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THE SPIRIT, THE AUTHOR OF PRAYER.
THE BELIEVER DRAWING NEAR TO GOD.
“ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities : for we know not what we should pray for as we ought : but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Rom. viii. 26.
That, God should have erected in this lower world a throne of grace,-a mercy-seat, around which may gather, in clustering and welcome multitudes, the helpless, the burthened, the friendless, the vile, the guilty, the deeply necessitous,-that, no poor comer, be his poverty never so great, his burthen never so heavy, or his case never so desperate, should meet with a refusal, a hearing, or a welcome, does greatly develope and magnify the riches of his grace, his wisdom, and his love to sinners. What a God, our God must be, thus to have appointed a meeting place, an audience chamber for those, upon whom all other doors were closed! But, more than this.
That, he should have appointed Jesus the door of approach to that throne,-should have given his only begotten and well beloved Son, to be the
new and living way of access, thus removing all obstruction in the way of the soul's coming, both on the part of himself, and on the part of the sinner, that, the door should be a crucified Saviour -the wounds of the Son of God,—that, through blood, and that blood, the blood of the incarnate Deity, the guilty should approach, wonder O heavens, and be astonished 0 earth! Shall we say even more than this? For there is yet a lower depth in this love and condescension of God.
That, he should have sent his Spirit into the heart, the Author of prayer, inditing the petition -breathing in the soul-implanting the desireconvincing of the existing necessity-unfolding the character of God-working faith in the heartand drawing it up to God through Jesus, seems the very perfection of his wisdom, benevolence, and grace.
It must be acknowledged by the spiritual mind that, all true prayer is of the inditing of the Spirit. That, he is the Author of all real approach of the soul to God. And yet, how perpetually we need to be reminded of this. Prayer, is one of the most spiritual employments that can possibly engage the mind. It is that holy act of the soul that brings it immediately in contact with a holy God. It has more directly to do with the High and Lofty One’ than any other exercise. It is that state of mind, too, that most deeply acknowledges its dependence on God. Prayer, is the expression of want,-it is the desire of need,—the acknowledgment of poverty,—the language of dependence, -the breathing of a soul that hath nothing in itself, but hangeth on God for all it wanteth. It must therefore be a highly spiritual and holy exercise. But, still more so will this appear, if we consider that, true prayer is the breathing of the life of God in the soul of man. It is the Spirit dwelling and breathing in him. It is the new nature pouring out its vital principle, and that, into the ear of the God from whence it came. It is the cry of the feeble child turning to the Father it loves, and in all its conscious weakness, dependence, and need, pouring out the yearnings of its full heart into the bosom where dwells nothing but love. In a word, it is God and the creature meeting and blending in one act of blessed, holy, and eternal fellowship.
Now, that on a subject so spiritual, and involving so deeply the happiness and the holiness of a child of God, the believer should at times be greatly and seriously harassed and tempted, as much by the weaknesses of his nature, as by the
influence of Satan, is not to be wondered at. We desire therefore, before going into the consideration of the Spirit's operation in this holy exercise, to glance at some of those peculiar infirmities which so frequently and so painfully lessen the habit and weaken the power, and keep back the answer of prayer. May the Spirit now teach us!
There is a state of mind often enfeebling to the exercise of prayer, arising from the difficulty of forming proper views of the spirituul nature of the Divine Object of prayer. The spirituality of God, through the weakness of our nature, has been felt to be, by some, a stumbling-block in the approach of the soul. God is a Spirit,' is a solemn announcement that meets it at the very threshold, and so completely overawes and abashes the mind, as to congeal every current of thought and of feeling, and well nigh to crush the soul with its inconceivable idea. Nor, is this surprising. Prayer, is the approach of finity to Infinity; and, although it is the communing of spirit with Spirit, yet, it is the finite communing with the Infinite, and that, through the organs of sense. marvel, then, that at periods, a believer should be baffled in his endeavour to form some just conception of the divine existence, some faint idea of the nature of that God to whom his soul addresses itself; and, failing in the attempt, should turn
Is it any
away in sadness, sorrow, and despair? The remedy for this state of mind, we believe is at hand. It is simple and scriptural. That we can enlarge our thoughts with any adequate idea of the nature and the appearance of the Divine Spirit, is an utter impossibility. He that attempts it, and thinks he has succeeded, lives in the region of fancy, and opposes himself to the revelation of God himself, which expressly declares, “No man hath seen God at any time,” John i. 18. “ Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see,” i Tim. vi. 16. This being, then, admitted, as all sober reflective minds must, the question arises, “ How am I to view God? what idea am I to form of his existence in approaching him in prayer?” In reply, two things are necessary in getting proper thoughts of God as the Object of prayer. First, that the mind should resign all its attempts to comprehend the mode of the divine existence, and should concentrate all its powers upon the contemplation of the character of the divine existence. In what relation God stands to the creature, not in what way he exists in himself, is the main point we have to do in approaching him. Let the mind be wrapt in devout contemplations of his holiness, benevolence, love, truth, wisdom, justice, &c., and there will be no