B y William Huntington
PRAYER is the blessed means which God has appointed to bring every grace from Christ to the believer. The believer is to let his requests be made known unto God, and for his encouragement God says that the prayer of the upright is His delight, yea, He says that He loves to hear it. "Let Me hear thy voice, let Me see thy face."
PRAYER is the casting of our cares and burdens on the Lord. It is the pouring out of the soul before Him, the showing forth of our trouble to Him. Prayer is comuning and corresponding with Christ and receiving grace from His fulness to help in every time of need. It is keeping open the intercourse between the Lord and His people. It is their way of paying morning and evening visits to the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is their going to Court and showing their respect and loyalty there. It is their means of keeping their debt book clear; of cultivating and keeping up perfect friendship with a Friend who loves at all times, and therefore it should never be neglected.
PRAYER is pouring out the soul unto God and showing before HIM our troubles (Psalms 142: 2). It is "casting our cares upon Him who careth for us" (I. Pet. 5:7); and our burdens upon HIM in whom we are to say, "We have righteousness and strength." It is opening the heart, the mind, and the mouth to Him, who hath said, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me" (Psalms 50: 15). It is opening to HIM who is the well-beloved of His people, and who has said, "Let Me hear thy voice, let Me see thy face; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely (Cant. 2:14). It is besieging the everlasting kingdom, moving the throne of grace and knocking importunately at the door of mercy-- ncouraged by the promise, "Knock and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7).
In prayer we must take no denial. If we have but a feeling sense of our wants, a Scripture warrant to go upon or one promise to plead, we must sue, argue, reason, plead, supplicate, intercede, confess, acknowledge, thank, bless, praise, adore, repeat, importune, observe, take hold of, and turn to advantage whatsoever may be of use to the soul. Sinners, sensible of their lost estate by nature, who feel their need and poverty, have many invitations, encouragements, precedents and promises. They have, under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, to plead and rely upon the covenant of Jehovah, the oath of God, the merits of Christ, and all His covenant engagements, undertakings and performances; the covenant characters He sustains, His incarnation and near relationship to them-- together with all the glorious train of Divine perfections found in the proclamation of the NAME of God to Moses (Ex. 34: 6,7)--for these all sweetly harmonize and brightly shine in Christ crucified, who has never once yet disappointed the hope of a penitent sinner, but has graciously said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). His promises, like Himself, are unchangeable, and this is one of them. "Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).
PRIVATE PRAYER is the Christian's court-visit to his God, the life and breath of his soul; it is the ascent of the heart to the Almighty, and its returns are the descent of Christ to the soul's help.
PRAYER is the assuasion of grief, the easement of a burdened heart, and the vent of a joyful one. It is the rich savour of mystical incense, the overflowing of a living fountain, an all-prevailing sacrifice, and the delight of the Almighty. Moreover, it is the greatest, most blessed and most glorious privilege, with which perishing sinners ever were favoured.
PRAYER is a defense against the spirit of this world, a bar to the inroads of vanity, a maul upon the head of the old man, and a lash of scorpions for the devil. It is a bridle in the jaws of a persecutor, a spell to a voracious enemy, a dagger at the heart of a heretic, a key to parables and dark sayings, and a battering-ram on the walls of salvation; for "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" Matt. 11:12).
PRAYER from the lips of a blind beggar compelled the Sun of Righteousness to stand still and ive light to one who, till then, had been in darkness (Luke 18:35-43). It brought the Ancient of Days to dwell in a bush (Exod. 3:4); yea, Omnipotence itself, held by its fervent power, has been constrained to say, "Let me go, for the day breaketh," but dust and ashes replied, "I WILL NOT LET THEE GO except Thou bless me;" and God blessed him there, and allowed that Himself had been conquered, and honoured His antagonist by styling him, "A PREVAILER WITH GOD" (Gen. 32:24-29). Thus was Judah's Lion overcome and the lame man gained the victory.
PRAYER uncloses the bountiful hand of God, opens the door of mercy, retains Christ on the throne of the affections, and covers every rival and usurper with shame and confusion of face. It is the believer's Royal Exchange, where he may take his cares, burdens, snares and troubles; his vexations, temptations, doubts and fears; his misgivings of heart, sorrows of mind, hardness of heart and ingratitude; together with his faintness, unbelief, spiritual jealousy and rebellion; also all his disorders--the leprosy of sin, the evil within, the plague of his heart, or the plague of his head--with deaf ears, blind eyes, feeble knees, languid hands, halting feet and a stiff neck. He may there take all his oppositions, persecutions, false charges, slanderous accusations, vile reproaches, and there get rid of and leave them all. Our Saviour compared His followers to "exchangers" (Matt. 25:27); and such they are, for in return for these troubles they receive from their heavenly Banker numberless deliverances, blessings and mercies; many refreshings, renewings, revivals and restorations; large returns of comfort, peace, love and joy; together with fresh discoveries, love tokens, wholesome truths, profound mysteries, glorious glimpses, bright prospects, terrestrial views, undoubted evidences, infallible proofs, heavenly lessons, confirming visits, conspicuous deliverances, earnests, pledges and foretastes; reviving cordials, valuable banknotes in "exceeding reat and precious promises," payable this very day, and every day through life, and even to millions of ages after date, signed, sealed, and delivered by Jehovah Himself, the "God that cannot lie" (Tit. 1:2).
