0 thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall he taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of thy children. (Isa. 54: 11-13)
SPOKEN prayer is audible, and normally it is distinct, and generally it is public. Unspoken prayer is inarticulate - it is too deep to be voiced in words, but it is heard - heard in secret by God.
When passing through seasons of trial and sorrow, when the waterfloods of grief and bereavement overflow the soul, when depressed by ones moral state or circumstances, when the pressure seems wellnigh at breaking-point, and prayer seems torpid and dead, what a relief, what a comfort it is to know that the priestly eye of Jesus searcheth the heart, eager, as it were, to detect, to decipher anything there that is for God, and that He interprets the groanings of the Spirit and makes intercession accordingly. (Rom. 8: 27). Can He heed a groan? Yes, even
He counts a groan as a prayer - not only the groanings of the Spirit, which cannot be uttered, but also the groanings of our own spirits.
A groan may speak anguish or of longing desire. We may groan, being burdened - groan for deliverance. (2 Cor. 5: 4). We may likewise groan because what is awaiting us up there is so enchanting that we yearn to enter into it. (2 Cor. 5: 2.) The whole creation groans, and Paul adds, we ourselves groan. Sometimes that is all we can do. Sometimes we may even groan, O wretched man that I am! But we never add: Who shall deliver me? if we know who He is. But every groan to God is heard. Lord, my groaning is not hid from thee. Thank God, it never is, But He can also heed
A sigh has not that intensive force which a groan has, it is softer. Yet how affecting it sometimes is.
The weeping prophet was full of sighs: I sigh the people sigh the priests sigh my sighs are many. (Lam., passim.)
The weeping Saviour, Jehovahs servant-prophet, often sighed, yea, - He sighed deeply. (Mark 8: 12.)
For ever on Thy burdened heart
A weight of sorrow hung,
Yet no rebellious murmuring word
Escaped Thy silent tongue.
The Psalms breathe His sighs. They reveal what Jesus felt as He suffered.
In the Pentateuch we have the figures; in the prophets, the forecasts; in the gospels, the facts; in the epistles, the fruits; but in the Psalms, the feelings of Christ as He suffered.
Every sigh He heaved was to God, and, like the frankincense of the meat offering, it went up to God. Every divinely prompted sigh we utter to God is heard. Ay, and, poor weary soul, it may mean more to Him than ten thousand words, however eloquent - For the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Iord. (Psa. 12: 5).
No faintest sigh His heart can miss,
Een now His feet are on the way,
With richest counterweight of bliss
Heaped up for every hours delay.
The great men of the Bible were often great weepers - Joseph, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ezra, Nehemiah.
wept. The Man of sorrows mingled His tears with
those of His bereaved and beloved ones. He
wept, too, over
Whilst guarding against what is natural sentiment, yet we should cultivate spiritual emotions. A tear in the eye of a child may be very appealing and do what words fail to do. God treasures the tears of His people. He has a bag for their sins, a book for their thoughts and words and deeds, a bottle for their tears. (Job. 14: 17; Mal. 3: 16; Psa. 56: 8.) David was not satisfied with a divine record of his tears being kept - he wanted them preserved. Put thou my tears into thy bottle.
Even in public let us not check the tear when it starts. John Bunyan said he liked to see Mr. Wet Eyes among the saints. I once saw a brother in tears at a prayer meeting, though he spoke not a word. I murmured Amen to his unspoken Prayer. The woman of Luke 7. said nothing with her lips, but her tears said a good deal. Paul speaks of his many tears; John wrote, I wept much; Timothy was in tears about the testimony of our Lord. We need to steep the gospel seed in tears. (Psa. 126: 6.) Who can estimate the worth and power of a tear shed before God in prayer?
Solomon prayed, at the dedication of the temple, for every man who should know the plague of his own heart and spread forth his hands toward this house.
What a mute appeal, yet how pathetic! How many a pious Israelite, in captivity or alienation from Gods house, feeling the plague of his own heart and otherwise oppressed, looked towards Gods house, like Daniel at his open window, and got blessing. We can look toward heaven - to a Person. They looked unto him and were enlightened. (Psa. 34: 5, N.T.) that is the way of relief and happiness. Try it, dear troubled one. Perhaps you say, I have looked but have got no relief. Look again - look till your spiritual vision becomes calm and clear. Jonah said when down among the weeds and at the bottoms of the mountains and tempest tossed by floods, billows, waves, I will look again toward thy holy temple, and he did. Then he was able to add: And my prayer came in unto thee.
How cheering and reviving it is that even a desire can cleave the mighty space between earth and heaven and be heard above. Lord thou hast heard the desire of the needy. (Psa. 10: 17.)
Every desire born in the renewed affections after Him is cherished and fostered by Him. Lord, all my desire is before thee. (Psa. 38: 9.)
Are we so overwhelmed that we cannot even groan or sigh? so low that we cannot give vent to even a tear or a look? so utterly cold, inert, and hopeless that the soul feels it is prayerless? Yet, surely there must be a desire after God if there is life! Beloved, that is prayer! With my soul have I desired thee in the night. (Isa. 36: 9.)
Amid impenetrable gloom that may sometimes enshroud us, when the soul seems shut out from God, and the heavens seem like brass, when there is neither moon nor stars to lighten the darkness of our night - then, even then, we can rest in a quiet waiting, heaven-inwrought desire after God, and be encouraged by knowing that even the desire of the heart is graciously heeded and interpreted by Him as unspoken prayer.
* * *
WHY ART THOU CAST DOWN? (Psa. 42.)
OH! soul of mine, why grieve, why wrong,
Why rob thy Lord and God of song?
Why stay the loyal tribute lay
Thou owest to Him every day?
Why nurse that grim, that heavy mood?
Why oer forebodings darkly brood?
Why rack thy nerves with phantom fears?
Why make thy pillow moist with tears?
Why droop and sigh and languish so,
As though He did not heed or know -
As though He did not even care
What burdens thon art called to bear?
The priestly sympathy that feels,
And priestly succour which renews -
My soul, now seek and gain and use!
Thy countenance cast down and sad,
His countenance will then make glad,
The bloom of health upon it pour
Its light and peace and joy restore.
Oh! soul, so tempest-tossed and worn,
By desert trials overborne,
Arise! and look with love-lit eyes
Out. yonder where fair
Come, quit these wastes, these shades of grief,
These lowlands, parched with unbelief,
Scale Nebos bracing heights and gaze,
from Pisgahs far-famed peak and praise!
S. J. B. C.
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