2519. When Should We Pray?

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No. 2519-43:253. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, October 22, 1885, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, May 30, 1897.

Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. {Lu 18:1}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 856, “Importunate Widow, The” 847}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2519, “When Should We Pray?” 2520}
   Exposition on 2Sa 7:18-29 Lu 18:1-14 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2869, “Prayer Found in the Heart” 2870 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 18:1-14 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2687, “Too Good to be Saved!” 2688 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 18:1-14 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3178, “Preparatory Prayers of Christ, The” 3179 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 18:1-27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2851, “Unseasonable Prayer” 2852 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 122 Lu 18:1-14 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2395, “Blessings of Public Worship, The” 2396 @@ "Exposition"}

1. My mind alights with great joy on the simple truth which gleams on the very surface of our text, — then, man may pray. If men ought to pray, they may pray. Whatever a man ought to do, it is clear that he has the right and the privilege to do; and though this may seem a very commonplace truth to those of us whose hearts are at ease through faith in Jesus, and who enjoy daily communion with God in prayer, yet there is an exquisite sweetness about this fact to a man who fears that he may not pray. He has come into such a miserable state of heart that he feels as if he could not pray, and he fears that he may not pray. Satan tells him that the door of mercy is shut against him, that his day of grace is over, and that the time of hope for him is now come and gone. But our text says, “Men ought always to pray.” Then, men may always pray. Your knee may be bent before the altar of God, though it is stained through many a fall into sin. Though it is many years since you ever thought of praying, yet you may pray. Though, perhaps, you have even denied that there is a God, still you may pray; though you have ridiculed the very notion of prayer, you may pray; God does not refuse to you the permission to come to his mercy seat. Though you have committed every crime in the catalogue of sin, you may pray; and though you have gone on in those crimes, and involved yourself even more and more deeply in iniquity, you may pray. Though you are within a few days of death and of damnation unless the grace of God shall visit you, still you may pray. It is clear that you may pray because men ought always to pray, and what they ought to do they may do. Grasp that truth, oh despairing one, and grip it firmly, and say to despair, “Get far from me; it is not possible that I am denied the right of praying to the Lord while such a text as this still stands in Holy Writ, ‘Men ought always to pray.’ ”

2. Now, just look at the text again, and lay stress on the first word of it: “Men ought always to pray.” I feel so grateful to the Holy Spirit that this text does not say, “Saints ought always to pray,” because then I might ask myself, “Am I a saint?” and perhaps I might have to answer, “No, I am far from it.” But the text does not say, “saints,” and it does not even say, “Tender-hearted, penitent people, who are in a very gracious state, ought always to pray.” No, there is no description of character given in the text, for which I am deeply grateful. Those exhortations that leave the character as wide as possible are all the more full of grace and condescending love.

3. Who ought always to pray, then? “Men.” And the word “men” is generic, and includes the race. “Men.” That is, men and women and children; old men and fathers, young men and maidens, all who belong to the race of mankind ought always to pray. Perhaps you say, “So-and-so is not a good man.” No, but he is a man; and men ought always to pray. He is a long way from being a commendable man, a man of distinction, a man of note, a nobleman in the truest sense of that term. Ah, but he is a man; and men ought always to pray! Go down the back streets into the dark alleys, where there are men who scarcely seem to be men, and women who are scarcely women, and tell even them that they are still included under this directive. “Men ought always to pray.” Go upstairs, and stand by the bed where death has its victim by the throat; the man yet living is still a man, that poor creature lying there is not yet a corpse, but still a man. Say to him, “Men ought always to pray.” Those who curse and swear ought always to pray; those who live without any regard for God, or even in disbelief of his existence, and detestation of his gospel, yet they ought always to pray; and, as I said at the beginning, the “ought” implies a permission; for, what a man ought to do, he may do; and, therefore, whoever you may be, if you are in the form of a man, you ought to pray. If you have a head on your shoulders, and lungs that heave, and a heart that palpitates, — if you are still in the land of the living, and can be numbered among the sons of men, — to you this text rings out a grand and glorious gospel. Even though it seems to be put in the form of a law by the use of that stern word “ought, ” yet it really is in the form of the gospel; you may pray if you are either man or woman, if you are of the race of mankind, for “men ought always to pray.”

