac went into the field (Gen. 24:63), Christ to a mountain, Peter to a housetop. No place amiss in point of ceremony, if it do but answer the end. Note, Secret prayer is to be performed in retirement, that we may be unobserved, and so may avoid ostentation; undisturbed, and so may avoid distraction; unheard, and so may use greater freedom; yet if the circumstances be such that we cannot possibly avoid being taken notice of, we must not therefore neglect the duty, lest the omission be a greater scandal than the observation of it. [2.] Instead of doing it to be seen of men, pray to thy Father who is in secret; to me, even to me, Zech. 7:5, 6. The Pharisees prayed rather to men than to God; whatever was the form of their prayer, the scope of it was to beg the applause of men, and court their favours. “Well, do thou pray to God, and let that be enough for thee. Pray to him as a Father, as thy Father, ready to hear and answer, graciously inclined to pity, help, and succour thee. Pray to thy Father who is in secret.” Note, In secret prayer we must have an eye to God, as present in all places; he is there in thy closet when no one else is there; there especially nigh to thee in what thou callest upon him for. By secret prayer we give God the glory of his universal presence (Acts 17:24), and may take to ourselves the comfort of it. (2.) The encouragements here given us to it. [1.] Thy Father seeth in secret; his eye is upon thee to accept thee, when the 274


eye of no man is upon thee to applaud thee; under the fig-tree, I saw thee, said Christ to Nathaniel, John 1:48. He saw Paul at prayer in such a street, at such a house, Acts 9:11. There is not a secret, sudden breathing after God, but he observes it. [2.] He will reward thee openly; they have their reward that do it openly, and thou shalt not lose thine for thy doing it in secret. It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging? The reward will be open; they shall not only have it, but have it honourably: the open reward is that which hypocrites are fond of, but they have not patience to stay for it; it is that which the sincere are dead to, and they shall have it over and above. Sometimes secret prayers are rewarded openly in this world by signal answers to them, which manifests God’s praying people in the consciences of their adversaries; however, at the great day there will be an open reward, when all praying people shall appear in glory with the great Intercessor. The Pharisees ha their reward before all the town, and it was a mere flash and shadow; true Christians shall have theirs before all the world, angels and men, and it shall be a weight of glory. II. We must not use vain repetitions in prayer, Matt. 6:7, 8. Though the life of prayer lies in lifting up the soul and pouring out the heart, yet there is some interest which words have in prayer, especially in joint prayer; for in that, words are necessary, and it should seem that our Saviour speaks here especially of that; for before he said, when thou prayest, he here, when ye pray; and the Lord’s prayer which follows is a joint prayer, and in that, he that is the mouth of others is most tempted to an ostentation of language and expression, against which we are here warned; use not vain repetitions, either alone or with others: the Pharisees affected this, they made long prayers (Matt. 23:14), all their care was to make them long. Now observe, 1. What the fault is that is here reproved and condemned; it is making a mere lip-labour of the duty of prayer, the service of the tongue, when it is not the service of the soul. This is expressed here by two words, Battologia, Polylogia. (1.) Vain repetitions—tautology, battology, idle babbling over the same words again and again to no purpose, like Battus, Sub illis montibus erant, erant sub montibus illis; like that imitation of the wordiness of a fool, Eccl. 10:14; A man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him who can tell? which is indecent and nauseous in any discourse, much more in speaking to God. It is not all repetition in prayer that is here condemned, but vain repetitions. 275


Christ himself prayed, saying the same words (Matt. 26:44), out of more than ordinary fervour and zeal, Luke 22:44. So Daniel, Dan. 9:18, 19. And there is a very elegant repetition of the same words, Ps. 136:1-26. It may be of use both to express our own affections, and to excite the affections of others. But the superstitious rehearsing of a tale of words, without regard to the sense of them, as the papists saying by their beads so many Ave-Marys and Paternosters; or the barren and dry going over of the same things again and again, merely to drill out the prayer to such a length, and to make a show of affection when really there is none; these are the vain repetitions here condemned. When we would fain say much, but cannot say much to the purpose; this is displeasing to God and all wise men. (2.) Much speaking, an affectation of prolixity in prayer, either out of pride or superstition, or an opinion that God needs either to be informed or argued with by us, or out of mere folly and impertinence, because men love to hear themselves talk. Not that all long prayers are forbidden; Christ prayed all night, Luke 6:12. Solomon’s was a long prayer. There is sometimes need of long prayers when our errands and our affections are extraordinary; but merely to prolong the prayer, as if it would make it more pleasing or more prevailing with God, is that which is here condemned; it is not much praying that is condemned; no, we are bid to pray always, but much speaking; the danger of this error is when we only say our prayers, and not when we pray them. This caution is explained by that of Solomon (Eccl. 5:2), Let thy words be few, considerate and well weighed; take with you words (Hos. 14:2), choose out words (Job 9:14), and do not say every thing that comes uppermost. 2. What reasons are given against this. (1.) This is the way of the heathen, as the heathen do; and it ill becomes Christians to worship their God as the Gentiles worship theirs. The heathen were taught by the light of nature to worship God; but becoming vain in their imaginations concerning the object of their worship, no wonder they became so concerning the manner of it, and particularly in this instance; thinking God altogether such a one as themselves, they thought he needed many words to make him understand what was said to him, or to bring him to comply with their requests; as if he were weak and ignorant, and hard to be entreated. Thus Baal’s priests were hard at it from morning till almost night with their vain repetitions; O Baal, hear us; O Baal, hear us; and vain petitions they were; but Elijah, in a grave, composed frame, with a very concise prayer, prevailed for fire from heaven first, and then water, 1 Kgs. 18:26, 36. Lip276


labour in prayer, though ever so well laboured, if that be all, is but lost labour. (2.) “It need not be your way, for your Father in heaven knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him, and therefore there is no occasion for such abundance of words. It does not follow that therefore ye need not pray; for God requires you by prayer to own your need of him and dependence on him, and to please his promises; but therefore you are to open your case, and pour out your hearts before him, and then leave it with him.� Consider, [1.] The God we pray to is our Father by creation, by covenant; and therefore our addresses to him should be easy, natural, and unaffected; children do not use to make long speeches to their parents when they want any thing; it is enough to say, my head, my head. Let us come to him with the disposition of children, with love, reverence, and dependence; and then they need not say many words, that are taught by the Spirit of adoption to say that one aright, Abba, Father. [2.] He is a Father that knows our case and knows our wants better than we do ourselves. He knows what things we have need of; his eyes run to and fro through the earth, to observe the necessities of his people (2 Chron. 16:9), and he often gives before we call (Isa. 65:24), and more than we ask for (Eph. 3:20), and if he do not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good; and of that he is fitter to judge for us than we for ourselves. We need not be long, nor use many words in representing our case; God knows it better than we can tell him, only he will know it from us (what will ye that I should do unto you?); and when we have told him what it is, we must refer ourselves to him, Lord, all my desire is before thee, Ps. 38:9. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length or language of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered, Rom. 8:26. We are not to prescribe, but subscribe to God.

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'THE LORD'S PRAYER': MATTHEW 6:9-13 FROM THE BIBLE: "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "We may rest fully assured of this – a man’s influence in the world can be gauged not by his eloquence, or his zeal, or his orthodox, or his energy, but by his prayers. Yes, and we will go farther and maintain that no man can live aright who does not pray aright." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: When Christ had condemned what was amiss, he directs to do better; for his are reproofs of instruction. Because we know not what to pray for as we ought, he here helps our infirmities, by putting words into our mouths; after this manner therefore pray ye, Matt. 6:9. So many were the corruptions that had crept into this duty of prayer among the Jews, that Christ saw it needful to give a new directory for prayer, to show his disciples what must ordinarily be the matter and method of their prayer, which he gives in words that may very well be used as a form; as the summary or contents of the several particulars of our prayers. Not that we are tied up to the use of this form only, or of this always, as if this were necessary to the consecrating of our other prayers; we are here bid to pray after this manner, with these words, or to this effect. That in Luke differs from this; we do not find it used by the apostles; we are not here taught to pray in the name of Christ, as we are afterward; we are here taught to pray that the kingdom might come which did come when the Spirit was poured out: yet, without doubt, it is very good to use it as a form, and it is a pledge of the communion of saints, it having been used by the church in all ages, at least (says Dr. Whitby) from the third century. It is our Lord’s prayer, it is of his composing, of his appointing; it is very compendious, yet very comprehensive, in compassion to our infirmities in praying. 278


The matter is choice and necessary, the method instructive, and the expression very concise. It has much in a little, and it is requisite that we acquaint ourselves with the sense and meaning of it, for it is used acceptably no further than it is used with understanding and without vain repetition. The Lord’s prayer (as indeed every prayer) is a letter sent from earth to heaven. Here is the inscription of the letter, the person to whom it is directed, our Father; the where, in heaven; the contents of it in several errands of request; the close, for thine is the kingdom; the seal, Amen; and if you will, the date too, this day. Plainly thus: there are three parts of the prayer. I. The preface, Our Father who art in heaven. Before we come to our business, there must be a solemn address to him with whom our business lies; Our Father. Intimating, that we must pray, not only alone and for ourselves, but with and for others; for we are members one of another, and are called into fellowship with each other. We are here taught to whom to pray, to God only, and not to saints and angels, for they are ignorant of us, are not to have the high honours we give in prayer, nor can give favours we expect. We are taught how to address ourselves to God, and what title to give him, that which speaks him rather beneficent than magnificent, for we are to come boldly to the throne of grace. 1. We must address ourselves to him as our Father, and must call him so. He is a common Father to all mankind by creation, Mal. 2:10; Acts 17:28. He is in a special manner a Father to the saints, by adoption and regeneration (Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:6); and an unspeakable privilege it is. Thus we must eye him in prayer, keep up good thoughts of him, such as are encouraging and not affrighting; nothing more pleasing to God, nor pleasant to ourselves, than to call God Father. Christ in prayer mostly called God Father. If he be our Father, he will pity us under our weaknesses and infirmities (Ps. 103:13), will spare us (Mal. 3:17), will make the best of our performances, though very defective, will deny us nothing that is good for us, Luke 11:11-13. We have access with boldness to him, as to a father, and have an advocate with the Father, and the Spirit of adoption. When we come repenting of our sins, we must eye God as a Father, as the prodigal did (Luke 15:18; Jer. 3:19); when we come begging for grace, and peace, and the inheritance and blessing of sons, it is an encouragement that we come to God, not as an unreconciled, aveng279


ing Judge, but as a loving, gracious, reconciled Father in Christ, Jer. 3:4. 2. As our Father in heaven: so in heaven as to be every where else, for the heaven cannot contain him; yet so in heaven as there to manifest his glory, for it is his throne (Ps. 103:19), and it is to believers a throne of grace: thitherward we must direct our prayers, for Christ the Mediator is now in heaven, Heb. 8:1. Heaven is out of sight, and a world of spirits, therefore our converse with God in prayer must be spiritual; it is on high, therefore in prayer we must be raised above the world, and lift up our hearts, Ps. 5:1. Heaven is a place of perfect purity, and we must therefore lift up pure hands, must study to sanctify his name, who is the Holy One, and dwells in that holy place, Lev. 10:3. From heaven God beholds the children of men, Ps. 33:13, 14. And we must in prayer see his eye upon us: thence he has a full and clear view of all our wants and burdens and desires, and all our infirmities. It is the firmament of his power likewise, as well as of his prospect, Ps. 150:1. He is not only, as a Father, able to help us, able to do great things for us, more than we can ask or think; he has wherewith to supply our needs, for every good gift is from above. He is a Father, and therefore we may come to him with boldness, but a Father in heaven, and therefore we must come with reverence, Eccl. 5:2. Thus all our prayers should correspond with that which is our great aim as Christians, and that is, to be with God in heaven. God and heaven, the end of our whole conversation, must be particularly eyed in every prayer; there is the centre to which we are all tending. By prayer, we send before us thither, where we profess to be going. II. The petitions, and those are six; the three first relating more immediately to God and his honour, the three last to our own concerns, both temporal and spiritual; as in the ten commandments, the four first teach us our duty toward God, and the last six our duty toward our neighbour. The method of this prayer teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then to hope that other things shall be added. 1. Hallowed be thy name. It is the same word that in other places is translated sanctified. But here the old word hallowed is retained, only because people were used to it in the Lord’s prayer. In these words, (1.) We give glory to God; it may be taken not as a petition, but as an adoration; as that, the Lord be magnified, or glorified, for God’s holiness is the greatness and glory of all his perfections. We must begin our prayers with praising God, and it is very fit he should be first served, and that we should give glory to God, before we expect 280


to receive mercy and grace from him. Let him have praise of his perfections, and then let us have the benefit of them. (2.) We fix our end, and it is the right end to be aimed at, and ought to be our chief and ultimate end in all our petitions, that God may be glorified; all our other requests must be in subordination to this, and in pursuance of it. “Father, glorify thyself in giving me my daily bread and pardoning my sins,” etc. Since all is of him and through him, all must be to him and for him. In prayer our thoughts and affections should be carried out most to the glory of God. The Pharisees made their own name the chief end of their prayers (Matt. 6:5; to be seen of men), in opposition to which we are directed to make the name of God our chief end; let all our petitions centre in this and be regulated by it. “Do so and so for me, for the glory of thy name, and as far as is for the glory of it.” (3.) We desire and pray that the name of God, that is, God himself, in all that whereby he has made himself known, may be sanctified and glorified both by us and others, and especially by himself. “Father, let thy name be glorified as a Father, and a Father in heaven; glorify thy goodness and thy highness, thy majesty and mercy. Let thy name be sanctified, for it is a holy name; no matter what becomes of our polluted names, but, Lord, what wilt thou do to thy great name?” When we pray that God’s name may be glorified, [1.] We make a virtue of necessity; for God will sanctify his own name, whether we desire it or not; I will be exalted among the heathen, Ps. 46:10. [2.] We ask for that which we are sure shall be granted; for when our Saviour prayed, Father glorify thy name, it was immediately answered, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again. 2. Thy kingdom come. This petition has plainly a reference to the doctrine which Christ preached at this time, which John Baptist had preached before, and which he afterwards sent his apostles out to preach—the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The kingdom of your Father who is in heaven, the kingdom of the Messiah, this is at hand, pray that it may come. Note, We should turn the word we hear into prayer, our hearts should echo to it; does Christ promise, surely I come quickly? our hearts should answer, Even so, come. Ministers should pray over the word: when they preach, the kingdom of God is at hand, they should pray, Father, thy kingdom come. What God has promised we must pray for; for promises are given, not to supersede, but to quicken and encourage prayer; and when the accomplishment of a promise is near and at the door, when the kingdom of heaven is at hand, we should then pray for it the more earnestly; thy kingdom come; as Daniel set his face to pray for the deliverance of Israel, when he understood that the time of it was at hand, Dan. 9:2. See Luke 19:11. It was the Jews’ daily prayer to God, Let him make 281


his kingdom reign, let his redemption flourish, and let his Messiah come and deliver his people. Dr. Whitby, ex Vitringa. “Let thy kingdom come, let the gospel be preached to all and embraced by all; let all be brought to subscribe to the record God has given in his word concerning his Son, and to embrace him as their Saviour and Sovereign. Let the bounds of the gospel-church be enlarged, the kingdom of the world be made Christ’s kingdom, and all men become subjects to it, and live as becomes their character.” 3. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. We pray that God’s kingdom being come, we and others may be brought into obedience to all the laws and ordinances of it. By this let it appear that Christ’s kingdom is come, let God’s will be done; and by this let is appear that it is come as a kingdom of heaven, let it introduce a heaven upon earth. We make Christ but a titular Prince, if we call him King, and do not do his will: having prayed that he may rule us, we pray that we may in every thing be ruled by him. Observe, (1.) The thing prayed for, thy will be done; “Lord, do what thou pleasest with me and mine; 1 Sam. 3:18. I refer myself to thee, and am well satisfied that all thy counsel concerning me should be performed.” In this sense Christ prayed, not my will, but thine be done. “Enable me to do what is pleasing to thee; give me that grace that is necessary to the right knowledge of thy will, and an acceptable obedience to it. Let thy will be done conscientiously by me and others, not our own will, the will of the flesh, or the mind, not the will of men (1 Pet. 4:2), much less Satan’s will (John 8:44), that we may neither displease God in any thing we do (ut nihil nostrum displiceat Deo), nor be displeased at any thing God does” (ut nihil Dei displiceat nobis). (2.) The pattern of it, that it might be done on earth, in this place of our trial and probation (where our work must be done, or it never will be done), as it is done in heaven, that place of rest and joy. We pray that earth may be made more like heaven by the observance of God’s will (this earth, which, through the prevalency of Satan’s will, has become so near akin to hell), and that saints may be made more like the holy angels in their devotion and obedience. We are on earth, blessed be God, not yet under the earth; we pray for the living only, not for the dead that have gone down into silence. 4. Give us this day our daily bread. Because our natural being is necessary to our spiritual well-being in this world, therefore, after the things of God’s glory, kingdom, and will, we pray for the necessary supports and comforts of this present life, which are the gifts of God, and must be asked of him, Ton arton epiousion—Bread for the day approaching, for all the remainder of our lives. 282


Bread for the time to come, or bread for our being and subsistence, that which is agreeable to our condition in the world (Prov. 30:8), food convenient for us and our families, according to our rank and station. Every word here has a lesson in it: (1.) We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance; we ask for bread, not dainties, not superfluities; that which is wholesome, though it be not nice. (2.) We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry: we do not ask for the bread out of other people’s mouths, not the bread of deceit (Prov. 20:17), not the brad of idleness (Prov. 31:27), but the bread honestly gotten. (3.) We ask for our daily bread; which teaches us not to take thought for the morrow (Matt. 6:34), but constantly to depend upon divine Providence, as those that live from hand to mouth. (4.) We beg of God to give it us, not sell it us, nor lend it us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread, (5.) We pray, “Give it to us; not to me only, but to others in common with me.” This teaches us charity, and a compassionate concern for the poor and needy. It intimates also, that we ought to pray with our families; we and our households eat together, and therefore ought to pray together. (6.) We pray that God would give us this day; which teaches us to renew the desire of our souls toward God, as the wants of our bodies are renewed; as duly as the day comes, we must pray to our heavenly Father, and reckon we could as well go a day without meat, as without prayer. 5. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, This is connected with the former; and forgive, intimating, that unless our sins be pardoned, we can have no comfort in life, or the supports of it. Our daily bread does but feed us as lambs for the slaughter, if our sins be not pardoned. It intimates, likewise, that we must pray for daily pardon, as duly as we pray for daily bread. He that is washed, needeth to wash his feet. Here we have, (1.) A petition; Father in heaven forgive us our debts, our debts to thee. Note, [1.] Our sins are our debts; there is a debt of duty, which, as creatures, we owe to our Creator; we do not pray to be discharged from that, but upon the nonpayment of that there arises a debt of punishment; in default of obedience to the will of God, we become obnoxious to the wrath of God; and for not observing the precept of the law, we stand obliged to the penalty. A debtor is liable to process, so are we; a malefactor is a debtor to the law, so are we. [2.] Our hearts’ desire and prayer to our heavenly Father every day should be, that he would forgive us our debts; that the obligation to punishment may be can283


celled and vacated, that we may not come into condemnation; that we may be discharged, and have the comfort of it. In suing out the pardon of our sins, the great plea we have to rely upon is the satisfaction that was made to the justice of God for the sin of man, by the dying of the Lord Jesus our Surety, or rather Bail to the action, that undertook our discharge. (2.) An argument to enforce this petition; as we forgive our debtors. This is not a plea of merit, but a plea of grace. Note, Those that come to God for the forgiveness of their sins against him, must make conscience of forgiving those who have offended them, else they curse themselves when they say the Lord’s prayer. Our duty is to forgive our debtors; as to debts of money, we must not be rigorous and severe in exacting them from those that cannot pay them without ruining themselves and their families; but this means debt of injury; our debtors are those that trespass against us, that smite us (Matt. 5:39, 40), and in strictness of law, might be prosecuted for it; we must forbear, and forgive, and forget the affronts put upon us, and the wrongs done us; and this is a moral qualification for pardon and peace; it encourages to hope, that God will forgive us; for if there be in us this gracious disposition, it is wrought of God, and therefore is a perfection eminently and transcendently in himself; it will be an evidence to us that he has forgiven us, having wrought in us the condition of forgiveness. 6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. This petition is expressed, (1.) Negatively: Lead us not into temptation. Having prayed that the guilt of sin may be removed, we pray, as it is fit, that we may never return again to folly, that we may not be tempted to it. It is not as if God tempted any to sin; but, “Lord, do not let Satan loose upon us; chain up that roaring lion, for he is subtle and spiteful; Lord, do not leave us to ourselves (Ps. 19:13), for we are very weak; Lord, do not lay stumbling-blocks and snares before us, nor put us into circumstances that may be an occasion of falling.” Temptations are to be prayed against, both because of the discomfort and trouble of them, and because of the danger we are in of being overcome by them, and the guilt and grief that then follow. (2.) Positively: But deliver us from evil; apo tou ponerou—from the evil one, the devil, the tempter; “keep us, that either we may not be assaulted by him, or we may not be overcome by those assaults:” Or from the evil thing, sin, the 284


worst of evils; an evil, an only evil; that evil thing which God hates, and which Satan tempts men to and destroys them by. “Lord, deliver us from the evil of the world, the corruption that is in the world through lust; from the evil of every condition in the world; from the evil of death; from the sting of death, which is sin: deliver us from ourselves, from our own evil hearts: deliver us from evil men, that they may not be a snare to us, nor we a prey to them.” III. The conclusion: For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen. Some refer this to David’s doxology, 1 Chron. 29:11. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness. It is, 1. A form of plea to enforce the foregoing petitions. It is our duty to plead with God in prayer, to fill our mouth with arguments (Job 23:4) not to move God, but to affect ourselves; to encourage the faith, to excite our fervency, and to evidence both. Now the best pleas in prayer are those that are taken from God himself, and from that which he has made known of himself. We must wrestle with God in his own strength, both as to the nature of our pleas and the urging of them. The plea here has special reference to the first three petitions; “Father in heaven, thy kingdom come, for thine is the kingdom; thy will be done, for thine is the power; hallowed be thy name, for thine is the glory.” And as to our own particular errands, these are encouraging: “Thine is the kingdom; thou hast the government of the world, and the protection of the saints, thy willing subjects in it;” God gives and saves like a king. “Thine is the power, to maintain and support that kingdom, and to make good all thine engagements to thy people.” Thine is the glory, as the end of all that which is given to, and done for, the saints, in answer to their prayers; for their praise waiteth for him. This is matter of comfort and holy confidence in prayer. 2. It is a form of praise and thanksgiving. The best pleading with God is praising of him; it is the way to obtain further mercy, as it qualifies us to receive it. In all our addresses to God, it is fit that praise should have a considerable share, for praise becometh the saints; they are to be our God for a name and for a praise. It is just and equal; we praise God, and give him glory, not because he needs it—he is praised by a world of angels, but because he deserves it; and it is our duty to give him glory, in compliance with his design in revealing himself to us. Praise is the work and happiness of heaven; and all that would go to heaven hereafter, must begin their heaven now. Observe, how full this doxology is, The kingdom, and the power, and the glory, it is all 285


thine. Note, It becomes us to be copious in praising God. A true saint never thinks he can speak honourably enough of God: here there should be a gracious fluency, and this for ever. Ascribing glory to God for ever, intimates an acknowledgement, that it is eternally due, and an earnest desire to be eternally doing it, with angels and saints above, Ps. 71:14. Lastly, To all this we are taught to affix our Amen, so be it. God’s Amen is a grant; his fiat is, it shall be so; our Amen is only a summary desire; our fiat is, let it be so: it is in the token of our desire and assurance to be heard, that we say Amen. Amen refers to every petition going before, and thus, in compassion to our infirmities, we are taught to knit up the whole in one word, and so to gather up, in the general, what we have lost and let slip in the particulars. It is good to conclude religious duties with some warmth and vigour, that we may go from them with a sweet savour upon our spirits. It was of old the practice of good people to say, Amen, audibly at the end of every prayer, and it is a commendable practice, provided it be done with understanding, as the apostle directs (1 Cor. 14:16), and uprightly, with life and liveliness, and inward expressions, answerable to that outward expression of desire and confidence. Most of the petitions in the Lord’s prayer had been commonly used by the Jews in their devotions, or words to the same effect: but that clause in the fifth petition, As we forgive our debtors, was perfectly new, and therefore our Saviour here shows for what reason he added it, not with any personal reflection upon the peevishness, litigiousness, and ill nature of the men of that generation, though there was cause enough for it, but only from the necessity and importance of the thing itself. God, in forgiving us, has a peculiar respect to our forgiving those that have injured us; and therefore, when we pray for pardon, we must mention our making conscience of that duty, not only to remind ourselves of it, but to bind ourselves to it. See that parable, Matt. 18:23-25. Selfish nature is loth to comply with this, and therefore it is here inculcated, Matt. 6:14, 15.

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PRAY TO THE LORD OF THE HARVEST: MATTHEW 9:38 FROM THE BIBLE: "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Is it not worthwhile to be wholly and whole-heartedly yielded to Christ? The half-and-half Christian is of very little use either to God or man. God cannot use him, and man has no use for him, but considers him a hypocrite. One sin allowed in the life wrecks at once our usefulness and our joy, and robs prayer of its power." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Note, The melancholy aspect of the times and the deplorable state of precious souls, should much excite and quicken prayer. When things look discouraging, we should pray more, and then we should complain and fear less. And we should adapt our prayers to the present exigencies of the church; such an understanding we ought to have of the times, as to know, not only what Israel ought to do, but what Israel ought to pray for. Note, [1.] God is the Lord of the harvest; my Father is the Husbandman, John 15:1. It is the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, Isa. 5:7. It is for him and to him, and to his service and honour, that the harvest is gathered in. Ye are God’s husbandry (1 Cor. 3:9); his threshing, and the corn of his floor, Isa. 21:10. He orders every thing concerning the harvest as he pleases; when and where the labourers shall work, and how long; and it is very comfortable to those who wish well to the harvest-work, that God himself presides in it, who will be sure to order all for the best. [2.] Ministers are and should be labourers in God’s harvest; the ministry is a work and must be attended to accordingly; it is harvest-work, which is needful work; work that requires every thing to be done in its season, and diligence to do it thoroughly; but it is pleasant work; they reap in joy, and the joy of the 287


preachers of the gospel is likened to the joy of harvest (Isa. 9:2, 3); and he that reapeth receiveth wages; the hire of the labourers that reap down God’s field, shall not be kept back, as theirs was, Jas. 5:4. [3.] It is God’s work to send forth labourers; Christ makes ministers (Eph. 4:11); the office is of his appointing, the qualifications of his working, the call of his giving. They will not be owned nor paid as labourers, that run without their errand, unqualified, uncalled. How shall they preach except they be sent? [4.] All that love Christ and souls, should show it by their earnest prayers to God, especially when the harvest is plenteous, that he would send forth more skillful, faithful, wise, and industrious labourers into his harvest; that he would raise up such as he will own in the conversion of sinners and the edification of saints; would give them a spirit for the work, call them to it, and succeed them in it; that he would give them wisdom to win souls; that he would thrust forth labourers, so some; intimating unwillingness to go forth, because of their own weakness and the people’s badness, and opposition from men, that endeavour to thrust them out of the harvest; but we should pray that all contradiction from within and from without, may be conquered and got over. Christ puts his friends upon praying this, just before he sends apostles forth to labour in the harvest. Note, It is a good sign God is about to bestow some special mercy upon a people, when he stirs up those that have an interest at the throne of grace, to pray for it, Ps. 10:17. Further observe, that Christ said this to his disciples, who were to be employed as labourers. They must pray, First, That God would send them forth. Here am I, send me, Isa. 6:8. Note, Commissions, given in answer to prayer, are most likely to be successful; Paul is a chosen vessel, for behold he prays, Acts 9:11, 15. Secondly, That he would send others forth. Note, Not the people only, but those who are themselves ministers, should pray for the increase of ministers. Though self-interest makes those that seek their own things desirous to be placed alone (the fewer ministers the more preferments), yet those that seek the things of Christ, desire more workmen, that more work may be done, though they be eclipsed by it.

