by John MacDuff
Day 1 through 10
1st Morning—ALL NEED SUPPLIED
"My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19
O God, my Heavenly Father, who has permitted me to see the light and to enjoy the comforts of a new day, I bless You for the liberty of access into Your presence. Rend Your heavens and come down; fill my heart with Your love, as I draw near to the footstool of Your Throne. I thank You for Your gracious assurance that these Gates of Prayer lead to an abounding treasury of spiritual blessing, out of which all my need shall be supplied. In Jesus, my adorable Redeemer, infinite fullness dwells; and out of His fullness—the riches of Your glory in Him—You are willing to impart even grace for grace.
You have supplied all my need in the past. You have been a loving, a bountiful, and a wise Provider; satisfying me with the blessings of Your goodness, and giving help from trouble, when vain was the help of man. I look to You for guidance and direction in the future. That future is veiled and hidden—but it is in Your better keeping. I would say, in simple confiding faith, "Undertake for me." Hitherto have You been true to Your unfailing promise "As your day is, so shall your strength be;" and over every coming need and exigency I may well write "Jehovah Jireh," "The Lord will provide."
Supply that need this day. If called to do battle with evil, let me go forth in Your might, panoplied for the conflict. Strengthen me with Your good Spirit—fortify me against every temptation. In the extremity of my own weakness, may I lean on Your Almighty arm—hold me up, and I shall be safe. Preserve me from the world's insinuating, seductive power, and from the treachery and deceitfulness of my own evil heart. Order my steps in Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.
In the discharge of duty, may it be my effort and endeavor to subordinate the secular to the sacred. Keep me ever roused from the low dream of earth, to see, as in the patriarch's dream, the ladder of God. May Your providences be as angels traveling up and down that ladder, and beckoning me "nearer to You." Keep me from whatever would be detrimental to my spiritual interests—from all avarice and selfishness; from all malice and uncharitableness; from all indolence and sloth; from putting off until tomorrow what can be best done, and may only be done, today.
If You have given me of this world's goods, may I seek to be a generous distributor of Your bounties. If silver and gold I have none, may I give You the consecration of the heart, and the answer of the life; knowing that You accept, according to that a man has, not according to what he has not. Forbid that my talent, be what it may, should be hid in the earth. May I ever listen to the prompting "How much do you owe your Lord?" and with a quickened sense of my responsibilities to You the Great Creditor, may I be diligent, that I may be found of You in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Supply the need of those whom I love. Wherever my friends are, O ever-present God, protect and defend them by Your mighty power. If You send them prosperity, keep them from being intoxicated with it—if You send adversity, keep them from being unduly depressed by it. Enrich them with the blessings of Your covenant grace. May we all be bound up together, on the great reaping-day of Judgment, in the same 'bundle of life'.
Supply the need of those who are in sorrow. When human cisterns are emptied and human props removed, may they know You as the Portion that cannot be taken from them. May they honor You by being silent in the midst of perplexing dealings—recognizing these as the ministers of Your will, sent on a mission of wisdom and mercy, and that while they are only planning for time, You are planning for Eternity. May they trust Your sure word of promise, that though now they may see through a glass darkly—when death shall have rent with his wing the obstructing cloud, in Your light they shall see light. May the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, direct their hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
Bless the nations of the earth. Hasten the day when the nameless wrongs of a now groaning and travailing creation shall be redressed; when all heathen shrines shall be demolished; when will-worship and superstition shall cease. Turn the world's sighings into songs of gladness. Cause its sinful unbelief, the lust and tyranny of passion, the twin curse of slavery and war, to yield to the benignant scepter of the Prince of Peace. Increase the ministry of holy lives, and loving deeds. Purify Your churches more and more. Stimulate them to greater energy in Your service. As witnesses for You may they seek with augmented and ever increasing fidelity to show forth the Word of life—and may Your faithful ministers enjoy at last the blessed testimony, that they have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.
Listen to these my humble prayers, and when You hear forgive and grant me an answer in peace for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
1st Evening—THE GREATEST GIFT
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
Almighty God, I desire to approach Your gracious presence on this the evening of another day. I bless You that I can come to the Gate of prayer and know it to be a Gate of love. If the vast creation be Your temple, this is its "Beautiful gate," for God is love. All other powers of Your universe are vassal to love. It is Your nature, Your name, Your glory. No earthly friend could have loved me and cared for me like You. Man's love is finite, Your is infinite. Man's love is changing, Your is unchanging. Man's love must sooner or later die—change it may—perish at some time it must—but Yours is unfailing from everlasting to everlasting.
You have given me the mightiest proof of Your benignity and condescension in the gift of Your dear Son. His advent might have been for the world's condemnation—but "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." It might have been to pronounce the woe of eternal death—"but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Lord, if such has been Your love to me; how poor and cold and inadequate has been my return to You! I have before me, this night, the memories of neglected duty, slighted warnings, broken vows, forgotten mercies, resisted grace. I feel how sin darkens the understanding—perverts and alienates the will—deadens the heart—depraves the affections. I acknowledge my deep creature destitution; my sins of nature, my sins of practice; my shortcomings known to my fellow creatures, my sadder failures in heart and life, in principle and in duty, alone known to You. I have too often stifled the accusations of an upbraiding conscience—I have permitted the ascendency of worldly influences—I have bent like a brittle reed before the power of temptation.
I flee anew to the shelter of Your love. May my faith be simpler—deeper—truer. May I have a humbler reliance of the efficacy of the blood of atonement; and by the loyalty I owe to my Redeemer, seek to make a fresh dedication of myself to His service. I would see too, in the gift of Jesus, the pledge of all minor blessings. Let me have no over-anxious care for the future. With the Cross of Calvary before me, may I leave the unknown tomorrow, with all its solicitudes, in the better keeping of a faithful covenant God. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him."
Lord, mold my heart more and more in conformity with Your holy will. May I find pleasure in nothing without You; maintaining a constant and habitual hatred of those sins which have again and again severed me from Your favor. Keep me from pride and passion—from fretfulness and discontent—from envy and jealousy. Repress all inordinate and unlawful desires. May the faculties of my being and the strength of my affections be surrendered to Your service. May my soul be filled with the one absorbing passion of love to Him who first loved and so loved me.
Look down in kindness on my friends and relatives. May it be theirs also, through the Redeemer's merits, to have the gift of eternal life. May they be among the number of those who love You, who are said to be "as the sun when he goes forth in his might."
I pray for all whom You have visited with tribulation. May they know that Your purpose in bringing them into the threshing floor, is to separate the chaff from the wheat. May they see the winnowing fan in Your hand—preparing the grain for the heavenly garner. May all sick ones whom Jesus loves, triumph in His love—may the thought that You did not spare even Your own Son, hush every repining word—may they remember that every sorrow that wounds them has wounded Him. May dying ones listen to the pleadings of the Great Intercessor, "Father I will, that they also whom You have given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory."
Save Your people and bless your inheritance. It is upon a Rock You have built Your church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Be as a wall of fire around Your Zion and the glory in the midst thereof. May God be known in all her palaces for a refuge. May the watchmen on her walls be men of faith and men of prayer, who make mention of the Lord and keep not silence, until He establishes and until He makes His people a praise in the earth.
I desire to compose myself to rest at peace with You, exulting in the plenitude of Your love in Jesus. O God of love and of peace—be the guardian of my sleeping hours—and may every night as it comes round, find me more and more fit and prepared for entering on the great heritage of everlasting life, through my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
2nd Morning—THE OMNIPOTENT CHALLENGE
"He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Rom. 8:32
O God, I come into Your blessed presence, thanking You for the rest and the refreshment of the past night. I laid me down and slept, I awaked for the Lord sustained me. You might have made my pillow a pillow of death. But I am once more among the living to praise You—permitted to bend suppliant at the Gates of mercy, and to invoke the presence and benediction of the prayer-hearing God. I bless You for Your daily bounties of creation and providence—for food and clothing—for health and strength—for social and domestic comforts and endearments; for much that is bright and joyous in my lot. Keep me from the abuse of any of Your gifts, by permitting them to supplant the Giver—may they rather be hallowed and sanctified by linking them with Yourself the Great Bestower. May I be enabled with grateful heart to say, "All my fresh springs are in You."
I thank You especially for Jesus, my gracious Redeemer, the Son of Your love. I bless You that He, before whom angel and archangel, cherubim and seraphim, hymned their triumphant anthems, "laid His glory aside"—assumed our nature—and traveled down to this valley of tears, that He might lift us up from our state of ruin and degradation, and invest us with the glories of immortality. By all that He has done and taught and suffered; by the mystery of His holy incarnation; by His completed atonement and perfect righteousness; by the merits of His Sacrifice; by the virtues of His holy life as the all-perfect pattern; by His Intercessory work and mighty pleadings at the right hand of the Father—accept of my unworthy person; pardon my daily sins—receive the fresh consecration of soul and body to Your service. I will wash my hands (not in my own innocency) but in His, so, shall I now compass Your altar O Lord, and with the Golden key of Promise unlock the Gates of Prayer.
