17 MARCH (PREACHED 1770)
The dignity and privilege of prayer
‘And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.’ Luke 9:29
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Romans 11:33–36
This change of our Lord’s appearance, when the beams of his glory shone through the veil of flesh which he assumed for our sakes, is called his transfiguration. Matthew and Mark say, He was transfigured before them [Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2]. Luke adds a farther circumstance which is worthy of our attention, that it took place while he was praying. If, as it is probable, this was the subject of his prayer, that his glory might be manifested to his disciples, he obtained an immediate and signal answer, and no wonder, for he is always heard. He never asked in vain. Here lies the safety and comfort of his people, that he has engaged to intercede for all that come unto God by him, and therefore, because he pleads their cause, they cannot be overpowered. But our Lord, when in the action of prayer while he was upon earth, may be considered not only as their Advocate, but their Exemplar and Pattern. He commanded them to pray, he taught them to pray, and he added force to his precept by his own example. And he gave them here a great encouragement to persevere in prayer and that they might hope that when they drew near to God in duty, he would draw near to them, for as he prayed, he was transfigured. In this view I shall propose one observation for our improvement at present, before I come to consider the transfiguration itself. Prayer is the great instituted means of impressing the soul with such a sense of the glory of God as transforms it into his resemblance and raises it to a kind of transfiguration. Or, the sweetest and most transforming impressions of divine things are usually afforded in a season of prayer. As it was with the Head, so it is with the members: while they are praying they are transfigured.
FOR MEDITATION: Many arguments may be offered to enforce this practice of prayer—from duty, as we are the Lord’s creatures; from necessity, as we depend upon him for our continual support—but this argument arising from the dignity and privilege should have an especial weight with all who have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 3 [1/4], LUKE 9:29