8. Ejaculatory Prayer.

I hope you have experienced the joy of receiving an immediate reply to a prayer which was, as it were, forced from you by stress of the circumstances in which you found yourself. I mean such a prayer as was put up by Peter from the raging waves of the Galilean sea. He was walking on the water at the bidding of the Lord, but seeing the wind boisterous he became afraid. Beginning to sink, he cried out in accents of despair, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him (Matt. 14:28-31).

This prayer, the shortest recorded in the scriptures, is an example of the kind I wish to refer to. I have already drawn your attention on a former occasion to the importance of making an habitual practice of seeking aid from on high; but it is also of importance to remember that we have access at all times to the throne of grace, and that we can never make application at an improper or unfavourable time (1 Tim. 2:8; Heb. 4:16).

Simon Peter found himself sinking beneath the waves. We can hardly suppose that a fisherman of his experience was unable to swim; besides we hear of him casting himself into the sea in his impetuous haste to be the first to reach the Lord (John 21:7). But here he was, no doubt through the novelty of his circumstances, stricken powerless with terror; hence his brief but energetic appeal, which, though it was animated with but little faith, was in no sense disregarded by the Master.

Are there not times through the day when you are unexpectedly called to undertake some new duty, or to perform some difficult task, or to decide on some important step? There is neither time nor opportunity to retire to some private place, and there bend your knees in secrecy before your God and Father. Perhaps you are so pressed as to be unable to frame your need in suitable words.

What is to be done? Are you obliged to forego the benefits of prayer, and act on your own unaided judgment and resources without reference to God? Not so; even in such a case you are at liberty to lift your heart upward in earnest, though brief and silent, desire for succour and support. Words may fail; but "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed." Let there be but the upturned eye and the deep yearnings of the spirit, and answers will come.

We have another example in the history of Nehemiah. He was cup-bearer to Artaxerxes the king in Shushan; but his heart's affections were in Jerusalem, the city of the great King, now laid waste and defenceless. He earnestly desired that his captive people might be restored to their own land, and that his beloved Zion might be rebuilt. Day by day he besought that the heart of the king might be moved to the accomplishment of these things. "Prosper, I pray thee," were his words, "Prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man."

At length there came a day when Nehemiah had opportunity to bring the subject before the king. And Artaxerxes was not unfavourable, saying to Nehemiah, "For what dost thou make request?" Here was the critical moment. Everything appeared to hang upon the sort of reply Nehemiah should make. It was then that Nehemiah, distrusting his own wisdom, "prayed to the God of heaven" (Neh. 2:4). His request was next made to Artaxerxes who graciously acceded.

Here we have a prayer offered in the interval between the king's question and Nehemiah's reply. The interval must necessarily have been brief, for Eastern monarchs were not in the habit of waiting long for their cup-bearers to answer them. But there was time enough for the prayer to ascend and for help to come. The case was urgent and the relief was instantaneous.

In like manner, my dear young friends, accustom yourselves to solicit fresh supplies of grace when you find yourselves in difficulties, whatever the hour of the day, or wherever you are. It is in this way you, will have abundant instances of what a real thing it is to trust in God.

Extract.

"There is not a single thing within the entire range of our necessities that is not treasured up for us in Christ. Do we want sympathy? Who can sympathise with us like our most merciful High Priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities? Do we want help of any kind? Who can help us like our Almighty Friend, the Possessor of unsearchable riches? Do we want counsel or guidance? Who can give it like the Blessed One Who is the very wisdom of God, and Who is made of God unto us wisdom? Oh! let us not wound His loving heart and dishonour His glorious Name by turning away from Him. Let us abide hard by the fountain, and we shall never have to complain of the streams. In a word, let us seek to live by faith, and thus glorify God in our day and generation." C. H. Mackintosh.

"O Lord, we would delight in Thee,
And on Thy care depend
To Thee in every trouble flee,
Our safe unfailing Friend.

Why should we thirst for aught below,
While there's a fountain near —
A fountain which doth ever flow,
The fainting heart to cheer?

O Lord, we cast, each care on Thee,
And triumph and adore
Oh! that our great concern may be
To love and praise Thee more."
J. Ryland.