After this mightiest pledge of Your love, You give me a blank to fill up as I please with all other needed benefits. You put into my lips the gracious challenge "Will You not with Him also, freely give me all things?" Deepen in my heart the sense of my obligation to so gracious a Savior. Strengthen my trust in His unutterable—unalterable love. May His righteousness clothe me—His blood cleanse me—His grace uphold me—His Spirit sanctify me. May it be my daily and lifelong aspiration to be more and more assimilated to His glorious image. Even should I be called to suffer with Him here, may I cheerfully bear the cross, and remember that this is only a prelude to my reigning with Him hereafter.
Be with me this day in my ordinary avocations—whether these be household duties, or buying and selling and getting gain. Preserve me from using any means for the advancement of my own interests, on which Your blessing cannot rest. May I move uncontaminated through the world's various scenes. When temptation assails me, give me grace to resist it. Enable me to put a restraint on all angry or resentful passions, all uncharitable thoughts or insinuations; to seek to avenge injuries with love—unkindness with forgiveness—manifesting patience in the midst of provocation. May I seek to defend a brother's character and extenuate his failings—considering myself lest I also be tempted. Conscious of the supreme enthronement of Your love in my heart, may I be zealous in duty—patient in tribulation—humble and thankful; living under the sovereignty of that loftiest motive, to walk and act so as to please You. That so, when Christ shall come again, He may not find me asleep and unready—but prepared to go forth joyfully to meet Him in the company of His ransomed.
I pray for all the members of my household. May they be members of the household of faith—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ—having their names written in the Lamb's Book of life. I pray for friends at a distance. May they enjoy the fellowship of an ever-present never-absent God. May Jesus be their refuge in life, their strength in prosperity, their prop in adversity—and may the music of His name soothe and refresh their souls in death.
O You, whose heart of old bled for human misery—whose pathway through the world was paved with compassion; who in Your infinite tenderness did gather around You the poor—the helpless—the sick—the sorrowful—the brokenhearted, and, as the Great Physician, did heal them all—bend Your pitying eye on all who are in any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body or estate. Prepare the dying for death. As they feel the chill of the falling shadow, may they think of Him who has taken the substance of death away, and left nothing but the shadow. Grant that when the silver cord is loosed and the golden bowl broken, they may enter on the full fruition of those unspeakable joys which You have prepared for those who love You.
Hear these my unworthy supplications—and all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
2nd Evening—TRUST IN THE DARK
"Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." Isaiah 50:10
Heavenly Father, I come into Your presence through the blessed gateway of Trust; desiring to repose in the name of the Lord and to stay upon my God. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and is safe. This is Your name and this Your memorial throughout all generations—the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious. You are infinite in power and boundless in resources. Yet, though You are the mightiest of all Beings, You are also the kindest and the best of all. With You, there is an ever open door of welcome, for the poor—the helpless—the doubting—the desponding—the backsliding—the lost. While justice and judgment are the habitation of Your throne, mercy and truth go continually before Your face.
How wondrous has been Your sparing mercy in the past! The axe might long ago have been laid to the root of the tree—the mandate might have gone forth, "Cut it down." Yet with all my grievous guilt and constant backsliding, You are not "upbraiding;" Your hand of love and forbearance is stretched out still. Forbid that I should be tempted to give way to unbelieving doubts and misgivings, when You are thus waiting to be gracious. Let me not distrust the riches of Your Sovereign love and grace in Jesus, or fail to hold fast the beginning of my confidence.
O You who turn the shadow of death into the morning, enable me to confide in You in the midst of dark and perplexing dealings. Your name is often "Secret"—Your counsels are often "astonishing," walking in darkness Your people at times fail to observe the light. But let it be our comfort to know, that this fitful day, made up often of light and shadow—clearness and gloominess, is "one day known to the Lord;" and to trust Your promise, that "at evening time it shall be light." O Lord our God, who is a strong Lord like unto You! You rule the raging of the sea—when the waves thereof arise, You still them. Speak Your own "Peace be still," and immediately there shall be a great calm.
Abide with me for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. Forgive, for Your dear Son's sake, all the ills I have done this day; all shortcomings in duty—all selfish and unchristlike deeds—all tamperings with sin and temptation—all breaches and infringements of the golden rule—whatever would exalt myself at the expense of others. In the time to come, go before me with Your most gracious favor and further me with Your continual help. May the Lord God be a sun and shield—a sun to enlighten me in the midst of darkness—a shield to protect me in the midst of trouble.
Impart to me that charity which bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Deliver me from all unkind and censorious thoughts; from all reproachful and resentful words. O You who bore nameless wrongs and indignities—give me grace to overcome evil with good—remembering the saying of Your servant, "When you do good and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." Keep me from all corroding cares and feverish anxieties—let me ever confide my troubles in Your ear. Let the blessed influences of the truth as it is in Jesus, permeate and penetrate with their leavening power every daily duty, and brace me for the endurance of every trial.
I pray in behalf of all who are in sorrow; those suffering the infliction of bereavement—those enduring the pang of unspoken griefs, those hearts which know their own bitterness, walking in darkness and having no light. Preserve such, also, from the indulgence of a hasty spirit under dark dispensations. Let them know that in sending into the furnace, it is for purification not for destruction—to refine as the gold—to fit the better for Your service here, and for Your presence hereafter. Meanwhile, let them trust in the name of the Lord and stay themselves upon their God. May they too be enabled to say "I have remembered Your name O Lord in the night and have comforted myself!" Prepare the dying for death. May they hear the voice of Jesus proclaiming—"I am the resurrection and the life, he that lives and believes on me shall never die."
Bless all near and dear to me. May they have the seal of the life-giving God on their foreheads. Protect the young from those snares and temptations incident to early years—preserve them unspotted from the world—keep them as the apple of Your eye; hide them under the shadow of Your wings; and whatever separations time and distance and bereavement may make on earth, may there be at last, for severed hearts, a glorious and deathless reunion before Your throne.
Again I commend myself to Your Fatherly benediction. Watch over me during the night, granting me quiet and refreshing sleep. Let me go forth to the duties of tomorrow, and every new day, girded afresh for the conflict—trusting in the name of the Lord and staying upon my God. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
3rd Morning—PERFECT PEACE
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you; because he trusts in you." Isa. 26:3
O God of peace, who has brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep—meet me as I now stand by the Gates of the mercy-seat, and fill me with all joy in believing. Gracious Redeemer, Prince and Purchaser of peace, draw near to me in infinite love, and say, as You did to Your disciples of old, "Peace be unto you; receive you the Holy Spirit." Grant me throughout the day Your benediction and blessing. May the peace of God which passes understanding keep my heart. May I walk in the light of Your countenance, under the sense of Your presence and favor—enjoying the comfort of the divine assurance, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You."
Lord, You know the causes of disquietude and unrest—my sins and corruptions, my trials and difficulties, my struggles and burdens. I confess that the guilt and the misery of sin is all my own. You know that there has often been discontent where there should have been cheerfulness; murmuring where there should have been rejoicing; indolence where there should have been activity; self and selfishness where there should have been generous consecration to You, and a kindly interest in the well-being of those around me. If I have not been enjoying this perfect peace, O author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom stands our eternal life—whose service is perfect freedom, speak Your own omnipotent word, and immediately there will be a great calm. I would bring my sins to the Great Surety—I would lay bare my wounds to the Great Physician. Blessed Savior, renew and ratify to me, this morning, Your gracious gift and legacy "My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives." Looking to You, loving You, trusting You, You will prove my Shield in danger, my Refuge in adversity, my Comforter in sorrow, my Light in darkness, my Hope in death, my Defender in judgment, my Joy and Portion through eternity. O Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, grant me Your peace!
If, this day, in the course of my duties, whether in the quiet of home or in the bustle of the world, there be any thwarting of my will, or crossing of my plans, or wounding my spirit—let me manifest a spirit of meek endurance. Let me seek to deny myself and take up my cross and follow Christ. Give me the blessing promised "to him that walks uprightly and works righteousness." Preserve me at all times from sacrificing principle to temporal advantage. May I know the pleasure in some lowly way of doing good. May I seek to forego and conquer what pleases self, and to become more and more rescued from its iron tyranny. Enable me to struggle with my besetting sin whatever it may be; whether pride or ambition, malice or envy, indolence or sloth, lust or passion. May I seek ever higher acquisitions in the life of faith, and onward progress in the path of obedience; that so, when the hour comes which shall dissolve the tie binding me to the world, at peace with You and with all mankind, I may fall asleep in Jesus.
O Great Peace-giver, impart Your own gracious gift to all who need it. Give rest to the weary, hope to the desponding, wisdom to the ignorant, salvation to the lost. Promote true unity among Your people. Let the watchmen on the walls of Zion see eye to eye. Hasten the time when the jarring and dissonant notes in the church militant shall cease, and when the bonds of brotherhood shall link nations as well as believers together. Terminate everywhere the reign of godlessness and vice, of error and superstition. Look in mercy on Your ancient people who are still beloved for their fathers' sake. May they be brought to own and welcome Him whom they have so long rejected. Let Israel's Alleluia be added to the Gentile Hosanna. Tell the daughter of Zion "Behold Your King comes."
Bless all poor afflicted ones. May they be enabled in the midst of their trials to say, "If He gives peace, who then shall give trouble?" Let none despair when You smite, nor faint when You rebuke. With a rainbow of promise set in every cloud, may they be cheered with the hope that they shall before long come to look within the portal, beyond this land of drought and of the shadow of death; where the flock shall be led, forever, by the living fountains of waters, and every tear shall be wiped from every eye.
