Again He went away and prayed, saying the same thing.
I. THE SIN-FORGETTING CHURCH is represented by the disciples who failed their Lord.
1. They did not understand the necessity and dreadfulness of Christ's struggle with the powers of darkness. They allowed natural weariness to overcome them, so that they had no share in the conflict endured near them and for them. As little does the Church share the purpose of Christ in the redemption of the world from sin; nor does she see the need for being in an "agony" about it. Is there the feeling about sin, even about our own sin, that there should be? Are we not too often like those who, under the shadow of Christ's sorrow, slept, though he himself had said, "Tarry ye here, and watch"?
2. Nor did these disciples reach the source of power that night. It was impossible to find victory through human passion, as Peter discovered after he had drawn and used his sword. Indiscriminate zeal, which will attack heretics and sceptics with bitter words and penalties, is sure to fail. Power to overcome is found in obedience to the command, "Watch and pray." To watch without praying is presumption; to pray without watching is fanaticism. The difference between our Lord and his disciples was this: they refreshed themselves by natural means, and he by spiritual; they fell back on sleep, and he on prayer - just as too often we rely on human agencies, and not on Divine.
3. Their confusion and indecision increased as they diverged from their Lord. He became more calm, and more sure of victory. They became more heavy with sleep, more cowardly and unprepared, till they all forsook him and fled. Only when they assembled again in his Name to pray in the upper room were they endued with power from on high. "Let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober," lest again he should say, "Sleep on now, and take your rest.... . Behold, the Son of man is betrayed."
II. THE SIN-COMMITTING WORLD. (Ver. 43.)
1. While the disciples slept, the hostile world was alert. This vigilance was a rebuke to their sloth. Still it is so. Frequenters of haunts of pleasure are often more eager than members of Christ's Church to invite their companions to join them.
2. Those who assail the cause of Christ are animated by different motives. Some are malignant, as the priests were; others join in the popular cry, though it be "Crucify him!" The mob in Jerusalem had little idea what they were doing - casting out of the world the Son of God, who had come to be their Savior and Friend. Men's acts have more in them than appears; and some who are simply careless will be amazed to find themselves reckoned amongst his foes! The world had no power over Christ except through the traitor Judas. The weakness of the Church, the inconsistency or apostasy of Christians, ever lead to the most successful attacks. Judas knew where Jesus resorted, and betrayed him by a kiss. The fall of one sentinel may prove the destruction of the camp.
III. THE SIN-BEARING SAVIOR. It is no figment of theological imagination that he himself took our infirmities, that "he was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities." He made atonement for us, as well as learnt sympathy with us. He took the cup of bitterness that we might receive the cup of blessing. - A.R.
And prayed, and spake the same words.
I. PRAYER IS A DUTY AND SERVICE WHICH WE OWE TO GOD AND WHICH WE OUGHT CONSTANTLY TO PERFORM IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS WILL COMMANDING IT, though otherwise we should reap no benefit by it to ourselves, nor even obtain the things we ask. And here the very doing of our duty in uprightness of heart must comfort us (2 Corinthians 1:12).
II. Although God does not at once grant our petitions, YET HE TAKES NOTICE OF OUR PRAYERS AND IS WELL PLEASED WITH THEM.
III. THERE ARE JUST CAUSES WHY GOD DOES NOT ALWAYS HEAR OUR PRAYERS AT FIRST OR SPEEDILY; but delays, sometimes for long.
1. To exercise and try our faith, hope, patience, and obedience in waiting upon Him.
2. To make us more fervent in prayer.
3. That the things we have asked, being for a time delayed, may be the more prized by us when we get them.
IV. THE REASON WHY GOD DOES NOT HEAR US AT FIRST, or so soon as we desire, may be and often is in ourselves, viz., IN THE FAULTINESS OF OUR PRAYERS. Either we ask such things as God does not see fit for us to obtain, and then it is a mercy in Him to deny them to us; or else we ask not in due manner, we pray not in faith, or not with such feeling and fervour as we ought; or else we are living in some sin unrepented of, which hinders the fruit of our prayer (James 4:2, 3; James 5:16; Psalm 66:18).
V. Though God has promised to hear our prayers, and to grant our petitions, so far as is good for us, and is according to His will; YET HE WILL NOT HAVE US LIMIT HIM A TIME in which to do so: nor is it fit for us so to do, but we are to wait His leisure, convinced that by so doing we shall lose nothing (Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 40:1).
VI. GOD HEARS OUR PRAYERS IN DIVERS WAYS.
1. By giving us the things we ask. Hannah, a child; Solomon, wisdom etc.
2. By giving us something as good, or better for us than that we ask; e.g. patience in time of trouble, and strength to bear it (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
3. By giving us inward comfort, by and in our prayers, and after them (Psalm 35:13).
4. By accepting our prayers as a service pleasing to Him. Now although God often delays to hear us the first way, yet He always hears us one of these ways, and that as soon as we pray to Him, if we pray in due manner, and as we ought; which being so, must encourage us to persevere, and hold out in prayer, when we do not immediately obtain those petitions which we ask of God.
(George Petter.)Luke 11:2)...And what are sundry of David's Psalms, but set forms of prayer, used by the Church in those times?...The Church of God has always used set forms of prayer in public and solemn meetings, nor was the lawfulness of this practice ever questioned till of late times by Anabaptists, Brownists, and such like.
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