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PRAYING ALONE: MATTHEW 14:23 FROM THE BIBLE: "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Men of power are without exception men of prayer. God bestows His Holy Spirit in His fullness only on men of prayer. And it is through the operation of the Spirit that answers to prayer come." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christ’s dismissing of his disciples and the multitude, after he had fed them miraculously. He constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, Matt. 14:22. St. John gives a particular reason for the hasty breaking up of this assembly, because the people were so affected with the miracle of the loaves, that they were about to take him by force, and make him a king (John 6:15); to avoid which, he immediately scattered the people, sent away the disciples, lest they should join with them, and he himself withdrew, John 6:15. When they had sat down to eat and drink, they did not rise up to play, but each went to his business. 1. Christ sent the people away. It intimates somewhat of solemnity in the dismissing of them; he sent them away with a blessing, with some parting words of caution, counsel, and comfort, which might abide with them. 2. He constrained the disciples to go into a ship first, for till they were gone the people would not stir. The disciples were loth to go, and would not have gone, if he had not constrained them. They were loth to go to sea without him. If thy presence go not with us, carry us not up hence. Exod. 33:15. They were loth to leave him alone, without any attendance, or any ship to wait for him; but they did it in pure obedience. II. Christ’s retirement hereupon (Matt. 14:23); He went up into a mountain 289


apart to pray. Observe here, 1. That he was alone; he went apart into a solitary place, and was there all alone. Though he had so much work to do with others, yet he chose sometimes to be alone, to set us an example. Those are not Christ’s followers that do not care for being alone; that cannot enjoy themselves in solitude, when they have none else to converse with, none else to enjoy, but God and their own hearts. 2. That he was alone at prayer; that was his business in this solitude, to pray. Though Christ, as God, was Lord of all, and was prayed to, yet Christ, as Man, had the form of a servant, of a beggar, and prayed. Christ has herein set before us an example of secret prayer, and the performance of it secretly, according to the rule he gave, Matt. 6:6. Perhaps in this mountain there was some private oratory or convenience, provided for such an occasion; it was usual among the Jews to have such. Observe, When the disciples went to sea, their Master went to prayer; when Peter was to be sifted as wheat, Christ prayed for him. 3. That he was long alone; there he was when the evening was come, and, for aught that appears, there he was till towards morning, the fourth watch of the night. The night came on, and it was a stormy, tempestuous night, yet he continued instant in prayer. Note, It is good, at least sometimes, upon special occasions, and when we find our hearts enlarged, to continue long in secret prayer, and to take full scope in pouring out our hearts before the Lord. We must not restrain prayer, Job 15:4.

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'BY PRAYER AND FASTING': MATTHEW 17:14-21 FROM THE BIBLE: And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The cross is the model for our unanswered prayer. Somehow, our sense of being forsaken by God in our hour of greatest need can be united by God with Christ's sufferings on the cross - suffering that resulted in the conquest of death and the sending of the Holy Spirit. Can we have the courage to offer our sense of being forsaken up with that of Christ? Can our suffering, united with that of Christ, also lead to the salvation of many? --Glen Argan

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Because there was something in the kind of the malady, which rendered the cure more than ordinarily difficult (Matt. 17:21); “This kind goes not out but by prayer and fasting. This possession, which works by a falling-sickness, or this kind of devils that are thus furious, is not cast out ordinarily but by great acts of devotion, and wherein ye were defective.� Note, 291


[1.] Though the adversaries we wrestle, be all principalities and powers, yet some are stronger than others, and their power more hardly broken. [2.] The extraordinary power of Satan must not discourage our faith, but quicken us to a greater intenseness in the acting of it, and more earnestness in praying to God for the increase of it; so some understand it here; “This kind of faith (which removeth mountains) doth not proceed, is not obtained, from God, nor is it carried up to its full growth, nor drawn out into act and exercise, but by earnest prayer.” [3.] Fasting and prayer are proper means for the bringing down of Satan’s power against us, and the fetching in of divine power to our assistance. Fasting is of use to put an edge upon prayer; it is an evidence and instance of humiliation which is necessary in prayer, and is a means of mortifying some corrupt habits, and of disposing the body to serve the soul in prayer. When the devil’s interest in the soul is confirmed by the temper and constitution of the body, fasting must be joined with prayer, to keep under the body.

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PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN: MATTHEW 19:13 FROM THE BIBLE: "Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer as it comes from the saint is weak and languid; but when the arrow of a saint’s prayer is put into the bow of Christ’s intercession it pierces the throne of grace." - Thomas Watson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The faith of those that brought them. How many they were, that were brought, we are not told; but they were so little as to be taken up in arms, a year old, it may be, or two at most. The account here given of it, is, that there were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray, Matt. 19:13. Probably they were their parents, guardians, or nurses, that brought them; and herein, 1. They testified their respect to Christ, and the value they had for his favour and blessing. Note, Those who glorify Christ by coming to him themselves, should further glorify him by bringing all they have, or have influence upon, to him likewise. Thus give him the honour of his unsearchable riches of grace, his overflowing, never-failing, fulness. We cannot better honour Christ than by making use of him. 2. They did a kindness to their children, not doubting but they would fare the better, in this world and the other, for the blessing and prayers of the Lord Jesus, whom they looked upon at least as an extraordinary person, as a prophet, if not as a priest and king; and the blessings of such were valued and desired. Others brought their children to Christ, to be healed when they were sick; but these children were under no present malady, only they desired a blessing for them. Note, It is a good thing when we come to Christ ourselves, and bring our children to him, before we are driven to him (as we say) by woe-need; not only to visit him when we are in trouble, but to address ourselves to him in a sense of our general dependence on him, and of the benefit we expect by him, this is pleasing to him. 293


They desired that he would put his hands on them, and pray. Imposition of hands was a ceremony used especially in paternal blessings; Jacob used it when he blessed and adopted the sons of Joseph, Gen. 48:14. It intimates something of love and familiarity mixed with power and authority, and bespeaks an efficacy in the blessing. Whom Christ prays for in heaven, he puts his hand upon by his Spirit. Note, (1.) Little children may be brought to Christ as needing, and being capable of receiving, blessings from him, and having an interest in his intercession. (2.) Therefore they should be brought to him. We cannot do better for our children than to commit them to the Lord Jesus, to be wrought upon, and prayed for, by him. We can but beg a blessing for them, it is Christ only that can command the blessing. II. The fault of the disciples in rebuking them. They discountenanced the address as vain and frivolous, and reproved them that made it as impertinent and troublesome. Either they thought it below their Master to take notice of little children, except any thing in particular ailed them; or, they thought he had toil enough with his other work, and would not have him diverted from it; or, they thought if such an address as this were encouraged, all the country would bring their children to him, and they should never see an end of it. Note, It is well for us, that Christ has more love and tenderness in him than the best of his disciples have. And let us learn of him not to discountenance any willing well-meaning souls in their enquiries after Christ, though they are but weak. If he do not break the bruised reed, we should not. Those that seek unto Christ, must not think it strange if they meet with opposition and rebuke, even from good men, who think they know the mind of Christ better than they do.

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'HOUSE OF PRAYER': MATTHEW 21:12-13 FROM THE BIBLE: And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference. --Max Lucado

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: What he said, to justify himself, and to convict them (Matt. 21:13); It is written. Note, In the reformation of the church, the eye must be upon the scripture, and that must be adhered to as the rule, the pattern in the mount; and we must go no further than we can justify ourselves with, It is written. Reformation is then right, when corrupted ordinances are reduced to their primitive institution. (1.) He shows, from a scripture prophecy, what the temple should be, and was designed to be; My house shall be called the house of prayer; which is quoted from Isa. 56:7. Note, All the ceremonial institutions were intended to be subservient to moral duties; the house of sacrifices was to be a house of prayer, for that was the substance and soul of all those services; the temple was in a special manner sanctified to be a house of prayer, for it was not only the place of that worship, but the medium of it, so that the prayers made in or toward that house had a particular promise of acceptance (2 Chron. 6:21), as it was a type of Christ; therefore Daniel looked that way in prayer; and in this sense no house or place is now, or can be, a house of prayer, for Christ is our Temple; yet in some sense the appointed places of our religious assemblies may be so called, as places where prayer is wont to be made, Acts 16:13. (2.) He shows, from a scripture reproof, how they had abused the temple, and perverted the intention of it; Ye have made it a den of thieves. This is quoted 295


from Jer. 7:11; Isa. this house become a den of robbers in your eyes? When dissembled piety is made the cloak and cover of iniquity, it may be said that the house of prayer is become a den of thieves, in which they lurk, and shelter themselves. Markets are too often dens of thieves, so many are the corrupt and cheating practices in buying and selling; but markets in the temple are certainly so, for they rob God of his honour, the worst of thieves, Mal. 3:8. The priests lived, and lived plentifully, upon the altar; but, not content with that, they found other ways and means to squeeze money out of the people; and therefore Christ here calls them thieves, for they exacted that which did not belong to them.

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BELIEVING PRAYER: MATTHEW 21:21-22 FROM THE BIBLE: Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Intercessory prayer is the sweetest prayer God ever hears.... The more your prayer is like Christ's, the sweeter it will be.... Intercessory prayer exceedingly prevails. What wonders it has wrought! It has stopped plagues,...healed diseases,...raised the dead.... There is nothing that intercessory prayer cannot do. Believer, you have a mighty engine in your hand - use it well, use it constantly, use it now with faith, and you shall surely prevail.... Never give up anyone for spiritually dead until they are dead naturally. --Charles Haddon Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christ empowered them by faith to do the like (Matt. 21:21, 22); as he said (John 14:12), Greater works than these shall ye do. Observe, [1.] The description of this wonder-working faith; If ye have faith, and doubt not. Note, Doubting of the power and promise of God is the great thing that spoils the efficacy and success of faith. “If you have faith, and dispute not” (so some read it), “dispute not with yourselves, dispute not with the promise of God; if you stagger not at the promise” (Rom. 4:20); for, as far as we do so, our faith is deficient; as certain as the promise is, so confident our faith should be. [2.] The power and prevalence of it expressed figuratively; If ye shall say to this mountain, meaning the mount of Olives, Be thou removed, it shall be done. There might be a particular reason for his saying so of this mountain, for there was a prophecy, that the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem, should cleave in the midst, and then remove, Zech. 14:4. Whatever was the intent of that word, the same must be the expectation of faith, how im297


possible soever it might appear to sense. But this is a proverbial expression; intimating that we are to believe that nothing is impossible with God, and therefore that what he has promised shall certainly be performed, though to us it seem impossible. It was among the Jews a usual commendation of their learned Rabbin, that they were removers of mountains, that is, could solve the greatest difficulties; now this may be done by faith acted on the word of God, which will bring great and strange things to pass. [3.] The way and means of exercising this faith, and of doing that which is to be done by it; All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Faith is the soul, prayer is the body; both together make a complete man for any service. Faith, if it be right, will excite prayer; and prayer is not right, if it do not spring from faith. This is the condition of our receiving—we must ask in prayer, believing. The requests of prayer shall not be denied; the expectations of faith shall not be frustrated. We have many promises to this purport from the mouth of our Lord Jesus, and all to encourage faith, the principal grace, and prayer, the principal duty, of a Christian. It is but ask and have, believe and receive; and what would we more? Observe, How comprehensive the promise is—all things whatsoever ye shall ask; this is like all and every the premises in a conveyance. All things, in general; whatsoever, brings it to particulars; though generals include particulars, yet such is the folly of our unbelief, that, though we think we assent to promises in the general, yet we fly off when it comes to particulars, and therefore, that we might have strong consolation, it is thus copiously expressed, All things whatsoever.

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'LONG PRAYER': MATTHEW 23:14 FROM THE BIBLE: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Tell God all that is on your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love make you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others. --Francois Fenelon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: 1. What their wicked practices were; they devoured widows’ houses, either by quartering themselves and their attendants upon them for entertainment, which must be of the best for men of their figure; or by insinuating themselves into their affections, and so getting to be the trustees of their estates, which they could make an easy prey of; for who could presume to call such as they were to an account? The thing they aimed at was to enrich themselves; and, this being their chief and highest end, all considerations of justice and equity were laid aside, and even widows’ houses were sacrificed to this. Widows are of the weaker sex in its weakest state, easily imposed upon; and therefore they fastened on them, to make a prey of. They devoured those whom, by the law of God, they were particularly obliged to protect, patronise, and relieve. There is a woe in the Old Testament to those that made widows their prey (Isa. 10:1, 2); and Christ here seconded it with his woe. God is the judge of the widows; they are his peculiar care, he establisheth their border (Prov. 15:25), and espouseth their cause (Exod. 22:22, 23); yet these were they whose houses the Pharisees devoured by wholesale; so greedy were they to get their bellies filled with the treasures of wickedness! Their devouring denotes not only covetousness, but cruelty in their oppression, described Mic. 3:3; They eat 299


the flesh, and flay off the skin. And doubtless they did all this under colour of law; for they did it so artfully that it passed uncensured, and did not at all lessen the people’s veneration for them. 2. What was the cloak with which they covered this wicked practice; For a pretence they made long prayers; very long indeed, if it be true which some of the Jewish writers tell us, that they spent three hours at a time in the formalities of meditation and prayer, and did it thrice every day, which is more than an upright soul, that makes a conscience of being inward with God in the duty, dares pretend ordinarily to do; but to the Pharisees it was easy enough, who never made a business of the duty, and always made a trade of the outside of it. By this craft they got their wealth, and maintained their grandeur. It is not probable that these long prayers were extemporary, for then (as Mr. Baxter observes) the Pharisees had much more the gift of prayer than Christ’s disciples had; but rather that they were stated forms of words in use among them, which they said over by tale, as the papists drop their beads. Christ doth not here condemn long prayers, as in themselves hypocritical; nay if there were not a great appearance of good in them, they would not have been used for a pretence; and the cloak must be very thick which was used to cover such wicked practices. Christ himself continued all night in prayer to God, and we are commanded to pray without ceasing too soon; where there are many sins to be confessed, and many wants to pray for the supply of, and many mercies to give thanks for, there is occasion for long prayers. But the Pharisees’ long prayers were made up of vain repetitions, and (which was the end of them) they were for a pretence; by them they got the reputation of pious devout men, that loved prayer, and were the favourites of Heaven; and by this means people were made to believe it was not possible that such men as they should cheat them;, and, therefore, happy the widow that could get a Pharisee for her trustee, and guardian to her children! Thus, while they seemed to soar heavenward, upon the wings of prayer, their eye, like the kite’s, was all the while upon their prey on the earth, some widow’s house or other that lay convenient for them. Thus circumcision was the cloak of the Shechemites’ covetousness (Gen. 34:22, 23), the payment of a vow in Hebron the cover of Absalom’s rebellion (2 Sam. 15:7), a fast in Jezreel must patronise Naboth’s murder, and the extirpation of Baal is the footstool of Jehu’s ambition. Popish priests, under pretence of long prayers for the dead, masses and dirges, and I know not what, enrich themselves by devouring the house of the widows and fatherless. Note, It is no new thing for the show and form of godliness to be made a cloak to the greatest enormities. But dissembled piety, however it 300


passeth now, will be reckoned for as double iniquity, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men. 3. The doom passed upon them for this; Therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Note, (1.) There are degrees of damnation; there are some whose sin is more inexcusable, and whose ruin will therefore be more intolerable. (2.) The pretences of religion, with which hypocrites disguise or excuse their sin now, will aggravate their condemnation shortly. Such is the deceitfulness of sin, that the very thing by which sinners hope to expiate and atone for their sins will come against them, and make their sins more exceedingly sinful. But it is sad for the criminal, when his defence proves his offence, and his pleas (We have prophesied in thy name, and in thy name made long prayers) heightens the charge against him.

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MATTHEW 24:20 FROM THE BIBLE: "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "If you are strangers to prayer you are strangers to power." - Billy Sunday

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: What they should pray against at that time—that your flight be not in the winter, nor on the sabbath day, Matt. 24:20. Observe, in general, it becomes Christ’s disciples, in times of public trouble and calamity, to be much in prayer; that is a salve for every sore, never out of season, but in a special manner seasonable when we are distressed on every side. There is no remedy but you must flee, the decree is gone forth, so that God will not be entreated to take away his wrath, no, not if Noah, Daniel, and Job, stood before him. Let it suffice thee, speak no more of that matter, but labour to make the best of that which is; and when you cannot in faith pray that you may not be forced to flee, yet pray that the circumstances of it may be graciously ordered, that, though the cup may not pass from you, yet the extremity of the judgment may be prevented. Note, God has the disposing of the circumstances of events, which sometimes make a great alteration one way or other; and therefore in those our eyes must be ever toward him. Christ’s bidding them pray for this favour, intimates his purpose of granting it to them; and in a general calamity we must not overlook a circumstantial kindness, but see and own wherein it might have been worse. Christ still bids his disciples to pray for themselves and their friends, that, whenever they were forced to flee, it might be in the most convenient time. Note, When trouble is in prospect, at a great distance, it is good to lay in a stock of prayers beforehand; they must pray, First, That their flight, if it were the will of God, might not be in the winter, when the days are short, the weather cold, the ways dirty, and therefore travelling very uncomfortable, especially for whole families. Paul hastens Timothy to come to him before winter, 2 Tim. 4:21. Note, Though the ease of the body is not to be mainly consulted, it ought to be duly considered; though we must take what God sends, and when he sends it, yet we may pray against bodily incon302


veniences, and are encouraged to do so, in that the Lord is for the body. Secondly, That it might not be on the sabbath day; not on the Jewish sabbath, because travelling then would give offence to them who were angry with the disciples for plucking the ears of corn on the day; not on the Christian sabbath, because being forced to travel on the day would be a grief to themselves. This intimates Christ’s design, that a weekly sabbath should be observed in his church after the preaching of the gospel to all the world. We read not of any of the ordinances of the Jewish church, which were purely ceremonial, that Christ ever expressed any care about, because they were all to vanish; but for the sabbath he often showed a concern. It intimates likewise that the sabbath is ordinarily to be observed as a day of rest from travel and worldly labour; but that, according to his own explication of the fourth commandment, works of necessity were lawful on the sabbath day, as this of fleeing from an enemy to save our lives: had it not been lawful, he would have said, “Whatever becomes of you, do not flee on the sabbath day, but abide by it, though you die by it.� For we must not commit the least sin, to escape the greatest trouble. But it intimates, likewise, that it is very uneasy and uncomfortable to a good man, to be taken off by any work of necessity from the solemn service and worship of God on the sabbath day. We should pray that we may have quiet undisturbed sabbaths, and may have no other work than sabbath work to do on sabbath days; that we may attend upon the Lord without distraction. It was desirable, that, if they must flee, they might have the benefit and comfort of one sabbath more to help to bear their charges. To flee in the winter is uncomfortable to the body; but to flee on the sabbath day is so to the soul, and the more so when it remembers former sabbaths, as Ps. 42:4.

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'PRAY YONDER': MATTHEW 26:36 FROM THE BIBLE: "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Our God has boundless resources. The only limit is in us. Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small. Our expectations are too limited." - A. B. Simpson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Hitherto, we have seen the preparatives for Christ’s sufferings; now, we enter upon the bloody scene. In these verses we have the story of his agony in the garden. This was the beginning of sorrows to our Lord Jesus. Now the sword of the Lord began to awake against the man that was his Fellow; and how should it be quiet when the Lord had given it a charge? The clouds had been gathering a good while, and looked black. He had said, some days before, Now is my soul troubled, John 12:27. But now the storm began in good earnest. He put himself into this agony, before his enemies gave him any trouble, to show that he was a Freewill offering; that his life was not forced from him, but he laid it down of himself. John 10:18. Observe, I. The place where he underwent this mighty agony; it was in a place called Gethsemane. The name signifies, torculus olei—an olive-mill, a press for olives, like a wine-press, where they trod the olives, Mic. 6:15. And this was the proper place for such a thing, at the foot of the mount of Olives. There our Lord Jesus began his passion; there it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and crush him, that fresh oil might flow to all believers from him, that we might partake of the root and fatness of that good Olive. There he trod the winepress of his Father’s wrath, and trod it alone. II. The company he had with him, when he was in this agony. 1. He took all the twelve disciples with him to the garden, except Judas, who was at this time otherwise employed. Though it was late in the night, near bed-time, yet they kept with him, and took this walk by moonlight with him, 304


as Elisha, who, when he was told that his master should shortly be taken from his head, declared that he would not leave him, though he led him about; so these follow the Lamb, wheresoever he goes. 2. He took only Peter, and James, and John, with him into that corner of the garden where he suffered his agony. He left the rest at some distance, perhaps at the garden door, with this charge, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder; like that of Abraham to his young men (Gen. 22:5), Abide ye here, and I will go yonder and worship. (1.) Christ went to pray alone, though he had lately prayed with his disciples, John 17:1. Note, Our prayers with our families must not excuse us from our secret devotions. (2.) He ordered them to sit here. Note, We must take heed of giving any disturbance or interruption to those who retire for secret communion with God. He took these three with him, because they had been the witnesses of his glory in his transfiguration (Matt. 17:1, 2), and that would prepare them to be the witnesses of his agony. Note, Those are best prepared to suffer with Christ, that have by faith beheld his glory, and have conversed with the glorified saints upon the holy mount. If we suffer with Christ, we shall reign with him; and if we hope to reign with him, why should we not expect to suffer with him?

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'THE SPIRIT IS WILLING' MATTHEW 26:41 FROM THE BIBLE: "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "There is no wonder more supernatural and divine in the life of a believer than the mystery and ministry of prayer…the hand of the child touching the arm of the Father and moving the wheel of the universe." - A. B. Simpson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He gave them good counsel; Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation, Matt. 26:41. [1.] There was an hour of temptation drawing on, and very near; the troubles of Christ were temptations to his followers to disbelieve and distrust him, to deny and desert him, and renounce all relation to him. [2.] There was danger of their entering into the temptation, as into a snare or trap; of their entering into a parley with it, or a good opinion of it, of their being influenced by it, and inclining to comply with it; which is the first step toward being overcome by it. [3.] He therefore exhorts them to watch and pray; Watch with me, and pray with me. While they were sleeping, they lost the benefit of joining in Christ’s prayer. “Watch yourselves, and pray yourselves. Watch and pray against this present temptation to drowsiness and security; pray that you may watch; beg of God by his grace to keep you awake, now that there is occasion.” When we are drowsy in the worship of God, we should pray, as a good Christian once did, “The Lord deliver me from this sleepy devil!” Lord, quicken thou me in thy way, Or, “Watch and pray against the further temptation you may be assaulted with; watch and pray lest this sin prove the inlet of many more.” Note, When we find ourselves entering into temptation, we have need to watch and pray. He kindly excused for them; The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. We do not read of one word they had to say for themselves (the sense of their own weakness stopped their mouth); but then he had a tender word to say on their behalf, for it is his office to be an Advocate; in this he sets us an example of the love which covers a multitude of sins. He considered their frame, and 306


did not chide them, for he remembered that they were but flesh; and the flesh is weak, though the spirit be willing, Ps. 78:38, 39. Note, [1.] Christ’s disciples, as long as they are here in this world, have bodies as well as souls, and a principle of remaining corruption as well as of reigning grace, like Jacob and Esau in the same womb, Canaanites and Israelites in the same land, Gal. 5:17, 24. [2.] It is the unhappiness and burthen of Christ’s disciples, that their bodies cannot keep pace with their souls in works of piety and devotion, but are many a time a cloud and clog to them; that, when the spirit is free and disposed to that which is good, the flesh is averse and indisposed. This St. Paul laments (Rom. 7:25); With my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh the law of sin. Our impotency in the service of God is the great iniquity and infidelity of our nature, and it arises from these sad remainders of corruption, which are the constant grief and burthen of God’s people. [3.] Yet it is our comfort, that our Master graciously considers this, and accepts the willingness of the spirit, and pities and pardons the weakness and infirmity of the flesh; for we are under grace, and not under the law.

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PRAYING

FOR

ANGELS: MATTHEW 26:53

FROM THE BIBLE: "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Without extended, concentrated prayer, the ministry of the Word withers. And when the ministry of the Word declines, faith (Rom. 10:17; Gal. 3:2, 5) and holiness (John 17:17) decline. Activity may continue, but life and power and fruitfulness fade away. Therefore, whatever opposes prayer opposes the whole work of ministry." - John Piper

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: It was needless for him to draw his sword in defence of his Master, how, if he pleased, could summon into his service all the hosts of heaven (Matt. 26:53); “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall send from heaven effectual succours? Peter, if I would put by these sufferings, I could easily do it without thy hand or thy sword.” Note, God has no need of us, of our services, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes; and it argues our distrust and disbelief of the power of Christ, when we go out of the way of our duty to serve his interests. God can do his work without us; if we look into the heavens, and see how he is attended there, we may easily infer, that, though we be righteous, he is not beholden to us, Job 35:5, 7. Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was a voluntary weakness; he submitted to death, not because he could not, but because he would not contend with it. This takes off the offence of the cross, and proves Christ crucified the power of God; even now in the depth of his sufferings he could call in the aid of legions of angels. Now, arti—yet; “Though the business is so far gone, I could yet with a word speaking turn the scale.” Christ here lets us know, First, What a great interest he had in his Father; I can pray to my Father, and he will send me help from the sanctuary. I can parakalesai—demand of my Father these succours. Christ prayer as one having authority. Note, It is a great comfort to God’s people, when they are surrounded with enemies on all hands, that they have a way open heavenward; if they can do nothing else, they can 308


pray to him that can do every thing. And they who are much in prayer at other times, have most comfort in praying when troublesome times come. Observe, Christ saith, not only that God could send him such a number of angels, but that, if he insisted upon it, he would do it. Though he had undertaken the work of our redemption, yet, if he had desired to be released, it should seem by this that the Father would not have held him to it. He might yet have gone out free from the service, but he loved it, and would not; so that it was only with the cords of his own love that he was bound to the altar. Secondly, What a great interest he had in the heavenly hosts; He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels, amounting to above seventy-two thousand. Observe here, 1. There is an innumerable company of angels, Heb. 12:2. A detachment of more than twelve legions might be spared for our service, and yet there would be no miss of them about the throne. See Dan. 7:10. They are marshalled in exact order, like the well-disciplined legions; not a confused multitude, but regular troops; all know their post, and observe the word of command. 2. This innumerable company of angels are all at the disposal of our heavenly Father, and do his pleasure, Ps. 103:20, 21. 3. These angelic hosts were ready to come in to the assistance of our Lord Jesus in his sufferings, if he had needed or desired it. See Heb. 1:6, 14. They would have been to him as they were to Elisha, chariots of fire, and horses of fire, not only to secure him, but to consume those that set upon him. 4. Our heavenly Father is to be eyed and acknowledged in all the services of the heavenly hosts; He shall give them me: therefore angels are not to be prayed to, but the Lord of the angels, Ps. 91:11. 5. It is matter of comfort to all that wish well to the kingdom of Christ, that there is a world of angels always at the service of the Lord Jesus, that can do wonders. He that has the armies of heaven at his beck, can do what he pleases among the inhabitants of the earth; He shall presently give them me. See how ready his Father was to hear his prayer, and how ready the angels were to observe his orders; they are willing servants, winged messengers, they fly swiftly. This is very encouraging to those that have the honour of Christ, and the welfare of his church, much at heart. Think they that they have more care and concern for Christ and his church, than God and the holy angels have.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER John Hyde It was Seth Joshua who once wrote "All prayer is hidden. It is behind a closed door. The best spade diggers go down into deep ditches out of sight. There are numbers of surface workers, but few who in self-obliteration toil alone with God." John "Praying" Hyde was one who truly delighted to toil alone with Jesus. One of the most striking features of John Hyde's life was his willingness to remain hidden and unrecognized. He was one of the Father's hidden treasures. It was early on as a young missionary to India that John Hyde went through an intense time of purging of pride and vain ambition. This was no doubt the key to his powerful anointing in prayer. It is common wood, hay and stubble that are found above in full view, while costly gold, silver and precious stones are hidden under the ground. Like the rich, life-giving seed hidden for a season, the prayer life of John Hyde produced an abundant harvest. Hyde and his fellow intercessors saw that there was one method to obtaining spiritual awakening - by prayer. "They set themselves deliberately, definitely and desperately to use this means till they secured the result. The Sialkot revival was not an accident nor an unsought breeze from Heaven. In any community, revival can be secured from Heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die - or if need be to win and die." "Praying Hyde, as he was called, with a group of friends, spent days and nights in prayer for an awakening throughout India. Their prayers were answered in a series of outpourings of the Spirit in the north-west of India, beginning in 1904 in Sialkot." The victory of the Sialkot meetings was not won in the pulpit but in the closet. Often the glory rested on these meetings in a mighty way, while hidden, out of sight, John Hyde and a faithful few travailed in prayer. During this revival John Hyde was almost constantly in the prayer room. "He lived there as on the Mount of Transfiguration." He received Isaiah 62:6-7 as a command from God. "On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed 310


watchmen; All day and night they will never keep silent You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves, And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." "How often in the prayer room he would break out into tears over the sins of the world and especially for God's children." J. Pengwern Jones recalls the prayer life of John Hyde. "He was always on his knees when I went to bed, and on his knees long before I was up in the morning, though I was up with the dawn. He would also light the lamp several times in the night, and feast on some passages of the Word, and then have a little talk with the Master. He sometimes remained on his knees the whole day. The Spirit made him an object-lesson to us, that we might have a better idea of Christ's prayer life." John Hyde was one of a company of men who were used of God to usher in Apostolic power at the turn of the century. While Evan Roberts was praying down glory in Wales, John Hyde, Jonathan Goforth and Frank Bartleman were praying for an outpouring of God's Spirit that would literally touch every corner of the world. "John Hyde saw the nineteenth century as good, but not up to the level of the apostolic age, but believed that the twentieth century was destined to be one in which the full life of apostolic Christianity would be restored to the Church. His prayer was for a Church holy in life, triumphant in faith, self-sacrificing in service, with one aim, to preach Christ crucified to the uttermost parts of the earth." by David Smithers

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JESUS GOES TO PRAY ALONE: MARK 6:46 FROM THE BIBLE: "And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Above all – and again this I regard as most important of all – always respond to every impulse to pray… It is the work of the Holy Spirit… So never resist, never postpone it, never push it aside because you are busy. Give yourself to it, yield to it; and you will find not only that you have not been wasting time with respect to the matter with which you are dealing, but that actually it has helped you greatly in that respect." - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christ departed into a mountain, to pray. Observe, 1. He prayed; though he had so much preaching-work upon his hands, yet he was much in prayer; he prayed often, and prayed long, which is an encouragement to us to depend upon the intercession he is making for us at the right hand of the Father, that continual intercession. 2. He went alone, to pray; though he needed not to retire for the avoiding either of distraction or of ostentation, yet, to set us an example, and to encourage us in our secret addresses to God, he prayed alone, and, for want of a closet, went up into a mountain, to pray. A good man is never less alone than when alone with God.

