Volume. XXXV, No. 46
Sunday, 16 May 2021

From the Pastor’s Heart: Prayer (2)

Without any further introduction, let me take you to the second part of the message on Prayer, A Reasonable Duty:


Now, I should wish to know, whether there be any connection between the causes and effects, or rather between the means and ends, in these duties of acknowledged obligation, which does not exist between prayer and the obtainment of the blessings resulting?  Is there such a connection between the exertion of swimming and the preservation of the life of the individual, that it effects a change in the divine purposes, in his favour?  This, none will dare to allege.  Does it give God any information respecting the propriety of saving the life of the drowning man?  This would be equally inadmissible.  Does it merit the life of the man at the hand of God?  Such a position would be preposterous.  The plain matter of fact is this.  There is no necessary connection between means and ends.  The efficacy of means, therefore, is referable to the sovereign will of God, who has a right to establish whatever connections He pleases.  All the means, stamped with His authority, whether in the kingdom of grace, or in the volume of nature, are equally legitimate and equally reasonable.


The intelligent Christian, in addressing the throne of grace, is so far from anticipating any change in the will of God concerning him, that his great object is a change on himself, and his own condition.  Let us illustrate this idea by the following similitude.  Suppose a rope to be thrown from a rock or from the shore to a drowning man, with a command to lay hold upon it, and thereby tow himself to a place of safety.  He eagerly obeys, seizes the rope, mounts the rock, and is thus rescued from a watery grave.  But the rock remains unmoved.  It has not suffered even the shadow of change.  He alone, has been the subject of mutation.  From being in the most imminent jeopardy, he is now in possession of perfect safety.  But the rock remains unmoved.  Even so it is with the Rock of ages.  It is “the same yesterday, to-day and forever.”  The poor sinner alone, experiences the change.  He is taken from the fearful pit, and miry clay, his feet established on the rock, and his way made perfect.  Through the medium of prayer, he receives the choicest blessings of the everlasting covenant.  His heart is disposed by the grace of God, to solicit such blessings, as his heavenly Father is about to bestow on him.  “For these things will I be inquired at of the house of Israel, that I may do them for them.”


In the same manner we might illustrate the reasonableness of the duty of prayer, by instituting a comparison between it, and the other acknowledged duties above mentioned.  We might easily show, that between the food we eat, and the sustenance of our bodily system, there is no other ultimate connection, than the will of God.  The same is true, with respect to the contact of water, and the extinction of fire.  Let us take a slight glance at the connection between the cultivation of the ground, and the expected harvest.  Who is so foolish as to expect the harvest, and yet live in the habitual neglect of that agricultural process, which is known to be subservient thereunto?  Equally vain to expect the blessings of salvation, and yet live in the habitual neglect of asking them.  But these means affect not the determinations of the Deity.  The cultivation of the ground conveys to him no information, that the season of vegetation has arrived - that the spring should now pour forth her genial influences, and enrich the fields with luxuriant fecundity.  Neither does our prayer to God, give him any information of our wants.  Yet both are means which divine wisdom has connected with and rendered subservient to ends most interesting and most important.  The opening of the bosom of the soil, and its subjugation to the empire of the ploughshare, the mattock and the hoe, have no merit in procuring a crop.  No more have our prayers and supplications, in procuring anything at the hand of our heavenly Father.  When we have done all, we are only unprofitable servants.  Yet in each of these duties, we are encouraged humbly to expect the realization of the aphorism, “The hand of the diligent maketh rich.”  The duty of prayer, therefore, is as reasonable as the cultivation of the ground, or any other duty whose indispensability of obligation is universally acknowledged.  Between none of those phenomena called causes and effects in the physical world, is there any necessary connection.  For aught we know, or can know, the presence of caloric [heat] might have congealed water, and its absence might have been followed by fluidity.  All depends on the will of the Author of the universe.  What are usually denominated the laws of nature, are wholly destitute of efficiency.  The phenomena of the universe, are the result of the energy of “a present Deity.”  In him we live, move, and have our being.  His operations are uniform and medial [intermediate].  The uniformity of operation, which it pleases God to observe in the production of the phenomena of nature, is termed a law.  Material substances, for example, are attracted to a certain centre.  Their uniform tendency to this point is called the law of gravitation.  The slightest examination will show that the law has no agency.  It is totally destitute of efficiency.  It is nothing more than the rule, according to which a competent agent is wont to act.  God himself is the great agent in the volume of nature.  In the language of the poet, he: “Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze, glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees: Lives thro’ all life, extends thro’ all extent: Spreads undivided, operates unspent.”


How interesting to the believer is the idea of an ever-present God!  “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” coming from the mouth of his heavenly Father, and appreciated by a realizing faith, affords him more joy than the wicked have when their corn and wine abound most plentifully.  He can lie down in peace and sleep in safety.  His God sustains his life. Thus it is “though the earth remove, he will not be afraid; though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof;” because “God is his refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”


Although God could accomplish all His purposes instantaneously by a word of power, He chooses to work by means, and has made it our duty to be diligent in their observance.  We are so prone to dwell on the visible surface of the effect, that we are in danger of ascribing to the mere machinery in the hand of the Deity, that agency which ought to be referred to the efficiency of an omnipresent spirit.  While, therefore, Christianity inculcates the diligent use of the means of grace generally, and of prayer particularly, it at the same time cautions against resting in them.  We must look through them and beyond them to their divine Author, who alone can render them efficacious for the purposes for which they were intended.


There is no feature more characteristic of the Christian than a disposition to pray, and a delight in the duty.  These are an immediate result of the new birth, “Behold he prayeth.” Where this disposition does not exist, there is no evidence of spiritual life.  We do not deny, that in spiritual as well as natural life, there may be temporary swoons and occasions of suspended animation: but we do waver, that a continued habitual neglect of this medium of holy intercommunion with God, is as decisive evidence of a state of spiritual death, as a continued cessation of breathing would be, of the soul’s departure from its clay tenement.


The true Christian, therefore, will be diligent and careful in the performance of this duty.  He will endeavour to be careful for nothing, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, make his requests known unto God, who will abundantly supply all his wants, according to his riches in glory which is by Christ Jesus.  The end.

S. B. W.


More Lively Hope



  • Deepest condolences.
  • Working Bee next Saturday, 22 May.
  • All ministry groups: Please submit your budgets for 2021-2022 financial year by 30 May.
  • Service Roster Jul-Sept 2021: Please email your service availability by 1 June to hopebpcroster@gmail.com
  • Sunday School training starting soon. 
  • Combined Ladies’ and Seniors’ Fellowship meeting & lunch on Sat, 29 May @ 10.30am in the Church Hall. 
  • IF Winter Camp (5-9 July) registration forms in the foyer. Please submit forms  by Sun, 6 June.



  • Healing: Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore) & all others who are unwell.
  • Comfort in grief.
  • Settling down in Singapore.
  • COVID-19 pandemic & all affected.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence for the past week.
  • Improving COVID-19 situation in Australia.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041