4. Oh, that some poor heart might catch at this sweet word! That woman talked about throwing herself over London Bridge; yet even she may pray. That man thought of crossing the Atlantic, and hiding himself from his fellow men, leaving his kith and kin, to get away from the place where he has dishonoured his name. Do not think of such a thing, my dear sir, but pray; for you may pray. There is not in heaven or earth anything that forbids you to pray. There is an act of amnesty and oblivion passed in the court of God, and you are not excluded from it. There is no book inspired by him that denies you a place at the mercy seat. There is no messenger sent by God who will say to you, “Thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not pray’ ”; but, on the contrary, bringing before you the living and inspired Word of the living Christ of God, we say to you, “Men ought always to pray,” therefore you ought to pray, and therefore you may pray.

5. Now let us turn the text around a little, and put the emphasis on another word: “Men ought always to pray.” Therefore, men may pray now. If they ought always to pray, they ought to pray now; and if they ought to pray now, they may pray now. Is that not a precious, blessed truth? Here you sit, poor sinner, and I am talking to you. Never mind that very respectable person who is sitting next to you; I am not just now thinking of her, I am not speaking to him; I mean you, poor, sad, guilty one. Perhaps you say, “I do not feel in a state of mind in which I can pray. I hardly know why I came in here; but I am very sad, I am very troubled, I am very sinful, I am very hard-hearted.” But, my dear friend, you may pray. Let me stop for a minute; in this solemn silence, you may breathe your first prayer to God. May God help you, my poor brother, to say for the first time, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” May he help you, my dear sister, who has lived so long without prayer, now to say, “Lord, receive me, and forgive me, and let me be your daughter, your child, henceforth and for ever!” Do you not see this? If men — and you are in that category, — if human beings ought always to pray, then they may always pray; and “always” must include this present moment. So you may pray now, you ought to pray now; for you are in the list of men. Therefore, pray now, for “now” must be included in the word “always.” “Well,” someone says, “I will hurry home, and pray.” Do not do that; sit where you now are, and let your soul breathe itself out to God. “But I would like to get down on my knees.” Yes, I would like that you should if it were fit and proper; but there is no need for it. Get on the knees of your soul. Many a time, when the body is on its knees, the soul is not really praying; and there is a way in which the soul can be prostrate before God even though the body stands. Even now, into the very dust I throw my own spirit before the thrice-holy God; and, prostrate before him, I pray, “Lord, help some who are here now to pray to you! For the first time in their lives, even now, while these words are escaping from my lips, may their hearts confess their sin, and cry to you, great Father, for the exercise of your infinite mercy.” Why should it not be so? I believe that the Spirit of God is at work here at this moment, and is leading some of you into this blessed act of prayer; it so, let his name be praised for it.

6. There is one more thing to be noticed before I plunge into the text, and that is, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Then it is clear that prayer is always — if it is true prayer, — an effective and profitable exercise for any man who prays; for, if men ought to pray, it is plain that there is something in prayer that is helpful to the spirit, for men ought not to do what is a mere vain and empty thing. God cannot require us to do what will end in smoke, or what will be a mere nothing; God does not ask any of us to go and talk to the winds and whistle to the waves. There must be some reality in prayer, it must be his intention to hear and to answer prayer, or else he would not put it like this, “Men ought always to pray.” Would he give us permission to do a thing that would have no value in it whatever? Indeed, would he exhort us to do it, would he command us to do it, when he knew that, if we did it, it would just be a mere form? Does God send us to act like the daughters of Danaus, {a} to fill a bottomless vessel with leaking buckets? Does he give us, like Sisyphus, {b} to spend our lives in rolling a huge stone up the hill, which will only roll back again on us? Does he make fools of us? Has he spoken in secret, and said to the seed of Jacob, “Seek my face in vain?” It cannot be. I hold that, if God does not hear and answer prayer, it is a piece of foolery; and I cannot conceive that God would set any of us to do what would be an insane, or at least an idiotic thing. No; if men ought always to pray, there is something real in prayer; and, when the Lord says that we ought to pray, it is because he stands ready to grant the desire of our hearts, and to send us away with a blessing.

7. I. With this preface, dear friends, we come to our text; and I notice concerning it, first, here is A PERPETUAL DUTY, OR PRIVILEGE, or both: “Men ought always to pray.”

