by John MacDuff
Day 11 through 20
11th Morning—THE SECRET OF STRENGTH
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13
O God, I desire to come into Your gracious presence this morning, adoring You as the God of my life and the length of my days. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?—the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? You are the Fountain of all excellence; Your loving-kindness is better than life.
I approach You in the name of Him whom You hear always, and in whom You are ever well pleased. Come forth, O Great High Priest, in this the hour of morning sacrifice, and breathe upon me Your own benediction, "Peace be unto you!" Fill me with all joy and peace in believing. O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant me Your peace! I rejoice in the dignity of Your nature—the fullness of Your grace—the tenderness of Your sympathy—the prevalence of Your pleadings. I go forth this day into a world of trouble and trial and conflict. In no armor or panoply of my own am I proof against the enemy—but I take refuge in the elevating assurance that I can do all things, and suffer all things, and overcome all things, through Christ who strengthens me.
Meanwhile, give me calm contentment with my lot. May all its blessings be sweetened, by having them in You, and You in them. Keep me from all that would foster a spirit of unbelief and rebellion and murmuring. Give me a childlike docility—tenderness of conscience—simplicity of trust—holiness of heart—obedience and consistency of life. May I be enabled to make a more entire and unreserved surrender of myself—my will—my affections—my talents—my energies—my time—to You. Let me know that the promise is sure and unfailing, "My God shall supply all your needs out of His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." May Your fear deliver me from the sinful fear of man—may Your love enable me to rise superior to the caprice and fitfulness of human friendships—may the hope of being with You forever, reconcile me to the vicissitudes and trials of a changing, chequered, transient world. I rejoice that life's unknown future is in better keeping and disposal than in mine. I will be anxious for nothing—knowing that the morrow will bring along with it from You, grace proportioned for all exigencies—strength in weakness, support in temptation, patience in trial, and victory in death.
Bless my beloved friends. May the joy of the Lord be their strength also. Keep them as the apple of Your eye—let them repose under the shadow of Your wings. Look in great kindness on the afflicted. Hide them in the clefts of the Rock until these calamities are overpast. Reveal Yourself unto them in another way than You do unto the world. Show them, that You see fit at times to bring them out from themselves—their own likings, and trusts, and confidences, and earthly joys—that they may lean on Your arm. Show them, that in the realized possession of Your love and favor, they have what will fill all blanks and compensate for all losses. May they go from strength to strength, until every one of them in Zion appears before God.
I pray for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem. May she rise from the dust and put on her beautiful garments; a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord and a royal diadem in the hand of our God. Give to Your churches a spirit of unity and concord—lead them willingly to co-operate in every good work and labor of love, so that, though there be many separate flocks, they may all look to the one Guiding Shepherd; though differing in outer organization, they may be all truly one in Christ Jesus. Disperse the brooding darkness of the world, and utter Your own omnific mandate, "Let there be light."
Direct, control, suggest this day, all my designs—my deeds—my words. Let me carry the fragrance of the mercy-seat out into the world. May a sense of Your presence prove a preservative against temptation. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins, and let them not have dominion over me. And all I ask is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
11th Evening—THE RESURRECTION AND LIFE
"I am the resurrection, and the life; he who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." John 11:25
Most blessed God, my Heavenly Father—I desire to come into Your gracious presence this night, having my heart filled with gratitude and thankfulness for all Your unmerited mercies. That I have been protected throughout the day, from danger, and accident, and disease—that I have been shielded from sin and temptation, it is all Your doing. Your hand has been around me for good. It is You, Lord, who alone makes me to dwell in safety.
I bless You for the exceeding riches of Your grace, in Your kindness towards me through Christ Jesus. I bless You for His spotless obedience—His meritorious death—His glorious resurrection. I bless You that I can enter by faith His vacant sepulcher, and hear the joyful assurance, "He is not here, He is risen." In that gracious declaration, I have the pledge and testimony that You the Father have accepted His completed work—that You, in Him, have begotten us again unto a lively hope—the hope of an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away. Enable me by faith to rise and walk with Him in newness of life. Risen with Christ, may I seek those things that are above, where He sits at the right hand of God. May my life now be hidden with Christ in God, that when Christ who is my life shall appear, I may also appear with Him in glory. May Your Holy Spirit dwell within me, quickening this life of faith in Your dear Son, and promoting the growth of every spiritual and heavenly grace.
Forgive, Lord, all the offences I have committed against You this day—the sins of thought and word and deed. Blot them out of the book of Your remembrance. Before I retire to rest, I would seek to wash anew in the opened fountain; and to receive anew the blessed assurance of Your pardoning love in Jesus. Watch over me during the unconscious hours of slumber. As You have been a pillar of cloud by day, be as a pillar of fire by night. Grant to me, and to all near and dear to me, refreshing sleep, even the sleep of Your beloved; and may the return of a new morning be a fresh pledge of that better day-dawn of immortality, when we shall awake in Your likeness, and earth's shadows and darkness shall forever flee away.
I commend all in sickness and sorrow to Your own infinite compassion. Be a Friend to the friendless, a Father to the fatherless. Point every bereft one beyond the gloom of the grave, to Him who, as the Resurrection and the Life, has flooded the dark Valley with glorious light—who Himself, having overcome the sharpness of death, has opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. Bless the whole human race. Open to a perishing world the Gates of righteousness; that multitudes now sitting in darkness may enter in and praise the Lord. Bless Your Church everywhere—send times of refreshing unto Zion. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years. Arouse and quicken the careless and ungodly. Bring into the way of truth all such as have erred and are deceived. Before the day of grace and mercy be past, may they be led to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; and remember the words of the Lord Jesus how He said, "He who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Oh, teach us all to be living in habitual preparation for death and judgment and eternity; that when the cry shall be heard in the midst of the heavens, "Behold the Bridegroom comes," we may be ready, and not ashamed before Him at His coming.
I ask these, and all other needful blessings, in the name of Him whom You hear always—the Great Advocate and Intercessor—who, with You the Father, and You the ever-blessed Spirit, Three in One in covenant for our salvation, ever lives and reigns, one God, world without end. Amen.
12th Morning—COVENANT FAITHFULNESS
"For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you." Isaiah 54:10
O God, I come into Your presence on this the morning of a new day, rejoicing in Your covenant faithfulness. You change not. The mountains shall depart and the hills shall be removed. Human props may fail; human friends may grow cold; adversity may alienate; death must separate. But You are the same. Your kindness shall not be taken from us. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God shall stand forever.
How great has been Your patience towards me! Despite of all my faults and failings—my backslidings and declensions—Your hand of mercy and forbearance is stretched out still. You are God and not man, therefore it is that the sons of Jacob are not consumed. Unchangeableness cannot be thwarted by creature vacillation—Infinite fullness cannot be exhausted by finite needs. I bless You, O Lord, especially, that I can exult in the faithfulness and immutability of Jesus—that, He who of old received sinners—who came to seek and to save the lost—who broke not the bruised reed nor quenched the smoking flax—is still as unchanged as when He lived and loved and compassionated on earth. This is His name and memorial to all generations, and which ages and generations cannot alter—"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever."
Before I go forth to my worldly duties and engagements, I would desire to repair to His cross, there to have all the blessings of the everlasting covenant anew ratified and sealed. Out of His infinite fullness I would seek to derive the needed grace and strength to fit me for work and warfare. I may perhaps this day have some untried path before me. There may be some unknown temptation to encounter—some unforeseen burden to bear. Arm me for every conflict. Amid all harassments and troubles and disquietudes, amid all taunts and provocations, let me endure as seeing You who is invisible. Having avouched the Lord to be my covenant God, may I aspire more and more after purity of heart and consistency of character. Give me grace, with a single eye to Your glory, to fill my sphere in life whatever it be—doing my duty heartily as to the Lord and not unto men—jealous of anything that would tend to alienate my affections from You, and lead me into detrimental courses—dubious and debatable ground on which Your blessing cannot rest. Let me bear upon me the lofty impress of those, born from above and for above—grateful and thankful for the many means and sources of enjoyment You have given in the present life, yet seeking to live a pilgrim and stranger on the earth, having my citizenship in heaven.
