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ence of prayer is most powerful. When the child of God is in the presence of his Father in heaven, the golden chain of love is thrown around him, and he is held a willing captive in the bonds of mercy. He came there to confess his sius to his forgiving Father; and will it be easy for him to rise from his prostrations, and dry up his repentings and grief, and return again to the sins which he has been confessing and for which he has been forgiven? He came there to acknowledge his dependence and to thank his beneficent Father for the gifts of his providence, and to ask a continuance of these paternal favors, and will he go away again to squander or consume upon his lusts the blessings of paternal love? He came there to ask a counseling Father his will ;-sincerely desiring to be led in the way of holiness and truth ; and will he go away to follow again the devices of a wicked world, or of his own wicked heart? He came there to have communion with his Savior and his God, and he there obtains some blessed foretastes of the delightful, life-giving, soul-satisfying union, which will be the portion of God's children ; and will he, can he return again to the beggarly elements of this world? If the soul is ever penitent for sin and humbled on account of it, and heartily resolved to forsake it; if it ever feels a disrelish for the pleasures of this life, and finds its pinions loosed for an upward flight, it is when it has been admitted to this gracious communion with its Father in heaven. These are the seasons when it grows in grace rapidly. At every such communion with God, it is perceptibly changed into the image of the perfect Being whom it has been its privilege to contemplate. Such is the reflex influence of

prayIn the powerfully sanctifying influence of the exercise itself on him who performs it, we see manifest evidence of its importance; we see the wisdom and goodness of the God who appointed it a duty.

But this advantage of prayer, great as it is, is only incidental: another, and more important advantage, and what we would mention as pre-eminently the reason for the performance of the duty is, Prayer is a direct means of obtaining blessings from God. We say positively, and without any reservation, that he has no just sense of the nature of prayer, and performs not the duty aright, who does not regard it, and engage in it, as the direct means of obtaining blessings from God blessings which without prayer God would not bestow. Destitute of this confidence in the efficacy of the exercise, he cannot be said to pray. He has not the spirit of prayer. He may exhibit the lifeless form, but it is wanting in the living principle which Vol. X.


alone can render it acceptable to God. So far from obtaining the blessings for which he prays, he will, only in a limited degree, receive the good effect which we have mentioned as incidental to him who performs the duty aright. But if prayer be a direct means of obtaining blessings from God, and blessings which God will not bestow except in answer to prayer; then how powerful an encouragement have we to pray. We ask, therefore, if prayer is not efficacious ? Can we descend from this position and obtain just views of its nature? We feel unwilling to abandon this ground until we have at least placed before our readers the view of the subject as it now appears to us. For, unless we greatly mistake, an incorrect perception of the nature of prayer is the reason why there is so inuch reluctance to the performance of the duty; and why there is so little answer to prayer. Until men can be persuaded, of the truth, that the fervent, effectual (energizing) prayer of the righteous man availeth much, they never will pray so as to prevail

. Their prayers, so far from availing, will be only mockery and insult to the Most High. He that cometh to God, must believe that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him. " We shall never pray much,” says our excellent author, “nor with much pleasure, until we are persuaded that we shall not pray in vain. Access to God will be prized just in proportion as we feel sure of acceptance with God."

There is, therefore, too much depending upon a correct view of the subject to pass from it hastily, and dwelling for a moment upon it, we inquire, What is prayer? The answer is obvious: it is petition or supplication. But what rational view can any suppliant have of supplication if he does not regard it as a means of obtaining the blessings for which he supplicates ? Can he be said to pray, in any proper sense of the word, who does not engage in the exercise with the hope at least, if not with the erpectation, of obtaining from the being he implores the specified blessing? What other view of prayer is entertained by any man or community of men when they petition any legislative or executive power? Do they not hope to obtain by this means some favor which without the petition would not be granted ? The inhabitants of a village unite in sending a petition to our national government for the establishment of a post office among them. What is the state of mind of these petitioners ? Are they not influenced to this act, if not by the erpectation, at least by the hope of obtaining the favor prayed for Do they not regard what they are doing as the direct means of obtaining this indulgence from the government;—an indulgence which they have no

er ?

reason to expect will be granted without their petition ? Have they not some faith in the efficacy of their petition ? Would they ever make the petition if they had no faith in its efficacy? This matter is very plain. Their prayer, originating in hope, is carried on the wings of erpectation. Such is the nature of prayer. Such must be the state of mind when we make supplication to God. We must come before Him expecting by our supplications to obtain some blessing, which, without them, he will not bestow. Devoid of this state of mind, in our addresses to the Most High, we cannot offer acceptable prayer. Or, we may ascertain the state of mind in which we should make our approaches to God, by observing the child when he solicits any indulgence from his parent. Does he doubt the efficacy of pray

