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ment of the past few years, it is true
What wilt thou that I should do unto
This vagueness of petition che
1. The first line of petition
our petitions. At that time England and America and India and Polynesia, and to some extent Africa, were open to the free preaching of the word of life, but not much else of the world. What a contrast now! There is still persecution in Russia, and in Mahommedan countries like Arabia, and the States of Central Asia are closed against the Gospel; but otherwise, almost the whole world is accessible to us, a "wide door" has been opened to us. Let us then praise God for answered prayer. At the same time, we have to pray that remaining barriers may be removed, that in Russia and Afghanistan, and Morocco, and Arabia, the Christian preacher may be permitted to carry the word of life. Let there be two special subjects of petition ; first, that the Government of India, otherwise so enlightened, may remove the prohibition they have placed upon the crossing of the north-west frontier, so that those who are willing to go with " their lives in their hands," like our brethren Downes and Johnson, may be free to carry the Gospel to the noble, though blood-thirsty people of Afghanistan ; second, that the native states of India may all be freely open to evangelistic work; for, although all British India is open to the gospel, yet the Native States, though in a sense subordinate to British rule, are to a large extent closed against missionary effort.
2. To pray to God to open doors for us would be mockery, if we are not prepared to enter in. Still more so, if we are not prepared even to occupy the fields which are already open to us. Hence, a second subject for missionary prayer will be that the number of Gospel-preachers may be largely increased. For no subject of missionary prayer have we higher warrant than for this. We have our Lord's express command, “ Pray ye therefore the Lord of the Harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest." And we have the implied promise that if we offer this prayer earnestly and believingly, we shall be heard; for our Lord would never have bidden us pray for what He did not intend to grant. If the Christian Church then, offers up this prayer earnestly and persoveringly to the great Lord of the Harvest, we are sure of a gracious answer. But we should especially pray that God would raise up a large army of native evangelists in all countries. Amidst much to discourage us in India, one very hopeful sign is the growing number of efficient, earnest, devoted native missionaries, and we should pray to God that their number may be largely increased. God has given us many such men; let us pray Him to multiply the number a hundredfold. .
3. But the more increase in the number of missionaries will accomplish nothing, unless they are men of the right stamp, and unless God give them over His preserving, guiding grace. Let a third subject of prayer,
then, be that God's grace, as needed, may ever rest upon those who are preachers of the word. So the Apostle says: “ Brethren, pray for us." There is still some need to pray that the messengers of the gospel “ may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men,” for even yet, in China, and Africa, and the savage islands of Polynesia, missionaries to some extent have to “hazard their lives" for the sake of the gospel. And, in all heathen lands, the risk to life from disease and other causes is greater than in England. Let one prayer, therefore, be that the life and health of those who are preachers of the saving truth of the gospel may be precious in God's sight. Specially, however, let the prayer ariee that God would bless with more of His Spirit's grace those who are engaged in this great work. The Apostle Paul besought once and again the prayers of the Christians to whom he wrote, that he might have all needed "boldness.” In all heathen lands, there is great need of the "boldness of faith "in the preacher, the sure confidence that his message is the truth of God; as the Apostle asks the Ephesian Christians to pray, " that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds : that therein I may speak bolaly, as I ought to speak.” To have the boldness of ambassadors of the King of kings, to fear no man, to be ready to meet violence, argument, sarcasm, contempt, with meekness yet boldness, knowing that our message is true, and glorying in the King whom we serve—this is the blessing we seek to gain from the prayers of God's people.
Let prayer constantly arise that the preachers of the word may have strong faith, without which their words will lack that “accent of conviction” which is essential to success; that they may firmly believe in the awful condition of those who die without Christ, in the power of Christ to save even those lowest sunk in sin, in the all-sufficient might of the Spirit of God, in the three “R's" of the gospel, as they have been called-Ruin by the fall, Redemption by Christ, Regeneration by the Spirit. There is danger of the chill of unbelief, which has so paralysed a large portion of the professing Church in England, entering into the hearts of missionaries in heathen lands, and taking all the life out of their work. Let God's people pray that the faith of preachers of the gospel fail not. Then, besides faith, love is needed, if we are to speak * as we ought.” We must "speak the truth in love" if we would have it win its way to the hearts of our hearers. “Brethren, pray for us," then, that we may have more of the Spirit of Christ, more of His gentleness and meekness, more love to God and love to man, a deeper sense of our own manifold shortcomings, and a greater readiness