8. It means, of course, first, that men ought to pray habitually. There should be — and where the grace of God is, there will be, the habit of prayer. There will be the prayer at set times. It is necessary to mark out the plots in the garden, to keep them from the path where you walk, so that growing plants may not be trodden down by the busy feet of toil. We want some set times, some little enclosures, some hours and periods marked off for prayer. These should be regularly attended to. Our private prayers, — it is a great loss to our souls if these are ever neglected. Our family prayers, — I am sure it is a grievous injury to a Christian household if it is not gathered regularly for prayer. Our prayers in the house of God among our brethren, too, must not be forgotten. We love the assemblies for prayer; we have given heed to the apostolic injunction, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is.” All these things ought you to have done, yet there is a habit of prayer that is higher than all this. The Jews prayed three times a day. There have been some holy men who have prayed at least seven times a day; but I take it that the man who lives near to God could not tell how many times a day he prays, for, whether he has three or seven times of special and notable prayer in word, he will have seventy times seven times in a day in which his heart speaks with God about everything that occurs. I think that it is good before every action to breathe a prayer, and during every action to breathe a prayer, and after every action to breathe a prayer. “Salt,” says the Old Testament, “without prescribing how much.” So it is to be with prayer, — prayer, without prescribing how much. You can never overdo it. Possibly those matters which appear to require least prayer are the very things which require most prayer. “Men ought always to pray.” You do not have to stop your business to pray, or turn aside from domestic labour or public service, all of which must be attended to; you can do that and pray just the same, and this is the way in which Christians always should pray.

9. But I do not think that this text so much intends to teach the continuity of prayer as the pertinacity of prayer; I mean, not so much the always praying as the keeping on praying for any particular thing that you have asked for. You are to continue to pray. Let me try and explain this a little. “Men ought always to pray”; that is, to pray under all circumstances. Whatever the difficulty or the trouble is, pray about it. It is a domestic trouble; pray about it. It is a business trouble; pray about it. It is a church difficulty; pray about it. I wish to bear my personal witness on this matter. I have had, and I still have, more burdens to bear, I think, than any other man who lives; — heavy burdens, not my own, but for others and for God’s glory, — what daily comes on me, the care not only of this huge church, but of so many other churches as well; and I have found that for every burden of any kind I have, it is my wisdom at once to —

    “Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

I have had burdens that have so troubled me that I have been quite baffled. I have thought my best, and I have done my best, but the trouble has remained; and, at last, I have taken it bodily, and put it up on the shelf, and I have said to the Lord, “I will never touch that trouble again, I will leave it in your hands, my blessed Master.” I believe that, generally, it has been the best mode of dealing with it, to put it entirely into his hands. There are certain things for which, after having done everything else that can be done, the only remedy is prayer.

10. Let it be definitely accepted among us Christian people that, whatever the difficulty is, whatever form it takes, secular or sacred, “Men ought always to pray”; that is, they ought to pray about everything. This is the remedy that will cure all diseases; this is the sword that shall cut the Gordian knot if it cannot be untied; this is the key that fits the wards of every lock in the prison-house of our sorrow. We shall get completely out if we only know how to use the key of prayer. “Men ought always to pray.” There may be a brother who is likely to make discord; shall I go and battle with him? No, I will tell the Lord about him; he will deal with him better than I can. Oh, but that man has begun to preach fiat heresy! Shall I have a fight with him? Well, I may dispute with him if I am driven to it; but I will first tell the Lord about him. The Lord can straighten him out far better than I can. “Straightforward makes the best runner.” Instead of going around to the servant, and trying to curry favour with him, go straight to the Master. Go at once to headquarters about everything. “Men ought always to pray.” Oh, to learn this lesson well!

11. And, dear friends, we ought to pray under all oppositions to prayer. Sometimes we say to ourselves, “Really, I could not pray about that matter.” Well, then, if you cannot pray about it, do not have anything to do with it; it is a sure sign that there is a leprosy in it, so do not touch it. The canker-worm of hell is in it if you cannot pray about it; flee from it as you would from Gehenna itself. It must be a foul and filthy thing that you cannot pray about. Indeed, beloved, there cannot be such a thing; but, whatever seems to be in the way of your praying, believe that, whenever it is hardest to pray, it is most necessary to pray. Whenever it seems to you that you cannot pray, then you must say, “Now I have seven times more need to pray about this thing than I have about other matters in which prayer comes more easily to me.” It is a danger-signal when you cannot pray. It is the rattle of the rattlesnake when you cannot pray; there must be some deadly mischief near at hand. Whatever the difficulty in prayer, you must, by the help of the Divine Spirit, break through all barriers, for you must pray.

