Charles Spurgeon is remembered for his fervent preaching. Today I will feature a prayer he made just before he preached on a passage in Lamentations (Lam 2:19) – when Jeremiah the weeping the prophet had wept his eyes dry for the slain of the daughter of his people; and when he had done all he could himself to pour out tears for poor Jerusalem, he then begged Jerusalem to weep for herself.
Jeremiah by Michaelangelo
O God, save my people! Save my people! A solemn charge hast thou given to thy servant. Ah! Lord, it is all too solemn for such a child. Help him; help him by thine own grace, to discharge it as he ought.
O Lord, let thy servant confess that he feels that his prayers are not as earnest as they should be for his people’s souls; that he does not preach so frequently as he ought, with that fire, that energy, that true love to men’s souls. But O Lord, damn not the hearers for the preacher’s sin. Oh, destroy not the flock for the shepherd’s iniquity. Have mercy on them, good Lord, have mercy on them, O Lord, have mercy on them!
There are some, Father, that will not have mercy on themselves. How have we preached to them, and laboured for them! O God thou knowest that I lie not. How have I striven for them, that they might be saved! But the heart is too hard for man to melt, and the soul made of iron too hard for flesh and blood to render soft. O God, the God of Israel, thou canst save. There is the pastor’s hope; there is the minister’s trust. He cannot but thou canst, Lord; they will not come, but thou canst make them willing in the day of thy power.
They will not come unto thee that they may have life; but thou canst draw them, and then they shall run after thee. They cannot come; but thou canst give them power; for though no man cometh except the Father draw him, yet if he draw him then he can come, O Lord, for another year has thy servant preached—thou knowest how. It is not for him to plead his cause with thee—that is in another’s hands, and has been there, thank God, years ago. But now, O Lord, we beseech thee, bless our people.
Let this our church, thy church, be still knit together in unity; and this night may they commence a fresh era of prayer…
But, Father, it is not the church we weep for; it is not the church we groan for; it is the world. O Faithful Promisor, hast thou not promised to thy Son that he should not die in vain? Give him souls we beseech thee, that he may be abundantly satisfied…
…Unto Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the dread Supreme, be everlasting praise. Amen.