These and all other needed blessings for myself and others—I ask them all, in the name of Him whom You hear always, Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior—to whom with You the Father, and You ever-blessed Spirit, Three in One in covenant for our salvation, be ascribed, as is most due, all blessing, and honor, and glory, and praise, both now and ever, Amen.
3rd Evening—THE GREAT SUPREME
"From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can oppose what I do. No one can reverse my actions." Isaiah 43:13
O God, I desire to come into Your blessed presence, on this the evening of another day, adoring Your sovereignty. I rejoice in the simple but sublime assurance "The Lord reigns;"—that all events are in Your hands. The sparrow's fall is watched by You; the raven's cry is heard by You; the hairs of our head are numbered by You. In Your sight there is no such thing as great or small—mighty and insignificant. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. No mistake can occur in Your dealings—no shortcoming in Your wisdom—no failure in Your power—no faltering in Your faithfulness.
I rejoice especially to think, that You who are the Infinite Jehovah, are also my Father; that with filial confidence and boldness I may come into Your presence, trust a Father's tenderness, and resign myself to a Father's will. I can look up, through Jesus Christ my adorable Savior, and call You—the mightiest of all Beings—by Your new best name of—Love.
Alas! You have abundant reason to say, "If I have been a Father, where has been my honor?" I have disowned and abused Your paternal regard. I have not given You the trust of a loving heart—the obedience of a true life—the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit. Lord have mercy upon me! In penitence and contrition of soul may it be mine to say "I will arise and go to my Father." Heal my backslidings; receive me graciously and love me freely.
O You who alone works, and none can hinder it, may Your grace bring me nearer, and keep me nearer You. If You send prosperity, enable me to use Your mercies with sobriety and thankfulness—if You send adversity, may I glorify You when You smite, as well as when You heal; when You take, as well as when You give; rejoicing to say regarding each and all of Your dealings—"This also comes from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." Keep me from every base surrender to the power of temptation, the tyranny of self, the false maxims and principles of the world—the unruly forces of evil. In all duties give me Your help—in all perplexities aid me with Your counsel—in all perils grant me Your protection. May it be the aim of my life to obey You, and the joy of my soul to please You. Make me kindly in thought and gentle in word, and generous in deed—not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing, but rather a blessing; seeking day by day to attain a gradual conformity to the mind and image and will of the divine Redeemer.
Forgive, Lord, for the sake of Your dear Son, whatever I have this day done amiss, that I may retire to rest at peace with You, and in good will towards all men. Bless my beloved friends; may they too be led to exult in Your sovereignty—to rejoice that You appoint the bounds of their habitation, the length of their days, and the end of their days. Whatever be the period of existence You allot to them, may they be enabled faithfully to serve You. When the days of earth are finished, may they pass into Your blessed presence; and there, united in those ties which survive the uncertain ones of earth, may we be served heirs together to the grace of eternal life; even to "length of days forever and ever."
Great God of the afflicted, draw near in infinite love to all broken hearts. Seated by the furnace, temper the fury of the flames. By the sustaining power of Your grace and the comforting influences of Your Holy Spirit, may trial be disarmed of its sting and the bread of affliction be turned into angels' food.
Pity a perishing world—listen to the groanings and travailings of a creation cursed with sin and riveted with the chains of corruption. Lord mitigate her sufferings—redress her cruel wrongs. Stay the outpouring of vials of judgment. Come, Prince of Peace, Lord and Giver of life, take to Yourself Your great power and reign; and then shall the wilderness and the solitary place be made glad and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. Bless Your church universal. Give efficacy to all instrumental means employed, alike for reclaiming the outcast and perishing, and for building up and establishing Your people in their most holy faith. Send times of refreshing unto Zion. May the shower come down in its season, let there be showers of blessing. If Your faithful servants hear not the fall of the rains—nor watch the distilling of the dew—if they see neither the fruit nor the flower; may they sow in faith, knowing that Your word shall not return to You void—that it will accomplish that which You plead, and prosper in the thing whereto You had sent it.
Anew I commend myself to Your guardianship and keeping. Give Your good angels charge concerning me this night, that they may encamp round about me. When the Gates of the morning are again opened—may it be mine to go forth to the varied duties and occupations of another day, in fresh dependence on Your mercy and loving-kindness. And all that I ask is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
"How excellent is your loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings." Psalm 36:7
O God, whose nature and whose name is love—whose tender mercies are over all Your works, draw near to me this morning and breathe upon me Your own benediction. As I am seated once more at the Beautiful Gate of Your Temple—may I put my trust under the shadow of Your wings. The kindness of the kindest knows a limit—but Your kindness knows no limit. You have been gracious to me in the time that is past. Your pillar of cloud has been with me by day, and Your pillar of fire by night. In difficulty You have directed me—in weakness You have strengthened me. You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling—giving me ever new causes for gratitude, and new material for praise. Even when the shadows of affliction have fallen around me, You have mingled sweet drops in the cup, and enabled me to sing of mercy in the midst of judgment—staying Your rough wind in the day of Your east wind. The retrospect of life is crowded with Ebenezers, testifying that "hitherto has the Lord helped me."
O You "Sun of my soul," who is thus gladdening my existence from day to day, and who has given me the mightiest proof and pledge of Your loving-kindness in the gift of the Redeemer—do enable me to trust You implicitly in the future, and to seek in all my ways to acknowledge You. My purposes and plans of life I commend to Your better wisdom. May prosperity be hallowed, and adversity sweetened, by seeing You in everything—and everything in You.
May all the gifts of Your bounty wear a new aspect, coming with the seal of Your covenant love stamped upon them. May that love reign paramount and supreme. May it preside over all my motives—form them—rule them—regulate them. May all good impulses be followed and pursued into vigorous action. May my heart be Yours, my life be Yours, my work be Yours. May a sense of Your loving-kindness mold and influence my conduct towards those around me. Keep me from whatever would wrong another's feelings. Preserve me from a resentful spirit—from morbidly dwelling on injuries—from fretting and disquietude about imagined cares and evils. If the circumstances of my lot prevent me making any great or laborious efforts in Your cause, may I remember that the lowliest service done for You will not be rejected or disowned. Give me a conscientious fidelity over the few things—if You have not made me steward over many things; and at last, through the merits and mediation of Your dear Son, may an entrance be ministered to me into Your eternal kingdom and glory.
I pray for my dear friends—may they also know, in their happy experience, the excellence of Your loving-kindness. May they give You, not the wrecks of a worn and withered love, but in all time of their wealth, as well as in all time of their tribulation, seek to live in Your fear and favor.
O You who did of old utter the merciful apology for human infirmity, "The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak"—draw near in infinite compassion to those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate. If Your dealings are mysterious—as those who know Your loving-kindness, may they put their trust not only under the brightness but under the shadow of Your wings. In darkness, as well as in sunshine, may they glorify Your holy name; and regard all as a needful discipline and training. If portionless and friendless here—may they be led nearer to Yourself—the everlasting Friend and Portion. Let despairing guilt and trembling penitence find refuge at the feet of the Great Physician. May the balsam distilled from the Tree of Life heal their soul troubles. If the kindness of man be denied them—Lord may they know the "excellence" of Yours.
Promote every effort for the extension of Your Son's kingdom. May Your churches fulfill their responsibilities to those still sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, in a spirit of faith and prayer, undeterred by difficulties, unbaffled by discouragements. If the furrows in many places be inviting the immortal seed, do send forth faithful laborers—men inspired with a passionate devotion to You and Your cause, a self-sacrificing enthusiasm for Christ, and for the salvation of the world He died to redeem. May they be cheered with the promise, "In due season you shall reap, if you faint not."
Anew, I commend myself, soul and body, to Your Fatherly keeping. Assist me in all my duties. Stand by me—protect me—shield me—strengthen me. Preserve me in Your faith, fear, and love, all the day long. If temptation in any shape crosses my path—by the help of Your grace may I resist it. Dwelling in the secret place of the most High, may I abide under the shadow of the Almighty. And all I ask is for the sake of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior—Amen.
4th Evening—THE HOLY SPIRIT
"The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Rom. 8:26
O God, I desire to come through the opened Gates of Prayer, to the footstool of Your Throne, thanking You for all the mercies of the by-past day. Spirit of light and love! You who make intercession in behalf of the church and of every individual believer, with groanings which cannot be uttered—You who feed the lamp of devotion with the oil of Your grace—do replenish my vessel this night, as I venture into the presence of the Holy One. Put earnest desires into my heart—enabling me to hunger for the bread which endures to everlasting life. Let me rest on the sure encouragement given by lips which cannot lie—"If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."
Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before You, and am no more worthy to be called Your child. Times and days and ways without number, I have grieved Your good and gracious Spirit. I have too often done what might have quenched the light of His presence—thwarted the drawings of His love—and hushed the voice and remonstrances of conscience. I have too often permitted my heart to be the home of impure thoughts and vain imaginations. I have sought to invent unworthy apologies and extenuations for my guilt, or attempted to consign to oblivion what cannot be forgotten by You, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden. Enter not into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight shall no flesh living be justified. Come, Spirit of the living God, as an Enlightener, dispersing my darkness—rebuking my unbelief. Come, as a Sanctifier, expelling the power and the love of sin. Come, as a Comforter, easing my doubts and unloading my burdens. Come, above all, as the Glorifier of Jesus—receive of His, and show it unto me. Come, with new pledges and tokens of Redeeming love and mercy. Come, as the Spirit of adoption, enabling me with filial trust and confidence to cry "Abba! Father!" Come, in all the plenitude of Your gifts and graces, and breathe upon me and say "Receive the Holy Spirit!"
