|'What wilt thou?' Or, Prayer must be
Jesus answered him, and said, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?'--MARK
x. 51; LUKE xviii. 41.
THE blind man had been crying out aloud, and that a great
deal, 'Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.' The cry had reached the ear
of the Lord; He knew what he wanted, and was ready to grant it him. But
ere He does it, He asks him: 'What wilt thou that I should do unto
thee?' He wants to hear from his own lips, not only the general petition
for mercy, but the distinct expression of what his desire was. Until he
speaks it out, he is not healed.
There is now still many a suppliant to
whom the Lord puts the same question, and who cannot, until it has been
answered, get the aid he ask. Our prayers must not be a vague appeal to
His mercy, an indefinite cry for blessing, but the distinct expression of
definite need. Not that His loving heart does not understand our cry, or
is not ready to hear. But He desires it for our own sakes. Such
definite prayer teaches us to know our own needs better. It demands time,
and thought, and self-scrutiny to find out what really is our greatest need.
It searches us and puts us to the test as to whether our desires are
honest and real, such as we are ready to persevere in. It leads us to
judge whether our desires are according to God's Word, and whether we really
believe that we shall receive the things we ask. It helps us to wait for
the special answer, and to mark it when it comes.
how much of our prayer is vague and pointless. Some cry for mercy, but
take not the trouble to know what mercy must do for them. Others ask,
perhaps, to be delivered from sin, but do not begin by bringing any sin by name
from which the deliverance may be claimed. Still others pray for God's
blessing on those around them, for the outpouring of God's Spirit on their land
or the world, and yet have no special field where they wait and expect to see
the answer. To all the Lord says: And what is it now you really want
and expect Me to do? Every Christian has but limited powers, and as he
must have his own special field of labour in which he works, so with his prayers
too. Each believer has his own circle, his family, his friends, his
neighbours. If he were to take one or more of these by name, he would find
that this really brings him into the training-school of faith, and leads to
personal and pointed dealing with his God. It is when in such distinct
matters we have in faith claimed and received answers, that our more general
prayers will be believing and effectual.
know with what surprise the whole civilised world heard of the way in which
trained troops were repulsed by the Transvaal Boers at Majuba. And to what
did they owe their success? In the armies of Europe the soldier fires upon
the enemy standing in large masses, and never thinks of seeking an aim for every
bullet. In hunting game the Boer had learnt a different lesson: his
practised eye knew to send every bullet on its special message, to seek and find
its man. Such aiming must gain the day in the spiritual world too.
As long as in prayer we just pour out our hearts in a multitude of
petitions, without taking time to see whether every petition is sent with the
purpose and expectation of getting an answer, not many will reach the mark.
But if, as in silence of soul we bow before the Lord, we were to ask such
questions as these: What is now really my desire? do I desire it in
faith, expecting to receive? am I now ready to place and leave it in the
Father's bosom? is it a settled thing between God and me that I am to have
the answer? we should learn so to pray that God would see and we would
know what we really expect.
It is for this, among other reasons, that
the Lord warns us against the vain repetitions of the Gentiles, who think to be
heard for their much praying. We often hear prayers of great earnestness
and fervour, in which a multitude of petitions are poured forth, but to which
the Saviour would undoubtedly answer 'What wilt thou that I should do unto
thee?' If I am in a strange land, in the interests of the business which
my father owns, I would certainly write two different sorts of letters.
There will be family letters giving expression to all the intercourse to
which affection prompts; and there will be business letters, containing orders
for what I need. And there may be letters in which both are found.
The answers will correspond to the letters. To each sentence of the
letters containing the family news I do not expect a special answer. But
for each order I send I am confident of an answer whether the desired article
has been forwarded. In our dealings with God the business element must not
be wanting. With our expression of need and sin, of love and faith and
consecration, there must be the pointed statement of what we ask and expect to
receive; it is in the answer that the Father loves to give us the token of His
approval and acceptance.
But the word of the Master teaches us
more. He does not say, What dost thou wish? but, What does thou
will? One often wishes for a thing without willing it. I
wish to have a certain article, but I find the price too high; I resolve
not to take it; I wish, but do not will to have it. The
sluggard wishes to be rich, but does not will it. Many a one wishes to be
saved, but perishes because he does not will it. The will rules the whole
heart and life; if I really will to have anything that is within my reach, I do
not rest till I have it. And so, when Jesus says to us, 'What wilt thou?'
He asks whether it is indeed our purpose to have what we ask at any price,
however great the sacrifice. Dost thou indeed so will to have it that,
though He delay it long, thou dost not hold thy peace till He hear thee?
Alas! how many prayers are wishes, sent up for a short time and then
forgotten, or sent up year after year as matter of duty, while we rest content
with the prayer without the answer.
may be asked, is it not best to make our wishes known to God, and then to leave
it to Him to decide what is best, without seeking to assert our will? By
no means. This is the very essence of the prayer of faith, to which Jesus
sought to train His disciples, that it does not only make known its desire and
then leave the decision to God. That would be the prayer of submission,
for cases in which we cannot know God's will. But the prayer of faith,
finding God's will in some promise of the Word, pleads for that till it come.
In Matthew (ix. 28) we read Jesus said to the blind man: 'Believe
ye that I can do this?' Here, in Mark, He says: 'What wilt
thou that I should do?' In both cases He said that faith had saved
them. And so He said to the Syrophenician woman, too: 'Great is thy
faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.' Faith is
nothing but the purpose of the will resting on God's word, and saying: I
must have it. To believe truly is to will firmly.
not such a will at variance with our dependence on God and our submission to
Him? By no means; it is much rather the true submission that honours God.
It is only when the child has yielded his own will in entire surrender to
the Father, that he receives from the Father liberty and power to will what he
would have. But, when once the believer has accepted the will of God, as
revealed through the Word and Spirit, as his will, too, then it is the will of
God that His child should use this renewed will in His service. The will
is the highest power in the soul; grace wants above everything to sanctify and
restore this will, one of the chief traits of God's image, to full and free
exercise. As a son, who only lives for his father's interests, who seeks
not his own but his father's will is trusted by the father with his business, so
God speaks to His child in all truth, 'What wilt thou?' It is often
spiritual sloth that, under the appearance of humility, professes to have no
will, because it fears the trouble of searching out the will of God, or, when
found, the struggle of claiming it in faith. True humility is ever in
company with strong faith, which only seeks to know what is according to the
will of God, and then boldly claims the fulfilment of the promise: 'Ye
shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.'
`LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.'
Lord Jesus! teach me to pray with
all my heart and strength, that there may be no doubt with Thee or with me as to
what I have asked. May I so know what I desire that, even as my petitions
are recorded in heaven, I can record them on earth too, and note each answer as
it comes. And may my faith in what Thy Word has promised be so clear that
the Spirit may indeed work in me the liberty to will that it shall come.
Lord! renew, strengthen, sanctify wholly my will for the work of
Blessed Saviour! I do beseech Thee to reveal to
me the wonderful condescension Thou showest us, thus asking us to say what we
will that Thou shouldest do, and promising to do whatever we will. Son of
God! I cannot understand it; I can only believe that Thou hast indeed
redeemed us wholly for Thyself, and dost seek to make the will, as our noblest
part, Thy most efficient servant. Lord! I do most unreservedly yield
my will to Thee, as the power through which Thy Spirit is to rule my whole
being. Let Him take possession of it, lead it into the truth of Thy
promises, and make it so strong in prayer that I may ever hear Thy voice saying:
'Great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.'
Public Domain [Copy Freely]