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'BY PRAYER AND FASTING': MARK 9:29 FROM THE BIBLE: And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him. And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately,

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Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Why, see what accumulated force there is in prayer, when one after another pours out his vehement desires; when many seem to be tugging at the rope; when many seem to be knocking mercy’s gate; when the mighty cries of many burning hearts come up to heaven. When, my beloved, you go and shake the very gates thereof with the powerful battering-ram of a holy vehemence, and sacred importunity, then is it that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence. When first one, and then another, and yet another, throws his whole soul into the prayer, the kingdom of heaven is conquered and the victory becomes great indeed. --C.H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The reason he gave to the disciples why they could not cast out this devil. They enquired of him privately why they could not, that wherein they were defective might be made up another time, and they might not again be thus publicly shamed; and he told them (Mark 9:29), This kind can come forth by nothing but prayer and fasting. Whatever other difference there really might be, none appears between this and other kinds, but that the unclean spirit had had possession of this poor patient from a child, and that strengthened his interest, and confirmed his hold. When vicious habits are rooted by long usage, and begin to plead prescription, like chronical diseases that are hardly cured. Can the Aethiopian change his skin? The disciples must not think to do their work always with a like ease; some services call them to take more than ordinary pains; but Christ can do that with a word’s speaking, which they must prevail for the doing of by prayer and fasting.

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'HOUSE OF PRAYER': MARK 11:15-17 FROM THE BIBLE: And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: We feel sure that the weakness in the spiritual life of many churches is to be traced to an inefficient prayer-meeting, or the absence of meetings for prayer. Daily matins and evensong, even when reverent and without the unseemly haste which is so often associated with them, cannot take the place of less formal gatherings for prayer, in which everyone may take part. Can we not make the weekly prayer-meeting a live thing and a living force? --Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He gave a good reason for this; because it was written, My house shall be called of all nations, The house of prayer, Mark 11:17. So it is written, Isa. 56:7. It shall pass among all people under that character. It shall be the house of prayer to all nations; it was so in the first institution of it; when Solomon dedicated it, it was with an eye to the sons of the strangers, 1 Kgs. 8:41. And it was prophesied that it should be yet more so. Christ will have the temple, as a type of the gospel-church, to be, (1.) A house of prayer. After he had turned out the oxen and doves, which were things for sacrifice, he revived the appointment of it as a house of prayer, to teach us that when all sacrifices and offerings should be abolished, the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise should continue and remain for ever. (2.) That it should be so to all nations, and not to the people of the Jews only; for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved, though not of the seed of Jacob, according to the flesh. It was therefore insufferable 315


for them to make it a den of thieves, which would prejudice those nations against it, whom they should have invited to it. When Christ drove out the buyers and sellers at the beginning of his ministry, he only charged them with making the temple a house of merchandise (John 2:16); but now he chargeth them with making it a den of thieves, because since then they had twice gone about to stone him in the temple (John 8:59; 10:31), or because the traders there were grown notorious for cheating their customers, and imposing upon the ignorance and necessity of the country people, which is no better than downright thievery. Those that suffer vain worldly thoughts to lodge within them when they are at their devotions, turn the house of prayer into a house of merchandise; but they that make long prayers for pretence to devour widows’ houses, turn it into a den of thieves.

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BELIEVE WHEN YOU PRAY: MARK 11:24 FROM THE BIBLE: "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Sometimes the Father may box us in, place us in a situation in which, one by one, all our secondary helps and supports are taken from us, in order that, defenseless, we may lean on His mercy alone – prayer. Once we see this, we will no longer regard prayer as a pious cop-out but as our only rational activity." - Dale Ralph Davis

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christ teacheth them from hence to pray in faith (Mark 11:22); Have faith in God. They admired the power of Christ’s word of command; “Why,” said Christ, “a lively active faith would put as great a power into your prayers, Mark 11:23, 24. Whosoever shall say to this mountain, this mount of Olives, Be removed, and be cast into the sea; if he has but any word of God, general or particular, to build his faith upon, and if he shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith, according to the warrant he has from what God hath said, shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.” Through the strength and power of God in Christ, the greatest difficulty shall be got over, and the thing shall be effected. And therefore (Mark 11:24), “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye shall receive them; nay, believe that ye do receive them, and he that has power to give them, saith, Ye shall have them. I say unto you, Ye shall, Mark 11:24. Verily I say unto you, Ye shall,” Mark 11:23. Now this is to be applied, [1.] To that faith of miracles which the apostles and first preachers of the gospel were endued with, which did wonders in things natural, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; these were, in effect, the removing of mountains. The apostles speak of a faith which would do that, and yet might be found where holy love was not, 1 Cor. 13:2. [2.] It may be applied to that miracle of faith, which all true Christians are 317


endued with, which doeth wonders in things spiritual. It justifies us (Rom. 5:1), and so removes the mountains of guilt, and casts them into the depths of the sea, never to rise up in judgment against us, Mic. 7:19. It purifies the heart (Acts 15:9), and so removes mountains of corruption, and makes them plains before the grace of God, Zech. 4:7. It is by faith that the world is conquered, Satan’s fiery darts are quenched, a soul is crucified with Christ, and yet lives; by faith we set the Lord always before us, and see him that is invisible, and have him present to our minds; and this is effectual to remove mountains, for at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, the mountains were not only moved, but removed, Ps. 114:4-7. (2.) To this is added here that necessary qualification of the prevailing prayer, that we freely forgive those who have been any way injurious to us, and be in charity with all men (Mark 11:25, 26); When ye stand praying, forgive. Note, Standing is no improper posture for prayer; it was generally used among the Jews; hence they called their prayers, their standings; when they would say how the world was kept up by prayer, they expressed it thus, Stationibus stat mundus—The world is held up by standings. But the primitive Christians generally used more humble and reverent gesture of kneeling, especially on fast days, though not on Lord’s days. When we are at prayer, we must remember to pray for others, particularly for our enemies, and those that have wronged us; now we cannot pray sincerely that God would do them good, if we bear malice to them, and wish them ill. If we have injured others before we pray, we must go and be reconciled to them; Matt. 5:23, 24. But if they have injured us, we go a nearer way to work, and must immediately from our hearts forgive them. [1.] Because this is a good step towards obtaining the pardon of our own sins: Forgive, that your Father may forgive you; that is, “that he may be qualified to receive forgiveness, that he may forgive you without injury to his honour, as it would be, if he should suffer those to have such benefit by his mercy, as are so far from being conformable to the pattern of it.” [2.] Because the want of this is a certain bar to the obtaining of the pardon of our sins; “If ye do not forgive those who have injured you, if he hate their persons, bear them a grudge, meditate revenge, and take all occasion to speak ill of them, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This ought to be remembered in prayer, because one great errand we have to the throne of grace, is, to pray for the pardon of our sins: and care about it ought to be our 318


daily care, because prayer is a part of our daily work. Our Saviour often insists on this, for it was his great design to engage his disciples to love one another.

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'WATCH AND PRAY': MARK 13:33 FROM THE BIBLE: "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!" - Joseph Scriven

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: “As to both, your duty is to watch and pray. Therefore the time is kept a secret, that you may be engaged to stand always upon your guard (Mark 13:33); Take ye heed of every thing that would indispose you for your Master’s coming, and would render your accounts perplexed, and your spirits so too; watch for his coming, that it may not at any time be a surprise to you, and pray for that grace which is necessary to qualify you for it, for ye know not when the time is; and you are concerned to be ready for that every day, which may come any day.” This he illustrates, in the close, by a parable. 1. Our Master is gone away, and left us something in trust, in charge, which we must give account of, Mark 13:34. He is as a man taking a far journey; for he is gone to be away a great while, he has left his house on earth, and left his servants in their offices, given authority to some, who are to be overseers, and work to others, who are to be labourers. They that have authority given them, in that had work assigned them, for those that have the greatest power have the most business; and to them to whom he gave work, he gave some sort of authority, to do that work. And when he took his last leave, he appointed the porter to watch, to be sure to be ready to open to him at his return; and in the mean time to take care to whom he opened his gates, not to thieves and robbers, but only to his Master’s friends and servants. Thus our Lord Jesus, when he ascended on high, left something for all his servants to do, expecting they should all do him service in his absence, and be ready to receive him at his return. All are appointed to work, and some authorized to rule. 2. We ought to be always upon our watch, in expectation of his return, Mark 13:35-37. 320


(1.) Our Lord will come, and will come as the Master of the house, to take account of his servants, of their work, and of the improvement they have made. (2.) We know not when he will come; and he has very wisely kept us at uncertainty, that we might all be always ready. We know not when he will come, just at what precise time; the Master of the house perhaps will come at even, at nine at night; or it may be at midnight, or a cock-crowing, at three in the morning, or perhaps not until six. This is applicable to his coming to us in particular, at our death, as well as to the general judgment. Our present life is a night, a dark night, compared with the other life; we know not in which watch of the night our Master will come, whether in the days of youth, or middle age, or old age; but, as soon as we are born, we begin to die, and therefore, as soon as we are capable of expecting any thing, we must expect death. (3.) Our great care must be, that, whenever our Lord comes, he do not find us sleeping, secure in ourselves, off our guard, indulging ourselves in ease and sloth, mindless of our work and duty, and thoughtless of our Lord’s coming; ready to say, He will not come, and unready to meet him. (4.) His coming will indeed be coming suddenly; it will be a great surprise and terror to those that are careless, and asleep, it will come upon them as a thief in the night. (5.) It is therefore the indispensable duty of all Christ’s disciples, to watch, to be awake, and keep awake; “What I say unto you four (Mark 13:37), I say unto all the twelve, or rather to you twelve, I say unto all my disciples and followers; what I say to you of this generation, I say to all that shall believe in men, through your word, in every age, Watch, watch, expect my second coming, prepare for it, that you may be found in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

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'SIT, WHILE I PRAY': MARK 14:32 FROM THE BIBLE: "And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Be sure no time is so well spent as that which a man spends on his knees." - J.C. Ryle

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christ is here entering upon his sufferings, and begins with those which were the sorest of all his sufferings, those in his soul. Here we have him in his agony; this melancholy story we had in Matthew; this agony in soul was the wormwood and the gall in the affliction and misery; and thereby it appeared that no sorrow was forced upon him, but that it was what he freely admitted. I. He retired for prayer; Sit ye here (saith he to his disciples), while I go a little further, and pray. He had lately prayed with them (John 17:1-26); and now he appoints them to withdraw while he goes to his Father upon an errand peculiar to himself. Note, Our praying with our families will not excuse our neglect of secret worship. When Jacob entered into his agony, he first sent over all that he had, and was left alone, and then there wrestled a man with him (Gen. 32:23, 24), though he had been at prayer before (Mark 14:9), it is likely, with his family.

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'WATCH YE AND PRAY' MARK 14:38 FROM THE BIBLE: "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer is the mightiest weapon that God has placed in our hands. It is the best weapon to use in every difficulty, and the surest remedy in every trouble. It is the key that unlocks the treasury of promises, and the hand that draws forth grace and help in time of need. It is the silver trumpet that God commands us to sound in all our necessity, and it is the cry He has promised always to listen to, just as a loving mother listens attentively to the voice of her child." - J.C. Ryle

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: As those whom Christ loves he rebukes when they do amiss, so those whom he rebukes he counsels and comforts. 1. It was a very wise and faithful word of advice which Christ here gave to his disciples; Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation, Mark 14:38. It was bad to sleep when Christ was in his agony, but they were entering into further temptation, and if they did not stir up themselves, and fetch in grace and strength from God by prayer, they would do worse; and so they did, when they all forsook him, and fled. 2. It was a very kind and tender excuse that Christ made for them; “The spirit truly is willing; I know it is, it is ready, it is forward; you would willingly keep awake, but you cannot.” This may be taken as a reason for that exhortation, “Watch and pray; because, though the spirit is willing, I grant it is (you have sincerely resolved never to be offended in me), yet the flesh is weak, and if you do not watch and pray, and use the means of perseverance, you may be overcome, notwithstanding.” The consideration of the weakness and infirmity of our flesh should engage and quicken us to prayer and watchfulness, when we are entering into temptation.

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Prayer for Creation Cathy Yost and Benjamin F. White O, Creator of the cosmos, we present our hearts in prayer. We are awestruck by your glory, which surrounds us everywhere. From the birdsong of the morning to a stormy sky at night, You reveal yourself in Nature, in its gentleness and might. Through each rainbow that you send us you renew your covenant With the earth and all life on it, telling us of your intent That each living thing should flourish, in its own way, in its place. You call us to new awareness of our neighbors and their space. In our eagerness to prosper, we have ravaged what was good. Using more than what was needed, taking everything we could. We have changed the gentle order you intended for the earth. Now we humbly ask the wisdom to be part of its re-birth. We seek mercy, we seek vision, and the courage we will need As we work to help the victims of the sins of human greed. By our choices, in our actions, may we be part of your plans. Help us gently till the Garden you’ve entrusted to our hands. Finding strength in common purpose, may your faithful people be Voices for a new perspective, leaders in simplicity. Give us guidance, O, Creator. Give us power to achieve True compassion for Creation as the legacy we leave.

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ZACHARIAS' PRAYER IS ANSWERED: LUKE 1:13 FROM THE BIBLE: But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Here in His holy House of Prayer we may come on our day of rest, and be safe, if we will, from any thoughts but those of the world to come. Here we gather together for no earthly business, but for a purpose of one sort only; and that purpose is the same for which saints and angels are met together in that innumerable company before the throne of God. If there is a place on earth which, however faintly and dimly, shadows out the courts of God on high, surely it is where His people are met together, in all their weakness and ignorance and sin, in their poor and low estate, yet with humble and faithful hearts, in His House of Prayer. --R.W. Church

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The message which the angel had to deliver to him, Luke 1:13. He began his message, as angels generally did, with, Fear not. Perhaps it had never been Zacharias’s lot to burn incense before; and, being a very serious conscientious man, we may suppose him full of care to do it well, and perhaps when he saw the angel he was afraid lest he came to rebuke him for some mistake or miscarriage; “No,” saith the angel, “fear not; I have no ill tidings to bring thee from heaven. Fear not, but compose thyself, that thou mayest with a sedate and even spirit receive the message I have to deliver thee.” Let us see what that is. The prayers he has often made shall now receive an answer of peace: Fear not, Zacharias, for thy prayer is heard. (1.) If he means his particular prayer for a son to build up his family, it must be the prayers he had formerly made for that mercy, when he was likely to have children; but we may suppose, now that he and his wife were both well stricken 325


in years, as they had done expecting it, so they had done praying for it: like Moses, it sufficeth them, and they speak no more to God of that matter, Deut. 3:26. But God will now, in giving this mercy, look a great way back to the prayers that he had made long since for and with his wife, as Isaac for and with his, Gen. 25:21. Note, Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten, though the thing prayed for is not presently given in. Prayers made when we were young and coming into the world may be answered when we are old and going out of the world. But, (2.) If he means the prayers he was now making, and offering up with his incense, we may suppose that those were according to the duty of his place, for the Israel of God and their welfare, and the performance of the promises made to them concerning the Messiah and the coming of his kingdom: “This prayer of thine is now heard: for thy wife shall shortly conceive him that is to be the Messiah’s forerunner.” Some of the Jewish writers themselves say that the priest, when he burnt incense, prayed for the salvation of the whole world; and now that prayer shall be heard. Or, (3.) In general, “The prayers thou now makest, and all thy prayers, are accepted of God, and come up for a memorial before him” (as the angel said to Cornelius, when he visited him at prayer, Acts 10:30, 31); “and this shall be the sign that thou are accepted of God, Elisabeth shall bear thee a son.” Note, it is very comfortable to praying people to know that their prayers are heard; and those mercies are doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer.

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ALONE WITH GOD: LUKE 6:12 FROM THE BIBLE: And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The prayer meeting furnishes a very accurate discriminating test of character. The live Christian loves its enjoyments; the spiritually dead have no delights there. --J.B. Johnston

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: In secret we have him praying to God, Luke 6:12. This evangelist takes frequent notice of Christ’s retirements, to give us an example of secret prayer, by which we must keep up our communion with God daily, and without which it is impossible that the soul should prosper. In those days, when his enemies were filled with madness against him, and were contriving what to do to him, he went out to pray; that he might answer the type of David (Ps. 109:4), For my love, they are my adversaries; but I give myself unto prayer. Observe, 1. He was alone with God; he went out into a mountain, to pray, where he might have no disturbance or interruption given him; we are never less alone than when we are thus alone. Whether there was any convenient place built upon this mountain, for devout people to retire to for their private devotions, as some think, and that that oratory, or place of prayer, is meant here by he proseuche tou theou, to me seems very uncertain. He went into a mountain for privacy, and therefore, probably, would not go to a place frequented by others. 2. He was long alone with God: He continued all night in prayer. We think one half hour a great deal to spend in the duties of the closet; but Christ continued a whole night in meditation and secret prayer. We have a great deal of business at the throne of grace, and we should take a great delight in communion with God, and by both these we may be kept sometimes long at prayer.

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PRAY

FOR

YOUR ENEMIES: LUKE 6:28

FROM THE BIBLE: "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "P.T. Forsyth once said, "The worst sin is prayerlessness." We usually think of murder, adultery, or theft as among the worst. But the root of all sin is selfsufficiency, independence from God. When we fail to wait prayerfully for God's guidance and strength, we are saying, with our actions if not our lips, that we do not need Him. How much of our service is characterized by "going it alone?" - Charles Hummel

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We must be kind to those from whom we have received injuries. We must not only love our enemies, and bear a good will to them, but we must do good to them, be as ready to do any good office to them as to any other person, if their case call for it, and it be in the power of our hands to do it. We must study to make it appear, by positive acts, if there be an opportunity for them, that we bear them no malice, nor see revenge. Do they curse us, speak ill of us, and wish ill to us? Do they despitefully use us, in word or deed? Do they endeavour to make us contemptible or odious? Let us bless them, and pray for them, speak well of them, the best we can, wish well to them, especially to their souls, and be intercessors with God for them. This is repeated, Luke 6:35: love your enemies, and do them good. To recommend this difficult duty to us, it is represented as a generous thing, and an attainment few arrive at. To love those that love us has nothing uncommon in it, nothing peculiar to Christ’s disciples, for sinners will love those that love them. There is nothing selfdenying in that; it is but following nature, even in its corrupt state, and puts no force at all upon it (Luke 6:32): it is no thanks to us to love those that say and do just as we would have them. “And (Luke 6:33) if you do good to them that do good to you, and return their kindnesses, it is from a common principle of custom, honour, and gratitude; and therefore what thanks have you? What credit are you to the name of Christ, or what reputation do you bring to it? for sinners also, that know nothing of Christ and his doctrine, do even the 328


same. But it becomes you to do something more excellent and eminent, herein to out-do your neighbours, to do that which sinners will not do, and which no principle of theirs can pretend to reach to: you must render good for evil;� not that any thanks are due to us, but then we are to our God for a name and a praise and he will have the thanks.

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MOUNTAIN PRAYER LUKE 9:28 FROM THE BIBLE: "And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "I was almost constantly in ejaculatory prayer, wherever I was. Prayer seemed to be natural to me, as the breath by which the inward burnings of my heart had vent." - Jonathan Edwards

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We have here the narrative of Christ’s transfiguration, which was designed for a specimen of that glory of his in which he will come to judge the world, of which he had lately been speaking, and, consequently, an encouragement to his disciples to suffer for him, and never to be ashamed of him. We had this account before in Matthew and Mark, and it is well worthy to be repeated to us, and reconsidered by us, for the confirmation of our faith in the Lord Jesus, as the brightness of his Father’s glory and the light of the world, for the filling of our minds with high and honourable thoughts of him, notwithstanding his being clothed with a body, and giving us some idea of the glory which he entered into at his ascension, and in which he now appears within the veil, and for the raising and encouraging of our hopes and expectations concerning the glory reserved for all believers in the future state. I. Here is one circumstance of the narrative that seems to differ from the other two evangelists that related it. They said that it was six days after the foregoing sayings; Luke says that it was about eight days after, that is, it was that day sevennight, six whole days intervening, and it was the eighth day. Some think that it was in the night that Christ was transfigured, because the disciples were sleepy, as in his agony, and in the night his appearance in splendour would be the more illustrious; if in the night, the computation of the time would be the more doubtful and uncertain; probably, in the night, between the seventh and eighth day, and so about eight days. 330


II. Here are divers circumstances added and explained, which are very material. 1. We are here told that Christ had this honour put upon him when he was praying: He went up into a mountain to pray, as he frequently did (Luke 9:28), and as he prayed he was transfigured. When Christ humbled himself to pray, he was thus exalted. He knew before that this was designed for him at this time, and therefore seeks it by prayer. Christ himself must sue out the favours that were purposed for him, and promised to him: Ask of me, and I will give thee, Ps. 2:8. And thus he intended to put an honour upon the duty of prayer, and to recommend it to us. It is a transfiguring, transforming duty; if our hearts be elevated and enlarged in it, so as in it to behold the glory of the Lord, we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory, 2 Cor. 3:18. By prayer we fetch in the wisdom, grace, and joy, which make the face to shine.

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‘LORD OF THE HARVEST’: LUKE 10:2 FROM THE BIBLE: "Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "If you sow in prayerlessness, you will reap powerlessness, peacelessness, joylessness, fruitlessness and backsliddenness." - Raymond Kwong

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: They must set out with prayer (Luke 10:2); and, in prayer, (1.) They must be duly affected with the necessities of the souls of men, which called for their help. They must look about, and see how great the harvest was, what abundance of people there were that wanted to have the gospel preached to them and were willing to receive it, nay, that had at this time their expectations raised of the coming of the Messiah and of his kingdom. There was corn ready to shed and be lost for want of hands to gather it in. Note, Ministers should apply themselves to their work under a deep concern for precious souls, looking upon them as the riches of this world, which ought to be secured for Christ. They must likewise be concerned that the labourers were so few. The Jewish teachers were indeed many, but they were not labourers; they did not gather in souls to God’s kingdom, but to their own interest and party. Note, Those that are good ministers themselves wish that there were more good ministers, for there is work for more. It is common for tradesmen not to care how few there are of their own trade; but Christ would have the labourers in his vineyard reckon it a matter of complaint when the labourers are few. (2.) They must earnestly desire to receive their mission from God, that he would send them forth as labourers into his harvest who is the Lord of the harvest, and that he would send others forth; for, if God send them forth, they may hope he will go along with them and give them success. Let them 332


therefore say, as the prophet (Isa. 6:8), Here I am, send me. It is desirable to receive our commission from God, and then we may go on boldly.

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‘TEACH US TO PRAY’: LUKE 11:1 FROM THE BIBLE: "And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer is our highest privilege, our gravest responsibility, and the greatest power God has put into our hands. Prayer, real prayer, is the noblest, the sublimest, the most stupendous act that any creature of God can perform." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Prayer is one of the great laws of natural religion. That man is a brute, is a monster, that never prays, that never gives glory to his Maker, nor feels his favour, nor owns his dependence upon him. One great design therefore of Christianity is to assist us in prayer, to enforce the duty upon us, to instruct us in it, and encourage us to expect advantage by it. Now here, I. We find Christ himself praying in a certain place, probably where he used to pray, Luke 11:1. As God, he was prayed to; as man, he prayed; and, though he was a Son, yet learned he this obedience. This evangelist has taken particular notice of Christ’s praying often, more than any other of the evangelists: when he was baptized (Luke 3:21), he was praying; he withdrew into the wilderness, and prayed (Luke 5:16); he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer (Luke 6:12); he was alone praying (Luke 9:18); soon after, he went up into a mountain to pray, and as he prayed he was transfigured (Luke 9:28, 29); and here he was praying in a certain place. Thus, like a genuine son of David, he gave himself unto prayer, Ps. 109:4. Whether Christ was now alone praying, and the disciples only knew that he was so, or whether he prayed with them, is uncertain; it is most probable that they were joining with him. II. His disciples applied themselves to him for direction in prayer. When he 334


was praying, they asked, Lord, teach us to pray. Note, The gifts and graces of others should excite us to covet earnestly the same. Their zeal should provoke us to a holy imitation and emulation; why should not we do as well as they? Observe, They came to him with this request, when he ceased; for they would not disturb him when he was at prayer, no, not with this good motion. Every thing is beautiful in its season. One of his disciples, in the name of the rest, and perhaps by their appointment, said, Lord, teach us. Note, Though Christ is apt to teach, yet he will for this be enquired of, and his disciples must attend him for instruction. Now, 1. Their request is, “Lord, teach us to pray; give us a rule or model by which to go in praying, and put words into our mouths.” Note, It becomes the disciples of Christ to apply themselves to him for instruction in prayer. Lord, teach us to pray, is itself a good prayer, and a very needful one, for it is a hard thing to pray well and it is Jesus Christ only that can teach us, by his word and Spirit, how to pray. “Lord, teach me what it is to pray; Lord, excite and quicken me to the duty; Lord, direct me what to pray for; Lord, give me praying graces, that I may serve God acceptably in prayer; Lord, teach me to pray in proper words; give me a mouth and wisdom in prayer, that I may speak as I ought; teach me what I shall say.” 2. Their plea is, “As John also taught his disciples. He took care to instruct his disciples in this necessary duty, and we would be taught as they were, for we have a better Master than they had.” Dr. Lightfoot’s notion of this is, That whereas the Jews’ prayers were generally adorations, and praises of God, and doxologies, John taught his disciples such prayers as were more filled up with petitions and requests; for it is said of them that they did deeseis poiountai— make prayers, Luke 5:33. The word signifies such prayers as are properly petitionary. “Now, Lord, teach us this, to be added to those benedictions of the name of God which we have been accustomed to from our childhood.” According to this sense, Christ did there teach them a prayer consisting wholly of petitions, and even omitting the doxology which had been affixed; and the Amen, which was usually said in the giving of thanks (1 Cor. 14:16), and in the Psalms, is added to doxologies only. This disciple needed not to have urged John Baptist’s example: Christ was more ready to teach than ever John Baptist was, and particularly taught to pray better than John did, or could, teach his disciples.

