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Pleasure In Selfish Prayer
A. B. Earle
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TOPIC and SUBTOPIC: Communion With God, No Desire For Indicative.

TITLE: Pleasure In Selfish Prayer

I once asked a lady whose character seemed as spotless as it is possible to be in this life, who said she had always enjoyed secret prayer, if there was a friend in the world whose society she enjoyed when she wanted nothing of that friend except to be in his presence, no personal or selfish end in view, nothing wanted except to enjoy being in his society. She said: "There is just such a friend, in whose society and presence I spend hours of the greatest pleasure, simply because I love him."

I inquired if she felt the same or equal pleasure in the closet or in communion with God; whether she had seasons for secret praise to God, when nothing was wanted except to be in his presence, to praise him for his purity and holiness.

She replied: "I see my heart, sir. I see myself a lost sinner. My pleasure in prayer has been all selfishness, no love for holiness. Although I have lived a moral life, and enjoyed secret prayer, it has been only when I wanted some favor from God, not because I loved his purity, and desired to be in his presence. I see that my heart has been dead in its affections towards God all this time; I see the need of being born again, of a new heart."

I have seldom seen a more earnest seeker than this lady. It was not a change in her outward life she sought, this was apparently without blemish, but a change in her affections toward the holiness of God.

There is nothing in our fallen nature, which, if cultivated in the best possible manner, would bring our hearts, or affections, into union with holiness and purity. If unregenerate men were taken into heaven itself, and if it were possible to live in the society of the pure and the holy for ages, even this would not bring love to God and holiness into the soul. Ye must be born again, would still remain true. Being in heaven among the redeemed would not bring life into the dead affections.

I heard of a man who was a profane swearer, a rejecter of offered mercy, who could not sleep until he had repeated aloud the prayer his mother taught him when a child, Now I lay me down to sleep.

Having repeated this simple prayer, he was so far satisfied that he could go for favors, even if we really disliked him, yet, if he received us kindly, and granted our requests, we should feel a kind of satisfaction in going for those favors, although we had no love for the man. So we may find a certain satisfaction in prayer, a degree of pleasure, it may be, in going to God for what we think we want.

This is a very different thing from feeling a real pleasure in simply being in Gods presence to praise him for his holiness and purity, when we want nothing in particular, to have seasons for secret praise.

Let me ask the reader whether the pleasure you feel in secret prayer is only when you want something in particular of him, and so may be entirely selfish pleasure, or do you, at least, have seasons when you want simply to praise God for his purity and holiness, finding real pleasure in being in his presence, because you love him?

A. B. Earle, From: Incidents Used In His Meetings, published in 1888.

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