Compassionate a dead and dying world. Darkness is covering the lands and gross darkness the people. May the summons be heard, "Arise, shine, for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you." From kingdom to kingdom, and from shore to shore, let the cry in due time ascend, "O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation." Prosper all Bible and missionary agencies. May Your servants, alike at home and abroad, be valiant for the truth. May they experience much of Your presence and witness much of Your power. Baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Look down in mercy on all who are afflicted—tossed with tempest and not comforted—on all who are mourning the sudden extinction of some star in their skies—the premature withering of some cherished gourd. May they know that they can have no real loss, if they have more of Your fellowship and presence and love.
I pray for all my dear friends. May they be among the beloved of the Lord who dwell safely. Bless them and make them blessings. Now bound up together in the bundle of life—may we be found at last, without spot and blameless, when the harvest of the earth shall be reaped. The Lord grant unto us that we may find mercy of the Lord on that day. And all I ask is for the Savior's sake, Amen.
12th Evening—THE LOVE OF CHRIST
"The love of Christ, which passes knowledge." Eph. 3:19
O God, You are making the outgoings of the evening and of the morning to rejoice over me, I beseech You to draw near this night in Your great mercy, as I approach Your presence through this blessed Portal of Love. You have been my watchful Protector and Guardian during another day. Give me still Your blessing. I would now retire to rest, under the shadow of Your wings, feeling that it is You alone Lord, who makes me to dwell in safety.
I bless You that I am permitted to look up unto You as my covenant God and heavenly Father; that with boldness and confidence I am invited to the Throne of the heavenly grace, there to unburden all my needs and difficulties, my perplexities and temptations, and to receive the twofold boon, of mercy to pardon, and grace to help. Fill me with a deep sense of the greatness and magnitude of the love of Christ. Teach me in some feeble measure to comprehend its height and depth, its length and breadth, and to experience its constraining influence.
Blessed Savior—You who have loved me with an everlasting love, enable me to feel that I am not my own. May I seek to make a joyful and willing surrender of my soul's best affections to You, who has ransomed me with Your precious blood. May all earthly love be subordinated to Yours. Let there be no rival or competing affection. Conscious of the predominance of divine spiritual motives and purposes, may I be enabled in honest sincerity to avow—'Lord, O Great Redeemer—O Great Heart-searcher, You know all things, You know that I love You.'
Help me to the cultivation of all the graces of the Christian character. Raise me above all that is base or ungenerous—unkind or resentful—censorious or uncharitable. Let the law of love, which has had its highest and loftiest exemplification in the doing and dying of Jesus, find expression also in my daily walk and conversation. God is love—and he who dwells in love dwells in God and God in him.
Bless my friends and relatives. May that same love of Jesus form the motive principle in their actions. O Blessed Source of all grace! as the first fruit produced by You in the regenerated heart is love—do nurture in them the spirit of Love. Let them live and act, as seeing You who is invisible—and when all that is fitful and changing in affection here below has terminated, may the fellowships and friendships of earth be resumed indissolubly in glory.
Lord, have mercy on a fallen world. In the region and shadow of death, may the Sun of Righteousness arise. Terminate the reign of selfishness and tyranny—of error and superstition. Let the gospel of love sheathe all swords of war, unbind all chains of slavery, and unite the nations in a holy brotherhood. Let the wind and earthquake and fire of human passion pass by—and let the Lord of love be heard in His own 'still small voice.'
Bless Your ministering servants at home—stand by all Your faithful missionaries in their varied fields of labor in distant lands. May they be the honored instruments in laying many trophies at the feet of their Great Master. May their bow abide in strength, and their arms be made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.
Forgive blessed Lord—for the sake of Your dear Son—all that I have this day spoken or done amiss. As the Gates of the evening are closing, I would anew hear Your benevolent voice of pardoning mercy, saying, "Your sins are forgiven!" As I resign myself, once more, to that which is the image of death, may I feel that it is Your kindness and mercy alone, night after night, which prevents the emblem being converted into a reality. Oh, grant, that when that reality does overtake me—when I am summoned at last to a dying hour and dying pillow—the last long slumber; through the merits of Your dear Son, I may have a blissful and glorious awaking in the morning of Immortality.
I ask these, and all other needful blessings, for the sake of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
13th Morning—THE COMMITTED WAY
"Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass—and he shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noon-day." Psalm 37:5, 6
O God, I desire, as the Gates of the morning are again opened, to commit my way to You throughout a new day. You are near to those who call upon You, to all who call upon You in truth. To You all hearts are open—all desires known, and from You no secrets are hidden—cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that I may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy name.
You are the Supreme Disposer. There is no such thing as accident or chance in Your providential rule. Each varying scene in this varying chequered life is from You alone. In all difficulties and perplexities, enable me to commit implicitly my way unto Your better direction—hearing Your voice behind me saying, "This is the way, walk in it"—rejoicing in Your wise orderings, Your beneficent purposes; and willing to tread, if need be, the roughest path, because it is Your sovereign will and wisdom to lead me there.
You know how unworthy I am to come into Your presence, or to take Your thrice holy name into my lips. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You that You may be feared—with the Lord there is mercy and plenteous redemption. I come to Your footstool, through Him who has cancelled all debts and fulfilled all righteousness; who is now exalted a Mighty Pleader at Your right hand—the Prince who has power with God and must prevail. For His sake, receive me graciously and love me freely. Out of His infinite fullness may I receive for all exigencies even grace for grace—sustaining grace, restraining grace, sanctifying grace. When temptation assails, may I be enabled, in a strength greater than my own, to resist. In the trying warfare of life, cover my head in the day of battle—that finally I may be made more than conqueror through Him that loved me.
Teach me ever devoutly to follow the leadings, and to imbibe the spirit, of the divine Redeemer. Keep me from the manifestation of unholy tempers—from the pride which elates; from the worldliness which hardens; from all unkindness and uncharitableness. Enable me to put the best construction on the motives and actions of others; not passing harsh and censorious comments on their inconsistencies or failings—but rather considering myself lest I also be tempted. If assailed wrongfully with the tongue of malice or slander, may I seek, like Him who was silent before His shearers, to repress the spirit of retaliation—to commit myself to One that judges righteously, and who has promised to those who so trust Him, to bring forth their righteousness as the light and their judgment as the noon-day. Invigorate my drooping faith, quicken my spiritual apprehensions, stimulate my wavering purposes and languid zeal, incline me to a more hearty and entire consecration of soul and body to Your service and glory.
O God of all consolation—the God in whom compassions flow, bestow Your tenderest sympathy on poor afflicted ones—especially on those who may be mourning the loss of beloved friends. Committing too their darkened way unto You, may the words of promise contained in holy Scripture, come out as ministering angels in their night of sorrow, cheering them with hopes full of immortality. May the dying pass through the gates of death to the unending enjoyment of Your presence and love. And may we be stirred by the example of those, who have fought the good fight and obtained the crown.
Bless my dear friends, temporally and spiritually. Set Your covenant mark and seal on each of their foreheads. Look in mercy on Your Church throughout all the world. May the Lord create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night, and upon all the glory be a defense.
I anew commend myself to You and to the word of Your grace. And all I ask, is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
13th Evening—PURITY OF HEART
"Blessed are the pure in heart—for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
O God, I desire to come in to Your presence this night, beseeching You to give me a Father's blessing. Let my prayer come before You as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. The most acceptable oblation I can offer, is that of the broken and the contrite heart; the sweetest incense—the incense of gratitude and thankfulness. Give me this brokenness of spirit; fill me with all joy and peace in believing, that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I have to confess and mourn my great unworthiness. How far short have I come of that holiness of heart and purity of life, without which no man can see the Lord. How many sinful thoughts have I harbored—how many guilty words have I spoken—how many duties have I omitted, or carelessly and perfunctorily performed. How little gratitude have I shown for blessings—how little patience under crosses. How much pride has there been in my humility—how little childlike trust in Your dealings. How have even my best resolutions to serve You, been erased by the world's oblivion-power. How often have I returned to those very sins I had solemnly sworn and covenanted I was to part with forever. Lord, have mercy upon me! I come anew, guilty, polluted, helpless—to Him who is help and hope and portion to all who seek Him. My own repentings and tears cannot cleanse away the guilt of a single transgression. But the blood of Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, cleanses from them all.