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‘OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN’: LUKE 11:2-4 FROM THE BIBLE: "And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "A church is never more like the New Testament church than when it is praying." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christ gave them direction, much the same as he had given them before in his sermon upon the mount, Matt. 6:9 We cannot think that they had forgotten it, but they ought to have had further and fuller instructions, and he did not, as yet, think fit to give them any; when the Spirit should be poured out upon them from on high, they would find all their requests couched in these few words, and would be able, in words of their own, to expatiate and enlarge upon them. In Matthew he had directed them to pray after this manner; here, When ye pray, say; which intimates that the Lord’s prayer was intended to be used both as a form of prayer and a directory. 1. There are some differences between the Lord’s prayer in Matthew and Luke, by which it appears that it was not the design of Christ that we should be tied up to these very words, for then there would have been no variation. Here is one difference in the translation only, which ought not to have been, when there is none in the original, and that is in the third petition: As in heaven, so in earth; whereas the words are the very same, and in the same order, as in Matthew. But there is a difference in the fourth petition. In Matthew we pray, “Give us daily bread this day:” here, “Give it us day by day”—kath hemeran. Day by day; that is, “Give us each day the bread which our bodies require, as they call for it:” not, “Give us this day bread for many days to come;” but as 336


the Israelites had manna, “Let us have bread to-day for to-day, and to-morrow for to-morrow;” for thus we may be kept in a continual dependence upon God, as children upon their parents, and may have our mercies fresh from his hand daily, and may find ourselves under fresh obligations to do the work of every day in the day, according as the duty of the day requires, because we have from God the supplies of every day in the day, according as the necessity of the day requires. Here is likewise some difference in the fifth petition. In Matthew it is, Forgive us our debts, as we forgive: here it is, Forgive us our sins; which proves that our sins are our debts. For we forgive; not that our forgiving those that have offended us can merit pardon from God, or be an inducement to him to forgive us (he forgives for his own name’s sake, and his Son’s sake); but this is a very necessary qualification for forgiveness, and, if God have wrought it in us, we may plead that work of his grace for the enforcing of our petitions for the pardon of our sins: “Lord, forgive us, for thou hast thyself inclined us to forgive others.” There is another addition here; we plead not only in general, We forgive our debtors, but in particular, “We profess to forgive every one that is indebted to us, without exception. We so forgive our debtors as not to bear malice or ill-will to any, but true love to all, without any exception whatsoever.” Here also the doxology in the close is wholly omitted, and the Amen; for Christ would leave them at liberty to use that or any other doxology fetched out of David’s psalms; or, rather, he left a vacuum here, to be filled up by a doxology more peculiar to the Christian institutes, ascribing glory to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 2. Yet it is, for substance, the same; and we shall therefore here only gather up some general lessons from it. (1.) That in prayer we ought to come to God as children to a Father, a common Father to us and all mankind, but in a peculiar manner a Father to all the disciples of Jesus Christ. Let us therefore in our requests both for others and for ourselves, come to him with a humble boldness, confiding in his power and goodness. (2.) That at the same time, and in the same petitions, which we address to God for ourselves, we should take in with us all the children of men, as God’s creatures and our fellow-creatures. A rooted principle of catholic charity, and of Christian sanctified humanity, should go along with us, and dictate to us throughout this prayer, which is so worded as to be accommodated to that

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noble principle. (3.) That in order to the confirming of the habit of heavenly-mindedness in us, which ought to actuate and govern us in the whole course of our conversation, we should, in all our devotions, with an eye of faith look heavenward, and view the God we pray to as our Father in heaven, that we may make the upper world more familiar to us, and may ourselves become better prepared for the future state. (4.) That in prayer, as well as in the tenour of our lives, we must seek first the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, by ascribing honour to his name, his holy name, and power to his government, both that of his providence in the world and that of his grace in the church. O that both the one and the other may be more manifested, and we and others more manifestly brought into subjection to both! (5.) That the principles and practices of the upper world, the unseen world (which therefore by faith only we are apprized of), are the great original—the archetypon, to which we should desire that the principles and practices of this lower world, both in others and in ourselves, may be more conformable. Those words, As in heaven, so on earth, refer to all the first three petitions: “Father, let thy name be sanctified and glorified, and thy kingdom prevail, and thy will be done on this earth that is now alienated from thy service, as it is in yonder heaven that is entirely devoted to thy service.” (6.) That those who faithfully and sincerely mind the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, may humbly hope that all other things, as far as to Infinite Wisdom seems good, shall be added to them, and they may in faith pray for them. If our first chief desire and care be that God’s name may be sanctified, his kingdom come, and his will be done, we may then come boldly to the throne of grace for our daily bread, which will then be sanctified to us when we are sanctified to God, and God is sanctified by us. (7.) That in our prayers for temporal blessings we must moderate our desires, and confine them to a competency. The expression here used of day by day is the very same with our daily bread; and therefore some think that we must look for another signification of the word epiousios than that of daily, which we give it, and that it means our necessary bread, that bread that is suited to the craving of our nature, the fruit that is brought out of the earth for our 338


bodies that are made of the earth and are earthly, Ps. 104:14. (8.) That sins are debts which we are daily contracting, and which therefore we should every day pray for the forgiveness of. We are not only going behind with our rent every day by omissions of duty and in duty, but are daily incurring the penalty of the law, as well as the forfeiture of our bond, by our commissions. Every day adds to the score of our guilt, and it is a miracle of mercy that we have so much encouragement given us to come every day to the throne of grace, to pray for the pardon of our sins of daily infirmity. God multiplies to pardon beyond seventy times seven. (9.) That we have no reason to expect, nor can with any confidence pray, that God would forgive our sins against him, if we do not sincerely, and from a truly Christian principle of charity, forgive those that have at any time affronted us or been injurious to us. Though the words of our mouth be even this prayer to God, if the meditation of our heart at the same time be, as often it is, malice and revenge to our brethren, we are not accepted, nor can we expect an answer of peace. (10.) That temptations to sin should be as much dreaded and deprecated by us as ruin by sin; and it should be as much our care and prayer to get the power of sin broken in us as to get the guilt of sin removed from us; and though temptation may be a charming, fawning, flattering thing, we must be as earnest with God that we may not be led into it as that we may not be led by that to sin, and by sin to ruin. (11.) That God is to be depended upon, and sought unto, for our deliverance from all evil; and we should pray, not only that we may not be left to ourselves to run into evil, but that we may not be left to Satan to bring evil upon us. Dr. Lightfoot understands it of being delivered from the evil one, that is, the devil, and suggests that we should pray particularly against the apparitions of the devil and his possessions. The disciples were employed to cast out devils, and therefore were concerned to pray that they might be guarded against the particular spite he would always be sure to have against them.

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‘MEN OUGHT ALWAYS TO PRAY’: LUKE 18:1 FROM THE BIBLE: "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "A prayerless soul is a Christless soul." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: This parable has its key hanging at the door; the drift and design of it are prefixed. Christ spoke it with this intent, to teach us that men ought always to pray and not to faint, Luke 18:1. It supposes that all God’s people are praying people; all God’s children keep up both a constant and an occasional correspondence with him, send to him statedly, and upon every emergency. It is our privilege and honour that we may pray. It is our duty; we ought to pray, we sin if we neglect it. It is to be our constant work; we ought always to pray, it is that which the duty of every day requires. We must pray, and never grow weary of praying, nor think of leaving it off till it comes to be swallowed up in everlasting praise. But that which seems particularly designed here is to teach us constancy and perseverance in our requests for some spiritual mercies that we are in pursuit of, relating either to ourselves or to the church of God. When we are praying for strength against our spiritual enemies, our lusts and corruptions, which are our worst enemies, we must continue instant in prayer, must pray and not faint, for we shall not seek God’s face in vain. So we must likewise in our prayers for the deliverance of the people of God out of the hands of their persecutors and oppressors.

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THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN: LUKE 18:10-14 FROM THE BIBLE: "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "What you are when you are alone with God, that you are – and nothing more. You may make a great show of love and faith in church, singing like Pavarotti or attracting the masses to your profound Sunday school lectures. But if there is no private communion between you and Jesus – frequent and deep communion – then your religion is worthless." - Kris Lundgaard

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The scope of this parable likewise is prefixed to it, and we are told (Luke 18:9) who they were whom it was levelled at, and for whom it was calculated. He designed it for the conviction of some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. They were such as had, 1. A great conceit of themselves, and of their own goodness; they thought themselves as holy as they needed to be, and holier than all their neighbours, and such as might serve for examples to them all. But that was not all; 2. They had a confidence in themselves before God, and not only had a high opinion of their own righteousness, but depended upon the merit of it, whenever they addressed God, as their plea: They trusted in themselves as being righteous; they thought they had made God their debtor, and might demand any thing from him; and, 3. They despised others, and looked upon them with contempt, as not worthy to be compared with them. Now Christ by this parable 341


would show such their folly, and that thereby they shut themselves out from acceptance with God. This is called a parable, though there be nothing of similitude in it; but it is rather a description of the different temper and language of those that proudly justify themselves, and those that humbly condemn themselves; and their different standing before God. It is matter of fact every day. I. Here are both these addressing themselves to the duty of prayer at the same place and time (Luke 18:10): Two men went up into the temple (for the temple stood upon a hill) to pray. It was not the hour of public prayer, but they went thither to offer up their personal devotions, as was usual with good people at that time, when the temple was not only the place, but the medium of worship, and God had promised, in answer to Solomon’s request, that, whatever prayer was made in a right manner in or towards that house, it should therefore the rather be accepted. Christ is our temple, and to him we must have an eye in all our approaches to God. The Pharisees and the publican both went to the temple to pray. Note, Among the worshippers of God, in the visible church, there is a mixture of good and bad, of some that are accepted of God, and some that are not; and so it has been ever since Cain and Abel brought their offering to the same altar. The Pharisee, proud as he was, could not think himself above prayer; nor could the publican, humble as he was, think himself shut out from the benefit of it; but we have reason to think that these went with different views. 1. The Pharisee went to the temple to pray because it was a public place, more public than the corners of the streets, and therefore he should have many eyes upon him, who would applaud his devotion, which perhaps was more than was expected. The character Christ gave of the Pharisees, that all their works they did to be seen of men, gives us occasion for this suspicion. Note, Hypocrites keep up the external performances of religion only to save or gain credit. There are many whom we see every day at the temple, whom, it is to be feared, we shall not see in the great day at Christ’s right hand. 2. The publican went to the temple because it was appointed to be a house of prayer for all people, Isa. 56:7. The Pharisee came to the temple upon a compliment, the publican upon business; the Pharisee to make his appearance, the publican to make his request. Now God sees with what disposition and design we come to wait upon him in holy ordinances, and will judge of us accordingly. II. Here is the Pharisee’s address to God (for a prayer I cannot call it): He stood and prayed thus with himself (Luke 18:11, 12): standing by himself, he 342


prayed thus, so some read it; he was wholly intent upon himself, had nothing in his eye but self, his own praise, and not God’s glory; or, standing in some conspicuous place, where he distinguished himself; or, setting himself with a great deal of state and formality, he prayed thus. Now that which he is here supposed to say is that which shows, 1. That he trusted to himself that he was righteous. A great many good things he said of himself, which we will suppose to be true. He was free from gross and scandalous sins; he was not an extortioner, not a usurer, not oppressive to debtors or tenants, but fair and kind to all that had dependence upon him. He was not unjust in any of his dealings; he did no man any wrong; he could say, as Samuel, Whose ox or whose ass have I taken? He was no adulterer, but had possessed his vessel in sanctification and honour. Yet this was not all; he fasted twice in the week, as an act partly of temperature, partly of devotion. The Pharisees and their disciples fasted twice a week, Monday and Thursday. Thus he glorified God with his body: yet that was not all; he gave tithes of all that he possessed, according to the law, and so glorified God with his worldly estate. Now all this was very well and commendable. Miserable is the condition of those who come short of the righteousness of this Pharisee: yet he was not accepted; and why was he not? (1.) His giving God thanks for this, though in itself a good thing, yet seems to be a mere formality. He does not say, By the grace of God I am what I am, as Paul did, but turns it off with a slight, God, I thank thee, which is intended but for a plausible introduction to a proud vainglorious ostentation of himself. (2.) He makes his boast of this, and dwells with delight upon this subject, as if all his business to the temple was to tell God Almighty how very good he was; and he is ready to say, with those hypocrites that we read of (Isa. 58:3), Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? (3.) He trusted to it as a righteousness, and not only mentioned it, but pleaded it, as if hereby he had merited at the hands of God, and made him his debtor. (4.) Here is not one word of prayer in all he saith. He went up to the temple to pray, but forgot his errand, was so full of himself and his own goodness that he thought he had need of nothing, no, not of the favour and grace of God, which, it would seem, he did not think worth asking. 2. That he despised others. (1.) He thought meanly of all mankind but himself: I thank thee that I am not as other men are. He speaks indefinitely, as if he were better than any. We may have reason to thank God that we are not as some men are, that are notoriously wicked and vile; but to speak at random 343


thus, as if we only were good, and all besides us were reprobates, is to judge by wholesale. (2.) He thought meanly in a particular manner of this publican, whom he had left behind, it is probable, in the court of the Gentiles, and whose company he had fallen into as he came to the temple. He knew that he was a publican, and therefore very uncharitably concluded that he was an extortioner, unjust, and all that is naught. Suppose it had been so, and he had known it, what business had he to take notice of it? Could not he say his prayers (and that was all that the Pharisees did) without reproaching his neighbours? Or was this a part of his God, I thank thee? And was he as much pleased with the publican’s badness as with his own goodness? There could not be a plainer evidence, not only of the want of humility and charity, but of reigning pride and malice, than this was. III. Here is the publican’s address to God, which was the reverse of the Pharisee’s, as full of humility and humiliation as his was of pride and ostentation; as full of repentance for sin, and desire towards God, as his was of confidence in himself and his own righteousness and sufficiency. 1. He expressed his repentance and humility in what he did; and his gesture, when he addressed himself to his devotions, was expressive of great seriousness and humility, and the proper clothing of a broken, penitent, and obedient heart. (1.) He stood afar off. The Pharisee stood, but crowded up as high as he could, to the upper end of the court; the publican kept at a distance under a sense of his unworthiness to draw near to God, and perhaps for fear of offending the Pharisee, whom he observed to look scornfully upon him, and of disturbing his devotions. Hereby he owned that God might justly behold him afar off, and send him into a state of eternal distance from him, and that it was a great favour that God was pleased to admit him thus nigh. (2.) He would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, much less his hands, as was usual in prayer. He did lift up his heart to God in the heavens, in holy desires, but, through prevailing shame and humiliation, he did not lift up his eyes in holy confidence and courage. His iniquities are gone over his head, as a heavy burden, so that he is not able to look up, Ps. 40:12. The dejection of his looks is an indication of the dejection of his mind at the thought of sin. (3.) He smote upon his breast, in a holy indignation at himself for sin: “Thus would I smite this wicked heart of mine, the poisoned fountain out of which flow all the streams of sin, if I could come at it.” The sinner’s heart first smites him in a penitent rebuke, 2 Sam. 24:10. David’s heart smote him. Sinner, what hast thou done? And then he smites his heart with penitent remorse: O wretched 344


man that I am? Ephraim is said to smite upon his thigh, Jer. 31:19. Great mourners are represented tabouring upon their breasts, Nah. 2:7. 2. He expressed it in what he said. His prayer was short. Fear and shame hindered him from saying much; sighs and groans swallowed up his words; but what he said was to the purpose: God, be merciful to me a sinner. And blessed be God that we have this prayer upon record as an answered prayer, and that we are sure that he who prayed it went to his house justified; and so shall we, if we pray it, as he did, through Jesus Christ: “God, be merciful to me a sinner; the God of infinite mercy be merciful to me, for, if he be not, I am for ever undone, for ever miserable. God be merciful to me, for I have been cruel to myself.” (1.) He owns himself a sinner by nature, by practice, guilty before God. Behold, I am vile, what shall I answer thee? The Pharisee denies himself to be a sinner; none of his neighbours can charge him, and he sees no reason to charge himself, with any thing amiss; he is clean, he is pure from sin. But the publican gives himself no other character than that of a sinner, a convicted criminal at God’s bar. (2.) He has no dependence but upon the mercy of God, that, and that only, he relies upon. The Pharisee had insisted upon the merit of his fastings and tithes; but the poor publican disclaims all thought of merit, and flies to mercy as his city of refuge, and takes hold of the horn of that altar. “Justice condemns me; nothing will save me but mercy, mercy.” (3.) He earnestly prays for the benefit of that mercy: “O God, be merciful, be propitious, to me; forgive my sins; be reconciled to me; take me into thy favour; receive me graciously; love me freely.” He comes as a beggar for an alms, when he is ready to perish for hunger. Probably he repeated this prayer with renewed affections, and perhaps said more to the same purport, made a particular confession of his sins, and mentioned the particular mercies he wanted, and waited upon God for; but still this was the burden of the song: God, be merciful to me a sinner. IV. Here is the publican’s acceptance with God. We have seen how differently these two addressed themselves to God; it is now worth while to enquire how they sped. There were those who would cry up the Pharisee, by whom he would go to his house applauded, and who would look with contempt upon this sneaking whining publican. But our Lord Jesus, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secret is hid, who is perfectly acquainted with all proceedings in the court of heaven, assures us that this poor, penitent, broken-hearted publican went to his house justified, rather than the other. The Pharisee thought that if one of them must be justified, 345


and not the other, certainly it must be he rather than the publican. “No,” saith Christ, “I tell you, I affirm it with the utmost assurance, and declare it to you with the utmost concern, I tell you, it is the publican rather than the Pharisee.” The proud Pharisee goes away, rejected of God; his thanksgivings are so far from being accepted that they are an abomination; he is not justified, his sins are not pardoned, nor is he delivered from condemnation: he is not accepted as righteous in God’s sight, because he is so righteous in his own sight; but the publican, upon this humble address to Heaven, obtains the remission of his sins, and he whom the Pharisee would not set with the dogs of his flock God sets with the children of his family. The reason given for this is because God’s glory is to resist the proud, and give grace to the humble. 1. Proud men, who exalt themselves, are rivals with God, and therefore they shall certainly be abased. God, in his discourse with Job, appeals to this proof that he is God, that he looks upon every one that is proud, and brings him low, Job 40:12. 2. Humble men, who abase themselves, are subject to God, and they shall be exalted. God has preferment in store for those that will take it as a favour, not for those that demand it as a debt. He shall be exalted into the love of God, and communion with him, shall be exalted into a satisfaction in himself, and exalted at last as high as heaven. See how the punishment answers the sin: He that exalteth himself shall be abased. See how the recompence answers the duty: He that humbles himself shall be exalted. See also the power of God’s grace in bringing good out of evil; the publican had been a great sinner, and out of the greatness of his sin was brought the greatness of his repentance; out of the eater came forth meat. See, on the contrary, the power of Satan’s malice in bringing evil out of good. It was good that the Pharisee was no extortioner, nor unjust; but the devil made him proud of this, to his ruin.

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'HOUSE

OF

PRAYER': LUKE 19:45-46

FROM THE BIBLE: And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: After my return to London, I decided to do something to help my brothers in the seminary. I suggested we meet together every morning from six until eight to pray and read the Scriptures. After the evening prayer, my communion with God was so sweet that I would continue praying until after midnight. Then I would go to a brother’s room, and we would pray together until one or two in the morning. Even then, I was sometimes so full of joy that I could not sleep. At six in the morning, I would again call the brethren together for prayer. George Muller

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christ cleared it of those who profaned it. He went straight to the temple, and began to cast out the buyers and sellers, Luke 19:45. Hereby (though he was represented as an enemy to the temple, and that was the crime laid to his charge before the high priest) he made it to appear that he had a truer love for the temple than they had who had such a veneration for its corban, its treasury, as a sacred thing; for its purity was more its glory than its wealth was. Christ gave reason for his dislodging the temple-merchants, Luke 19:46. The temple is a house of prayer, set apart for communion with God: the buyers and sellers made it a den of thieves by the fraudulent bargains they made there, which was by no means to be suffered, for it would be a distraction to those who came there to pray.

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‘PRAY ALWAYS’: LUKE 21:36 FROM THE BIBLE: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "For Jesus, time alone with God was not an option… The gospel of Luke tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Lk. 5:16)… This is precisely where you and I so often miss out on all that God has for us. Unlike Jesus, we attempt to live life in our own energy. We think we can keep giving out without getting replenished. Then, wearied and weakened by the demands of life and ministry, we become impatient and anno4yed with the very ones God has sent us to serve. Rather than exhibiting a gracious, calm, joyous spirit, we become uptight, frazzled, and frenzied (people), resenting, rather than welcoming, the people and opportunities God brings into our lives." - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He counsels them to prepare and get ready for this great day, Luke 21:36. Here see, 1. What should be our aim: that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things; that, when the judgments of God are abroad, we may be preserved from the malignity of them; that either we may not be involved in the common calamity or it may not be that to us which it is to others; that in the day of death we may escape the sting of it, which is the wrath of God, and the damnation of hell. Yet we must aim not only to escape that, but to stand before the Son of man; not only to stand acquitted before him as our Judge (Ps. 1:5), to have boldness in the day of Christ (that is supposed in our escaping all those things), but to stand before him, to attend on him as our Master, to stand continually before his throne, and serve him day and night in his temple (Rev. 7:15), always to behold his face, as the angels, Matt. 18:10. The saints are here said to be accounted worthy, as before, Luke 20:35. God, by the good work of his grace in them, makes them meet for this happiness, and, by the good will of his grace towards them, accounts them worthy of it: but, 348


as Grotius here says, a great part of our worthiness lies in an acknowledgment of our own unworthiness. 2. What should be our actings in these aims: Watch therefore, and pray always. Watching and praying must go together, Neh. 4:9. Those that would escape the wrath to come, and make sure of the joys to come, must watch and pray, and must do so always, must make it the constant business of their lives, (1.) To keep a guard upon themselves. “Watch against sin, watch to every duty, and to the improvement of every opportunity of doing good. Be awake, and keep awake, in expectation of your Lord’s coming, that you may be in a right frame to receive him, and bid him welcome.” (2.) To keep up their communion with God: “Pray always; be always in an habitual disposition to that duty; keep up stated times for it; abound in it; pray upon all occasions.” Those shall be accounted worthy to live a life of praise in the other world that live a life of prayer in this world.

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AGONY IN

THE

GARDEN: LUKE 22:40-46

FROM THE BIBLE: And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Jesus’ burden for the lost multitude resulted in His instruction to pray that the Lord would send laborers into the harvest field (Matthew 9:38). In His deep burden for the unsaved He commanded prayer for the saints instead of the sinner. Likewise, the apostle Paul requested prayer for both the opportunity to witness (Colossians 4:3) and the courage to present the gospel (Ephesians 6:19-20). To pray for our lost friends is a naturally loving instinct, but it is God’s Word that guides us how to do so. It instructs us to pray that the Lord would send someone into their lives who would have the opportunity and the freedom to clearly present the gospel. --Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We have here the awful story of Christ’s agony in the garden, just before he was betrayed, which was largely related by the other evangelists. In it Christ accommodated himself to that part of his undertaking which he was now entering upon—the making of his soul an offering for sin. He afflicted his own soul with grief for the sin he was to satisfy for, and an apprehension of the wrath of God to which man had by sin made himself obnoxious, which he was pleased as a sacrifice to admit the impressions of, the consuming of a 350


sacrifice with fire from heaven being the surest token of its acceptance. In it Christ entered the lists with the powers of darkness, gave them all the advantages they could desire, and yet conquered them. I. What we have in this passage which we had before is, 1. That when Christ went out, though it was in the night, and a long walk, his disciples (eleven of them, for Judas had given them the slip) followed him. Having continued with him hitherto in his temptations, they would not leave him now. 2. That he went to the place where he was wont to be private, which intimates that Christ accustomed himself to retirement, was often alone, to teach us to be so, for freedom of converse with God and our own hearts. Though Christ had no conveniency for retirement but a garden, yet he retired. This should particularly be our practice after we have been at the Lord’s table; we have then work to do which requires us to be private. 3. That he exhorted his disciples to pray that, though the approaching trial could not be avoided, yet they might not in it enter into temptation to sin; that, when they were in the greatest fright and danger, yet they might not have any inclination to desert Christ, nor take a step towards it: “Pray that you may be kept from sin.” 4. That he withdrew from them, and prayed himself; they had their errands at the throne of grace, and he had his, and therefore it was fit that they should pray separately, as sometimes, when they had joint errands, they prayed together. He withdrew about a stone’s cast further into the garden, which some reckon about fifty of sixty paces, and there he kneeled down (so it is here) upon the bare ground; but the other evangelists say that afterwards he fell on his face, and there prayed that, if it were the will of God, this cup of suffering, this bitter cup, might be removed from him. This was the language of that innocent dread of suffering which, being really and truly man, he could not but have in his nature. 5. That he, knowing it to be his Father’s will that he should suffer and die, and that, as the matter was now settled, it was necessary for our redemption and salvation, presently withdrew that petition, did not insist upon it, but resigned himself to his heavenly Father’s will: “Nevertheless not my will be done, not the will of my human nature, but the will of God as it is written concerning me in the volume of the book, which I delight to do, let that be done,” Ps. 40:7, 8. 6. That his disciples were asleep when he was at prayer, and when they should have been themselves praying, Luke 22:45. When he rose from prayer, he found them sleeping, unconcerned in his sorrows; but see what a favourable construction is here put upon it, which we had not in the other evangelists—they were sleeping for sorrow. The great sorrow they were in upon the mournful farewells their Master had been this 351


evening giving them had exhausted their spirits, and made them very dull and heavy, which (it being now late) disposed them to sleep. This teaches us to make the best of our brethren’s infirmities, and, if there be one cause better than another, charitably impute them to that. 7. That when he awoke them, then he exhorted them to pray (Luke 22:46): “Why sleep ye? Why do you allow yourselves to sleep? Rise and pray. Shake off your drowsiness, that you may be fit to pray, and pray for grace, that you may be able to shake off your drowsiness.” This was like the ship-master’s call to Jonah in a storm (Jonah 1:6): Arise, call upon thy God. When we find ourselves either by our outward circumstances or our inward dispositions entering into temptation, it concerns us to rise and pray, Lord, help me in this time of need. But, II. There are three things in this passage which we had not in the other evangelists:— 1. That, when Christ was in his agony, there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him, Luke 22:43. (1.) It was an instance of the deep humiliation of our Lord Jesus that he needed the assistance of an angel, and would admit it. The influence of the divine nature withdrew for the present, and then, as to his human nature, he was for a little while lower than the angels, and was capable of receiving help from them. (2.) When he was not delivered from his sufferings, yet he was strengthened and supported under them, and that was equivalent. If God proportion the shoulders to the burden, we shall have no reason to complain, whatever he is pleased to lay upon us. David owns this a sufficient answer to his prayer, in the day of trouble, that God strengthened him with strength in his soul, and so does the son of David, Ps. 138:3. (3.) The angels ministered to the Lord Jesus in his sufferings. He could have had legions of them to rescue him; nay, this one could have done it, could have chased and conquered the whole band of men that came to take him; but he made use of his ministration only to strengthen him; and the very visit which this angel made him now in his grief, when his enemies were awake and his friends asleep, was such a seasonable token of the divine favour as would be a very great strengthening to him. Yet this was not all: he probably said something to him to strengthen him; put him in mind that his sufferings were in order to his Father’s glory, to his own glory, and to the salvation of those that were given him, represented to him the joy set before him, the seed he should see; with these and the like suggestions he encouraged him to go on cheerfully; and what is comforting is strengthening. Perhaps he did something to strengthen him, wiped away his sweat and tears, perhaps 352


ministered some cordial to him, as after his temptation, or, it may be, took him by the arm, and helped him off the ground, or bore him up when he was ready to faint away; and in these services of the angel the Holy Spirit was enischyon auton—putting strength into him; for so the word signifies. It pleased the Lord to bruise him indeed; yet did he plead against him with his great power? No, but he put strength in him (Job 23:6), as he had promised, Ps. 89:21; Isa. 49:8; 50:7. 2. That, being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, Luke 22:44. As his sorrow and trouble grew upon him, he grew more importunate in prayer; not that there was before any coldness or indifferency in his prayers, but there was now a greater vehemency in them, which was expressed in his voice and gesture. Note, Prayer, though never out of season, is in a special manner seasonable when we are in an agony; and the stronger our agonies are the more lively and frequent our prayers should be. Now it was that Christ offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears, and was heard in that he feared (Heb. 5:7), and in his fear wrestled, as Jacob with the angel. 3. That, in this agony, his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Sweat came in with sin, and was a branch of the curse, Gen. 3:19. And therefore, when Christ was made sin and a curse for us, he underwent a grievous sweat, that in the sweat of his face we might eat bread, and that he might sanctify and sweeten all our trials to us. There is some dispute among the critics whether this sweat is only compared to drops of blood, being much thicker than drops of sweat commonly are, the pores of the body being more than ordinarily opened, or whether real blood out of the capillary veins mingled with it, so that it was in colour like blood, and might truly be called a bloody sweat; the matter is not great. Some reckon this one of the times when Christ shed his blood for us, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission. Every pore was as it were a bleeding wound, and his blood stained all his raiment. This showed the travail of his soul. He was now abroad in the open air, in a cool season, upon the cold ground, far in the night, which, one would think, had been enough to strike in a sweat; yet now he breaks out into a sweat, which bespeaks the extremity of the agony he was in.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER Mordecai Ham "What is the secret of the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Does God endue men in a sort of haphazard way? Has He favorites? Certainly not! God's difficulty is to find men who are willing to pay the price." Mordecai Ham was a man who was willing to pay the price and as a result was powerfully anointed by the Holy Spirit. Early on in his ministry he had some striking experiences with the Holy Spirit that helped prepare him for the prophet-revivalist role he would later operate in. Mr. Ham writes, "I had an overwhelming experience of the Lord's presence. I felt so powerfully overcome by the nearness of the Holy Spirit that I had to ask the Lord to draw back lest He kill me. It was so glorious that I couldn't stand more than a small portion of it." As his spiritual life deepened, his success as a revivalist increasingly spread. An early example of the fruitfulness of Mordecai Ham's ministry is seen in a Jackson, Tenn. newspaper report dated April 1905. The report reads, "Has the spiritual fire of the great Wales revival reached across the ocean and ignited the hearts of the people of Jackson? It begins to look as if it has at the big tent revival conducted by Rev. M.F. Ham." Mr. Ham's success was not the result of traditional evangelistic methods, but the fruit of Apostolic power. Often he would seek out the worst of sinners in the community and then proceed to pray and plead with them until they were surrendered to Christ, resulting in a great in-gathering of the lost. At other times he faced down stubborn opposers of the gospel, declaring he would pray to God to either convert them or kill them. In Mr. Ham's biography there are several incidents recorded where those who resisted and opposed the Holy Spirit were brought to swift judgment. "The evangelist recalls with great reluctance that deaths took place during many of his great campaigns. Ambulances would have to come and carry bodies away from our services." "Many persons that openly fought a Ham meeting met with some form of violent death soon after." (Acts 5:1-11). So, as the Holy Spirit was being poured out, some were visited with judgment while others were saved and even physically healed. Charles Spurgeon rightly said "that a church in the land without the Spirit is 354


rather a curse than a blessing. If you have not the Spirit of God, Christian worker, remember that you stand in somebody else's way; you are a fruitless tree standing where a fruitful tree might grow." Mordecai Ham's clear understanding of this spiritual principle helped him develop an effective strategy for reaching the lost. On this point he writes, "There are a lot of Christians who are halfway fellows. They stand in the door, holding on to the Church with one hand while they play with the toys of the world with the other. They are in the doorway and we can't bring sinners in. And, until we get some of God's people right, we cannot hope to get sinners regenerated. Now they always accuse me of carrying around a sledge hammer with which to pound the church members. Yes sir, I do pound them, every time I come down, I knock one of the halfway fellows out of the doorway, and every time I knock one out I get a sinner in." It was this kind of bold Biblical preaching that brought a young 16 year old boy to Christ by the name of Billy Graham. It should be emphasized now that Mr. Ham was always a man of zealous prayer. "Sometimes he spent hours in his room wrestling with God." He often encouraged all night prayer meetings to be attended for several consecutive nights in order to lay the proper ground work for the moving of the Spirit. He learned early on that human wisdom could not do the work of the Holy Spirit. In closing let us consider some of Mr. Hams thoughts on the hindrances of true revival. "One of our troubles is we are not willing to humble ourselves. We are not willing to give up our opinions as to how things should be done. We want a revival to come just in our way. You never saw two revivals come just alike. We must let them come in God's way. People are ashamed to admit they need a revival. If you are not willing to take the shame on yourself, you then let it remain on Jesus Christ. You must bear the reproach of your sinful state of indifference, or the cause of our Master must bear it." by David Smithers