12. “Men ought always to pray.” Then they ought to pray even if there has been a long delay in answers to their prayers. I demur very greatly to the practice of some of whom I have read, who have set God a certain time limit during which they will pray. I have heard of a woman who said that she would pray for her husband for twenty years, and, according to the story, at the end of twenty years he was converted; but if he had not been converted just then, it would have been at her peril to stop prayer, even at the end of the twenty years. Our dear brother, Mr. George Müller, has on his “Prayer-Book” the name of a brother for whom he has prayed, I think I heard him say, for some thirty-six years. That was some years ago; so it must be a longer time than that now, unless, indeed, the prayer has been answered; but he has the inward persuasion that this person will yet be brought to the Saviour’s feet, and therefore he daily mentions the case before God in prayer. By the way, he tells us of a very admirable plan of his for booking his requests in prayer, and marking them off as they are heard; and those that are not answered he lets stand until, in process of time, he finds that some of them were not proper requests, and he puts that against them; but he finds that God does hear prayer, and he likes to keep a record of it. If we did the same, we should have much more holy common sense confidence in God, and our praying would be a more business-like matter as, indeed, it ought to be. But do not say to yourself, “I shall pray just so long for this thing.” If what you are asking for touches the kingdom and the glory of Christ, persevere in the prayer with this text to encourage you, “Men ought always to pray.”

13. If it is something which concerns only your own personal comfort, then God’s Spirit may teach you to limit your prayers. “Concerning this thing,” said Paul, “I besought the Lord three times. Yes, and then he did not have the answer that he desired; but he did have one with which he was perfectly satisfied. The Lord did not take away the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, but he said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ ” Paul still had to bear the trial, but he received from the Lord the grace to enable him to bear it. Ask with bated breath when you are asking something temporal for yourself; for you are only as a silly child in what relates to yourself. A boy might fall in love with his father’s razor, or wish to eat some delicacy that would be most dangerous to his health, and you would not have your child persisting in asking for what would injure him. You are not angry with him for asking, for he knows no better; but you say, “My child, that would not be good for you!” If your son is a good child, he will not ask again, or, asking, he will not be angry if he is refused. So, often, you do not know what is good for you. If God had really put it within our reach to have whatever we chose to ask for, it would be a very dangerous power indeed. If the Lord should say to me, “You may have whatever you wish for,” I would immediately go to my room, and say, “Oh my Father, divest me of this dangerous privilege! I ask you, by your tender mercy, never to give me anything which your great wisdom does not see to be good for me. Do not trust me with so dangerous a power as this. You are omniscient, and I am foolish; you are altogether good, and your will for me is better than my will for myself can ever be. Not, then, as I will, but as you will, let it be done to me.” But if it is anything concerning the kingdom of Christ, anything for the glory of God, continue in prayer, even though it is for fifty years, and let this little sentence cheer you, “Men ought always to pray.”

14. Pray on, also, dear friends, despite all temptations and all personal difficulties. When you feel, “My prayer is dull and feeble,” still pray. When Satan says, “There is no use in praying about that matter,” still pray. When others all around you say, “It is not a fit subject for prayer,” still pray. When at last it seems to be despairing work, and you have, to cry, “Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up the heart of his compassion?” still pray, for “Men ought always to pray.”

15. II. Now I must say just a few words on THE BASIS OF THIS OBLIGATION: “Men ought always to pray.”

16. Well, we ought always to pray because we always have some sin to confess, we always have some good thing for which to bless God, and we always have some need that has to be supplied. I must admit that I have never yet been in a condition in which I did not need to pray. He who is down in the valley needs prayer so that he may be able to climb the hill; he who is up on top of the hill needs to pray twice as much that his head may not grow dizzy, and that he may not fall from his high position. He who does not have should pray until he has, and he who has should pray so that he may be blessed in the having. If your cup is empty, pray the Lord to fill it; if your cup is full, pray God to make your hand steady so that you do not spill its contents. If you can not see your way, pray God to guide you. If you can see your way, pray God to help you to follow it. Are you young? Pray God to help you against the sins of youth. Are you in the middle of life? Pray God to help you in the middle passage, where trials are so numerous. Are you almost into heaven with age? Pray that you may enter heaven with prayer. “Men ought always to pray.” It is always an incumbent duty for any of these reasons.

