Our time will be well spent if we study one of our Lord’s discourses upon prayer. It consists of two parables.
To commence prayer is easy, but to continue in it is another thing. We too often flag and grow remiss, and so we lose the blessing.
He was a wicked, unfeeling man, ready enough to pervert justice and grant the suit to the oppressor; his petitioner was a poor woman, bereft of her natural protector, and quite unable to affect his hard heart by her sad tale; yet her importunity won her suit, he was afraid of being tired to death, and therefore he attended to her cry. Every part of the parable strengthens our case, for we deal with a faithful and gracious God, who is ready to hear us; we are poor and feeble, it is true, but we have a powerful Advocate in the great Husband of the church; therefore if we do not obtain our request the first time, we should pray again and again, and never cease till our importunity obtains its end.
They are no strangers, but “his own elect;” surely he will hear them.
The prayers of the suffering church will not have long to wait. God’s time comes on.
It is so scarce that even He who best can discover faith will hardly find any of it. Shame upon our unbelief.
He stood by himself as if too holy to be touched by others, and his prayer was indeed, no prayer, but a self-glorification
Under the pretence of praising God, he praised himself. It is all “I,” “I fast,” “I give,” and so on. Nor was this enough, he indulged in uncharitable reflections upon others, making at the same time a list of his own virtues and a catalogue of other men’s failings, and crowning all with a sneer at his neighbour.
He confessed his sin, he smote upon his heart as the cause of it, he pleaded for mercy, and he had an eye to the atonement, for his prayer really meant, “Be propitious towards me through sacrifice.”
He had a sweet sense of pardon in his breast, and the other had it not, for indeed he had not even asked for it:
From all this let us learn to pray importunately, but not proudly. We must be earnest, but yet humble. We may be bold, but not arrogant. Lord teach us to pray.
The Lord their different language knows,
And different answers he bestows;
The humble soul with grace he crowns,
Whilst on the proud his anger frowns.
Dear Father! let me never be
Join’d with the boasting Pharisee;
I have no merits of my own,
But plead the sufferings of thy Son.