"Let us then approach the throne of grace with
confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our
time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"In the day when I cried, You answered me, and
strengthened me with strength in my soul."—Psalm 138:3
What a mystery of power there is in fervent, believing
prayer! That the cry of a feeble mortal should enter into the ears of the
Lord God Almighty—that the infinite God should be moved by the entreaties of
sinful man—the armies of heaven, perhaps, set in motion—the wheels of
providence seemingly made to alter their course—the uplifted sword of
judgment stayed in its descent—the powers of evil held back and
restrained—and all because some poor suppliant bends the knee before the
throne of grace, and pours forth in the extremity of his feebleness and
necessity an urgent supplication and prayer to God!
It is not for us to unfold the laws of the spiritual
world, or to demonstrate why and how it is, that the
communications of heavenly influence and favor are in any degree
suspended on the frequency and fervency of our supplications. But by the
infallible testimony of heaven, we are authorized to affirm that; though
inexplicable by our feeble understandings, there is a mighty efficacy
in the prayer of faith, and that, as in the days of patriarchs, prophets,
and righteous men, who, as princes, had power with God, so, through all
ages, prayer must continue to avail as much, and be still, as ever,
one of the sure and sufficient means of transmitting to the
faithful the blessings of the Savior's purchase. "The Lord is ever near
unto those who are of a broken heart, and saves such as be of a
contrite spirit." "In the day when they cry He will answer, and
strengthen them with strength in their soul." "He shall
deliver the needy when he cries; the poor also, and him that has no
helper," for this is God's promise, "He shall call upon me, and I
will answer him—I will be with him in trouble; I will
deliver him, and honor him."
And, could we read the pages of the past, we would find
that that promise has never yet failed—has never once been violated.
We would find that prayer—earnest and importunate prayer—has
accomplished the most wonderful results. It has divided seas—rolled
up flowing rivers, and brought streams of water from the flinty rock. It has
quenched the flames of fire—restrained the fury of lions—and healed the
poisonous bite of serpents. It has marshaled the stars of heaven against the
ungodly—arrested the progress of advancing day—burst open the gates of
iron—summoned the dead from their tombs—conquered the legions of darkness,
and brought angels from their starry thrones. It has bridled and chained the
raging passions of men—routed and destroyed vast armies of the proud and
rebellious. It has delivered one man from the depths of the mighty sea, and
carried another in a chariot of fire to the mansions of glory.
Christian! go to the Word of God, and there learn
the power and efficacy of prayer. Jacob wrestles and prays—the angel of the
Lord is conquered, and the patriarch obtains his request. Moses cries to
God—the waters of the sea are divided. Again he supplicates—and Amalek is
defeated. Joshua prays—Achan is discovered. Hannah prays—Samuel is born.
David prays—he is rescued from a thousand perils. The wilderness, and the
rocks, and the outcasts' cave, as well as the kingly throne of Jerusalem,
were witnesses that David was a man of prayer. But pass on to other names.
Asa prays—a victory is gained. Jehoshaphat prays—God turns aside the fury of
his adversaries. Isaiah and Hezekiah pray—a hundred and eighty-five thousand
Assyrians are that very night destroyed by the angel of the Lord. Daniel
prays—the dream is revealed. He prays—the lions are restrained. He prays—the
"seventy weeks" are revealed. Nehemiah prays—the king's heart is in a moment
softened. Elijah prays—for three years the windows of heaven are shut up. He
prays—rain descends once more upon the earth. Elisha prays—Jordan is
divided, he prays—a child's life is restored. The Church prays
ardently—Peter is delivered by an angel. Paul and Silas pray and sing
praises unto God—the prison doors are opened and every man's chains are
And these are but a few of the countless
instances in which prayer has prevailed with God. From age to age there have
assembled around His footstool, multitudes of poor and needy, and wretched,
and guilty suppliants; and streams of mercy have been welling forth from the
fountain of grace—to refresh—to strengthen—to invigorate, and to purify. The
orphan's cry has passed the distance between humanity and Deity, and God has
promised to be his Father. The widow's prayer—albeit it was unintelligible
with bitter sobs—has been understood by God, and He has comforted her when
on her knees with the gracious assurance—"I will be a husband to the widow."
The despairing cry of the downtrodden and oppressed has—like the swift arrow
that cleaves the air—borne upon its wing, the burden of complaint, and
suffering, and wrong—and the cruel oppressor has been crushed by an unseen
but almighty power.
Yes, the weak have been strengthened—the downcast
encouraged—the helpless relieved—the sorrowful comforted—the poor
enriched—and often has answered prayer laid out a feast of plenty in
the evening, when the morning's light broke only on poverty and need.
