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Opening the Mouth
C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." Psalm 81:10.
SOME have considered that our text contains an allusion to a singular custom of showing favor which has been occasionally adopted by Eastern monarchs. It is not a very long time ago that a former Shah of Persia bade an ambassador, who was in great favor with him, open his mouth, and when he had done so the monarch filled it with pearls and gems of great value which, of course, were a present to him. This certainly affords an illustration of the text, even if the passage contains no allusion to it. If we will but open the mouth of our desire, God will give to us mercies infinitely more precious than the rarest gems.
I guarantee you that if any emperor or king should bid us open our mouths that we might have them filled with diamonds, we should be very sure to extend them to their largest possible capacity and, therefore, this custom may serve as a good enforcement of the text. Open your mouth wide, for God will not fill it with secondary things, but will satisfy you with Divine mercies of exceeding preciousness. I think, however, that the illustration which we have mentioned is far fetched and I seldom like an explanation of a passage of Scripture which demands the introduction of a very rare incident. Illustrations are used in Scripture not to perplex us, but to render the teaching more clear.
We will, therefore, look to some more common act of Eastern life for the explanatory allusion. Those who have been at the tables of the Orientals know that there is another very common custom which meets the case. The host, when you are at supper, will take the fattest portions of the lamb, if that happens to be the meat, and he will apportion them to you. He may even take up the fattest and choicest morsels in his hand and, asking you to open your mouth, he will place them in it. This is a common practice of the country and lies at the bottom of many a Scriptural expression. "Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles." "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips," and a great many other texts which I might quote, all allude to that custom.
A man greatly beloved would be asked to open his mouth wide that he might receive a very large portion of the dainties before him. I confess, however, that I am not much enamored with even this simile. I believe it to be a valuable side light, but I had rather, after all, look to Nature for an illustration than dwell upon a custom which is purely Oriental and is hardly relished by our Western delicacy. Come with me, then, to the woods, where the songsters of the grove have built their habitations. Look at the little birds in the nest, for there you have the text! They are newly hatched and unable to feed themselves and, therefore, they are wholly dependent upon the parent birds.
When I have peered into their abode, they seemed, to me, to be all mouth and beak, with but faint trace of wings! If you put out your finger, or dangle a worm near them, no feature strikes you but those gaping ravenous mouths! When the mother bird brings food she never has to ask the little ones to open their mouths wide—her only difficulty is to fill the great width which they are quite sure to present to her! Appetite and eagerness are never lacking, they are utterly insatiable. If you need my text before your eyes in living realization, only picture a nest of little birds reaching up their mouths and all opening them as wide as they can.
Instead of the poor little mother bird that has been hard at work to gather a scanty portion for one of them, you have an infinite God filling all open mouths and bidding them open again, for He is able to fill them, however many they may be, or however vast their needs! It is that great Lord of ours of whom it is written, "He shall cover you with His feathers and under His wings shall you trust," who now speaks to us, as little birds, and says, "Open your mouths wide, for I will fill them." That is, at any rate, a pleasing illustration of the test, even if it is not the exact idea which was in the Psalmist's mind. The text divides itself into the exhortation and the promise.
I. The exhortation is, "OPEN YOUR MOUTH WIDE." How are we to do this? The precept relates to prayer and desire and the like. But there is also an exhortation to labor after a great sense of need. For what makes a bird open its mouth wide but its hunger? The young ravens cry because they need food and nobody will ever open his mouth wide for spiritual blessings until he has a very deep and solemn sense of his need before God. You sinners will never pray till you know you need something—why should you? All the prayers offered by people who have no needs are so much vain complimenting of God. If you have no sense of need how can you pray?
Would you knock at the door of charity and then tell the good man of the house that you require nothing of him? Is not that man an arrant trifler who rings the surgery bell but tells the surgeon that he has nothing the matter with him and does not need his care? Prayers that are not based upon a sense of need are mockeries. And I say this to Christians, too. You never pray, Brothers and Sisters, except when you are in need—and rest assured when you think you have no more needs you have lost the strongest motive for prayer and the main element of power in it. You may feel, at times, that there is little to request on your own account and you may rejoice that the Lord has filled you to the full for the time being, but then there are the needs of the Church and of the world—and these should press upon your heart as if they were your own.