Is not the expectation of obtaining the favor by asking, the only reason why he makes the petition ? Every artless child knows the value of his entreaties; and every tender parent has felt their moving power. Consider, then, how feelingly and forcibly the Savior, by this affecting analogy, teaches us the true nature of prayer. “ What man is there of you whom if his son ask bread will he give him a stone; or if he ask a fish will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give good things to them that ask him?" Who can doubt, with this passage from the lips of the Savior before him, that prayer has power with God ? That by it he is moved to bestow favors which he would otherwise withhold. That his children are to come to him as children, feeling their need and helplessness, and his all-sufficiency and tender compassion, and to plead before him with filial confidence, expecting to receive the favor they supplicate : and to feel no other doubt of obtaining, except what every dutiful child will feel, when he remembers that the superior wisdom and goodness of his father may know of higher interests to be secured by withholding : "for did not God sometimes withhold in mercy what we ask, we should be ruined at our own request.” Nor is this expectation, of sometimes being denied, at all inconsistent with the most perfect confidence in the efficacy of prayer. For what child but supposes the solicited indulgence will, for such reason, be sometimes withheld: and yet what child ever, on account of this, gave up his confidence in the efficacy of his entreaties?

Such, we are confident, are the feelings we should bear with us in our approaches to a prayer-hearing God : and when we hear the Savior say, “ask and ye shall receive; for every one that asketh receiveth ;' urging us to the duty by the affecting

encouragement which every parent can so feelingly appreciate; when we hear such an exposition of the subject from the lips of the Savior himself, have we, or can we have, a state of mind which is well-pleasing in his sight, if we come not into the presence of our Father in Heaven with this filial confidence,-expecting to prevail ?

In confirmation of this view of the nature of prayer, we might adduce the experience of the prayerful. But why should we fill our pages in citing this testimony? The instances divinely recorded are numerous, and scattered through the whole period of the church in both dispensations, where the children of God have found access to the mercy seat, and have prevailed in prayer. Nor let the timid, doubting believer, (if we may use the term,) refuse the encouragement of these examples, by supposing them to be special cases, aside from, or beyond, the ordinary dispensations of God; cases not designed to be examples of encouragement to his children in all ages, and placed on record for this specific purpose. The supposition assumes a principle not in accordance with the divine economy; and its influence is like a paralysis to the soul. Where in the revelation of God's will is it said, that there is any diversity in his dispensations towards those who love and fear him? Where do we learn, that he is a respecter of persons; where has he told us, that he will answer the prayers of Abraham and Jacob and Joshua, of Solomon and Elijah, of Hezekiah and Daniel, of the publican and the apostles, and not of any who have the like precious faith, and who follow in their footsteps ? No, God is no respecter of persons; but "in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted of him." " At all times, in all places, and under all circumstances, we may come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Nor let this confidence in the efficacy of prayer be prevented through the fear, that it will appear presumptuous and be displeasing to God; for it is the very state of mind which he requires. The apostle assures us, "He who cometh to God must believe, that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Let him ask in faith nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea; and let not that man think he shall receive any thing from the Lord.” Our Heavenly Father delights to see his children reposing on his promises and perfections with the confidence of children coming to him, expecting to obtain the fulfillment of their reasonable desires. Never do we honor God more than when, in the attitude of suppliants, he sees us pleading with this confidence in his power and willingness to bless :-pleading with the certain assurance of receiving, unless his perfect wisdom sees it best to withhold. There is no other, and if what the bible has revealed to us of the perfections and purposes of God be true, there can be no other limitation to the entire fulfillment of our sincere desires ; and even the denial, could we see beforehand as God sees, would be the very burden of our petition. How abundant, therefore, are our encouragements to pray! How do we dishonor and offend our Heavenly Father by withholding this filial confidence! Who that has any sense of his own need, and of God's fullness; of his own guilt and ill-desert, and of God's abounding grace, will not bow before the footstool of Him who so delighteth to bless?

Is there any one, notwithstanding all these encouragements to prayer, who still thinks it is useless to pray? What, we inquire, is the view he takes of the subject which brings him to this conclusion? Does he say, that as God is a being of perfect wisdom and goodness, knowing what is best, and disposed to do what is best for his creatures, therefore, he will bestow what he sees to be needful without prayer? But does his conclusion follow from his premises ? May it not seem best to infinite wisdom and goodness, that his creatures shall ask for what he designs to bestow? Any assertion to the contrary is made against evidence. For we have seen, that the very exercise of prayer is of immense benefit to the suppliant; that it has a restraining and sanctifying influence on our affections and characters; that the direct and immediate tendency of praying is to make us leave off sinning; that this beneficial influence is most powerful ; that in no act of our lives do we throw around us greater restraints from sin, or receive greater incentives to holiness than in this exercise of communion with God. Every soul who has felt the sanctifying influence of prayer sees the wisdom and goodness of God most clearly in the appointment of the duty. Besides, there may be other reasons why God requires his creatures to ask favors from him, which neither we nor the objector have thought of ;-reasons, it may be, of immense importance in their bearing on the welfare of God's kingdom, such as render it best, in the view of infinite wisdom and goodness, that his creatures should ask for the blessings which he designs to bestow.

Does the objector take other ground and attempt to show the uselessness of prayer from the unchangeable predetermination of God? Does he say, that God has determined what blessings

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