And better still, the prayer of faith has drawn down the
warming beams of the Sun of righteousness—the refreshing showers of the
Spirit of grace, beneath whose genial influences all the spiritual graces
which God's own hand had planted, expanded in their fullest bloom, and
diffused all around the sweetest fragrance. Prayer, with outstretched arms,
has brought from the inexhaustible reservoir above, those rich supplies of
the oil of divine grace, fed by which, the Christian lamp of faith has
burned with a steady and increasing brightness, until, having guided the
believer through the journey of life—cheered by its gladdening ray the gloom
of the chamber of death—and even darted a bright gleam of heavenly light,
deep down into the dark valley through which he had to pass to the city of
his God—it was there absorbed in the blaze of light that burned
around the celestial throne.
Christian! you have all the encouragement you
could possibly desire, to attract you to a throne of grace; and, amid the
varied experiences of life, there is not a grief which may not be
assuaged—not a danger which may not be averted—not an anxiety which may not
be lessened—not a pang which may not be alleviated—not a need which may not
be supplied, out of the inexhaustible fountain of grace, to which you are
invited, and where you are ever welcome. "O fear the Lord, you
his saints; for there is no lack to those who fear him." "He shall
cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust; his
truth shall be your shield and shield." "The Lord shall
preserve you from all evil, he shall preserve your soul. The Lord
shall preserve your going out and your coming in, from this time
forth, and even for evermore."
That blessed Savior through whom you are encouraged to
draw near, has pledged Himself to intercede in your behalf, and to
obtain an answer to your prayers. Oh, trust Him with your whole heart, for
"He is faithful who has promised." The love He has already manifested
and proved—yes, sealed with His precious blood, is a pledge that He will
still be your friend and intercessor with the Father—that He will continue
to exhibit that love, in every cross you have to bear—in every cup of sorrow
you have to drink—in every treasure you are called to relinquish—in every
lonely and dreary path of duty or of trial, by which you are journeying
onwards to your heavenly home. He "knows your soul in adversities," and will
be "your Savior in the time of trouble."
His grace is yours to strengthen and sustain you—His
Spirit is yours to guide, enlighten, and comfort you—His intercession is
yours to secure for you all needed blessing—His promises are yours to cling
to in your saddest and darkest hours—His power is yours to defend you from
injury, to secure you against defeat—His heart is yours into which you may
pour all your sorrows, and feel sure of true sympathy—His home is yours to
be your everlasting abode, that where He is, there you may be also. Will not
Listen! Are you struggling against sinful desires and
habits?—He has promised to make His "grace sufficient for you." Are
you cast down because you feel the law in your members warring against the
law in your mind?—He has assured you that "the good work which has been
begun in you shall be carried on to perfection." Are You troubled and
disturbed by the vicissitudes, changes, and sorrows of life?—He tells you
that if you truly love Him, He will make "all things work together
for your good." And the heaviest calamities—the sorest ills which may
happen, shall only seem like passing clouds, casting their dark mantle over
the surface of the lake, while they have no power to disturb the deep and
settled tranquillity of its waters. "You will keep him in perfect
peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
Oh, blessed assurance! What child of God has not felt the
need of his Savior's support, and his Savior's sympathy?—when the language
of the soul was, "Vain is the help of man;"—amid doubts, and fears,
and sorrows—amid trial, and sickness, and distress. The best that man
can then do, is to stanch the wound, he cannot heal it—the best, to
make the tear flow less bitterly, he cannot dry it up—the best, to speak the
word of comfort, he cannot carry it home to the heart. So far as
permanent good goes, who has not felt the truth which Job taught his
friends?—"Miserable comforters are you all."
But oh! how different, when the soul in its extremity
casts itself at the throne of grace, and the earnest, importunate
supplication ascends to the Hearer and Answerer of prayer! Then does
comfort flow in upon the harassed spirit—then does peace—a "peace
which passes understanding," pervade the believer's heart—then does
faith rise with fresh vigor, and the language of the soul is that of the
psalmist—"O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I
sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my
fears." "I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my
supplications. Because He has inclined his ear unto me, therefore
will I call upon him as long as I live." "In the day when I cried you
answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul."
Reader! if you would know how every desire—every
petition—every prayer is met by a divine promise, study your Bible
carefully; and instead of brooding over your cares and troubles, your
sorrows and perplexities, take them at once to the mercy-seat, and you will
find comfort—relief—deliverance—hope. A few examples will suffice to show
what we mean by this "searching" of the Word of God. We shall first quote
the supplication—the prayer of the longing soul—and then place beside it the
gracious promise and encouragement of our heavenly Father.
