A Universal Prayer

James Smith, 1860


If a prayer is to be universal, it must be expressed in the most simple language, that all may understand; and it must be for some blessing, that all really need. There are such prayers in the Bible but they are brief; indeed all inspired prayers are. I am thinking of one, which if all men knew their real state, had a revelation of God in Christ, or were taught by the Holy Spirit, would bid fair to be universal. I have often presented it, and shall no doubt, if I live, often present it again. It is this, "Save me for your mercies' sake!" Psalm 31:16.
 

The Blessing Sought, is a blessing that is universally needed. All are lost as sinners, and all must perish except they are saved by grace.

We must be saved from our sins and this requires an atonement. Nor will an atonement alone do; it must be applied; and we must experience the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. The power of God, as well as the grace of God, is necessary to our salvation.

We deserve punishment, endless punishment; for what cannot be inflicted in degree, must be inflicted in duration: nor will punishment change the nature, or fit us to be what God requires, and the necessity of the case demands. Our deserts must be endured by another, and the guilt, dominion, power, and love of sin be destroyed by a divine agency.

We must be saved from our foes internal and external, human and infernal.

We must be saved from our fears, our follies, and our corrupt wills. We need a salvation, which will expiate guilt, renovate the nature, subdue every foe, overcome every internal and external obstacle; deliver us from evil, and put us into the possession of every good. Such a salvation, God alone can produce, consequently we need a divine Savior, and may therefore well cry out to Omnipotence, "Save me for your mercies sake!"
 

The Plea, is one that may be universally employed. We do not pray to be saved, on account of anything within us, or anything done by us, or any desert on our parts. Not because we feel, or promise to do anything but for your mercies' sake.

Save me, and so exalt your mercy, above all your perfections.

Save me, and so get glory to your mercy, both in Heaven and earth, in time and eternity.

Save me through your mercy . . .
which is strong enough, being linked with Omnipotence;
which is free, and requires no recommendation of the creature;
which is varied, and therefore suits every case;
which is constant, and cannot be diverted from its object;
which is tender, and can sympathize with the most desperate case; and which is at liberty to exert all its power, and display all its glory, in saving the vilest of the vile, since Jesus died.

Blessed be God, every obstacle and impediment is now removed out of the way! Therefore, God is just while he shows mercy to the greatest criminals! God is holy while he saves the foulest transgressors. Mercy harmonizes with truth, and justice unites with peace, in our salvation. O glorious work of Jesus, through which a foundation is laid for the hope of any poor sinner, who cries from the depths of his soul, "Save me for your mercies' sake!"
 

The Source Applied To, is one that is open to all. It is not to any creature who is changeable, and may be unfeeling, or lofty, or revengeful, or distant, or disdainful. Not to a proud priest, nor even to a holy virgin. It is to Jehovah, the first letter of whose name is gracious, and the second is merciful. It is to the Lord, who is rich in mercy, plenteous in mercy, and abundant in goodness, and in truth. Nor only so but he delights in mercy. Delights to exert it, and show it, and glorify it, in the poor, miserable, and wretched sons of men.

His throne is a mercy-seat,
his heart is mercy's home, and
his promise is mercy's pledge.

He has shown mercy to thousands to millions!

He has shown mercy to multitudes who never thought of it, or desired it, or sought it but he never denied mercy to one who applied for it in the name of Jesus.

He saves, and saves as an act of mercy. He saves the greatest sinners, and saves them in the exercise of sovereign mercy. Let us, then, in all times of danger, in all seasons of trouble, when guilt burdens the conscience, or darkness broods over the mind let us cry aloud to him, "Save us for your mercies' sake!"

Reader, do you ever pray thus? Have you ever cried from the depths of a burdened heart, for salvation? Have you ever appealed to the mercy that is in God, to save you from the sin and misery that is in yourself? If so, you often cry out, you frequently pray, "Save me for your mercies' sake!"

Are you saved now? All who applied to Jesus in the days of his flesh, continued their application, until they obtained the blessing not one was sent empty away.

If the blind came for sight they went away seeing.

If the sick came for healing they went away healthy.

If the guilty came for pardon they went away justified.

Just so, all who are taught by the Spirit of God, cry for mercy until they obtain it; and seek salvation until they enjoy it. Therefore we ask you, Are you saved now? Can you rest without salvation? What, enjoy life while you know that you are in the gall of bitterness? What, be merry, be cheerful, be comfortable when life is so uncertain, and there is but a step between you and Hell? Can you rest without salvation? Rest not! Rest not another day, another hour, another moment but cry, cry to God; and be this the burden of your cry, "O save me for your mercies' sake!"
 

With melting heart and weeping eyes,
My guilty soul for mercy cries;
What shall I do, or where flee,
To escape that vengeance due to me?

Until now, I saw no danger nigh;
I lived at ease, nor feared to die;
Enrapt up in self-deceit and pride,
I shall have peace at last
, I cried.

But when, great God! your light divine
Had shone on this dark soul of mine,
Then I beheld with trembling awe,
The terrors of your holy law!

How dreadful now my guilt appears,
In childhood, youth, and growing years!
Before your pure discerning eye,
Lord! what a filthy wretch am I!

Should vengeance still my soul pursue,
Death and destruction are my due;
Yet mercy can my guilt forgive,
And bid a dying sinner live.

Does not your sacred Word proclaim
Salvation free in Jesus' name?
To him I look and humbly cry
O save a wretch condemned to die!
    by John Fawcett