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COMFORTER: JOHN 14:16 FROM THE BIBLE: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Anyone who spends one, two, three hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast will soon discover the beneficial effect early rising has on the outward and inward man." - George Muller

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: It is promised that they shall have another comforter. This is the great NewTestament promise (Acts 1:4), as that of the Messiah was of the Old Testament; a promise adapted to the present distress of the disciples, who were in sorrow, and needed a comforter. Observe here, (1.) The blessing promised: allon parakleton. The word is used only here in these discourses of Christ’s, and 1 John 2:1; where we translate it an advocate. The Rhemists, and Dr. Hammond, are for retaining the Greek word Paraclete; we read, Acts 9:31; of the paraklesis tou hagiou pneumatos, the comfort of the Holy Ghost, including his whole office as a paraclete. [1.] You shall have another advocate. The office of the Spirit was to be Christ’s advocate with them and others, to plead his cause, and take care of his concerns, on earth; to be vicarius Christi—Christ’s Vicar, as one of the ancients call him; and to be their advocate with their opposers. When Christ was with them he spoke for them as there was occasion; but now that he is leaving them they shall not be run down, the Spirit of the Father shall speak in them, Matt. 10:19, 20. And the cause cannot miscarry that is pleaded by such an advocate. [2.] You shall have another master or teacher, another exhorter. While they had Christ with them he excited and exhorted them to their duty; but now that he is going he leaves one with them that shall do this as effectually, though silently. Jansenius thinks the most proper word to render it by is a patron, one that shall both instruct and protect you. [3.] Another comforter. Christ was expected as the consolation of Israel. One of the names of the Messiah among the Jews was Menahem—the Comforter. The Targum calls 356


the days of the Messiah the years of consolation. Christ comforted his disciples when he was with them, and now that he was leaving them in their greatest need he promises them another. (2.) The giver of this blessing: The Father shall give him, my Father and your Father; it includes both. The same that gave the Son to be our Saviour will give his Spirit to be our comforter, pursuant to the same design. The Son is said to send the Comforter (John 15:26), but the Father is the prime agent. (3.) How this blessing is procured—by the intercession of the Lord Jesus: I will pray the Father. He said (John 14:14) I will do it; here he saith, I will pray for it, to show not only that he is both God and man, but that he is both king and priest. As priest he is ordained for men to make intercession, as king he is authorized by the Father to execute judgment. When Christ saith, I will pray the Father, it does not suppose that the Father is unwilling, or must be importuned to it, but only that the gift of the Spirit is a fruit of Christ’s mediation, purchased by his merit, and taken out by his intercession. (4.) The continuance of this blessing: That he may abide with you for ever. That is, [1.] “With you, as long as you live. You shall never know the want of a comforter, nor lament his departure, as you are now lamenting mine.” Note, It should support us under the loss of those comforts which were designed us for a time that there are everlasting consolations provided for us. It was not expedient that Christ should be with them for ever, for they who were designed for public service, must not always live a college-life; they must disperse, and therefore a comforter that would be with them all, in all places alike, wheresoever dispersed and howsoever distressed, was alone fit to be with them for ever. [2.] “With your successors, when you are gone, to the end of time; your successors in Christianity, in the ministry.” [3.] If we take for ever in its utmost extent, the promise will be accomplished in those consolations of God which will be the eternal joy of all the saints, pleasures for ever. 2. This comforter is the Spirit of truth, whom you know, John 14:16, 17. They might think it impossible to have a comforter equivalent to him who is the Son of God: “Yea,” saith Christ, “you shall have the Spirit of God, who is equal in power and glory with the Son.” (1.) The comforter promised is the Spirit, one who should do his work in a spiritual way and manner, inwardly and invisibly, by working on men’s spirits. 357


(2.) “He is the Spirit of truth.� He will be true to you, and to his undertaking for you, which he will perform to the utmost. He will teach you the truth, will enlighten your minds with the knowledge of it, will strengthen and confirm your belief of it, and will increase your love to it. The Gentiles by their idolatries, and the Jews by their traditions, were led into gross errors and mistakes; but the Spirit of truth shall not only lead you into all truth, but others by your ministry. Christ is the truth, and he is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit that he was anointed with. (3.) He is one whom the world cannot receive; but you know him. Therefore he abideth with you. [1.] The disciples of Christ are here distinguished from the world, for they are chosen and called out of the world that lies in wickedness; they are the children and heirs of another world, not of this. [2.] It is the misery of those that are invincibly devoted to the world that they cannot receive the Spirit of truth. The spirit of the world and of God are spoken of as directly contrary the one to the other (1 Cor. 2:12); for where the spirit of the world has the ascendant, the Spirit of God is excluded. Even the princes of this world, though, as princes, they had advantages of knowledge, yet, as princes of this world, they laboured under invincible prejudices, so that they knew not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:8. [3.] Therefore men cannot receive the Spirit of truth because they see him not, neither know him. The comforts of the Spirit are foolishness to them, as much as ever the cross of Christ was, and the great things of the gospel, like those of the law, are counted as a strange thing. These are judgments far above out of their sight. Speak to the children of this world of the operations of the Spirit, and you are as a barbarian to them. [4.] The best knowledge of the Spirit of truth is that which is got by experience: You know him, for he dwelleth with you. Christ had dwelt with them, and by their acquaintance with him they could not but know the Spirit of truth. They had themselves been endued with the Spirit in some measure. What enabled them to leave all to follow Christ, and to continue with him in his temptations? What enabled them to preach the gospel, and work miracles, but the Spirit dwelling in them? The experiences of the saints are the explications of the promises; paradoxes to others are axioms to them. [5.] Those that have an experimental acquaintance with the Spirit have a comfortable assurance of his continuance: He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, for the blessed Spirit doth not use to shift his lodging. Those that know him know how to value him, invite him and bid him welcome; and therefore he shall be in them, as the light in the air, as the sap in the tree, as the soul in the body. Their communion with him shall be intimate, and 358


their union with him inseparable. [6.] The gift of the Holy Ghost is a peculiar gift, bestowed upon the disciples of Christ in a distinguishing way—them, and not the world; it is to them hidden manna, and the white stone. No comforts comparable to those which make no show, make no noise. This is the favour God bears to his chosen; it is the heritage of those that fear his name.

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JOHN 16:26 FROM THE BIBLE: "At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Until the gate of hell is shut upon a man we must not cease to pray for him. And if we see him hugging the very doorposts of damnation, we must go to the mercy seat and beseech the arm of grace to pluck him from his dangerous position. While there is life there is hope, and although the soul is almost smothered with despair, we must not despair for it, but rather arouse ourselves to awaken the Almighty arm." - C. H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We have an advocate; as to this, Christ saw cause at present not to insist upon it, only to make the following encouragement shine the brighter: “I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you. Suppose I should not tell you that I will intercede for you, should not undertake to solicit every particular cause you have depending there, yet it may be a general ground of comfort that I have settled a correspondence between you and God, have erected a throne of grace, and consecrated for you a new and living way into the holiest.” He speaks as if they needed not any favours, when he had prevailed for the gift of the Holy Ghost to make intercession within them, as Spirit of adoption, crying Abba, Father; as if they had no further need of him to pray for them now, but we shall find that he does more for us than he says he will. Men’s performances often come short of their promises, but Christ’s go beyond them.

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‘I PRAY FOR THEM’: JOHN 17:9 FROM THE BIBLE: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "I'd rather be able to pray than to be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray." - D. L. Moody

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: He pleads the Father’s own interest in them (John 17:9): I pray for them, for they are thine; and this by virtue of a joint and mutual interest, which he and the Father have in what pertained to each: All mine are thine, and thine are mine. Between the Father and Son there can be no dispute (as there is among the children of men) about meum and tuum—mine and thine, for the matter was settled from eternity; all mine are thine, and thine are mine. Here is, (1.) The plea particularly urged for his disciples: They are thine. The consigning of the elect to Christ was so far from making them less the Father’s that it was in order to making them the more so. Note, [1.] All that receive Christ’s word, and believe in him, are taken into covenant-relation to the Father, and are looked upon as his; Christ presents them to him, and they, through Christ, present themselves to him. Christ has redeemed us, not to himself only, but to God, by his blood, Rev. 5:9, 10. They are first-fruits unto God, Rev. 14:4. [2.] This is a good plea in prayer, Christ here pleads it, They are thine; we may plead it for ourselves, I am thine, save me; and for others (as Moses, Exod. 32:11), “They are thy people. They are thine; wilt thou not provide for thine own? Wilt thou not secure them, that they may not be run down by the devil and the world? Wilt thou not secure thy interest in them, that they may not depart from thee? They are thine, own them as thine.” (2.) The foundation on which this plea is grounded: All mine are thine, and thine are mine. This bespeaks the Father and Son to be, [1.] One in essence. Every creature must say to God, All mine are thine; but none can say to him, All thine are mine, but he that is the same in substance with him and equal in 361


power and glory. [2.] One in interest; no separate or divided interests between them. First, What the Father has as Creator is delivered over to the Son, to be used and disposed of in subserviency to his great undertaking. All things are delivered to him (Matt. 11:27); the grant is so general that nothing is excepted but he that did put all things under him. Secondly, What the Son has as Redeemer is designed for the Father, and his kingdom shall shortly be delivered up to him. All the benefits of redemption, purchased by the Son, are intended for the Father’s praise, and in his glory all the lines of his undertaking centre: All mine are thine. The Son owns none for his that are not devoted to the service of the Father; nor will any thing be accepted as a piece of service to the Christian religion which clashes with the dictates and laws of natural religion. In a limited sense, every true believer may say, All thine are mine; if God be ours in covenant, all he is and has is so far ours that it shall be engaged for our good; and in an unlimited sense every true believer does say, Lord, all mine are thine; all laid at his feet, to be serviceable to him. And what we have may be comfortably committed to God’s care and blessing when it is cheerfully submitted to his government and disposal: “Lord, take care of what I have, for it is all thine.”

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‘I PRAY FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE ON ME’: JOHN 17:20 FROM THE BIBLE: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer pursues joy in fellowship with Jesus and in the power to share His life with others. And prayer pursues God’s glory by treating Him as the inexhaustible reservoir of hope and help. In prayer we admit our poverty and God’s prosperity, our bankruptcy and His bounty, our misery and His mercy. Therefore, prayer highly exalts and glorifies God precisely by pursuing everything we long for in Him and not in ourselves." - John Piper

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Next to their purity he prays for their unity; for the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable; and amity is amiable indeed when it is like the ointment on Aaron’s holy head, and the dew on Zion’s holy hill. Observe, I. Who are included in this prayer (John 17:20): “Not these only, not these only that are now my disciples” (the eleven, the seventy, with others, men and women that followed him when he was here on earth), “but for those also who shall believe on me through their word, either preached by them in their own day or written by them for the generations to come; I pray for them all, that they all may be one in their interest in this prayer, and may all receive benefit by it.” Note, here, 1. Those, and those only, are interested in the mediation of Christ, that do, or shall, believe in him. This is that by which they are described, and it comprehends all the character and duty of a Christian. They that lived then, saw and believed, but they in after ages have not seen, and yet have believed. 2. It is through the word that souls are brought to believe on Christ, and it is for this end that Christ appointed the scriptures to be written, and a standing ministry to continue in the church, while the church stands, that is, while the world stands, for the raising up of a seed. 3. It is certainly and infallibly known to Christ who shall believe on him. He does not 363


here pray at a venture, upon a contingency depending on the treacherous will of man, which pretends to be free, but by reason of sin is in bondage with its children; no, Christ knew very well whom he prayed for, the matter was reduced to a certainty by the divine prescience and purpose; he knew who were given him, who being ordained to eternal life, were entered in the Lamb’s book, and should undoubtedly believe, Acts 13:48. 4. Jesus Christ intercedes not only for great and eminent believers, but for the meanest and weakest; not for those only that are to be employed in the highest post of trust and honour in his kingdom, but for all, even those that in the eye of the world are inconsiderable. As the divine providence extends itself to the meanest creature, so does the divine grace to the meanest Christian. The good Shepherd has an eye even to the poor of the flock. 5. Jesus Christ in his mediation had an actual regard to those of the chosen remnant that were yet unborn, the people that should be created (Ps. 22:31), the other sheep which he must yet bring. Before they are formed in the womb he knows them (Jer. 1:5), and prayers are filed in heaven for them beforehand, by him who declareth the end from the beginning, and calleth things that are not as though they were.

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Blessed Savior, Hear My Prayer Ira D. Sankey, James McGranahan and George Stebbins Blessed Savior, hear my prayer, As I kneel before Thee, Pleading for Thy love and care; Spread Thy mantle o’er me; I have wandered from Thy fold, And my heart is weary, Traveling thro’ the storm and cold Of this desert dreary. All unworthy though I be, Grant me, Lord, Thy favor, While I humbly bow the knee, Hear my prayer, O Savior; For the sins that cause Thee pain, Give me deep contrition; Speak Thy cleansing once again, Pity my condition. Thou dost hear the humblest cry Which in faith is spoken, And the radiant, sunlight sky Speaks Thy love unbroken; May I walk at Thy dear side, Ne’er from Thee to sever; Let me, at life’s eventide, Dwell with Thee forever. There I’ll praise Thee for Thy love Which on earth has sought me, Praise Thee with the hosts above, For the blood that bought me; For the matchless wondrous grace Which to me was given, And by which I won the race, Palm, and crown, and Heaven. 365


'ONE ACCORD': ACTS 1:14 FROM THE BIBLE: These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total… Yet many of our church prayer meetings have dwindled in size and influence. Ultimately, the explanation can be traced to spiritual warfare. If, as the hymn writer says, Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees,” then we may be sure that he and his minions will be working hard to discredit the value of united prayer. The Evil One has scored a great victory in getting sincere believers to waver in their conviction that prayer is necessary and powerful. --Alistair Begg

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: How they spent their time: They all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. Observe, 1. They prayed, and made supplication. All God’s people are praying people, and give themselves to prayer. It was now a time of trouble and danger with the disciples of Christ; they were as sheep in the midst of wolves; and, Isa. any afflicted? Let him pray; this will silence cares and fears. They had new work before them, great work, and, before they entered upon it, they were instant in prayer to God for his presence with them in it. Before they were first sent forth Christ spent time in prayer for them, and now they spent time in prayer for themselves. They were waiting for the descent of the Spirit upon them, and therefore abounded thus in prayer. The Spirit descended upon our Saviour when he was praying, Luke 3:21. Those are in the best frame to receive spiritual blessings that are in a praying frame. Christ had promised now shortly to send the Holy Ghost; now this promise was not to supersede prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. God will be enquired of for promised mercies, and the nearer the performance seems to be the more earnest we should be in prayer for it. 2. They continued in prayer, spent much time in it, more than ordinary, prayed 366


frequently, and were long in prayer. They never missed an hour of prayer; they resolved to persevere herein till the Holy Ghost came, according to the promise, to pray, and not to faint. It is said (Luke 24:53), They were praising and blessing God; here, They continued in prayer and supplication; for as praise for the promise is a decent way of begging for the performance, and praise for former mercy of begging further mercy, so, in seeking to God, we give him the glory of the mercy and grace which we have found in him. 3. They did this with one accord. This intimates that they were together in holy love, and that there was no quarrel nor discord among them; and those who so keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace are best prepared to receive the comforts of the Holy Ghost. It also intimates their worthy concurrence in the supplications that were made; though but one spoke, they all prayed, and if, when two agree to ask, it shall be done for them, much more when many agree in the same petition. See Matt. 18:19.

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'HOUR OF PRAYER': ACTS 3:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent – no nation – no organization – no city – no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out. --Richard Halverson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The time and place are here set down. 1. It was in the temple, whither Peter and John went up together, because it was the place of concourse; there were the shoals of fish among which the net of the gospel was to be cast, especially during the days of pentecost, within the compass of which we may suppose this to have happened. Note, It is good to go up to the temple, to attend on public ordinances; and it is comfortable to go up together to the temple: I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go. The best society is society in worshipping God. 2. It was at the hour of prayer, one of the hours of public worship commonly appointed and observed among the Jews. Time and place are two necessary circumstances of every action, which must be determined by consent, as is most convenient for edification. With reference to public worship, there must be a house of prayer and an hour of prayer: the ninth hour, that is, three o’clock in the afternoon, was one of the hours of prayer among the Jews; nine in the morning and twelve at noon were the other two. See Ps. 55:17; Dan. 6:10. It is of use for private Christians so far to have their hours of prayer as may serve, though not to bind, yet to remind conscience: every thing is beautiful in its season.

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'CONTINUAL PRAYER': ACTS 6:4 FROM THE BIBLE: But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: We are trying not so much to make God listen to us as to make ourselves listen to him; we are trying not to persuade God to do what we want, but to find out what he wants us to do. It so often happens that in prayer we are really saying, “Thy will be changed,” when we ought to be saying, “Thy will be done.” The first object of prayer is not so much to speak to God as to listen to him. --William Barclay

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The apostles engage to addict themselves wholly to their work as ministers, and the more closely if they can but get fairly quit of this troublesome office (Acts 6:4): We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. See here, [1.] What are the two great gospel ordinances—the word, and prayer; by these two communion between God and his people is kept up and maintained; by the word he speaks to them, and by prayer they speak to him; and these have a mutual reference to each other. By these two the kingdom of Christ must be advanced, and additions made to it; we must prophesy upon the dry bones, and then pray for a spirit of life from God to enter into them. By the word and prayer other ordinances are sanctified to us, and sacraments have their efficacy. [2.] What is the great business of gospel ministers—to give themselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word; they must still be either fitting and furnishing themselves for those services, or employing themselves in them; either publicly or privately; in the stated times, or out of them. They must be God’s mouth to the people in the ministry of the word, and the people’s mouth to God in prayer. In order to the conviction and conversion of sinners, and the edification and consolation of saints, we must not only offer up our prayers for them, but we must minister the word to them, seconding 369


our prayers with our endeavours, in the use of appointed means. Nor must we only minister the word to them, but we must pray for them, that it may be effectual; for God’s grace can do all without our preaching, but our preaching can do nothing without God’s grace. The apostles were endued with extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, tongues and miracles; and yet that to which they gave themselves continually was preaching and praying, by which they might edify the church: and those ministers, without doubt, are the successors of the apostles (not in the plenitude of the apostolical power—those are daring usurpers who pretend to this, but in the best and most excellent of the apostolical works) who give themselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word; and such Christ will always be with, even to the end of the world.

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ACTS 8:22 FROM THE BIBLE: "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "The majority of Christian men and women who pray to a Living God know very little about real prevailing prayer. Yet prayer is the key that unlocks the door of God’s treasure-house. It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life – all victory over temptation, all confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God – depends upon the practice of secret prayer." - Andrew Murray

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: What it is that he advises him to: He must do his first works. First, He must repent,—must see his error and retract it—must change his mind and way— must be humbled and ashamed for what he has done. His repentance must be particular: “Repent of this, own thyself guilty in this, and be sorry for it.” He must lay a load upon himself for it, must not extenuate it, by calling it a mistake, or misguided zeal, but must aggravate it by calling it wickedness, his wickedness, the fruit of his own corruption. Those that have said and done amiss must, as far as they can, unsay it and undo it again by repentance. Secondly, He must pray to God, must pray that God would give him repentance, and pardon upon repentance. Penitents must pray, which implies a desire towards God, and a confidence in Christ. Simon Magus, as great a man as he thinks himself, shall not be courted into the apostles’ communion (how much soever some would think it a reputation to them) upon any other terms than those upon which other sinners are admitted—repentance and prayer. [2.] What encouragement he gives him to do this: If perhaps the thought of thy heart, this wicked thought of thine, may be forgiven thee. Note, First, There may be a great deal of wickedness in the thought of the heart, its false notions, and corrupt affections, and wicked projects, which must be repented of, or we are undone. Secondly, The thought of the heart, though ever so 371


wicked, shall be forgiven, upon our repentance, and not laid to our charge. When Peter here puts a perhaps upon it, the doubt is of the sincerity of his repentance, not of his pardon if his repentance be sincere. If indeed the thought of thy heart may be forgiven, so it may be read. Or it intimates that the greatness of his sin might justly make the pardon doubtful, though the promise of the gospel had put the matter out of doubt, in case he did truly repent: like that (Lam. 3:29), If so be there may be hope.

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ACTS 8:24 FROM THE BIBLE: "Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Let me burn out for God. After all, whatever God may appoint, prayer is the great thing. Oh, that I might be a man of prayer!" - Henry Martyn

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Simon’s request to them to pray for him, Acts 8:24. He was startled and put into confusion by that which Peter said, finding that resented thus which he thought would have been embraced with both arms; and he cries out, Pray you to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken come upon me. Here was, First, Something well—that he was affected with the reproof given him, and terrified by the character given of him, enough to make the stoutest heart to tremble; and, this being so, he begged the prayers of the apostles for him, wishing to have an interest in them, who, he believed, had a good interest in heaven. Secondly, Something wanting. He begged of them to pray for him, but did not pray for himself, as he ought to have done; and, in desiring them to pray for him, his concern is more that the judgments he had made himself liable to might be prevented than that his corruptions might be mortified, and his heart, by divine grace, be made right in the sight of God; like Pharaoh, who would have Moses entreat the Lord for him, that he would take away this death only, not that he would take away this sin, this hardness of heart, Exod. 8:8; 10:17. Some think that Peter had denounced some particular judgments against him, as against Ananias and Sapphira, which, upon this submission of his, at the apostle’s intercession, were prevented; or, from what is related, he might infer that some token of God’s wrath would fall upon him, which he thus dreaded and deprecated.

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CORNELIUS: ACTS 10:1-4, 30-31 FROM THE BIBLE: There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Don't pray to escape trouble. Don't pray to be comfortable in your emotions. Pray to do the will of God in every situation. Nothing else is worth praying for. --Samuel Shoemaker

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: It is a very good character that is given of him, Acts 10:2. He was no idolater, no worshipper of false gods or images, nor allowed himself in any of those immoralities to which the greater part of the Gentile world were given up, to punish them for their idolatry. (1.) He was possessed with a principle of regard to the true and living God. He was a devout man and one that feared God. He believed in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and had a reverence for his glory and authority, and a dread of offending him by sin; and, though he was a soldier, it was no diminution to the credit of his valour to tremble before God. (2.) He kept up religion in his family. He feared God with all his house. He would not admit any idolaters under his roof, but took care that not himself only, but all his, should serve the Lord. Every good man will do what he can that those about him may be good too. 374


(3.) He was a very charitable man: He gave much alms to the people, the people of the Jews, notwithstanding the singularities of their religion. Though he was a Gentile, he was willing to contribute to the relief of one that was a real object of charity, without asking what religion he was of. (4.) He was much in prayer: He prayed to God always. He kept up stated times for prayer, and was constant to them. Note, Wherever the fear of God rules in the heart, it will appear both in works of charity and of piety, and neither will excuse us from the other.

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ACTS 10:9 FROM THE BIBLE: "On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "God sees us in secret; therefore, let us seek His face in secret. Though heaven be God's palace, yet it is not his prison." - Thomas Brooks

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Cornelius had received positive orders from heaven to send for Peter, whom otherwise he had not heard of, or at least not heeded; but here is another difficulty that lies in the way of bringing them together—the question is whether Peter will come to Cornelius when he is sent for; not as if he thought it below him to come at a beck, or as if he were afraid to preach his doctrine to a polite man as Cornelius was: but it sticks at a point of conscience. Cornelius is a very worthy man, and has many good qualities, but he is a Gentile, he is not circumcised; and, because God in his law had forbidden his people to associate with idolatrous nations, they would not keep company with any but those of their own religion, though they were ever so deserving, and they carried the matter so far that they made even the involuntary touch of a Gentile to contract a ceremonial pollution, John 18:28. Peter had not got over this stingy bigoted notion of his countrymen, and therefore will be shy of coming to Cornelius. Now, to remove this difficulty, he has a vision here, to prepare him to receive the message sent him by Cornelius, as Ananias had to prepare him to go to Paul. The scriptures of the Old Testament had spoken plainly of the bringing in of the Gentiles into the church. Christ had given plain intimations of it when he ordered them to teach all nations; and yet even Peter himself, who knew so much of his Master’s mind, could not understand it, till it was here revealed by vision, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, Eph. 3:6. Now here observe, I. The circumstances of this vision. 1. It was when the messengers sent from Cornelius were now nigh the city, 376


Acts 10:9. Peter knew nothing of their approach, and they knew nothing of his praying; but he that knew both him and them was preparing things for the interview, and facilitating the end of their negotiation. To all God’s purposes there is a time, a proper time; and he is pleased often to bring things to the minds of his ministers, which they had not thought of, just then when they have occasion to use them. 2. It was when Peter went up upon the house-top to pray, about noon. (1.) Peter was much in prayer, much in secret prayer, though he had a great deal of public work upon his hands. (2.) He prayed about the sixth hour, according to David’s example, who, not only morning and evening, but at noon, addressed himself to God by prayer, Ps. 55:17. From morning to night we should think to be too long to be without meat; yet who thinks it is too long to be without prayer? (3.) He prayed upon the house-top; thither he retired for privacy, where he could neither hear nor be heard, and so might avoid both distraction and ostentation. There, upon the roof of the house, he had a full view of the heavens, which might assist his pious adoration of the God he prayed to; and there he had also a full view of the city and country, which might assist his pious compassion of the people he prayed for. (4.) He had this vision immediately after he had prayed, as an answer to his prayer for the spreading of the gospel, and because the ascent of the heart to God in prayer is an excellent preparative to receive the discoveries of the divine grace and favour.

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THE CHURCH PRAYS FOR PETER: ACTS 12:5 FROM THE BIBLE: Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Prayers are the nerves that move the muscles of omnipotence. Prayer is not an exercise in futility because God's will, will be done in any case; prayer is the means by which God's will is carried out. --John MacArthur

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: One thing that magnified his deliverance was that it was a signal answer to prayer (Acts 12:5): Peter was kept in prison with a great deal of care, so that it was altogether impossible, either by force or by stealth, to get him out. But prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him, for prayers and tears are the church’s arms; therewith she fights, not only against her enemies, but for her friends: and to these means they have recourse. 1. The delay of Peter’s trial gave them time for prayer. It is probable that James was hurried off so suddenly and so privately that they had not time to pray for him, God so ordering it that they should not have space to pray, when he designed they should not have the thing they prayed for. James must be offered upon the sacrifice and service of their faith, and therefore prayer for him is restrained and prevented; but Peter must be continued to them, and therefore prayer for him is stirred up, and time is given them for it, by Herod’s putting off the prosecution. Howbeit, he meant not so, neither did his heart think so. 2. They were very particular in their prayers for him, that it would please God, some way or other, to defeat Herod’s purpose, and to snatch the lamb out of the jaws of the lion. The death of James alarmed them to a greater fervency in their prayer for Peter; for, if they be broken thus with breach upon breach, they fear that the enemy will make a full end. Stephen is not, and James is not, and will they take Peter also? All these things are against them; this will be 378


sorrow upon sorrow, Phil. 2:27. Note, Though the death and sufferings of Christ’s ministers may be made greatly to serve the interests of Christ’s kingdom, yet it is the duty and concern of the church earnestly to pray for their life, liberty, and tranquillity; and sometimes Providence orders it that they are brought into imminent danger, to stir up prayer for them. 3. Prayer was made without ceasing; it was, proseuche ektenes—fervent prayer. It is the word that is used concerning Christ’s praying in his agony more earnestly; it is the fervent prayer of the righteous man, that is effectual, and availeth much. Some think it denotes the constancy and continuance of their prayers; so we take it: They prayed without ceasing. It was an extended prayer; they prayed for his release in their public assemblies (private ones, perhaps, for fear of the Jews); then they went home, and prayed for it in their families; then retired into their closets, and prayed for it there; so they prayed without ceasing: or first one knot of them, and then another, and then a third, kept a day of prayer, or rather a night of prayer, for him, Acts 12:12. Note, Times of public distress and danger should be praying times with the church; we must pray always, but then especially.

