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He Came To His Own





He Came to His Own.


The purpose of prayer is to get God's will done. What a stranger God is in
His own world! Nobody is so much slandered as He. He comes to His own, and
they keep Him standing outside the door, like a pilgrim of the night,
staff in hand, while they peer suspiciously at Him through the crack of
the hinges.

Some of us shrink back from making a full surrender of life to God. And if
the real reason were known it would be found to be that we are _afraid_ of
God. We fear He will put something bitter in the cup, or some rough thing
in the road. And without doubt the reason we are afraid of God is because
we do not _know_ God. The great prayer of Jesus' heart that night with the
eleven was, "that they may _know_ Thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ whom Thou didst send."

To understand God's will we must understand something of His character,
Himself. There are five common every-day words I want to bring you to
suggest something of who God is. They are familiar words, in constant use.
The first is the word _father_. "Father" stands for strength, loving
strength. A father plans, and provides for, and protects his loved ones.
All fathers are not good. How man can extract the meaning out of a fine
word, and use the word without its meaning. If you will think of the
finest father ever you knew that anybody ever had; think of him now. Then
remember this, God is a father, only He is so much finer a father than the
finest father you ever knew of. And His will for your _life_--I am not
talking about heaven, and our souls just now, that is in it too--His will
for your life down here these days is a father's will for the one most
dearly loved.

The second word is a finer word. Because woman is finer than man, and was
made, and meant to be, this second word is finer than the first. I mean
the word _mother_. If father stands for strength, mother stands for
love,--great, patient, tender, fine-fibred, enduring love. What would she
not do for her loved one! Why, not unlikely she went down into the valley
of the shadow that that life might come; and did it gladly with the
love-light shining out of her eyes. Yes, and would do it again, that the
life may remain if need be. That is a mother. You think of the finest
mother ever you knew. And the suggestion brings the most hallowed memories
to my own heart. Then remember this: God is a mother, only He is so much
finer a mother than the finest mother you ever knew.

The references in scripture to God as a mother are numerous. "Under His
wings" is a mother figure. The mother-bird gathers her brood up under her
wings to feel the heat of her body, and for protection. The word mother is
not used for God in the Bible. I think it is because with God "father"
includes "mother." It takes more of the human to tell the story than of
the divine. With God, all the strength of the father and all the fine love
of the mother are combined in that word "father." And His will for us is a
mother's will, a wise loving mother's will for the darling of her heart.

The third word is _friend_. I do not mean to use it in the cheaper
meaning. There is a certain kindliness of speech in which all
acquaintances are called friends. Tupper says, we call all men friends who
are not known to be enemies. But I mean to use the word in its finer
meaning. Here, a friend is one who loves you for your sake only and
steadfastly loves without regard to any return, even a return-love. The
English have a saying that you may fill a church with your acquaintances,
and not fill the pulpit seats with your friends. If you may have in your
life one or two real friends you are very wealthy. If you will think for a
moment of the very best friend you ever knew anybody to have. Then
remember this: God is a friend. Only He is ever so much better a friend
than the best friend you ever knew of. And the plan He has thought out for
your life is such a one as that word would suggest.

The fourth word, I almost hesitate to use, yet I am sure I need not here.
The hesitancy is because the word and its relationship are spoken of
lightly, frivolously, so much, even in good circles. I mean that rare fine
word _lover_. Where two have met, and acquaintance has deepened into
friendship, and that in turn into the holiest emotion, the highest
friendship. What would he not do for her! She becomes the new human centre
of his life. In a good sense he worships the ground she treads upon. And
she--she will leave wealth for poverty if only so she may be with him in
the coming days. She will leave home and friends, and go to the ends of
the earth if his service calls him there. You think of the finest lover,
man or woman, you ever knew anybody to have. Then remember this, and let
me say it in soft, reverent tones, God is a lover--shall I say in yet more
reverent voice, a sweetheart-lover. Only He is so much finer a lover than
the finest lover you ever knew of. And His will, His plan for your life
and mine--it hushes my heart to say it--is a lover's plan for his only
loved one.

