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temptation, we are commanded to “ watch and pray." Vain is prayer to secure against temptation, if vigilance be omitted. Prayer is sometimes ineffectual, because too general. When we ask many things, it commonly indicates that we are not in earnest for any thing. The heart is incapable of being at the same time the subject of many intense desires. The memorials of the children of this world are specific. They are rarely encumbered with more than one petition. Does any one suppose that when prayer was made of the church for Peter, being in prison, they prayed for every body and every thing first, and only brought in Peter's case at the close ?
Petitions have usually numerous signatures. So should there be union in prayer among Christians. Social supplication has particular value in the estimation of God. Special promises are male to it. Need I say that allowed sin vitiates prayer ? " If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."
There is a regard to the promises which ought to be had in prayer. Moreover, confession of sin out of a broken heart, and gratitude for good received, should accompany it. And there is a "praying in the Holy Ghost," which we should aim to understand and realize.
At an earlier stage of these remarks I might have observed that some prayer is not heard, because it is sard rather than prayed. Now, prayer ought to be
prayed. The closet is not the place for recitation. What more common than this expression : “I must say my prayers?" Must you indeed? Is this the Fay you speak of it? Is it a task to which you are going reluctantly to apply yourself? and say your orayers too? How this contrasts with the cheerful purpose of the Psalmist," My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."
Perhaps one brings his gift to the altar, and forgets that his brother has aught against him; or remembering it, does not go first and seek reconcilia iton with him, but proceeds to offer his gift
, and that is the reason it is not accepted.
Many a Christian hinders his prayer by indulg. ing in that species of unbelief, which surmises that what he asks is too great a thing for God to bestow on one so unworthy as he is. He forgets that the greatest, aye the greatest gift, has already been conferred in God's own Son, and the foundation therein laid for the argument, “how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?" God, having begun his bounty in such a style of magnificence, consistency requires him now to go on, and do the greatest possible thing for the recipients of his Son.
6. I must Praise moro.
The title of a recent article was, “I must pray more;" and in it I expressed wonder that we piay so little, and gave reasons why we should
pray more. But it strikes me that we ought to praise mos e as well as pray more. I do not know how it is with others, but I know that I have a great deal for which to be thankful and to paise God. I feel that it will not do for me to spend all my breath in pray
I should thus, it is true, acknowledge my dependence on God; but where would be the acknowledgment of his benefits conferred upon me? I must spend a part of my breath in praise. O! to be animated from above with that life, whose alternate breath is prayer and praise! God has been very good to me. Yes, he has exercised goodness towards me in all its various forms of pity, forbearance, care, bounty, grace and mercy; or to express all in one word, “ God is love," and he has been love to me. I do not know why he should have treated me so kindly. I have sought, but can find no reason out of himself. I conclude it is because he “delighteth in mercy." His nature being love, it is natural for him to love his creatures, and especially those whom he has called to be his children. O! the goodness of God! The thought of it sometimes comes over me with very great power, and I am overwhelmed in admiration. Nothing so easily breaks up the foun.
tain of tears within me. Those drops, if I may judge from
my own experience, were intended as much to express gratitude as grief. I think I shall be able, without weariness, to spend eternity on the topic of divine love and goodness.
Reader, can you not adopt my language as your own ? Has not God been the same to you? And shall we not praise him ? Shall all our devotion consist in prayer? Shall we be always thinking of our wants, and never of his benefits-always dwelling on what remains to be done, and never thinking of what has already been done for us—always uttering desire, and never expressing gratitude-expending all our voice in supplication, and none of it in song? Is this the way to treat a benefactor ? No, indeed. It is not just so to treat him; neither is it wise. It is
bad policy to praise no more than Christians in general do. They would have much more success in prayer, if one-half the time they now spend in it were spent in praise. I do not mean that they pray too much, but that they praise too little. I suspect the reason why the Lord did such great things for the Psalmist was, that, while he was not by any means deficient in prayer, he abounded in praise. The Lord heard his psalms, and while he sung of mercy shown, showed him more. And it would be just so with us, if we abounded more in praise and thanksgiving. It displeases God that we should be always dwelling on our wants, as if he had never supplied one of them. How do we know that God is not waiting for us to praise him for a benefit he has al. ready conferred, before he will confer on us that other which we may be now so earnestly desiring of him ? It is wonderful how much more prone we are to forget the benefit received, than the benefit wanted in other words, how much more inclined we are to offer prayer than praise. For one who offers genuine praise, there may be found ten that pray. Ten lepers lifted up their voices together in the prayer, “ Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” but only one of the ten "returned to give glory to God." The rest were satisfied with the benefit—this one only thought gratefully of the benefactor. His gratitude obtained for him, I doubt not, a greater blessing than ever his prayer had procured; and praise has often, I believe, in the experience of the people of God, been found more effectual for obtaining blessings than prayer. A person, being once cast upon a desolate island, spent a day in fasting and prayer for his deliverance, but no help came. It occurred to him then to keep a day of thanksgiving and praise, and he had no sooner done it than relief was brought to him. You see, as soon as he began to sing of mercy exercised, the exercise of mercy was renewed to him. The Lord heard the voice of his praise.