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SABBATH DAY PRAYER: ACTS 16:13 FROM THE BIBLE: And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: [The] most important duty, respecting both the temporal and spiritual good of your children, is fervent supplication to God for them. Without this all the rest will be ineffectual. Means are unavailing unless the Lord blesses them. The Throne of Grace is to be earnestly implored that your efforts to bring up your children for God may be crowned with success. --A.W. Pink

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: When they have an opportunity of preaching it is in an obscure place, and to a mean and small auditory, Acts 16:13. There was no synagogue of the Jews there, for aught that appears, to be a door of entrance to them, and they never went to the idol-temples of the Gentiles, to preach to the auditories there; but here, upon enquiry, they found out a little meeting of good women, that were proselytes of the gate, who would be thankful to them if they would give them a sermon. The place of this meeting is out of the city; there it was connived at, but would not be suffered any where within the walls. It was a place where prayer was wont to be made; proseuche—where an oratory or house of prayer was (so some), a chapel, or smaller synagogue. But I rather take it, as we read it, where prayer was appointed or accustomed to be. Those that worshipped the true God, and would not worship idols, met there to pray together, and, according to the description of the most ancient and universal devotion, to call upon the name of the Lord. Each of them prayed apart every day; this was always the practice of those that worshipped God: but, besides this, they came together on the sabbath day. Though they were but a few and discountenanced by the town, though their meeting was at some distance, though, for aught that appears, there were none but women, yet a solemn assembly the worshippers of God must have, if by any means it be possible, on the sabbath day. When we cannot do as we would we must do as we can; if we have not synagogues, we must be thankful for more private places, and resort to them, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, according 380


as our opportunities are. This place is said to be by a river side, which perhaps was chosen, as befriending contemplation. Idolaters are said to take their lot among the smooth stones of the stream, Isa. 57:6. But these proselytes had in their eye, perhaps, the example of those prophets who had their visions, one by the river of Chebar (Ezek. 1:1), another by the great river Hiddekel, Dan. 10:4. Thither Paul and Silas and Luke went, and sat down, to instruct the congregation, that they might the better pray with them. They spoke unto the women who resorted thither, encouraged them in practising according to the light they had, and led them on further to the knowledge of Christ.

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ON THE WAY TO PRAYER: ACTS 16:16-18 FROM THE BIBLE: And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: This much is sure in all churches, forgetting party labels; the smallest meeting numerically is the prayer-meeting. If weak in prayer we are weak everywhere. --Leonard Ravenhill

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The testimony which this damsel gave to Paul and his companions: She met them in the street, as they were going to prayer, to the house of prayer, or rather to the work of prayer there, Acts 16:16. They went thither publicly, every body knew whither they were going, and what they were going to do. If what she did was likely to be any distraction to them, or a hindrance in their work, it is observable how subtle Satan is, that great tempter, in taking the opportunity to give us diversion when we are going about any religious exercises, to ruffle us and to put us out of temper when we need to be most composed. When she met with them she followed them, crying, “These men, how contemptible soever they look and are looked upon, are great men, for they are the servants of the most high God, and men that should be very welcome to us, for they show unto us the way of salvation, both the salvation that will be our happiness, and the way to it that will be our holiness.�

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PRINCE OF PRAYER Jonathan Goforth "You must go forward on your knees," was the advice Hudson Taylor gave to a young Canadian missionary named Jonathan Goforth. Mr. Goforth faithfully and fervently followed this advice throughout all has missionary endeavors in China. Yet, after thirteen years of faithful praying and preaching, and what most would consider a very successful ministry, Goforth became restless and dissatisfied. It was at this time an unknown party from England began sending pamphlets on the Welsh revival of 1904. Goforth was deeply stirred as he read these accounts. "A new thought, a new conception seemed to come to him of God the Holy Spirit..." He then gave himself to much more prayer and Bible study. Goforth now found himself being driven by a fresh vision, a vision for a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Soon he began to meet daily with other missionaries to pray for revival. These men vowed to God and to one another that they would pray until revival came to China. In 1908 Jonathan Goforth's prayers and dreams began to be realized. Goforth began going to different missionary stations and simply led his fellow missionaries in prayer. Then suddenly earnest prayer gave way to the open confession of sin. It was when the Christians came clean, confessed and forsook their secret sin, that the Holy Spirit rushed in like a mighty wind. Truly it was this open and honest confession of sin that was the most striking feature of the revival. Everywhere Mr. Goforth went revival would spread, and almost always in the same way. First prayer was encourage among the Christians, which then spontaneously led to heart- breaking confessions of sin. And then like a flood, the lost were brought into the kingdom by the thousands. "Men were searched as with fire." One after another broken-hearted believers emptied themselves through the uncovering of all secret sin. Mr. Goforth clearly identified unconfessed sin among Christians as a major hindrance to God-sent revival. Walter Phillips describes for us one of Mr. Goforth's revival meetings: "At once, on entering the church one was conscious of something unusual. The place was crowded to the door and tense, reverent attention sat on every face. 383


The people knelt for prayer, silent at first, but soon one here and another there began to pray aloud. The voices grew and gathered volume and blended into a great wave of united supplication that swelled until it was almost a roar. Now I understood why the floor was so wet - the very air was electric and strange thrills coarsed up and down ones body." When Mr. Goforth preached, "The cross burned like a living fire in the heart of every address." It was the person of Jesus Christ who was exalted throughout the entire revival as a King and Savior who must be reckoned with. In the midst of this great revival Jonathan Goforth clearly saw that all of his previous sweating and striving had reaped only frustration. He came to the firm conviction that revival is only born through humility, faith, prayer and the power of the Holy Ghost. Goforth writes, "If revival is being withheld from us it is because some idol remains still enthroned; because we still insist in placing our reliance in human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that 'It is not by might, but by My Spirit.'" by David Smithers

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ROMANS 8:26 FROM THE BIBLE: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Public prayers are of little worth unless they are founded on or followed up by private praying." - E.M. Bounds

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The apostle here suggests two privileges more to which true Christians are entitled:— I. The help of the Spirit in prayer. While we are in this world, hoping and waiting for what we see not, we must be praying. Hope supposes desire, and that desire offered up to God is prayer; we groan. Now observe, 1. Our weakness in prayer: We know not what we should pray for as we ought. (1.) As to the matter of our requests, we know not what to ask. We are not competent judges of our own condition. Who knows what is good for a man in this life? Eccl. 6:12. We are short-sighted, and very much biassed in favour of the flesh, and apt to separate the end from the way. You know not what you ask, Matt. 20:22. We are like foolish children, that are ready to cry for fruit before it is ripe and fit for them; see Luke 9:54, 55. (2.) As to the manner, we know not how to pray as we ought. It is not enough that we do that which is good, but we must do it well, seek in a due order; and here we are often at a loss—graces are weak, affections cold, thoughts wandering, and it is not always easy to find the heart to pray, 2 Sam. 7:27. The apostle speaks of this in the first person: We know not. He puts himself among the rest. Folly, and weakness, and distraction in prayer, are what all the saints are complaining of. If so great a saint as Paul knew not what to pray for, what little reason have we to go forth about that duty in our own strength! 2. The assistances which the Spirit gives us in that duty. He helps our infirmi385


ties, meant especially of our praying infirmities, which most easily beset us in that duty, against which the Spirit helps. The Spirit in the world helps; many rules and promises there are in the word for our help. The Spirit in the heart helps, dwelling in us, working in us, as a Spirit of grace and supplication, especially with respect to the infirmities we are under when we are in a suffering state, when our faith is most apt to fail; for this end the Holy Ghost was poured out. Helpeth, synantilambanetai—heaves with us, over against us, helps as we help one that would lift up a burden, by lifting over against him at the other end—helps with us, that is, with us doing our endeavour, putting forth the strength we have. We must not sit still, and expect that the Spirit should do all; when the Spirit goes before us we must bestir ourselves. We cannot without God, and he will not without us. What help? Why, the Spirit itself makes intercession for us, dictates our requests, indites our petitions, draws up our plea for us. Christ intercedes for us in heaven, the Spirit intercedes for us in our hearts; so graciously has God provided for the encouragement of the praying remnant. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for, as a sanctifying Spirit works and excites praying graces, as a comforting Spirit silences our fears, and helps us over all our discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all our desires and breathings towards God. Now this intercession which the Spirit makes is, (1.) With groanings that cannot be uttered. The strength and fervency of those desires which the Holy Spirit works are hereby intimated. There may be praying in the Spirit where there is not a word spoken; as Moses prayed (Exod. 14:15), and Hannah, 1 Sam. 1:13. It is not the rhetoric and eloquence, but the faith and fervency, of our prayers, that the Spirit works, as an intercessor, in us. Cannot be uttered; they are so confused, the soul is in such a hurry with temptations and troubles, we know not what to say, nor how to express ourselves. Here is the Spirit interceding with groans that cannot be uttered. When we can but cry, Abba, Father, and refer ourselves to him with a holy humble boldness, this is the work of the Spirit. (2.) According to the will of God, Rom. 8:27. The Spirit in the heart never contradicts the Spirit in the word. Those desires that are contrary to the will of God do not come from the Spirit. The Spirit interceding in us evermore melts our wills into the will of God. Not as I will, but as thou wilt.

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PAUL'S 'HEART'S DESIRE': ROMANS 10:1 FROM THE BIBLE: Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be slothfulness in prayer. --C.H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Paul here professes his good affection to the Jews, with the reason of it (Rom. 10:1, 2), where he gives them a good wish, and a good witness. A good wish (Rom. 10:1), a wish that they might be saved—saved from the temporal ruin and destruction that were coming upon them—saved from the wrath to come, eternal wrath, which was hanging over their heads. It is implied in this wish that they might be convinced and converted; he could not pray in faith that they might be saved in their unbelief. Though Paul preached against them, yet he prayed for them. Herein he was merciful, as God is, who is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9), desires not the death of sinners. It is our duty truly and earnestly to desire the salvation of our own. This, he says, was his heart’s desire and prayer, which intimates, (1.) The strength and sincerity of his desire. It was his heart’s desire; it was not a formal compliment, as good wishes are with many from the teeth outward, but a real desire. This it was before it was his prayer. The soul of prayer is the heart’s desire. Cold desires do but beg denials; we must even breathe out our souls in every prayer. (2.) The offering up of this desire to God. It was not only his heart’s desire, but it was his prayer. There may be desires in the heart, and yet no prayer, unless those desires be presented to God. Wishing and woulding, if that be all, are not praying. 387


'INSTANT IN PRAYER': ROMANS 12:12 FROM THE BIBLE: Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: It makes a great difference in our feeling towards others if their needs and their joys are on our lips in prayer; as also it makes a vast difference in their feelings towards us if they know that we are in the habit of praying for them. There is no chasm in society that cannot be firmly and permanently bridged by intercession; there is no feud or dislike that cannot be healed by the same exercise of love. --Charles H. Brent

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I Am Praying for You Samuel O. Cluff and Ira D. Sankey I have a Savior, He’s pleading in glory, A dear, loving Savior though earth friends be few; And now He is watching in tenderness o’er me; And oh, that my Savior were your Savior, too. REFRAIN For you I am praying, For you I am praying, For you I am praying, I’m praying for you. I have a Father; to me He has given A hope for eternity, blesscd and true; And soon He will call me to meet Him in Heaven, But, oh, that He’d let me bring you with me, too! I have a robe; ’tis resplendent in whiteness, Awaiting in glory my wondering view; Oh, when I receive it all shining in brightness, Dear friend, could I see you receiving one, too! When Jesus has found you, tell others the story, That my loving Savior is your Savior, too; Then pray that your Savior may bring them to glory, And prayer will be answered—’twas answered for you! Speak of that Savior, that Father in Heaven, That harp, crown, and robe which are waiting for you— That peace you possess, and that rest to be given, Still praying that Jesus may save them with you.

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A TIME FOR FASTING AND PRAYER: 1 CORINTHIANS 7:5 FROM THE BIBLE: Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Whether we think of, or speak to, God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him. --John Wesley

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: And therefore they should not defraud one another of the use of their bodies, nor any other of the comforts of the conjugal state, appointed of God for keeping the vessel in sanctification and honour, and preventing the lusts of uncleanness, except it be with mutual consent (1 Cor. 7:5) and for a time only, while they employ themselves in some extraordinary duties of religion, or give themselves to fasting and prayer. Note, Seasons of deep humiliation require abstinence from lawful pleasures. But this separation between husband and wife must not be for a continuance, lest they expose themselves to Satan’s temptations, by reason of their incontinence, or inability to contain. Note, Persons expose themselves to great danger by attempting to perform what is above their strength, and at the same time not bound upon them by any law of God. If they abstain from lawful enjoyments, they may be ensnared into unlawful ones. The remedies God hath provided against sinful inclinations are certainly best.

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1 CORINTHIANS 11:13 FROM THE BIBLE: "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?"

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "It is not merely the pleadings of patriarchs and prophets, apostles and martyrs, men strong in faith giving glory to God. Neither is it the prayers enshrined and intoned in imposing ritual, rising from the great congregation amid ornate temples, and borne on the wings of enchanting music – but the groan, the glance, the tear, the tremulous aspiration of smitten penitents, the veriest lisping of infant tongues; the unlettered petitions morning and evening of the cottage home, where the earthen floor is knelt upon, where the only altar is the altar of the lowly heart, and the sacrifice that of a broken and contrite spirit." - John MacDuff

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The thing he reprehends is the woman’s praying or prophesying uncovered, or the man’s doing either covered, Rom. 11:4, 5. To understand this, it must be observed that it was a signification either of shame or subjection for persons to be veiled, or covered, in the eastern countries, contrary to the custom of ours, where the being bare-headed betokens subjection, and being covered superiority and dominion. And this will help us the better to understand, The reasons on which he grounds his reprehension. 1. The man that prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonoureth his head, namely, Christ, the head of every man (Rom. 11:3), by appearing in a habit unsuitable to the rank in which God has placed him. Note, We should, even in our dress and habits, avoid every thing that may dishonour Christ. The woman, on the other hand, who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head, namely, the man, Rom. 11:3. She appears in the dress of her superior, and throws off the token of her subjection. She might, with equal decency, cut her hair short, or cut it close, which was the custom of the man in that age. This would be in a manner to declare that she was 391


desirous of changing sexes, a manifest affectation of that superiority which God had conferred on the other sex. And this was probably the fault of these prophetesses in the church of Corinth. It was doing a thing which, in that age of the world, betokened superiority, and therefore a tacit claim of what did not belong to them but the other sex. Note, The sexes should not affect to change places. The order in which divine wisdom has placed persons and things is best and fittest: to endeavour to amend it is to destroy all order, and introduce confusion. The woman should keep to the rank God has chosen for her, and not dishonour her head; for this, in the result, is to dishonour God. If she was made out of the man, and for the man, and made to be the glory of the man, she should do nothing, especially in public, that looks like a wish of having this order inverted. 2. Another reason against this conduct is that the man is the image and glory of God, the representative of that glorious dominion and headship which God has over the world. It is the man who is set at the head of this lower creation, and therein he bears the resemblance of God. The woman, on the other hand, is the glory of the man (Rom. 11:7): she is his representative. Not but she has dominion over the inferior creatures, as she is a partaker of human nature, and so far is God’s representative too, but it is at second-hand. She is the image of God, inasmuch as she is the image of the man: For the man was not made out of the woman, but the woman out of the man, Rom. 11:8. The man was first made, and made head of the creation here below, and therein the image of the divine dominion; and the woman was made out of the man, and shone with a reflection of his glory, being made superior to the other creatures here below, but in subjection to her husband, and deriving that honour from him out of whom she was made. 3. The woman was made for the man, to be his help-meet, and not the man for the woman. She was naturally, therefore, made subject to him, because made for him, for his use, and help, and comfort. And she who was intended to be always in subjection to the man should do nothing, in Christian assemblies, that looks like an affectation of equality. 4. She ought to have power on her head, because of the angels. Power, that is, a veil, the token, not of her having the power or superiority, but being under the power of her husband, subjected to him, and inferior to the other sex. Rebekah, when she met Isaac, and was delivering herself into his possession, put on her veil, in token of her subjection, Gen. 24:65. Thus would the apostle 392


have the women appear In Christian assemblies, even though they spoke there by inspiration, because of the angels, that is, say some, because of the evil angels. The woman was first in the transgression, being deceived by the devil (1 Tim. 2:14), which increased her subjection to man, Gen. 3:16. Now, believe evil angels will be sure to mix in all Christian assemblies, therefore should women wear the token of their shamefacedness and subjection, which in that age and country, was a veil. Others say because of the good angels. Jews and Christians have had an opinion that these ministering spirits are many of them present in their assemblies. Their presence should restrain Christians from all indecencies in the worship of God. Note, We should learn from all to behave in the public assemblies of divine worship so as to express a reverence for God, and a content and satisfaction with that rank in which he has placed us.

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1 CORINTHIANS 14:13 FROM THE BIBLE: "Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: In this paragraph he goes on to show how vain a thing the ostentation of speaking unknown and unintelligible language must be. It was altogether unedifying and unprofitable (1 Cor. 14:6): If I come to you speaking with tongues, what will it profit you, unless I speak to you by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? It would signify nothing to utter any of these in an unknown tongue. An apostle, with all his furniture, could not edify, unless he spoke to the capacity of his hearers. New revelations, the most clear explications of old ones, the most instructive discourses in themselves, would be unprofitable in a language not understood. Nay, interpretations of scripture made in an unknown tongue would need to be interpreted over again, before they could be of any use. I. He illustrates this by several allusions. 1. To a pipe and a harp playing always in one tone. Of what use can this be to those who are dancing? If there be no distinction of sounds, how should they order their steps or motions? Unintelligible language is like piping or harping without distinction of sounds: it gives no more direction how a man should order his conversation than a pipe with but one stop or a harp with but one string can direct a dancer how he should order his steps, 1 Cor. 14:7. 2. To a trumpet giving an uncertain sound, adelon phonen, a sound not manifest; either not the proper sound for the purpose, or not distinct enough to be 394


discerned from every other sound. If, instead of sounding on onset, it sounded a retreat, or sounded one knew not what, who would prepare for the battle? To talk in an unknown language in a Christian assembly is altogether as vain and to no purpose as for a trumpet to give no certain sound in the field or day of battle. The army in one case, and the congregation in the other, must be all in suspense, and at a perfect nonplus. To speak words that have no significancy to those who hear them is to leave them ignorant of what is spoken; it is speaking to the air, 1 Cor. 14:9. Words without a meaning can convey no notion nor instruction to the mind; and words not understood have no meaning with those who do not understand them: to talk to them in such language is to waste our breath. 3. He compares the speaking in an unknown tongue to the gibberish of barbarians. There are, as he says (1 Cor. 14:10), many kinds of voices in the world, none of which is without its proper signification. This is true of the several languages spoken by different nations. All of them have their proper signification. Without this they would be phonai aphonoi—a voice, and no voice. For that is no language, nor can it answer the end of speaking, which has no meaning. But whatever proper signification the words of any language may have in themselves, and to those who understand them, they are perfect gibberish to men of another language, who understand them not. In this case, speaker and hearers are barbarians to each other (1 Cor. 14:11), they talk and hear only sounds without sense; for this is to be a barbarian. For thus says the polite Ovid, when banished into Pontus, Barbarus hic ego sum, quia non intelligor ulli, I am a barbarian here, none understand me.To speak in the church in an unknown tongue is to talk gibberish; it is to play the barbarian; it is to confound the audience, instead of instructing them; and for this reason is utterly vain and unprofitable. II. Having thus established his point, in the two next verses he applies, 1. By advising them to be chiefly desirous of those gifts that were most for the church’s edification, 1 Cor. 14:12. “Forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, this way it will become commendable zeal, be zealous to edify the church, to promote Christian knowledge and practice, and covet those gifts most that will do the best service to men’s souls.” This is the great rule he gives, which, 2. He applies to the matter in hand, that, if they did speak a foreign language, 395


they should beg of God the gift of interpreting it, 1 Cor. 14:13. That these were different gifts, see 1 Cor. 12:10. Those might speak and understand a foreign language who could not readily translate it into their own: and yet was this necessary to the church’s edification; for the church must understand, that it might be edified, which yet it could not do till the foreign language was translated into its own. Let him therefore pray for the gift of interpreting what he speaks in an unknown tongue; or rather covet and ask of God the gift of interpreting than of speaking in a language that needs interpretation, this being most for the church’s benefit, and therefore among the gifts that excel; vide 1 Cor. 14:12. Some understand it, “Let him pray so as to interpret what he utters in prayer in a language unintelligible without it.” The sum is that they should perform all religious exercises in their assemblies so that all might join in them and profit by them. 3. He enforces this advice with a proper reason, that, if he prayed in an unknown tongue, his spirit might pray, that is, a spiritual gift might be exercised in prayer, or his own mind might be devoutly engaged, but his understanding would be unfruitful (1 Cor. 14:14), that is, the sense and meaning of his words would be unfruitful, he would not be understood, nor therefore would others join with him in his devotions. Note, It should be the concern of such as pray in public to pray intelligibly, not in a foreign language, nor in a language that, if it be not foreign, is above the level of his audience. Language that is most obvious and easy to be understood is the most proper for public devotion and other religious exercises.

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1 CORINTHIANS 14:14 FROM THE BIBLE: "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer [is] the genesis of revival. The beginning of a time of revival invariably has been marked by quickening of the ordinary prayer meetings, resulting in new vitality, more participation, more sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and more unction in intercession." - Erroll Hulse

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Having thus established his point, in the two next verses he applies, 1. By advising them to be chiefly desirous of those gifts that were most for the church’s edification, 1 Cor. 14:12. “Forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, this way it will become commendable zeal, be zealous to edify the church, to promote Christian knowledge and practice, and covet those gifts most that will do the best service to men’s souls.” This is the great rule he gives, which, 2. He applies to the matter in hand, that, if they did speak a foreign language, they should beg of God the gift of interpreting it, 1 Cor. 14:13. That these were different gifts, see 1 Cor. 12:10. Those might speak and understand a foreign language who could not readily translate it into their own: and yet was this necessary to the church’s edification; for the church must understand, that it might be edified, which yet it could not do till the foreign language was translated into its own. Let him therefore pray for the gift of interpreting what he speaks in an unknown tongue; or rather covet and ask of God the gift of interpreting than of speaking in a language that needs interpretation, this being most for the church’s benefit, and therefore among the gifts that excel; vide 1 Cor. 14:12. Some understand it, “Let him pray so as to interpret what he utters in prayer in a language unintelligible without it.” The sum is that they should perform all religious exercises in their assemblies so that all might join in them and profit by them.

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3. He enforces this advice with a proper reason, that, if he prayed in an unknown tongue, his spirit might pray, that is, a spiritual gift might be exercised in prayer, or his own mind might be devoutly engaged, but his understanding would be unfruitful (1 Cor. 14:14), that is, the sense and meaning of his words would be unfruitful, he would not be understood, nor therefore would others join with him in his devotions. Note, It should be the concern of such as pray in public to pray intelligibly, not in a foreign language, nor in a language that, if it be not foreign, is above the level of his audience. Language that is most obvious and easy to be understood is the most proper for public devotion and other religious exercises.

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1 CORINTHIANS 14:15 FROM THE BIBLE: "What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "All revival begins, and continues, in the prayer meeting. Some have also called prayer the "great fruit of revival." In times of revival, thousands may be found on their knees for hours, lifting up their heartfelt cries, with thanksgiving, to heaven." - Henry T. Blackaby

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The apostle here sums up the argument hitherto, and, Directs them how they should sing and pray in public (1 Cor. 14:15): What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. I will sing with the spirit, etc. He does not forbid their praying or singing under a divine afflatus, or when they were inspired for this purpose, or had such a spiritual gift communicated to them; but he would have them perform both so as to be understood by others, that others might join with them. Note, Public worship should be performed so as to be understood.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER Stonewall Jackson In General "Stonewall Jackson", God found a true man who would stand in the gap. Both strong and tender, the motto of his life was, "Lord what wilt thou have me to do?" As fervent in the field of battle, so was Jackson on his knees in prayer. "He was a man of prayer, accustomed in all he did to ask the divine blessing and guidance. His aid said that he could always tell when a battle was near at hand by seeing the General get up a great many times in the night to pray." General Jackson did not simply pray, he fervently prayed. The following story gives us some insight in the passion of his prayers. It was told the Rev. William Brown, "the truth is sir, that 'old Jack' (Jackson) is crazy. Why, I frequently meet him out in the woods walking back and forth muttering to himself incoherent sentences and gesturing wildly, at such times he seems utterly oblivious of my presence and of everything else." "A friend was once conversing with Jackson about the difficulty of obeying the scripture injunction, 'pray without ceasing,' and Jackson insisted that we could so accustom ourselves to it, that it could be easily obeyed. When we take our meals there is the grace. When I take a drink of water, I always pause, as my palate receives the refreshment, to lift up my heart to God in thanks and prayer for the water of life. Whenever I drop a letter into the box at the post office I send a petition along with it for God's blessings upon its mission and upon the person to whom it is sent. When I break the seal of a letter just received I stop to pray to God that He may prepare me for its contents and make it a message of good. When I go to my classroom and await the arrangement of the cadets in their places, that is my time to intercede with God for them. And so of every other familiar act of the day." Though a man of superior abilities, Jackson humbly recognized his need for JESUS in everything he did. As a general in the Confederate Army, "Stonewall Jackson" had a profound influence over his men. It was his holy and prayerful example that contributed to the great revival among the Southern troops. By midsummer of 1863, revival had spread to all the Confederate armies. A chaplain of the 26th Alabama Regiment said that his unit alone averaged 100 converts a week for several 400


weeks. During this same time another chaplain declared that, 'modern history presents no example of an army so nearly converted. A third of all soldiers in the field were men of prayer and members of some fellowship. J. W. Jones suggested that 150,000 conversions took place in Lee's Army alone. It was this revival that no doubt prepared the South for the humiliation that was to follow their eventual defeat, but best of all the revival prepared thousands of young and old alike to meet Christ in eternity. Truly, General Jackson impacted our history through the power of prayer. What is our greatest need today in our morally fallen nation? We need a tenacious, tender, tearful and Holy Ghost bold army of true MEN! Oh God, make us MEN!

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'HELPING BY PRAYER': 2 CORINTHIANS 1:11 FROM THE BIBLE: Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Can Jesus Christ see the agony of His soul in us? He can't unless we are so closely identified with Him that we have His view concerning the people for whom we pray. May we learn to intercede so wholeheartedly that Jesus Christ will be completely and overwhelmingly satisfied with us as intercessors. -Oswald Chambers

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: What was desired of the Corinthians upon this account: That they would help together by prayer for them (2 Cor. 1:11), by social prayer, agreeing and joining together in prayer on their behalf. Note, our trusting in God must not supersede the use of any proper and appointed means; and prayer is one of those means. We should pray for ourselves and for one another. The apostle had himself a great interest in the throne of grace, yet he desires the help of others’ prayers. If we thus help one another by our prayers, we may hope for an occasion of giving thanks by many for answer of prayer. And it is our duty not only to help one another with prayer, but in praise and thanksgiving, and thereby to make suitable returns for benefits received.

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'PRAYER FOR YOU': 2 CORINTHIANS 9:12-14 FROM THE BIBLE: For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: At Waterloo, the English troops obeying orders fell on their faces for a time and let the hot fire of the French artillery pass over them. Then they sprang to their feet and rushed to the thickest of the fight and beat back their foes. The Lord wants His people flat on their faces, before they attempt to meet the great crises of life. --A. T. Pierson

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Those whose wants were supplied would make the best return they were able, by sending up many prayers to God for those who had relieved them, 2 Cor. 9:14. And thus should we recompense the kindnesses we receive when we are not in a capacity of recompensing them in any other way; and, as this is the only recompence the poor can make, so it is often greatly for the advantage of the rich.

