Tag Archives: prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:17

“I always feel that there is something wrong if I go without prayer for even half an hour in the day. I cannot understand how a Christian man can go from morning to prayerevening without prayer. I cannot comprehend how he lives, and how he fights the battle of life without asking the guardian care of God while the arrows of temptation are flying so thickly around him.”

– Charles H. Spurgeon, from Spurgeon’s Sermons on Great Prayers of the Bible, p. 116


Growing Cold?


“If you have found in yourself a growing indifference, a growing coldness – maybe you’ve come into this place today and that’s what marks your life: strong judgmental attitude towards other people, well aware of other people’s weaknesses… I want you to ask that the Holy Spirit would soften your heart today – that the Holy Spirit might in mercy grant you compassion and rescue from the silliness that is you right now.”

– Matt Chandler

Daily Bread

J.C. Ryle

“Make it a part of every day’s business to read and meditate on some portion of God’s Word. Private means of grace are just as needful every day for our souls–as food and clothing are for our bodies. Yesterday’s food will not feed the laborer today; and today’s food will not feed the laborer tomorrow. Do as the Israelites did in the wilderness. Gather your manna fresh every morning. Choose your own seasons and hours. Do not scramble over and hurry your reading. Give your Bible the best, and not the worst part of your time! But whatever plan you pursue, let it be a rule of your life to visit the throne of grace and God’s Word every day.”

– J.C. Ryle, from Practical Religion

Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” – 2 Timothy 4:7 (NASB)

Robert Murray M'Cheyne

As a new year begins, many Christians set a goal to read the entire Bible in one year’s time. One popular Bible reading plan was developed by a 19th century Scottish preacher by the name of Robert Murray M’Cheyne. I was aware of this plan but had never used it in the past. After looking it over in December, I decided to use it for my Bible reading in 2012 (for more about the plan, click here). I also decided I wanted to know more about the “man behind the plan” – M’Cheyne himself. So this week I read a biography of his, written by his friend and contemporary Andrew Bonar, titled simply Robert Murray M’Cheyne.

M’Cheyne was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 21, 1813. There was a glimpse into the devoted life he was to be known for very early on when, as Bonar explains, “At the age of four, while recovering from some illness, he selected as his recreation the study of the Greek alphabet, and was able to name all the letters, and write them in a rude way upon a slate.” He lived and breathed the Word of God from his early years and was known throughout his life for his personal piety. M’Cheyne was also a talented poet and was often inspired by Scripture to write a poem of encouragement to someone he knew — or to lament someone choosing the world over Christ.

“Away, then – oh, fly
From the joys of earth!
Her smile is a lie-
There’s a sting in her mirth.
Come, leave the dreams
Of this transient night,
And bask in the beams
Of an endless light.”

M’Cheyne began to study theology at age 18 at the University of Edinburgh and became pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Dundee in 1836. M’Cheyne was hardly enamored with Dundee at the beginning however – “A city given to idolatry and hardness of heart. I fear there is much of what Isaiah speaks of, ‘The prophets prophesy lies, and the people love to have it so.'” He struggled at the outset with his own health, and the spiritual health of his congregation. From early on, he had heart palpitations, which probably were not helped by the schedule he kept for himself. He often preached three times on Sundays, and would often drop what he was doing throughout the week to speak to the sick or discouraged. In a diary entry dated January 2, 1840, he wrote, “Visited six families. Was refreshed and solemnized at each of them. Spoke of the Word made flesh, and of all the paths of the Lord being mercy and truth.” Hundreds would come to visit him in his office as well.

M’Cheyne was also a true evangelist, spending countless hours speaking to unbelievers as well as his own flock. “Is any one truly the Lord’s messenger who is not quite willing to go when and where the Lord calls?” asked M’Cheyne. To that end, he felt the call to visit Israel in the early years of his ministry to spread the Gospel there as well, joining with Bonar on the trip. Though he was refreshed and energized by the trip, he maintained a sense that his life on earth would not be a long one. While in Lebanon, he wrote, “It is a sore trial to be alone and dying, in a foreign land, and it has made me to feel, in a way that I never knew before, the necessity of having unfeigned faith in Jesus and in God.” He returned to his homeland in late 1839.

On his return, M’Cheyne’s burden for his own congregation, and the lost, was heightened. He joined with other pastors in his area for weekly prayer meetings: “The hearts of all seem really in earnest in it. The Lord answers prayer; may it be a great blessing to our souls and to our flocks.” He was concerned that on his return, his congregation esteemed him too highly, and like John the Baptist, constantly would seek to point them away from himself and instead to Christ: “O for closest communion with God, till soul and body – head, face, and heart – shine with divine brilliancy; but O for a holy ignorance of our shining.”

