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Bible Commentary Index
Necessity of Prayer Index
III. PRAYER AND TRUST
"One evening I left my office in New
York, with a bitterly cold wind in my face. I had with me, (as I thought) my
thick, warm muffler, but when I proceeded to button-up against the storm, I
found that it was gone. I turned back, looked along the streets, searched my
office, but in vain. I realized, then, that I must have dropped it, and
prayed God that I might find it; for such was the state of the weather, that
it would be running a great risk to proceed without it. I looked, again, up
and down the surrounding streets, but without success. Sudden]y, I saw a man
on the opposite side of the road holding out something in his hand. I
crossed over and asked him if that were my muffler? He handed it to me
saying, 'It was blown to me by the wind.' He who rides upon the storm, had
used the wind as a means of answering prayer." -- WILLIAM HORST.
PRAYER does not stand alone. It is not an isolated duty and
independent principle. It lives in association with other Christian duties,
is wedded to other principles, is a partner with other graces. But to faith,
prayer is indissolubly joined. Faith gives it colour and tone, shapes its
character, and secures its results.
Trust is faith become absolute, ratified, consummated. There
is, when all is said and done, a sort of venture in faith and its exercise.
But trust is firm belief, it is faith in full flower. Trust is a
conscious act, a fact of which we are sensible. According to the Scriptural
concept it is the eye of the new-born soul, and the ear of the renewed soul.
It is the feeling of the soul, the spiritual eye, the ear, the taste, the
feeling -- these one and all have to do with trust. How luminous, how
distinct, how conscious, how powerful, and more than all, how Scriptural is
such a trust! How different from many forms of modern belief, so feeble,
dry, and cold! These new phases of belief bring no consciousness of their
presence, no "Joy unspeakable and full of glory" results from their
exercise. They are, for the most part, adventures in the peradventures of
the soul. There is no safe, sure trust in anything. The whole transaction
takes place in the realm of Maybe and Perhaps.
Trust like life, is feeling, though much more than feeling.
An unfelt life is a contradiction; an unfelt trust is a misnomer, a
delusion, a contradiction. Trust is the most felt of all attributes. It is
all feeling, and it works only by love. An unfelt love is as
impossible as an unfelt trust. The trust of which we are now speaking is a
conviction. An unfelt conviction? How absurd!
Trust sees God doing things here and now. Yea, more. It
rises to a lofty eminence, and looking into the invisible and the eternal,
realizes that God has done things, and regards them as being already done.
Trust brings eternity into the annals and happenings of time, transmutes the
substance of hope into the reality of fruition, and changes promise into
present possession. We know when we trust just as we know when we see, just
as we are conscious of our sense of touch. Trust sees, receives, holds.
Trust is its own witness.
Yet, quite often, faith is too weak to obtain God's greatest
good, immediately; so it has to wait in loving, strong, prayerful, pressing
obedience, until it grows in strength, and is able to bring down the
eternal, into the realms of experience and time.
To this point, trust masses all its forces. Here it holds.
And in the struggle, trust's grasp becomes mightier, and grasps, for itself,
all that God has done for it in His eternal wisdom and plenitude of grace.
In the matter of waiting in prayer, mightiest prayer, faith
rises to its highest plane and becomes indeed the gift of God. It becomes
the blessed disposition and expression of the soul which is secured by a
constant intercourse with, and unwearied application to God.
Jesus Christ clearly taught that faith was the condition on
which prayer was answered. When our Lord had cursed the fig-tree, the
disciples were much surprised that its withering had actually taken place,
and their remarks indicated their in credulity. It was then that Jesus said
to them, "Have faith in God."
"For verily I say unto you, That
whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast
into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those
things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray,
believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
Trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the
prayer-chamber. Its unfolding and development are rapid and wholesome when
they are regularly and well kept. When these engagements are hearty and full
and free, trust flourishes exceedingly. The eye and presence of God give
vigorous life to trust, just as the eye and the presence of the sun make
fruit and flower to grow, and all things glad and bright with fuller life.
"Have faith in God," "Trust in the Lord" form the keynote
and foundation of prayer. Primarily, it is not trust in the Word of God, but
rather trust in the Person of God. For trust in the Person of God must
precede trust in the Word of God. "Ye believe in God, believe also in Me,"
is the demand our Lord makes on the personal trust of His disciples. The
person of Jesus Christ must be central, to the eye of trust. This great
truth Jesus sought to impress upon Martha, when her brother lay dead, in the
home at Bethany. Martha asserted her belief in the fact of the resurrection
of her brother:
"Martha saith unto Him, I know that
he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
Jesus lifts her trust clear above the mere fact of the
resurrection, to His own Person, by saying:
"I am the resurrection and the life:
he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and
whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die. Believest thou this?
She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son
of God, which should come into the world."
Trust, in an historical fact or in a mere record may be a
very passive thing, but trust in a person vitalizes the quality, fructifies
it, informs it with love. The trust which informs prayer centres in a
Trust goes even further than this. The trust which inspires
our prayer must be not only trust in the Person of God, and of Christ, but
in their ability and willingness to grant the thing prayed for. It is not
only, "Trust, ye, in the Lord," but, also, "for in the Lord Jehovah, is
The trust which our Lord taught as a condition of effectual
prayer, is not of the head but of the heart. It is trust which "doubteth not
in his heart." Such trust has the Divine assurance that it shall be honoured
with large and satisfying answers. The strong promise of our Lord brings
faith down to the present, and counts on a present answer.
