27 February 2024

Bishop Challoner's Meditations ~ Wednesday, Second Week in Lent


Consider first, those words of St. James iv. 3. 'You ask and you receive not because you ask amiss.' Great promises are made in holy writ in favour of prayer; but these are to be understood, provided we ask for what we ought, and in the manner we ought. But if we are more concerned for the temporal goods of this transitory life than for the eternal welfare of our souls, and make such things as those the principal subjects of our prayers, we must not be surprised if God does not hear us. For in these cases we often know not what we ask, or we know not at least what is expedient for us, and it is a mercy of God not to grant us those things, which, if he were to grant them, might be the occasion of the loss of our souls. In our prayers we must seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and as to those other things, God will give us them as far as he sees expedient for us. And if at any time we pray for such things, or pray to be delivered from sufferings and crosses, we must ever pray with submission and conformity to the will of God; if it be his will, and if he sees it expedient, and not otherwise. 'Not my will, but thy will be done.'

Consider 2ndly, that we must not only pray for such things as are truly good, as being agreeable to God’s holy will, and conducing to our true and everlasting welfare, but we must also pray in a proper manner, that is, with a pure intention, and with a lively faith and confidence in God. Great promises are made in Scripture to prayer, but it is to prayer made with faith and confidence in God. The honour of his divine majesty is engaged to stand by those that pray with a strong belief; and trust in him. But as for him that prayeth 'wavering in faith, let him not think that he shall receive anything from the Lord,' James i. 6. If, then, we would pray to the purpose, we must come before God with a lively sense of his boundless power, goodness, and mercy; with a conviction of his being ever faithful to his promises, and that his divine truth cannot fail. And we must not trust in the least in ourselves, nor ground ourselves upon any merits of our own, but put an entire confidence in God, who is more desirous to give us his grace than we are to ask it, and we shall quickly experience how ready he will be to show us mercy, and to hear our prayers. So true it is that no one ever trusted in him and was confounded.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to obtain our requests, we must take care to present them in the name of Jesus Christ, and through the merit of his death and passion. What we ask of God is mercy, grace, and salvation; now, our faith assures us there is no means of coming at mercy, grace, or salvation, but through Jesus Christ. 'No one can come to the Father but by him,' St. John xiv. 6. 'Whatsoever we shall ask the Father in his name, shall be given to us,' chap. xvi. 23, 24. But 'there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.' Acts iv. 12. Here then is the great ground of that faith and confidence with which we draw near to God, and address our prayers to him. The Son of God has died for us; he has made over to us the merits of his death and passion; he has purchased for us those graces which we pray for; his blood continually pleads in our behalf. Through him, then, 'let us go with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid.' Heb. iv. 16.

Conclude to take the blood of Christ along with you, as often as you desire to go by prayer within the veil, into the sanctuary of God; this will open to you the way to all mercy, grace, and salvation.

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