Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pastoral Letters part 3

Letters Play Important Roles in our Lives
Continuing on to part three of my series of pastoral letters from Robert Murray M'Cheyne. This one is on a subject that I've talked about frequently on this blog - prayer. I'm thankful that these letters were published for us to read, and hope they're a blessing to you as they have been to me, and I'm sure must have been to his congregation.

                                 Edinburgh, February 20, 1839

To all of you, my dear flock, who are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and  without blame before Him in love,

Your pastor again wishes grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.There are many sweet providences happening to us every day, if we would but notice them. In the texts which ministers choose, what remarkable providences God often brings about! I have often felt this, and never more than now. Some of you may remember that the last chapter of the Bible which I read to you in the church was 1 Kings 19, where we are told of Elijah going away into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights to the mount of God, where he was taught that it is not by the wind, nor the earthquake, that God converts souls, but by the still small voice of the gospel. May not this have been graciously intended to prepare us for what has happened ? Another providence some of you may have noticed. For several Thursday evenings before I left you I was engaged in explaining and enforcing the sweet duty of believing prayer. Has not God since taught us the use of these things ? "Trials make the promise sweet"—"Trials give new life to prayer."

Perhaps some of us were only receiving the information into the head ; is not God now impressing it on our hearts, and driving us to practise the things which we learned ? I do not now remember all the points I was led to speak upon to you, but one, I think, was entirely omitted—I mean the subject of answers to prayer. God left it for us to meditate on now. Oh, there is nothing that I would have you to be more sure of than this, that "God hears and answers prayer." There never was, and never will be, a believing prayer left unanswered. Meditate on this, and you will say:

"I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplication"
(Psalm 116:1).

First, God often gives the very thing His children ask at the very time they ask it. You remember Hannah (1 Samuel 1:10): she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. "Give unto thine handmaid a man-child." This was her request. And so she went in peace, and the God of Israel heard and granted her her petition that she had asked of Him ; and she called the child's name Samuel, that is, "Asked of God." Oh that you could write the same name upon all your gifts! you would have more joy in them, and far larger blessings along with them.

You remember David, in Psalm 138: "In the day that I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul."

You remember Elijah (1 Kings17:21): "0 Lord my God! I pray Thee let this child's soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voiee of Elijah, and the spirit of the child came into him again, and he revived."

You remember Daniel (9: 20,21): "While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God ; yea, while speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation."

Oh, what encouragement is here for those among you who, like Daniel, are greatly beloved, —who study much in the books of God's word, and who set your face unto the Lord to seek by prayer gifts for the Church of God !

Expect answers while you are speaking in prayer. Sometimes the vapors that ascend in the morning come down in copious showers in the evening. So may it be with your prayers. Take up the words of David (Psalm 5:3): "My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning ; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up."

You remember, in Acts 7, Peter was cast into prison, "but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him." And, behold, the same night the answer surprised them at the door. Oh, what surprises of goodness and grace God has in store for you and me, if only we pray without ceasing! If you will pray in union to Jesus, having childlike confidence towards God,—having the Spirit of adoption, crying Abba within you,—seeking the glory of God more than all personal benefits, I believe that in all such cases you will get the very thing you ask.....Before you call, God will hear; and while you are speaking. He will answer. Oh, if there were twenty among you who would pray thus, and persevere therein like wrestling Jacob, you would get whatever you ask! Yea, the case of Daniel shows that the effectual fervent prayer of one such believer among you will avail much. 
"Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart"
(Psalm 37:4).

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Intense Debate Comments

"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:6,8-1