17. Men ought always to pray because God commands them to pray. “Pray without ceasing,” is a clear, clean-cut command. There is no getting over that passage, “Pray without ceasing.” It lies wrapped up within the heart of the first commandment of the law: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

18. “Men ought always to pray.” It is always the wisest thing they can do. “Men ought always to pray.” It is sometimes the only thing that they can do. “Men ought always to pray”; or else, they take the matter out of God’s hand. “Men ought always to pray,” for they always need God’s help, whether they think they do or not.

19. III. I will not go into further reasons, though there are very many, for this obligation; but I shall close by noticing THE ALTERNATIVE: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” If you do not pray, you will faint.

20. There are some who faint fatally. They set out on the Christian profession; perhaps there are some here who once did that. Years ago, you were a member of a church; where are you now? Years ago, you used to speak sometimes on the village green in the name of Christ; you do not do that now. How have you come to be where you are, — either not even making a profession of religion, or certainly doing nothing in Christ’s service? I shall not make a guess, but I shall pronounce a certainty; you went wrong, and you began to faint in your spiritual course, because you restrained prayer. You fainted because you did not pray. Ah, a religion that does not begin with secret prayer is not worth the label you put on it! A religion that is not sustained by secret prayer is a lie. A religion that does not grow through secret prayer may be puffed up, but it is not truly built up by the hand of God. No, no, young man, if you seek to join a church, to be baptized, to come to the communion table, and all the while you do not pray, your religion is only the baseless fabric of a vision, and will disappear. We have had a great many men whom I have seen and known at different times, who could speak very fluently, and laboured in the service of God for a while, but the great mischief with them was that they did not live for God in private. If it is so with any of you, your religion may be built up very loftily, like some high tower; but it will come down very speedily because the foundations have been badly laid. You must either pray or you will faint.

21. If you are a child of God, the same alternative lies before you. You will either pray or faint; that is to say, sometimes you will get bewildered. I do. I wish to do the right thing, but scarcely know which is right out of twenty things. I would deal with this brother kindly, and with that other brother firmly. How shall I mix firmness and kindness? If you are pastor of a church, — and you may be, my dear friend, — you know how many puzzles we have before us in dealing not only with our own poor human nature, but with the human nature of God’s people, for there is a lot of human nature even where there is spiritual nature, and there are very strange odd ways even in good men. What are you to do in such cases? Well, if you cannot go back within the veil, and speak with the Holy Oracle, you will faint. I have told you before that when I was coming to London, there was a odd old man in the prayer meeting who, when the people were praying that I might have a blessing in going, asked the Lord that I might be helped to “swallow bush-faggots {c} crossways.” That I have done many a time. Another prayed that I might be “delivered from the bleating of the sheep”; and, for the life of me, I could not figure out what he meant. I am not sure that he understood it himself, but I quite understand it now. There is no leader of the flock who will not occasionally wish to be delivered from the bleating of the sheep, for they bleat such different tunes sometimes. You may listen to the bleating of one sheep and another, — some bell-wether, {d} perhaps, that is not bleating in the right style; but it is a great thing to feel, “Now, I am not going to be guided by the way these sheep bleat. I am set to guide them rather than to let them guide me, but I am going to be guided by a higher voice than the bleating of the sheep, namely, the voice of the Great Shepherd.” I believe that every man who seeks to win souls — and I am addressing many who are in charge of Bible classes, or at the head of Missions, or in some way serving the Lord, — will faint, I am sure he will, — in the management of his work unless he gets right out of it sometimes into prayer, and lays it all before the Lord, and waits on him. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint,” in their ministry for God, in their service on behalf of the souls of their brethren. They will faint from very bewilderment if they do not pray.

22. And you will be sure to faint, at times, through weariness and depression of spirit, through a sense of your own powerlessness. “Oh!” you say, “that I could give it all up! Oh, that I had the wings of a dove, that I might fly away, and be at rest!” It is a great mercy that the wings do not grow when we ask for them, for they would be of no use to us; what would we do, flying away like doves? If God had a message for us to carry like a pigeon, he would give us the wings, and then it would be right for us to fly; but what we generally mean is that we want to get away from hard work, we are looking for Saturday night. How do you like the workman who says, on Tuesday morning, “Oh sir, I wish it were Saturday night!” and when it gets on towards Thursday, he meets you, and says, “Good morning, sir, I wish it was Saturday night?” “Oh!” I think you would say, “next Saturday night will be the last I shall want to see you.” You want a better workman than that; and if we get fainting in that way, we should say to ourselves, “Come, this will not do! I must go and tell the Lord all about my difficulty and my trouble.” Wait on him for fresh strength, and then you will come out as though you had bathed your face in the dew of heaven, and the light of God had entered your eyes, and you had come fresh from a vision of angels to talk with men with new tongues as the Spirit gave you utterance. “Wait, I say, on the Lord”; for this prayer will keep you from fainting, and make you to renew your strength like the eagle’s.

