21 July 2011

Thursday's Spurgeon

The following is from the May 1872 issue of The Sword and Trowel and is entitled, "Comfort for Those Whose Prayers are Feeble."

Sometimes it is not merely the body or the mind which is affected, but our inner nature is dull, stupid, lethargic, so that when it is the time for prayer we do not feel the spirit of prayer. Moreover, perhaps, our faith is flagging, and how shall we pray when faith is so weak? Possibly, we are suspicious as to whether we are the people of God at all, and we are molested by the recollection of our shortcomings. Now the temptation will whisper, "Do not pray just now—your heart is not in a fit condition for it." My dear brother, you will not become fit for prayer by keeping away from the mercy-seat, but to lie groaning or breathing at its foot is the best preparation for pleading before the Lord. We are not to aim at a self-wrought preparation of our hearts that we may come to God with them, but "the preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, are both from God." If I feel myself disinclined to pray, then is the time when I need to pray more than ever. Possibly, when the soul leaps and exults in communion with God it might more safely refrain from prayer than at those seasons when it drags heavily in devotion. Alas! my Lord, does my soul go wandering away from thee? Then, come back my heart, I will drag thee back by force of grace, I will not cease to cry till the Spirit of God has made thee return to thine allegiance. What, my Christian brother, because thou feelest idle, is that a reason why thou shouldst stay thine hand and not serve thy God? Nay, but away with thine idleness, and resolutely bend thy soul to service. So under a sense of prayerlessness be more intent on prayer. Repent that thou canst not repent, groan that thou canst not groan, and pray until thou dost pray; in so doing God will help thee. No, neither bodily, mental, nor spiritual anguish must prevent our pouring out our soul before God, in breathing, if in no better manner.
[...]
I have been aiming thus to comfort those distressed hearts who say they cannot pray, but ere I close I must add, how inexcusable are those who, knowing all this, continue prayerless, godless, and Christless. If there were no mercy to be had, you could not be blamed for not having it. If there were no Savior for sinners, a sinner might be excused for remaining in his sin. But, there is a fountain, and it is open—why wash ye not in it? Mercy is to be had "without money and without price"—it is to be had by asking for it. Now, sometimes, poor men are shut up in the condemned cell to be hanged, and suppose they could have a free pardon for the asking for it, and they did not do it, who would pity them? God will give his blessing to every soul who is moved to seek for it sincerely at his hands on this one sole and alone condition—that that soul will trust in Jesus. And even that is not a condition, for he gives repentance and faith, and enables sinners to believe in his dear Son. Behold Christ crucified, the saddest and the gladdest sight the sun ever beheld! Behold the eternal Son of God made flesh, and bleeding out his life! A surpassing marvel of woe and love! A look at him will save you. Though ye be on the borders of the grave and on the brink of hell, by one look at Jesus crucified your guilt shall be cancelled, your debts for ever discharged before the throne of God, and yourselves led into joy and peace. Oh, that you would give that look! Breathe the prayer, "Lord, give me the faith of thine elect, and save me with a great salvation." Though it be only a breathing, yet, as the old Puritan says, when God feels the breath of his child upon his face he smiles; and he will feel your breath and smile on you, and bless you. May he do so, for his name's sake. Amen.

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