19 MARCH (PREACHED 1770)
Characteristics 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: Psalm 62:1–12
The graces which are most immediately exercised in prayer are those having a special tendency to raise the soul above itself and above the world such as:
(i) faith. The enlightened mind, when addressing itself to wait on God, will often feel a question rising, ‘Why dost thou this? How dare you, a poor sinner, approach the Holy God?’ Faith answers this question and pleads the Redeemer’s name, his life, death and mediation. These thoughts lead the soul to take a view of the mystery of redemption, to see the strong foundation which God has laid in Zion. Hence arise admiration and praise. Now the Apostle says that so far as we by faith behold the glory of the Lord, we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory.
(ii) love. When we find ourselves brought into the presence of the great King, and that unworthy and as unfaithful as we are, we have a right to call him Father, we are led to reflect, ‘To what do I owe this privilege?’ Thus the love of God and the love of Jesus are brought to mind. ‘O I was afar off once—I little thought he would do this for me.’ A sense of this love kindles love in our heart. And the more we love the more we are transfigured—for he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God and God in him.
(iii) trust. While we are conversing with creatures, we are prone to rest too much upon them, but in prayer we leave them all, and charge our souls as David, wait thou only upon God [Psalm 62:5]. By faith we apprehend his power engaged on behalf of his people; by love we give ourselves to him and appropriate his all-sufficiency to ourselves, and thus are enabled to trust in God, which is a grace that refines and enables the soul and frees it from all vain and selfish pursuits, which, in whatever degree they prevail, are chiefly owing to a want of confidence in God.
(iv) humiliation. A sight of God gives us a sense of our imperfection, and abases us into the dust before him. So Job, Isaiah, Daniel and John found it. Now this is the frame of mind to which the Lord has promised to look; when we are thus abased, he will honour.
FOR MEDITATION: ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1).
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 3 [3/4], LUKE 9:29