Chains of Gold
"More things are wrought by prayer,
Than this world dreams of."
The power of prayer never can be understood on earth. What wonders it has wrought, cannot even be imagined. It is one of the forces of the world which is not down in the scientist's scheme, and whose influence on the events and results of life is not the subject of mathematical calculation.
What souls prayer has saved, what wanderers it has reclaimed, what fainting ones it has cheered and upborne, what tempted ones it has nerved for new struggles — only Heaven can reveal.
"The whole round world is in every way,
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God."
Surely, among all prayers that go up to God, none are dearer or more availing than the prayers of parents for their children. They are the hallowed breathings of the purest, tenderest love. Such prayers, if persistent, believing, and importunate — God answers in the end. Monica prays for her son — he goes deeper and deeper into sin, but she will not give him up. For many years while he wanders far from God, she stays at her domestic altar. At last all her intercessions are answered in one hour when her son Augustine falls down at Jesus' feet.
The mother of John Newton struggled mightily for her child. When he was eight years old she died. For twenty years her prayers remained unanswered, while he plunged into the vilest depths of sin. But the faithful God sent the answer at last. In the same way, there are thousands who have been saved by a mother's prayers.
A child can never get away from a parent's loving intercession. He may run away from home and roam on the streets and rush into dangers — but these prayers, faith-directed, love-winged, can find him anywhere and build a wall of fire about him, and draw down over him the sheltering wings of God. He may plunge into some den of iniquity, some gateway of Hell, and start madly on a downward course; but if, in his home, loving parents are at their altars pouring out tears and prayers — the strong hand of God is on his shoulder, and he will be restrained and led back. He may try to keep out of his parents' sight, and to break the restraints that bind him to his home; but he cannot get away from their prayers, nor break the chains of steel with which they have bound him thus to the throne of God. He may roam the world over to get away from God — but some time, somewhere in in the broad path which leads to destruction — the home prayers will meet him face to face, with drawn sword, as the angel met Balaam in the way, and turn him back to seek the way of truth and life.
Oftentimes a criminal hastens away from the commission of his dark deed, and takes passage in a vessel about to sail; and before his crime is discovered is far out upon the sea. With bounding heart he greets the first sight of the foreign shore. Stepping on that shore he will be free forever. He will begin a new life. But when the vessel arrives in port he is seized, bound in irons, and borne back to expiate his guilt. On the quick telegraphic wire, the news of his crime and the order for his arrest had outsped his flight, and justice stood waiting to lay her hand upon him and lead him back.
In the same way, it is that a parent's prayers often meet and arrest a wandering, sinning child. When he seems farthest away from God, and from the home influence, and when he least expects such a message — suddenly he is halted. An invisible hand is laid upon his arm; he is bound with strong chains, and borne back resistlessly to the bosom of God. It was the home prayer that did it.
No loving parent should ever cease to pray for his child. And it is not enough to pray once, or only occasionally. We should be "instant in prayer." To pray for a few months or years is not enough. To cease to pray at all, is to give up the cause and lose everything. It is the last stroke which fells the tree. It is the last hour of endurance which wins the battle. Years of intercession have been lost because the parent fainted and gave up before the answer came. Every hour of God's delay is gathering a richer blessing; and every prayer put up is a new pledge of the child's salvation, laid up in Heaven.
Men make ropes out of many fine threads. One thread alone will not bear much stress; but a thousand threads woven and twisted together, make a mighty cable which will hold the ship against a storm!
In the same way, home prayers may seem weak threads as they are breathed out from quivering, trembling lips; but thousands of them make a mighty cable which binds the child to the throne of Christ so firmly that no blast of evil can sweep him away. And every prayer makes the cable stronger. The parent may die without seeing his supplications answered, or his child converted — but his prayers die not with him. They remain where faith has fastened them — one end around God's throne, and the other about the heart of his child, fast anchoring it to Heaven. And some day, perhaps years after he himself has gone to his heavenly home — God will haul in the great cable, and give him his child, his heart's treasure, the answer to all his prayers.
Let us every one, parents and friends, in the beautiful thought of the poet, seek to bind our loved ones with these chains of gold fast to the feet of God.