Monday, November 23, 2009

On the mountain of prayer

One night alone in prayer might make us new men, changed from poverty of soul to spiritual wealth, from trembling to triumphing. We have an example of it in the life of Jacob. Aforetime the crafty shuffler, always bargaining and calculating, unlovely in almost every respect, yet one night in prayer turned the supplanter into a prevailing prince, and robed him with celestial grandeur. From that night he lives on the sacred page as one of the nobility of heaven. Could not we, at least now and then, in these weary earthbound years, hedge about a single night for such enriching traffic with the skies? What, have we no sacred ambition? Are we deaf to the yearnings of divine love? Yet, my brethren, for wealth and for science men will cheerfully quit their warm couches, and cannot we do it now and then for the love of God and time good of souls? Where is our zeal, our gratitude, our sincerity? I am ashamed while I thus upbraid both myself and you....

Christ had said to his disciples, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” What he told them to do he would be sure to do himself. He was just about to choose twelve apostles, and before that solemn act of ordination was performed, he sought power for them from the Most High. Who can tell what blessings were vouchsafed to the twelve, in answer to that midnight intercession? If Satan fell like lightning from heaven, Jesus’ prayer did it, rather than the apostles’ preaching.

So, Christian man, if you enter upon a new enterprise, or engage in something that is weightier and more extensive than what you have done before, select a night or a day, and set it apart for special communion with the Most High. If you are to pray, you must work, but if you are to work, you must also pray. If your prayer without your work will be hypocrisy, your work without your prayer will be presumption; so see to it that you are specially in supplication when specially in service.

From a sermon entitled "Special Protracted Prayer," delivered March 1, 1868. Image by Rietje Swart under Creative Commons License.

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