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‘DO NO EVIL’: 2 CORINTHIANS 13:7 FROM THE BIBLE: "Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "A great emphasis in prayer is what God desires to do in us. He desires to get us under His loving authority, dependent on His Spirit, walking in the Light, motivated by His love, and living for His glory. The collective essence of these five truths is an abandonment of one’s life to the Lord and a continual openness, dependence, and responsiveness to His loving control." - Bill Thrasher

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here we have, I. The apostle’s prayer to God on the behalf of the Corinthians, that they might do no evil, 2 Cor. 13:7. This is the most desirable thing we can ask of God, both for ourselves and for our friends, to be kept from sin, that we and they may do no evil; and it is most needful that we often pray to God for his grace to keep us, because without this we cannot keep ourselves. We are more concerned to pray that we may not do evil than that we may not suffer evil. II. The reasons why the apostle put up this prayer to God on behalf of the Corinthians, which reasons have a special reference to their case, and the subject-matter about which he was writing to them. Observe, he tells them, 1. It was not so much for his own personal reputation as for the honour of religion: “Not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honest, or decent, and for the credit of religion, though we should be reproached and vilified, and accounted as reprobates,” 2 Cor. 13:7. Note, (1.) The great desire of faithful ministers of the gospel is that the gospel they preach may be honoured, however their persons may be vilified.

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(2.) The best way to adorn our holy religion is to do that which is honest, and of good report, to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ. 2. Another reason was this: that they might be free from all blame and censure when he should come to them. This is intimated in 2 Cor. 13:8; We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. If therefore they did not do evil, nor act contrary to their profession of the gospel, the apostle had no power nor authority to punish them. He had said before (2 Cor. 10:8) and says here (2 Cor. 13:10) that the power which the Lord had given him was to edification, not to destruction; so that, although the apostle had great powers committed to him for the credit and advancement of the gospel, yet he could not do anything to the disparagement of the truth, nor the discouragement of those who obeyed it. He could not, that is, he would not, he dared not, he had no commission to act against the truth; and it is remarkable how the apostle did rejoice in this blessed impotency: “We are glad,” says he (2 Cor. 13:9), “when we are weak and you are strong; that is, that we have no power to censure those who are strong in faith and fruitful in good works.” Some understand this passage thus: “Though we are weak through persecutions and contempt, we bear it patiently, and also joyfully, while we see that you are strong, that you are prosperous in holiness, and persevering in well-doing.” For, 3. He desired their perfection (2 Cor. 13:9); that is, that they might be sincere, and aim at perfection (sincerity is our gospel-perfection), or else he wished there might be a thorough reformation among them. He not only desired that they might be kept from sin, but also that they might grow in grace, and increase in holiness, and that all that was amiss among them might be rectified and reformed. This was the great end of his writing this epistle, and that freedom he used with them by writing these things (those friendly admonitions and warnings), being absent, that so, being present, he should not use sharpness (2 Cor. 13:10), that is, not proceed to the utmost extremity in the exercise of the power which the Lord had given him as an apostle, to revenge all disobedience, 2 Cor. 10:6.

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Let Us Pray Steven Curtis Chapman I hear you say your heart is aching You've got trouble in the making And you ask if I'll be praying for you please And in keeping with convention I'll say yes with good intentions To pray later making mention of your needs But since we have this moment here at heaven's door We should start knocking now, what are we waiting for? Let us pray, let us pray, everywhere in every way Every moment of the day, it is the right time For the Father above, He is listening with love And He wants to answer us, so let us pray So when we feel the Spirit moving Prompting, prodding and behooving There is no time to be losing, let us pray Let the Father hear us saying What we need to be conveying Even while this song is playing, let us pray And just because we say the word, "Amen" It doesn't mean this conversation needs to end Let us pray, let us pray, everywhere in every way Every moment of the day, it is the right time Let us pray without end and when we finish start again Like breathing out and breathing in, let us pray Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence As our prayers draw us near To the One who knows our needs Before we even call His name Let us pray, let us pray, everywhere in every way Every moment of the day, it is the right time For the Father above, He is listening with love And He wants to answer us, so let us pray 406


'ALL PRAYER': EPHESIANS 6:18-20 FROM THE BIBLE: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: As a sound may dislodge an avalanche, so the prayer of faith sets in motion the power of God. --Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We must join prayer with all these graces, for our defence against these spiritual enemies, imploring help and assistance of God, as the case requires: and we must pray always. Not as though we were to do nothing else but pray, for there are other duties of religion and of our respective stations in the world that are to be done in their place and season; but we should keep up constant times of prayer, and be constant to them. We must pray upon all occasions, and as often as our own and others’ necessities call us to it. We must always keep up a disposition to prayer, and should intermix ejaculatory prayers with other duties, and with common business. Though set and solemn prayer may sometimes be unseasonable (as when other duties are to be done), yet pious ejaculations can never be so. We must pray with all prayer and supplication, with all kinds of prayer: public, private, and secret, social and solitary, solemn and sudden; with all the parts of prayer: confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgivings for favours received. We must pray in the Spirit; our spirits must be employed in the duty and we must do it by the grace of God’s good Spirit. We must watch thereunto, endeavouring to keep our hearts in a praying frame, and taking all occasions, and improving all opportunities, for the duty: we must watch to all the motions of our own hearts towards the duty. When God says, Seek my face, our hearts must comply, Ps. 27:8. This we must do with all perseverance. We must abide by the duty of prayer, whatever change there may be in our outward circumstances; and we must continue in it as long as we live in the world. We must persevere in a particular prayer; not cutting it short, when our hearts are disposed to enlarge, and there is time for 407


it, and our occasions call for it. We must likewise persevere in particular requests, notwithstanding some present discouragements and repulses. And we must pray with supplication, not for ourselves only, but for all saints; for we are members one of another. Observe, None are so much saints, and in so good a condition in this world, but they need our prayers, and they ought to have them. The apostle passes hence to the conclusion of the epistle.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER J.H. Weber Are we truly Spirit-filled Christians? Does the term "Spirit-filled" describe our doctrine or our devotion? Samuel Chadwick described the fullness of the Spirit in the following way: "Spirit filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They serve with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the fire of God." The revivalist J. H Weber is a true example of this burning Baptism. His life was distinctly marked by the Holy Spirit's urgency, zeal, and compassion. Yet the most striking feature of Mr. Weber's ministry was not so much his message of methods, it was the fact that he had actually become the message. He warned the sinner and saint alike of the eternal danger of rejecting the love of Jesus Christ. His life was literally a burning trumpet call to repentance toward God. J. H. Weber's ministry brought men to the valley of decision. His plain preaching forced men to choose between "death and victory," the self-life or the Christ-life. On one occasion when Mr. Weber was preaching on the Judgement Seat of Christ, "the people became terrified and some came very near rushing to the altar before the sermon was done. When the invitation was given it seemed a race as to who should get there first. The altar and front seats were crowded with earnest seekers. The presence of God filled the place..." Rev. Bennett Mitchel describes another revival scene: "The entire community was greatly stirred. The house was packed from the first to the last service. The devil raged. Men got mad. Some wanted to whip (Mr. Weber), others to tar and feather him. Others stood aghast with mute astonishment, while many came to the Lord and were saved. For the first week his preaching was directed to the church, and he scored the Christian people almost unmercifully. This was fun for the irreligious. They greatly rejoiced while he exposed hypocrisy and denounced the sins in the church. But he suddenly turned attention to them. Some of them were maddened, some slunk away in shame, while many were subdued and brought penitently to the cross. In the congregation men 409


would threaten to strike him, when he would calmly look them in the face and say, 'You dare not do it, I am in God's hands,' and then put his arms around them and pray for them. Women would threaten to spit in his face, but he heeded it not, and persisted in pleading with and praying for them. He visited every family in the town and prayed in nearly every home." Like all true revivalists, J. H Weber's ministry transformed whole communities. Often in the midst of a revival he would march through the town with hundreds of believers following him singing and praising God. "Saloon keepers trembled, businessmen feared; but God was in it." When Mr. Weber led left the town, the church was revived and the last saloon was closed. In 1884, Mr. Weber wrote in his journal: "Began this year as the previous one, on my knees in the he house of God." J. H Weber was a man who knew the necessity of fervent knee-work. He fasted often, spending whole nights in travailing prayer. When Satan raged or people resisted, Mr. Weber's solution was always the same, to cling to Jesus in prayer. At times he would lay in his tent and pray by the hour, often resulting in a wave of salvation prostrating entire congregations. Because God found a man who would pray, literally thousands were brought to Christ, broken and crying for mercy. Who among us has seen such glorious events and how many of us yearn to see such things? Have we become content with a nominal and entertaining Christianity? If not, then let us give ourselves to true travailing prayer. For until we get on our knees, we are nothing less than unconcerned and insincere regarding revival. God have mercy and help us to see our great need for a genuine move of the Holy Spirit.

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'EVERY PRAYER': PHILIPPIANS 1:3-4 FROM THE BIBLE: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all. --Dwight L Moody

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Paul remembered them in prayer: Always in every prayer of mine for you all, Phil. 1:4. The best remembrance of our friends is to remember them at the throne of grace. Paul was much in prayer for his friends, for all his friends, for these particularly. It should seem, by this manner of expression, that he mentioned at the throne of grace the several churches he was interested in and concerned for particularly and by name. He had seasons of prayer for the church at Philippi. God gives us leave to be thus free with him, though, for our comfort, he knows whom we mean when we do not name them.

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‘ABOUNDING

LOVE’:

PHILIPPIANS 1:9

FROM THE BIBLE: "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Believers do not pray with the view of informing God about things unknown to Him, or of exciting Him to do His duty, or of urging Him as though He were reluctant. On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse to seek Him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on His promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into His bosom; in a word, that they may declare that from Him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things." - John Calvin

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: These verses contain the prayers he put up for them. Paul often let his friends know what it was he begged of God for them, that they might know what to beg for themselves and be directed in their own prayers, and that they might be encouraged to hope they should receive from God the quickening, strengthening, everlasting, comforting grace, which so powerful an intercessor as Paul asked of God for them. It is an encouragement to us to know that we are prayed for by our friends, who, we have reason to think, have an interest at the throne of grace. It was intended likewise for their direction in their walk, and that they might labour to answer his prayers for them; for by this it would appear that God had answered them. Paul, in praying thus for them, expected good concerning them. It is an inducement to us to do our duty, that we may not disappoint the expectations of praying friends and ministers. He prayed, 1. That they might be a loving people, and that good affections might abound among them; That your love might abound yet more and more. He means it of their love to God, and one another, and all men. Love is the fulfilling both of the law and of the gospel. Observe, Those who abound much in any grace have still need to abound more and more, because there is still something wanting in it and we are imperfect in our best attainments.

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2. That they might be a knowing and judicious people: that love might abound in knowledge and in all judgment. It is not a blind love that will recommend us to God, but a love grounded upon knowledge and judgment. We must love God because of his infinite excellence and loveliness, and love our brethren because of what we see of the image of God upon them. Strong passions, without knowledge and a settled judgment, will not make us complete in the will of God, and sometimes do more hurt than good. The Jews had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, and were transported by it to violence and rage, Rom. 10:2; John 16:2. 3. That they might be a discerning people. This would be the effect of their knowledge and judgment: That you may approve the things which are excellent (Phil. 1:10); or, as it is in the margin, Try the things which differ; eis to dokimazein humas ta diapheronta, that we may approve the things which are excellent upon the trial of them, and discern their difference from other things. Observe, The truths and laws of Christ are excellent things; and it is necessary that we every one approve them, and esteem them such. We only need to try them, to approve of them; and they will easily recommend themselves to any searching and discerning mind. 4. That they might be an honest upright-hearted people: That you may be sincere. Sincerity is our gospel perfection, that in which we should have our conversation in the world, and which is the glory of all our graces. When the eye is single, when we are inward with God in what we do, are really what we appear to be, and mean honestly, then we are sincere. 5. That they might be an inoffensive people: that you may be without offence until the day of Christ; not apt to take offence; and very careful not to give offence to God or their brethren, to live in all good conscience before God (Acts 23:1), and to exercise ourselves to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men, Acts 24:16. And we must continue to the end blameless, that we may be presented so at the day of Christ. He will present the church without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27), and present believers faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude 1:24. 6. That they might be a fruitful useful people (Phil. 1:11): Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, etc. From God is our fruit found, and therefore from him it must be asked. The fruits of righteousness are the evidences and effects of our sanctification, the duties of holiness springing from a renewed 413


heart, the root of the matter in us. Being filled with them. Observe, Those who do much good should still endeavour to do more. The fruits of righteousness, brought forth for the glory of God and edification of his church, should really fill us, and wholly take us up. Fear not being emptied by bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, for you will be filled with them. These fruits are by Jesus Christ, by his strength and grace, for without him we can do nothing. He is the root of the good olive, from which it derives its fatness. We are strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1) and strengthened with might by his Spirit (Eph. 3:16), and they are unto the glory and praise of God. We must not aim at our own glory in our fruitfulness, but at the praise and glory of God, that God may be glorified in all things (1 Pet. 4:11), and whatsoever we do we must do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. 10:31. It is much for the honour of God, when Christians not only are good, but do good, and abound in good works.

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'SALVATION THROUGH YOUR PRAYER': PHILIPPIANS 1:19-20 FROM THE BIBLE: For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: It is not enough for the believer to begin to pray, nor to pray correctly; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray. We must patiently, believingly continue in prayer until we obtain an answer. Further, we have not only to continue in prayer until the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing. who are disciples of the Lord Jesus should labor with all their might in the work of God as if everything depended upon their own endeavors. Yet, having done so, they should not in the least trust in their labor and efforts, nor in the means that they use for the spread of the truth, but in God alone; and they should with all earnestness seek the blessing of God in persevering, patient, and believing prayer. Here is the great secret of success, my Christian reader. Work with all your might, but never trust in your work. Pray with all your might for the blessing in God, but work at the same time with all diligence, with all patience, with all perseverance. Pray, then. And so on, all the days of your life. The result will surely be abundant blessing. Whether you see much fruit or little fruit, such kind of service will be blessed. --George Muller

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Because it tended to the salvation of the souls of men: I know that this shall turn to my salvation, Phil. 1:19. Observe, God can bring good out of evil; and what does not turn to the salvation of the ministers may yet, by the grace of God, be made to turn to the salvation of the people. What reward can those expect who preach Christ out of strife, and envy, and contention, and to add affliction to a faithful minister’s bonds? who preach in pretence, and not in 415


truth? And yet even this may turn to the salvation of others; and Paul’s rejoicing in it turned to his salvation too. This is one of the things which accompany salvation—to be able to rejoice that Christ is preached, though it be to the diminution of us and our reputation. This noble spirit appeared in John the Baptist, at the first public preaching of Christ: “This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease, John 3:29, 30. Let him shine, though I be obscured; and his glory be exalted, though upon my ruins.” Others understand this expression of the malice of his enemies being defeated, and contributing towards his deliverance from his confinement. Through your prayers, and the supply of the Spirit of Christ. Note, Whatever turns to our salvation is by the supply or the aids and assistance of the Spirit of Christ; and prayer is the appointed means of fetching in that supply. The prayers of the people may bring a supply of the Spirit to their ministers, to support them in suffering, as well as in preaching the gospel.

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'CAREFUL FOR NOTHING': PHILIPPIANS 4:6 FROM THE BIBLE: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: The childish idea that prayer is a handle by which we can take hold of God and obtain whatever we desire, leads to easy disillusionment with both what we had thought to be God and what we had thought to be prayer. --Robert L Short

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here is a caution against disquieting perplexing care (Phil. 4:6): Be careful for nothing—meden merimnate: the same expression with that Matt. 6:25; Take no thought for your life; that is, avoid anxious care and distracting thought in the wants and difficulties of life. Observe, It is the duty and interest of Christians to live without care. There is a care of diligence which is our duty, and consists in a wise forecast and due concern; but there is a care of diffidence and distrust which is our sin and folly, and which only perplexes and distracts the mind. “Be careful for nothing, so as by your care to distrust God, and unfit yourselves for his service.” VI. As a sovereign antidote against perplexing care he recommends to us constant prayer: In every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Observe, 1. We must not only keep up stated times for prayer, but we must pray upon every particular emergency: In every thing by prayer. When any thing burdens our spirits, we must ease our minds by prayer; when our affairs are perplexed or distressed, we must seek direction and support. 2. We must join thanksgiving with our prayers and supplications. We must not only seek supplies of good, but own receipts of mercy. Grateful acknowledgments of what we have argue a right disposition of mind, and are prevailing motives for further blessings. 3. Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God, or making them known to him: Let your requests be made known to God. Not that God needs to be told either our 417


wants or desires; for he knows them better than we can tell him: but he will know them from us, and have us show our regards and concern, express our value of the mercy and sense of our dependence on him. 4. The effect of this will be the peace of God keeping our hearts, Phil. 4:7. The peace of God, that is, the comfortable sense of our reconciliation to God and interest in his favour, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, and enjoyment of God hereafter, which passeth all understanding, is a great good than can be sufficiently valued or duly expressed. It has not entered into the heart of ham, 1 Cor. 2:9. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under our troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and sedate, without discomposure of passion, and with inward satisfaction. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, Isa. 26:3.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER Uncle John Vassar Uncle John Vassar was never content with anything less than true Christianity. First and foremost he was a loyal lover of Jesus. John Vassar was known as the Apostle of Personal Evangelism because of his fervent and constant witness to the Savior's worth. Loving Jesus was his principle, his passion and his one antidote against every sin. "One day he came out of a church where a noted minister had preached, and with a grieved, disappointed look and a quivering voice he said, 'Oh he never mentioned the name of Jesus once.'" "Deeper than the love of home, deeper than the love of kindred, deeper than the love of country, aye, deeper than the love of life, was his affection for that Redeemer who had first loved him and given Himself for him. He did not talk so much of heaven as many Christians do. He talked of being with the Lord and like Him." Out of John Vassar's tender love for Christ grew what was probably the most prominent feature of his life - a constant habit of prayer. A close friend of his describes for us his fervency in prayer. "He absolutely prayed day and night. I have roomed with him night after night, and I rarely went to sleep without hearing him at prayer, or awoke without finding him at prayer. He seldom, if ever, came into my house or study that he did not propose a season of prayer. . ." Uncle John Vassar's gift of prayer manifested itself along roadsides, in shops and in homes. Wherever a need could be found John Vassar could be found praying. A. J. Gordon, the famous Spirit-filled minister of the 19th, century recalls Vassar's prayer life. "When he came occasionally to work among my flock, he at once took the whole church and people on his heart and began to travail for them in prayer, as though his very life depended on the issue. This intercession continued night and day with tears. He never said he had prayed all night, but I could hear him again and again breaking forth in the darkness with strong crying unto God. I know what the burden was, it was this congregation, strangers to him till today. It was this flock, not one of whom he had ever seen till now. This habitual prayerfulness was something so wonderful that I wish to emphasize it as furnishing the true secret of his life."

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Callused knees produce courageous hearts. Uncle John Vassar's prayer habits made him a man of great faith. "He did not believe simply in the God of ages ago. He believed in the God of today. He could not be persuaded that the wonderworking Spirit finished His operations at Pentecost. He could not be convinced that the supernatural was no longer to be looked for. He would get a church or a schoolhouse open, and then invite people out. Almost invariably a revival would commence. Often God would triumph gloriously. Converts would be multiplied. There would be apostolic work because it was underlaid and pushed with apostolic faith." John Vassar's zeal and consecration were so intense that it often astonished and offended those who called themselves "Christians". "Despised, rebuffed, and persecuted he held right on meekly and joyfully, in his simple and faithful way with his little worn New Testament in hand and his single eye fixed on Jesus. Coldness and insults were nothing to him, save that they made him sad for other's sake. No harshness could quench the ardor of his affection." Uncle John Vassar's life displays for us the balance of zeal mixed with mercy and passion mixed with patience. Many within the modern Church have strayed, believing that they can choose between such things, pursuing one virtue while neglecting others. If our churches are to meet the needs at hand, we must, like John Vassar, first be lovers of Jesus given to constant prayer. Second, we must receive joyfully ALL that the Master has laid before us, absolute holiness and joy, purity and patient love. The Church must become one with Christ, balanced with both His goodness and severity.

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COLOSSIANS 1:9 FROM THE BIBLE: "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer can do." - C.H. Spurgeon

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: The apostle proceeds in these verses to pray for them. He heard that they were good, and he prayed that they might be better. He was constant in this prayer: We do not cease to pray for you. It may be he could hear of them but seldom, but he constantly prayed for them.—And desire that you may be filled with the knowledge, etc.

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'CONTINUE

IN

PRAYER': COLOSSIANS 4:2

FROM THE BIBLE: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: I have resolved to pray more and pray always, to pray in all places where quietness inviteth, in the house, on the highway, and on the street; and to know no street or passage in this city that may not witness that I have not forgotten God. --Sir Thomas Browne

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: If this be considered as connected with the foregoing verse, then we may observe that it is part of the duty which masters owe their servants to pray with them, and to pray daily with them, or continue in prayer. They must not only do justly and kindly by them, but act a Christian and religious part, and be concerned for their souls as well as their bodies: “As parts of your charge, and under your influence, be concerned for the blessing of God upon them, as well as the success of your affairs in their hands.” And this is the duty of every one—to continue in prayer. “Keep up your constant times of prayer, without being diverted from it by other business; keep your hearts close to the duty, without wandering or deadness, and even to the end of it: Watching the same.” Christians should lay hold of all opportunities for prayer, and choose the fittest seasons, which are least liable to disturbance from other things, and keep their minds lively in the duty, and in suitable frames.—With thanksgiving, or solemn acknowledgment of the mercies received. Thanksgiving must have a part in every prayer.—Withal praying also for us, Col. 4:3. The people must pray particularly for their ministers, and bear them upon their hearts at all times at the throne of grace. As if he had said, “Do not forget us, whenever you pray for yourselves,”

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Pray On Babbie Mason

Pray On Babbie Mason

The army of Juda The was army paralyzed by fear of Juda was paralyzed by fear When they mighty multitude was quickly drawing near near Whenheard theyaheard a mighty multitude was quickly drawing But as they prayed for Butdeliverance as they prayed for deliverance The victory would begin The victory would begin For when wewhen call upon Lord, summon all of Heaven For we callthe upon thewe Lord, we summon all of Heaven Chorus CHORUS Pray on Pray on For you are who the ForLord you is arelooking who theforLord is looking for Pray on Pray on For this will tear those mighty strongholds For this will tear those mightydown strongholds down Stay on your knees for this is where theis battle won Stay on your knees for this whereisthe battle is won Very soon you'll win victory, on victory, pray on Verythe soon you'llpray win the When Daniel faced the lions the Lord the Lord When Daniel facedfor theworshipping lions for worshipping It seemed there was no hope at all for what would be in store It seemed there was no hope at all for what would be in store But when stand holy our smallest prayerprayer is heard But we when we on stand onground holy ground our smallest is heard Instead ofInstead on our circumstance our eyes are theare Lord of on our circumstance ouron eyes on the Lord Chorus When your questions go unanswered Pray on And your prayers may seem in vain For you are who theThey Lorddon't is looking formake a difference seem to Pray on They don't seem to make a change For this will tear those mighty stongholds downyour needs Just rest assured God knows Stay on your knees for thisHe is hears whereeach the battle is won And time you pray Very soon winare thereaching victory,Heaven pray onand the answers on the way Youryou'll prayers When your questions go unanswered And your prayers may seem in vain They don't seem to make a difference They don't seem to make a change Just rest assured God knows your needs And He hears each time you pray Your prayers are reaching Heaven and the answers on the way Chorus 423


1 THESSALONIANS 5:17 FROM THE BIBLE: "Pray without ceasing."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Prayer gives you opportunity to praise God and to request His divine intervention in your life and/or the lives of others. Prayer allows you to glorify His Name and also provides an avenue for you to be filled with joy." - Biblical Counseling Foundation

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here we have divers short exhortations, that will not burden our memories, but will be of great use to direct the motions of our hearts and lives; for the duties are of great importance, and we may observe how they are connected together, and have a dependence upon one another. 1. Rejoice evermore, 1 Thess. 5:16. This must be understood of spiritual joy; for we must rejoice in our creature-comforts as if we rejoiced not, and must not expect to live many years, and rejoice in them all; but, if we do rejoice in God, we may do that evermore. In him our joy will be full; and it is our fault if we have not a continual feast. If we are sorrowful upon any worldly account, yet still we may always rejoice, 2 Cor. 6:10. Note, A religious life is a pleasant life, it is a life of constant joy. 2. Pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. 5:17. Note, The way to rejoice evermore is to pray without ceasing. We should rejoice more if we prayed more. We should keep up stated times for prayer, and continue instant in prayer. We should pray always, and not faint: pray without weariness, and continue in prayer, till we come to that world where prayer shall be swallowed up in praise. The meaning is not that men should do nothing but pray, but that nothing else we do should hinder prayer in its proper season. Prayer will help forward and not hinder all other lawful business, and every good work. 3. In every thing give thanks, 1 Thess. 5:18. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. As we must in every thing make our requests known to God by supplications, so we must not omit 424


thanksgiving, Phil. 4:6. We should be thankful in every condition, even in adversity as well as prosperity. It is never so bad with us but it might be worse. If we have ever so much occasion to make our humble complaints to God, we never can have any reason to complain of God, and have always much reason to praise and give thanks: the apostle says, This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us, that we give thanks, seeing God is reconciled to us in Christ Jesus; in him, through him, and for his sake, he allows us to rejoice evermore, and appoints us in every thing to give thanks. It is pleasing to God. 4. Quench not the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), for it is this Spirit of grace and supplication that helpeth our infirmities, that assisteth us in our prayers and thanksgivings. Christians are said to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He worketh as fire, by enlightening, enlivening, and purifying the souls of men. We must be careful not to quench this holy fire. As fire is put out by withdrawing fuel, so we quench the Spirit if we do not stir up our spirits, and all that is within us, to comply with the motions of the good Spirit; and as fire is quenched by pouring water, or putting a great quantity of dirt upon it, so we must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit by indulging carnal lusts and affections, or minding only earthly things. 5. Despise not prophesyings (1 Thess. 5:20); for, if we neglect the means of grace, we forfeit the Spirit of grace. By prophesyings here we are to understand the preaching of the word, the interpreting and applying of the scriptures; and this we must not despise, but should prize and value, because it is the ordinance of God, appointed of him for our furtherance and increase in knowledge and grace, in holiness and comfort. We must not despise preaching, though it be plain, and not with enticing words of men’s wisdom, and though we be told no more than what we knew before. It is useful, and many times needful, to have our minds stirred up, our affections and resolutions excited, to those things that we knew before to be our interest and our duty. 6. Prove all things, but hold fast that which is good, 1 Thess. 5:21. This is a needful caution, to prove all things; for, though we must put a value on preaching, we must not take things upon trust from the preacher, but try them by the law and the testimony. We must search the scriptures, whether what they say be true or not. We must not believe every spirit, but must try the spirits. But we must not be always trying, always unsettled; no, at length we must be settled, and hold fast that which is good. When we are satisfied that any thing is right, and true, and good, we must hold it fast, and not let it go, whatever 425


opposition or whatever persecution we meet with for the sake thereof. Note, The doctrines of human infallibility, implicit faith, and blind obedience, are not the doctrines of the Bible. Every Christian has and ought to have, the judgment of discretion, and should have his senses exercised in discerning between good and evil, truth and falsehood, Heb. 5:13, 14. And proving all things must be in order to holding fast that which is good. We must not always be seekers, or fluctuating in our minds, like children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. 7. Abstain from all appearance of evil, 1 Thess. 5:22. This is a good means to prevent our being deceived with false doctrines, or unsettled in our faith; for our Saviour has told us (John 7:17), If a man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God. Corrupt affections indulged in the heart, and evil practices allowed of in the life, will greatly tend to promote fatal errors in the mind; whereas purity of heart, and integrity of life, will dispose men to receive the truth in the love of it. We should therefore abstain from evil, and all appearances of evil, from sin, and that which looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of sin, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to sin, will not long abstain from the actual commission of sin.

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1 THESSALONIANS 5:23 FROM THE BIBLE: "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "By fasting, the body learns to obey the soul; by praying the soul learns to command the body." - William Secker

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: In these words, which conclude this epistle, observe, I. Paul’s prayer for them, 1 Thess. 5:23. He had told them, in the beginning of this epistle, that he always made mention of them in his prayers; and, now that he is writing to them, he lifts up his heart to God in prayer for them. Take notice, 1. To whom the apostle prays, namely, The very God of peace. He is the God of grace, and the God of peace and love. He is the author of peace and lover of concord; and by their peaceableness and unity, from God as the author, those things would best be obtained which he prays for. 2. The things he prays for on behalf of the Thessalonians are their sanctification, that God would sanctify them wholly; and their preservation, that they might be preserved blameless. He prays that they may be wholly sanctified, that the whole man may be sanctified, and then that the whole man, spirit, soul, and body, may be preserved: or, he prays that they may be wholly sanctified, that is, more perfectly, for the best are sanctified but in part while in this world; and therefore we should pray for and press towards complete sanctification. Where the good work of grace is begun, it shall be carried on, be protected and preserved; and all those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus shall be preserved to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And because, if God did not carry on his good work in the soul, it would miscarry, we should pray to God to perfect his work, and preserve us blameless, free from sin and impurity, till at length we are presented faultless before the throne of his glory with exceeding joy.

