‘He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.’ Psalm 147:9
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 8:1–4
Never a sinner prays truly without Christ praying at the same time. You cannot see nor hear him, but never does Jesus stir the depths of your soul by his Spirit without his soul being stirred too. O sinner! your prayer when it comes before God is a very different thing from what it is when it issues forth from you. Sometimes poor people come to us with petitions which they wish to send to some company or great personage. They bring the petition and ask us to have it presented for them. It is very badly spelt, very strangely written, and we can but just make out what they mean; but still there is enough to let us know what they want. First of all we make out a fair copy for them, and then, having stated their case, we put our own name at the bottom, and if we have any interest, of course they get what they desire through the power of the name signed at the foot of the petition. This is just what the Lord Jesus Christ does with our poor prayers. He makes a fair copy of them, stamps them with the seal of his own atoning blood, puts his own name at the foot, and thus they go up to God’s throne. It is your prayer, but it is his prayer too, and it is the fact of its being his prayer that makes it prevail. Now, this is a sledgehammer argument: if the ravens prevail when they cry all alone, if their poor chattering brings them what they want of themselves, how much more shall the plaintive petitions of the poor trembling sinner prevail who can say, ‘For Jesus’ sake,’ and who can clench all his own arguments with the blessed plea, ‘The Lord Jesus Christ deserves it; O Lord, give it to me for his sake.’
For meditation: To say ‘For Jesus’ sake’ or ‘In Jesus’ name’ at the end of prayer is not supposed to be regarded as the done thing or as a magic formula. It is a humble confession that we do not deserve an audience with God, but a confident profession of faith in the only one who does (John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–24).
Sermon no. 672
14 January (1866)