Life's exigencies, mine or those of others, drive me--hopefully all of us, to prayer. Prayer is our first line of defense, and the greatest offense! Yet, how often do we treat it as a last resort? Is this not in itself ample justification for us to cry out in confession, "Oh, God, forgive me my unbelief, that I turn your privilege into dour duty." If we confess, that is good. But let us not remain in confession, nor be satisfied there. Oh, no! Let us rather turn more quickly to Jesus. Let us pelt heaven with our cries for mercy, for power, for more insight, and for more of God's eternal protection from the evil one!
Look closely at the following poem by William Cowper, hymn writer and close friend of John Newton ("Amazing Grace"). NOTE: you may recognize the familiar strain in verse three!
EXHORTATION TO PRAYER(Book II, Hymn 60, page 549)The Works of John Newton, vol. 2
What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy seat!
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there?
Prayer makes the darken’d cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw,
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.
Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armour bright;
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they fail’d,
That moment Amalek prevail’d.
Have you no words? Ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain,
And fill your fellow-creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.
Were half the breath thus vainly spent
To heaven in supplication sent,
Your cheerful song would oftener be,
”Hear what the Lord has done for me.”
Lord, make it that this Easter season will drive us to our knees, for it is through the blood of your cross that we both have access and the ability TO pray.