You cannot pray without a sense of need, it is out of the question. The man who comes to you begging because he has not a night's lodging, or has not broken his fast all day, how well he begs! You do not need to send him to school to learn the art of begging—his hungry belly makes him eloquent! And so, when a man feels he must have heavenly blessings or be lost. Or when he feels that, being saved, he must still be kept by daily Grace, or else he will start aside. Or when he feels that his work of faith and labor of love will be good for nothing without the Divine blessing. Or when he feels that the Church must have the anointing of the Holy One and that the world needs a visitation from God—when any of these needs solemnly weigh upon his soul—then it is that he prays! The man does not open his mouth wide till he is conscious of a great need, which only the Lord, Himself, can supply.
I exhort you, therefore, dear Brethren, to shake off the idea of being rich and increased in goods, and having need of nothing, for this proud notion will strangle prayer! You are weakness itself and emptiness itself—and a mass of sin and misery—apart from God your Father, and Christ your Redeemer, and the Spirit the Indweller! And when you know this, then you will open your mouth wide. Airy notions about having reached a higher life and being perfect will make fine gentlemen of you, but will spoil you for being beggars at the Mercy Seat. The mouth of dire necessity, God always fills, but pride has short results, for is it not one of the proverbs of His kingdom, "He has filled the hungry with good things; but the rich He has sent empty away"?
Then, dear Friends, next seek after an intense and vehement desire, for the mouth is opened wide only when the desire becomes intense. You know how David says, "I opened my mouth and panted." You have seen a dog after a long run, how he stands with opened mouth panting for life and breath. Oh, that we had desires after God and Divine things strong enough to make us thus open our mouth and pant! We may never have seen a stag in extremis, but I dare say David had. He had seen it in the fierce hunt when it longed to have its smoking sides in the water brooks and to drink long draughts, and he said, "As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after You, O God."
Nothing puts such energy into prayer as intense anguish of desire. Desire comes out of a sense of need and in proportion as the necessity is overwhelming, the fervency of the desire will be vehement. My Brothers and Sisters, we have not, because, although we ask, we use a kind of asking which is as though we asked not! An old Puritan says, "He that prays to God without fervor asks to be denied." There is a way of asking for a thing in which the person to whom the request is made finds it very easy to decline the request. But persons in dire need understand how to put their case so that only a very hard-hearted person could say, "no." They know how to place their petition in such a way that the request wins, not merely because of the rightness of the petition, but also because of the very style in which it is put.
We must learn how to pray with strong cries and tears, for there are mercies which cannot be gained by any other mode of supplicating. Did you ever try your little child by holding fast in your hand something that he wanted? You wished to see whether he had perseverance enough to pull open your fingers, one by one, to get what he wished for. And you have shut your hand very tightly and tried his endeavors so long that at last you have seen the big round tears stand in his eyes—and then you have held out no longer. The tears open your hand!
I believe that our heavenly Father exercises us in that manner at times until He gets us right down to this—that we must have it and we shall die if we do not have it because it is for His Glory—and we have His promise for it. When we come to that point we are where the Lord meant us to be! And having brought us there, He gives us our desire, having already doubled the blessing by stirring us up to vehemence. Open your mouth wide, Man! Do not play at praying! Nobody is saved between sleeping and waking—and nobody wins rich blessings by being lukewarm. I have heard mothers say of a child that, "he cried all over," and that is the right way to pray! Let your whole man wrestle with the Most High. "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
Deep necessity and urgent desire are two great openers of the mouth in prayer. To my mind the pith of the text may be compressed into such words as these—Ask for large things. Do not restrict your requests and pray with bated breath, but plead with the great God for great things, such as it will be to His Glory to bestow. In this point we too often fail. I remember praying before I preached in a certain provincial town and asking the Lord that He would enable at least one poor soul to lay hold on Christ.
