Blessed Redeemer, how wonderful Thou are! Thank You for another opportunity to shoot up our prayers to You Lord, blessed be Thou Name. Father, we know our prayers will receive answers in Jesus Name. Amen!
Last week we considered the element of “faith” in prayer, we will still be looking at it again to drive home some points.
I do not know of a more vivid illustration of the cry of distress for help going up to God, in all the earnestness of deeply realized need, than the following story supplies:
Carl Steinman, who visited Mount Hecla, Iceland, just before the great eruption, in 1845, after a repose of eighty years, narrowly escaped death by venturing into the smoking crater against the earnest entreaty of his guide. On the brink of the yawning gulf he was prostrated by a convulsion of the summit, and held there by blocks of lava upon his feet. He graphically writes:
“Oh, the horrors of that awful realization! There, over the mouth of a black and heated abyss, I was held suspended, a helpless and conscious prisoner, to be hurled downward by the next great throe of trembling Nature!
” ‘Help! help! help!—for the love of God, help!’ I shrieked, in the very agony of my despair.
“I had nothing to rely upon but the mercy of heaven; and I prayed to God as I had never prayed before, for the forgiveness of my sins, that they might not follow me to judgment.
“All at once I heard a shout, and, looking around, I beheld, with feelings that cannot be described, my faithful guide hastening down the sides of the crater to my relief.
” ‘I warned you!’ said he.
” ‘You did!’ cried I, ‘but forgive me, and save me, for I am perishing!’
” ‘I will save you, or perish with you!’
“The earth trembled, and the rocks parted—one of them rolling down the chasm with a dull, booming sound. I sprang forward; I seized a hand of the guide, and the next moment we had both fallen, locked in each other’s arms, upon the solid earth above. I was free, but still upon the verge of the pit.”
Bishop Hall, in a well-known extract, thus puts the point of earnestness in its relation to the prayer of faith.
“An arrow, if it be drawn up but a little way, goes not far; but, if it be pulled up to the head, flies swiftly and pierces deep. Thus prayer, if it be only dribbled forth from careless lips, falls at our feet. It is the strength of ejaculation and strong desire which sends it to heaven, and makes it pierce the clouds. It is not the arithmetic of our prayers, how many they are; nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent they be; nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they be; nor the music of our prayers, how sweet our voice may be; nor the logic of our prayers, how argumentative they may be; nor the method of our prayers, how orderly they may be; nor even the divinity of our prayers, how good the doctrine may be;—which God cares for. He looks not for the horny knees which James is said to have had through the assiduity of prayer. We might be like Bartholomew, who is said to have had a hundred prayers for the morning, and as many for the evening, and all might be of no avail. Fervency of spirit is that which availeth much.”
Archbishop Leighton says: “It is not the gilded paper and good writing of a petition that prevails with a king, but the moving sense of it. And to that King who discerns the heart, heart sense is the sense of all, and that which He only regards. He listens to hear what that speaks, and takes all as nothing where that is silent. All other excellence in prayer is but the outside and fashion of it. This is the life of it.”
Brooks says: “As a painted fire is no fire, a dead man no man, so a cold prayer is no prayer. In a painted fire there is no heat, in a dead man there is no life; so in a cold prayer there is no omnipotency, no devotion, no blessing. Cold prayers are as arrows without heads, as swords without edges, as birds without wings; they pierce not, they cut not, they fly not up to heaven. Cold prayers do always freeze before they get to heaven. Oh that Christians would chide themselves out of their cold prayers, and chide themselves into a better and warmer frame of spirit, when they make their supplications to the Lord!” (Prevailing Prayer)
Another bible illustration according to our text today seekers, finders. Listen to what David have to say on both story:
“If thou seek him, he will be found of thee.” 1Chron. 28:9
We need our God; He is to be had for the seeking; and He will not deny Himself to any one of us if we personally seek His face. It is not, if thou deserve Him, or purchase His favor, but merely if thou “seek” Him.
Those who already know the Lord must go on seeking His face by prayer, by diligent service, and by holy gratitude: to such He will not refuse His favor and fellowship. Those who, as yet, have not known Him to their souls’ rest should at once commence seeking, and never cease till they find Him as their Saviour, their Friend, their Father, and their God.
What strong assurance this promise gives to the seeker! “He that seeketh findeth.” You, yes you, if you seek your God shall find Him. When you find Him you have found life, pardon, sanctification, preservation, and glory.
Will you not seek, and seek on, since you shall not seek in vain? Dear friend, seek the Lord at once. Here is the place, and now is the time. Bend that stiff knee; yes, bend that stiffer neck, and cry out for God, for the living God.
In the name of Jesus seek cleansing and justification. You shall not be refused. Here is David’s testimony to his son Solomon, and it is the writer’s personal witness to the reader. Believe it and act upon it, for Christ’s sake. Another experience from David illustrated again below:
“Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for Thou art my strength.” Psalm 31:4
Our spiritual foes are of the serpent’s brood, a and seek to ensnare us by subtlety. The prayer before us supposes the possibility of the believer being caught like a bird. So deftly does the fowler do his work, that simple ones are soon surrounded by the net. The text asks that even out of Satan’s meshes the captive one may be delivered; this is a proper petition, and one which can be granted: from between the jaws of the lion, and out of the belly of hell, can eternal love rescue the saint.
It may need a sharp pull to save a soul from the net of temptations, and a mighty pull to extricate a man from the snares of malicious cunning, but the Lord is equal to every emergency, and the most skillfully placed nets of the hunter shall never be able to hold His chosen ones. Woe unto those who are so clever at net laying; they who tempt others shall be destroyed themselves.
“For Thou art my strength.” What an inexpressible sweetness is to be found in these few words! How joyfully may we encounter toils, and how cheerfully may we endure sufferings, when we can lay hold upon celestial strength. Divine power will rend asunder all the toils of our enemies, confound their politics, and frustrate their knavish tricks; he is a happy man who has such matchless might engaged upon his side.
Our own strength would be of little service when embarrassed in the nets of base cunning, but the Lord’s strength is ever available; we have but to invoke it, and we shall find it near at hand. If by faith we are depending alone upon the strength of the mighty God of Israel, we may use our holy reliance as a plea in supplication.
“Lord, evermore Thy face we seek:
Tempted we are, and poor, and weak;
Keep us with lowly hearts, and meek.
Let us not fall. Let us not fall.”
Let us pray with faith today and subsequently built on it knowing that He will never us nor forsake us according to His Word.
Remain blessed in the Lord.
Evang Ifeoma Ohondu