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But, I have one story more to tell you, which shows what kind of feeling you must have when you pray, and what spirit God will not bless. It is a parable that Jesus told to some people that thought they were very good, and despised others.' You know a parable is a story, either real or supposed, told in order to explain the truth. In this parable, Jesus said, a Pharisee and a publican went up into the temple to pray, both at the same time. The Pharisee said, 'God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.""
"I am sure he was not humble, mother; for he was praising himself all the time.'
"The Pharisee, my dear, showed such a spirit as God will never bless. He thought he was good enough. He had no sense of his sins, nor of his
wants. He had only to thank God, for what he was, in such a way as to take all the praise to himself. Now, if you think in your heart, 'O how much better I am than the wicked children in the streets. I go to Sabbath-school, and to church; I read my Bible and pray to God; and I think God will hear my prayers:' you may be sure he will not hear them. The Lord Jesus sharply reproves the church at Laodicea, because they had a good opinion of themselves, and did not feel their wants. "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.""
"But how did the publican pray, mother?"
"He was borne down with a sense of his sins; and he stood afar-off, and would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his
breast, saying, 'GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER.' And Christ says, ‘I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.' But, besides being humble, we should pray with filial feeling, or such a feeling as a little child has towards a kind and tender parent. Do you not remember, my love, how you felt towards your father, after he had corrected you for being naughty, and you submitted to him, and begged his pardon; and he forgave you, and received you into his favour again?”
"O yes, mother, I shall never forget how I felt then. I felt very sorry that I had grieved such a kind father; and my heart almost broke, when he forgave me. I loved him better than ever; and felt as if I wanted to call him 'my father.'
"Well, that is the way you should
feel towards your heavenly Father. The apostle John says, 'Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!' and the apostle Paul says, 'Ye have not received the spirit of bondage, again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.' And, in another place, 'Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.' You will find examples of this filial feeling, in the prayer of David, after the Lord had promised to establish his kingdom, in the seventh chapter of the second book of Samuel; in the prayer of Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, in the eighth chapter of the first book of Kings; in the prayers of Jesus, at the resurrection of Lazarus, and for his disciples, before his crucifixion; and also, in the prayer of the disciples,
when threatened by the rulers, already mentioned. But, there is another feeling we must have. We must be THANKFUL. 'In every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God.' 'Continue in prayer, and watch in the same, with thanksgiving.' So says the apostle Paul; and Daniel was in the habit of giving thanks, when he prayed. And, most of the prayers mentioned in the Bible are full of thanksgivings. How would you feel, my dear, if you should be very kind to some poor little girl, and give her a great many good things that she needed, and she should never once thank you; but should keep begging for more, as if she thought she had a right to every thing you had to give?"
"I should not like it at all, mother. I should think she did not deserve to have any thing."
Well, just think what God has