This is Part 2 in a series of posts (see Introduction/Part 1) from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Fourth Pastoral Letter.
First, God often gives the very thing His children ask at the very time they ask it. You remember Hannah (1 Sam 1.10): she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. “Give unto thine handmaid a man-child.” This was her request. And so she went in peace, and the God of Israel heard and granted her her petition that she asked of Him; and she called the child’s name Samuel, that is, “Asked of God.” Oh, that you could write the same name upon all your gifts! You would have more joy in them, and far larger blessings along with them.
You remember David, in Ps. 138: “In the day that I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.” You remember Elijah (1 Kings 17.21): “O Lord my God! I pray Thee let this child’s soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” You remember Daniel (9.20, 21): “While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” Oh, what encouragement is here for those among you who, like Daniel, are greatly beloved–who study much in the books of God’s word, and who set your face unto the Lord to seek by prayer gifts for the Church of God!
Expect answers while you are speaking in prayer. Sometimes the vapours that ascend in the morning come down in copious showers in the evening. So may it be with your prayers. Take up the words of David (Ps. 5.3): “My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.” You remember, in Acts 12, Peter was cast into prison, “but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him.” And, behold, the same night the answer surprised them at the door. Oh, what surprises of goodness and grace God has in store for you and me, if only we pray without ceasing!
If you will pray in union with Jesus, having childlike confidence towards God, having the Spirit of adoption crying Abba within you, seeking the glory of God more than all personal benefits, I believe that in all such cases you will get the very thing you ask, at the very time you ask it. Before you call, God will hear; and while you are speaking, He will answer. Oh, if there were twenty among you who would pray thus, and persevere therein like wrestling Jacob, you would get whatever you ask! Yea, the case of Daniel shows you that the effectual fervent prayer of one such believer among you will avail much. “Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart” (Ps 37.4).