God, a Stranger in the People?
1. In regard to the Word of God. There seems little thirst for hearing the Word of God among Christians now. As a delicate stomach makes a man eat sparingly, so most Christians seem sparing in their diet in our day. Many Christians seem to mingle pride with the hearing of the Word. They come rather as judges than as children. Few behave themselves as a weaned child. Most seem to prefer the seat of Moses to the seat of Mary at the feet of Christ. Many come to hear the word of a man that shall die, and not the Word of the living God. Oh, should not Christians be taught this prayer? "Oh the hope of Israel," etc.
2. In regard to prayer. There is much ploughing and much sowing, but very little harrowing in of the seed by prayer. God and your conscience are witness how little you pray. You know you would be men of power if you were men of prayer, and yet ye will not pray. Unstable as water, you do not excel. Luther set apart his three best hours for prayer. How few Luthers we have now! John Welsh spent seven hours a day in prayer. How few Welshes we have now!
3. It is to be feared that there is little intercession among Christians now. The high priest carried the names of the Children of Israel upon his shoulders and breast when he drew near to God—a picture of what Christ now does, and what all Christians should do. God and your conscience are witness how little you intercede for your children, your servants, your neighbours, the Church of your fathers, and the wicked on every side of you. How little you pray for ministers, for the gift of the Spirit, for the conversion of the world. How selfish you are even in your prayers.
4. It is to be feared there is little union in prayer. Christians are ashamed to meet together to pray. Christ has promised, "If two of you shall agree on earth, touching something that ye shall ask, it shall be done for you of my Father." Many Christians neglect this promise. In the Acts, we find that when the apostles and disciples were praying together, "the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness." Oh, how often and how long have we despised this way of obtaining the outpouring of the Spirit! Do not some persons speak slightingly of united prayer? Here is one reason why God commands the clouds that they rain no rain on us. He waits till we seek Him together, and then He will open the windows of heaven and pour down a blessing. Oh, that all Christians would lift up the cry, "Oh the hope of Israel!"
"O the hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest Thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night? Why shouldest Thou be as a man astonished, as a mighty man that cannot save? Yet Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by Thy name; leave us not."— Jer. xiv. 8,9.