"I am the God of Bethel." Genesis 31:13.

God is now His own Artist. Hitherto, the divine portraits upon which we have gazed with such sacred delight, were drawn by human hands, "holy men of God, as they were moved by the Holy Spirit," presenting such views of the character of God as met the varied conditions of His people; thus confirming our previous observation, that each title and perfection of God harmonized with some particular need of His Church. But, in the present chapter of our work, the Great I AM shall present His own Divine likeness, drawn with a vividness and fidelity such as He only could command. "I am the God of Bethel."

Who can mistake the Artist, or question the identity of the picture? The language of the one is too stately and commanding, and the likeness of the other too divine and life-like, to admit of a moment's doubt. It is Jehovah who speaks, and speaking of Himself, says "I am the God of Bethel." The word "Bethel" means, "the House of God," and the occasion on which it was thus used marked a memorable event in the history of Jacob, suggesting some spiritual reflections appropriate and profitable to the Christian and devout mind.

The patriarch was now an exile and a wanderer, fleeing from the vengeance of Esau. He had, on this occasion, been journeying more than four hundred miles through wild and inhospitable deserts; and at night, weary and footsore, he took a stone for a pillow, and laid himself down on the cold, dewy earth to sleep. That was a memorable night in his history. While he slept, a vision of singular character and glory appeared to him. It was a 'ladder,' its foot resting on the earth, and its top in heaven. Ascending and descending this mystic communication between the two worlds, innumerable angels were seen, 'ministering spirits,' doubtless, sent from heaven to 'minister' to this tried servant of God. But the most significant and glorious part of this vision was the appearance of Jehovah at the top of the 'ladder,' addressing the lonely and desolate patriarch slumbering at its foot. The words which He uttered, and the tones in which He spoke, were well calculated to quell the fears, to comfort and assure the mind of God's servant, now passing under the corrective hand of a righteous yet loving Father– a fugitive from man's rage, yet 'beloved of God,'– a lonely exile, yet waited on by angels– a stranger and destitute, yet the heir of the very land upon which he lay– single and alone, yet destined to be the head of a race countless as the dust of the earth, and through whom, as concerning the Messiah, "all the families of the earth should be blest."

Not less consolatory and assuring was the gracious promise of the Divine presence and care which God spoke to him on that memorable night: "Behold I am with you, and will keep you in all places where you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you of." What a vision of glory, and what a night of repose must that have been to the desolate mind, lonely spirit, and weary body of the patriarch! How he must have desired to prolong it, and how have regretted its close! And when he awoke, we marvel not at the wondering exclamation of his awe-stricken mind, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not"– that is, I did not expect such a vision of God in such a place.

"He was afraid and said, What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God—the gateway to heaven!" The next morning he got up very early. He took the stone he had used as a pillow and set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. He named the place Bethel—house of God."

God, in a subsequent period of his history, reminded him of this memorable incident, doubtless with a view of strengthening his faith and comforting him under a new and severe trial through which he was then passing- the grinding avarice and base treachery of Laban, his father-in-law. Speaking to him again in a dream, God said, "I have seen all that Laban does unto you." Mark, God notes all the unkindness and injustice done to His saints, and will vindicate their wrong, and avenge the wrong-doer.

"I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar, and where you made a vow unto me." What an unfolding of the character of God is here! What tender love, what covenant faithfulness, what Almighty power! Surely, if ever God gave Jacob a song in the night season of woe, it was now! Angels must have bent an ear to that song, and have learned new strains from its melody. God's dealings with men, His dealings especially with His Church, must form a subject of profound study and of rich instruction to these celestial students. The Church is their Bible, in the marvelous history of which its election and redemption, its calling and keeping, its grace and glory- they see the will, and study the mind, and fathom the heart, of Jehovah– "Which things the angels desire to look into."

Here we may for a moment pause, and in faith appropriate to ourselves the promise which God made to His servant Jacob, "Behold I am with you." That promise was not his alone, but is ours also, on whom the ends of the world are come. We are taught that, "no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation"- that is, that no individual believer has a personal and sole right to any part of God's Word, exclusive of other believers; but that, as there is "one God and Father of all," "of whom the whole family on earth and in heaven is named," so the promises of God, from Adam downward, are the property alike of all the children of that one family, not a solitary member, the obscurest and the weakest, being exempt.

