“Prayer should be mingled with praise. I have heard that in New England after the Puritans had settled there a long while, they used to have very often a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer, till they had so many days of fasting, humiliation and prayer, at last a good senator proposed that they should change it for once, and have a day of thanksgiving. It is of little use to be always fasting. We ought sometimes to give thanks for mercies received. Now, during this week, there are to be days of prayer. Take care that they are days of praise, too! Why should we go to God as mournful beings, who plead piteously with a hard Master who loves not to give? When you give a penny to a beggar in the street, you like to see him smile at you—do you not? Is he a crossing-sweeper and you have given him a trifle? He looks extremely grateful and happy and you think within yourself, “What a small expense has made that man happy! I think I will buy another pennyworth of joy the next time I pass by.” So you give him all the more because of his thankfulness to you. Now, go not before God with a rueful face, you people of God, as though He had never heard you before, and you were about to try a great experiment on One who was exceedingly deaf, and did not like to give you mercies!
God is as pleased to give you His blessing as ever you are to receive it; it is as much to His honour as it is to your comfort; He takes more pleasure in your prayers than you do in His answers! Come therefore, boldly. Come with thankfulness in your heart and upon your lips, and join the hymn of praise with the cry of prayer. Be thankful for what God has done. Look at the past year. I commend it to your consideration when you meet for prayer. Has there been for the last 20 years such a year as the last? If any man had said seven years ago there would be preaching in St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, we should never have believed him! But it is, has been, and it is to be again! If any friends had said that nearly all the theatres in London would be filled on the Sabbath, “Oh,” you would have said, “it is ridiculous, it is an absurd notion!” But it is done, Sirs; it is done. If any had said to you seven years ago there would have been a congregation of many thousands who, without any drawback in numbers, would always assemble every Sabbath to listen to one minister, you would have said, “Ridiculous! There is no precedent for it. It is impossible! It is not at all possible that the Spirit of God can incline a people’s heart so long to listen to one man.” It is done, Sirs; by God’s Grace it is done! And what are we to do but to give God thanks for it? When we come before Him to ask Him for fresh mercies, let us not be so foolish as to forget the past. “Sing unto Him, sing unto Him, sing Psalms unto Him! Come into His Presence with thanksgivings, and show yourself glad in Him with Psalms—for the Lord is God, and a great King above all gods.” So thank Him for the past, and pray to Him for the future. Thank Him, too, for the power to pray; thank Him for the privilege of taking the Church’s needs before Him. And do still better—thank Him for the mercy which is to come.”