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1 THESSALONIANS 5:25 FROM THE BIBLE: "Brethren, pray for us."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer." - Oswald Chambers

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: His request of their prayers: Brethren, pray for us, 1 Thess. 5:25. We should pray for one another; and brethren should thus express brotherly love. This great apostle did not think it beneath him to call the Thessalonians brethren, nor to request their prayers. Ministers stand in need of their people’s prayers; and the more people pray for their ministers the more good ministers may have from God, and the more benefit people may receive by their ministry.

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2 THESSALONIANS 1:11 FROM THE BIBLE: "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "[We pray] not to inform God or instruct Him but to beseech Him closely, to be made intimate with Him, by continuance in supplication; to be humbled; to be reminded of our sins." - John Chrysostom

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: In these verses the apostle again tells the Thessalonians of his earnest and constant prayer for them. He could not be present with them, yet he had a constant remembrance of them; they were much upon his thoughts; he wished them well, and could not express his good-will and good wishes to them better than in earnest constant prayer to God for them: Wherefore also we pray, etc. Note, The believing thoughts and expectation of the second coming of Christ should put us upon prayer to God for ourselves and others. We should watch and pray, so our Saviour directs his disciples (Luke 21:36), Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. Observe, I. What the apostle prayed for, 2 Thess. 1:11. It is a great concern to be well instructed what to pray for; and without divine instruction we know not what to pray for, as without divine assistance we shall not pray in such a manner as we ought. Our prayers should be suitable to our expectations. Thus the apostle prays for them, 1. That God would begin his good work of grace in them; so we may understand this expression: That our God would count you (or, as it might be read, make you) worthy of this calling. We are called with a high and holy calling; we are called to God’s kingdom and glory; and no less than the inheritance of the saints is the hope of our calling, nothing less than the enjoyment of that glory and felicity which shall be revealed when Christ Jesus shall be revealed from heaven. Now, if this be our calling, our great concern should be to be worthy of it, or meet and prepared for this glory: and because 429


we have no worthiness of our own, but what is owing purely to the grace of God, we should pray that he would make us worthy, and then count us worthy, of this calling, or that he would make us meet to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light, Col. 1:12. 2. That God would carry on the good work that is begun, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness. The good pleasure of God denotes his gracious purposes towards his people, which flow from his goodness, and are full of goodness towards them; and it is thence that all good comes to us. If there be any good in us, it is the fruit of God’s good-will to us, it is owing to the good pleasure of his goodness, and therefore is called grace. Now, there are various and manifold purposes of grace and good-will in God towards his people; and the apostle prays that all of them may be fulfilled or accomplished towards these Thessalonians. There are several good works of grace begun in the hearts of God’s people, which proceed from this good pleasure of God’s goodness, and we should desire that they may be completed and perfected. In particular, the apostle prays that God would fulfil in them the work of faith with power. Note, (1.) The fulfilling of the work of faith is in order to the fulfilling of every other good work. And, (2.) It is the power of God that not only begins, but that carries on and perfects the work of faith.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER Charles Spurgeon The memory of Charles Haddon Spurgeon has been cherished among evangelical Christians for over the past 100 years. Many Christian leaders consider him to be the greatest preacher England ever produced. He is commonly hailed as the "Prince of Preachers". Over 63 volumes of published sermons still bear witness to the richness and success of C. H. Spurgeon's ministry. Though known as a great preacher, it was not preaching that made Spurgeon great. Mr. Spurgeon repeatedly acknowledged his success as the direct result of his congregation's faithful prayers. "It has often been remarked that the whole church helped produce Spurgeon." When visitors would come to Spurgeon's church he would take them to the basement prayer-room where people were always on their knees interceding. Then Spurgeon would declare, "Here is the powerhouse of this church." Spurgeon in his autobiography described his gratefulness for being blessed with such a praying church. "I always give all the glory to God, but I do not forget that He gave me the privilege of ministering from the first to a praying people. We had prayer meetings that moved our very souls, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of intercession." Spurgeon regarded the prayer-meeting as the spiritual thermometer of a church. His church's Monday night prayer meeting had a worldwide testimony for many years. Every Monday night a large portion of Spurgeon's sanctuary was filled with earnest and fervent intercessors. "In Spurgeon's eyes the prayer-meeting was the most important meeting of the week." It is here many of us find ourselves in conflict with dear Mr. Spurgeon. We love our meetings for preaching and praising and yet sadly neglect those set aside for praying. One of Spurgeon's greatest concerns was that his people learn to truly pray. "He taught his people to pray, doing so far more by his example than by any preaching. People heard him pray with such reality that they became ashamed of their own mere repetition of words." Throughout his entire ministry many hearers remarked that they were moved by his preaching, but yet still more affected by his praying. D. L. Moody after his first visit to England, being asked upon his return to America, "Did you hear 431


Spurgeon preach?" He replied, "Yes, but better still I heard him pray." A close friend of Spurgeon's, commented on his prayer life, "His public prayers were an inspiration, but his prayers with the family were to me more wonderful still. Mr. Spurgeon, when bowed before God in family prayer, appeared a grander man even than when holding thousands spellbound by his oratory." Spurgeon fully recognized that the Church's greatest need was not to have another, "Prince of Preachers", but to have more princes of prayer. One of his many published sermons expressed his feelings on this. He wrote, "Shall I give you yet another reason why you should pray? I have preached my very heart out. I could not say any more than I have said. Will not your prayers accomplish that which my preaching fails to do? Is it not likely that the Church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? Oh dear friends! Let us agonize in prayer . . . " There has been much talk lately about pockets of revival springing up in our nation. Many are saying they desire such revivals in our own local churches, and cities. Yet, is it not the prayer-meeting which is still most neglected? If Christ Jesus were to visit us today with real revival power, how could such a blessing be sustained where there is no ground work laid in prayer? To merely exercise our words about revival and not our knees is hypocrisy! It is time to make the prayer-meeting as crowded as our favorite preaching and praise meetings. It is then and ONLY then, that a true revival will come with lasting power! Like Mr. Spurgeon, let us regard the prayer-meeting as our most important meeting!

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1 TIMOTHY 2:8 FROM THE BIBLE: "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "I do not know what the reader's particular idea on this subject may be, but I would like to say that if you believe you can change the mind of God through your prayers, I hope you are using some discretion. If that is the power you have, it is certainly a most dangerous thing. Surely God does not need our counsel in order to set up what is desirable. Surely God, whose knowledge penetrates all minds and hearts, does not need to have us intervene to tell Him what He ought to do. The thought that we are changing the mind of God by our prayers is a terrifying concept." - Roger Nicole

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: A direction how to pray, 1 Tim. 2:8. 1. Now, under the gospel, prayer is not to be confined to any one particular house of prayer, but men must pray every where: no place is amiss for prayer, no place more acceptable to God than another, John 4:21. Pray every where. We must pray in our closets, pray in our families, pray at our meals, pray when we are on journeys, and pray in the solemn assemblies, whether more public or private. 2. It is the will of God that in prayer we should lift up holy hands: Lifting up holy hands, or pure hands, pure from the pollution of sin, washed in the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. I will wash my hands, etc., Ps. 26:6. 3. We must pray in charity: Without wrath, or malice, or anger at any person. 4. We must pray in faith without doubting (Jas. 1:6), or, as some read it, without disputing, and then it falls under the head of charity.

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'SANCTIFIED BY PRAYER': 1 TIMOTHY 4:4-5 FROM THE BIBLE: For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Jesus died praying. His last words were words of prayer. The habit of life was strong in death. It may seem far off; but this event will come to us also. What will our last words be? Who can tell? But would it not be beautiful if our spirit were so steeped in the habit of prayer that the language of prayer came naturally to us at the last? --James Stalker

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Observe, God’s good creatures are then good, and doubly sweet to us, when they are received with thanksgiving.—For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer, 1 Tim. 4:5. It is a desirable thing to have a sanctified use of our creature-comforts. Now they are sanctified to us, (1.) By the word of God; not only his permission, allowing us the liberty of the use of these things, but his promise to feed us with food convenient for us. This gives us a sanctified use of our creature-comforts. (2.) By prayer, which blesses our meat to us. The word of God and prayer must be brought to our common actions and affairs, and then we do all in faith. Here observe, [1.] Every creature is God’s, for he made all. Every beast in the forest is mine (says God), and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine, Ps. 50:10, 11. [2.] Every creature of God is good: when the blessed God took a survey of all his works, God saw all that was made, and, behold, it was very good, Gen. 1:31. 434


[3.] The blessing of God makes every creature nourishing to us; man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4), and therefore nothing ought to be refused. [4.] We ought therefore to ask his blessing by prayer, and so to sanctify the creatures we receive by prayer.

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HEBREWS 13:18 FROM THE BIBLE: "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "God does hear our prayers. Though God has taught us that He chooses all who are His before the foundation of the world, He also taught us that we should pray, and not only pray, but expect the answer to our prayers. It is true that God is sovereign and it is just as true that He answers prayer. In fact, He could not answer prayer if He were not in control of all things." - Jim Elliff

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Here, I. The apostle recommends himself, and his fellow-sufferers, to the prayers of the Hebrew believers (Heb. 13:18): “Pray for us; for me and Timothy” (mentioned Heb. 13:23), “and for all those of us who labour in the ministry of the gospel.” 1. This is one part of the duty which people owe to their ministers. Ministers need the prayers of the people; and the more earnestly the people pray for their ministers the more benefit they may expect to reap from their ministry. They should pray that God would teach those who are to teach them, that he would make them vigilant, and wise, and zealous, and successful—that he would assist them in all their labours, support them under all their burdens, and strengthen them under all their temptations. 2. There are good reasons why people should pray for their ministers; he mentions two:— (1.) We trust we have a good conscience, etc., Heb. 13:18. Many of the Jews had a bad opinion of Paul, because he, being a Hebrew of the Hebrews, had cast off the Levitical law and preached up Christ: now he here modestly asserts his own integrity: We trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. We trust! he might have said, We know; but he chose to speak in a humble style, to teach us all not to be too confident of ourselves, 436


but to maintain a godly jealousy over our own hearts. “We trust we have a good conscience, an enlightened and well-informed conscience, a clean and pure conscience, a tender and faithful conscience, a conscience testifying for us, not against us: a good conscience in all things, in the duties both of the first and second table, towards God and towards men, and especially in all things pertaining to our ministry; we would act honestly and sincerely in all things.� Observe, [1.] A good conscience has a respect to all God’s commands and all our duty. [2.] Those who have this good conscience, yet need the prayers of others. [3.] Conscientious ministers are public blessings, and deserve the prayers of the people.

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A Little Talk with Jesus Cleavant Derricks I once was lost in sin but Jesus took me in And then a little light from heaven filled my soul It bathed my heart in love and wrote my name above And just a little talk with Jesus made me whole Now let us have a little talk with Jesus Let us tell Him all about our troubles He will hear our famished cry He will answer by and by Now when you feel a little prayer turning And you know the little talk with Jesus makes it right Sometimes my path seems dreary without a ray of cheer And then the cloud about me hides the light of day The mists in me rise and hide the stormy skies But just a little talk with Jesus clears the way I may have doubts and fears my eyes be filled with tears But Jesus is a friend who watches day and and night I go to Him in prayer He knows my every care And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right Makes everything right

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JAMES 5:13 FROM THE BIBLE: "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "Do we realize that there is nothing the devil dreads so much as prayer? His great concern is to keep us from praying. He loves to see us “up to our eyes” in work – provided we do not pray. He does not fear because we are eager and earnest Bible students – provided we are little in prayer." - Author Unknown

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: As Christians we are taught to suit ourselves to the dispensations of Providence (Jas. 5:13): Isa. any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Isa. any merry? Let him sing psalms. Our condition in this world is various; and our wisdom is to submit to its being so, and to behave as becomes us both in prosperity and under affliction. Sometimes we are in sadness, sometimes in mirth; God has set these one over against the other that we may the better observe the several duties he enjoins, and that the impressions made on our passions and affections may be rendered serviceable to our devotions. Afflictions should put us upon prayer, and prosperity should make us abound in praise. Not that prayer is to be confined to a time of trouble, nor singing to a time of mirth; but these several duties may be performed with special advantage, and to the happiest purposes, at such seasons. 1. In a day of affliction nothing is more seasonable than prayer. The person afflicted must pray himself, as well as engage the prayers of others for him. Times of affliction should be praying times. To this end God sends afflictions, that we may be engaged to seek him early; and that those who at other times have neglected him may be brought to enquire after him. The spirit is then most humble, the heart is broken and tender; and prayer is most acceptable to God when it comes from a contrite humble spirit. Afflictions naturally draw out complaints; and to whom should we complain but to God in prayer? It is necessary to exercise faith and hope under afflictions; and prayer is the appointed means both for obtaining and increasing these graces in us. Isa. any afflicted? Let him pray. 439


2. In a day of mirth and prosperity singing psalms is very proper and seasonable. In the original it is only said sing, psalleto, without the addition of psalms or any other word: and we learn from the writings of several in the first ages of Christianity (particularly from a letter of Pliny’s, and from some passages in Justin Martyr and Tertullian) that the Christians were accustomed to sing hymns, either taken out of scripture, or of more private composure, in their worship of God. Though some have thought that Paul’s advising both the Colossians and Ephesians to speak to one another psalmois kai hymnois kai odais pneumatikais—in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, refers only to the compositions of scripture, the psalms of David being distinguished in Hebrew by Shurim, Tehillim, and Mizmorim, words that exactly answer these of the apostle. Let that be as it will, this however we are sure of, that the singing of psalms is a gospel ordinance, and that our joy should be holy joy, consecrated to God. Singing is so directed to here as to show that, if any be in circumstances of mirth and prosperity, he should turn his mirth, though alone, and by himself, in this channel. Holy mirth becomes families and retirements, as well as public assemblies. Let our singing be such as to make melody with our hearts unto the Lord, and God will assuredly be well pleased with this kind of devotion.

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JAMES 5:14 FROM THE BIBLE: "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "The Prince of the power of the air seems to bend all the force of his attack against the spirit of prayer." - Andrew Bonar

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: We have particular directions given as to sick persons, and healing pardoning mercy promised upon the observance of those directions. If any be sick, they are required, 1. To send for the elders, presbyterous tes ekklesias—the presbyters, pastors or ministers of the church, Jas. 5:14, 15. It lies upon sick people as a duty to send for ministers, and to desire their assistance and their prayers. 2. It is the duty of ministers to pray over the sick, when thus desired and called for. Let them pray over him; let their prayers be suited to his case, and their intercessions be as becomes those who are affected wit his calamities. 3. In the times of miraculous healing, the sick were to be anointed with oil in the name of the Lord. Expositors generally confine this anointing with oil to such as had the power of working miracles; and, when miracles ceased, this institution ceased also. In Mark’s gospel we read of the apostle’s anointing with oil many that were sick, and healing them, Mark 6:13. And we have accounts of this being practiced in the church two hundred years after Christ; but then the gift of healing also accompanied it, and, when the miraculous gift ceased, this rite was laid aside. The papists indeed have made a sacrament of this, which they call the extreme unction. They use it, not to heal the sick, as it was used by the apostles; but as they generally run counter to scripture, in the appointments of their church, so here they ordain that this should be administered only to such as are at the very point of death. The apostle’s anointing was in order to heal the disease; the popish anointing is for the 441


expulsion of the relics of sin, and to enable the soul (as they pretend) the better to combat with the powers of the air. When they cannot prove, by any visible effects, that Christ owns them in the continuance of this rite, they would however have people to believe that the invisible effects are very wonderful. But it is surely much better to omit this anointing with oil than to turn it quite contrary to the purposes spoken of in scripture. Some protestants have thought that this anointing was only permitted or approved by Christ, not instituted. But it should seem, by the words of James here, that it was a thing enjoined in cases where there was faith for healing. And some protestants have argued for it with this view. It was not to be commonly used, not even in the apostolical age; and some have thought that it should not be wholly laid aside in any age, but that where there are extraordinary measures of faith in the person anointing, and in those who are anointed, an extraordinary blessing may attend the observance of this direction for the sick. However that be, there is one thing carefully to be observed here, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed to the anointing with oil, but to prayer: The prayer of faith shall save the sick, etc., Jas. 5:15. So that, 4. Prayer over the sick must proceed from, and be accompanied with, a lively faith. There must be faith both in the person praying and in the person prayed for. In a time of sickness, it is not the cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayer of faith. 5. We should observe the success of prayer. The Lord shall raise up; that is, if he be a person capable and fit for deliverance, and if God have any thing further for such a person to do in the world. And, if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him; that is, where sickness is sent as a punishment for some particular sin, that sin shall be pardoned, and in token thereof the sickness shall be removed. As when Christ said to the impotent man, Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee, it is intimated that some particular sin was the cause of his sickness. The great thing therefore we should beg of God for ourselves and others in the time of sickness is the pardon of sin. Sin is both the root of sickness and the sting of it. If sin be pardoned, either affliction shall be removed in mercy or we shall see there is mercy in the continuance of it. When healing is founded upon pardon, we may say as Hezekiah did: Thou hast, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption, Isa. 38:17. When you are sick and in pain, it is most common to pray and cry, O give me ease! O restore me to health! But your prayer should rather and chiefly be, O that God would pardon my sins! 442


'PRAYER OF FAITH': JAMES 5:15 FROM THE BIBLE: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: When I go aside in order to pray, I find my heart unwilling to approach God; and when I tarry in prayer my heart is unwilling to abide in Him. Therefore I am compelled first to pray to God to move my heart into Himself, and when I am in Him, I pray that my heart remain in Him. --John Bunyan

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: There is one thing carefully to be observed here, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed to the anointing with oil, but to prayer: The prayer of faith shall save the sick, etc., Jas. 5:15. So that, Prayer over the sick must proceed from, and be accompanied with, a lively faith. There must be faith both in the person praying and in the person prayed for. In a time of sickness, it is not the cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayer of faith. We should observe the success of prayer. The Lord shall raise up; that is, if he be a person capable and fit for deliverance, and if God have any thing further for such a person to do in the world. And, if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him; that is, where sickness is sent as a punishment for some particular sin, that sin shall be pardoned, and in token thereof the sickness shall be removed. As when Christ said to the impotent man, Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee, it is intimated that some particular sin was the cause of his sickness. The great thing therefore we should beg of God for ourselves and others in the time of sickness is the pardon of sin. Sin is both the root of sickness and the sting of it. If sin be pardoned, either affliction shall be removed in mercy or we shall see there is mercy in the continuance of it. When healing is founded upon pardon, we may say as Hezekiah did: Thou hast, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption, Isa. 38:17. When you are sick and in pain, it is most common to pray and cry, O give me ease! O restore me to health! But your prayer should rather and chiefly be, O that God would pardon my sins!

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JAMES 5:16 FROM THE BIBLE: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "When the devil sees a man or woman who really believes in prayer, who knows how to pray, and who really does pray, and, above all, when he sees a whole church on its face before God in prayer, he trembles as much as he ever did, for he knows that his day in that church or community is at an end." - R. A. Torrey

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Christians are directed to confess their faults one to another, and so to join in their prayers with an for one another, Jas. 5:16. Some expositors connect this with Jas. 5:14. As if when sick people send for ministers to pray over them they should then confess their faults to them. Indeed, where any are conscious that their sickness is a vindictive punishment of some particular sin, and they cannot look for the removal of their sickness without particular applications to God for the pardon of such a sin, there it may be proper to acknowledge and tell his case, that those who pray over him may know how to plead rightly for him. But the confession here required is that of Christians to one another, and not, as the papists would have it, to a priest. Where persons have injured one another, acts of injustice must be confessed to those against whom they have been committed. Where persons have tempted one another to sin or have consented in the same evil actions, there they ought mutually to blame themselves and excite each other to repentance. Where crimes are of a public nature, and have done any public mischief, there they ought to be more publicly confessed, so as may best reach to all who are concerned. And sometimes it may be well to confess our faults to some prudent minister or praying friend, that he may help us to plead with God for mercy and pardon. But then we are not to think that James puts us upon telling every thing that we are conscious is amiss in ourselves or in one another; but so far as confession is necessary to our reconciliation with such as are at variance with us, or for gaining information in any point of conscience and making our own spirits quiet and easy, so far we should be ready to con444


fess our faults. And sometimes also it may be of good use to Christians to disclose their peculiar weaknesses and infirmities to one another, where there are great intimacies and friendships, and where they may help each other by their prayers to obtain pardon of their sins and power against them. Those who make confession of their faults one to another should thereupon pray with and for one another. The Jas. 5:13 directs persons to pray for themselves: Isa. any afflicted let him pray; the Jas. 5:14 directs to seek for the prayers of ministers; and the Jas. 5:16 directs private Christians to pray one for another; so that here we have all sorts of prayer (ministerial, social, and secret) recommended. The great advantage and efficacy of prayer are declared and proved: The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, whether he pray for himself or for others: witness the example of Elias, Jas. 5:17, 18. He who prays must be a righteous man; not righteous in an absolute sense (for this Elias was not, who is here made a pattern to us), but righteous in a gospel sense; not loving nor approving of any iniquity. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer, Ps. 66:18. Further, the prayer itself must be a fervent, in-wrought, well-wrought prayer. It must be a pouring out of the heart to God; and it must proceed from a faith unfeigned. Such prayer avails much. It is of great advantage to ourselves, it may be very beneficial to our friends, and we are assured of its being acceptable to God. It is good having those for friends whose prayers are available in the sight of God. The power of prayer is here proved from the success of Elijah. This may be encouraging to us even in common cases, if we consider that Elijah was a man of like passions with us. He was a zealous good man and a very great man, but he had his infirmities, and was subject to disorder in his passions as well as others. In prayer we must not look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. Only in this we should copy after Elijah, that he prayed earnestly, or, as it is in the original, in prayer he prayed. It is not enough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Our thoughts must be fixed, our desires firm and ardent, and our graces in exercise; and, when we thus pray in prayer, we shall speed in prayer. Elijah prayed that it might not rain; and God heard him in his pleading against an idolatrous persecuting country, so that it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. Again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain, etc. Thus you see prayer is the key which opens and shuts heaven. To this there is an allusion, Rev. 11:6; where the two witnesses are said to have power to shut heaven, that it rain not. This instance of the extraordinary efficacy of prayer is recorded for encouragement even to ordinary Christians 445


to be instant and earnest in prayer. God never says to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. If Elijah by prayer could do such great and wonderful things, surely the prayers of no righteous man shall return void. Where there may not be so much of a miracle in God’s answering our prayers, yet there may be as much of grace.

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'THE END OF ALL THINGS': I PETER 4:7 FROM THE BIBLE: But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such none can ever ask too much. --John Newton

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: To sobriety and watchfulness: “Be you therefore sober, 1 Pet. 4:7. Let the frame and temper of your minds be grave, stayed, and solid; and observe strict temperance and sobriety in the use of all worldly enjoyments. Do not suffer yourselves to be caught with your former sins and temptations, 1 Pet. 4:3. An watch unto prayer. Take care that you be continually in a calm sober disposition, fit for prayer; and that you be frequent in prayers, lest this end come upon you unawares,” Luke 21:34; Matt. 26:40, 41. Learn, (1.) The consideration of our approaching end is a powerful argument to make us sober in all worldly matters, and earnest in religious affairs. (2.) Those who would pray to purpose must watch unto prayer. They must watch over their own spirits, watch all fit opportunities, and do their duty in the best manner they can. (3.) The right ordering of the body is of great use to promote the good of the soul. When the appetites and inclinations of the body are restrained and governed by God’s word and true reason, and the interests of the body are submitted to the interests and necessities of the soul, then it is not the soul’s enemy, but its friend and helper.

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PRINCE OF PRAYER John Wesley Redfield John Wesley Redfield was a man who awakened both the sleeping sinner and careless Christian. When Mr. Redfield prayed or preached men and women were touched by Jesus and went home different than when they came. Under the influence of Mr. Redfield's ministry, the slaves of sin were brought to repentance and totally set free. Wherever he preached, church after church seemed to be effected in the same way. On one occasion Mr. Redfield entered the pulpit with an especially intense and heavy burden pressing upon his heart. Without hesitation he began his message by clearly describing all those who had lived in the church for years without true saving grace; who had sat under the most searching gospel ministry; who had seen the truth lived out before them and yet rejected it all. With passion he warned all those who had shunned the narrow path of repentance and the cross of Christ. As Mr. Redfield spoke the Holy Spirit brought a shaking conviction of sin upon the entire congregation. Some cried out, some fell prostrate before they could get to the altar, and others fell at the altar. The slain lay in some places totally helpless, one upon another until the aisles were closed for hours. At this exact same time, people miles away also fell under the power of God in the seclusion of their own homes. John Wesley Redfield said of himself, "God has made me a rough man and given me a rough gospel for rough hearts." He preached holiness forcibly every where he went. This sometimes aroused great opposition, but it also brought great results. Dead churches were revived, new ones were built and the sick were often healed. Mr. Redfield's doctrine and anointing were not borrowed from books, but born in prayer. "Frequently he would groan as if in the throes of death as he wrestled in prayer; then the victory would come. People shouted, prayed and confessed, many lost their strength and did not regain it until they promised obedience to God." Such manifestations of God's power frequently followed his ministry. Under Redfield's preaching in New York, people would run out the back doors of the meeting house trying to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They would then fall helpless in the streets under the power 448


of God. When found later, they were assumed to be drunk and taken to jail. The first night this occurred the officers marveled, as one after another the once rebellious sinners, recovered, repentant and praising God. The key to John Wesley Redfield's success was his total and unrelenting dependence upon Jesus Christ. Through many trials he had learned that he could truly do nothing apart from Jesus. Is it not true, that much of our failure to bring forth lasting change lies at the feet of our own self-dependence and pride? We must recover our simplicity and joy of devotion to Jesus. We must repent and put away our methods and programs of self-reliance and once again embrace the "better part" of sitting at the feet of Jesus in humility and prayer. (Luke 10:38-42)

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1 JOHN 5:16 FROM THE BIBLE: "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: "But have we Holy Ghost power – power that restricts the devil's power, pulls down strongholds and obtains promises? Daring delinquents will be damned if they are not delivered from the devil's dominion. What has hell to fear other than a God-anointed, prayer-powered church?" - Leonard Ravenhill

IN-DEPTH COMMENTARY: Direction in prayer in reference to the sins of others: If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for those that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it, 1 John 5:16. Here we may observe, 1. We ought to pray for others as well as for ourselves; for our brethren of mankind, that they may be enlightened, converted, and saved; for our brethren in the Christian profession, that they may be sincere, that their sins may be pardoned, and that they may be delivered from evils and the chastisements of God, and preserved in Christ Jesus. 2. There is a great distinction in the heinousness and guilt of sin: There is a sin unto death (1 John 5:16), and there is a sin not unto death, 1 John 5:17. (1.) There is a sin unto death. All sin, as to the merit and legal sentence of it, is unto death. The wages of sin is death; and cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them, Gal. 3:10. But there is a sin unto death in opposition to such sin as is here said not to be unto death. There is therefore, (2.) A sin not unto death. This surely must include all such sin as by divine or human constitution may consist with life; in the human constitution with temporal or corporal life, in the divine constitution with corporal or with spiritual 450


evangelical life. [1.] There are sins which, by human righteous constitution, are not unto death; as divers pieces of injustice, which may be compensated without the death of the delinquent. In opposition to this there are sins which, by righteous constitution, are to death, or to a legal forfeiture of life; such as we call capital crimes. [2.] Then there are sins which, by divine constitution, are unto death; and that either death corporal or spiritual and evangelical. First, Such as are, or may be, to death corporal. Such may the sins be either of gross hypocrites, as Ananias and Sapphira, or, for aught we know, of sincere Christian brethren, as when the apostle says of the offending members of the church of Corinth, For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep, 1 Cor. 11:30. There may be sin unto corporal death among those who may not be condemned with the world. Such sin, I said, is, or may be, to corporal death. The divine penal constitution in the gospel does not positively and peremptorily threaten death to the more visible sins of the members of Christ, but only some gospel-chastisement; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth, Heb. 12:6. There is room left for divine wisdom or goodness, or even gospel severity, to determine how far the chastisement or the scourge shall proceed. And we cannot say but that sometimes it may (in terrorem—for warning to others) proceed even to death. Then, Secondly, There are sins which, by divine constitution, are unto death spiritual and evangelical, that is, are inconsistent with spiritual and evangelical life, with spiritual life in the soul and with an evangelical right to life above. Such are total impenitence and unbelief for the present. Final impenitence and unbelief are infallibly to death eternal, as also a blaspheming of the Spirit of God in the testimony that he has given to Christ and his gospel, and a total apostasy from the light and convictive evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. These are sins involving the guilt of everlasting death.

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Heaven’s Just A Prayer Away Dolly Parton If you're trying to reach Heaven You talk to Jesus, you talk to Him every day. 'Cause Jesus knows, He knows that you are coming And Heaven's just a prayer away. If you go, if you go to church on Sunday You get down on your knees and pray And give your heart and your soul to Jesus. Heaven's just a prayer away. You are just one prayer from Heaven As you travel down life's highway. Just when you think that you can't make it, Well, Heaven's just a prayer away. Of, if you go, if you go to church on Sunday You get down on your knees and pray And give your heart and give your soul to Jesus. Heaven's just a prayer away. Heaven's just a prayer away. Away.