While I look to Him as my only Savior, and rely alone for justification on His atoning sacrifice, enable me to make His stainless, heavenly life, my habitual model and pattern. Give me grace to purify myself even as He is pure. May the Holy Spirit, the Glorifier of Jesus, take of the things that are His and show them unto me; that beholding, as in a glass, the glory alike of His divine character and His spotless obedience, I may be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit. Do confirm and strengthen every Christlike principle within me; and may principle have its outcome in deed and action. May perfect love cast out fear. When at any time assailed with tormenting doubts or fiery temptations—may I know that He is faithful who promised "I will make my grace sufficient for you, I will perfect strength in weakness." May whatever is displeasing, Lord, to You, be displeasing to me. Give me integrity of purpose, and simplicity of service, and loftiness of aim. May I speak kindly and act gently. Keep me from uttering anything that would infringe on truth, or that would injure the absent. Let all I do, and all I say, be inspired by that charity which is the bond of perfectness.
I commend those in sorrow to Your sympathy—especially any in whom I may be more deeply interested. May they see You thus educating them for eternity. By the sanctifying use of affliction, may losses be turned into gains. Coming forth from the furnace, as gold tried in the fire, may they at last be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Bless Your Church everywhere. Bless all the sanctuaries throughout our land. May every House of God be as the Gate of Heaven—do there command the blessing, even life for evermore. Repress and subdue sectarian bitterness and animosity. May the alabaster box be broken in the midst of Your worshiping assemblies, and may the whole temple-courts be fragrant with the odor of the ointment. Pour the continual dew of Your blessing on the faithful ministers and stewards of Your mysteries. Anoint them with fresh oil. May they go in the strength of the Lord God; and ever hear the sound of their Master's footsteps behind them. Remember all devoted laborers in heathen lands. Going forth weeping, bearing the precious seed, may they be cheered with the promise, that they shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for? my hope is in You. Abide with me, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. I will not let You go, except You bless me. Shield my body from danger and my soul from sin; and as each night gathers its shadows around, may it find me better fitted and prepared for the day of consummated holiness in Your presence and kingdom, and for experiencing, in all its reality, the fulfillment of Your own beatitude, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." And all I ask is in the name, and for the sake, of Jesus Christ my only Lord and Savior; to whom, with You the Father, and You the Holy Spirit, be ascribed, as is most due, all honor and glory and praise, world without end. Amen.
14th Morning—THE SECOND COMING
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13
O God, I desire to thank You that the Gates of the morning are again opened, and that I am permitted to approach the footstool of Your Throne. Pour out upon me a spirit of grace and of supplication. May I draw near to You with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having my heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and my body washed as with pure water. Before I enter on the duties and engagements of a new day, I would seek to have Your blessing and benediction resting upon me. May the pillar of Your presence go before me. You have watched over me during the silence and darkness of another night. O You who leads Joseph like a flock—be in the daytime a shadow from the heat. If Your presence goes not with me—carry me not hence.
I desire to bless Your holy name for the first coming of the Redeemer; when "the Great God" became "my Savior;" when He veiled His glory, and, in the likeness of sinful flesh, tabernacled among men—humbling Himself and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. I bless You for the fullness and completeness of His mediatorial work; that He magnified Your law—satisfying all demands—fulfilling all righteousness, and proclaiming with triumphant voice, "It is finished."
I bless You that, from His first advent in lowliness and humiliation, I can look forward to His second coming "without the sin-offering, unto salvation;" when He shall be glorified in His saints, and admired in all those who believe. May that event ever be to me "the blessed hope"—the brightest rainbow of promise which spans the sky of the future. May I be "looking" for it—living habitually ready to utter the cry of joyful expectancy—"Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" "Lo! this is our God, I have waited for Him!"
Meanwhile, give me grace to love Him more and serve Him better. May my belief be more simple—my devotion more ardent—my walk more consistent—my obedience more uniform and sincere; that I may not, like many, be found at last, all unfit and unprepared for the Bridegroom's approach—but rather, with loins girded and lamp burning, go forth to join the festal train, and be among the number of the waiting servants, who, when their Lord comes, are ready to open unto Him immediately.
In the prospect of that day, may I keep a sacred and watchful guard alike over my thoughts and actions. Give me that charity which is patient and kind; which seeks not her own—is not easily provoked—thinks no evil—which rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. May Your good hand be with me, whether in the discharge of household or of business duties. Keep me from the absorbing love of the world; from coveting earthly good rather than heavenly riches. Keep me from all that would dim, to the eye of faith, the glories of the future. Enable me to live habitually, as I would wish I had been living, when the Son of man comes.
The same blessings I ask for myself, I implore in behalf of all near and dear to me. May they too be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless. Attaining now a gradual conformity to His holy mind and image—when He shall appear, may they be like Him, when they shall see Him as He is. Thus united to one another, alike in ties of human relationship and in the fellowship of the gospel, may all of us, having this common hope in us, purify ourselves, even as He is pure.
Bless the children of sorrow. Let them also anticipate with joy that day when all mysteries will be unfolded—all wrongs redressed—all sufferings removed—all corruptions vanquished—and death itself swallowed up in eternal victory.
Let the world, now groaning and travailing in pain, exult in the prospect of her coming emancipation—when, delivered from the bondage of corruption, she shall be translated into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. Prince of peace! take to Yourself Your great power and reign—soon may predicted voices be heard saying—"The kingdoms of this world have become the one kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever!" May Your churches be more and more faithful to their great missionary responsibilities. Baptize every ambassador of the cross with the Holy Spirit and with fire—and when the enemy is coming in like a flood, may this same Divine Spirit set up a standard to resist him.
I now commend myself, soul and body, to Your gracious care, O Great God my Savior! Never leave and never forsake me—guide me while I live by Your counsel, and afterwards receive me into glory. And to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, be ascribed, as is most due, all blessing and honor and glory and praise, world without end. Amen.
14th Evening—THE PROOF OF LOVE
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:10
O God, my heavenly Father, who is ever waiting to be gracious, and who is more ready to hear than Your children are to ask—draw near to me at this time in Your great kindness, and fill me with all peace and joy in believing. You have been a pillar of cloud to me by day—my Protector and Guardian. Be as a pillar of fire through the silent watches of the night. It is You, the great Shepherd of Israel, who gives Your beloved sleep.
I adore You, alike as my Maker and my Redeemer. You have filled the outer creation with manifold proofs of Your love, in brightness of sky, and beauty of flower; in music of stream, and song of bird. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. But I adore You, especially, for the mightiest proof which You have given of Your benignity and kindness, in the person and work of Your dear Son! Herein indeed is love. If at times unable to trace, in Your mysterious providential dealings, the footsteps of mercy—if at times tempted, under baffling dispensations, to say, "Your judgments are a great deep"—"Verily You are a God who hides Yourself"—seated at the foot of Calvary's cross, we can joyfully exclaim, "We have known and believed the love God has to us." Man's love is changing—Your is unchanging—man's love is finite—Your is infinite—man's love is the result of kindness—the return of love for love—but You commend Your love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Thanks, eternal thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!
I adore the freeness and sovereignty of that love. It was from everlasting, as it is to everlasting—unbought and unprocured by any poor love of mine. May I ever bear about with me Your own gracious declaration, as the only reason for its bestowment—"My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts." You are God and not man. Man's thoughts would have been condemnation, judgment, wrath—but Your thoughts towards us are thoughts of peace and not of evil. How precious are these—Your thoughts of love unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! May the exceeding riches of Your grace, in Your kindness bestowed through Christ Jesus, exercise a constraining influence on my heart and life. Feeling the infinite debt of obligation under which I am laid to the divine Redeemer, may soul and body be consecrated as living sacrifices to Him, who so freely surrendered and consecrated His all for me. Blessed Savior, make me Yours. I am Yours by creation, I am doubly Yours by redemption. Quicken my faith, deepen my love, stimulate my obedience. Under the guidance and influence of lofty principle, may my eye be single, that my whole body may be full of light.
Bless my dear friends. Reward my benefactors. Pardon any who have wronged me. May I seek to conquer unkindness with kindness. Give me peace of conscience—charity towards all men. If in social communion, or in any of my dealings and transactions today, I have transgressed the golden rule—cherished an ungenerous thought—uttered an unkind or resentful word, or harbored an unjust suspicion—good Lord, forgive me.
Bless Your Church everywhere. Be a wall of fire around her—over all the glory be a defense. To whatever outward denomination they belong, do abundantly strengthen Your ministering servants. May their speech and their preaching not be with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and with power. May those who have gone forth as Your accredited ambassadors to heathen nations, enjoy many visible tokens of Your presence and blessing. May the precious seed, sown often with a trembling hand in uncongenial soil, be watered by the dews of heaven, and yield an abundant harvest.
