What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray to him?
It does us good in various ways.
1. There is a certain relief to our overcharged feelings procured by means of prayer to the Almighty. A striking passage occurs in the celebrated paper by Tyndall, proposing a plan by which the efficacy of prayer should be put to the test. While he distinctly denies to prayer the power of effecting objective results, or results outside of us, Tyndall admits that the exercise is not altogether vain and valueless. It does some good. His words are, "There is a yearning of the heart, a craving for help it knows not whence. Certainly from no source it sees. Of a similar kind is the bitter cry of the hare when the greyhound is almost upon her. She abandons hope through her own efforts, and screams. It is a voice convulsively sent out into space, whose utterance is a physical relief." Prayer is a physical relief. Herein is its value, In moments of distress the soul is relieved by giving vocal expression to its anguish. The doom is not averted by the prayer — It can have no possible result of that kind — but the prayer dominates the pain with which the soul anticipates calamity.
2. Prayer is valuable as an intellectual drill. As the mental faculties are brought into exercise by this approach to the Deity, the mind is benefited by prayer in the same way that the beefy is benefited by a turn at gymnastics. The profoundest and noblest themes engage us in our addresses to God; and expressing our thoughts usually in words, we have the additional advantage of being compelled to clearness and definiteness in our conceptions.
3. According to this theory, prayer is valuable in respect of what it does for our moral and spiritual nature. The emotional part of our being is quickened by this Divine exercise. You can at once see how humility, patience, resignation, and suchlike qualities are developed in our hearts by this means. Contact with a Being infinitely holy will also stimulate our admiration and desire for what is pure and good and noble. If I cannot benefit another by my prayers, I can, at least, by the intercourse and fellowship I have with God in them, secure for myself moral impulse and moral tone. Prayer is a means of grace, not in that it secures for our sanctification any supernatural good, but in that it brings us into communication and close converse with a Holy Being.
(A. F. Forrest.)
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