Oh, what a uniting truth is this! How should it constrain us to recognize and love as brethren all the members of the one and indivisible family of God, even though they may occupy different apartments, and feed at different tables, in the one Great House, than ourselves. God loves them all; Christ died for all, and recognizes in all His own divine image; and the Holy Spirit dwells alike in all, and seals on the lips of all, "Abba, Father!"

We repeat, what an exceeding great and precious promise of our covenant God is here- intended for all saints, intended, my beloved, for you! "Behold I am with you, and will keep you in all places where you go." What is the New Testament but the echo of the Old? Hear we not the echo of this promise in the words of Jesus spoken to His disciples on the eve of His departure from them, when, like the patriarch, they were to be left as orphans in the world, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Take hold of this divine promise of your Lord, repeated with yet more earnest emphasis, and given under yet more affecting circumstances than it was to Jacob, and Jehovah Jesus will make it good in your individual and daily experience. God in Christ is with you, His child, and will keep you in all places where His providence leads you. No time or circumstance shall interpose to prevent its fulfillment.

How soon did God fulfill His promise in Jacob's experience! Listen to his touching admonition with Laban, "In fact, except for the grace of God—the God of my grandfather Abraham, the awe-inspiring God of my father, Isaac—you would have sent me off without a penny to my name. But God has seen your cruelty and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and vindicated me." Our God is unchangeable. The same divine faithfulness and love are pledged to make good the same divine promise in your history. Like Jacob, you may be an exile and a wanderer from the land of your birth, and from the home of your parents. But Jacob's God is your God, and the promises made to Isaac and to Jacob, were equally made to all their spiritual seed, were made, beloved, to you.

Oh! then, embrace in faith, and clasp to your lonely heart, this precious promise that God in Christ is with you in all places, and will never leave nor forsake you. You are not alone. You are not Fatherless, nor homeless; you are neither a fugitive nor an orphan. Oh, no! Christ, your Friend and Brother, is with you. His heart is your dwelling-place, and His Father is your Father, and His God is your God. "Happy is he that has the God of Jacob (the God of Bethel) for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God."

We have remarked upon the word "Bethel," as signifying the House of God. This naturally suggests the subject of our present chapter– PRAYER, or, communion with God, as "the God of Bethel." The believer has a Bethel everywhere, since there is no place where God is not. The pious home, the secret closet, the public sanctuary, and even the fields where he walks at eventide to meditate, is a Bethel– the place where God in Christ meets him and communes with him from above the mercy-seat.

Next to the revelation of God as the God of atonement, the God that pardons sin, the most needed and precious revelation of Him is, as the God that hears and answers prayer. Prayer is everything to the believer. It is his vital element, the right hand of his power, his invincible armor, the feet with which he runs in the way of obedience, the wings which uplift his soul to God, and which waft him within the veil of glory. But let us, on so interesting and important a subject, exchange these general observations for a few particulars illustrative of the nature, privilege, and influence of prayer.

Our first and most natural inquiry relates to the OBJECT of prayer. To whom is prayer properly to be addressed? Reason would answer, God; but revelation goes further, and explains who God is, and the Triune relation He sustains to us as the Being that it answers prayer, and to whom all flesh should come. We are at once brought in contact with the revealed truth, that prayer is addressed to the Triune-Jehovah, and yet separately and equally, to each distinct Person in the Godhead. There may be a mystery in this statement to some minds, even as there is a mystery in the doctrine of the Trinity itself. But, let it be observed that, if the human mind could fully comprehend this truth, either God must cease to be divine, or man must cease to be human.

But we may possibly simplify this statement by presenting it in a kind of syllogistic form, thus- There are Three distinct Persons in the one God- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God is the Divine Object of Prayer; therefore, each distinct Person in the Godhead is a Being to whom it is proper that prayer should be separately, divinely, yet unitedly addressed. We get this truth in the Epistle to the Ephesians (2:18), a passage which affords one of the most remarkable and conclusive evidences of the doctrine of the Trinity found in the Bible, "Through Him (Christ), we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Apart from the clear light in which this text places the doctrine of the Trinity- a doctrine upon which the entire superstructure of Christianity rests- its relation to the article of prayer is as conclusive as it is beautiful. We have here God the Father as the Object of prayer- God the Son, as the Medium of prayer- and God the Spirit, as the Author of prayer. Each as a Divine Person is thus essentially engaged in the divine act of receiving prayer, as each one is embraced in the believer's act of offering prayer. There exists no inferiority of nature, as there is nothing subordinate in office- the Father receiving, the Son presenting, the Spirit inspiring, the prayers of all saints, and these Three essentially and indivisibly One.

