"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and
effective." James 5:16
"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good
gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good
gifts to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:11
There is reposeful rest beyond all others, at the
mercy-seat. When the hurricane of temptation and trial—the hot wind of the
wilderness is fiercest—who has not felt the peaceful overshadowing of this
Prayer for ourselves, the unburdening the heart of
its sins and sorrows into the ear of our Heavenly Father;
unbosoming our needs, our weaknesses, our frailties and
backslidings; it may be the crimson and scarlet stains of which none
but the Heart-searcher is aware. The cry for "more grace;" realizing our own
weakness, yet realizing, too, the strong arm on which we are encouraged to
lean, when our temporary Elims must be left, and the buffeting storm of the
wilderness and the unknown perils of the renewed journey must be faced!
Prayer for others. Delightful it is to feel that
our intercessions fetch down blessings on those who are absent from us.
Prayer annihilates space; it knows nothing of distance. That friend, that
brother, the companion of your youth, is far separated from you—out on the
perilous ocean, or away in the distant colony. The sound of the Sabbath-bell
no longer falls on his ear; you can go with him no longer to the house of
God in company; his place is vacant in the pew; his chair is empty at the
table; his voice is missed at the home-hearth! But you can be present
with him. Prayer can bring you to his side. Prayer can whisper a father's
benediction over him. Prayer can sprinkle him with better than a mother's
tears. Prayer can fetch the angels of God around him as a guard; his shield
in danger, his defense in trouble. Far off in her cottage-home, a thousand
miles away, a mother, all unconscious at the moment of the danger of her
sailor-boy, is uttering her midnight pleadings for the wanderer. They have
ascended at the very crisis of destruction. The cry of the trembling form
kneeling by her lonely couch has rocked the waves to rest. It is a mother's
"effectual fervent prayers" that have turned the storm into a calm!
Prayer is still the golden key by which we can unlock,
alike for ourselves and for others, the treasury of heaven, and "move
the arm of Omnipotence." Yes, and what we owe, on the other hand, to the
prayers which have hovered over our cradles and our early years, followed us
into the world, grappling for us in our strong temptations, and which, like
Jacob wrestling with the angel, have prevailed, will never be known until
that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed!
Gracious indeed is this Palm-tree; to be under its
shelter is to be beneath the shadow of God. As the devout Payson expresses
it, using a different simile, "The best means of keeping near the Lord is
the closet. Here the battle is lost or won."
What an encouragement to prayer is the divine challenge
given in the second of our motto-verses; the earthly father yielding to the
requests and importunities of his children—the pledge and guarantee of a
still greater willingness on the part of the Heavenly Parent to respond, and
that too with a royal abundance to our needs! "How much more?" Never
let us suppose that God is unwilling to hear. There is no exhausting that
infinite fullness treasured up in Him. It is one of Philip Henry's quaint
sayings, "When Abraham interceded for Sodom, God granted as long as he
asked; Abraham left off first." God is able to do "immeasurably more than
all we ask or imagine."
'It is said,' observes the saintly Rutherford, '"He
answered not a word." But it is not said, "He heard not a word."
These two differ much. Christ often hears, when He does not answer.
His not answering is an answer, and speaks thus, "Pray on, go on, and
cry; for the Lord holds His door fast bolted, not to keep you out, but that
you may knock and knock."' Can we doubt either His willingness or ability to
hear, when we think of Him who is our Advocate with the Father?—the Angel
Intercessor with His censer "full of much incense," sprinkling therewith the
polluted and unworthy prayers of His people, and causing them to ascend with
acceptance before God? "Ask in My name," says that Divine Intercessor
Himself; adding, "And I say not unto you that I will ask the Father for
you." What does He mean by this asserted suspension or intermission of His
pleadings? Simply, because the utterance of His name is sufficient.
It is the passport to the Mercy-seat, the Key which unlocks the Treasury of
heaven, and obtains the "how much more" from the Father's heart.
"You have prayed for much
In the time that's past,
You must still pray on,
For your needs come fast;
Now ask what you will
From His boundless store,
The Father is able
To give 'much more.'
"Hold out the empty hand,
And He will fill it;
Tell Him your vexing fear,
And He will still it.
Now take what you will
From His boundless store,
The Father is willing
To give 'much more.'"
"I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever
you ask in My name."