Under a sense of my own weakness and insufficiency, I would resign myself to Your gracious influences. Write Your own superscription on my heart—"Holiness unto the Lord." By Your indwelling power, subdue my corruptions—stimulate my graces. Let me not remain fruitless amid the quickening means of grace. Faithful to whatever duties may be allotted to me in my earthly sphere, may I be fitted and prepared, by Your guidance and discipline, for the higher services of eternity, and for entering on the fulfillment and enjoyment of the lofty beatitude, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Thus building up myself on the faith and promises of the Gospel, "praying in the Holy Spirit," may I keep myself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Bless Your church everywhere. Open the windows of heaven and refresh Your heritage when it is weary. Let the Divine Spirit come down like rain upon the mown grass and as showers that water the earth. Let no part of the fleece be dry. The Spirit of the Lord is not straitened. "Awake O north wind, come you south wind—blow upon Your garden, that the spices thereof may flow out—that our Beloved may come into his garden and eat his pleasant fruits."
To the same gracious keeping and protection, I commend all near and dear to me. Cause them to lie down in the green pastures, lead them beside the still waters. Restore their souls, and lead them in the paths of righteousness for Your own name's sake. May all in sorrow have their sorrows sanctified. May they, lovingly and without a murmur, accept every cross, knowing that all rebukes as well as blessings emanate from You. May Your Providences prove heart-searchers—strengthening the things that remain, which might have been otherwise ready to die. Thus may the shadow of death be turned into the morning—and the trial of faith, being much more precious than of gold which perishes, though it be tried with fire, be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Anew I supplicate forgiveness for the sins of the past day. Anew I would wash in the opened fountain, and plead the name which is above every name. Be my guardian through the silent watches of another night. Abide with me, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. As You have permitted me once more to erect my altar and to offer this my evening oblation—do spare me also, in health and strength again to see the light of a new day, and to rise fitted and prepared for its varied duties.
I ask these and all other needed blessings, for the sake of Him whom You hear always; who, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever lives and reigns, one God; world without end. Amen.
"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14
Heavenly Father, I desire to come into Your presence thanking and praising You for Your great goodness. Let me 'shake off dull sloth;' and in the name and merits of Your dear Son, lay upon Your holy altar an acceptable sacrifice. Glory to God who has watched over my pillow and permitted me to rise in safety. May this be an emblem of that better waking in the morning of immortality, when I shall see Your face, and be called to partake of endless life. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him—unto the soul that seeks Him. Waiting on You now without distraction, may I receive strength and courage for all the duties of a new day. I would confide to Your ear every need, every care, every sorrow, every cross. May this be my prayer and my resolve, as the Gates of another morning are opened—"My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from Him."
What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me? Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Enable me ever to link true happiness and enjoyment with Your favor. May I know more and more Your service to be self-rewarding and self-recompensing. There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord lift up the light of Your countenance upon me!
But, alas! I do not thus at all times wait upon You in simplicity of faith and with unwavering reliance. My fitful affections have too often been deviating from their all-glorious Center. I have allowed myself to be cumbered with much serving—a slave to needless anxieties and distractions—distrustful of Your providence—sometimes, it may be, impeaching Your wisdom and faithfulness—questioning the rectitude of Your dispensations, and tempted to look to second causes rather than to You the First Great Cause. I have not been at all times willing to accept this as the Sovereign reason and explanation of Your dealings "This also comes from the Lord Almighty, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." O You who keep covenant with those who seek You, do increase my faith. Confirm my wavering resolutions. Waiting upon You afresh, may I renew my strength, and mount up as on eagles' wings. Give me the heart to love and the resolution to do. In all my worldly duties and engagements, may I have no aims but what You will approve, and no ends but what You will bless.
May Your Word, with its precious lessons and elevating motives, be inweaved into my daily life, leading me to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Inspire me with devout acquiescence in Your will, knowing that whatever You appoint must be for the best. Keep me from presaging and forecasting evil. Preserve me from peevishness and fretfulness—from petulance of temper and hastiness of speech—from covetousness and selfishness. May I take the golden rule as my guide in all transactions this day and every day—"Whatever you would that men should do to you, do even so unto them." Whatever be the talent You have entrusted to me, may it be laid out for You, and may I seek to gain by it a revenue for Your glory. As a faithful steward in my Lord's household may I be diligent, that I may be found of Him at last in peace, without spot and blameless.
O God of all the families of mankind, may Your way be known upon the earth, Your saving health among all nations. Bless the land of our nativity. Protect and perpetuate its civil and religious privileges. May it be more and more a center of holy influences radiating to earth's circumference. May its rulers be increasingly inspired with that fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom, and be guided by that righteousness which alone exalts.
Bless my beloved friends wherever they are. Unite them to You in those covenant ties which will survive the uncertain ones of earth. May they be Yours now, and Yours on the day when You make up Your jewels.
May the sick and the suffering "wait on the Lord." Strengthen such as be on beds of languishing—make all their bed in their sickness. May the bereaved "wait on the Lord"—trusting You in the dark, and adoring Your name alike in giving and in taking. May the dying "wait on the Lord." Calm the wave of ebbing life. Turn the shadow of death into the morning. May the gates of death prove the portals leading into everlasting day.
Prepare me, gracious God, for my own final hour of weakness and suffering, by consecrating the season of health and strength to You; so, called to surrender my earthly trust, I may be able in calm confidence to say, "I have waited for Your salvation, O Lord."
Hear in heaven, Your holy habitation, these my morning supplications; and when You hear, forgive, and grant me an answer in peace. Through Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
5th Evening—THE CROSS OF CHRIST
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Gal. 6:14
O God, I desire to approach the throne of the heavenly grace, rejoicing in You as a kind and beneficent Father. Your mercy is infinite—unchanging—everlasting. Enable me with childlike trust and confidence to bow at Your footstool. With joy, this evening, may I "go down with Your people to the Gates," and draw water out of the wells of salvation.
Lord, I come, owning my great unworthiness. How weak has been my faith! how languid and fitful my best efforts to serve You! In prosperity I have too often disowned You; in adversity I have been tempted to entertain hard thoughts of You; in the world I have too often forgotten You. My own heart condemns me, and You are greater than my heart—You know all things.
I come with my poverty and helplessness, my doubts and conflicts, my foes and fears, my difficulties and perplexities, my sorrows and my sins. I would lay the heavy burden of them all, at the foot of the Redeemer's cross. In that cross alone I would glory. I look away from myself to His completed work. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Seal to me the blessed assurance of pardon and peace and eternal life. From Him who bled for me as an atoning sacrifice, may I receive a passport now into the privileges of the Heavenly Kingdom; and from the same gracious lips, may I at last listen to the welcome, "Enter into the joy of your Lord."
Meanwhile, may I aim at advancement in the divine life. Let me make no truce with whatever is at enmity with You. Enable me in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to cast out every demon-sin. May His cross exercise upon me a constraining power; teaching me thus to judge, that if one died for all, then all were dead—and in that He died, He died that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again. May I seek henceforth, that my heart may be a holy altar and my life a living sacrifice. Let me be vigilant and circumspect in my daily duties. Set a watch before my mouth, keep the door of my lips. Deliver me from the trouble and disquietude and shame which follow every deflection from the path of rectitude; from being arrogant, or discontented, uncharitable, or time-serving—from being tempted to stoop to base compliances and unworthy equivocations. May a sense of Your presence dominate all my actions; and a holy fear of offending so kind and loving a God, repress every unholy thought and tendency. May it be my greatest pain to grieve You, and my greatest delight to do Your will—whether by active duty or by passive suffering.
May I feel that in common with all Your people I have some sphere allotted to me—some niche to occupy in Your temple, whether it be by working or by waiting. Following the footsteps of the Redeemer with cheerful alacrity, may I know that even the taking up of the cross, when this is required, is its own reward—that they have cause to rejoice who are honored thus to be partakers with Him in His sufferings, that when He shall be revealed, they may be glad also with exceeding joy.
Bless my beloved friends. Bring them individually to know Christ crucified as the power of God unto salvation, and to realize, above all other things, the truth of the words, "The Redemption of the soul is precious."
Hasten the time when the year of Your Redeemed shall come; when the "many crowns" shall be set on Messiah's brow, and by the attractive power of His cross all men shall be drawn unto Him. Prosper the work of Your ministering and missionary servants—may they be faithful and loyal to their divine commission and to their adorable Master; hiding themselves, and glorifying Him—losing themselves, as they proclaim their great message—"Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world."
Bless all in sorrow. May they, too, be led meekly to bear their cross, remembering all their dear Lord so patiently and willingly endured for them. May they see the heavenly mansions shining through the mists of the Valley; and hear the divine voice declaring, "the days of your mourning shall be ended."
