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his temper, and whom I here begged to be calm, "I tell you plainly, that I do not believe in prayer. I've never known it to fill any one's belly, nor put a coat on a man's back. Sir, I believe in work, not in prayer."
"Perhaps you may not have known prayer to have performed those offices," I replied; "but a good many other people have known it to do both, not as a substitute for work, but where work could not be done-I mean in exceptional circumstances. And this has been but according to God's promise, 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.' 'In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.' This is the injunction, and then the promise follows: 'God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.' And as to your boast, that you believe in work and not in prayer, let me tell you that the Christian in this, as in every other respect worth consideration, has the advantage of you, for he believes in both. So that he gets all you do by honest work, and all besides which cannot be got, except by prayer."
"Very well," said William, "he's welcome to all he can get on his knees. I only know, that if I waited for a shilling till prayer earned it for me, I should die like a dog in a ditch."
Prayer," I replied, was never intended to earn anything. Do your children fancy they earn, by asking for that which you give them? You are a tailor: asking for work earns you nothing; making the coat gets you the money."
"Stop, sir," said Bexson, eagerly, "asking gets me the work, and how could I get the money without the work? Answer me that, sir, if you please, before you say any more."
"I can only repeat what I have just said, that asking does not earn the money, but making the garment does. Asking procures you the work only. I think that answers your question. Now prayer, that is the prayer of faith, offered up to God through Jesus Christ, procures for the Christian ! Matt. vii. 7.
2 Phil. iv. 6.
3 Phil. iv. 19.
what he needs. He has not to work for it, as you have to work for money. God's gifts are free, 'without money and without price.' Prayer is only asking God for what we need, and was never intended, as every sane man knows, to supersede work. God's Word distinctly states, that if a man will not work, neither shall he eat.1 You speak of 'dying in a ditch,' if left to prayer to save you from it. How can prayer help a man who disbelieves in its use? Misbelief in the duty of prayer puts a man beyond the help which prayer is known to afford. Without faith it is impossible to please Him (God): for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.'” 2
I left William Bexson that day not very well pleased with our conversation, because he felt, I believe, that prayer to God, after all he had said, was but a natural and reasonable thing, and he had no desire to feel this; but it was just what I wished him to feel.
Many years have passed away since that day. I have had many talks with him since, and I may truly say, that his views of prayer are now very different to what they were then. He shows this change by the whole course of his conduct, both in God's house and in his family. He looks upon the prayerless past of his life as so much of a short life wasted, nay, worse than wasted, because a prayerless life must injure the moral character of other people, especially a parent's own children.
Once, when speaking of his past life, he said: "I would have given anything to have known you, sir, twenty years ago. It would have saved me a good deal of trouble in many ways, and other men from a bad influence, which my prayerless life and busy, unholy tongue have exerted upon them. I have often had talks with religious men before I saw you, but whether what I said irritated them, I don't
know; most likely it did, for I was not particularly nice in what I said; but this I know, they often got out of temper, and this I put down to the weakness of their cause, and, of course, to the strength of my own."
From feeling that prayer was both natural and reasonable, William Bexson came to feel it to be a blessed thing the way not only of acknowledging God's existence and His relationship to His creatures, but an appointed means of reconciliation with God. Prayer is the expression of our faith. We believe in our lost condition as sinners, in the Lord Jesus as our only Saviour; and because we so believe, we come to God in prayer confessing our sins, and seeking forgiveness in Christ. A prayerless man is, and while so must remain, an unpardoned man. True prayer is faith stretching out its hand for God's blessing. Where there is no faith, there can be no acceptable prayer, and where there is no earnest prayer, there can be no saving faith.
William Bexson's experience taught him that prayer was a reality; that God as really answers prayer as He hears it. Not, however, always just when the prayer is offered, neither always just as the prayer seeks, but when and as God sees fit. When, at times, answers seemed to linger in their way from God to William Bexson's soul, he would say, "Patience, patience. I do the same, when I think it right, with my own children; and they often think more of the gift for having to wait for it.”
Winds and Waves.
RIGHTLY one morn rose the sun in the east,
But soon o'er the hills dark shadows were seen,
Up, up, they gathered and strong became,
Behind their folds as they hurried along,
The sun was hidden from view.
And then the winds and the waves began,
And a noisy roar and shout they raised,
One great wave came with its head upreared,
Then back it went to gather again
Fresh force for another blow,
Like a king it rode in its conscious power,
And the wind was trying his mighty strength,
He tried to unfasten the little boats
The sailors had anchored fast.
He thought 'twould be fun to see them ride
And on the tops of the crested waves,
To dance to their deafening roar.
Down and up, up and down, in spite of the wind,
Rode safely each tiny boat,
For the ropes were strong and the anchors firm,
Out far beyond there were other ships,
In peril they seemed to be;
Such boisterous play was no fun to them,
A fisherman's wife strained her eyes to look
IIer husband was there with his nets for fish;
Would his boat ride safe o'er those stormy waves,
And oh would his hand and his heart keep true
Ah, well she knows that though fierce and strong
Doth the mighty tempest blow,
There's a voice that can speak with commanding power, "Thus far, but no farther go."