23. I have come to deal with God’s people in the close of my subject, but I almost wish I had not, — so that I could have kept on in the first strain, and talked with those who are beginning to pray. Dear friends, please begin tonight with your eye on my Lord on that cross, all stained with the streaks of crimson blood flowing down his precious body. Look at him; there is life in a look at him. Look at him as he dies for you, and you shall live; may God help you to do so, for Christ’s sake! And when you have believed in him, come and be baptized in his name, as these dear friends are about to be. May God bless you all! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 145” 145 @@ "(Part 1)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Prayer Meetings — The Throne Of Grace” 978}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Prayer Meetings — Prayer Described” 977}

{a} Daughters of Danaus: The Daughters of Danaus were the fifty daughters of Danaus that were to marry the fifty sons of his twin-brother Aegyptus, who was a mythical king of Egypt. Danaus did not want his daughters to go ahead with the marriages and he fled with them in the first boat built to Argos, which is located in Greece near the ancient city of Mycenae … Some accounts tell that their punishment was in Tartarus being forced to carry a jug that leaked water to a bathtub to wash their feet. Because the jug was leaky they would for ever try to fill the tub. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daughters_of_Danaus" {b} Sisyphus: In Greek mythology, was a king punished in Tartarus by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus" {c} Bush-faggot: A timber six feet long and eight inches in diameter used in the construction of batteries and other military purposes. A Naval and Military Technical Dictionary. See Explorer "https://books.google.ca/books?id=HdsSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA157&lpg=PA157&dq=bush-fagot&source=bl&ots=iL46KAiBuX&sig=qGgrP0y6_qs6LmVs1_uQi_knAwM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAWoVChMIw-Qu49oQyAIVSXySCh2goAyhv=onepage&q=bush-fagot&f=false" {d} Bell-wether: The leading sheep of a flock, on whose neck a bell is hung. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 145}

I am going to preach about prayer, so we will read “David’s Psalm of praise.” So we shall have two parts of true worship.

1, 2. I will extol you, my God, oh King; and I will bless your name for ever and ever. Every day I will bless you; and I will praise your name for ever and ever.

Notice how long David expected to praise God. He was going to praise God for ever, and then after that, “for ever and ever.” “ ‘Every day I will bless you,’ — that is, when I do not seem to be partaking of any choice temporal blessing, I will still bless you. When I sit like Job on the dunghill, ‘every day I will bless you; and I will praise your name,’ — your character, all that has to do with you, ‘for ever and ever.’ ”

The first two verses are the preface of the Psalm; now the psalmist begins his music: —

3. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;

He is great without limit; let him be praised without end. There is no end to his greatness; let there be no end to our adoration.

3, 4. And his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

The fathers shall be the preachers to their sons, and the sons shall be the preachers to their sons. The flaming torch of Jehovah’s praise shall be passed from hand to hand all down the centuries; as long as men shall live, God shall have the praise of the godly: “One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”

5. I will speak of the glorious honour of your majesty,

This is a beautiful expression: “I will speak of the glorious honour of your majesty.” It is a heaped-up expression. David was in an ecstasy of delight when he wrote it; he did not know how sufficiently to express his adoration of God. Other men might praise God for themselves, but that was not enough for David; he must take his own turn at the blessed business: “I will speak of the glorious honour of your majesty,” —

5, 6. And of your wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of your terrible acts: and I will declare your greatness.

“And I will declare.” Yes, in comes David’s personal note again; he cannot leave the praises of God alone, he must take his full share in this heavenly task. I wish that, whenever there was work to do for God, or prayer to be offered or praise to be given to the Lord, you and I would always interject this personal pronoun, “and I.” You know, perhaps, dear friends, that you never find Bartholomew’s name by itself in any of the Gospels, it is always someone else “and Bartholomew.” It is good to be a good helper of other people; and when others are praising the Lord, it is good to come in as David did with the personal resolve and confession, “and I will declare your greatness.”

