Page images

obtain it. How is this? There is no fault in the hearer of prayer-no unfaithfulness in God. The fault must be in the offerer. I do not pray right. And since there is no use in asking without obtain. ing, the conclusion is the I must pray differently.

I find, moreover, that I do not pray as they did in old time, whose prayers were so signally answered. When I compare my prayers with those of the Patriarchs, especially with that of Jacob-and with the prayers of the prophets, those, for instance, of Elijah and Daniel ; when I compare my manner of making suit to the Savior, with the appeals made to him by the blind men, and by the woman of Canaan; and above all, when I lay my prayers along side of His, who “ offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears," I perceive such a dissimilarity, that I thence conclude I must pray differently.

I find also that I do not urge my suits to God as I do those which I have sometimes occasion to make to men. I am wiser as a child of this world, than I am as one of the children of light. When I want to carry a point with a human power, I find that. I take more pains, and am more intent upon it, and use greater vigilance and effort, than when I want to gain something of God. It is clear, then, that I must alter and reform my prayers. I must pray differently.

But in what respects? How differently?

1. I must not speak to God at a distance. I must draw near to him. Nor that alone. I must stir my

self up to take hold of him. Isaiah, 64 : 7. Yea, I must take hold of his strength, that I may make peace with him. Isaiah, 27:5. I have been satisfied with approaching God. I must, as it were, appre. hend him.

2. I must not only take hold of God in prayer, but I must hold fast to him, and not let him go, except he bless me. Șo Jacob did. There were two important ingredients in his prayer-faith and perseverance. By the one he took hold of God; by the other he held fast to him till the blessing was obtained.

3. I must be more affected by the subjects about which I

pray: I must join tears to my prayers. Prayers and tears used to go together much more than they do now. Hosea says that Jacob “ wept and made supplication." Hannah wept while she prayed.' So did Nehemiah, and David, and Hezekiah; and God, in granting the request of the last mentioned, uses this language: "I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears.” But a greater than all these is here. Jesus offered up prayers “ with strong crying and tears.” Some think it unmanly to weep. I do not know how that


but I know it is not unchristian. It is thought by some, that men must have been more addicted to tears then than they are now; but it is my opinion that they felt more, and that is the reason they wept more. Now I must feel so as to weep; not by constraint,



but in spite of myself. I must be so affected, that God shall see my tears as well as hear my and in order to being so affected, I must meditate. It was while David mused that the fire burned; and then he spake with his tongue in the language of prayer. And we know that which melted his heart affected his


for in the same Psalm, the 39th, he says, “ Hold not thy peace at my tears."

4. There are other accompaniments of prayer which I must not omit. Nehemiah not only wept and prayed, but also mourned, and fasted, and made confession. Why should not I do the same?

5. I must plead as well as pray. My prayers must be more of the nature of arguments--and I must make greater use than I have ever done of certain pleas. There is one derived from the character of God. "For thy name's sake pardon mine iniquity. Have mercy on me according to thy loving kindness.” Another is derived from the promises of God. · Hath he said, and shall he not do it; or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?" Another is drawn from the past doings of God.

" I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High . I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember thy wonders of old.” I must also plead Christ more in my prayers. The argument is drawn out to our hands by Paul: He that spared not his own Son .... how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?"



with my

6. But again: I must cry unto the Lord. Cryo ing expresses more than praying. It expresses earnest, fervent prayer. This is what they all used to do. They cried to God. The Psalmist says:

I cried with my whole heart." I must cry with


whole hcart--yea mightily, as even the Ninevites did, else those heathen will rise up in the judgment and condemn me.

7. I must seek the Lord in prayer, feeling as did Job, when he said, “ O, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat !” And this I must do, as Judah is once said to have done,

“whole desire.” Yea, I must search for him with all my heart. I must even pour out my heart before him, as the Psalmist, on one occasion, exhorts. I must “keep not silence, and give him no rest," as Isaiah directs; " night and day praying exceedingly," as Paul says he did.

8. And I must pray in the Holy Ghost, as Jude exhorts. We need the Spirit to help our infirmities, and to make intercession for us. Nor should we be satisfied with any prayer in which we have not seemed to have his help.

Finally, I must alter and alter my prayers, till I get them right; and I must not think them right until I obtain the spiritual blessings which they ask. If I pray

for more grace, and do not get it, I must pray differently for it, till I do obtain it. Oh, if Christians prayed differently, as well as more, what heavenly places our closets would be: What interesting meetings prayer-meetings would be! What revivals of religion we should have! how frequent, numerous, and pure! What a multitude of souls would be converted! What joyful tidings we should hear from our Missionary stations, and from the heathen world! Oh, what times we should have! The Millennium would be on us before we knew it.

And because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, the offering of a different kind of prayer for the Spirit, would do more to put down error than all other means which can be resorted to. The preachers of truth cannot put it down without the aid of the Spirit of truth.

Let us then pray differently. Let us at least try. I am sure it is worth the effort. Let every one who reads this resolve, "I will pray differently."

5. Why Prayer is not heard.

There are some who are not at all interested in this inquiry. They offer no prayer. There is in their case nothing to be heard. They are content with the things which are to be had without asking. Such are in a bad way, and I suspect they some.

« PreviousContinue »