Man's Difficulty with Prayer

—and not to faint.


— St. Luke 18:1

No prayer for any revenge that would gratify the selfishness of our nature, a thing to be burned out of us by the fire of God, needs think to be heard. Be sure, when the Lord prayed his Father to forgive those who crucified him, he uttered his own wish and his Father’s will at once: God will never punish according to the abstract abomination of sin, as if men knew what they were doing. “Vengeance is mine,” he says: with a right understanding of it, we might as well pray for God’s vengeance as for his forgiveness, for that vengeance is to destroy the sin—to make the sinner abjure and hate it; nor is there any satisfaction in a vengeance that seeks or effects less. If nothing else will do, then hell-fire; if less will do, whatever brings repentance. Friends, if any prayers are offered against us because of some wrong you or I have done, God grant us his vengeance! Let us not think that we shall get off!

But perhaps, in saying “He will avenge them speedily,” the Lord was thinking of what most troubles his true disciples; and the suggestion is comforting to those whose foes are within them; for, if so, he recognizes the evils of self, against which we fight, not as parts of ourselves, but as our foes, on which he will avenge the true self that is at strife with them. And certainly no evil is, or ever could be, of the essential nature of the creature God made! The thing that is not good in us, however associated with our being, is against that being, not of it—is its enemy, on which we need to be avenged. When we fight, he will avenge.