7. They shall abundantly utter the memory of your great goodness,

Note every word in this choice expression: “They shall abundantly utter the memory of your great goodness.” They shall see this goodness, and they shall appreciate it as great goodness; they shall remember it, and so have the memory of God’s great goodness; and then they shall speak of it: “They shall utter the memory of your great goodness”; and when they have done so, they shall do it again and again: “They shall abundantly utter the memory of your great goodness.”

7, 8. And shall sing of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion;

He has no passion, but he is full of compassion. What a mercy that is for us! Sometimes we hear people say that God cannot do this or that, — that he cannot feel, and cannot suffer. That is not true, for he can do anything that he likes. A god who has no feeling is a poor god, of no service whatever to us; but “the Lord is gracious and full of compassion”; —

8. Slow to anger, and of great mercy.

Oh, what a blessing it is for you and for me that he is slow to anger!

9. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Whether you search for the far-distant with a telescope, or peer into the minute with the microscope, the Lord’s tender mercies are found everywhere. Like the light, without which you see nothing, so is the mercy of God; it enlightens everything: “His tender mercies are over all his works.”

10. All your works shall praise you, oh LORD; and your saints shall bless you.

“Standing in the inner circle, ‘your saints’ shall mingle their love with their praise, and so ‘shall bless you.’ Theirs shall be a better, more tender worship than that of all ‘your works’ besides.” The works of God are like a great organ, but it is man who puts his finger on the keys, and brings out all the music. Man is the interpreter of the universe; he praises God as the inanimate creation can never do.

11. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and talk about your power;

I wish we spoke more on such subjects, and talk more on these sacred themes. I do not think there is ever any deficiency of talk; but I am afraid there is a very great lack of such talk as this: “They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and talk about your power.”

12. To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

See how David keeps to the subject with which he began the Psalm: “I will extol you, my God, my King.” Indeed, and he sings about the King all through this Psalm. His great object is to make us see that there never was such a King as the infinitely glorious Jehovah, who surpasses all the kings of the earth.

13. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

Other kingdoms come and go; they last during their little day, and then they vanish away. Look, for example, at the kingdom of Alexander the Great, who only reigned for about twelve years, and when he died left no successor. We talk about great earthly monarchies; they are only monarchies of an hour compared with the kingdom of Jehovah. Well might David say to him, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,” —

13. And your dominion endures throughout all generations.

What kind of a King is this whose kingdom is everlasting, and what are the acts that make him famous? Notice the first thing he is said to do: —

14. The LORD upholds all who fall, and raises up all those who are bowed down.

This is his glory; this is the majesty of the King of kings, that he takes notice of the poor and weak. The compassion of God is to a great extent the glory of God. That he has such tender mercies towards the unworthy, is the subject of the loudest of our songs: “Jehovah upholds all who fall”; that is, such as would fall if it were not for his upholding. Jehovah lifts up all those who have fallen, and raises up those who are bowed down. Blessed be his holy name!

15. The eyes of all wait on you;

What a King is this, who needs to feed all his subjects, and who must have all his subjects depend only on himself! “The eyes of all wait on you”; —

15. And you give them their food in due season.

It is an act of grace, not of debt: “You give them their food.” Did you ever think of the vast variety of the different kinds of food that the Lord provides for each of the creatures he has formed? The food that feeds an elephant would not feed a lion, what feeds a lion would not feed a sparrow, what feeds a sparrow would not satisfy the fish of the sea. To every creature God gives its own food: “You give them their food in due season.” The fruits of the earth do not ripen all at once, but the various harvests succeed each other. Notice how each of the many flowers is full of honey just at the time when the particular insect which is to come down into the flower bell is needing that nectar to feed on. It is marvellous to see how God has timed creation to the ticking of a watch; and when the flower is ready, then comes the fly, the bee, the butterfly, or the moth, that shall be fed by it. “You give them their food in due season.”

16. You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Just as men feed doves in their courtyard, carrying down to them their little handful of food, and opening the hand to pour it out, so God feeds all living creatures readily and easily enough by the simple opening of his hand. But he does it. He satisfies the desire of every living thing, and he will satisfy your desire, dear soul, if you take it to him. You say, perhaps, that you are very poor; well, then, cry to him, he has never failed his creatures yet, and he will not fail you. He hears the young ravens when they cry; and he will hear you, a man created in the image of God, when you cry to him.

