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the indolent and careless Christian is contending to his life's end, soon yield to continued fervent prayer.— Prayer gains for us that strength which enables us to surmount every difficulty, and removes every obstacle in our way to Sion. Are our affections towards God and Christ becoming cold? prayer is as a fire to which we must approach, and in doing so, we shall perceive a gentle warmth insensibly overspread us, and our benumbed powers will acquire fresh energy and vigour.
It was the daily practice of the eminent Physician Boerhaave, through his whole life, as soon as he rose in the morning, which was generally very early, to retire for an hour to private prayer, and meditation on some part of the Scriptures. He often told his friends, when they asked him how it was possible for him to go through so much fatigue with such patience and quietness, that it was this which gave him spirit and vigour in the business of the day. This he therefore recommended as the best rule which he could give.
Private prayer is AN ENGINE OF GREATER THAN ALL HUMAN MEANS PUT TOGETHER." The greatest of earthly monarchs, neglecting prayer, has not that power to glorify God, benefit man, and secure his own happiness, which the humble and praying Christian has. The prayer of a poor, destitute, and afflicted Christian, in the name of Christ, may turn the hearts of kings and princes, save his country, raise up pious ministers, secure a blessing to their labours, send the gospel to the Heathen, and advance the kingdom of Christ in the world. Prayer has an advantage above alms, and every
"Admirable is the power of prayer. It calmeth the surges of a troubled spirit. Shuts lions' mouths -opens prison doors-beats the fiercest enemies--nay, arrests the impending judgments of God." Reading's Guide to the Holy City.
other good work, which can only benefit a few, while faithful prayer can help all. It is also a resource of which man cannot deprive you; he may despoil, blind, maim, imprison, or otherwise injure you, but he cannot keep you from prayer. Observe the power of prayer in the example of Elijah. He was "a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."
It MAKES US FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK.—“I reckon it," says Bennett, "matter of common experience among good men, that they find themselves more or less disposed, and fit for their respective duties and services, according as their diligence, constancy, and seriousness in secret prayer, is more or less." The root that produces the beautiful and flourishing tree, with all its spreading branches, verdant leaves, and refreshing fruit, that which gains for it sap, life, vigour, and fruitfulness, is all unseen; and the farther and the deeper the roots spread beneath, the more the tree expands above. Christians, if you wish to prosper, if you long to bring forth all the fruit of the Spirit, strike your roots deep and wide in private prayer. That faith and support, that strength and grace, which you seek of God in secret that it may be exercised in the hour of need, God will in that hour give it you before men.
It WILL BE REWARDED OPENLY.-Our Lord does not in these words promise the very thing which you request; but your Father will reward you; he will give you a free, a full return, a gracious retribution, evidently, though not perhaps identically. How manifestly before all men Hannah was rewarded, when the name of
her son Samuel (meaning asked of God) told all Israel, and tells the Church in every age, that God hears and answers prayer! How openly were Jacob's secret prayers answered, when Esau publicly received him so gra ciously! Our heavenly Father will also before men and angels hereafter reward thy secret devotion. Now it is unknown to man, but it will all be known, and known by the greatness of its reward. Every tear of godly sorrow, shed in secret, will then be a brilliant gem in the crown of glory surrounding the brow of the Christian. The Christian's reward comes from a Father of infinite power, riches, wisdom and love; and therefore cannot be a small reward, or an unsatisfying portion.
May every reader, then, be encouraged to begin, or more constantly to practise, and persevere in, this sacred duty. However dull our spirits, however wearied our body, however wandering our minds, let us never wholly omit this duty, never put it off with a vain excuse to another season. To do so is Satan's temptation. It is better to attempt to pray in the best way you can, than not to pray at all. And you will sometimes fird, the Lord will come in with the supply of his Spirit, enliven your soul, fix your mind, and draw and raise your heart to himself.
One of Melancthon's correspondents gives this account of Luther's private devotions, in one of the most trying and critical times in the course of the Reformation. "I cannot enough describe the cheerfulness, constancy, faith, and hope of this man in these trying and vexatious times. He constantly feeds these good affections by a very diligent study of the word of God. Then, not a day passes in which he does not employ in prayer, three at least, of his very best hours. Once I happened to hear him at prayer. Gracious Lord! what
spirit, and what faith there is in his expressions. He petitions God with as much reverence as if he was actually in the divine presence, and yet with as firm a hope and confidence as he would address a father or a friend. "I know," said he, "thou art our Father and our God, therefore I am sure that thou wilt bring to nought the persecutors of thy children. For shouldest thou fail to do this, thine own cause, being connected with ours, would be endangered. It is entirely thine own concern: we, by thy providence, have been compelled to take a part. Thou, therefore, wilt be our defence." While I was listening to Luther praying in this manner at a distance, my soul seemed on fire within me, to hear the man address God so like a friend, and yet with so much gravity and reverence; and also to hear him in the course of his prayer, insisting on the promises contained in the Psalms, as if he were sure his petitions would be granted." (See Milner's History of the Church of Christ, vol. 5.) No wonder that Luther was such a blessing to the world. All men of great usefulness to the church have much abounded in prayer.
But why speak we of others: let us notice only the extraordinary spirit of devotion which adorned our BLESSED SAVIOUR. This part of his character has been well described: "When twelve years of age, he was engaged in the Temple with the Doctors, in his Father's business. When he entered on his public ministry, he committed himself in solemn prayer to God. Before he chose his twelve Apostles, as well as at his transfiguration, he spent a considerable time in devotion. During his ministry, he resorted to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He devoutly referred every act of his life and ministry, his mission, his doctrine, his miracles, his suf
ferings, his resurrection to the will and appointment of his Father. He encouraged a spirit of prayer in his disciples, by commanding them to pray, and by supplying them with a model of prayer. He sanctioned these encouragements to prayer by his own example; by going out into a desert to pray; by rising up early, and by continuing all night in prayer to God; by pouring out earnest and frequent addresses to his heavenly Father, as new exigencies arose; by his solemn intercessory supplication previous to his last sufferings; by his strong crying and tears during his agony; and by commending his soul to his Father as he expired on the
If the Saviour of the world thus prayed, and was heard, and carried through his stupendous work, can we have a stronger motive to abound in prayer?
See Wilson's Sermons.