Happy Mother’s Day!
I have been moved to read this morning the story of Hudson Taylor’s mother. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) is widely known for his missions work in China. But it was his mother that sustained him through her continual prayers for him. The whole world acknowledges him for the hundreds of missionaries that followed him to China and the thousands and thousands of Chinese who would come to Christ through his ministry. And all of that would never have happened without a praying mother.
In my own family every one of us know who the intercessor is. Our mother. It’s what she does. She never lets go of God for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren!
It seems that mothers pray but they also teach their children to pray from an early age. They teach them prayers to pray at bedtime and around the dinner table. The quote of Psalm 22 from Jesus on the cross was one of his childhood prayers Mary had taught him to recite. Can you imagine the impact that had on his mother as she heard her dying son pray their prayer? Can you see her anguish? Hold it right there and let us read Jesus words in our next verses today …
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7 v 7-8)
And here’s what it means …
Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Asking is petitioning and demanding; Seeking is getting to the bottom of a matter and striving; Knocking is to beat down a door.. Jesus is not advocating for some sweet nice prayers. This is determined, persistent, longing heart ache prayers.
Hudson Taylor departed for China in 1853 and his mother was there to say goodbye at the docks in Liverpool. And from his journal we read this:
“My beloved, now sainted mother, had come over to Liverpool to see me off. Never shall I forget that day, nor how she went with me into the cabin that was to be my home for nearly six long months. With a mother’s loving hand she smoothed the little bed. She sat by my side and joined in the last hymn we should sing together before parting. We knelt down and she prayed—the last mother’s prayer I was to hear before leaving for China. Then notice was given that we must separate, and we had to say good-bye, never expecting to meet on earth again.
For my sake she restrained her feelings as much as possible. We parted, and she went ashore giving me her blessing. I stood alone on deck, and she followed the ship as we moved toward the dockgates. As we passed through the gates and the separation really commenced, never shall I forget the cry of anguish wrung from that mother’s heart. It went through me like a knife. I never knew so fully, until then, what “God so loved the world” meant. And I am quite sure my precious mother learned more of the love of God for the perishing in that one hour than in all her life before.” (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets by Howard and Geraldine Taylor. Discovery House, 1990, Pages 33-34.)
The anguish of a mother’s prayer needs to touch our hearts today as we pray for our world.
Twenty years ago I led my church through a time of earnest prayer impacted by what I had found coming from one of David Wilkerson’s sermons on Nehemiah. It was dated 15th September 2002.
Here is the clip that you can hear his prayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcUh2xLmJy4
And this is an excerpt of the transcript:
And I look at the whole religious scene today and all I see are the inventions and ministries of man and flesh. It’s mostly powerless. It has no impact on the world. And I see more of the world coming into the church and impacting the church, rather than the church impacting the world. I see the music taking over the house of God. I see entertainment taking over the house of God. An obsession with entertainment in God’s house; a hatred of correction and a hatred of reproof. Nobody wants to hear it any more. Whatever happened to anguish in the house of God? Whatever happened to anguish in the ministry? It’s a word you don’t hear in this pampered age. You don’t hear it. Anguish means extreme pain and distress. The emotions so stirred that it becomes painful. Acute deeply felt inner pain because of conditions about you, in you, or around you. Deep pain. Deep sorrow. The agony of God’s heart. We’ve held on to our religious rhetoric and our revival talk but we’ve become so passive. All true passion is born out of anguish. All true passion for Christ comes out of a baptism of anguish. You search the scripture and you’ll find that when God determined to recover a ruined situation… He would share His own anguish for what God saw happening to His church and to His people. And He would find a praying man and take that man and literally baptize him in anguish. You find it in the book of Nehemiah. Jerusalem is in ruins. How is God going to deal with this? How is God going to restore the ruin? Now folks, look at me… Nehemiah was not a preacher, he was a career man. But this was a praying man. And God found a man who would not just have a flash of emotion. Not just some great sudden burst of concern and then let it die. He said: “No. I broke down and I wept and I mourned and I fasted. And then I began to pray night and day. Why didn’t these other men… why didn’t they have an answer? Why didn’t God use them in restoration? Why didn’t they have a word? Because there was no sign of anguish. No weeping. Not a word of prayer. It’s all ruin. Does it matter to you today? Does it matter to you at all that God’s spiritual Jerusalem, the church, is now married to the world? That there is such a coldness sweeping the land? Closer than that… does it matter about the Jerusalem that is in our own hearts? The sign of ruin that’s slowly draining spiritual power and passion. Blind to lukewarmness, blind to the mixture that’s creeping in. That’s all the devil wants to do is to get the fight out of you and kill it. So you won’t labor in prayers anymore, you won’t weep before God anymore. You can sit and watch television and your family go to hell. Let me ask you… is what I just said convicting to you at all? There is a great difference between anguish and concern. Concern is something that begins to interest you. You take an interest in a project or a cause or a concern or a need. And I want to tell you something. I’ve learned over all my years… of 50 years of preaching. If it is not born in anguish, if it had not been born of the Holy Spirit. Where what you saw and heard of the ruin that drove you to your knees, took you down into a baptism of anguish where you began to pray and seek God. I know now. Oh my God do I know it. Until I am in agony. Until I have been anguished over it… And all our projects, all our ministries, everything we do… Where are the Sunday school teachers that weep over kids they know are not hearing and are going to hell? You see, a true prayer life begins at the place of anguish. You see, if you set your heart to pray, God’s going to come and start sharing His heart with you. Your heart begins to cry out: “Oh God, Your name is being blasphemed. The Holy Spirit is being mocked. The enemy is out trying to destroy the testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and something has to be done.” There is going to be no renewal, no revival, no awakening, until we are willing to let Him once again break us. Folks, it’s getting late, and it’s getting serious. Please don’t tell me… don’t tell me you’re concerned when you’re spending ours in front of internet or television. Come on. Lord, there are some that need to get to this alter and confess: “I am not what I was, I am not where I am supposed to be. God I don’t have Your heart or Your burden. I wanted it easy. I just wanted to be happy. But Lord, true joy comes out of anguish.” There’s nothing of the flesh that will give you joy. I don’t care how much money, I don’t care what kind of new house, there is absolutely nothing physical that can give you joy. It’s only what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when you obey and take on His heart. Build the walls around your family. Build the walls around your own heart. It will make you strong and impregnable against the enemy. God, that’s what we desire. AMEN
This is anguish. Jesus wants us to have the anguish of Mary. The anguish of his own heart. Ask, seek and knock. Don’t give up.