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Andrew Bonar

By David Smithers


      Truly great men, seldom recognize their own worth. Such a great man, was Andrew Bonar. His diary is a virtual text book on the qualities of brokenness and humility. Almost every page seems to be filled with expressions of his transparency and sense of unworthiness apart from Jesus Christ. For the true saint, the path of brokenness leads straight to the throne of grace. Andrew Bonar was no exception to this divine rule. Majory Bonar, Mr. Bonar's daughter, describes his diary as a "revelation of one who prayed always and who prayed everywhere." John J. Murray wrote of Andrew Bonar, "He did not believe in any shortcut to holiness and usefulness in the work of God. He knew that the one and only way to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ was daily and hourly communion with the Father and the Son". Andrew Bonar, himself wrote, "There is too much time taken up with active work for the Kingdom. Surely if God's servants are to speak and preach in the power of the Holy Spirit they must again give themselves continually to prayer. . ."

      Andrew Bonar was just one of many Scottish ministers used of God during the Kilsyth Revival of 1839-1840. The ministers most honored by Christ's presence during this time of refreshing were W. C. Burns, Robert Murray McCheyne, Alexander Moody Stuart and Andrew Bonar. All of these men were close friends who encouraged one another in the practice of constant prayer. Soon after the decline of the Kilsyth Revival, Andrew Bonar Said, "I have learned by experience that it is not much labor but much prayer that is the only means to success." Mr. Bonar was able to accomplish much with men in public because he spent much time with Jesus Christ in private. The daily entries of Bonar's diary testify of this fact. He wrote on January 3rd, 1856, "I have been endeavoring to keep up prayer at this season every hour of the day, stopping my occupation, whatever it is, to pray a little. I seek to keep my soul within the shadow of the throne of grace and Him that sits thereon." Sabbath, March 8th - "I feel afraid of myself on the ground that I am less prayerful than I used to be, although often more helped in preaching then ever . . ." Wednesday, 24th, "Oh my God, never let me walk even in the green pastures, without thee! I feel glad to live as a pilgrim and stranger, and more, far more than before, I seek by prayer and strong crying in secret to see God glorified in the salvation of souls."

      In a letter to a close friend Andrew Bonar wrote, "Oh brother pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer, rather neglect friends than not pray, rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, supper and sleep too - than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer - we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while The Virgins Slumber." Andrew Bonar lived in a time of revival and yet he was always praying for more of God's revival power. His diary again makes this clear. Wednesday, 21st, - "Enabled to spend nearly the whole day in prayer, praise and confession. I was led to deep humiliation for our church, and prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on my people. I spread out several promises before the Lord, and my heart was sore with desire and yet glad with expectation of what this day may obtain for me. But I find true what Samuel Rutherford wrote: 'A bed watered with tears, a throat dry with praying, eyes a fountain of tears for the sins of the land are rarely to be found among us.'"

      Andrew Bonar was a man who was intimately acquainted with Jesus Christ. As a result he saw what Jesus saw and therefore cared, wept and prayed like Jesus. Far too often our own eyes are dry because our eyes are blind to the needs around us. Many of us have become blinded by the temporal, till we can no longer see the eternal reality of the holiness of heaven and horrors of hell. Lord draw us back to the prayer closet where blind eyes see and hardened hearts are broken. Lord, have mercy and bring us to brokenness!

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