Let us address our thoughts, in the first place, to the FATHER. What a warrant and encouragement have we in prayer to approach the "God of Bethel" as a Father! Such is His divinely paternal relation to us. It is the highest relation He sustains. To pardon our sins is a great act of His grace; but to adopt us into His family, a yet greater. It were a great act of the sovereign's clemency to pardon the criminal at the bar; it were a yet more transcendent act of the royal favor to adopt that criminal as his son, and share with him the dignity and privileges of his throne. But all this our God has done, "having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will."

Concerning this view of prayer, how explicit is the teaching of God's Word in reference to the paternal relation of God! "You shall call Me FATHER, and shall not turn away from Me" These are wonderful words of God Himself. With such a warrant, what child of God will hesitate, through unbelief or unworthiness, to approach God in prayer as his Father? When we have God's warrant, we have the strongest ground to believe. He cannot go higher than His own word, confirmed by an oath, and sworn by Himself: "for when He could swear by nothing greater, he swore by Himself." Here, then, is His own word of invitation, bidding you draw near to Him as a Father, yes, as our Father. Hesitate not to recognize His paternal relation, and, though it may be with the lisping accents of a babe, draw near, and cry, "My Father."

The apostle inculcates the same truth, illustrated by his own example. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the FATHER of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in earth and in heaven is named." Here you have the example of one who esteemed himself the "chief of sinners," and "less than the least of all saints," bowing his knees in prayer to God as his FATHER, yes, as the Father of the one family of God. Why, then, should we hesitate? Why stand afar off, trembling in the bonds of a slave, when we may draw near in the free spirit of a child?

But, more illustrious and mightier than all, is the precept and the example of Christ himself. Listen to the holy precept; " When you pray, say, our FATHER who is in heaven." One great design of Christ's conning was to dissipate the clouds of ignorance and guilt which gathered around the human mind concerning the Fatherhood of God. Until He dissolved and scattered those clouds, no man, by his own ingenuity or research, could discern this wondrous truth. Here are our Lord's emphatic words; "My Father has given me authority over everything. No one really knows the Son except the Father, and no one really knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

And how touching and forcible His own filial example! How frequently the endearing name of Father breathed from His lips, in language like this- "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth," "Righteous Father," "My Father." Behold, then, beloved, the God of Bethel as your Father, and approach Him in prayer as such, with a heart dissolved and poured out in filial love and communion at His feet. Your highest attainment in the divine life is to arrive at the assurance of your adoption, and your highest privilege as a believer is to commune with God as your Father. This His Spirit can give you.

Many, alas! are satisfied with knowing no more of the parental relation of God than what they learn in a continuous and parrot-like repetition of "Our Father who is in heaven." But this will not bring us to the Father's house. This will furnish no title or fitness for the many-mansioned home of heaven. And yet thousands of poor formalists, it is feared, have descended into the shades of eternal despair with these very words upon their lips!

But we hope better things of you, O humble and sincere believer in Jesus! You have not in the school of Christian experience, and in the region of your own heart's plague and nothingness, so learned Christ. Approach Him, then, in prayer as a child, beloved of God, as one standing in, and accepted through, Christ, and pour out your heart before Him, emptied of all its sorrow, sin, and need, as into the listening ear and loving heart of your Father in heaven.

Come as a child! Are you in need? "Your Father knows that you have need of these things." Are you in sorrow? "As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him." Have you sinned, and are you returning as a humble penitent to His feet? "And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Is the cloud of adversity darkening, is the wave of sorrow swelling, is trouble near? "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" Has the stroke fallen? Has the flower faded? Is the strong and beautiful staff broken? "My Father, not my will, but Yours be done." These, my beloved reader, are but the several parts of the magnificent Litany, breathing from the heart and uttered by the lips of a humble child of God bowing the knee before Him in the filial, loving, obedient spirit of a child.

Equally with the Father is the SON an object of prayer. Who can doubt it, at all intelligently acquainted with the Bible, and taught experimentally the truth as it is in Jesus? And yet that some have mooted this point, whom we might suppose to have been better instructed, and from whom we should have expected an enlightened and spiritual acquaintance with the truth, shows how important it is that we should "prove all things," while we "hold fast that which is good." If Christ is God, as essentially and most truly He is, then it equally follows that He is a Being to whom prayer is rationally, properly, and scripturally to be addressed. Who can reasonably doubt the Scripture warrant and propriety of addressing prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is acquainted with the history of the early Church, and is conversant with the numerous examples illustrating the fact? The informed reader will not fail to recall to mind the famous letter of Pliny addressed to the Emperor Trajan, furnishing an explicit and unbiased testimony to the practice and purity of the early Christians, especially as it bears upon the point in question- divine worship addressed to Christ. "When they were assembled together," says Pliny, "they sang a hymn to Christ as God."

