365 days with Newton

13 AUGUST

Helplessness stirs us to prayer

‘O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.’ Psalm 43:3
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Psalm 61:1–8

A conviction of helplessness and insufficiency is implied. When an awakened sinner has seen the world to be what indeed it is and has obtained some apprehensions of heavenly things, still it is at a distance and much darkness lies upon the way to obtain. Only in this the soul is satisfied and certain: that it has no strength and wisdom of its own whereby to escape deserved evil or to obtain the desired good. It stands in need of assistance and this stirs it up to prayer, even the prayer of my text, for there is likewise implied some beginnings of knowledge that our help is in the name of the Lord—that if he does it not, it can never be done. We are not brought to this at once. When we first begin to open our eyes, we are very prone to seek deliverance by our own arm, by confessions, resolutions and outside services. We begin to attempt a reformation, to set about a new life and perhaps go on so very quietly for a while. Our great enemy loves to see us busied in building a house upon the sand and may suffer us to carry it on to a good height, for he knows that he is able with one puff of temptation to blow it down again. Then when we think it strong, he is suffered to come to try our work and soon it falls before him. After many such disappointments, we at last see how poor and helpless we are and cry to the Lord, O send forth thy light and thy truth.

FOR MEDITATION: The resolutions I made seem to be still good and the means of peace and happiness, but I fear I have broken every one. I am willing to think I stand till I am really fallen, and then, by presuming to rise by my own strength, I lie grovelling long before I can be persuaded of my insufficiency. I would endeavour to guard more against this error for the future and make it a particular point of my prayers … so I may more fully than ever feel the reality and necessity of his assistance; and that when I say that I can do nothing good without him, can forbear nothing evil without him, nor hope for any peace or pardon without him, I may speak entirely from my heart and that this absolute dependence upon him only, may be the ruling principle of my life. Amen.
Diary, 1 February 1752

SERMON: PSALM 43:3 [3/5]

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