“And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (xxiii. 34).
And if thus He, the Redeemer, prayed, how much greater need have we, the redeemed, always to pray and not to faint?
“But we are so busy, we have no time.” Then let us look at another picture. This time it is Mark who is the painter. He has chosen as his subject our Lord’s first Sabbath in Capernaum. The day begins with teaching: “He entered into the synagogue and taught.” After teaching comes healing: “There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit;” him, straightway, Jesus healed. Then, “straightway, when they were come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and straightway they tell Him of her; and He came and took her by the hand, and raised her up.” So the day wore on toward evening and sunset, when “they brought unto Him all that were sick, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many that were sick with divers diseases and cast out many devils.” So closed at last the long day’s busy toil. “And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose up and went out and departed into a desert place, and there prayed;” as if just because He was so much with men the more did He need to be with God. Laborare est orare, we say, “work is prayer.” And, undoubtedly, “work may be prayer”; but we are deceiving ourselves and hurting our own souls, if we think that work can take the place of prayer. And if there is one lesson that these earthly years of the Son of Man—busy as they were prayerful, prayerful as they were busy—can teach us, it is surely this, that just because our activities are so abounding, the more need have we to make a space around the soul wherein it may be able to think, and pray, and aspire.
One of the best-known pictures of the last half century is Millet’s “Angelus.” The scene is a potato-field, in the midst of which, and occupying the foreground of the picture, are two figures, a young man and a young woman. Against the distant sky-line is the steeple of a church. It is the evening hour, and as the bell rings which calls the villagers to worship, the workers in the field lay aside the implements of their toil, and with folded hands and bowed heads, stand for a moment in silent prayer. It is a picture of what every life should be, of what every life must be, which has taken as its pattern the Perfect Life in which work and prayer are blent like bells of sweet accord.