Sanctify Your dealings to all mourners in Zion. Pity, relieve, comfort them. You heal the broken in heart and bind up their wounds. Let them see, in the love of Jesus, the pledge and guarantee of love in all that befalls them.
Hear, O Lord, in heaven, Your holy habitation, this my evening prayer; when You hear forgive, and grant me an answer in peace, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
15th Morning—PATIENT WAITING
"The Lord is good unto those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him." Lam. 3:25
O God, Inspirer of all good thoughts, the Hearer and Answerer of prayer—draw near to me in infinite loving-kindness. At this Morning-gate of Your Temple, I desire anew to ask Your blessing, and to invoke Your favor. You have graciously said, that You are good to those, who, in simplicity of faith and earnestness of trust and hope, wait upon You. "My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from him!"
I thank You for Your sparing mercy. While others have been laid on beds of sickness, or prostrated by accident, or called away by sudden death—I am this hour among the living to praise You. How constant and how tender has been Your care and kindness to me in the days that are past! How enduring Your long-suffering, despite of countless provocations, and in the midst of ingratitude and disobedience, declension and backsliding!
I wait upon You, this morning, to implore forgiveness for the past and grace for the future. Give me the blessed sense of pardon and peace through the blood of the cross. Seal to me afresh the blessings of the new and well ordered covenant. Say, in mingled omnipotence and love, "Your sins are all forgiven you," Being thus forgiven much, may I lean upon You and trust You in the time to come; feeling that I cannot be in better or in safer keeping than in Yours. For all my joys, may I have chastened gratitude and thankfulness while they are granted; yet seeking not to invest them with a permanency which is not theirs. And when You curtail them, or take them away, let me not dishonor You with guilty doubts and distrustful fears. May this thought silence every murmur—"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." May I know and feel assured, that all things, by immutable covenant, are working, and will work together for good to those who love You. Thus do You shed hope and joy and peace around my daily path; 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.
Before I engage in my daily duties, I would implore Your guidance and protection. I cannot forecast the circumstances in which I may be placed today; what temptations may beset me—what troubles may oppress me. Let a sense of Your presence hallow my worldly work—that so, begun—carried on, and ended in You, all may redound to Your praise and glory. Let me use, with a glad and grateful heart, the many enjoyments You have given me in this beautiful earth; but abolish the evil dominion of self and selfishness. Keep me from the beguiling and seductive love of pleasure, on which Your approval cannot rest. Write the law of kindness on my heart. Let it be my happiness and joy to minister to others. May I feel that it is better to give than to receive; better to be last than to be first. Keep me pure—preserve me from false living—from all artifice—all underhand and dubious dealings—all crooked and covetous ways. May my converse be sincere, my conscience clear as the noonday. Serving You cheerfully here, may I become more and more fitted for the full consecration—the perfect spontaneity of the heavenly world.
I pray for all unsolaced, unsuccoured, and unpitied ones; all the wide circle and family of affliction. O You who bear Your people, as a man bears his own son that serves him—do bear their griefs and carry their sorrows. Even when wills are thwarted and plans are crossed—may they too know what it is "to wait only upon God." May the bruising in the olive-press of trial, only cause an overflow of the oil of joyful submission. Spare useful and valued lives. Let not the sun of existence go down before it is yet day. Prepare the dying for death and what is after death. May they exult in the finished work of Jesus—may the music of His name refresh their souls in the closing hour; and when they are taken away, may those left to mourn their loved and lost, know that the message "You shall die and not live," comes from You.
I pray for Your Church. Increase her faith, stimulate her zeal, heal her breaches. O Blessed Redeemer, who, by reason of these unhappy divisions, are wounded in the house of Your friends—do bring the varied members of the household of faith nearer You, and then they shall be nearer one another. Send times of refreshing unto Zion. Pour upon her the continual dew of Your blessing—may no part of the fleece be dry. Beautify Your sanctuary—make the place of Your feet glorious.
Anew I commend myself and all belonging to me, this day, to Your gracious keeping. Waiting upon You, may I be enabled to renew my strength—and know that You never say to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek you my face in vain. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
15th Evening—THE FOURFOLD PLEA
"Who is he that condemns? It Is Christ who died, yes rather, that has risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." Romans 8:34
Most blessed and everlasting God, who has been my guide and guardian and protector throughout the day, I approach the Gates of prayer tonight, with my evening tribute of gratitude and thanksgiving. Others, who rose this morning in health and strength, have been summoned without a note of warning into an eternal world. I am among the living to praise You. In my case, too, the axe might have been laid at the root of the tree, and the mandate have gone forth, "Cut it down." It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed.
I render unto You praise for all the outward blessings of my lot—for food and clothing—for bright sunshine and revolving season—for social and domestic pleasures—the endearments of kindred and home—the fellowship of loving and congenial hearts. I bless You, above all, for spiritual privileges. I render You devout thanks for the finished work of my adorable Redeemer. Looking to myself—my own guilty doings and demerits—there is everything to sadden and overwhelm. But, blessed be Your name, You have put this new song with its fourfold theme into my lips—'Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ is at the right hand of God; Christ makes intercession.' I rejoice to think, that, as the great Angel of the Covenant, he is ever pleading before the throne—bearing on His breastplate the names of His true Israel. Looking to the perfection of His sacrifice, the efficacy of His intercession, the fullness and all-sufficiency of His grace, I can joyfully make the challenge, "Who is he that condemns?" "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Reposing on these gracious covenant assurances, I would retire to rest this night, cheered by the thought, that I am tended by the sleepless eye of Israel's unslumbering Shepherd.
Forgive the sins of the past day—the sins I have committed against You my God—the sins I have committed against my fellow-creatures; any unkind thoughts, or uncharitable judgments or censorious sayings. Sanctify me by the indwelling of Your gracious Spirit. Risen with Christ, may I live under the power of holy principles and renewed affections; seeking to make His divine example and spotless character—in His patience and meekness, His forgiveness and submission—the guide and regulator in all my duties and communion. Bearing about with me continually the dying of the Lord Jesus—may the life also of Jesus be thus made manifest in my mortal flesh.
I pray for all on whom You have been laying Your chastening hand. May they too know the quickening power of His resurrection and the sympathetic fellowship of His sufferings. If they have been brought in sad experience to feel that change is their portion here—that hopes are transient, joys insecure, friendships perishing—may they look upwards to an unchanging Savior-God, and listen to His assurance—"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." Comfort all who have been bereaved of beloved relatives—grateful for the valued loan, may they resign the trust to the great Proprietor of life. Only yielding You what is Yours, may it be theirs to say, "Your will be done!"
Bless Your Church everywhere. Heal divisions. Hasten the time when the watchmen on Zion's battlements shall see eye to eye and heart to heart. We know that there is a day coming, when the divine saying shall receive its joyful fulfillment—"Behold how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." We would long, good Lord, for the realization of this holy brotherhood of Christians and of churches—that blessed era, when there shall be no contrariety to Your mind; when all shall be in blessed accordance with Your will; and when, in answer to the Redeemer's prayer, His people, all becoming one, the world shall believe. Let Your word triumph over pride and infidelity—superstition and will-worship. Let the people praise You, O God, yes let all the people praise You. The harvest truly is plenteous and the laborers are few. I would ask the Lord of the harvest that, He would send forth laborers to His harvest. Spirit of truth and love and peace I speed forth in Your glorious mission; and utter the divine summons over the darkened and degraded nations, "Let there be light!"
Lord, I anew commend myself, and all near and dear to me, to Your gracious keeping. Lift upon me the light of Your countenance and give me peace. Watch over me during the unconscious hours of sleep; and when the Gates of the morning are again opened, may I rise, in Your strength, fitted for the discharge of the duties and employments of another day. Hear me, gracious Father, for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
16th Morning—THE LIVELY HOPE
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away." 1 Peter 1:3, 4
O God Almighty, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You for all the manifold tokens of Your goodness and love. The Gates of the morning have again been opened. Do open, along with them, the Gates of Righteousness, that I may enter in and praise the Lord. Enkindle within my heart holy desires and devout affections. May these be pre-occupied with You, and with the things which belong to my everlasting peace. May I have Your blessing resting upon all my duties and engagements this day—the blessing which makes rich and adds no sorrow with it. May no created good be allowed to displace the sense and assurance I enjoy of Your favor and friendship.
