Encouragements to Prayer.
1. You may expect to receive, because God sees you. Mark that! I could lead you along some of the dark streets of this great city; I could lead you through the low and narrow doorway, up the ricketty staircase, and I could bring you to a lonely chamber, and there I could show you, in one corner, a weak, and worn, and weary woman, lying upon the bed of pain. The world knows little or nothing about that woman; she hears the hum of the voices and the roll of the carriages; but she sees nought of the world. She is sick; she is alone. But nay, she is not alone; those worm-eaten boards around her bed have been trodden by many an angel's feet; they keep watch over her at this solemn hour of midnight; ay, and when the arrows of death are flying fast around her, angels' arms are stretched out wide to defend her; and when Satan comes to tempt her, angels' voices say, " Get thee hence; thou shalt not tempt her; we are sent to watch over her!" Ay, and the wings, the warm wings of God's love, are stretched over that woman. She is a woman of prayer. You tell me that a king upon his throne is mighty; you tell me that an army is mighty. I tell you that woman is mightier than both together. A king shall die, an army shall pass away; but her prayers die not, her prayers fall not to the ground; they move the arms of Omnipotence. They are recorded in the book of God's remembrance; they are every one answered through Christ. Christian, Christ hears thy prayers. Let me tell thee, for thy comfort, there never did roll from those eyes of thine down that furrowed cheek, one tear that was not seen by the eye of Him who is Infinite, and caught in the bottle of God. Saith David, "Thou dost put my tears in thy bottle." There never was a prayer that came, I will not say from thy lips, but there never was one that came from thy heart, that did not ascend on high, winged of God, and enter his very bosom. And oftentimes has God answered thee when thou didst not know it!
2. We say He will answer thy prayers, because He is able to do so. Prayer can do anything. What was it divided the waters of the Red Sea for the children of Israel to pass through? You answer, Prayer. What was it that brought manna from Heaven? Prayer. What was it that opened the flinty rock, and caused the waters to leap forth, to gush and gurgle, to roll and dance and stream along the valleys? Prayer. What was it that delivered the children of Israel from the hands of their enemies? Prayer. What was it that delivered the prophet Elijah, in the hour of danger? Prayer. What was it that delivered Paul and Silas from their dungeon? Prayer. What was it that delivered Paul and those who sailed with him over the storm-tossed sea of Adria? Prayer. Prayer is mighty. Prayer has caused the sun of heaven to stand still! Prayer unlocks and opens; and would empty, if it were possible, the very treasure-house of God.
3. We say, Christian, you may hope, and firmly trust, that God will answer you, because he has answered already such thousands of prayers in times past. Will you rise with me, for a moment, to the top of Mount Pisgah? It is not far to go, if you have the wings of faith; but if you have not, you cannot go up at all. If you will stand with me on the top of Mount Pisgah, and gaze upon those "sweet fields beyond the swelling flood," that "stand dressed in living green," what will you see there? Says one, "Sir, we shall see the city called Celestial." Ay, and do you see those thousands of white-robed ones thronging the streets of the city?" “Yes," you say. Let me tell you one thing: there is not one white-robed one there that hath not breathed prayers in the ear of God; and not one who has not had them answered. But would you look beyond the city? Christian, do you see something far, far beyond it, stretching out in the infinite distance? "Yes," you say. What is it, Christian? ''Ah, sir,'' you say, "that is the sea of clear crystal, mingled with flames of living fire." It is so. And do you see those millions on millions that stand upon that sea, dressed in white raiment, crowned with glory? Do you hear how they harp God's praises? You do! Then let me tell you, there is not one there who has not prayed; and not one whose prayer has not been answered of God. Now let me carry you for a moment round the world. You kneel, perhaps, on the Sabbath morning, and at the same moment, in this city, thousands more kneel, and their prayers are accepted. And lying on sick beds, thousands pray, and their prayers go up to God. Ay, and from green islands, far across the blue waters, the breath of prayer ascendeth to God! And from lonely ships that float over the mighty deep, the voice of prayer doth ascend. And from the cold bleak North, and from the warm and barren deserts of the South; from beneath the palm-trees of the land we love to think of—the land of Judea; ay, and from the halls and palaces of kings; from many a lonely dungeon, from many a crowded city, the voice of prayer ascendeth, and God answers these millions and millions of prayers. And now, let the conclusion be forced home on thy mind. If God has answered the prayers of thousands of the redeemed in Heaven; if He daily answers the prayers of thousands of His own people on earth, will He refuse to answer thine? Surely not.
