The challenge we have today is that certain words trigger certain contexts. When we hear the word “watch” we think “TV” and we assume we can relax and enjoy. What did Jesus mean by the word “watch”?
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he asked his disciples to watch with him. Obviously he wasn’t asking them to watch television. We see He was discouraged not to find them praying. Is watching a synonym for praying?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak
It seems that watching is distinct from praying. It’s times like this that I love using Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary (free online). Webster’s is filled with Scripture and is a great tool to understand Scripture.
5. To be attentive; to be vigilant in preparation for an event or trial, the time of whose arrival is uncertain.
WATCH therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Mat 24.
A few days ago, we looked at President Lincoln’s call for fasting and prayer. Other periods of American history were not overshadowed by crisis. Yet even in these times people recognized the need for thanksgiving.
Some people know that the sculptor of Mount Rushmore was Gutzon Borglum.
Most people don’t know that Gutzon Borglum called for a short history of the United States to be carved into stone at Mount Rushmore as well.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the chairman of the Inscription Committee. An inscription was chosen – but the insufferable Borglum was unable to accept anyone’s art (or literature) as equal to his own. It wasn’t until thirty years after Borglum died that the history was installed at Mount Rushmore.
Before these words are sand-blasted off by revisionist historians, I grabbed a photograph of this amazing history:
Almighty God, from this pulpit of stone the American people render thanksgiving and praise for the new era of civilization brought forth upon this continent. Centuries of tyrannical oppression sent to these shores, God-fearing men to seek in freedom the guidance of the benevolent hand in the progress toward wisdom, goodness toward men, and piety toward God.
Even though this was penned near the bottom of the Great Depression, notice the closing words:
Holding no fear of the economic and political chaotic clouds hovering over the earth, the consecrated Americans dedicate this nation before God, to exalt righteousness and to maintain mankind’s constituted liberties so long as the earth shall endure.
Daniel Whittle reminds us that God is faithful to His promises!
He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
A poor man with an empty purse came one day to Michael Feneberg, the godly pastor of Seeg, in Bavaria, and begged three crowns (15 shillings, or roughly $200 today), that he might finish his journey.
It was all the money Feneberg had, but as he besought him so earnestly in the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus he gave it.
Immediately after, he found himself in great outward need, and seeing no way of relief he prayed, saying, ‘Lord, I lent Thee three crowns; Thou hast not yet returned them, and Thou knowest how I need them. Lord, I pray Thee, give them back.’
The same day a messenger brought a money-letter, which Gossner, his assistant, reached over to Feneberg, saying, ‘Here, father, is what you expended.’
The letter contained two hundred thalers, or about one hundred and fifty dollars (over $4,000 today), which the poor traveler had begged from a rich man for the vicar; and the childlike old man, in joyful amazement, cried out, ‘Ah, dear Lord, one dare ask nothing of Thee, for straightway Thou makest one feel so much ashamed!’
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
Daniel Whittle shares this account of how someone sensitive to the Lord’s leading, gave – and received!
“‘A friend,’ says a venerable clergyman, Rev. Mr. H—-, ‘at a time when gold was scarce, made me a present of a five-dollar gold piece. I resolved not to spend it, and for a long time carried it in my pocket as a token of friendship. In riding about the country, I one day fell in with an acquaintance, who presented a subscription-book for the erection of a church in a destitute place.
“‘I can do nothing for you, Mr. B—-,’ said I; ‘my heart is in this good undertaking, but my pocket is entirely empty; having no money, you must excuse me.’
“‘Oh, certainly,’ said he; ‘all right, sir. We know you always give when it is in your power.’
“We parted; and after I had proceeded some distance, I bethought me of the piece of gold in my vest pocket. ‘What,’ said I to myself, ‘I told that man I had no money, when I had by me all the time this gold pocket-piece. This was an untruth, and I have done wrong.’ I kept reproaching myself in this way until I stopped, and took from my pocket the five-dollar piece.
“‘Of what use,’ said I, ‘is this piece of money, stowed away so nicely in my pocket?’ I made up my mind to turn back, and rode as fast as I could until I overtook Mr. B—-, to whom I gave the coin, and resumed my journey.
“A few days after, I stopped at the house of a lady, who treated me very hospitably, for which I could make no return, except in thanks and Christian counsel. When I took leave, she slipped into my vest pocket a little folded paper, which she told me to give to my wife. I supposed it was some trifle for the children, and thought no more of it until I reached home. I handed it to my wife, who opened it, and to my astonishment it was a five-dollar gold piece, the identical pocket-piece I had parted with but a few days before. I knew it was the same, for I had made a mark upon it; how this had been brought about was a mystery, but that the hand of the Lord was in it I could not doubt. ‘See,’ said I to my wife; ‘I thought I gave that money, but I only lent it; how soon has the Lord returned it! Never again will I doubt his word.’