I bless You, above all, for Your abundant mercy in the purchased, incorruptible inheritance. Change is our portion here. We are ever reminded, in the course of Your Providence, of the precarious tenure which links us to all earthly objects of happiness. But in the Resurrection of Jesus I have the pledge and earnest of enduring blessings—"the lively hope"—the hope "full of immortality." In His finished work alone is all my dependence placed. With quiet confidence, I desire to repose in His covenant love and in the plenitude of His promises. O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant me Your peace!
Teach me ever to realize what a needy pensioner I am, from day to day and from hour to hour, on Your grace. Hold You me up! Keep me, guide me, protect me, undertake for me. In temptation support me—in danger defend me—in sorrow comfort me. If You send prosperity, enable me to carry the cup with a steady hand. If You send adversity, enable me to glorify You in the midst of the fires—adoring a 'taking' as well as a 'giving' God. As a member of the Christian priesthood, may it be my desire to offer on Your altar the continual sacrifice of a humble spirit, and a holy, pure, consistent life. Keep the lamp of faith and love trimmed and burning. Let me aim, more and more, at the crucifixion of sin and self. Should You speak at times by crossed dealings and mysterious dispensations, reading the impressive lesson of earth's corruptible and defiled and fading inheritances—may I harbor no guilty suspicions of Your faithfulness, or seek to arraign the appointments of paternal wisdom. But looking beyond to that which is imperishable—in answer to the question, "Is it well with you?" may I seek to be ready with the unhesitating reply, "It is well."
God of Bethel—the God of my fathers—the God of all the families of the earth—I pray in behalf of those near and dear to me—beseeching You to grant them a saving interest in that same unfading heritage. Make them partakers of Your abundant mercy—prepare them for Your Son's appearing and kingdom; and let nothing dim or obscure the brightness of that "blessed hope."
Extend Your support and sympathy to all in sorrow. Let them bear, with patient equanimity, whatever You see meet to appoint. Put into their lips the prayer, divinely taught, "Your will be done." Seeking to have no jot or tittle altered in the allotments of infinite love, may they look forward to that morning without clouds, when in Your light they shall see light, and when every shadow which now dims and darkens shall forever flee away.
Prosper Your cause and kingdom on the earth. Reveal Yourself to the nations who know You not, as a Father—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed Savior, have You not said, regarding the world You have redeemed, "The hour comes when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth?" Hasten the time, in Your own good way, when "neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem," nor in any exclusive "holy places"—but when from the lips of ransomed humanity the cry shall be heard—"Doubtless You are our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not."
And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Let all my duties this day, whether private and domestic—or public and in the world, be performed under a sense of Your approval, and under the consciousness of Your strengthening and upholding grace—that so, when the shades of evening have again gathered, I may be enabled, in grateful remembrance, anew to set up my Ebenezer and to say—"The Lord has helped me." And all I ask is for the Savior's sake. Amen.
"He who believes on the Son has everlasting life." John 3:36
O God, I bless You that in the multitude of Your mercies the Gates of the evening have again closed upon me in peace. May the great Angel of the Covenant descend, and mingle the fragrance of His adorable merits with the evening incense-cloud; that my prayers, mingled though they be with much imperfection and sin, may ascend before You with acceptance. Hallow my thoughts—sanctify my affections; raise me above the seen and the temporal, and enable me to hold converse with the unseen and the infinite.
I bless You for that free and glorious gift of everlasting life, which You have given me in Your dear Son. May I freely and lovingly receive it—as it is freely and lovingly offered. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! May I be enabled to see in Jesus the very Savior I need—the Physician who heals all my diseases. To His precious blood I look for pardon—to His supporting grace for strength—to His tender sympathy for solace. Give me the present blessedness of those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. May I know the truth and reality of the words, "We who have believed do enter into rest,"—"He who believes on the Son has everlasting life." Give me the preparatory rest of grace here, which is the prelude and pledge of the eternal rest of glory hereafter. Fill me even now with all peace, and joy in believing, that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
With that everlasting life begun, which is to be perfected and consummated above, may I purify myself even as Christ is pure. Enable me to live worthy of so glorious a heritage. Deliver me from the enthralling power and bondage of sin in every form. As a temple of the Holy Spirit, may I be kept from whatever would defile or desecrate its hallowed courts. Preserve me from the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life—from the power of all carnal appetites and corrupt affections. Guard the springs of thought and will. Prevent me from harboring or indulging unrighteous desires. In all I do, may I put on charity which is the bond of perfectness. Having the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, may I sit at the feet of Him who pleased not Himself.
I pray for all my dear friends—number them among Your believing children—make them heirs of this same everlasting kingdom. Let none be guilty of procrastination in the things which belong to their eternal peace. Let none be beguiled by the delusion of a deathbed repentance—beginning the watch when the summons comes to leave the watchtower—seeking a living Savior for the first time at a dying hour—but may we all be living habitually in that state of preparedness, that when the midnight cry shall be heard, we maybe ready with the response, "Even so—come, Lord Jesus!" Lo! this is our God, we have waited for Him!
Let the dew which descended on the mountains of Zion descend on every branch of Your Church universal. Let a season of reviving and refreshing come from Your own immediate presence. Build the walls of Jerusalem. Soon may there be voices heard saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the one kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."
Look in tender love on the children of sorrow. If You have been recently impressing upon any the solemn lesson regarding the present life, that it is even as a vapor which appears for a little moment and then vanishes away, let them rejoice in the glorious reversion they have in life everlasting; that beyond the dissolution of the earthly tabernacle, the eye of faith can rest on a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Comfort the fatherless, the widow, the poor also, and him that has no helper. Even when the footsteps of a God of love fail to be traced—may there be implicit trust in the wisdom and rectitude of inscrutable dealings.
I anew supplicate Your forgiveness for the sins of the by-past day, and commit myself to Your gracious protection and guardianship during the silent watches of another night. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
17th Morning—THE GREAT PROPITIATION
"Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." Rom. 3:25
Most Blessed God, Father of all mercies and God of all grace, do hear in heaven Your dwelling-place these my morning supplications. When You hear forgive, and grant me an answer in peace.
You have mercifully guarded me during the unconscious hours of slumber—permitting me to lie down in sleep and to awake in safety. And now that I am about to enter on the duties and engagements—it may be the temptations and trials—of a new day, I would invoke Your presence. Give me Your benediction and blessing. If You are for me, who can be against me? I will go in the strength of the Lord God, making mention of Your righteousness.
Blessed be Your name for the Great Propitiation—that I can look away from myself, and my own guilty doings, to Him who has done all, and suffered all, and procured all for me. Oh sprinkle the lintels and door-posts of my heart with the covenant token. Countless multitudes have already washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and are now before Your Throne the trophies and monuments of redeeming grace and love. To His cross I desire anew, in simple faith, to look—to the horns of that bloodstained altar I desire anew to cling. I have no other Savior, and blessed be Your name, need no other. Gracious Redeemer, You are able to save and willing to save to the uttermost. You have a balm for every wound; an antidote for every sorrow. To whom can I go but unto You, You have the words of eternal life.
May I be enabled, this day, to bear about with me the dying of the Lord Jesus. May that blood of sprinkling purge my conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Give the quickening energy of Your Holy Spirit, to disarm the power of temptation—to dethrone self—to deliver from the seductive influences of the world. Keep me from the intoxication of success—the pride and alienation of prosperity. Keep me from undue depression and guilty murmuring in adversity. Forbid that I should ever take encouragement to sin from abounding grace—but be led, rather, 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. Impart to me increasing aspirations after that holiness of heart and life without which no man can see the Lord. Thus continuing, from day to day, in the enjoyment of Your fear and favor, when I come to die, may I be enabled to fall asleep in Jesus—in the blissful hope of a glorious immortality.
Let every blessing I ask for myself, be largely bestowed on all near and dear to me. Seal, to each of them, a saving interest in the blessings of the everlasting covenant. As the beloved of the Lord may they dwell safely. Let not one be found lacking on the day when You make up Your jewels.