17, 18. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his work. The LORD is near to all those who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

As the omnipresent Deity, the Lord is not far from any one of us; but there is a special nearness of God to his people, — a nearness of knowledge, a nearness of affection, a nearness of heart by which he looks on them as his own special portion, his own particular inheritance: “Jehovah is near to all those who call on him.” That is the name of his people; they are a calling people, they are a praying people, and they pray to him “in truth.” There are some who offer the mockery of pretended prayer, but God is not near to them in the special sense in which he “is near to all those who call on him in truth.”

19. He will fulfil the desire of those who fear him:

“He will fulfil” — he will fill full — “the desire of those who fear him.” If you fear him, you need not fear any lack; indeed, you have nothing at all that you need to fear.

19, 20. He also will hear their cry, and will save them. The LORD preserves all those who love him: but he will destroy all the wicked.

These two things always go together; as surely as the Lord does the one, he will do the other. While he preserves his saints, he will certainly destroy the wicked.

21. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord:

May God move each one of us to do this! Then with the psalmist we may fitly say, —

21. And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 145 (Part 1)
1 Long as I live I’ll bless thy name,
   My King, my God of love;
   My work and joy shall be the same,
   In the bright world above.
2 Great is the Lord, his power unknown,
   And let his praise be great:
   I’ll sing the honours of thy throne,
   Thy works of grace repeat.
3 Thy grace shall dwell upon my tongue;
   And, while my lips rejoice,
   The men that hear my sacred song
   Shall join their cheerful voice.
4 Fathers to sons shall teach thy name,
   And children learn thy ways;
   Ages to come thy truth proclaim,
   And nations sound thy praise.
5 Thy glorious deeds of ancient date
   Shall through the world be known;
   Thine arm of power, thy heavenly state,
   With public splendour shown.
6 The world is managed by thy hands,
   Thy saints are ruled by love;
   And thine eternal kingdom stands,
   Though rocks and hills remove.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Psalm 145 (Part 2)
1 Sweet is the memory of thy grace,
   My God, my heavenly King;
   Let age to age thy righteousness
   In sounds of glory sing.
2 God reigns on high, but not confines
   His goodness to the skies;
   Through the whole earth his bounty shines
   And every want supplies.
3 With longing eyes thy creatures wait
   On thee for daily food;
   Thy liberal hand provides their meat,
   And fills their mouths with good.
4 How kind are thy compassions, Lord!
   How slow thine anger moves!
   But soon he sends his pardoning word
   To cheer the souls he loves.
5 Creatures, with all their endless race,
   Thy power and praise proclaim;
   But saints that taste thy richer grace
   Delight to bless thy name.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

Public Worship, Prayer Meetings
978 — The Throne Of Grace
1 Behold the throne of grace!
      The promise calls me near,
   There Jesus shows a smiling face,
      And waits to answer prayer.
2 That rich atoning blood,
      Which sprinkled round I see,
   Provides for those who come to God
      An all-prevailing plea.
3 My soul, ask what thou wilt,
      Thou canst not be too bold;
   Since his own blood for thee he spilt,
      What else can he withhold?
4 Beyond thy utmost wants
      His love and power can bless;
   To praying souls he always grants
      More than they can express.
5 Thine image, Lord, bestow,
      Thy presence and thy love;
   I ask to serve thee here below,
      And reign with thee above.
6 Teach me to live by faith,
      Conform my will to thine;
   Let me victorious be in death,
      And then in glory shine.
                        John Newton, 1779.

Public Worship, Prayer Meetings
977 — Prayer Described
1 Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
      Utter’d or unexpress’d:
   The motion of a hidden fire,
      That trembles in the breast.
2 Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
      The falling of a tear;
   The upward glancing of an eye,
      When none but God is near.
3 Prayer is the simplest form of speech
      That infant lips can try;
   Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
      The Majesty on high.
4 Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
      The Christian’s native air:
   His watchword at the gates of death:
      He enters heaven with prayer.
5 Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
      Returning from his ways;
   While angels in their songs rejoice.
      And cry, “Behold he prays!”
6 The saints in prayer appear as one,
      In word, and deed, and mind;
   While with the Father and the Son
      sweet fellowship they find.
7 Nor prayer is made on earth alone:
      The Holy Spirit pleads:
   And Jesus, on the eternal throne,
      For mourners intercedes.
8 Oh thou, by whom we come to God,
      The life, the truth, the way!
   The path of prayer thyself hast trod:
      Lord! teach us how to pray.
                  James Montgomery, 1819.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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