Lord be my watchful Keeper through the silence and darkness of another night. Guard me from unquiet dreams—give me peaceful rest—spare me, if it be Your will, to see the light and to enjoy the comforts of a new day—and grant, that during all the period of my allotted time on earth, whether I wake or sleep I may live together with You. And all I ask or hope for, is in the name, and for the sake, of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
6th Morning—SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING
"Be anxious for nothing—but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Phil. 4:6
O God, I desire on this new day, in accordance with Your own gracious invitation, to make my requests known unto You. Blessed Redeemer, You who are the True Aaron, the Great Angel Intercessor, You who are ever pleading in love and never pleading in vain, do come forth from the Holiest of all, to the multitudes of Your waiting people, assembled this morning at the Gateway of Prayer, and bless them with peace. Breathe upon us and say, "Receive you the Holy Spirit."
The retrospect of the past is a retrospect of love—mercy upon mercy—privilege upon privilege. For all Your providential goodness, Lord, I praise You. For health and strength, for friends and home; for powers of body and faculties of mind; for my religious privileges, for all appointed means of grace, for the glorious hope of immortality; for peace amid the manifold changes of life; for comfort in sorrow; for the assurance of victory over death—the last enemy—Lord, I praise You. I have to acknowledge my many and multiplied offences—that in thought and word and deed I have transgressed against You, O Preserver and Redeemer of men. I have too often sought for happiness in objects and pursuits which fail to satisfy the yearnings of the immortal spirit. I have too often indulged in feelings and tempers inconsistent with my Christian profession—unworthy of the love I owe to You my God, and the good-will and generosity and forbearance I owe to my fellow-men. Lord, have mercy upon me! Save me from the sins which do most easily ensnare me. From the love of the world which alienates my affections from heavenly realities—from the love of self which interferes with the entire consecration of the heart to Christ—from the covetousness which hardens—from the impurity which debases and enslaves—from every evil lust and passion and temper—good Lord, deliver me! Conscious of my own utter weakness, I would look for the supplies of Your promised grace. By it alone I stand. If I am enabled this day to resist temptation, it is all Your doing. It is You who uphold me by Your right hand.
Under the realized consciousness of Your sustaining presence, may I be anxious for nothing—committing the unknown future to Your wise and better keeping. Burdened with no perplexing or disquieting thoughts, but rolling every such burden and anxiety on Him who cares for me, may the peace of God which passes all understanding keep my heart. With my feet on the unchanging Rock of Ages, I will rejoice, amid all trials and vicissitudes, that nothing is able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, my Lord.
Let Your good and gracious hand be specially around me today. Strengthen me for the discharge of every duty, whether at home or in the world. Prepare me for the resisting of every temptation and for the endurance of every trial. Whatever be the talent You have committed to me—whether position, or intellect, or worldly substance—may I feel the sacredness of the trust, and seek thankfully to employ it for the good of others, and for the glory of You, My God. Enable me to aim at that high standard of Christian responsibility, which regards all possessions valuable, only so far as they contribute to show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into marvelous light. Living under the habitual impression that soon—very soon—that committed trust may be recalled, oh, give me grace to fulfill the part of a faithful steward.
Compassionate those who are in trial. Listen to the loud wail of humanity; especially to that rising from the members of the household of faith. Blessed Redeemer, it is our comfort to know, that wide as the family of the afflicted is, You can say regarding every diversity of case and experience, "I know their sorrows." May Your suffering people be brought into nearer relationship and fellowship with You. Amid the mystery of present baffling dispensations, may they look forward to that day, when, in the light of eternity, they shall listen to the repetition of Your own saying—"Said I not unto you that if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?"
Let the cause of truth triumph over the pride and superstition and will-worship of man. Hasten the time when earth shall become one consecrated temple—every heart an altar—every life a sacrifice—every tongue praise. Human power is impotent to break the chains of sin and Satan. But the wisdom of God is wiser than man, and the weakness of God is stronger than man. It is not by human might nor by human power, but by Your Spirit, Lord God Almighty.
Anew I commend myself to You. May the love of God the Father animate me—may the grace of God the Son sustain me—may the fellowship of God the Holy Spirit quicken and sanctify me. O blessed Three in one! make me fit now and evermore, for the inheritance of the saints in light. Amen.
6th Evening—THE UNSEEN TRUSTED
"Although you say you shall not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust in him." Job 35:14
O God, I bless and praise Your holy name, that I am again permitted to hold fellowship and communion with You the Father of spirits. I might, like others this night, have been summoned to the Gate of death; but I am once more privileged to be a suppliant at the Gate leading to the mercy-seat, with the golden key in my hand, and the assurance that a God of mercy is waiting to be gracious.
I desire to bless You for Your constant, unwearied kindness. I would seek to extract motive for gratitude from every varied token and tribute of Your love. I bless You for exemption from danger and accident, from pain and sickness and disease. I bless You for health and strength; for manifold outer comforts and domestic enjoyments. Above all do I bless You for the good hope through grace—the hope full of immortality—which You have given me in Your beloved Son; and that, with the Greater Gift, You will freely bestow all things needful, alike for my present peace and my eternal well-being. O Savior God, who has redeemed me with Your most precious blood, to whom can I go but unto You? I am persuaded You are able to keep that which I have committed unto You. I bless You that, as the Son of man, You came to seek and save those who are lost—as the Good Shepherd who gave his own life for the sheep—the weakest, the weariest, the most burdened of the flock can claim Your regard. You mark out our pasture for us. You know Your sheep by name and lead them out. If at times I am unable to understand the mystery of Your dealings—if at times You lead along the thorny path—teaching by crossed purposes and baffled and thwarted expectations—may it be mine to confide in Your unerring wisdom.
Knowing that "judgment is before You," may I implicitly trust Your faithfulness; glorifying Your holy name by unquestioning submission, saying "Lord, here am I—do to me, and with me, as seems best in Your sight."—"Though You slay me, yet will I trust in You." Strong in Your grace, may I strive to live under the sovereignty of that loftiest motive—that whatever pleases You shall please me; that whatever be Your holy will shall be mine. If the path of prosperity should be chequered—if human props fail, and human refuges reveal themselves to be refuges of lies—if worldly substance be impaired, or earthly love dies—may the perishable and corruptible only drive me nearer to the incorruptible—to seek closer and more intimate fellowship with Him in whose presence there is fullness of joy. Thus, trusting You and loving You, let me rise superior to all that is fleeting and fluctuating around. In quietness and confidence let my strength be.
Keep me from moping over fancied ills, or brooding morbidly over disappointments. Let me feel that, had it been well for me, my desires would have been gratified; but in Your better wisdom You have denied what, if granted, might have proved detrimental to my soul's interests. Preserve me from all pride and vain glory—make me charitable and forgiving—kind and unselfish—cheerful and thankful. Give me that lowliness of mind which leads me to esteem others better than myself. O that each member of Your family who bears the name of Christian, could more heartily make the avowal—"None of us lives to himself."
Bless, Lord, all the children of sorrow. Some of these may be experiencing overwhelming afflictions. There may seem to them no ray in the darkness—no silver lining in the looming cloud. Set Your own rainbow in it. Enable them to rejoice even under the shadow of Your wings, and to sing their "song in the night." May they, too, implicitly trust You, that You will impose no needless burden—that all Your dealings are interlaced and interweaved with mercy—that judgment (wise and righteous judgment) is before You. May their trials yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
Bless Your church everywhere. Prosper her in all her undertakings for the good of man and for Your glory. Bless Your ministering servants—make them polished shafts in their Master's quiver—honored instruments in turning many from darkness to light. Endow them with spiritual energy, zeal, and fortitude, in days of coldness and lukewarmness, apathy and apostasy. May all Your churches, walking in the fear of God and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, everywhere be multiplied.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for?—my hope is in You! Pardon whatever I have this day thought amiss, and said amiss, and done amiss—all commissions of sin, all omissions of duty. Abide with me for it is toward evening and the day is far spent; and when the day of life is spent, and the last shadows have fallen, may it only be to welcome in "the morning without clouds," and to enjoy forever the brightness of Your presence and the plenitude of Your love. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake, Amen.
7th Morning—OUR FATHER
"Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name." Matt. 6:9
O Lord, God Almighty, the God of my life and the length of my days, I come to You this morning, seeking to realize You in Your paternal character. I bless You if I am able to utter that gospel word—that gospel name—"My Father;" if I am able to feel that the Gates of prayer are the gates leading to a Father's house, a Father's presence and love. I bless You that I have the warrant of Your adorable Son in appropriating the words "My Father and your Father, my God and your God;" that I have His own encouraging assurance "If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him." I would avail myself of the privilege. I would bring all my needs and sins, my difficulties and trials and perplexities, and pour them into the loving ear of a most loving Parent. Deliver me from bondage-worship and bondage-fear, and enable me with the sweet confidence of Your children to say "Abba! Father."
