20 MARCH (PREACHED 1770)
That we may see God
‘And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.’ Luke 9:29
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: John 15:1–27
Here and there we may see the ground of what has been frequently observed, that declensions of religion begin at the closet door. To omit prayer, is to omit the best means in which the principal graces of the divine life are exercised, strengthened and fed. For the discharge of this duty we are promised the assistance of God’s Holy Spirit, to show us the things of Jesus, to remind us of our wants, to put arguments in our mouths. Our prayers, so far as they are spiritual, are not our own. They are not to be judged of by the outward expressions; perhaps we cry and chatter like a swallow, but he powerfully helpeth, even when his people can only bring forth groanings which cannot be uttered. What wonder then, considering the Spirit pleads in them below, while Jesus pleads for them above, that they sometimes find the light of heaven and glory opening upon their hearts. If these things are so, may we not take up a lamentation that we are so unskilful, or so remiss, in this great mystery of holding communion with God in prayer? Let me speak to your hearts and mine. If we would be successful and comfortable in prayer, we must be frequent. Even friends lose intimacy and freedom if they are not often together. We may stay from a person we love till we hardly care about them. We must guard against formality. There is too much of this ready to steal even upon believers. We dare not omit prayer, but are careless in the performance. Formality is the bane of every duty, but especially of this. We should have this especially in view when we pray: that we may see God. Watchfulness must be joined with prayer. Indeed, one is not practicable without the other.
FOR MEDITATION: The Lord Jesus, like the sun, is in all places at once. Go where we will, we are not far from him, if we have but eyes to perceive him.… he is complete and all-sufficient, the Sun of righteousness, the Fountain of life and comfort; his beams, wherever they reach, bring healing, strength, peace and joy to the soul. Pray to him, my dear, to shine forth and reveal himself to you.
John Newton to his niece, 22 October 1779
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 3 [4/4], LUKE 9:29