James Smith, 1856
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25
Beloved reader, we live in peculiar times, and should
exercise peculiar vigilance. We greatly need power — the power of God. This
alone can convert the sinner, quicken the saint, and revive the church. God
is willing to give it — but He will have us feel our need of it,
believe his promise, and earnestly plead for it. He waits to be
gracious. United, believing prayer, would do wonders. Many professors do not
feel this. Do you? The design of these lines is to stir such up. Will you,
before you read, go upon your knees for five minutes, plead with God for his
blessing, then rise and read the remainder of this article, as under God's
eye? Read, and lay it upon your conscience: having done so, carry out the
INDUCEMENTS TO ATTEND THE PRAYER-MEETING
1. Would you avert the judgments deserved by our guilty land, and which, perhaps, like thunder-clouds hang over it? Go to the prayer-meeting, and plead with God for it.
2. Would you draw down blessings upon the world, the church, your family, and your own soul? Go to the prayer meeting, and plead with God for them.
3. Would you help to revive the church, and cause it to flourish, increase, and grow? Go to the prayer-meeting, and plead with God for a revival?
4. Would you encourage your pastor, and render his ministry powerful, unctious, and efficient? Go to the prayer meeting, and plead with God for him.
5. Would you comfort, assist, and stimulate your fellow-members? Go to the prayer-meeting, and plead with God for them, and with them.
6. Would you be useful to souls — to sinners in their conversion, backsliders in their restoration, and saints in their edification? Go to the prayer-meeting, and plead with God for them.
7. Would you resist and conquer Satan, both as a seducer and an accuser? Go to the prayer-meeting, and plead with God against him.
8. Would you rise above business while in it, and live above the world while passing through it? Go to the prayer-meeting, and plead with God for his blessing upon it?
9. Would you stimulate and make a good impression upon dull, heavy, sleepy professors? Let them see that you go regularly to the prayer-meeting, and there plead with God for them.
10. Would you see the Word of God made effectual in the conversion of many sinners to Christ? Then, go to the prayer meeting, and plead with God that it may have free course and be glorified.
11. Would you be happy in your own soul, enjoying the testimony of an honest conscience, and a Divine blessing on the means of grace? Go to the prayer-meeting, and plead with God for others.
12. Would you please God, and obtain the testimony that
you walked with God, as Enoch, did? Then, go to the prayer-meeting, and by
earnest prayer, hearty praises, and cooperation with the saints — honor Him
whose grace has distinguished you from those around you.
QUESTIONS TO THOSE WHO NEGLECT PRAYER-MEETINGS
1. Are you always better employed? If not, can it be right in you to be absent yourself?
2. Do you get more good to your own soul, and do more good to others, by staying away? If not, can you be acting wisely?
3. Does your own conscience justify you, or have you not sometimes a difficulty in keeping it quiet on the subject?
4. Will a death-bed commend your present course, or will you then look upon your neglect of prayer-meetings with pleasure?
5 Does not your pastor suffer by your neglect? Does it not hurt his feelings, cool his zeal, and hinder his usefulness?
6. Are not your fellow-members in the church discouraged by you, and may you not thus offend Christ's little ones?
7. Is not your own family injured by your neglect? How will your children think of prayer-meetings, as they see you habitually neglect them? Is it surprising if they despise them?
8. Just so, is there no reason to fear that unconverted sinners may be both hindered, and led to think lightly of prayer — by your conduct?
9. Can you have a proper concern for the prosperity of the Church, the spread of Christ's cause, and the conversion of sinners — if you never meet to pray for them?
10. Are you sure that you fulfill your duty as a church-member, while you neglect prayer-meetings? Is neglect of duty no sin, and is there no probability of your being called to account for it?
11. Did anyone ever really gain anything, either in temporal or spiritual things — by neglecting prayer-meetings? If you think so, can you prove it?
12. Is there no selfishness, or pride, or worldly-mindedness, at the root of your neglect? If so, ought such things to bo encouraged?
13. Would it be right to give up the prayer-meetings? Do
you think this would please God, or improve His cause? But if all the
members did as you do — then must they not be given up? Could not the rest
find excuses for staying away, as well as you? Do you not think they would,
if their hearts were as worldly, or as cold, or as indifferent about the
prosperity of the cause, as yours is?
WHAT DOES NEGLECTING PRAYER-MEETINGS SEEM TO SAY?
Actions speak louder than words!
1. I do not believe that there is power in prayer, or that there is more power in united prayer than in the prayer of one Christian alone, though the Savior says there is (Matthew 18).
2. I do not wish the church to rise, increase, and flourish — at least, if it cannot do so without my frequenting the prayer meeting, it shall not.
3. I do not trouble myself about sinners going to Hell, therefore I do not go to the prayer-meeting to plead with God to save them.
4. I have no sympathy with my pastor, who makes so much of prayer-meetings, and such a stir about the revival of religion.
5. I do not want too much religion, I like the middle way, and wish to avoid all extremes, especially being extremely zealous in religious matters.
6. I do not believe that God cares whether I go or not, nor do I think that he will ever trouble me or himself about it.
7. I say let those go — who have nothing better to do. I can employ my time better than in going to prayer-meetings.
8. I used to go once, because I imagined good was to be done by going — but I found out my mistake, and therefore I gave up going.
9. I am concerned to take care of the main chance, I mean my own business, therefore I give myself to it, and just take spiritual things by the way.
10. I do not believe that God requires the like of me to go to the prayer-meetings, who have so much on my head, hands, and heart. "He will have mercy — and not sacrifice."
Reader, do you neglect the prayer-meeting? If so, is the
above your portrait? Is it at all like you?" Is there no resemblance? Is it
not just in plain words — what you say every week by your conduct? Let
conscience be honest for once, and give a plain and direct answer.
EXCUSES OR REASONS FOR NOT GOING TO THE PRATER-MEETING
1. My pastor is so very anxious about these meetings, and so urgent upon the members to attend them — that it is like driving people to them, and I am determined that no man shall drive me. True, I did not go often before — but I will not go at all now, for I hate coercion, especially in religion; if I cannot be led, I will not be driven.
2. 1 do not go to the Sunday morning prayer-meeting, because it is rather early, and I prefer sleeping to praying. True, I get up as early, or earlier, every morning in the week — but that is to make money, which is a very different thing.
3. I do not go to the week evening prayer-meeting, because I can generally find something that needs doing in the counting-house or workshop — but if I do not, I prefer sitting down and looking over the newspaper, or some interesting book, or having a little interesting chat with a friend.
4. Besides this, it is some distance to the place where the prayer-meeting is held. True, I would go as far if I wanted anything from the market or shop, or if I was called out to do a little job of work, though the profit may be very small.
5. In addition to this, prayer-meetings to me are poor, dull meetings. I prefer a committee meeting, or a good public meeting, or an eloquent exciting sermon from some great man. I always go out when I think there is anything worth going to.
6. If I would live to retire, and get a house near the place of worship — I think it is very likely that I would go; as I think such meetings are very well for old people, and such as have much leisure time on their hands. True, I don't see many such that do go, they dine so late, keep so much company, and prefer the drawing-room to the house of prayer — but I hope I would be an exception to the general rule.
Reader, would not your reasons or excuses for neglecting prayer-meetings sound very much like some of the above — if put into plain language? But do you dare put them into plain language, and then go upon your knees, and present them to God? If not, why let them influence your conduct as they do?