by William Nicholson, 1862
"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Luke 18:1
The parable by which the text is illustrated is very instructive. If perseverance in petition to a fellow-creature issues in success — then much more shall fervent prayer be regarded by God, who delights in his saints, and takes pleasure in the prosperity of his servants.
I. The Nature of Prayer.
Prayer is the presentation of our heart's desires to God, entreating him to regard them according to his gracious will. Formally it may be regarded as including:
Adoration or Reverence,
1. A knowledge of God . . .
as the God of grace through Christ,
as a sin-forgiving God,
as an all-sufficient God,
as bountiful and compassionate,
as omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent,
as the Father of Christ, and our Father in him.
2. A knowledge of ourselves . . .
as heirs of corruption,
as having great duties to perform,
as having malignant foes to encounter,
as having to honor God.
3. Faith in Christ as the medium of access to God — faith in his intercession. John 14:13, 14; Hebrews 4:15, 16.
4. The assistance of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26.
5. Petition for blessings suitable to God's will. 1 John 5:14.
6. Sincerity. "If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear!" Psalm 66:18 .
7. Fervency. Not the energy and warmth of the animal spirits, but the inward feeling of the heart expressed in prayer. James 5:6.
II. The Constancy of Prayer."Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
There is a disposition to faint . . .
from the pressure of worldly cares,
from prayer not being immediately answered,
from fear of man on public occasions,
from spiritual declension, neglect of prayer being one of the first signs of that declension — where the heart is not engaged, prayer will soon become a burden.
But men ought always to pray. When the appointments of the Church call — when spiritual conflicts alarm — when important duties are to be discharged.
We shall always be surrounded with sin.
The enemy of souls will never cease opposition.
We shall never be free from needs.
We shall never be independent.
We are always liable to err, and stumble, and fall into misery.
Therefore, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
We should pray in the closet — in the household — in the church, and always mentally as the case may require.
If we do not pray, we shall not overcome.
If we do not pray, we shall be lost.
In conclusion, Prayer is the very essence of spiritual pleasure, and the precursor of everlasting praise.
They who do not pray are ignorant, unsaved, and liable to perish.