PRAYER has often scattered the confederate enemies of the soul, marred the schemes of opponents (Neh. 6:14); frustrated the tokens of liars, and made diviners mad. It counteracts the designs of Satan and his emissaries; it hath made the minister of truth to be an enemy to the world, the successful rival of imposters in the pulpit, the envy of hypocrites, an eye-sore to the devil, the admiration of perishing sinners, a spectacle to the world and a wonder to himself. He prays to his "Father in secret, and his Father who seeth in secret has engaged to reward him openly" (Matt. 6:6). By prayer the poor come up from the dust, and the beggar from the dung-hill, sit among the princes of God's people, and inherit the throne of glory.
PRAYER in faith has brought in countless providential mercies, as well as spiritual blessings; God could have granted them all without asking, but has condescended to honour this exercise bysaying: "For all these things I will be inquired of by the house of Israel that I may do it for them" (Ezek. 36:37).
PRAYER hath brought the souls of some, when departed, back into their bodies again (I. Kings 17:17- 4; Ii Kings 4:32-37). It engages the Almighty on the side of the suppliant and establishes an alliance with God. It has stopped the bottles of heaven for three years and six months, and opened them again at the expiration of that term (James 5:17,18). Yea, it hath brought a miraculous plenty into the house of a poor widow, while destruction and famine were reigning all around in universal triumph (I. Kings 17:8-16).
"All things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23). And, "All things whatsoever he shall ask in prayer believing ye shall receive" (Matt. 1:22). Prayer hath brought health to the sick, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, eyes to the blind, life to the dead, salvation to the lost; and hath even driven the devil himself from the hearts of many, and brought the God of heaven to dwell in his room.
PRAYER is God's appointment, the Spirit's gift, the Saints' privilege and the scourge of Satan; therefore, PRIZE IT AND USE IT.
In the face of Christ crucified, God appears well-pleased, and shines with pleasure, approbation, and delight upon all that approach this throne of grace, sensible of their wants; hence faith in Christ becomes the only way of access, all other avenues are stopped up; in every other view God's face, as well-pleased, is hid, and the sword of justice is brandished to keep this way entire, this way of the tree of life. Here we may come with boldness to the throne of grace; there is no obstacle, no let, no hindrance, in this way; the sword of justice is sheathed, the law magnified, the ansom price paid, the devil dethroned, sin expiated, wrath endured, God well-pleased, sinners redeemed, enemies reconciled, and gifts received from the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them. -----Mr. Huntington, in a letter to a friend.
P R A Y E R
Prayer an answer will obtain,
Thought the Lord awhile delay;
None shall seek His face in vain,
None be empty sent away.
When the woman came from Tyre,
And for help to Jesus sought,
Thought He granted her desire,
Yet at first he answered not.
Could she guess at His intent,
When He to His followers said:
"I to Israel's sheep am sent;
Dogs must not have the children's bread"?
From His words she draws a plea:--
"Though unworthy children's bread,
Be it so; yet one like me
Surely may with crumbs be fed."
Jesus then His mind revealed:
"Woman, can'st thou thus believe?
I to thy petition yield;
All that thou wouldst have, receive."
'Tis a pattern set for us,
If we truly wait and pray;
None who plead and wrestle thus,
Shall be empty sent away.
"Hear the prayer of thy servant." - Dan. 9:17.
Father, whate'er of earthly bliss
Thy sovereign will denies,
Accepted at thy throne of grace,
Let this petition rise.
"Give me a calm, a thankful heart,
From every murmur free;
The blessings of thy grace impart,
And make me live to thee.
"Let the sweet hope that thou art mine,
My life and death attend;
Thy presence through my journey shine,
And crown my journey's end."
(Phil. 4:6; Acts 6:4; Dan. 9:3)
Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire,
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear;
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the contrite sinner's voice,
Returning from his ways;
While angels in their songs rejoice,
And cry, "Behold, he prays!"
The saints in prayer appear as one,
In word, and deed, and mind;
While with the Father and the Son,
Sweet fellowship they find.
Nor prayer is made on earth alone;
The Holy Spirit pleads;
And Jesus, on the eternal throne,
For sinners intercedes.
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.