Such is the testimony of an enemy. Could anything be more explicit bearing upon the fact that the first disciples offered divine worship to their God and Savior Jesus Christ? But we have their own testimony. For instance, we find the apostle Paul dedicating his Epistle to the Corinthians, "We are writing to the church of God in Corinth, you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did all Christians everywhere—whoever calls upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and theirs."

This would appear to set the question at rest, as it embraces the whole body of the early Christian Church. Added to this, we have the memorable and touching instance of the thief on the cross praying to Christ with his last breath, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." Superadded to this is the equally conclusive and not less affecting instance of Stephen, the first martyr to the Christian faith, thus addressing his dying prayer to Jesus the Savior: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." What further testimony do we need? Imitate these illustrious examples of prayer addressed to Christ, and hesitate not to add to your sincere faith in Jesus your Savior the humble tribute of your worship of Him as your God.

What a severe deprivation would it be were we debarred from approaching Christ as our Savior, Friend, and High Priest, presenting our needs, unveiling our sorrows, and confessing our sins? "Lord, to whom shall we go but unto You? Into whose ear should we breathe our sins- upon whose breast should we weep our sorrows- upon whose shoulder should we cast our burdens- and upon whose arm should we lean, as, in weakness and weariness, we come up out of the wilderness, but Yours? Oh, the precious privilege of going, as the bereaved disciples of John did, and telling Jesus all and everything!

Unscriptural is that creed, lifeless that religion, and cruel that teaching, that would rob me of the precious and comforting privilege of offering my sacrifice of prayer and praise to my Savior. The glorified saints worship Him, praise Him, and adore Him in heaven, casting, their crowns at His feet, and exclaiming, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing,"- and who shall debar us this privilege on earth?

The same argument applies to prayer as addressed to the HOLY SPIRIT. A distinct Person in the Godhead– of the same nature and substance with the Father and the Son– He is equally an Object of divine worship, and on this ground we are authorized and justified in praying to Him as GOD. One or two Scripture examples will suffice. That of Ezekiel is remarkable, in which the prophet thus invokes the power and presence of the Holy Spirit: "Then he said to me, "Speak to the winds and say: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so that they may live again. So I spoke as he commanded me, and the wind entered the bodies, and they began to breathe. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army of them."

We have another example in the case of the apostles; "Who, when they were come together, prayed for them (Peter and John), that they might receive the Holy Spirit. . . . Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." Here was an invocation of the Holy Spirit scarcely made before it was manifestly granted. And what was the effusion of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but an answer to the prayer addressed to Him by the little company of praying disciples, who, assembled in an upper room, "continued with one accord in prayer and supplication"? And while thus "they were all with one accord in one place," their invocation of the Spirit was answered; "And they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Need we multiply, as we might, these Scripture proofs of prayer addressed to God the Eternal Spirit? Hesitate not then, with these examples before you, to honor the Spirit, even as you honor the Father and the Son, by addressing to Him, as a Divine Person in the Godhead, your prayers, and supplications, and praises. Are you in affliction?- pray to the Spirit for comfort. Are you sensible of your spiritual ignorance?- pray to Him for His teaching. Are you discovering more of the hidden evil of your heart?- pray to Him for His sanctifying grace. Are you thirsting for a clearer sense of your salvation?- pray to Him for His assuring, sealing power. Do you long to know more fully your adoption?- pray to Him to breathe "Abba, Father," in your heart. Does your soul travail in prayer for the conversion of those dear to you?- cry earnestly to the Spirit. Do you desire the vineyard of your own soul to be fruitful and fragrant with His grace?- pray to the Spirit; "Awake, north wind! Come, south wind! Blow on my garden and waft its lovely perfume to my lover."

"Eternal Spirit! we confess
And sing the wonders of Your grace;
Your power conveys our blessings down
From God the Father and the Son.
Enlightened by Your heavenly ray,
Our shades and darkness turn to day;
Your inward teachings make us know
Our danger and our refuge too.
The troubled conscience knows Your voice,
Your cheering words awake our joys;
Your words allay the stormy wind,
And calm the surges of the mind."