Lord, how unworthy have I proved myself of this holy relationship. If You have been a Father, where has been Your honor? If You have been a Master, where has been Your fear? Thus unfaithful and unfilial, You might justly have disowned and disinherited me—left me an alien and an outcast from Your presence, and refused forever to "set me among the children." But adored be Your name, O Father-God, that in the midst of deserved wrath, You have remembered and are still remembering, mercy. Your hand of love and forgiveness and pity is stretched out still. Your paternal voice is still heard, "Return, you backsliding children." Although often, by reason of my own truant wanderings, I have been ready to perish for hunger, there is bread enough still in my Father's house and to spare. Lord, evermore, and more and more, give me this bread of life! Graciously forgive and forget the past, and arm me with Your grace for the future. Give me childlike repentance—childlike faith, childlike obedience. Enable me to lean with calm trustfulness on You. Prevent me from inflicting any wound on my own conscience that would alienate me from Your favor. Keep me from living as if this world were my final rest, and home, and portion. May I seek, rather, to live from day to day as one whose true home is above—as if on the threshold of the Father's house with its many mansions, and ready for the summons "Come up here."
As a child, may I be jealous of Your honor. May I seek to make manifest the reality of my filial relationship, by meekness and gentleness, by obedience and love. Give me that charity which is the bond of perfectness. Put a sanctified restraint on my thoughts. Preserve me from uttering unkind words, or entertaining ungenerous suspicions. May I seek to hold the character and reputation of others, sacred as my own.
O You who does compassionate, even "like as a father pities his children," do pity and commiserate all the members of suffering humanity, especially those who are of the household of faith. Lord, there are many sorrows no human sympathy can reach. There is nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. But You can gauge the depth of all. Impart to Your tried children, everlasting consolation and good hope through grace. Let them trust a Father's love, a Father's hand, a Father's heart, a Father's rod; regarding Your dealings as needful discipline; and honoring You by simple, confiding, unreserved submission. Prepare the dying for death. If it be Your holy will, bring back the shadow on life's dial, and utter the word "You shall live and not die."
Bless all my beloved friends near or at a distance. Let them, too, become Your own children by adoption—exulting in the fullness and beneficence of Your paternal love—listening to Your voice amid all the changes of this changeful scene, "I will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters."
Prosper every missionary effort. Blessed be Your name, the day has come, when "neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, do men worship the Father;" but that gracious Fatherhood extends to every region and every tongue. Give to all nations peace and concord, that the furrows of the earth may be prepared for the insertion of the divine seed. Let Your ministers be diligent sowers and abundant reapers—baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Give greater unity of effort in Your cause. May this be, more and more, the motto and watchword of all Christians and all Churches—"Doubtless You are our Father."
Be with me throughout this day. As the Gates of the morning are now opening, may I realize Your blessing, and carry it along with me into all my duties. Hear me, Gracious Father, for the sake of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
7th Evening—AN IMMUTABLE SAVIOR
"Jesus Christ—the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Heb. 13:8
O God, who has again brought me in peace and safety to the close of another day, I bow my knees this night at the throne of the heavenly grace; beseeching You, before I retire to rest, to give me Your blessing. It is in the name of Him who holds in His hand the Key and the Gates of Prayer—who opens and no man shuts—that I can alone venture to come into Your presence. I rejoice to think that He has wrought out and brought in an everlasting righteousness—that He has thrown the luster of a sublime vindication over every requirement of Your law. I rejoice especially in His unchanging faithfulness. While recalling, with devout gratitude and thankfulness, all He did and taught and suffered on earth; how oftentimes He delighted to minister to the sick, and support the tempted, and heal the broken-hearted, and offer peace and rest to the weary and heavy laden—it is my comfort to feel assured, that, though now exalted at Your right hand, He still retains, in His glorified humanity, the unchanged human heart with its yearning love and sympathies; that, amid all other vicissitudes, there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning," in Him. His name and memorial continues to this hour what it was, when He trod, a Pilgrim wanderer, this valley of tears—"Jesus Christ—the same yesterday, today, and forever."
O God, before the Gates of another evening be closed, and I again lie down to sleep, grant me the forgiveness of all the day's sins, of thought, word, and deed—of omission and commission. Blot them out of the book of Your remembrance; sprinkle anew the lintels and door-posts of my heart with the covenant token; hide me anew in the clefts of the Smitten Rock; seal to me anew the blessed sense of reconciliation through the blood of the cross. And while I look to this immutable Savior—this Rock of Ages—for pardon and peace, give me grace that I may be more and more assimilated to His holy image, and more and more molded in conformity to His holy will. Impart to me His meekness, His humility, His gentleness, His forgiveness of injuries—His tender consideration for others; that patience under provocation which made Him stand as a Lamb silent before His shearers; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously. Make me more lowly and loving—more resigned and submissive. May I live under the power of renewed affections. Influenced and guided by lofty principle, may my eye be single, that my whole body may be full of light. Raise me above all fretting cares and timid fears, above all morbid anxieties and solicitudes about trifles. Let me have the fear of God and no other fear. When heart and flesh faint and fail, may I triumph in the immutability of Him who has promised to be the strength of His people's heart, and their portion forever.
Extend Your cause and kingdom everywhere. How long shall the wicked triumph? save Your people, bless Your inheritance; feed them also, and lift them up forever. I would rejoice in the thought, that Your gospel is the power of God unto salvation—that as such, under its blessed instrumentality, every mountain of unbelief and error will in due time become a plain before the true Zerubbabel. Do demonstrate now, as in the previous history of Your Church, that it is not the vaunted armor of earth's great ones, but the sling of faith and the few pebbles from the running brook of truth, which will conquer the world's unbelief. Bring in Your ancient people with the fullness of the Gentile nations. Have respect unto Your covenant—the oath which You did swear unto Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Arise, O Lord, and plead Your own cause.
Bless all related to me by ties of kindred or affection. The Lord watch between us when we are absent one from another. May they be among the beloved of the Lord who dwell safely—may the joy of the Lord be their strength.
Compassionate the case of poor afflicted ones. When their hearts are overwhelmed, O unchanging Savior-God, lead them to Yourself—the Rock that is higher than they. Whatever be the cause of their trials, may they be enabled, in unmurmuring, uncomplaining submission to say, "Even so, Father!" In the midst of impaired health, and thwarted schemes, and disappointed hopes, and broken hearts, and voices hushed in death, may it be theirs exultingly to exclaim, as they look to One who survives all blanks and losses, "They shall perish, but You remain; as a vesture shall You fold them up, and they shall be changed; but YOU are the same, and Your years shall not fail."
These, and every needed blessing, for myself and for others, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
8th Morning—THE HIDING-PLACE
"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion—in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock." Psalm 27:5
O God, who is the refuge of all that seek You, may I know this day the blessedness of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and who abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I rejoice that I am never a solitary moment away from Your guardianship and care—that You compass my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Amid all changes You are the abiding One. The world's joys are shadowy and fleeting—they mock the hand which grasps them—the world's refuges are refuges of lies. But in the pavilion of Your love I am ever safe and secure. Hide me there until earth's calamities be overpast. I adore You as the Supreme Disposer of all events. Your purposes no accident can change—Your faithfulness no time can impair—Your counsels no created being can question or resist. Blessings and trials, comforts and crosses, come alike from You. You send the gourd. You send the worm. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? I adore You especially as the God of Salvation, and praise You for the riches of Your sovereign grace in Jesus.
I acknowledge my great unworthiness. I have to mourn the constant cleaving of defilement to my nature; that while earnest in the pursuit of earthly things, I am prone to languish and grow weary in the things of God; that while I would do good, evil is present with me. In the season of prosperity, when receiving manifold gifts at Your hands, I have been too ready to forget the gracious Giver. In the hour of adversity, or even amid the fretting anxieties, and troubles, and solicitudes of life, though You have invited me to the secret of Your tabernacle, there to unburden my needs, and sorrows, and perplexities, I have too often fled to other solaces, and put my confidence in unworthy supports, or else given way to murmuring and repining under Your righteous chastisements. Lord hide me alone in the clefts of the Rock of Ages! In the finished work and glorious righteousness and exalted sympathy of the God-man Mediator, may I find the shelter I need—a free and secure refuge from the storm, and covert from the tempest. Everywhere else in danger and trouble, may I feel that there I am safe. If sin has alienated me from that service in which I once delighted—if my love has been waxing cold—my affections becoming lukewarm and dead, revive and quicken me. Strengthen the things that remain which are ready to die. Return, O Holy Dove—blessed Spirit—Messenger of peace and rest!—enable me to hate the sin, whatever it be, which led me to forfeit the comforting sense of Your presence. Come, breathe upon my dry bones that they may live.
I know not what temptations I may be called today to encounter—temptations in business, in the family—in the world. In every trouble, whatever it may be, O fulfill Your own promise, and hide me in the secret of Your pavilion. Keep me from evil thoughts, evil wishes, vain imaginations. May the influence of the truth as it is in Jesus, mold and renew, control and elevate my whole being. Loving You, my God, may that love embrace all mankind. Give me that charity which is the bond of perfectness. Preserve me from the indulgence of implacable and malevolent feelings—the retaliation of wrong—the resenting of injuries; from all that would promote my own advantage at the expense or by the injury of others. Keep me from covetousness, from inordinate craving for mere material good—and make me more solicitous about the one thing needful—the only enduring riches of eternity—thankful for the many blessings of the present life, and seeking gratefully to enjoy them—yet living in the habitual anticipation of the Lord's second coming—"that blessed hope"—which, like a rainbow of promise, spans the sky of the future. May I be looking for it—preparing for it—longing for it—living for it. The Lord grant unto me that I may find mercy of the Lord on that day!