Speed the gospel through the nations of the earth. Give Your faithful servants everywhere grace to proclaim, in all its fullness, Your own glorious message—the only remedy for a ruined world—peace through the blood of the cross. Arise, Lord, and plead Your own cause. Hasten the day, when the Prince of Peace shall be welcomed to the Throne of universal empire, and when all the ends of the world shall see the salvation of our God. Bless all Your churches at home. Imbue Your ministering servants with the healthful spirit of Your grace. Restore the lost; reclaim the backslider; comfort the mourner; shield the tempted; support the sick; sustain the dying. Bless the young. Enable them to lay the green ears of early consecration on Your holy altar, and to cry, "My Father, You shall be the guide of our youth." Bless manhood in its prime. May the best energies of soul and body be willingly surrendered to Your service. Bless old age. May the hoary head be a crown of glory, found in the way of righteousness.
I ask these and all other needed blessings in the name of Him whom You hear always; who has loved me, and washed me from my sins in His own precious blood; Jesus Christ—my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
17th Evening—VICTORY OVER DEATH
"O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:55-57
O God, I desire, as the Gates of the evening are again closing around me, to draw near into Your gracious presence, adoring You as the God of my life, in whose hands is the breath of every living thing. You have watched over me during another day—protecting me from danger, guarding me from temptation, sustaining me with the blessings of Your goodness. I thank You for this great gift of being—that I am still this night among the living to praise You, while others have slept the sleep of death.
You are ever giving impressive intimations and remembrances of our frailty and mortality. As for man his days are as grass—as the flower of the field so he flourishes. The wind passes over it and it is gone, and the place that once knew it knows it no more. I bless You that as by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead. Adored be Your name, that we can look, through the bars of the grave, on hopes fall of immortality, and hear the voice of the divine Redeemer saying, "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,"—"I am the resurrection and the life, he who lives and believes on me shall never die." I bless You that in His cross and passion victory has been obtained over the King of terrors; that to all His true people the portals of death have been transformed into the gate of heaven, and that in His resurrection they have the pledge of their own. Grant me now, O God, a saving interest in all those spiritual blessings He died to purchase, and which He is exalted to bestow; that thus I may be enabled to look forward with calmness and fortitude to the hour of departure, whenever and wherever You see fit to call me hence. May I be so living in near and conscious fellowship with Him, that when the summons of death comes, it may be to me like an angel whispering—"The Master has come, and calls for you."
While I bear about with me continually the dying of the Lord Jesus, may the life also of Jesus be made manifest in my mortal flesh. May it be my habitual aspiration, that my character be a reflection of His—in its gentleness and meekness—its purity and unselfishness—its benevolence and sympathy. In life, doing His will and imbibing His spirit; in death, ready to use His words of filial trust and self-surrender, "Father, into Your hand I commend my spirit."
I pray for any who may be living unready for the great change—lulling themselves in self-security, or risking their hopes for eternity on a deathbed repentance. Let them no longer remain in a state of guilt and danger; but lead them to know, in this their day, the things that belong to their peace, before they are forever hidden from their eyes.
Bless all near and dear to me. May they be united to You and to one another, in the bonds of the everlasting covenant. May their lives now be hidden with Christ in God, that when their last summons also comes, they may have nothing to do but to die, and to wake up in glory everlasting.
Look in great kindness on all who are in any way afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate. May those who are mourning their loved and lost, be enabled to sorrow, not as others who have no hope—for if they believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, those also who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with Him. We pray for those who are drawing near to the gates of death. May the unwavering eye of faith be directed to death's great Abolisher. In Him, may they see the last enemy vanquished and the grave spoiled. Let them plead Your promise with unfaltering hope, "O death, I will be your plagues—O grave, I will be your destruction."
Pity a fallen world, still under the ghastly dominion of sin and death. Hasten the time when its ashen robes shall be laid aside. Destroy the kingdom of Satan, which is the kingdom of disorder, and set up the kingdom of Christ, which is the kingdom of peace. Bless Your Church everywhere. May the anointing oil, poured on her great Head, flow down to the skirts of her garments. Rouse all slumbering and lifeless churches with Your own summons—"Awake, you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you life"—"Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain which are ready to die." Oh give us all, as individual believers, grace to be up and doing, cultivating a wakeful vigilance—living dying lives—remembering, that as death leaves us, so will judgment and eternity find us, and that as the tree falls, so must it lie.
Watch over me, this night, during the unconscious hours of slumber. Grant me the sleep of Your beloved; and when I awake, may I be still with You. And all I ask is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
18th Morning—DESTRUCTION AND HELP
"O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in me is your help." Hos. 13:9
O God, who has mercifully permitted me to see the light and to enjoy the comforts of a new day, draw near in Your infinite mercy this morning, and bestow upon me Your blessing. Open to me the Gates of Righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord. As the sun of the outer world once more shines, may the better Sun of Righteousness arise upon me with healing in His beams—dispersing all the clouds of sin and unbelief, and revealing the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Lord, I have reason to mourn my manifold sins—my disobedience and unbelief—my ingratitude and rebellion. I am a wonder to myself—self-destroyer that I am—that You have spared me—that You have not, long before now, pronounced against me the cumberer's sentence, and executed against me the cumberer's righteous doom. It is because You are God and not man, that, despite of all I have done to merit Your just displeasure, Your anger is turned away, and Your hand of mercy and love and compassion is stretched out still.
Gracious Savior, Your divine errand in coming into our world was to seek that which was lost. The Son of man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. All my trust is in Your finished work, and glorious atonement, and everlasting righteousness, and continual intercession. You can save—and You alone! I have no help and no hope in myself. Blessed be Your name for Your own gracious and encouraging assurance—"In ME is Your help." A humble and humbled suppliant at the Gates of prayer, I would utter the simple cry of faith which of old came from the lips of a believing petitioner—"Lord, help me!" May I receive also the gracious response, "Be it unto you even as you will." You are willing to bestow every needed blessing—pardoning grace—sustaining grace—strengthening grace—sanctifying grace—comforting grace—grace, until grace is no longer needed, but is lost and swallowed up in glory. O You who give "more grace," hide me deeper in the clefts of the smitten Rock. Other refuge I have none—my helpless soul depends entirely on You. Lord, save me, else I perish! Save me, I beseech You, not only from the guilt but from the power of sin. Save me from the corruptions of my own heart—from the seductive influences of the world—from the temptations that may be incident to my secular duties and engagements. Save me from the sin that does more easily beset me—save me from bringing dishonor on Your holy cause and Your holy name, by my inconsistent conduct or uneven walk; save me, oh, save me, from the wrath to come!
Compassionate a lost world. Pity the careless, reclaim the backsliding, remove every impediment to the spread of Your truth—that all the ends of the earth may soon see the salvation of God.
O Help of the helpless—Friend of the friendless—Portion of the portionless—Father of the fatherless—regard with pitying eye Your suffering children. There are unnamed griefs—unspoken sorrows—which cannot be whispered into human ears. They can alone be unburdened and confided to You. Say to each and all such, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you." In the multitude of the sorrows in their hearts may Your comforts delight their souls.
Give to those related to me by the ties of kindred or affection, that same promised and needed help this day. Protect and defend them by Your mighty power, and may all their doings be ordered by Your governance, that they may do always that which is righteous in Your sight. Sanctify Your true people in body, soul, and spirit; and present them at last faultless before the presence of Your glory with exceeding joy.
I anew commit myself to Your gracious keeping and direction. May the Eternal God this day be my refuge, and underneath me be the everlasting arms. And all I ask, is in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
18th Evening—REST IN JESUS
"Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
O God, I desire to approach Your presence, on this the close of another day, through this most blessed Gateway. Gracious Redeemer, You who have finished transgression, and made an end of sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in an everlasting righteousness—who Yourself, having overcome the sharpness of death, have opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers; draw near, as You did to Your disciples of old when it was toward evening and the day was far spent, and grant me Your benediction. Heaven and earth may pass away, but never will that promise be altered, that coming to You, weary and heavy laden, You will give rest and peace to the burdened soul. I rejoice that in You the conflict was endured and the victory won—that there is no sin too great for Your compassion—no case too extreme for Your support—no sorrow too trivial for Your sympathy—no tempest-tossed soul that cannot listen to Your "Peace be still." Fill me with Your own bequeathed gift of peace—the peace which passes understanding—peace through the blood of Your cross. Looking to Your completed atonement—the fullness of Your grace—the plenitude of Your love—the perpetuity of Your covenant blessings—may I be able to say, "Return unto your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you."—"This is the rest whereby You cause the weary to rest—and this is the refreshing." Fill me with all joy and peace in believing, that I may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, quicken my dormant and languid affections. May I not only bear continually about with me the dying of the Lord Jesus, but may the life also of Jesus be made manifest in my mortal flesh. May it be my constant aim and endeavor, while resting in His love, to be imbibing His spirit and following His footsteps; obeying His will whether by active obedience or by passive endurance; that at last I may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless, and pass from the rest of grace to the eternal rest of glory.