"I am the God of Bethel." What encouragement does this title of our God hold out to draw near to Him, and "by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make known our requests"! All that He was to Jacob, He is to us. Like him, are we passing through a night of loneliness and sorrow? Are we flying from a foe, or do we dread some impending trouble? Behold the mystic "ladder"– to Jacob but a vision, to us a divine and glorious reality, on whose rounds we may ascend near, nearer, and still nearer, to heaven, until we find ourselves in wrapped communion with the God that hears and answers prayer. That ladder is Christ Jesus, the "one Mediator between God and man," whose invitation to ascend is contained in His own gracious and assuring words: "Whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." "If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it."

With such a " new and living way" to God, with such steps raising you above trial, above sorrow, above need, above your enemies round about you, uplifting your soul to Him whose ear hears you, whose hand is outstretched to support you, all whose boundless resources are at your command, will you not draw near by the blood of Christ, enter into the holiest, and take hold of the "God of Bethel," nor relax your hold until He bless you?

Oh, the mighty power of prayer with the God of Bethel! "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me," says God. Take hold of "Christ, the power of God," and you have taken hold of God's strength; and the "worm Jacob" though you are, you shall prevail with the God of Jacob, even with the God of Bethel. "Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. You will be a new threshing instrument with many sharp teeth. You will tear all your enemies apart, making chaff of mountains. You will toss them in the air, and the wind will blow them all away; a whirlwind will scatter them. And the joy of the Lord will fill you to overflowing. You will glory in the Holy One of Israel."

The night of your woe maybe dark and long; and you may "wait for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning," but that night, dark and long though it is, shall not be without its blessed vision of faith. You shall see Jesus! Through Him shall see God your Father, all whose thoughts are thoughts of peace, ordaining and shaping your every step with a wisdom that can make no mistake, with a power that nothing can baffle, with a faithfulness that cannot falter, and with a love that knows no variableness,, neither the shadow of a turning, and your night of weeping shall brighten into a morning of joy!

You are perhaps puzzled as to the scope of prayer. You wonder if its range is so wide as to embrace the needs of the present, as the hope of the life that is to come. But why debate this question for a moment? Has not Christ told you that, whatever you ask in His name He will grant you? Has He not instructed you to ask of your Heavenly Father your "daily bread"? Does He not bid you look down upon the lily of the field, robed with a beauty which Solomon might have envied, and then bid you learn that He who so clothed that lily will clothe you? Does He not bid you, on some lovely morning of spring, upraise your eyes to the bird floating above you in the richest plumage and with the sweetest song, and then learn that He who provides for the sparrow will not allow His children to need.

The scope of prayer, then, clearly embraces supplication for all temporal good. Look at that flower! It toils not, it spins not; and why? because your Heavenly Father clothes it. Look at that bird, leaping from bow to bow, springing from hill to valley, sparkling with beauty, gushing with song, and wild with ecstatic delight! It has not a thought or care of its own; and why? because God thinks and cares for it. Oh, you of little faith! Why do you hesitate to trust all your personal interests, to confide all your worldly affairs, to disclose all your temporal needs and sorrows in prayer to God? He is not too high for your lowest need, nor too great for your smallest care. "If the buzzing of a fly troubles me," says John Newton, "I may take it to God." This is not mere sentiment. It is the practical embodiment of a principle of experimental religion most honoring to God and sanctifying to us- the principle of faith, which acknowledges God in all our ways, sees God in everything, and takes everything, the smallest, to God.

But if prayer in its scope takes in things temporal, much more does it embrace our spiritual and higher interests. Where can we repair with our varied soul-exercises but to Christ? Even His ministers may either not understand, or understanding, may yet grow weary of them. Our spiritual exercises may be beyond their own personal experience, our soul-perplexities may baffle their acutest skill, our spirit's sorrow distance their deepest sympathy. An eminent minister of Christ was on one occasion observed to betray deep emotion while a member of his flock was unfolding to him her spiritual case. "Have I said anything to wound your feelings?" she earnestly inquired. " No," was the humble reply of the man of God, "but I am affected with the thought that you are unfolding a stage of Christian experience to which I have not yet myself attained." This is a possible case.