Bless my dear friends. May each one of them, too, have their feet planted on the Rock which cannot be shaken. May ties, at best precarious on earth, be rendered indissoluble by grace. I pray for all sufferers. In the time of their sore trouble, do hide them specially in Your pavilion, and as the beloved of the Lord—who have the covenant mark upon them, may they there dwell safely.
Have compassion on a world lying in wickedness. May abundant showers of blessing descend on those vast tracts of heathendom wherein Your faithful missionary servants are laboring. May they see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in their hands.
I anew commend myself to Your gracious care and keeping. Be this day my shield, my glory, and the lifter up of my head; and when all my work on earth is accomplished, in Your own good time do receive me to Yourself, and number me with Your ransomed Church in glory everlasting. Through Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
8th Evening—COMFORT IN DEATH
This gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter—
"Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil—for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
I come to You, Blessed Lord, this evening, thanking You for all Your mercies. How manifold have been the proofs and tokens of Your kindness and faithfulness! The past has been paved with love. There is no friend in the world who has been like You, and none so willing to befriend me. You have showered me with the blessings of Your goodness. While others have been laid on beds of sickness or cut down by sudden death, I am still among the living to praise You. Above all, You have bestowed upon me the Gift of gifts—that Gift which in magnitude and preciousness dwarfs and absorbs all others. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable Gift! Life may well be a perpetual hymn of gratitude for all these Your unmerited mercies, alike temporal and spiritual. I am unworthy of the least of them. It is to Your free Sovereign abounding Grace I owe them all. Not unto me O Lord, not unto me, but unto Your name I would give glory for Your mercy and for Your truth's sake.
While grateful for countless present blessings—Oh, prepare me for that solemn time, when they shall come, every one of them, to be renounced—when the trust of existence must be surrendered to You, the Great Being who conferred it. I bless you for Him who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light. In His cross, the last Enemy has been robbed of its sting and the grave of its victory. With that cross in view, may I see the Dark Valley flooded with celestial radiance—the gate of the grave and the gate of heaven become one! May I see in death, the birthday of a new being, in glory everlasting.
Lord, enable me habitually to bear about with me the solemnizing truth—that "as men live so do men die"—that as death leaves us, so will judgment and eternity find us. May it be mine to have the girded loins, and the burning lamp, and the ever-vigilant watchfulness—that when my Lord comes, I may be among the waiting servants who are ready to open unto Him immediately. Let Your love, meanwhile, form the animating motive and principle in all I do. May I be dying daily to self and to sin. May I live now as I would wish I had been living when the time of my departure is at hand—leaving nothing for these closing moments. May the best of life—not its dregs, be given to You. Whether I live may I live unto the Lord, or whether I die may I die unto the Lord—whether therefore I live or die, Lord, may I be Yours. That so, whatever be the term of existence apportioned to me here, I may at last be ushered into the enjoyment of Your presence, and into the possession of length of days forever and ever.
Look down in compassion on the whole human race. May the time be hastened when from every nation of the earth the cry shall arise, "Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigns! The kingdoms of this world have become the one kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ."
I pray for all upon whom the hand of sorrow is laid. May those racked with suffering and disease, who are saying in the morning "Would God it were evening," and in the evening "Would God it were morning," look forward to that glorious time when there shall be no more pain; and to that glorious place "where the inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick." May all who have been called to witness the shadows of death gathering around those they love, rejoice that in Jesus the substance of death has been taken away—that to depart and to be with Him, is indeed far better. May those now entering the final conflict gird themselves with the plighted promise of the great Vanquisher—"Fear not; I am he who lives and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of the grave and of death." Commending them to the hand of a sustaining God and supporting Savior, may they have nothing to do but to die. May angels be waiting to carry their spirits into the Redeemer's bosom.
Meanwhile, good Lord, be my Shepherd and I shall lack nothing. Make me to lie down in the green pastures—lead me beside the still waters. Whatever be Your dealings, may these result only in restoring my soul, and leading me in the paths of righteousness. And then, when I come to walk through the Dark Valley, I shall fear no evil—for You are with me supporting me with the rod and staff of Your comforting promises. May goodness and mercy, like two guardian angels, follow me all the days of my life; and may my dwelling be in the house of the Lord forever.
These, and all other needful blessings for myself and for others, I supplicate in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ—my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
9th Morning—THE FAITHFUL SAYING
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance—that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." 1 Tim. 1:15
Heavenly Father, Almighty and Everlasting God, I approach Your gracious presence, thanking You for the mercies of the by-past night and the renewed comforts of another day. O You who has anew opened the Gates of the morning, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, do shine into my heart. May no "earthborn-cloud arise," to intercept the light of Your countenance. May the morning radiance without, be to me the emblem of that inner sunshine with which You visit the souls of Your people.
I come rejoicing in You as my Creator, Preserver, and bountiful Benefactor. You have never left Yourself without a witness in that You are continually doing me good. I have no memories but of Your unceasing care and kindness—Your unvarying paternal love. I come rejoicing in You especially as the God of Salvation; exulting anew in "the faithful saying" which is as faithful as ever, and as worthy of all acceptance as ever, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.
Lord, I have to mourn my constant proneness to depart from You—the instability of my best resolutions—the fitfulness of my best frames and feelings—the sordidness of my best motives. I confess, without reservation, my heart-sins, lip-sins, life-sins—omitted duties—abused mercies—unsanctified warnings—love of the world—love of ease—love of self—taking Your gifts and forgetting the Giver—seeing my brother have need, and shutting up my compassion. Blessed Savior, ever living—ever loving—Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which is lost—who does, through Your precious sacrifice, cover all claims and cancel all debts—do have mercy upon me. I confide in Your infinite power and wisdom. There is a potency in Your name to soothe every fear and to hush every sorrow. Say in the might of Your mingled omnipotence and love—"Your sins are all forgiven you." I cast myself on You, alike for time and in eternity. In life, may I feel the power of Your sustaining grace; in trouble, the support of Your tender consolations; and in death the all-sufficiency of Your exceeding great and precious promises.
Keep me this day, in my worldly business and avocations, from whatever would be injurious to my spiritual interests, or that would soil and blemish my Christian character. I know not into what unforeseen sins and temptations I may be betrayed. I know not what guilty thoughts may find expression in unworthy and hasty and sinful words—defiling my conscience and dishonoring Your holy name. Keep me from whatever is mercenary and avaricious—from all double dealing—from seeking to accomplish any end by deceitful means on which Your blessing cannot descend. Preserve me from the selfishness that would appropriate Your gifts alone for personal enjoyment and gratification. If I have in any measure freely received at Your hands, may I feel it alike my duty and my privilege freely to give—seeking to act under the lofty motive of pleasing You, and doing good unto all men as I have opportunity.
Lord have mercy on the afflicted. Point wounded spirits to the Great Physician, of whom it was said that "He healed them all." May they consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest they be wearied and faint in their minds. May every rebellious tear be dried, as they listen to the gracious assurance—"As many as I love I rebuke and chasten." Recover the sick. Provide for the fatherless and the widow, and him who has no helper. May bereaved ones hearken, amid the shadows of the Valley, to the beatitude of the heavenly voice—"Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth—Yes, says the Spirit, for they rest from their labors and their works do follow them." May all sufferers in this suffering world look forward to that happy time, when not a groan shall be heard throughout Your ransomed creation—but when delivered from the bondage of corruption, it shall be translated into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
Bless Your Church. May she be the honored instrument, more and more, of reclaiming those who are out of the way. Multiply the number of Your devoted servants at home, who are ready to rush with their censer and incense between the living and the dead that the plague may be stayed. Bless all missionaries abroad—those who, in heathen lands, are preparing the way of the Lord, and making straight in the desert an highway for our God. May they not be afraid of evil tidings, but may their hearts be fixed trusting in You. May the faithful saying—Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners—so potent in the past, vindicate, its claim still, to be the power of God unto salvation.
Anew I commend myself, and all near and dear to me, to Your gracious care and keeping. Fit me for life, and for death, and for eternity. For Jesus' sake, Amen.
9th Evening—NEEDED DISCIPLINE
"He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Lam. 3:33
O God, enable me to approach this night the footstool of Your Throne, with child-like confidence and love. Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust. May the Holy Spirit—the Sanctifier, the Quickener, the Comforter of His people, visit me with His gracious influences. Open the windows of Heaven, and send down some drops of the plentiful rain with which You refresh Your heritage when it is weary, that I may feel it to be good for me to draw near unto God.