Similar to the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards, near the end of 1842 M’Cheyne wrote “an examination into things that ought to be amended and changed,” as Bonar explains. He felt a greater sense of his own sin and disenchantment with his prayer life. “I ought to avoid the appearance of evil,” M’Cheyne wrote. “God commands me; and I find that Satan has a singular art in linking the appearance and reality together.” He continued to preach throughout the early part of 1843, until struck by a fever and delirium in late March. Sadly, his long-standing concerns over his health were finally realized. M’Cheyne died on the morning of Saturday, March 25, 1843.

He was just 29 years old.

Throughout his life, M’Cheyne kept close communion with God. “An hour should never pass without our looking up to God for forgiveness and peace,” he wrote. He loved the Scriptures – all the Scriptures – and built his ministry on them. Bonar explained that M’Cheyne “felt that a single passage of the Word of God was more truly food to his fainting soul than anything besides.” He showed special concern for anyone he came in contact with, that all would come to salvation through Jesus Christ. Abraham Lincoln once remarked, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Robert Murray M’Cheyne lived just 29 years, but his short life was one to be admired by all Christians.

*** On a personal note, I was struck by an instance in the book that illustrates M’Cheyne’s concern for children. Again exhibiting his poetic gifts, he wrote the following to a young boy in his congregation. My own son is a little over two months old, and I hope to share this with him someday.

Here’s M’Cheyne:

Peace be to thee, gentle boy!
Many years of health and joy!
Love your Bible more than play-
Grow in wisdom every day.
Like the lark on hovering wing,
Early rise, and mount and sing;
Like the dove that found no rest
Till it flew to Noah’s breast,
Rest not in this world of sin,
Till the Saviour take thee in.

The Love of God

“The love of God is active, and we see it in the cross. God so loved that he gave.

“Sir Harry Lauder told a story that brings this out well. He spoke of a man who, during the difficult days of World War I, was taking his small boy for a walk. The lad noticed that there were stars in the windows of some of the houses they passed.

‘Daddy, why are there stars in some of the windows?’ he asked.

“His father replied, ‘That comes from this terrible war, laddie. It shows that these people have given a son.’

“The little fellow went on silently digesting this information. Then he looked up and there was the evening star, shining brightly in the sky. He said, ‘Daddy, God must have given a Son, too.’

“That is it. In the terrible war against evil, God gave his Son. That is the way evil was defeated. God paid the price.”

– Leon Morris, from Expository Reflections on the Gospel of John, p. 100

Revelation 21:4

“Yes, there is coming a day, bless God, when the buffeting will be over, and the last tear over a lost soul will have been checked, the last sentence of death will have been concluded, and the last pain of anguish over people who care nothing for our Lord Jesus will have finished, and God shall wipe away all signs of sorrow and concern. Let us covet a compassion that costs, so that on that day He may have many tears to wipe away.”

– Alan Redpath, from Blessings Out of Buffetings: Studies in 2 Corinthians, p. 211

A Child of God

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13 (ESV)

Over the last several years I’ve probably read dozens of books on Christianity and theology. Some were good, some just ok. From each though I could take something and add to my knowledge of and love for God. Last year I read J.I. Packer’s “Knowing God” for the first time and our church went through a book discussion group on it as well. I’d have to say that Packer’s book probably has had the most profound impact on me of any I’ve read and what it means to be a Christian. One statement of Packer’s in particular has stuck with me and changed the way I view the Christian life. Packer stated that, “Adoption is the highest privilege that the Gospel offers” – even higher than justification, says Packer.

I have to say that at first I was a little puzzled by this statement. What could be greater than being justified by God and being made right in His sight? In our book group, our pastor explained that God could have justified us and then just left us in a corner somewhere…out of His wrath of course, but maybe no more than that. The concept of being adopted by God takes justification to another level. We can know God in a real sense and have a real relationship with Him. We can know God as a member of His family, not just someone he cleared of guilt in some court case. I had read Ephesians 1 many times and Paul’s statement in verse 5 that “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” never really hit me the right way until I read Packer’s explanation of this. God’s plan to make us His children was created “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) …that’s difficult to get a handle on, you know?

Packer’s statements on adoption reached another level for me this past year after my Dad passed away. I don’t think I really and truly thought of God as my Father in a real sense until that happened. My prayers changed from “I have to talk to God about this” to “I need to talk with my Father about this”. Ravi Zacharias once mentioned that we can think of the term “Holy Father” for God as a way to sum up everything. God is holy and sin cannot live in His presence. But after being justified by Him – and then of course adopted – He is our Father as well.

This is what I’m reflecting on today, as June 27 marks my fourth re-birthday in Christ. I thank God for His daily provision, for His plan for me and all His children from before the foundation of the world, and for His great love. Thank you Father.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…” – 1 John 3:1 (ESV)