Do we believe, without a doubt? When we pray, do we
believe, not that we shall receive the things for which we ask on a future
day, but that we receive them, then and there? Such is the teaching of this
inspiring Scripture. How we need to pray, "Lord, increase our faith," until
doubt be gone, and implicit trust claims the promised blessings, as its very
This is no easy condition. It is reached only after many a
failure, after much praying, after many waitings, after much trial of faith.
May our faith so increase until we realize and receive all the fulness there
is in that Name which guarantees to do so much.
Our Lord puts trust as the very foundation of praying. The
background of prayer is trust. The whole issuance of Christ's ministry and
work was dependent on implicit trust in His Father. The centre of trust is
God. Mountains of difficulties, and all other hindrances to prayer are moved
out of the way by trust and his virile henchman, faith. When trust is
perfect and without doubt, prayer is simply the outstretched hand, ready to
receive. Trust perfected, is prayer perfected. Trust looks to receive the
thing asked for -- and gets it. Trust is not a belief that God can
bless, that He will bless, but that He does bless, here and
now. Trust always operates in the present tense. Hope looks toward the
future. Trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. Trust
receives what prayer acquires. So that what prayer needs, at all times, is
abiding and abundant trust.
Their lamentable lack of trust and resultant failure of the
disciples to do what they were sent out to do, is seen in the case of the
lunatic son, who was brought by his father to nine of them while their
Master was on the Mount of Transfiguration. A boy, sadly afflicted, was
brought to these men to be cured of his malady. They had been commissioned
to do this very kind of work. This was a part of their mission. They
attempted to cast out the devil from the boy, but had signally failed. The
devil was too much for them. They were humiliated at their failure, and
filled with shame, while their enemies were in triumph. Amid the confusion
incident to failure Jesus draws near. He is informed of the circumstances,
and told of the conditions connected therewith. Here is the succeeding
"Then Jesus answered and said, O
faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long
shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil, and
he departed out of him and the child was cured from that very hour. And when
He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not
we cast him out? And He said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing
but by prayer and fasting."
Wherein lay the difficulty with these men? They had been
lax in cultivating their faith by prayer and, as a consequence, their trust
utterly failed. They trusted not God, nor Christ, nor the authenticity of
His mission, or their own. So has it been many a time since, in many a
crisis in the Church of God. Failure has resulted from a lack of trust, or
from a weakness of faith, and this, in turn, from a lack of prayerfulness.
Many a failure in revival efforts has been traceable to the same cause.
Faith had not been nurtured and made powerful by prayer. Neglect of the
inner chamber is the solution of most spiritual failure. And this is as true
of our personal struggles with the devil as was the case when we went forth
to attempt to cast out devils. To be much on our knees in private
communion with God is the only surety that we shall have Him with us either
in our personal struggles, or in our efforts to convert sinners.
Everywhere, in the approaches of the people to Him, our
Lord put trust in Him, and the divinity of His mission, in the forefront. He
gave no definition of trust, and He furnishes no theological discussion of,
or analysis of it; for He knew that men would see what faith was by what
faith did; and from its free exercise trust grew up, spontaneously,
in His presence. It was the product of His work, His power and His Person.
These furnished and created an atmosphere most favourable for its exercise
and development. Trust is altogether too splendidly simple for verbal
definition; too hearty and spontaneous for theological terminology. The very
simplicity of trust is that which staggers many people. They look away for
some great thing to come to pass, while all the time "the word is nigh thee,
even in thy mouth, and in thy heart."
When the saddening news of his daughter's death was brought
to Jairus our Lord interposed: "Be not afraid," He said calmly, "only
believe." To the woman with the issue of blood, who stood tremblingly before
Him, He said:
"Daughter, thy faith hath made thee
whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."
As the two blind men followed Him, pressing their way into
the house, He said:
"According to your faith be it unto
you. And their eyes were opened."
When the paralytic was let down through the roof of the
house, where Jesus was teaching, and placed before Him by four of his
friends, it is recorded after this fashion:
"And Jesus seeing their faith, said
unto the sick of the palsy: Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven
When Jesus dismissed the centurion whose servant was
seriously ill, and who had come to Jesus with the prayer that He speak the
healing word, without even going to his house, He did it in the manner
"And Jesus said unto the centurion,
Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his
servant was healed in the selfsame hour."
When the poor leper fell at the feet of Jesus and cried out
for relief, "Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean," Jesus
immediately granted his request, and the man glorified Him with a loud
voice. Then Jesus said unto him, "Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made
The Syrophenician woman came to Jesus with the case of her
afflicted daughter, making the case her own, with the prayer, "Lord, help
me," making a fearful and heroic struggle. Jesus honours her faith and
"O woman, great is thy faith: be it
unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very
After the disciples had utterly failed to cast the devil
out of the epileptic boy, the father of the stricken lad came to Jesus with
the plaintive and almost despairing cry, "If Thou canst do anything, have
compassion on us and help us." But Jesus replied, "If thou canst believe,
all things are possible to him that believeth."
Blind Bartimaeus sitting by the wayside, hears our Lord as
He passes by, and cries out pitifully and almost despairingly, "Jesus, Thou
son of David, have mercy on me." The keen ears of our Lord immediately catch
the sound of prayer, and He says to the beggar:
"Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee
whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the
To the weeping, penitent woman, washing His feet with her
tears and wiping them with the hair of her head, Jesus speaks cheering,
soul-comforting words: "Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
One day Jesus healed ten lepers at one time, in answer to
their united prayer, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us," and He told them to
go and show themselves to the priests. "And it came to pass as they went,
they were cleansed."
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Bible Commentary Index
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