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Published by glennpease

" There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us." — Isaiah Ixiv., 7.

" There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us." — Isaiah Ixiv., 7.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 13, 2013
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THE COSEQUECE OF EGLECTIG PRAYER. BY SIMO CLOUGH" There is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us." — Isaiah Ixiv., 7. Man is surrounded with dangers which no human sagacity can perceive, no human prudence can avoid, and from which no human power can deliver him. He is oppressed with wants, which no creature can supply. It is to God, and to him alone, that he must look for the blessings which he needs ; for it is he thai giveth poiver to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. But man is naturally so averse to prayer, so disposed to confide in his own wisdom, and to trust in his own strength, that he will bear all his own burdens rather than apply to God for relief. It is on this account, that so many faint under their afflictions ; and this was tiie ground of God's controversy with his ancient people. I. In addressing you from these words, permit us, in the first place, to call your attention to the nature of prayer. Many expres- sions and metaphors are employed by the sacred writers, to repre- sent to us the nature of prayer. It is here set forth, under the idea of calling upon God. It is through the medium of prayer that we make our wants known to God, and petition him to supply them. But petitions, either with or without a form, are not wor- thy the name of prayer, if they be not attended with a devout spirit. Prayer consists more in the devout exercises of the heart, than in the expression of the lips ; it supposes that we feel our wants. A sense of want excites desire, and desire is the very es- sence of prayer. One thing have I desired of the Lord, says David, and that icill I seek after. Prayer, without desire, is like an altar without a sacrifice, or without the fire from heaven to consume it. Wlien all our wants are supplied, prayer will be converted into praise ; till then. Christians must live by prayer, and dwell at the mercy-seat. God, alone, is able to hear and to supply their every want. The revelation which he has given of his goodness, lays a foundation for our asking with confidence the blessings we need ; and his ability encourages us to hope for their bestowment. O,
thou that liearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. Prayer is also described in the language of the text, as a taking hold of God. God has set himself, as it were, before us in the promises. We are to lay hold on him by faith. Faith is the arm by which we reach God, and the hand by which we take hold of him in the exercise of prayer. Hence, effectual prayer must be offered up in a believing frame of mind. //' any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men Uherally and uphraideih THE COSEQUECE OF EGLECTIG PRAYER. 461 not, and it shall he given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering ; for let not the iravering man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. He that cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a reivarder of them that diligently seek him. It is our privilege, then, to lay hold upon God with the strong hand of faith, and, like the patriarch of old, refuse to let him go till he bless us. Yea, it is not merely our privilege to do it, it is our duty to do it ; for this is the very means prescribed by God for the attainment of his blessings. Let him take hold of my strength, that he may ?n,ake peace with me : and he shall make peace with me. Prayer is further called, in the language of the text, a stirring up of one's self to lay hold on God. It is not an easy thing to gain access to God in prayer. We engage in it, for the most part, with much re- luctance. The objects of time and sense press upon us, and excite within us such a lively sensibility, that they dry up the very spirit of prayer within us. The press of business, the calls of our fami- lies around us, the perplexity and anxiety necessarily attending all worldly enterprises, occupy so much of our time, and engage so many of our thoughts, as to check and stifle the spirit of devotion within us : while, on the other hand, prosperity elates us, and in- flates our minds with that spirit of pride, which is hostile to a spirit of devotion. When our enterprises are unsuccessful, and misfor- tune pursues us in all our undertakings, our spirits sink down into lifeless insensibility. Under these circumstances, when we attempt to approach God in prayer, our thoughts w^ander ere we are
aware, and in spite of all our endeavors to fix them. At other times, our spirits become so depressed, that we seem to lose the accustomed energy of our minds. We need, again and again, to stir up our sluggish hearts, and, if possible, acquire that true spirit of prayer which will enable us to lay hold on God. II. When we consider the duty in this light, we shall see reason to lament, in the second place, the general neglect of it. There are many who live entirely without prayer. Their time, their attention, and their thoughts, are wholly and entirely occupied with worldly concerns. They live as though this world were their eternal and everlasting home. They are not sensible of their spirit- ual wants, and make no provision to supply them. They are deaf to the calls of the gospel, and blind to their highest, their best interests. They rely on their own industry for their temporal ad- vancement : and, when success attends their enterprises, they as- cribe it to their superior skill and discernment. They acknow- ledge, before God, neither their sins nor necessities. God is not in all their thoughts. Such men in the refinement of their minds, and in the spirituality of their conceptions, are removed but a SEoall dis- tance from beasts that perish. They are characterized by the apostle, as being without hope and without God ia the world. They exhibit the legitimate fruits of Atheism. But there are others, who onW occasionally lift up their hearts to 40* 462 THE COSEQUECE OF EGLECTIG PRAYER. God. They resemble the Jews of old, who only cried to God when oppressed with the weight of heavy and severe afflictions. Lorct, in trouble have they visited thee ; they j)oured out a prayer when thy chastising was upon them. Such exercises, however, hardly de- serve the name of prayer. The prophet expressly denies to them the name of prayer, and styles them the mere howlings of distress. Tliey have not cried unto vie with their heart, ivhen they have houled upon their beds : they assembled themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. Such persons, when they are taken out of

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