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Ignorant Prayers.

Ignorant Prayers.

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Published by glennpease
REV. J. M. NEALE, D.D.,


"Ye know not what ye ask." — S. Matt. xx. 22.
REV. J. M. NEALE, D.D.,


"Ye know not what ye ask." — S. Matt. xx. 22.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 06, 2013
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09/03/2014

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IGORAT PRAYERS.REV. J. M. EALE, D.D.,"Ye know not what ye ask." — S. Matt. xx. 22.We shall hear this text the day after to-morrow in thecourse of the lessons : and it is very well fitted for theSaint of this day. S. Lambert was a holy Bishop, wholived about eleven hundred years ago, and whose onegreat and earnest prayer to God was, that he might bethe means of converting all the idolaters in his provinceto the true faith. othing less. He was hardly aBishop, when he was driven for seven years into banish-ment ; and he had scarcely been brought back again,when he was cruelly slain by a nobleman, whom herebuked for living in adultery. Thus it seemed as if his prayer had not been heard. He asked to spreadthe knowledge of the true faith, and God so orderedhis life that he never could. God did better for himthan he could have done for himself. He asked to beuseful to one province, — God made him an example tothe whole Church. He sought to be a missionary, — God willed that he should be a Martvr.Serm. XXIV.] Ignorant Prayers. 137" Ye know not what ye ask/' How difficult it is tobelieve that ! What, when we have thought of a thingday and night, when we have asked God again andagain to give it us, when we have laid out all our plansif we could but get it, — to be told, " Ye know not whatye ask !" So it is. Take the history of Rachel foran example. " Give me children, or else I die," shesaid to her husband Jacob. It was all in vain that hesaid : " Am I in God's stead V* It was all in vain thathe comforted her with his own love; still it was the
 
same impatience, " Give me children, or else I die."And notice that she said not, a child, but children.One child she had, Joseph ; and all went well. But assoon as her second child, Benjamin, was born — that is,as soon as her wish was accomplished, and she hadchildren, then we read that, " as her soul was in de-parting, for she died, she called his name Benoni, thatis, the son of my sorrow."But yet, what are we to say to our Lord's promise," Ask, and it shall be given you : seek, and ye shallfind ?" How many persons have we all known, whowhen they were in sickness, earnestly cried to God tomake them well, but they died ; when they were miser-ably poor, prayed that they might become rich, but theynever did ; when a friend was in danger, besought thathe might be spared to them, but he was taken away.How can these things be? ow notice what our Lorddoes really tell us. He says, " Ask, and it shall begiven unto you." He does not say, "Ask, and thatwhich ye ask shall be given ;" but, it shall be given :that is, it, the thing which we should ask, if we knewall. He goes on : " What man is there of you, whomif his son ask bread, will he give him a stone ? or, if he138 Ignorant Prayers. [Serm.ask a fish, will he give him a serpent ?" Or, as it is inanother Gospel, " will he for a fish offer him a scor-pion ?" And so He treats us as kind fathers treat theirchildren. We ask for a stone, we ask for a serpent, weask for a scorpion; that is, we ask for something which,like a stone, can do us no good ; like a serpent, may dous harm ; like a scorpion, will sting us to death. Wethink that what we are asking will make us happy ; butGod says: "o; I will hear what you mean to prayfor ; but I will not give you that which you do pray for."
 
And be very sure of this : it is no mark of God'sfavour to give us worldly things that we ask for. Thesame S. Augustine of whom I was speaking to you theother night, says, " God sometimes gives us, becauseHe is angry, what He would not give us, if He werepleased." Take an example.The devil came before God with a request that hemight have power to hurt holy Job. God granted hisrequest. " Behold, he is in thine hand." S. Paulprayed earnestly, prayed three times, that the thorn inhis flesh, which most people think was a disease in hiseyes, might be taken away. God said, o : " Mygrace is sufficient for thee." What ! shall God give toSatan and refuse S. Paul? Yes: because Satan, bygetting that which he desired, should increase his dam-nation; and S. Paul, by being refused that for whichhe asked, should work out his salvation.Oh, how hard we often try, how earnestly we oftenask, for that which, if we could get it, would destroy oursouls for ever ! We do it ? Yes ; and saints have done itbefore us. Look at the text. " Then came to Him themother of Zcbedee's children with her sons, worshippingHim, and desiring a certain thing of Him. And HeXXIV.] Ignorant Prayers. 139said unto her, "What wilt thou? She saith unto Him,Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thyright hand, and the other on Thy left, in Thy kingdom."She thought that our Lord would reign like the princesof this world : that He would have His great menseated on this side of Him and on that. She meant topray that her sons should be among His chief servants,and nearest to Him. And what did she ask ? Why,there was never a more awful petition in this world :" Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on

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