By Henry Law
Earnest prayer is followed by exulting praise. May prayer lead us to glad thanksgivings!
1. "Unto You will I cry, O Lord my rock; Do not be silent to me; lest, if you are silent to me, I become like those who go down into the pit."
Strong resolves are the belt of the faithful man. Among these none is more prominent than fixed intention that prayer shall never cease. Prayer usually singles out some gracious revelation of our God, and earnestly pleads it. Here God is reminded that He is His people's Rock. As such He is immovable, and they who rest on Him cannot be shaken. Billows of trouble may lash. Storms of persecution may arise. But they remain secure.
Sure replies flow as a gladdening stream. Sometimes they may seem to be delayed. These times are chilling. If they continue long, life would grow faint, and death would hasten to extend its hand.
2. "Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You, when I lift up my hands toward your holy oracle."
The mercy-seat was a sweet symbol of the blessed Jesus. To Him the eye should look, the voice be raised, the hands be uplifted in each exercise of prayer. His merits perfume each address; His worth gives value, and His intercession gains acceptance. Prayer without Christ is empty sound. It is vain sound. The lips may mutter, but no blessings are obtained.
3, 4. "Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors; give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert."
The most exalted believer is still a miserable sinner. Sin is a malady under which he daily groans. It is a foe with which he daily struggles. He hates it in its every form. Especially he loathes deceit, and deviousness, and fraud. Therefore he earnestly cries that he may be severed from its contact now, and from its doom forever. He knows that justice will erect its throne; that rigid scrutiny will weigh each word and work; that final reckoning will assign true judgment. He looks onward to the great white throne and its award. He humbly acquiesces in the sentence which will there be given. Even so, Lord. The Judge of all the earth is righteousness and truth.
5. "Because they do not regard the works of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them, and not build them up."
Our God does not hide Himself. Man's ignorance of God is willful and self-chosen. His power and Godhead are written in letters of light throughout creation's page. His constant interposition in the world's course, in favor of His people and His truth, always speaks loudly. This witness disregarded seals the sad doom. If eyes and ears refuse to learn, sentence is most just.
6. "Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications."
The answer comes. Promises to prayer are all fulfilled. Then what joy abounds! The voice is still upraised, but now the note is changed. Clouds of grateful incense rise to the courts above.
7. "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise Him."
A season of rapturous joy succeeds. God is gratefully acknowledged as supplying inward power to resist evil and to exhibit faith. How strong is he who has Jehovah for his strength! But the Lord is more. He wards off all foes, and presents Himself as His people's shield. We see, also, the power of faith. It brings sure help. He who can say, I trust, will surely add, All support is supplied. Then joy overflows--joy of heart joy to unlimited extent. The lips sing sweetly, and God is the happy theme.
8. "The Lord is their strength, and He is the saving strength of His anointed."
The believer is one of a large company. Each one is feeble without God; but each partakes of heavenly strength in Him. Each as one with Christ is anointed with unction from above; and each rejoices in that strength which brings salvation.
9. "Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; feed them also and lift them up forever."
The gift of prayer is for the common prosperity of God's chosen. They are dear to Him; and it is joy to Him to hear petitions in their behalf. They are dear as His people, heirs of His kingdom, sheep of His fold. Lord, hear our cry. Save them to the uttermost with Your salvation. Bless them with all Your blessings; feed them in Your wholesome pastures; lift them up above the reach of harm; and from the dust of death, to the highest glories of Your kingdom.