(3) Christ prayed for the children: “Then were there brought unto Him little children that He should lay His hands on them, and pray.... And He took them in His arms, and blessed them, laying His hands upon them.” It is surely needless to dwell on this. What man is there who, if he have a child, will not speak to God in his behalf? “And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God that we die not.... And Samuel said unto the people, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.” God have mercy on him who has little children who bear his name, but who never cries to heaven in their behalf! “He blessed them,” i.e. He invoked a blessing, God’s blessing, upon them. And we are sure the prayer was heard, and the little ones were blessed. And will not God hear our prayers for our children? When Monica, the saintly mother of Augustine, besought an African bishop once and again to help her with her wilful, profligate son, the good man answered her, “Woman, go in peace; it cannot be that the child of such tears should be lost.” “God’s seed,” wrote Samuel Rutherford to Marion M’Naught about her daughter Grizel, “shall come to God’s harvest.” It shall, for the promise holds, and what we have sown we shall also reap.
(4) And, lastly, Christ prayed for individuals: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you,—all of you,” that is; the pronoun is plural— “that he might sift you as wheat; but I made supplication for thee”— “thee, Peter”; now the singular pronoun is used—“that thy faith fail not.” The words point to a definite crisis in the experience of Peter, when the onset of the Tempter was met by the intercession of the Saviour. To me Gethsemane itself is not more wonderful than this picture of Christ on His knees before God, naming His loved disciple by name, and praying that, in this supreme hour of his life, his faith should not utterly break down. “Making mention of thee in my prayers”—does this not bring us near to the secret of prevailing prayer? We are afraid to be individual and particular; we lose ourselves in large generalities, until our prayers die of very vagueness. There is surely a more excellent way. “My God,” Paul wrote to the Philippians, “shall fulfil”—not merely “all your need,” as the Authorized Version has it, but—“every need of yours.” There is a fine discrimination in the Divine love which sifts and sorts men’s needs, and applies itself to them one by one, just as the need may be. And when in prayer we speak to God, let it be not only of “all our need,” flung in one great, careless heap before Him, but of “every need of ours,” each one named by its name, and all spread out in order before Him.
And as Christ teaches us to pray for others, so also does He teach us to pray for ourselves. Two points only in this connection can be noted.