We may in our ministries overstep the boundary of our own personal experience, or we may not be able to reach the more advanced experience of our hearers. But, prayer brings us to the feet of Him who can understand all our religious exercises, can harmonize all our doctrinal difficulties, can guide all our soul-perplexities, and bring us safely through all our spiritual temptations, doubts, and fears. Jesus leads us along no path untraveled by Himself. The flock shall not walk where the Shepherd's footprint is not seen, for in everything "He has left us an example that we should follow His steps." Then give yourself to prayer, and the "God of Bethel," who is a prayer-hearing, a prayer-answering, and a prayer-exceeding God– for He is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we are able to ask or think"- will withhold from you no blessing that will be for your good to receive and for His glory to bestow.

Are you living a prayerless life, knowing nothing of communion with the "God of Bethel?" Then, dying so, you die a hopeless death. A prayerless life involves a Christless death. What! never pray? Never pray from a broken heart, never pray with a humble, contrite spirit? Sinner! the time is coming when you will pray, but too late! So prayed the rich man, lifting up his eyes in torment, "Send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame." But it was too late to pray then. Hell is the only place where God turns a deaf ear to prayer. Rise, then, and pray, though it be but in the publican's words, "God be merciful to me a sinner." That prayer, breathed from the heart, and offered in the name of Jesus, will enter the ear of the "God of Bethel," and bring down the saving mercy for which it pleads.

"The time will come, when, humbled low
In sorrow's evil day,
Your voice of anguish shall be taught,
But taught too late, to pray.
When, like the whirlwind over the deep,
Comes desolation's blast,
Prayers then extorted shall be vain,
The hour of mercy past.
The choice you made has fixed your doom,
For this is Heaven's decree
That, with the fruits of what he sowed,
The sinner filled shall be."

In concluding this chapter, let the truth remain deeply and permanently fixed upon the reader's mind that, without prayer we are necessarily without life in, or from, Christ; and in God's eye are dead in sin. It is most true that prayer does not save us. Salvation is only in Christ. By His merits and intercession alone are we saved. Nothing meritoriously and vitally enters into our salvation, but His blood and righteousness. The one cleanses us from our sins; the other justifies us. But the necessity of prayer arises from the fact, that there is no other divinely-appointed channel by which we make known our needs to God, and by which God meets them. True, He knows our needs before we make them known; but He has said: "For this cause will I be inquired of to do it for them." We may, indeed, reach heaven without books, or learning, or talents; but we can never reach heaven without prayer.

"Behold, he prays!" is Heaven's first recognition of the sinner's conversion on earth. A soul without prayer is like a house exposed to the pelting storm without a covering. How can the temptations of Satan be repelled? How can the corruptions of the flesh be resisted? How can the seductions of the world be overcome, but by prayer? Then, above all things, cultivate prayer– closet prayer, family prayer, sanctuary prayer, social prayer. Pray, pray, pray; above all things, PRAY.

Seek the aid of the Holy Spirit, promised to "make intercession for us, according to the will of God." He will teach you how to pray, and what to pray for. And when He has laid a burden on your heart, you may be well assured it is according to the Divine will, and that the God of Bethel will answer your prayer in that particular thing for which you have besought Him. And when your heart is led out to pray, not for worldly wealth and distinction, as did the mother of Zebedee's children, but for an increase of faith, that you may crucify the world, live as a stranger and pilgrim here, love Jesus more, have more zeal for God, more resemblance to Christ, more of the spirit of adoption, a clearer sense of your present acceptance in the Beloved, more love to, and union with, "all saints," you may be assured that you are asking those things which are in accordance with His will; and you may with boldness enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, and draw near to the God of Bethel with a true heart, and in full assurance of faith that your penance shall, like Queen Esther's, find acceptance, and your petition, like hers, be granted, not merely to the half, but to the whole of Christ's kingdom; for, not as the world gives does Jesus give His royal favors to His people.

Let our homes be Bethels, where the "God of Bethel" loves to dwell. Oh, that our children, our servants, ourselves, may be molded into Christian families, pious households, whose altars, domestic and private, are reared in the Name and consecrated to the worship of the God of Bethel, even the God of Jacob, "in whom, and in whose seed, shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

"O God of Bethel! by whose hand
Your people still are fed;
Who through this weary pilgrimage
Have all our fathers led.
"Our fervent prayers we now present
Before Your Throne of grace
God of our fathers! be the God
Of their succeeding race.
"Through each perplexing path of life
Our wandering footsteps guide;
Give us each day our daily bread,
And clothing fit provide.
"Oh, spread Your covering wings around,
Until all our wanderings cease,
And at our Father's loved abode
Our souls arrive in peace."

"Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."