“I afterward learned that Mr. B—- had paid over the coin to the husband of the lady at whose house I staid, along with some other money, in payment for lumber, and he had given it to his wife.
“Take my advice, and when appealed to for aid, fear not to give of your poverty; depend upon it the Lord will not let you lose by it, if you wish to do good. If you wish to prosper, ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; for with the same measure that ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’ ‘Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.'”
And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
We read of Balaam who’s donkey had better spiritual vision than he did – but has God stopped using animals to accomplish His will? Daniel Whittle records an account that seems to indicate that God still uses animals to answer prayer!
One morning a Christian farmer, in Rhode Island, put two bushels of rye in his wagon and started to the mill to get it ground. On his way to the mill he had to drive over a bridge that had no railings to the sides of it.
When he reached the middle of this bridge his horse, a quiet, gentle creature, began all at once to back. In spite of all the farmer could do, he kept on backing till the hinder wheels went over the side of the bridge, and the bag of grain was tipped out and fell into the stream. Then the horse stood still.
Some men came to help the farmer. The wagon was lifted back and the bag of grain was fished up from the water. Of course it could not be taken to the mill in that state. So the farmer had to take it home and dry it.
He had prayed that morning that God would protect and help him through the day, and he wondered what this accident had happened for. He found out, however, before long.
On spreading out the grain to dry he noticed a great many small pieces of glass mixed up with it. If this had been ground up with the grain into the flour it would have caused the death of himself and his family.
But Jehovah-Jireh was on that bridge. He made the horse back and throw the grain into the water to save the family from the danger that threatened them.
Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln William H. Seward, Secretary of State.
Daniel Whittle records this anecdote that’s a helpful reminder in prayer:
At family prayer, little Mary, one evening when all was silent, looked anxiously in the face of her back-sliding father, who had ceased to pray in his family, and said to him with quivering lips, “Pa, is God dead?”
“No, my child–why do you ask that?”
“Why, Pa, you never talk to him now as you used to do,” she replied.
These words haunted the father until he was mercifully reclaimed.
Daniel Whittle’s accounts of prayer are helpful – because too often we hear a sermon illustration that seems too far-fetched. Perhaps we check it on Snopes and find that the story is unsubstantiated. This account is one in which Daniel Whittle was personally involved.
One of the most beautiful incidents ever known relating to the faith of children, and the reward of their trust, is contained in the following circumstance, personally known to the editor of this book, who was a participant in the facts.
The only child of a young married couple, living in this city, their pride, their hope and joy, and the darling of the whole family, was seized with severe sickness, grew rapidly worse. The grandfather, who was a skilled physician, was constantly present, ministering in every way, by every means, but nothing was of any avail. No medicine could cure, and the child seemed ready to die. No one could think of relief or knew where to find it.
The grandfather, at last, proposed to lay the case before God, and ask the prayers of His people in the child’s behalf. The mother was only too glad to ask other prayers with her own, to bring relief. The father, who had hitherto never seriously thought of religion, was in intense anxiety and despair. Here was his first, his only child about to be taken away from him, and then came the thought, is it possible his family life was not to be blessed; his child was in distress, no human effort was available.
At last, he too joined in the prayer of his wife and father, and bowing before the Great Unknown, unseen God, he poured out his heart in prayer, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt spare my child, wilt give him life, and thus show to me thy power and will to save, I will never doubt again, and will give thee my heart”
A request for prayer was written and sent to the pastor, Dr. William Adams, of the Madison Square Church. It arrived after church service had begun; the sexton was unwilling to carry it to the pulpit, as it was against the rule, but when told he must, as a life was in great danger, he consented, and delivered it to the pastor.
The messenger waited breathlessly, and when in silence the doctor specifically mentioned the case before him, and asked the Lord to heal and spare the little one, and comfort the hearts of all, and make it a witness of his love and power, the messenger accidentally looked at the clock, and it marked just quarter to eleven, A.M.
When prayer was finished he returned home. Arriving at home, he was astonished to find the child better, its whole condition had changed, the medicine had taken hold, and the doctor now said everything was so hopeful the child would surely recover, and it did. But mark the unparalleled singularity of the scene.
The father asked the messenger the time when the prayer was offered. He replied, “At a quarter to eleven.” The father in astonishment said, “At that very moment the disease changed, and the doctor said he was better.”
The father, who had thus been proving the Lord with this test of prayer and its identity of time in his answer, was so overwhelmingly convinced of the real power of prayer, and thereby of the real existence of God, and that a Christian life was one of facts as well as beliefs, now finding that the Lord had indeed kept His own promise, he, too, kept his promise and gave his heart to the Lord, and became henceforth, a professing Christian.
But there were more wonderful things yet to happen–a period of five years passed. Other children were added to the family, and one day, the youngest, a sweet, beautiful girl, was taken suddenly ill with convulsions. The sickness for days tasked the strength of the mother, and the skill of the doctor, but no care, ingenuity, or knowledge could overcome the disease or subdue the pain.
The little girl’s fits were severe and distressing, and there were but short intervals between, just time to come out of one and with a gasp, pass into another still more terrible. In its occasional moments of reason, it would look piteously as if mutely appealing, and then the next convulsion would take it and seem to leave it just at death’s door.
All attendants were worn with care, the doctor fairly lived in the house and forsook all his other business. The clergyman came and comforted the anxious hearts with words of sympathy and prayer; but her little brother Merrill, (whose own life we have just related,) tender-hearted, a mere child, scarce seven years of age, who had known of the Lord, and who believed that He was everywhere and could do everything, was intensely grieved at “Mamie’s” distress, and came at last to his mother and asked if he could go and “make a prayer to God for Sissy.”
The mother said, “Go.”
The little boy went back into his room, and kneeling humbly by the side of his bed, as he did at his night and morning prayers, uttered this request:
“O God, please to bless little sister, she is very sick. Please stop her fits so she won’t have any more. For Jesus’ sake, amen.”
He came back, told his mamma what he said, and added: “Mamma, I don’t think she will have any more.”
Now mark how the Lord honored this simple faith of the little child. From that very moment the fits left her. They never returned; and the child soon entirely recovered.
Notice the full beauty and instruction of these two incidents: Little Merrill’s life was saved in answer to prayer; was the means of his father’s salvation, and when he in turn had grown to an age when he could learn of God, his own prayer was the means of saving his own sister’s life.
Notice, too, that all earthly available means were used to save each child, but to no effect. Physicians and parents considered the case hopeless, and then committed it to the decision of God.
Notice, too, that when little Merrill was so sick, that the mother and doctor both prayed, yet it was not until his father had also prayed that the answer came. God meant to honor the faith of the first two, but was waiting for the prayer of the third ere he granted the request. That child’s sickness was one of the purposes of God.
Notice in the second case, that while father, mother, doctor, the clergyman, and others of the house were all trusting in prayer, yet the Lord was waiting for the prayer of the little brother, ere he sent the blessing of relief. Such an incident draws its own conclusion.
Never cease in prayer for anything which is to God’s honor and glory.
Use all the possible means to help God.
Where human means are of no avail, commit it to God and wait in humble resignation.
Ask others to pray, too, for the same object, that when the answer comes, God may be glorified before the sight of others as well as your own.
When so many are waiting to see if God will honor his promises, depend upon it, God will be found faithful to all his word.
Another true account of answered prayer by Daniel Whittle, featuring the woman we met yesterday, Beate Paulus. God can still provide for tuition today!
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.
At another time Beate found herself unable to pay the expenses of the children’s schooling, and the repeated demands for money were rendered more grievous by the reproaches of her husband, who charged her with attempting impossibilities, and told her that her self-will would involve them in disgrace. She, however, professed her unwavering confidence that the Lord would soon interpose for their relief, while his answer was: “We shall see; time will show.”
In the midst of these trying circumstances, as her husband was one day sitting in his study, absorbed in meditation, the postman brought three letters from different towns where the boys were at school, each declaring that unless the dues were promptly settled, the lads would be dismissed. The father read the letters with growing excitement, and spreading them out upon the table before his wife as she entered the room, exclaimed: “There, look at them, and pay our debt with your faith! I have no money, nor can I tell where to go for any.”
“Seizing the papers, she rapidly glanced through them, with a very grave face, but then answered firmly, ‘It is all right; the business shall be settled. For He who says, “The gold and silver is mine,” will find it an easy thing to provide these sums.’ Saying which she hastily left the room.
“Our father readily supposed she intended making her way to a certain rich friend who had helped us before. He was mistaken, for this time her steps turned in a different direction. We had in the parsonage an upper loft, shut off by a trap-door from the lower one, and over this door it was that she now knelt down, and began to deal with Him in whose strength she had undertaken the work of her children’s education.
She spread before Him those letters from the study table, and told Him of her husband’s half scoffing taunt. She also reminded Him how her life had been redeemed from the very gates of death, for the children’s sake, and then declared that she could not believe that He meant to forsake her at this juncture; she was willing to be the second whom He might forsake, but she was determined not to be the first.
“In the meanwhile, her husband waited down stairs, and night came on; but she did not appear. Supper was ready, and yet she stayed in the loft. Then the eldest girl, her namesake Beate, ran up to call her; but the answer was, ‘Take your supper without me, it is not time for me to eat.’ Late in the evening, the little messenger was again dispatched, but returned with the reply: ‘Go to bed; the time has not come for me to rest.’ A third time, at breakfast next morning, the girl called her mother. ‘Leave me alone,’ she said; ‘I do not need breakfast; when I am ready I shall come.’ Thus the hours sped on, and down stairs her husband and the children began to feel frightened, not daring, however, to disturb her any more.
At last the door opened, and she entered, her face beaming with a wonderful light. The little daughter thought that something extraordinary must have happened; and running to her mother with open arms, asked eagerly: ‘What is it? Did an angel from heaven bring the money?’ ‘No, my child,’ was the smiling answer, ‘but now I am sure that it will come.’
She had hardly spoken, when a maid in peasant costume entered, saying: ‘The master of the Linden Inn sends to ask whether the Frau Pastorin can spare time to see him?’ ‘Ah, I know what he wants,’ answered our mother. ‘My best regards, and I will come at once.’
Whereupon she started, and mine host, looking out of his window, saw her from afar, and came forward to welcome her with the words: ‘O Madame, how glad I am you have come!’ Then leading her into his back parlor he said; ‘I cannot tell how it is, but the whole of this last night I could not sleep for thinking of you. For some time I have had several hundred gulden lying in that chest, and all night long I was haunted by the thought that you needed this money, and that I ought to give it to you. If that be the case, there it is–take it; and do not trouble about repaying me. Should you be able to make it up again, well and good–if not, never mind.’
On this my mother said: ‘Yes, I do most certainly need it, my kind friend; for all last night I too was awake, crying to God for help. Yesterday there came three letters, telling us that all our boys would he dismissed unless the money for their board is cleared at once.’
“‘Is it really so?’ exclaimed the innkeeper, who was a noble-hearted and spiritual Christian man. ‘How strange and wonderful! Now I am doubly glad I asked you to come!’ Then opening the chest, he produced three weighty packets, and handed them to her with a prayer that God’s blessing might rest upon the gift.
She accepted it with the simple words: ‘May God make good to you this service of Christian sympathy; for you have acted as the steward of One who has promised not even to leave the giving of a cup of cold water unrewarded.’
“Husband and children were eagerly awaiting her at home, and those three dismal letters still lay open on the table, when the mother, who had quitted that study in such deep emotion the day before, stepped up to her husband, radiant with joy. On each letter, she laid a roll of money and then cried: ‘Look, there it is! And now believe that faith in God is no empty madness!'”
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Daniel Whittle shares with us the faith of a mother:
Beate Paulus was the wife of a German minister who lived on the borders of the Black Forest. She has several incidents which illustrate the power of living faith, and the providence of a prayer-hearing God.
Though destitute of wealth, she much desired to educate her children, and five of her six boys were placed in school, while she struggled, and prayed, and toiled,–not only in the house, but out of doors,–to provide for their necessities.
“On one occasion,” writes one of her children, “shortly before harvest, the fields stood thick with corn, and our mother had already calculated that their produce would suffice to meet all claims for the year. She was standing at the window casting the matter over in her mind, with great satisfaction, when her attention was suddenly caught by some heavy, black clouds with white borders, drifting at a great rate across the Summer sky. ‘It is a hail-storm!’ she exclaimed in dismay, and quickly throwing up the window, she leaned out. Her eyes rested upon a frightful mass of wild storm-clouds, covering the western horizon, and approaching with rapid fury.
“‘O God!’ she cried, ‘there comes an awful tempest, and what is to become of my corn?’ The black masses rolled nearer and nearer, while the ominous rushing movement that precedes a storm, began to rock the sultry air, and the dreaded hail-stones fell with violence. Half beside herself with anxiety about those fields lying at the eastern end of the valley, she now lifted her hands heavenward, and wringing them in terror, cried: ‘Dear Father in heaven, what art thou doing? Thou knowest I cannot manage to pay for my boys at school, without the produce of those fields! Oh! turn Thy hand, and do not let the hail blast my hopes!’
Scarcely, however, had these words crossed her lips when she started, for it seemed to her as if a voice had whispered in her ear,’ Is my arm shortened that it cannot help thee in other ways?’ Abashed, she shrank into a quiet corner, and there entreated God to forgive her want of faith. In the meantime the storm passed. And now various neighbors hurried in, proclaiming that the whole valley lay thickly covered with hail-stones, down to the very edge of the parsonage fields, but the latter had been quite spared. The storm had reached their border, and then suddenly taking another direction into the next valley. Moreover, that the whole village was in amazement, declaring that God had wrought a miracle for the sake of our mother, whom he loved. She listened, silently adoring the goodness of the Lord, and vowing that henceforth her confidence should be only in Him.”
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: