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God, the grace of forgiveness and kindness. and tender-heartedness.
I call to mind the unforgiving servant, himself forgiven so much, and yet so hard on his fellow-servant; let me never be like him. I think of the prayer I make every day, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us:" should I not forgive, then I should deny my own prayer. I remember my Lord's words, "that ye love one another, as I have loved you." O Saviour, as Thou hast loved me, so help me to love all. O Father, Who, for Thy dear Son's sake, hast forgiven me, incline me by Thy Spirit to forgive others, and to be kind and tenderhearted towards all; not now only, but always henceforth.
DIFFICULTY IN PRAYER.
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities."Rom. viii. 26.
ONE would have thought that, however weak for anything else, at least we could ask. But it is not so: we are weak even for prayer, we want help even in that. How happy for us, that this want is met! What want of ours is
there, that is not met in the Word of God?
Great and many as my wants are, especially now, yet I often find difficulty in praying. My thoughts are dull and heavy and wandering, petitions will not come to my mind, I scarcely realize what I want or wish for, I feel tongue-tied. O my Saviour, Thou didst continue all night in prayer-Thou, who hadst no sin to confess, and no pardon to seek; while I, who am laden with iniquity, and have so much to ask forgiveness for,
find it difficult to fix my mind for any time in prayer, and can scarcely for ten minutes at a time continue in supplication. Alas, even while I am in the act of praying, suddenly I find my mind going astray, and, before I am aware, my thoughts are dwelling on some trifle.
Humbling as this is, I have yet this comfort, that a very short prayer has often brought a great blessing. "Lord, help me!" won for a mother the healing of her child. "Thou son of David, have mercy on us! brought sight to two blind men. If I cannot pray long, Lord, help me to pray in earnest. If I cannot collect my thoughts to make mention of all my wants, yet teach me to say from the heart, "Lord, help me!",
But I am not left to myself in prayer. Not only have I a gracious Saviour to present my prayer, and to plead my cause; I have also a helper in prayer, the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit helpeth our infirmities." knows them well. He knows how weak and wandering are our thoughts. how cold our hearts, how light and trifling our minds.
And he knows our ignorance too; that we do not always know what to ask for, or what we really need, or what would be good for us. He "helpeth our infirmities," puts thoughts and desires into us, guides our minds, inclines us to pray, turns us from vanity, and gives warmth to our cold petitions.
It would seem blessing enough, that I may pray, and that God has promised to hear me for my Saviour's sake; but that He should himself help me to pray, this is wonderful indeed! We do not help a beggar to ask alms of us, or put words into the mouth of one who comes to ask a favour; we leave them to tell their own tale. But God helps us even to ask of Him; "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities."
It is not long and eloquent prayers that the Spirit helps us to make. Sometimes indeed He does enable us to pour out our whole heart in words of prayer; but at other times He makes intercession for us with groanings unspeakable, groanings which cannot be But even such prayers are not unheard. "He that searcheth the hearts
knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because "or rather, that-" He maketh intercession for us according to the will of God." This help, O my God, I do humbly ask of Thee. Lord, help me help me to pray; may Thy Holy Spirit help my infirmities. "All my desire is before Thee; and my groaning is not hid from Thee." May even my cries and groans to Thee be such as are taught by Thy Spirit; and, whether I am able to say many words to Thee or few, may all my words be under the Spirit's guidance, and may I ask such things only as shall please Thee, and ask in a spirit that is according to Thy will. Let not sin mix itself in my prayers; let not the enemy have power to thrust in an unholy thought; let no doubt or unbelief find entrance; let not my mind wander when I am before Thy throne of grace; let me not pray but with a full reliance on my Saviour's merits and mediation.
Thus, and in every other way that is needful, may Thy Holy Spirit, O my God, help my infirmities. Thus may I be enabled to pray to Thee in the Spirit.