Prayer.—"Strengthen, O God, that which you have
wrought for us."
Promise.—"He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the
day of Jesus Christ."
Prayer.—"O satisfy us early with your mercy, that we
may rejoice and be glad all our days."
Promise.—"My people shall be satisfied with my goodness, says the Lord."
Prayer.—"Strengthen you me according unto your word."
Promise.—"I will strengthen you."
Prayer.—"Help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on
Promise.—"The Lord shall help them and deliver them, because they trust
Prayer.—"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew
a right spirit within me."
Promise.—A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within
Prayer.—"Save your people, and bless your
Promise.—"Thus says the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will save my people."
Prayer.—"O keep my soul and deliver me."
Promise.—"I the Lord do keep it; lest any, hurt it, I will keep it night
Prayer.—"Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me in a
Promise.—"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall
go. I will guide you with my eye."
Prayer.—"Incline your ear unto me; in the day when I
call, answer me speedily."
Promise.—He shall call upon me, and I will answer him—I will be with him
in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."
Prayer.—"Make me to go in the path of your
commandments, for therein do I delight."
Promise.—"I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my
Prayer.—"My eyes are unto you, O God the Lord; in you
is my trust; leave not my soul destitute."
Promise.—"He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise
Prayer.—"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your
Promise.—"He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths."
Father of mercies and God of all grace, from whom comes
down every good and perfect gift, we bless and praise You for all Your
benefits. We thank You that You have not only provided for us all things
needful to sustain us in the present life, but that You are pleased also to
feed us with that spiritual food, whereby our souls may be nourished unto
Merciful Father, who has given Your own Son to be the
propitiation for our sins, grant us, for His sake, Your mercy to forgive us,
and Your grace to help us according to our need. Pardon all the defects of
our love to You, and all the excesses of our love to earthly things.
We confess, O God, that we have been prone to trust in
the creature more than in the Creator. We have leaned upon broken reeds and
hewed out empty cisterns. We have turned for help and support to an arm of
flesh. We have looked for guidance to the counsels of earthly wisdom, and
instead of acknowledging You in all our ways, we have often walked in the
sight of our own eyes and after the imagination of our own hearts.
Pardon, O God, for the sake of Your beloved Son, whatever
lack of confidence we have shown towards You; and lead us henceforth by the
teaching of Your Holy Spirit to trust in You with all our hearts. Increase
our faith in the promises of Your Word, and in the day when we cry unto
You—answer us and strengthen us with strength in our souls. Dispose us
entirely and cheerfully to cast upon You all our cares, humbly to commit to
Your keeping all our concerns, and earnestly to seek the aid of Your
strength and the guidance of Your wisdom in all our undertakings. Let Your
Holy Spirit dwell in our hearts, to witness with our spirits that we are
Your children, to sanctify us wholly, to fit us for Your service, and to
prepare us for inheriting Your glorious kingdom.
Suffer us no more to live unto ourselves, according to
the desires of a corrupt and sinful nature; but may He who died for us also
live in us, and raise us to that better life, which is holy, blessed, and
unchangeable forever. Grant, we beseech You, that, ever mindful of our high
calling, we may pursue our pilgrimage on earth, with spirits looking upwards
to You, as becomes those who are heirs of everlasting life.
Graciously hear us, O Father, and have mercy on us, for
the sake of Your beloved Son, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
Full of weakness and of sin,
We look to You for life;
Lord, Your gracious work begin,
And calm the inward strife!
Though our hearts are prone to stray,
O be our constant Friend;
Though we know not how to pray,
Your saving mercy send!
Let Your Spirit, gracious Lord,
Our souls with love inspire,
Strength and confidence afford,
And breathe celestial fire!
Teach us first to feel our need,
Then all that need supply;
When we hunger, deign to feed,
And hear us when we cry!
When we cleave to earthly things,
Send Your reviving grace;
Raise our souls, and give them wings,
To reach Your holy place.
God of my life, to You I call,
Afflicted at Your feet I fall;
When the great water-floods prevail,
Leave not my trembling heart to fail.
Friend of the friendless and the faint,
Where should I lodge my deep complaint?
Where, but with You, whose open door
Invites the helpless and the poor?
Did ever mourner plead with Thee,
And You refuse that mourner's plea?
And still the word does fixed remain,
That none shall seek Your face in vain.
Poor though I am, despised, forgot,
Yet God, my God, forgets me not;
And he is safe, and must succeed,
For whom the Savior lives to plead.