The fifth word is this fourth word a degree finer spun, a stage farther
on, and higher up, the word _husband_. This is the word on the man side
for the most hallowed relationship of earth. This is the lover
relationship in its perfection stage. With men husband is not always a
finer word than lover. The more's the pity. How man does cheapen God's
plan of things; leaves out the kernel, and keeps only an empty shell
sometimes. In God's thought a husband is a lover _plus_. He is all that
the finest lover is, and more; more tender, more eager, more thoughtful.
Two lives are joined, and begin living one life. Two wills, yet one. Two
persons, yet one purpose. Duality in unity. Will you call to mind for a
moment the best husband you ever knew any woman to have. Then remember
this that God is a husband; only He is an infinitely more thoughtful
husband than any you ever knew. And His will for your life is a husband's
will for his life's friend and companion.

Now, please, do not _you_ take one of these words, and say, "I like that";
and _you_ another and say, "That conception of God appeals to me," and
_you_ another. How we do whittle God down to our narrow conceptions! You
must take all five words, and think the finest meaning into each, and then
put them all together, to get a close up idea of God. He is all that, _and
more_.

You see God is so much that it takes a number of earth's relationships put
together to get a good suggestion of what He is. He is a father, a
mother, a friend, a lover, a husband. I have not brought book, and
chapter, and verse. But you know I could spend a long time with you
reading over the numerous passages giving these conceptions of God.

And God's will for us is the plan of such a God as that. It includes the
body, health and strength; the family and home matters; money and business
matters; friendships, including the choice of life's chief friend; it
includes service, what service and where; and constant guidance; it
includes the whole life, and the world of lives. All this He has thought
into, lovingly, carefully. Does a wise mother think of her child's needs
into the details, the necessities and the loving extras? That is God.



The One Purpose of Prayer.


Now, the whole thought in prayer is to get the will of a God like that
done in our lives and upon this old earth. The greatest prayer any one can
offer is, "Thy will be done." It will be offered in a thousand different
forms, with a thousand details, as needs arise daily. But every true
prayer comes under those four words. There is not a good desirable thing
that you have thought of that He has not thought of first, and probably
with an added touch not in your thought. Not to grit your teeth and lock
your jaw and pray for grace to say, "Thy will be _endured_: it is bitter,
but I must be resigned; that is a Christian grace; Thy will be
_endured_." Not that, please. Do not slander God like that. There is a
superficial idea among men that charges God with many misfortunes and ills
for which He is not at all responsible. He is continually doing the very
best that can be done under the circumstances for the best results. He has
a bad mixture of stubborn warped human wills to deal with. With infinite
patience and skill and diplomacy and success too He is ever working at the
tangled skein of human life, through the human will.

It may help us here to remember that God has a first and a second will for
us: a first choice and a second. He always prefers that His first will
shall be accomplished in us. But where we will not be wooed up to that
height, He comes down to the highest level we will come up to, and works
with us there. For instance, God's first choice for Israel was that He
Himself should be their king. There was to be no human, visible king, as
with the surrounding nations. He was to be their king. They were to be
peculiar in this. But to Samuel's sorrow and yet more to God's, they
insisted upon a king. And so God gave them a king. And David the great
shepherd-psalmist-king was a man after God's own heart, and the world's
Saviour came of the Davidic line. God did His best upon the level they
chose and a great best it was. Yet the human king and line of kings was
not God's first will, but a second will yielded to because the first
would not be accepted. God is ever doing the best for human lives that can
be done through the human will.

His first will for our bodies, without doubt, is that there should be a
strong healthy body for each of us. But there is a far higher thing being
aimed at in us than that. And with keen pain to His own heart, He oft
times permits bodily weakness and suffering because in the conditions of
our wills only so can these higher and highest things be gotten at. And
where the human will comes into intelligent touch with Himself, and the
higher can so be reached, with great gladness and eagerness the bodily
difficulty is removed by Him.

There are two things, at least, that modify God's first will for us. First
of all the degree of our intelligent willingness that He shall have His
full sway. And second, the circumstances of one's life. Each of us is the
centre of a circle of people, an ever changing circle. If we be in touch
with Him God is speaking through each of us to his circle. Our experiences
with God: His dealings with us, under the varying circumstances are a part
of His message to that circle. God is trying to win men. It takes
marvellous diplomacy on His part. And God is a wondrous tactician.
But--very reverently--He is a needy God. He needs us to help Him, each in
his circle. We must be perfectly willing to have His will done; and more,
we must trust Him to know what is best to do in us and with us in the
circle of our circumstances. God is a great economist. He wastes no
forces. Every bit is being conserved towards the great end in view.

