“Praying always.” — Eph_6:18
What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock-Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplication”? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God’s answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonoured him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
“Pray one for another.” — Jas_5:16
As an encouragement cheerfully to offer intercessory prayer, remember that such prayer is the sweetest God ever hears, for the prayer of Christ is of this character. In all the incense which our Great High Priest now puts into the golden censer, there is not a single grain for himself. His intercession must be the most acceptable of all supplications-and the more like our prayer is to Christ’s, the sweeter it will be; thus while petitions for ourselves will be accepted, our pleadings for others, having in them more of the fruits of the Spirit, more love, more faith, more brotherly kindness, will be, through the precious merits of Jesus, the sweetest oblation that we can offer to God, the very fat of our sacrifice. Remember, again, that intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvellous deeds. Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren. When thou hast the King’s ear, speak to him for the suffering members of his body. When thou art favoured to draw very near to his throne, and the King saith to thee, “Ask, and I will give thee what thou wilt,” let thy petitions be, not for thyself alone, but for the many who need his aid. If thou hast grace at all, and art not an intercessor, that grace must be small as a grain of mustard seed. Thou hast just enough grace to float thy soul clear from the quicksand, but thou hast no deep floods of grace, or else thou wouldst carry in thy joyous bark a weighty cargo of the wants of others, and thou wouldst bring back from thy Lord, for them, rich blessings which but for thee they might not have obtained:-
“Oh, let my hands forget their skill,
My tongue be silent, cold, and still,
This bounding heart forget to beat,
If I forget the mercy-seat!”
The Grace Awakening
“The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to every man” (Tit_2:11).
The sun filled the morning sky as we made our made out from under the arch of the Ancient Library onto the Road leading to a place named Grace. Someone eagerly said, “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day!” (Pro_4:18)
That’s a great thought as we move forward this morning. For, like the sun above, Grace is not passive. It is full of dynamic energy. Grace empowers us with light and liveliness, fills our lives with warmth, growth, joy and beauty.
Some happy soul midway back in the pack let out with a song – “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psa_84:11).
Sun and Shield. We need both on this pilgrimage that we take; for the unmitigated cold could quench our resolve, and incessant attacks from unseen bandits could thwart our progress. The Lord’s presence and power insure that we are comforted and protected – the pillar of fire by night, and the cloud of covering by day. A sun above us, and a shield about us.
He gives Grace and Glory. The Lord gives Grace in this world, and Glory in the one to come! Grace empowers us to walk uprightly, and Glory awaits at our destination. Blessed are we to journey in such a mighty convoy! No good thing will He withhold from us as we press on in doing what is right and true.
In light of this bright sunshine let’s now consider Paul’s words – “For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Tit_2:11-14)
First, the grace of God brings salvation; that is, it does not leave us the way it finds us. We are changed by its power; changed from the inside out. “If any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things become new.” (2Co_5:17).
Second, this grace has appeared to all men – appeared to all, yes; but not embraced by all. For those who do embrace it, the power of Grace empowers us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously and godly –in this present world.
Third, we live looking for the return of the Lord – redeemed from all iniquity, purified unto Jesus, a peculiar people zealous of good works.”
Imagine what our world could look like if this truth about God’s Grace took hold of the great, diverse Body of Christ – and then spread its redeeming power and presence to all men everywhere.
Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mat_5:16). Let’s do this by the grace of God.
The results of our faithful obedience would be nothing short of a Grace Awakening!