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Good Words 1860
Simple Thoughts on Bible Subjects

Christ's advice on prayer.

Who can direct, counsel, and encourage us in this all-important matter but Jesus ? As man, He is not only acquainted with our necessities and wants, frailties and temptations, but sympathises also with our sorrows and trials; and as God, the only-begotten of the Father knows the character, mind, purpose, and love of Him who is the hearer and answerer of prayer. When Jesus the God-man says, "Ask, and it shall be given you," the words have infinite weight and authority, trustworthiness and comfort.

How precious, for the same reason, is that perfect model of a prayer given to us by Christ, the Searcher of hearts and Friend of sinners, the Son of the Most High and the Redeemer, not ashamed to call us brethren! He shews us here the things we truly need, and the things God is willing to give. As there is but one Mediator between God and man, there is but one infallible interpreter of man's need, and God's riches in mercy and glory to supply man's wants.

Christ gave only one model and form of prayer— that perfect prayer, so simple, and yet so clear, and deep, and inexhaustible; so elevating, and soul-searching, and humbling, and yet so tranquillising and strengthening—but He gave many exhortations, warnings, directions, and encouragements concerning prayer; because it is easy to learn the form of prayer, but difficult to learn to pray aright, that is, in the spirit.

Jesus often impresses on us that we ought to pray. He who is wisdom thought it needful that we, self-willed and blind creatures, should be reminded that heavenly treasures, honours, and gifts, divine life, peace, and holiness, are things necessary and desirable ; and that the invitations of the King of glory and His promises to bestow blessings in answer to prayer, ought to be received and embraced with gratitude and diligence. Do we not require to bethus urged and stirred up by way of remembrance?

Jesus often impresses on us that God is good, and loving, and willing to bless and to help. Why does He so very frequently repeat this? Because, although we are often credulous and ready to bestow our confidence upon men and things, changeable and weak, we are slow of heart to trust the true Father, who is the source and fountain of all fatherly kindness, faithfulness, tender pity, and compassion. Oh, what a fearful thing is sin, that we who are evil do not give credit (believe) to Him, who has given us whatever unselfishness, and love, and trustworthiness we have, and do not realise that He will give us good gifts if we ask Him! Therefore Jesus reminds us that God is the true Father, Friend, and Helper.

Jesus often impresses on us the danger of mere outward, formal, mechanical prayer. He urges us to pray in secret, that is, to realise God's presence. Christ prayed before His disciples, and we know that a special blessing is promised to the united prayer of His people. I may be alone in my room, and on my knees, and yet not be praying in secret; for instead of being alone with God, and speaking to Him, a multitude of thoughts and plans may keep me company, and God be neglected. While, on the other hand, I may be praying aloud with my household, or a large assemblage, and yet pray in secret, and speak to God face to face. Christ's command requires us to remember, that prayer is a spiritual act, demanding concentration of our spiritual energies, and that we must carefully guard against the danger of formalism. Oh, how very strongly, and urgently, and frequently does our blessed Saviour, the wise and kind Physician, warn us against pharisaical, thoughtless, heartless lip-work, prayers of the intellect or memory, or prayers to be heard of men, even though it be to do them good ! And here again, brother, does not Jesus shew that He knows what is in man, in us ? and must we not praise God for such an unerring Teacher and Guide?

Jesus advises His disciples to approach God as their reconciled Father. The Father himself loveth you! It is right to confess our sin—it is necessary to cry for mercy to pardon and to forgive—it is salutary to remember the horrible pit and the miry clay out of which God took us ; but the believer is to believe and feel, that he is accepted in the Beloved, and ought to seek to cry, Abba, Father. Such prayer of faith and trust in the word and promise of God produces a life of filial love and obedience.

Jesus advises us to apply our prayer immediately to our hearts and lives. As an illustration of this general principle, take the petition: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." While offering this petition, we are to examine ourselves, to confess, to crucify our unforgiving pride, and to put on, as the elect of God, bowels of mercy, compassion, long-suffering, forbearance.

Seek, dear reader, to understand, and remember, and practise the counsel of Jesus concerning prayer; collect them from the various chapters in the Gospels, and ponder them in thy heart; watch unto prayer, lest thy prayers cease to be prayer, and strive that it may be said of thee as it was of Elijah: "He prayed in praying." (James v. 17.) Jesus is not only our Teacher, but also our triumphant Advocate, our compassionate High-priest, and the Spirit himself helpeth our infirmities.

To be a man of prayer is the highest attainment on earth: in heaven we shall hear and receive the Amen to our petitions, and Jesus will say unto us: "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"

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