There may be a false submission to His supposed will in some affliction; a
not reaching out after _all_ that He has for us. And at the other swing of
the pendulum there may be a sort of _logical praying_ for some desirable
thing because a friend tells us we should claim it. By logical praying I
mean the studying of a statement of God's word, and possibly some one's
explanation of it, and hearing or knowing how somebody else has claimed a
certain thing through that statement and then concluding that therefore we
should so claim. The trouble with that is that it stops too soon. Praying
in the Spirit as opposed to logical praying is doing this logical
thinking: _then_ quietly taking all to God, to learn what His will is for
_you_, under your circumstances, and in the circle of people whom He
touches through you.



The Spirit's Prayer Room.


There is a remarkable passage in Paul's Roman letter about prayer and
God's will.[39] "And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity:
for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He that
searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, that He
maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Please notice: these words connect back with the verses ending with verse
seventeen. Verses eighteen to twenty-five are a parenthesis. As the Spirit
within breathes out the "Father" cry of a child, which is the prayer-cry,
so He helps us in praying. It is our infirmity that we do not know how to
pray _as we ought_. There is willingness and eagerness too. No bother
there. But a lack of knowledge. We don't know how. But the Spirit knows
how. He is the Master-prayor. He knows God's will perfectly. He knows what
best to be praying under all circumstances. And He is within you and me.
He is there as a prayer-spirit. He prompts us to pray. He calls us away to
the quiet room to our knees. He inclines to prayer wherever we are. He is
thinking thoughts that find no response in us. They cannot be expressed in
our lips for they are not in our thinking. He prays with an intensity
quite beyond the possibility of language to express. And the
heart-searcher--God listening above--knows fully what this praying Spirit
is thinking within me, and wordlessly praying, for they are one. He
recognizes His own purposes and plans being repeated in this man down on
the earth by His own Spirit.

And the great truth is that the Spirit within us prays God's will. He
teaches us God's will. He teaches us how to pray God's will. And He
Himself prays God's will in us. And further that He seeks to pray God's
will--that is to pray for the thing God has planned--in us before we have
yet reached up to where we know ourselves what that will is.

We should be ambitious to cultivate a healthy sensitiveness to this
indwelling Spirit. And when there comes that quick inner wooing away to
pray let us faithfully obey. Even though we be not clear what the
particular petition is to be let us remain in prayer while He uses us as
the medium of His praying.

Oftentimes the best prayer to offer about some friend, or some particular
thing, after perhaps stating the case the best we can is this: "Holy
Spirit, be praying in me the thing the Father wants done. Father, what the
Spirit within me is praying, that is my prayer in Jesus' name. Thy will,
what Thou art wishing and thinking, may that be fully done here."



How to Find God's Will.


We should make a study of God's will. We ought to seek to become skilled
in knowing His will. The more we know Him the better shall we be able to
read intelligently His will.

It may be said that God has two wills for each of us, or, better, there
are two parts to His will. There is His will of grace, and His will of
government. His will of grace is plainly revealed in His Word. It is that
we shall be saved, and made holy, and pure, and by and by glorified in his
own presence. His will of government is His particular plan for my life.
God has every life planned. The highest possible ambition for a life is to
reach God's plan. He reveals that to us bit by bit as we need to know. If
the life is to be one of special service He will make that plain, what
service, and where, and when. Then each next step He will make plain.

Learning His will here hinges upon three things, simple enough but
essential. I must keep _in touch_ with Him so He has an open ear to talk
into. I must _delight_ to do His will, _because it is His_. The third
thing needs special emphasis. Many who are right on the first two stumble
here, and sometimes measure their length on the ground. _His Word must be
allowed to discipline my judgment as to Himself and His will_. Many of us
stumble on number one and on number two. And very many willing earnest men
sprawl badly when it comes to number three. The bother with these is the
lack of a disciplined judgment about God and His will. If we would
prayerfully _absorb_ the Book, there would come a better poised judgment.
We need to get a broad sweep of God's thought, to breathe Him in as He
reveals Himself in this Book. The meek man--that is the man willing to
yield his will to a higher will--will He guide in his judgment, that is,
in his mental processes.[40]

This is John's standpoint in that famous passage in his first epistle.[41]
"And this is the boldness that we have towards Him, that, if we ask
anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He
heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we
have asked of Him." These words dovetail with great nicety into those
already quoted from Paul in the eighth of Romans. The whole supposition
here is that we have learned His will about the particular matter in hand.
Having gotten that footing, we go to prayer with great boldness. For if He
wants a thing and I want it and we join--that combination cannot be
broken.





Next: Gods Door Into A Home

Previous: A Trained Ear



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