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Prayer Without Ceasing

Prayer Without Ceasing

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Published by glennpease
BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D.D., D.C.L.


Pray without ceasing. . . . Brethren, pray for us. i THESS. v. 17, 25.
BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D.D., D.C.L.


Pray without ceasing. . . . Brethren, pray for us. i THESS. v. 17, 25.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 05, 2013
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PRAYER WITHOUT CEASIGBROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT, D.D., D.C.L.Pray without ceasing. . . . Brethren, pray for us. i THESS. v. 17, 25.I HAVE chosen these words for our considerationthis morning in the hope that they may placevividly before us something of the relation in whichwe stand to one another, and gather up in a brief compass thoughts which cannot but be present tomost of us. They were written, as you will remember,by an Apostle who laboured more abundantly thanall others, in the earliest of his letters which hasbeen preserved for us. They give a general preceptand they attain a special petition. St. Paul tellshis readers what they are to do under all circumstances ; he tells them also what they can do forhim. And in both respects his teaching containsmost precious lessons for us.It is indeed impossible for the Christian preacherever to address a congregation without insisting insome degree on the duty and blessings of prayer.We do not meet to speculate about it, but to useit ; and an old father, who by the completenessof his self-denial and the unrivalled grandeur of hisolabours was no uncertain witness, nobly said that" life itself is one unbroken prayer." For so it is3 2 4xxxvn VILLAGE SERMOS 325
 
that, from day to day and from hour to hour, prayeris the very bond of our spiritual being, the sign of our highest nature, the memorial of our divine origin,the anticipation of our heavenly home. It is faithworking by love and cheered by hope. We act, andit strengthens the effort ; we speak, and it pointsour words ; we think, and it hallows the growingthought.In this way, as we look upwards and onwardsin the fulfilment of our common everyday duties,the essence of prayer must underlie all that wedo and say, so that we can see how the commandto pray without ceasing may be most truly fulfilled ;yet it can never be superfluous to endeavour toform a more distinct idea of what we mean byprayer, of the position in which we place ourselvesin praying, of the wider blessings which flowfrom it.One, then, of the simplest and most instructive of the many aspects in which we may regard prayer isthat of an act of fellowship. It begins in fellowshipwith God : it issues in fellowship with man. Wefeel at first in praying that we are in the presenceof our Father, and then we come to know Him asthe Father of whom every fatherhood in heaven andearth is named.Prayer is, I say, in the first place an act of fellowship with God. Saying a form of words orbabbling to ourselves is not prayer. To pray involvesa sense of divine nearness at least as much as asense of human want. How such fellowship canbe possible, how the creature can thus at pleasurecome personally before his Creator, and how further326 VILLAGE SERMOS xxxvn
 
the faith of man can move the will of God, howour faltering petitions can work together with Hiswatchful tenderness, is a mystery which we cannothope to solve. But it is a mystery where darknessis full of hope. It limits present knowledge andprophesies of future power. It is a pledge of immortality which no suffering can withdraw a springof strength which no use can exhaust. And yetthere is another side even to this truth. To pray isto seek nay, in some sense to enter into thepresence of God. To pray carelessly, then, is todishonour God openly. We may well tremble atsuch a sentence on our own daily sin. But even aswe feel most keenly the guilt of despising the blessingwhich we have sought, so are we thereby preparedto pray again. We may have hurried into God ssight before from habit or from constraint or fromthe example of others : now we have a plea to urgethat we may be taught to pray better. For areal want is the basis of true prayer. We must feelthe need of God before we can heartily desire fellowship with Him ; and this need is revealed in everyrecollection of past weakness.Again, prayer is not only an act of fellowshipwith God ; it is also in the highest sense an act of fellowship with men. o one, I fancy, could andno one would wish to pray for himself alone. Themost earnest prayer for ourselves will be coupledwith the most earnest prayer for our neighbour. Tosue for another s good is, as we have all felt, tosecure our own. or is it difficult to see how thismust be so. We approach God only in Christ, andin Him we see all for whom He died. The feelingxxxvii VILLAGE SERMOS 327

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