And show him My salvation. That is the whole text summed up in one phrase. That is the life of the godly man gathered into the compass of the divine promise. For every one who goes the way of faith and obedience, life in every phase of it, life here and hereafter, means but one thing and holds but one thing, and that is the salvation of the Lord.
PETITION AND COMMUNION
Hear me speedily, O Lord....
Cause me to hear ...
For I lift up my soul unto Thee.
Ps. cxliii. 7, 8.
You will notice that the first verse begins ‘Hear me,’ and the second begins ‘Cause me to hear’; and the second is greater than the first. Let us look, then, at these two attitudes of a man in his hour of prayer.
Hear me. The Psalmist began, where all men must begin, with himself. He had something to utter in the hearing of the Almighty. He had something to lay before his God—a story, a confession, a plea. His heart was full, and must outpour itself into the ear of Heaven. ‘Hear me speedily, O Lord.’ We have all prayed thus. We have all faced some situation that struck a note of urgency in our life, and all your soul has come to our lips in this one cry that went up to the Father, ‘Hear me.’ A sudden pain, a surprise of sorrow, a few moments of misty uncertainty in the face of decisions that had to be made at once, times when life has tried to rush us from our established position and to bear us we know not where—and our soul has reached out after God as simply and naturally as a man grasps at some fixed thing when he is falling.
There are times, too, when prayer is an indefinable relief. We all know something about the relief of speech. We must speak to somebody. Our need is not, first of all, either advice or practical help. We want a hearing. We want some one to listen and sympathize. We want to share our pain. That is what ‘Hear me’ sometimes means. Whatever Thou shalt see fit to do for me, at least listen to my cry. Let me unburden my soul. Let me get this weight of silence off my heart. This fashion of relief is part of the true office of prayer. Herein lies the reasonableness of telling our story in the ear of One who knows that story better than we do. We need not inform the All-knowing, but we must commune with the All-pitiful. We make our life known unto God that we may make it bearable unto ourselves.
But let us look at the attitude of mind and heart revealed in this second position, Cause me to hear. Now we are coming to the larger truth about prayer, and the deeper spirit of it. Prayer is not merely claiming a hearing; it is giving a hearing. It is not only speaking to God; it is listening to God. And as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are the words we hear greater than the words we speak. Let us not forget this. Let us not pauperize