Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

“Ask, and it shall be given you."-LUKE xi. 9.

THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY :
56, PATERNOSTER Row; 65, St. Paul's CHURCHYARD;

AND 164, PICCADILLY.

141. 92, 30,

PRE FACE.

The aim of the compiler, in preparing material for this work, has been to bring together into a small volume the results of modern thought on the subject of prayer, and to present them before the reader in such a form that they would be calculated to stimulate a devotional spirit and to strengthen Christian faith. These selections, therefore, are not thrown together at random, nor arranged after the arbitrary fashion of an encyclopædia. A logical method has been adopted in the compilation of the book, which, it is hoped, will give to it a coherent character, and carry on the thoughts of the reader from one stage to another in the development of the subject.

The plan adopted presents first of all the foundation for prayer in the character of God, in the words, the example and the mediation of Jesus Christ, and in the teaching of the sacred Scriptures. Then follow chapters in which prayer is defined, its necessity is advocated, and its power to nourish the spiritual life is set forth. The practical and speculative difficulties which often beset the path of devout and thoughtful men are presented next. To these a large proportion of space has been allotted, for it is precisely on account of these difficulties that the compiler has felt the urgency of the task he has undertaken in bringing these selections together in this form. The sections which deal with methods of prayerprivate, domestic, and public, “What to pray for,” and “How to pray,” stand next in order ; and those which show the results of prayer close the series. Thus the student of this vital religious question has laid before him, in a comparatively small compass, and with a great variety of detail, The Authority, The Nature, The Difficulties, The Methods, and The Results of Prayer,

Many of the writers whose works are quoted from, have touched upon only a few of the questions connected with prayer, and it is only by bringing their thoughts together in this manner that every aspect of such a large and manifold subject can be presented in one volume. The compiler trusts that no important branch of the subject has been overlooked.

Special prominence has been given to this subject in the pages of our periodical literature during the last few years.

It was inevitable that the scientific spirit of the present age, which has urged inquirers forward into every field of human investigation should have led to the repetition of the old question, “What profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?” This spirit has influenced the minds of thousands of professed Christians, and it is needful that it should be fairly recognized and honestly responded to, both in the pulpit and by the press. It is not necessarily an evil spirit that leads to such an inquiry. The words of the suffering and perplexed patriarch may be repeated to-day, as they have been by good men in every age, with the utmost reverence, and with the most earnest solicitude to“ come unto the knowledge of the truth.” And even if they should be uttered in a tone of despondency, and with an accent of doubt, it is desirable for the sake alike of those who thus speak and of the silent multitudes, who are none the less anxious because they are silent, that such an urgent question as this should receive a free and full and earnest response from the Christian Church. It is hoped that such a reply may be found here ; and that proceeding as it does from a hundred different writers—clergymen, ministers, and laymen—representing all sections of the Church of Christ, these words on prayer from “men of prayer” may command a respectful hearing, may be the means of taking up the stumbling-block out of the way of many of the children of God, and may even serve to add intensity and directness and power to the devotions of those who have already learnt to draw nigh unto God in the assurance of faith.

Of course it is admitted that there can be no means of learning how to pray so effective as the practice of prayer itself. Nothing can take the place of faith. In religious matters spiritual consciousness is supreme. “Spiritual things," "the things of God," must be “spiritually discerned.” And to the man who by prayer and supplication lets his requests be made known unto God there is given a peace of God which surpasses every reason. No amount of argument, however logical and scientific, however firmly based on philosophical, or even Scriptural premises, can equal in value the experience of the man who has once enjoyed that peace, entered into the fellowship of the Father and of His Son Jesus Christ, felt the consolations of the Comforter the Holy Spirit, learnt the "secret of the Lord,” which is vouchsafed “to them that fear Him," and can say, in answer to every suggestion of doubt from others, or to the momentary misgivings of his own mind,

But verily God hath heard me, He hath attended to the voice of my supplication."

At the same time it must be acknowledged that reason ministers to faith, that knowledge leads up to wisdom and spiritual understanding, and that the stronghold of the soul's trust wherein the richest treasures of experience lie, may be defended and preserved by the force of argument.

The true doctrines of Justification, the Righteousness of God, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and the fulfilment in His Life and Death of Jewish type and prophecy, were preserved to the Church of the Apostolic age and to all succeeding ages by the arguments found in the Epistles to the Galatians, Romans, Corinthians, Colossians, and Hebrews. There was need for such argument and defence in the time of the Apostle Paul. Those doctrines were then assailed, and their tenure of the Christian mind imperilled. Surely none can doubt that if the Christian doctrine of Prayer had stood in a similar position the Apostles would have used all the resources of their reasoning powers in its defence, and with similar results. It has been reserved for the present age to witness the necessity for such argument on the part of the servants of God in defence of prayer. And it should be to all Christian men an occasion of profound gratitude

1 Phil. iv. 7. ή υπερέχουσα πάντα νούν.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »