PRAYER OUT OF SOUL-DEPTHS

“Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.” Psalm cxxx.2

SEASONS of soul-depths are ever seasons of heart-prayer in the Christian’s experience. At no period does the divine life of the regenerate so strongly and triumphantly vindicate its nature, and assert its reality and power, as then. This was the case under consideration. “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.” That must indeed be a “depth,” a soundless depth of spiritual despondency, in which the soul is either debarred from prayer, or is so imprisoned, that it cannot send up its cries to God. But this was not the case of David. He gave himself immediately and unreservedly to prayer. “I cried unto thee, O Lord.” What irrefragable evidence he affords of the existence of that spiritual life in the living soul which cannot die; of that faith in the believing soul which cannot be repressed; of that divine love in the loving soul which many waters cannot quench! Communion with God is the outbreathing of the quickened soul, and no distance can arrest, or condition stifle it. “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed” Deep exercise of soul is often God’s mode of rousing the slumbering spirit, and quickening the sluggish energy of prayer. Its potency and pre-eminence are only learnt to any great extent when faith is tried, and the heart is overwhelmed, and the soul is plunged into great “depths.” But, sink the soul as it may, the arrow of prayer-feathered with a divine promise, springing from the bow of faith, and winged by the power of the Spirit-will overcome every obstacle, pierce every cloud, and fasten itself upon the throne of the Eternal God. Was not this the experience of Jonah? “I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord, and He heard me; out of the belly of hell (his watery grave) cried I, and thou heardest me.”   But a greater than Jonah shall testify. Were there ever such fathomless soul-depths as Christ’s, when, as their Divine Substitute, He bore their sins, endured their curse, and suffered the wrath of God on behalf of His people? “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink into deep mire where there is no standing.” Behold he prayeth! And as He advanced into the tornado of the curse, the storm thickening and darkening around Him-as He sank deeper and yet deeper into the mountain billows of divine wrath-the huge breakers surging and foaming around His holy soul-as He exhausted drop by drop ‘the cup of trembling,’ until the very lees touched His quivering lips,, Lo! “HE PRAYED MORE EARNESTLY!” The intensity of His prayer rose with the agony of His spirit; its earnestness gathered strength with the anguish of His soul. “Being in an AGONY He PRAYED more earnestly.” Sinking, suffering saint, learn the secret of your support! “He prayed more earnestly.” Who in the days of His flesh, when He offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was hard in that He feared.” Go thou and do likewise. Pray-pray-PRAY Out of the depths of your difficulty, your want, yoursorrow, cry mightily unto God. There is no ‘depth’ so profound, no darkness so dense, no want so pressing, or perplexity so great, but from it you may cry unto God, the Lord inclining His ear to the softest, faintest breathing of your soul.  “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.” Cries out of the depths of soul-distress have a peculiar eloquence and an irresistible success with God-just as the plaintive wail of sick and suffering child reaches and penetrates a parent’s heart more quickly and more deeply than all others. It is a beautiful thought embodied in the Psalmist’s prayer: “My soul hangeth upon God.” Look for a moment at the Object upon which the believing, sinking soul thus hangs. It is upon DEITY. The world around is hanging upon every object but God. Some are hanging upon self, some upon their wealth-some upon their intellectual powers-some upon their bodily strength-some upon their long life-some upon the creature-some upon their own righteousness; all are hanging upon some object below Christ and God.  How frail and fatal the support! Soon the prop bends-the stirrup breaks-the fulcrum yields-the sands glide away-and great is the fall of him who suspended upon such created and fragile support his happiness in this life, and his hope of the life that is to come. But, the believing soul, though a desponding and sinking soul, hangs upon God. Listen to the language of David: “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a day and thirsty land, where no water is. Again: “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.” This is the support of every gracious soul; and he who hangs not upon this divine support, hangs upon nothing. Listen to Jehoshaphat’s prayer in his distress, when the mighty host of the Ammonites came against him to battle. See how he hung ‘upon God! “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: our eyes are upon Thee.” And the Lord delivered them into his hand that day, and all that he did was to stand and see the salvation of the Lord. And thus was it with Asa. Oppressed by a powerful enemy, too strong for his scanty forces, he thus hung upon God in his extremity. “Lord it is nothing with thee to help, ‘whether with many, or with them that have no power.” And what a “nail in the sure place” is the Lord Jesus Christ, the sure, spiritual Eliakim, upon whom the soul may hang its sins, and sorrows, and hope of glory. “I will fasten him,” says the Father, “as a nail in a sure place…And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house…all the vessels.” Sin-burdened soul, sinking into depths of guilt and despair, come; and hang in faith upon this Divine, this most sure nail,” and thou shalt be saved! Hang upon Him as a personal Saviour! Hang upon His blood to cleanse, upon His righteousness to justify, upon His grace to subdue, upon His fullness to supply, upon His willingness and power to save to the uttermost extent of your sin and guilt. Hang upon God-upon His strength to deliver you, upon His wisdom to counsel you, upon His love to comfort you, upon His infinite resources to meet your every want; and your song shall be-

(The Spiritual Life by Octavius Winslow) Chapter II

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11
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