« PreviousContinue »
prayed for thee as we ought. You could go from country, and home and mother, to seek a spot in sa: vage Sumatra to plant the cross and preach Jesus, while we could not once a month leave our firesides long enough just to go and pray for you, that God would protect you and give you favor in the sight of the heathen. O this neglect of the Monthly Concert is a cruel thing! This forgetfulness to pray for Missionaries, how dwelleth the love of God in the same heart with it? Perhaps this was one of the multitude of thoughts that passed through his mind while he waited to be sacrificed, and while he perceived that God, though with him to support and to save him, was not with him to protect him from the fierceness of man. Perhaps he thought, “O if Christians had been more uniformly and earnestly mindful of us in the closet, the family and the Concert, the hand that holds even the savage heart, might have turned it to pity, and spared us. But his will be done. Bitter as is the cup we drink, it is not so bitter as the cup
that was drank for us." Let us all go to the coming Concert, and humble ourselves together; and from his humiliation let each pray, “ Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation."
13. How Came it to Pass ?
That three thousand were converted on the day of Pentecost-how came it to pass ? The truth as it is in Jesus was preached, and the power of God accompanied and made the truth effectual. But had not the meeting for prayer, of which mention is made in Acts, 1:14, a close and influential connection with the glorious results of that day and that discourse ? Undoubtedly it had. But what was there in that meeting of the hundred and twenty disciples, to exert an influence to the conversion of three thousand individuals? Whence had it that power ? I answer, it was a prayer meeting-professedly and mainly à prayer meeting. If it had been a meeting for preach ing, it would not have exerted the influence it did, even though prayer had preceded and followed the
It was a prayer meeting-a meeting of Christians to express their dependence on God; unitedly to call on him for his blessing; to plead the promise, and to wait for the fulfillment of it. Those are the efficient meetings, in which Chris. tians meet and agree to ask of God. I wonder they do not value them more. To the prayer meeting Christians come, to exercise the high privilege of intercession for others—to do good and to communicate—to act the " more blessed
part; whereas, to meetings of another kind, they go for the less beno
volent purpose of receiving good. Yet Christians value no meetings so little as prayer meetings! And, O shame, no prayer meeting do they value so little as that which Christ himself may be said to have established in saying, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven; hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come”- the Monthly Concert. Though it occur but once a month, and though our Savior, in the prayer he has given us, has expressly instructed us to pray socially for the conversion of the world, yet how attended! I pity the heathen, that so few are disposed to meet to pray for them For the church, I blush that it should be so.
But the influence of that meeting of a hundred and twenty was not owing entirely to its being a prayer meeting. Many meetings for prayer are held, and no such effects follow. There must have been something peculiar about that prayer meeting, to account for its efficacy. There was much by which it was distinguished from ordinary prayer meetings. The mention of some of these peculiarities may be of service. It may provoke imitation in some churches.
1. All the church attended that prayer meeting. “ These all continued,” &c. There were but a hundred and twenty disciples, and they were all present. Not a member of the church was absent, unless
providentially detained. How different is it now! Now, if so many as a hundred and twenty can be collected in a prayer meeting, yet they represent perhaps a
church of five or six hundred communicants, and all the rest are with one accord absent. They who meet may agree among themselves to ask for an outpouring of the Spirit, but it is, after all, but the agreement of a minority of the church. The majo rity, by their absence, dissent from the request.
2. As all attended, of course the men attended as well as the women. Yes, every male member of the church was present; and I suppose the males were more than one half of the whole number They did not leave it to the women to sustain the prayer meetings. That prayer meeting had not the aspect of many a modern prayer meeting, in which almost all are of the weaker sex.
3. The most distinguished members of the church attended, as well as the most obscure. There were all the apostles, and “ Mary the mother of Jesus," and " his brethren.” None of them felt above being at a prayer meeting. How is it now? Let that question answer itself.
4. They were all agreed— "of one accord,” as it is said. Not merely agreed as touching what they should ask, viz. the fulfillment of “ the promise of the Father," but of one mind generally—aye, and of one heart. They thought and felt alike. They all loved one another. They observed the new commandment. Such cordial union among Christians has great power with God. It does not always exist in our prayer meetings.
5. They persevered in prayer. "These all continued in prayer." First they stirred themselves up to take hold on God, and then they said, “ We will not let thee go, except thou bless us." They met often for prayer, and all met, and they lingered long at
, the throne of grace. There were not some who came to the meeting once for a wonder, or only occasionally. No; " these all continued,”' &c. It is not so now. But how long did they continue asking ? Until they obtained; and then they did but pass from the note of prayer to that of praise. They sought the Lord until he came. It is time we all should do it. They were together-holding meeting-when the Spirit descended.
I think if all our church members would habitually attend the prayer meetings, men as well as women, rich as well as poor, and be “ of one accord" in heart, as well as in judgment, and would continue in prayer, they would not wait in vain for “the promise of the Father.” O for such prayer meetings ! But now they are despised by many. How often we hear it said, It is nothing but a prayer meeting! Nothing but ! I should like, for my part, to know what surpasses a prayer meeting. And often on what unworthy conditions do those called Christians suspend their attendance. They must know who is to conduct the meeting, who will probably lead in prayer, and from whom a word of exhortation may be expected; and if the meeting is not likely to be