I desire to make acknowledgment of my many sins—my rebellious thoughts, my unbelieving doubts, my heinous backslidings—my murmuring under Your chastisements, my resisting of Your grace, my grieving of Your Spirit. My best motives have been mixed with self-seeking, arrogance, and vain glory. My best services have been marred with imperfection and impurity. If You O Lord should mark iniquity—who would stand? But there is forgiveness with You that You may be feared. Impart to me the blessed sense of Your pardoning mercy. Restore unto me the joys of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your free Spirit. If You are on my side, I shall fear no evil. The light of Your countenance and the assurance of Your favor can compensate for all losses. Whether You send adversity or prosperity, whether You conduct by the mountain or by the valley—by steep and crooked ways, or by smooth and pleasant ways, let this be my comforting assurance and rejoicing confession—"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth!" "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation, on You do I wait all the day." Should You see fit to subject me to severe and arduous discipline—may I rest in the sweet confidence that it is needed; that it is a Father's rod that smites, and a Father's voice that speaks. You do not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. Enable me to maintain the testimony of a good conscience. In simplicity and godly sincerity, may I keep myself unspotted from the world, and seek in all things to glorify Your holy name. Lift me out of the region of self. Conform me more and more to the image of Your dear Son. Keep me from all evil surmisings; from all unkind interpretations of Your dealings. Give me the sanctified use of Your dispensations; that so, when the angel of affliction comes down and troubles the pool, I may step in and be purified—and thus the trial of my faith may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Look down in compassion on the extensive circle of sufferers, in a suffering world. O Prince of Sufferers, who alone, by experience, can gauge the depth of Your people's sorrows, draw near to all such in Your infinite mercy, and say "I am the Lord who heals you." May they listen to the reason of their trials coming from Your own lips of love—"Your Father knows that you have need of all these things." Comfort them with the thought of the better world, where the pang of sickness is never felt, where the shadow of death never falls, and where the tear of bereavement never dims the eye. Strengthen and sustain the dying. Grant unto them an abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom.
Promote Your cause everywhere. Encourage the often drooping hearts of Your ministering servants at home, as well as those who are lifting up their voices amid the wastes of heathenism. Hasten the day when the wilderness and the solitary place shall be made glad for them; when the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. Prosper all measures in this our land which tend to promote the social well-being, and the growth and spread of true and undefiled religion. May our nation continue, as in past ages, a faithful witness for the truth, and a diffuser of holy influences. As the recipient of manifold spiritual riches and blessings, may she feel more and more her duty and responsibility, to be the almoner of these to others less highly favored. God be merciful unto us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—that Your way may be known upon the earth—Your saving health among all nations.
Anew I commend myself, and those near and dear to me, to Your gracious care and keeping. May every night find us pitching our tents nearer heaven and nearer to You—and at last, in the morning of immortality, may we be permitted to awake in Your likeness, and to rejoice evermore in Your presence and love.
And to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be ascribed all blessing, and honor, and glory, and praise, world without end. Amen.
10th Morning—STRONG CONSOLATION
"So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us." Hebrews 6:17, 18
O God, I beseech You to draw near to me in Your great mercy. My voice shall You hear in the morning, O Lord—in the morning will I direct my prayer unto You and will look up. Fill my heart with Your love; that I may feel the Gate of prayer to be as the Gate of heaven—the portal opening into a Father's presence.
I bless You that amid all changes You are unchanging—that amid the instability and insecurity of human purposes—the fickleness of earthly counsels—I can exult in Your faithfulness. You are the same. "The Lord lives and blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted." I thank You especially, for the purchased blessings of that everlasting covenant which is well ordered in all things and sure. By two immutable things—Your oath and Your promise—in which it is impossible for God to lie, I have strong consolation.
And yet Lord, I have to acknowledge with shame and humiliation, that I have not been living up to my privileges. I have not been realizing as I ought to have done, my position and prospects as an heir of these exceeding great and precious promises. Your mercies have been too often received with unthankfulness, and Your chastisements with repining. I have to bewail my lack of faith and lack of love—my coldness and deadness—the dullness of my spiritual perceptions—the often surrender of my heart to objects and pursuits on which Your favor cannot rest. I have too often given to self, and the world, and sin—those affections and that service which should have been inalienably Yours.
Where can I look, in the hour of conscious unworthiness and demerit, but to the "strong consolation" of Your blessed Word. If I have forgotten and forsaken my first love—if other lords have had dominion over me—if like a vessel I have broken loose from my moorings and been drifting away from You, may that hope—the hope of forgiveness now and the hope of heaven hereafter—both purchased and sealed for me in the cross of Your dear Son—be as an anchor of the soul sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil.
Fit me this day for the battle of life. Trusting to the promised aids of Your Spirit, may I be enabled to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. Keep me from absorbing love of earth—from all forbidden paths—from all doubtful and debatable ground. Preserve me from the lusts which debase, the selfishness which hardens, the anger or malice which, if unchecked and unrepressed, may grow into malevolence. Give me a spirit of watchfulness—keeping vigil even in the hour of apparent security; ever listening to the needed monition "When you think you stands, take heed lest you fall." Preserve me from hard construction of Your dealings—from hard construction of the doings and dealings of my fellow-creatures—from censorious and ungenerous suspicions. May I strive to make charitable allowance for those who injure me—eschewing all hastiness of speech or temper. If exposed to unmerited wrong, may I leave my cause with You.
I pray for all who may still be far from You—living without God and without hope in the world. May they also be led, before it be too late, to flee for refuge and lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel—confiding in the inviolability of Your own oath and promise, "As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies."
Hear the cry ascending from the dark places of the earth, full of the habitations of cruelty. Lord, how long? Let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; let the reign of the just be established. Bless and prosper every mission cause and enterprise. May idols be dethroned and idol-worship abolished, and may men know that You, whose name alone is Jehovah, are the most High over all the earth. Bless our beloved country. Give to its rulers wisdom and prudence and energy—a sense of responsibility to You, by whom kings reign and princes decree justice. Reform whatever is evil—protect, conserve, and perpetuate whatever is good.
O God of the mourner!—to the fatherless be a Father—to the widow a husband—to the friendless a friend. May all afflicted ones know, in the midst of their sorrows, the strong consolation imparted to those who have fled to Christ for refuge. Great and manifold as are Your consolations at all times, You are specially a present help in trouble.
I again commend myself to You and to the word of Your grace. Be ever at my right hand and I shall not be moved. As an heir of promise, may my eye be upwards and my footsteps onwards. May everything tend to promote my spiritual advancement. May the joys of the way and the trials of the way alike bring me nearer heaven and nearer to You. I ask these and all other needed blessings, in the name of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
10th Evening—GOD IS LOVE
"He who loves not, knows not God; for God is love." 1 John 4:8
Almighty and everlasting Father, the God of my life, the length of my days, I desire this evening, before I retire to rest, to offer the tribute of grateful praise for all Your mercies given to me, and to supplicate Your blessing and guardian care during the silent watches of the night. I adore You for the gracious manifestations You have made of Your name and character and attributes—as the Holy and the Righteous, the Just and the True. Above all, I bless You for Your best, Your endearing name—"God is love." Your outer creation proclaims it—the vocal melodies of forest and grove—the placid heavens above, and the bounteous earth beneath—spring in its buds of promise, and summer with its wealth of beauty. In a silent hymn of thanksgiving, universal nature testifies, "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works."
But it is in the work and atonement of Your dear Son, You have given the mightiest proof and pledge of the great love with which You have loved me. It is while seated at the foot of His cross, that I can most truly exclaim, "Herein indeed is love!" I rejoice to think of the eternity of that love—that it existed before the birth of time or of worlds. You loved Your people with an everlasting love. And knowing no beginning of days, neither does it know end of years. Loving Your own who are in the world, You loved them unto the end. O You, whose nature and whose name is love, bring me to live under the power and influence of this divine perfection. May I be enabled, more and more, to love Him who has first loved and so loved me. Keep me from the guilt of requiting Your love with ingratitude. May it secure and conciliate my confidence and trust. Deliver me from every heart-sin and life-sin that would tend to intercept its gracious effluence. By needed and salutary discipline, wean me from every less worthy object of affection. Subordinate all creature and created love to the divine. May the love of God be shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit given unto me. Even should You see fit to chequer my path with trials, may these prove heart-searchers, testing the depth and reality of my devotion to Him who must do all things well, and nothing but what is well; so that I may be able to say, under every varying scene of changeful life—"I have known and believed the love which God has to me."
Bathed in the element of love to You a loving God, let me seek to love all around. Give me large and generous thoughts and plans for the welfare of others. May that love of Yours, which has my own heart and the circle of my more immediate influence for its center, have the world for its circumference. Let it radiate forth to all mankind.
Keep my dear friends and relatives in this same pavilion of love. May they pillow their heads this night on the divine assurance, "He who spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things." Linked to one another and to You in these bonds of holy fellowship, may we together look forward to that daybreak of immortality when this divine affection will be enthroned supremely in every heart; when at last we shall all be able to comprehend, in some feeble measure, what is the height and depth and length and breadth, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.
Bless all in sorrow. May they indulge no hard suspicions of Your faithfulness—may they trace no footsteps in their darkened way but the footsteps of love—may they hear no voice in their hushed chambers but the voice of love. May they listen to this explanation of Your dealings, "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten."
Hasten the day, when this world, now groaning and travailing in pain and clad in the garments of sorrow, shall be arrayed in festive attire, and be enabled to exult in the glorious liberty of Your children. Send times of refreshing unto Zion. Create upon all her dwelling-places and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night—upon all the glory be a defense. Arise, O Lord, and plead Your own cause.
Be pleased to forgive whatever in thought, in word, or in deed, I have committed against You this day. Before I retire to rest, sprinkle my heart with the covenant token. Oh, unslumbering Shepherd of Israel, guard my midnight hours; and when the Gates of the morning again are opened, may they be opened anew to the light of Your love, and to fresh heart-consecration to Your service and glory.
I present these humble supplications, relying on nothing in myself, but trusting alone for pardon and acceptance and peace, to the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.