I bless You, Lord, for the mercies of the by-gone day. If, in the prosecution of my worldly duties and avocations, I have been kept from sin and preserved from temptation, it is all Your doing. Graciously be with me in all time to come; clothe me with the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. Let me trust You in the dark. Keep me from over solicitude and anxiety about the future. Keep me humble, thankful, contented—keep me from being deceived with fictitious good—from coveting blessings which are not blessings. Let my prayer be that of Jabez—"O that You would bless me indeed!" Whatever be the niche in Your temple I am called to occupy, may I fill it joyfully and with a glad heart, cherishing a sense of solemn responsibility. May I know that duty becomes a delight when done for You. Direct my heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ; that so, when my summons does come to enter into rest, I may be ready to pass from my appointed work on earth, to engage in the ceaseless activities of the glorified.
Lord, look down in infinite compassion on all who need Your consolations. May those who are in spiritual trouble, anxiety, and disquietude—who maybe going about seeking rest and finding none, be brought to seat themselves at the feet of Jesus—clothed and in their right mind. May those who are laid on beds of pain and sickness, manifest unmurmuring submission to Your holy will. May those stretched on beds of death, be enabled to fall asleep sweetly in Jesus. Encircle them with the bow of Your Covenant mercy. As they pass through the dark valley, may Your precious promises cluster like winged angels around their pillows; and may the Savior's words bear to them a blessed meaning and significance they never had before, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest." Amid all tossings and tribulations, may Your afflicted children see in every trial, only the appointed billow to waft their bark nearer the haven, and may they sing amid the storm—"So gives He His beloved rest."
Let Your Church anew be baptized with Pentecostal fire. Spirit of the living God! O Spirit of light and Spirit of burning, kindle into new life every decaying flame—feed every lamp with the oil of Your grace—and may the golden candlestick with all its branches shine for Your glory, and radiate to the ends of the earth.
I commend my dear friends to Your friendship. Make them the objects of Your sovereign care, and the subjects of Your redeeming love. May the Lord watch between us when we are absent one from another; and listening together now to the Savior's words of welcome from the Throne of grace, may it be ours at last to listen to His words of welcome from the Throne of glory, "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." And all I ask is for His sake. Amen.
19th Morning—THE ONE ENTRANCE
"By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." John 10:9
O God, I desire, this morning, to approach by the one only Gateway to Your presence. Enable me to hear the voice of the Great Angel Intercessor—the mighty Prince who has power with God and prevails, saying, "By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." I come pleading that Name which soothes all sorrows, heals all wounds, dries all tears; which is manna to the hungry soul, and rest to the weary. How many are now in Glory, testifying to the boundless stores of grace hidden in Christ. In the plenitude of that same mercy I would still exult. I rejoice that His name is called Jesus, because He saves His people from their sins.
I desire to acknowledge my great unworthiness—my constant and grievous departures from the path of Your commandments. I have gone astray like a lost sheep, following too much the devices and the desires of my own heart. You might have righteously excluded me forever from the green pastures and still waters, and left me to pursue my own devious wanderings. But blessed be Your name, in the midst of abounding sin there is abounding grace—the Good Shepherd—He who gave His own life for the sheep, is still waiting to be gracious—not willing that any of His sheep should perish, but that all should come unto Him and live.
Lord, reveal to me, more and more, the infinite evil of sin—the ingratitude of such requitals of Your love and resistings of Your Spirit. Turn me and I shall be turned, for You are the Lord my God. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto You. May I have the habitual feeling that I am only safe when following the footsteps and leadings of the Great Shepherd of the flock. May the realizing sense of His presence and nearness sweeten all joy and alleviate all sorrow. May I know that sorrow is turned into joy with the conscious possession of His friendship, and that joy would be sorrow if bereft of that favor which is life. Keep me pure—protect me from temptation—preserve me unspotted from the world. Give me the habit of a holy life. May my affections be more entirely surrendered to You. Whatever I do, enable me to do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men, and to have the growing experience that Your service is perfect freedom.
I would desire to set out, this morning, under the protection of the Shepherd of Israel, who leads Joseph like a flock. Give, O Lord, to keep me, this day without sin. May the inspired saying form the directory of my conduct—may it act as a holy preservative in all time of temptation, and a blessed incentive and stimulus in pursuing the path of obedience—"If you live after the flesh you shall die, but if you, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live." Prevent me being betrayed into anger, or resentment, or uncharitableness. Make me gentle and amiable, kind and forgiving—remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, "A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another." May it be my desire to lay out whatever humble talents You have conferred upon me, for Your glory and for my neighbor's good—having a mind intent on pleasing You.
Hasten the time when all shall avail themselves of the one all-glorious entrance; when, as there is but one Shepherd, so there shall be but one flock—when at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. Set faithful watchmen on the towers of Zion, who will not keep silence, until Jerusalem be made a praise throughout the earth. Arise, O God, and plead Your own cause.
While in the personal enjoyment of health and many outward comforts, I would intercede, this morning, in behalf of the poor, the afflicted, the sorrowful, the bereaved, and the dying. May they look to God their Maker who gives 'songs in the night'. May the poor be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. May sick ones be upheld by Your everlasting arms—may bereaved ones be cheered with the thought of eternal reunions—may dying ones exult in the name of Jesus—may the music of that name refresh their souls as they pass through the dark valley. When I hear of others summoned, in the twinkling of an eye, to render in their final account—oh may I seek to be myself dying daily—realizing my position as standing each moment on the brink of immortality. With my loins girded and my lamp burning, may I not be ashamed before Christ at His coming.
Anew I commend myself, and all near and dear to me, to You. "Sun of my soul" shine upon my pathway. May no "earthborn cloud arise," to obscure the brightness of Your reconciled countenance. Guide me this day, and every day, by Your good counsel while I live; and afterward receive me into glory. For the Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
19th Evening—WISE TEACHING
"I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit—who leads you by the way that you should go." Isaiah 48:17
O God, who accepts the feeblest attempt to serve You, receive this my evening sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. I adore You as "God only wise." Justice and judgment are the habitation of Your throne—mercy and truth go continually before Your face. I bless You that every moment of my existence I am under Your loving guidance. The thread of my life is in Your hand. I am no judge of what is best for me—often would I choose the evil and refuse the good. But You are ever faithful and unerring. O lead me, not in my own way—but in the way that I ought to go. May it be mine, amid every vicissitude, to recognize infinite wisdom in all Your allotments—to sit at the feet of the Great Teacher, contented with the assurance, "This also comes from the Lord Almighty, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working." Blessed be Your name for Your wise teaching in the past—for all the deliverances You have given in times of danger—for all the help in times of trouble—for all the support in times of temptation. I would desire implicitly to trust You in the future. There is no corruption but what Your grace will enable me to subdue—there is no cross but what Your grace will enable me to carry—there is no foe but Your grace will enable me to conquer.
I come to You, this night, with all my heavy burdens. Deliver me from the burden and the bondage—from the love, and practice, and dominion, of sin—from unbelieving thoughts and disquieting doubts and apprehensions from the tyranny of self—from the fear of death—and what is after death. May I jealously guard every avenue by which temptation may assail me, keeping watch and ward over the treachery of my own deceitful heart. Let me cherish habitual mindfulness that time is fleeting. Let not the calls of an engrossing world without, foster the procrastinating spirit within. If others indulge in slumber, may it be mine to be vigilant. If others venture to trifle and tamper with convictions, may it be mine to maintain the testimony of a good conscience; and, uninfluenced by earthly fascinations and seductions, to pursue the path of heavenly obedience. Hold me up and I shall be safe! Mold my heart in conformity with Your holy will. May duty become a delight when performed for You. Give me intensified earnestness in Your service, as well as a greater desire to benefit my fellow-men. Take away all that is unamiable—and implant all that is generous, and beneficent, and kind. May I strive to be pure and sincere in speech—honorable and upright in transaction—temperate in the use of lawful enjoyment. And thus, whatever I do, whether in word or in deed, may I be enabled to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Bless Your Church throughout the world. It is our comfort to know, amid the blindness and errors, the mistakes and prejudices of human instructors, that she is under wise and infallible teaching with You. Hasten the day when all within her pale will come to see eye to eye, and unite their now discordant voices in a blended song of praise. Bound up in the bundle of life, may Your true people, by whatever name known, be gathered, at last, by the reaper-angels, into the one heavenly garner.
