You have allowed the key to rust!
(John MacDuff, "The Mind of Jesus" 1870)
"He continued all night in prayer to God." Luke 6:12
Jesus was emphatically "a man of prayer". The Spirit was "poured upon Him without measure" — yet He prayed! He was incarnate wisdom, "needing not that any should teach Him" — yet He prayed! He was infinite in His power, and boundless in His resources — yet He prayed! How deeply sacred are His prayerful memories that hover around the solitudes of Olivet and the shores of Tiberias! He seemed often to turn night into day — to redeem moments for prayer, rather than lose the blessed privilege.
All His public acts were consecrated by prayer — His baptism, His transfiguration, His miracles, His agony, His death. He breathed away His life in prayer. "His last breath," says Philip Henry, "was praying breath."
How sweet to think, in holding communion with God — that Jesus drank of this very brook! He consecrated the bended knee and the silent chamber. He refreshed His fainting spirit at the same great Fountain-head from which it is life for us to draw, and death to forsake.
Reader! do you complain of your languid spirit, your drooping faith, your fitful affections, your lukewarm love? May you not trace much of what you deplore — to an unfrequented prayer chamber? The treasures are locked up from you — because you have allowed the key to rust! Your hands hang down — because they have ceased to be uplifted in prayer. Without prayer! This is . . .
the pilgrim without a staff;
the seaman without a compass;
the soldier going unarmed to battle!
Beware of encouraging what indisposes to prayer — of going to the audience-chamber of God with soiled garments, the din of the world following you, its distracting thoughts hovering unforbidden over your spirit. Can you wonder that the living water refuses to flow through obstructed channels, or the heavenly light to pierce murky vapors?
Among men, fellowship with lofty minds — imparts a certain nobility to the character. Just so, in a far higher sense, by communion with God — you will be transformed into His image, and get assimilated to His likeness! Make every event in life — a reason for fresh going to Him. If difficulties in duty — bring them to the test of prayer. If bowed down with anticipated trial — remember Christ's preparation, "Sit here while I go and pray yonder."
Let prayer consecrate everything — your time, your talents, your pursuits, your engagements, your joys, your sorrows, your crosses, your losses! By prayer . . .
rough paths will be made smooth,
trials are disarmed of their bitterness,
enjoyments are hallowed and refined,
the bread of the world turned into angels' food!
"It is in the prayer-closet," says Payson, "where the battle is lost or won!"