4. I have another reason for thinking He will not—God's firm promise. Says Christ, "Ask, and it shall be given.'' A dear old Christian that I heard of not long since, speaking to a lady, said, "I like to have the Book of God laid open before me when I am on my knees." "Why?" she asked. "Because, ma'am, I look down, and I see the promises in the name of God, and I like to lay my finger on them, and say, 'Heavenly Father, I have got my finger, just now, on the promise; there are the words, heavenly Father, answer them.' It does my faith good," he said, "it makes it stronger." Now, Christian, there lies the promise, "it shall be given you." What have you got to say to that? Are not "all the promises of God, yea and amen in Christ Jesus?" Are they not certain of fulfilment? and canst thou doubt? I have something solemn to say to you. The heavens above are broad and blue; there is many a star hung in the infinite depths of darkness; there is many a white cloud that floats overhead in the summer's sun; there is many a black cloud that drifts before the cold winter's blast. Broad are the heavens above. But, let me tell you, the day is coming when those heavens shall be one vast sheet of flame, and they shall curl and roll round and round, and pass for ever away with the noise of mighty thunder; but God's promise shall remain. Cast your eyes around this world. There is many a mountain upon this world that casts its red rocky roots into the very bowels of the earth. The world is wide. But let me tell you, this world presently shall, beneath the foot of Omnipotence, tremble. "Behold, he cometh with clouds!" "The earth, and all that is in it, shall be dissolved; the elements shall melt with fervent heat;" but God's promises shall last then. Far, far above yon stars, they are written—written in the Book of Truth. They shall last though the sun become black as midnight, the moon red as blood, and the stars of heaven fall, even as the leaves of the fig-tree shaken by the blast. But though clouds roll away and depart, though the earth quake and be burned up, yet those promises shall stand, for they are "yea and amen in Christ Jesus." Canst thou doubt now, Christian? Say, "Lord, it is enough, help thou mine unbelief."
My dear friends, you may be sure the Lord will answer the prayers you utter, if you present them in the name of Christ. Christian, Christ intercedes with God for you on high. Behold that scene! Burdened beneath the weight of many a sin, cast down, and with his lips in the dust, lies there the poor penitent sinner! And now listen to his groanings; hear what he hath to say. He saith, "God have mercy on me a sinner!" Now rise, rapidly rise, like an archangel; ay, rise to Heaven. Seest thou that great white throne, on which sitteth the Eternal? and seest thou that bright One within the palace of His glory? Thou canst see His feet; thou canst behold His glistening raiment; thou canst see His clasped hands; thou canst catch His earnest gaze; thou canst hear His sweet words. What prayeth Christ in the ear of God? Hearken! Saith Christ, "Father, have mercy upon him. Wait awhile. Sinner, speak on. What sayest thou?" ''Lord," saith the sinner, "forgive my sins." Saith Christ, "Father, forgive his sins." Says God, "I will;" and the deed is done. Look at that upturned face now. Do you see the smile of joy that plays over those careworn features? The burden has fallen into the tomb; the soul is washed in the blood of Christ. And now hearken! sweet notes resound from the starry heavens above. What notes of music are those that come thrilling down from the abode of the blessed? Oh, they are the sweet voices of angels. And methinks, if ever they can weep with tenderness and love, they weep now; and they sing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain; another sinner has been redeemed by His blood! We will meet him in Heaven, clasp his hands, and lead him with the Lamb to fountains of living waters. Behold that other scene; there kneels a Christian. You see that broken instrument lying there? "Yes," you say, "what is that?" My friends, it is a broken harp; it has got out of tune. And do you see that crown thrown in the dust? "Yes," you say, "whose crown is that?" It is the crown of a king. And now do you see the sackcloth on the man? You do! and ashes sprinkled on his head? You do. And how earnest the man is now! He is praying. Hearken to him! What saith he? He saith, "Create in me a clean. heart, O God." Now listen. What saith Christ? "I will." The deed is done. Now wait. Seest thou King David rising from the dust? He throws off the sackcloth; he washes his face, his tears are wiped away. He takes his harp and strings it. And now do you hear bis sweet strains? "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies." Ah! you have it there! And how is all this? Why, Christ prays on high for David, who prays below; and David below gets the blessing from God above.
My dear friends, learn from this subject, lessons which you should put in practice every day. Pray believingly; pray in the name of Christ; pray for the Spirit; pray for help through and by the Spirit. And know this, that thy prayers go not up to God naked, bare, barren, filthy. Nay, nay; ere they reach Heaven, Christ taketh them; He taketh away the dross; He sprinkleth them with His own blood, and then He putteth them in the "vial full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints,"' and He poureth them out in the presence of God His Father. H. G. Guinness
“The Christian’s Bread-Basket” 1861