To an all-wise God I would specially commend the children of sorrow, and any in whom I may be more deeply interested. Lord, sanctify to them the dealings of Your providence. May they see in their afflictions errands of love in disguise. May they recognize Your hand alike in bestowing the gifts and in revoking the grant; trusting the wisdom they cannot trace. Knowing that You lead them by the way they should go, may they write over the most mysterious of Your dispensations, "He disciplines us for our profit, that we may be made partakers of His holiness."
Anew I commend myself to Your keeping this night. Forgive the sins of the day which is now closing. Guard me during my sleeping as well as my waking hours. And grant that I may wake up finally, from the sleep of death, to glory everlasting. Amen.
20th Morning—THE SURE GUIDE
"As for God, his way is perfect." Psalm 18:30
O God, I bless You that You have spared me to see the light of another day, and once more permitted me to approach the morning gate of prayer. "My voice shall You hear in the morning, O Lord. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto You, and will look up."
I thank You, Heavenly Father, that from day to day, and from hour to hour, I am under Your wise and loving direction—that it is You who set up the waymarks, and appoint the bounds of my habitation. The lot may be cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord. If left to my own self, I would often choose the evil and refuse the good—I might select what was selfish and perilous and sinful—what might compromise my peace of conscience, and endanger my spiritual interests. I have often erred in the past, pursuing at times devious paths on which Your blessing could not rest. I would desire to take You more as my guide and counselor for the future. Let me follow You wholly—trusting Your heart, even where I fail to trace Your hand—amid all vicissitudes and perplexities, hearing Your voice behind me saying, "This is the way, walk in it"—and writing over every dubious path—every mysterious Providence—"As for God, His way is perfect."
I know that all Your dealings are dictated by unerring wisdom and unchangeable love. I would look forward, with joyful confidence, to that great Day of disclosures, when the now sealed roll shall be unfolded, and when every tongue will be brought to confess, "The Lord was righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works." Meanwhile, with the fear of God within me, and the eye of God above me, and the Heaven of God before me, may I prosecute steadfastly my pilgrim-way—going up through the wilderness leaning on Your arm; and then, though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear—for greater is He who is with me, and for me, than all those who can be against me.
Lord, wash me anew, this morning, in the Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. Give me the renewed sense of Your pardoning love in Christ. Renew me by the indwelling of Your gracious Spirit. I pray not that You should take me out of the world, but that You would keep me from the evil. Disengage me from all that is perilous in its engrossments and fascinations. May I be molded by the kind and loving precepts of Your holy gospel. Knowing Your will, may I delight to do it because it is Yours. Let me not lapse into a selfish disregard of the claims of others, but strive to be, in some feeble measure, useful in my day and generation; following in this the "perfect way" of Him, who went about continually doing good. May I do nothing I would wish to have cancelled and undone at a dying hour. But be so living and walking and acting, that when that solemn season does arrive—at peace with You, in charity with all mankind, and in humble, steadfast reliance on the merits of the Divine Redeemer, I may fall asleep.
I pray for the sick—the afflicted—the sorrowful—the bereaved—the lonely—the dying. Accommodate the supplies of Your grace to their varied necessities. In patience may they possess their souls. Amid the changes of the world and the instability of earth's best props and refuges—amid the tossings and heavings of this treacherous sea of life, may they cling to the sure anchorage, "As for God, His way is perfect."
Lord, compassionate a world lying in wickedness. Listen to that perpetual dirge of woe which is ascending from suffering humanity. Ease the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free. Emancipate the nations from the thraldom of Satanic sway. Let every power unto destruction be vanquished and overthrown by "the power of God unto salvation." May the gospel of Christ be mighty as ever to the pulling down of strongholds. Prosper all evangelistic efforts at home—prosper the cause of missions abroad. Beautiful upon many mountains may the feet be of those who bring good tidings. May the Lord Himself give the word, and great shall be the company of those that publish it.
I pray for all my beloved friends. I rejoice that, morning by morning and evening by evening, we can meet in spirit at Your holy altar, mingling our petitions and thanksgivings and confessions together. May our united supplications load the cloud of mercy, and cause it to burst in blessings on our heads.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for? my hope is in You. Give Your angels charge concerning me, that they may encamp round about me and bear me up in all my ways. If there be arduous duties before me today, make them easy. Level every mountain of difficulty—remove every threatening temptation—sustain me with the blessings of Your goodness. "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." And when all Your teachings and all Your leadings are completed on earth, do receive me into Your everlasting kingdom and glory, through Jesus Christ my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
20th Evening—HOLINESS OF HEART
"Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." Heb. 12:14
Heavenly Father, I come to the footstool of Your throne this night, desiring to remember that You are holy. In bestowing the golden key of admission into Your presence, these are Your words of invitation and welcome—"Open the gates, that the righteous, who keeps the truth, may enter in." If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me. May it be mine to enjoy and appropriate Your gracious beatitude and benediction, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Come, Lord, and search me—come and try me—come and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Enable me ever to bear in mind the solemn attestation You have given, in the atoning work of Your dear Son, as to the holiness of Your nature and the rectitude of Your law. On the cross of Him who was made sin for us though He knew no sin, is the superscription written, "You love righteousness and hate wickedness." As the pure and spotless beings who surround Your throne contemplate the great mystery of godliness, their continual cry and ascription is, "Holy, holy, holy!" Blessed be Your name, that in Jesus You are the just God and yet the Savior. I can exult in the assurance that the holiest of all Beings is also the kindest and the best of all.
Lord, make me holy as You are holy, and pure as You are pure. While I look to Christ in His perfect oblation as my Savior from sin's penalty, may I look to Him also as my great example. Let me catch the inspiration of His holy life. Give me grace to tread in His footsteps—to imbibe His spirit, and to reflect His image. Let me love, as He did, whatever is virtuous and benevolent and good; subordinating my own ways and wishes to the will of my Father in heaven; patient under injury—submissive under trial. May I be the possessor of that inner peace—the sunshine of a good conscience—which makes me independent of all outer disquietudes and troubles—singleness of eye, purity of heart, integrity of purpose, consecration of life. Remove every hindrance to spiritual growth. May I take that, alike as a precept and a promise, "Sin shall not have dominion over you." Thus may I have the character of heaven, in its holiness, impressed upon me on this side of death, that, on the other side of death, I may be fitted for its lofty companionships and joys.
Especially, Lord, guard and shield me in my worldly duties. Leaven the common tasks of life with Your fear. On my business and avocations may there be inscribed, "Holiness to the Lord." Whatever I do, may I do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men. Keep me from whatever has a tendency to foster the selfish element in my nature. May I cherish no purposes but what You will own, and employ no means but what You will bless. May I know that holy living will lead to happy dying. Oh may I be so living from day to day, that when I come at last to resign the great trust of existence, I may be enabled to say, "Now, Lord, let You Your servant depart in peace."
Bless all my beloved relatives—bring them also to the cross of the Redeemer, that while they learn there how righteous You are, they may there too "give thanks at the remembrance of Your holiness." Make them partakers of the holy character and resurrection-life of the risen Savior—purifying themselves even as He is pure—that at His second coming in the glory of His Father, they may be prepared to welcome Him with joy.
Look in compassion on poor afflicted ones. Let them trust, and not be afraid; believing that all is well, just because it is Your blessed will. May they know that every sorrow is numbered and appointed by the Man of Sorrows. May they feel how light and trivial their bitterest cup is, compared with the cup of suffering He so willingly drained for them.
Bless Your Church everywhere—refresh it with the dews of heaven. Sanctify and cleanse it, that it may be presented at last a glorious Church—without spot or wrinkle or any such thing—holy and without blemish.
I commend myself anew to Your watchful keeping this night, O Holy One of Israel. Forgive the sins of the day, in thought, word, and deed. Give Your angels charge concerning me that they may encamp round about me—and if it be Your will to spare me until tomorrow, fit me for all its duties.
These needful blessings which I have asked, and others equally needed and urgent which I have omitted to ask, do bestow upon me in the all-prevailing name of Him in whom all fullness dwells; and to whom with You the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be ascribed all praise and honor and glory, world without end. Amen.