Prayer request

There can be little doubt that much of the fading interest in spiritual things which marks these days, and much also of our scepticism and indifference, are due to the neglect of the inner life. So long as they remain strangers to their own souls and are content to let others feel, think, and believe for them, they will be more or less ignorant of the truth by experience. Without the personal assurance of our spiritual needs and yearnings we are not able to appreciate the testimony to God and to the things of God borne of the trials of life. Also, we can never, outside of the soul, find the true and permanent ground and bond or true sympathy and fellowship. On the surface we are divided, often to all appearance hopelessly divided, but in the depths we are one---breathing out the same aspirations and prayers, having the same need of God, and the same joy in God.

To the soul, then, we must return. Out of it have come worship, prayers, liturgies, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and it is still full of the elements of revelation. It is an unexhausted and inexhaustible world. The outward universe has none of those mysterious and unsearchable depths which we find in our spiritual being. When we gaze on the splendor of the morning sky, and all the stars in company, and think, How beautiful it is! Our soul says, There is more than this. And there is more than this. God is, indeed, immanent in the world of Nature and in the order of life, but He is still more intimately present in the soul of man. Our spiritual being relates us immediately to the Infinite and Eternal Spirit, and it is this Divine depth of root and resource which is the explanation of all our aspirations and the justification of the most daring hopes we can cherish of illimitable development.

The Cry for God out of the depths is the natural utterance of the awakening soul of man in every land and age. It may not always be an intelligent or conscious cry, but a seeker after God man has always been and must ever be, because from God he comes, and with a nature so constituted that only in God can he find his full and final satisfaction and rest. The surface of his life may often appear to say one thing and its depths quite another thing, but it is the cry from the depths that reveals what he truly is and what he most needs. Outwardly he may seem too far off and cry for other things more than for the presence of God, and to find his peace and joy in them; but when his soul is moved, in all those crisis which throw light on the inner state of his being, the cry for God is seen to be fundamental, and his longing to connect his life in some way with the life of the invisible and eternal world an irrepressible longing which tends ever to rise into a strong and intense passion.

"The human soul," said Tertullian, "is naturally Christian. The testimonies of the soul [to God] are as true as they are simple, as simple as they are universal, as universal as they are natural, as natural as they are divine." If we will but listen attentively we can hear in all peoples a groaning of the spirit, a struggle to utter the unutterable, a longing after the Infinite, a love of God.

There are movements of thought and feeling, far below the upper tides and disturbing agitations which we see, that bear silent but strong witness to the spiritual instincts and impulses of humanity. The cry for truth, for right, for justice, for love, is a cry for God. God is at the root of all our ethical aspirations and purely human enthusiasms, and to Him they lead.

The cry for God is an importunate cry in all the critical moments and experiences of life. What is true of the depths of our nature is true of the depths of our life as it is lived in the world. In the deep places, when we come face to face with its serious realities, we are taught what we truely are and are made aware of our Divine relations and needs. Glad and grateful as we may and ought to be for all that brightens and sweetens life, yet it is sorrow more than happiness that drives us to God. We have a nature endowed with infinite capacities for pain, and there is no escape but an ignoble one from some form of pain which makes the Cross the true symbol of a large part of every man's life. Perhaps to suffer is nothing else than to live deeply. Love and sorrow are the conditions of a profound life.

Is there any Divine response to the call of humanity for God, to these many and varied cries out of the depths of our human being and life? There must be in the nature of things such a response, something outside man answering to his inner life and fulfilling its needs, actual movement and manifestation on the part of God corresponding to our natural cravings after Him. Unless life be a tremendous unreality and illusion, and we come into the world only to be fooled and cheated; unless the universe departs from its order in dealing with the spiritual necessities of mankind and the cry for God meets with exceptional treatment, quite unlike that given to the other functions and attitudes of our nature---it is simply inconceivable that the fundamental cravings of the soul can exist without their satisfaction, and the prayer from the depths remain unanswered. No strong crying and tears will make God answer our selfish or fictitious wants; but that He is responsive to what is best in man, that He is answering day after day, age after age, the spiritual aspirations and needs of humanity, is a necessary belief to every one who admits the reality and closeness of the bond between God and man which is the true end of his being.

We dare not pretend to limit the ways by which He makes known His personality and His presence, and moves, illuminates, and guides His children. He draws to them, not only in and through His creation and the course of history, not only through the teaching and example of His great prophets, holy servants, and beloved sons, but immediately---mind with mind, spirit with spirit. In all ages men have had experience of an immediate presence---of a God who has access to their inmost being and acts in their secret life, who reveals Himself by impressions upon their spirits, and whose voice, when they are hushed to listen, is heard, not in their ears, but in their souls.

The cry of our humanity for reconciliation and union with God is a cry which God is ever answering. The great obstacle to worship is not ignorance, but sin. Can all our civilization minister to a troubled conscience? Can the knowledge of any scientific, philosophical, or theological truth subdue an evil passion? But in the depths of our weakness and sin God is our salvation. Because God is love He is ever coming down to the depths of our life, depths of sorrow and sin and degradation, in order to help and to bring to Himself, by all the power of His love, His wayward and disobedient children. He has never been outside His world, but has been always in it, bearing the sins and carrying sorrows of our race. Its history is the history of redemption, the history of the unceasing efforts of Him with whom we have to do, to influence, without compelling, the vagrant and stubborn wills of men.

The most central truth of our religion is just the helpfulness the lovingkindness, of God. This is the heart of the religion of the Hebrew poets and prophets. This, also, is the message of Jesus Christ, to whom God was the Eternal Shepherd of souls, who seeks untill He finds. It is the message which the Church has been repeating age after age, clearly or faintly, in differing and often confusing phrase: God is with us---with us in the deepest depths, with us in our greatest humiliations, our bitterest sorrows, with us to forgive and save, to strengthen and comfort.

In Him~~~Tim.