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Published by glennpease


Luke 11 : 5-10.


Luke 11 : 5-10.

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Published by: glennpease on May 08, 2013
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PRAYER BY BORDE PARKER BOWEAnd he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, andahall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend methree loaves ; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me,and I have nothing to set before him. And he from within shallanswer and say. Trouble me not ; the door is now shut, and mychildren are with me in bed ; I cannot rise and give thee. I sayunto you, Though he will not rise and give him because he ishia friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and givehim as many as he needeth. And I say unto you. Ask, and itshall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shallbe opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth ; andhe that seeketh findeth ; and to him that knocketh it shall beopened. — Luke 11 : 5-10.The nature and function of prayer are socomplex that we must view the subject frommany sides if we would form any adequate con-ception. From some points of view it seems asif prayer were an impertinence. Our Saviourtells us that our Heavenly Father knowethwhat things we have need of before we ask him ; and he uses this consideration as anargument for prayers simple, short, and few.128 THE ESSECE OF RELIGIOGod needeth not that we tell him anything,for he knoweth us altogether. Again, prayermay seem to be a reflection upon the divinegoodness. The God who knoweth our needswithout our telling may be presumed to bewilling to grant what we need without ourimportunity. Indeed, our Saviour tells us thatGod is more willing to bless us than parentsare to give good things unto their children.So far, then, from thinking that the divinelove can be moved by importunity to grantwhat would otherwise be withheld, we mustrather insist that it will withhold nothing thatit could in wisdom grant. Thus prayer seems
to imply a grudging Deity, and a grudgingDeity is none.Ao-ain, our Saviour's own utterances onthis subject seem to be conflicting. On theone hand we are not to pray like the heathen,who think they shall be heard for their muchspeaking. Vain repetitions are forbidden. Ourprayers are to be simple, and we are to havefaith in God our Father, who knoweth us alto-gether. But, on the other hand, there is thePRAYER 129parable of the unjust judge, where God is re-presented as long deaf to the cries of his ownelect, and only noticing them when, by theircontinual coming, they have wearied him. Inthe passage before us God is represented aswrapped in a midnight slumber from whichhe can be aroused only by our most deter-mined effort and persistent knocking. Insteadof being forward to answer us, he is back-ward ; instead of being tremulously sensitiveto our faintest cry, he seems almost insensibleto our loudest call. The kingdom of heavendoes not stand wide open to every one whochooses to straggle in ; it is a walled city, tobe carried by storm. It suffereth violence, andthe violent take it by force. ow what is themeaning of all this?If we should sit in the closet and speculate,we should probably never find our way throughthis maze. The doctrine of prayer must be in-terpreted psychologically, vitally, practically,and with reference to God's fundamental pur-pose in our life. From any other point of viewit is easily made to seem absurd or contradic-130 THE ESSECE OF RELIGIOtory ; as is the case with all practical doctrines
when they are discussed apart from their prac-tical relations.Let our first inquiry then be, What isprayer ?The lowest and crudest notion concerningprayer is that it consists in asking God forthings ; and its value consists in getting thethings for which we ask. This is the notionwith which childhood always begins, and theonly one which childhood can entertain. Thisnotion is also prominent in popular religiousthought, and underlies much of what is saidconcerning answers to prayer. This view isvery superficial, and is the parent of muchskepticism respecting prayer. It is no uncom-mon thing to find young persons skepticalwith respect to prayer, because they havefailed to get the things for which they haveprayed ; and often the faith of older personsbreaks down from the same cause. In thestress of some trial they have faithfullyprayed, and no answer has come. Friends orrelatives have died, or their own health hasPRAYER 131failed, or their way has been hedged up ; andall the while Heaven has seemed as deaf totheir cries and entreaties as the ear of thedead ; and they have been left to sorrow anduncertainty and bereavement and manifolddistress. Such cases abound ; and if we wouldescape the painful doubts thence arising, wemust revise and deepen our conception of prayer and its relation to the religious life.Plainly, the view of prayer as a talisman or ameans of getting things is inadequate to ex-perience.As we have before said, prayer cannot beunderstood or discussed by itself, but only inconnection with God's general purpose formen. Our Christian faith is that God's deep-

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