Friday, August 24, 2007

When prayer is not enough

And the Lord said unto Moses, "Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” - Exodus 14:15.

SPIRITUAL men, in their distresses, turn at once to prayer, even as the stag when hunted takes to flight. Prayer is a never-failing resort; it is sure to bring a blessing with it. Even apart from the answer of our supplications, the very exercise of prayer is healthy to the man engaged in it. Far be it from me ever to say a word in disparagement of the holy, happy, heavenly exercise of prayer. But, beloved, there are times when prayer is not enough - when prayer itself is out of season. You will think that a hard saying, and say, “Who can hear it?” But my text is to the point. Moses prayed that God would deliver his people; but the Lord said to him, “Wherefore criest thou unto me?” As much as to say this is not the time for prayer, it is the time for action. “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.”

When we have prayed over a matter to a certain degree, it then becomes sinful to tarry any longer; our plain duty is to carry our desires into action, and having asked God’s guidance, and having received divine power from on high, to go at once to our duty without any longer deliberation or delay.

Brethren, a vigorous faith will often shut its eyes to difficulties. When faith looks upon a difficulty as being exceedingly great, then she turns to prayer; but, on the other hand, after having sought God’s help, and having received it, she frequently laughs at the impossibility, and cries, “It shall be done;” and then, instead of betaking herself any longer to her knees, she boldly marches on, believing that the difficulty will vanish before her, that the crooked will be made straight, and the rough places plain. We are not to be always praying over a difficulty; when we have fairly committed it to God, we are to act upon the assurance that he has heard us; nor will such an action be the fruit of rashness, for it is a solid and substantial fact, that prayer does avail with God. Beloved, it strikes me that the advice which the Lord gave to Moses, was such as he has given to the preacher tonight; and that the message which Moses delivered to the children of Israel, is a very fit one for me to deliver to you. Short, prompt, soldierlike, here is the whole of it: “Forward! forward!” If you have been sitting down or tempted to go back- “ Forward!” We have long been praying, let us to-night “Go forward.” The one subject we shall take up and try to deliver to different classes of character, is, “Thus saith the Lord, ye children of Israel, Forward!”

From a sermon entitled "Forward! Forward! Forward!," delivered October 18, 1863.

Photo by pfly; some rights reserved.

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