Whenever a Christian backslides, his wandering commences in his closet. I speak what I have felt. I have often gone back from God—never so as to fall finally, I know, but I have often lost that sweet savour of his love which I once enjoyed. I have had to cry:
“What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void, The world can never fill.”
I have gone up to God’s house to preach, without either fire or energy; I have read the Bible, and there has been no light upon it, I have tried to have communion with God, but all has been a failure. Shall I tell you where that commenced? It commenced in my closet. I had ceased, in a measure, to pray. Here I stand, and do confess my faults; I do acknowledge that whenever I depart from God it is there it begins. Oh Christians, would you be happy? Be much in prayer. Would you be victorious? Be much in prayer.
“Restraining prayer, we cease to fight; Prayer makes the Christian’s armour bright.”
Mrs Berry used to say, “I would not be hired out of my closet for a thousand worlds.” Mr Jay said, “If the twelve apostles were living near you, and you had access to them, if this intercourse drew you from the closet, they would prove a real injury to your souls.” Prayer is the ship which brings home the richest freight. It is the soil which yields the most abundant harvest. Brother, when you rise in the morning your business so presses, that with a hurried word or two, down you go into the world, and at night, jaded and tired, you give God the fag end of the day. The consequence is, that you have no communion with him.
For meditation: Jonah’s backsliding was accompanied by a total lack of prayer, even when pagans were trying to pray (Jonah 1:5,6,14). God sometimes resorts to drastic measures to bring the believer back to himself and to prayer (Jonah 2:1).