Yes, and He will hear your voice if you are as much in earnest as he was! Why should not God hear the voice of William, or Robert, Sarah or Edith? He is no respecter of persons. Is it not written over the door of mercy, "Knock, and it shall be opened?" Aye, and the knocker is so low a child's hand may reach it. St. James tells us that Elijah was "a man of like passions." He was a human being like you and me, but he had faith in God. Why should we not believe in God as much as the prophet did? Is He not God yet? Have any of these sceptics removed Him from His throne? If He is still there, let us come with boldness as Elijah did.
This was not the first time God had heard the voice of His servant, and answered his prayer, and there is no reason why we should not have repeated and continuous replies in answer to our requests. Had Elijah the same wealth of promise we have? JESUS CHRIST has spoken since those times, and has said things which ought to fill us with hopefulness whenever we pray. What wonderful words of cheer He said in those last few days of His life, such as "Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." Look up the references to that verse, and you will feel you must kneel down and ask for something.
But is there not suggested by that word "Ask," the secret of so much failure? Do we ask? How often, in what is called prayer, there is little or no supplication? We are to make our requests known. Listen to Elijah: "Lord, let this child's soul come into him again." Why should we not pray in the same direct style? Our prayers would not weary others by their length, if, before we knelt down, we thought
WHAT IS NEEDED, AND NEEDED NOW.
What a scene when the child began to breathe again! and when the anxious mother was summoned to receive her boy from the dead. "Now," said she, "I know thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." When the church fights its battles on its knees, it prevails. Only let us, who say we believe in God, put our faith into petition, and obtain answers, then Infidelity will hide its head. Mr. Finney tells that when he first began to attend a place of worship, it was as an honest inquirer after truth. The members of the church noticed his coming to the prayer meetings with regularity, and presently it occurred to them that the young man might be anxious about his soul. Accordingly they asked him if he would like them to pray for him. He somewhat roughly declined, for, said he, "You don't get any answers to your prayers for yourselves. You have been for months praying to be revived, and you are not any better." Perhaps he was right, though rude. We may have in our midst those who would believe the Bible if they saw that we had only to ask to receive.
Let every father bear this in mind when he leads the devotions of his family. Nothing is so likely to save our children from infidelity as their knowing that we receive when we ask, and that our knock brings an open door. If only the family altar were the meeting place between God and man, Atheists might sneer and chatter, but they would never be able to cause our children to listen, for would not they say, "I know my father is a man of God, and the word of the Lord in his mouth is true."
Reader, is the family altar at your house a bridge from earth to heaven, or is it a sham, and a helper to those who say, Prayer is an exploded superstition?
Is there any truth in the allegation that we do not preach Repentance as much as we ought to do? There is a soft sort of preaching abroad which we Methodists should abhor, namely, a gospel which has no dread of hell in it. We do not say that we should spend much time in proving the eternity of punishment, but certainly the thought of the fate of the impenitent should be in solution in the preacher's mind, and then, like the bitter herbs eaten with the Paschal Lamb, penitence will make the gospel relishing. We have little doubt that
THE DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS IS AND MUST BE, TASTELESS TO THOSE WHO DO NOT SORROW FOR SIN.
Those who preach repentance are in good company. He who fails here does not tread in the steps of Jesus, who said, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." Is human nature any better now than it was then, that we should cease to say to the people what Christ said? Depend upon it, He knew what to preach. None of the New Testament preachers said as much about hell as He did, and yet, forsooth! we are told that such preaching is coarse, and behind the age. When the age is astray, the farther we are behind it the better for us. It is sickening to hear men talk as though they were more refined than was the Son of God! Such preaching is like raking the garden with the teeth upwards. You may as well have no rake at all, if you do not use the teeth.