15 MARCH (PREACHED 1770)
Persevere in prayer
‘And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.’ Luke 9:28
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Luke 18:1–8
The last circumstance mentioned in this verse is the design: he went up into the mountain to pray. His purpose indeed was to be transfigured before them, but he does not appear to have told them this. But while they were attending him in the way of duty, he afforded them this favour beyond what they could have expected. We may note the sweetest tokens believers obtain of the Lord’s presence and goodness are usually in a time of prayer. No doubt the disciples would have gone with great eagerness, had they expected to have seen their Lord transfigured. But this was kept from them, that their going might rather be an act of obedience to his will, than to gratify a selfish motive of their own. We are often greatly blameable in this matter. No complaints more frequent than of an unwillingness to pray—but why? Chiefly because we look too much to our own pleasure. If we were assured beforehand that we should see Jesus in his glory, that we should enjoy a very lively state of mind and feel our hearts burn like fire, we should want little persuasion to pray. But we are but half-inclined to duty farther than we find it connected with comfort. Hence we have sometimes said, ‘To what purpose shall I pray, when I find myself not at all the better?’ This is too much like the spirit of those who followed the Lord for the loaves and the fishes. The difficulties and conflicts, the deadness and temptations we meet with in our attempts to pray, are not pleasant, yet to persevere in prayer in the midst of such discouragements is one of the best proofs of our sincerity and that we serve the Lord upon a right principle and for his own sake. These things are the trials of faith, and we cannot be well assured that our faith is right until it has stood trials. Every hypocrite may continue to pray, so long as he finds it pleasant.
FOR MEDITATION: ‘Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God’ (Romans 8:26–27).
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 2 [4/5], LUKE 9:28