But having gotten that far I might go over there and make bad mistakes. I might get our diplomatic relations tangled up, requiring many explanations, and maybe apologies, and leaving unpleasant memories for a long time to come. Such incidents have not been infrequent. Nations are very sensitive. Governmental affairs must be handled with great nicety. There would be a second thing which if I were a wise enough man to be an ambassador I would likely do. I would go to see John Hay and Joseph H. Choate, and have as many interviews with them as possible, and learn all I possibly could from them of London official life, court etiquette, personages to be dealt with, things to do, and things to avoid. How to be a successful diplomat and further the good feeling between the two governments, and win friends for our country among the sturdy Britons would be my one absorbing thought. And having gotten all I could in that way I would be constantly on the alert with all the mental keenness I could command to practice being a successful ambassador.
The first of these would make me technically an ambassador. The second would tend towards giving me some skill as an ambassador. Now there are the same two how’s in praying. First the relationship must be established before any business can be transacted. Then skill must be acquired in the transacting of the business on hand.
Just now, we want to talk about the first of these, the how of relationship in prayer. The basis of prayer is right relationship with God. Prayer is representing God in the spirit realm of this world. It is insisting upon His rights down in this sphere of action. It is standing for Him with full powers from Him. Clearly the only basis of such relationship to God is Jesus. We have been outlawed by sin. We were in touch with God. We broke with Him. The break could not be repaired by us. Jesus came. He was God and Man. He touches both. We get back through Him, and only so. The blood of the cross is the basis of all prayer. Through it the relationship is established that underlies all prayer. Only as I come to God through Jesus to get the sin score straightened, and only as I keep in sympathy with Jesus in the purpose of my life can I practice prayer.
Six Sweeping Statements.
Jesus’ own words make this very clear. There are two groups of teachings on prayer in those three and a half years as given by the gospel records. The first of these groups is in the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus preached about half-way through the second year of His ministry. The second group comes sheer at the end. All of it is in the last six months, and most of it in the last ten days, and much of that on the very eve of that last tragic day.
It is after the sharp rupture with the leaders that this second series of statements is made. The most positive, and most sweeping utterances on prayer are here. Of Jesus’ eight promises regarding prayer six are here. I want to ask you please to notice these six promises or statements; and then, to notice their relation to our topic of to-day.