I went home to tea with a very worthy Brother, and a fine old Christian gentleman at the tea table said to me very kindly, "I do not know what you did with your faith this afternoon when you were praying, for you asked the Lord to give you one soul, but the sermon was such that I saw no reason why it should not be blessed to a thousand. I could not say, 'Amen,' to such a very narrow prayer as that. Why," said he, "Man alive! With such a Gospel as you were preaching, and such a crowd of people, you might as well have asked for a thousand souls as one." I thought so, too, and confessed the poverty of my prayer.
Brethren, many of us have made great mistakes and have shut ourselves up in the cells of poverty when our feet might have stood in a large room! We have laid down pipes too small to bring us a full current of blessing. We have half-killed our prayers by lacing them too tight, even as foolish mothers kill their daughters. Our cup is small and we blame the fountain! The Israelites, according to this Psalm, did not believe in God as they should. They did not expect their enemies to be driven out, nor hope to be fed with the finest of the wheat. They thought their God was a commonplace God, like the gods of Egypt. They did not know what a rich, generous, great-hearted, large-giving God He is and so they failed in asking and, therefore, they did not obtain the richest blessings of Grace. Christians should elevate the scale of their praying and enlarge their requests and never let it be said that they lose blessings solely by failing to ask for them.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, we may well ask great things, for we are asking of a great God who fills immensity, who has all power, who has all blessings in His stores! If we were to ask Him for a world, it is no more for Him to bestow a world than it would be for us to give away a crumb! When the poor widow gave her two mites she gave her all and knowing her poverty, one would ask very little of her and expect even less! But when you ask of a king you do not expect two mites from him! That poor woman who said, "Truth, Lord, but the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from the Master's table," was far nearer the mark than most of us, for much as she valued the inestimable blessing which she sought, she reckoned it as being nothing more than a crumb as it came from God!
The greatest blessings which can yet be received through Jesus Christ, though we cannot prize them enough and they are beyond all calculation, precious, are little in comparison with the unspeakable gift of His Son, which has already been bestowed! Open your mouth wide, for wide are the supplies of love, and boundless the riches of the Sovereign Grace of so great a God! Besides His greatness, remember His goodness. The good Lord delights to give—it does not diminish His possessions, but affords Him satisfaction. The sun is just as bright, notwithstanding all his shining, as if he had stored up his light. It is the sun's nature to shine and it may as well shine upon us as anywhere else! And it is God's delight to distribute His goodness and bless His creatures—and therefore we may well ask large things from One whose very nature it is to scatter His fullness among the poor and needy.
Remember, dear Brothers and Sisters, what He has already done for us. "I am the Lord your God, which brought you up out of Egypt," says He, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." See what He has done! Is it a trifle to have had all your sins forgiven, to have received a new heart and a right spirit, to have been saved by the precious blood of His dear Son? If we made our prayers to scale, if they were proportioned to the measure of God's past favors, what great prayers they would be! I love a Gospel on a grand scale. I cannot bear to see anything about it lowered, or cut down— not even the terrors of it. I am certain that those who make out the punishment of the wicked to be upon a smaller scale,
must, before long, diminish the Glory of the Atonement and bring down their conceptions of God, Himself, for they are all proportioned.
But you and I, who see everything to be grand, vast, infinite, ought to open our mouths wide, to keep our praying somewhat proportionate to the condition of things around us. Remember, beloved Brothers and Sisters, what great pleas you have to urge when you come before God. Your main argument is the gift of His dear Son. Now, if you pray according to that plea, you will have this consideration to support you—"He that spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, with Him, also freely give us all things"? What a word is that—"all things"! Your prayers cannot outrun those comprehensive words—"all things." Should you not open your mouth wide? Would you employ before God the magnificent plea of the atoning blood and then come down to ask for pence and halfpence, when you might as well have countless riches?
Will you ask for enough Grace to keep you out of Hell, when you might have Grace enough to make you habitually in the suburbs of Heaven? Will you ask to be useful to two or three, when you might, with the same plea, prevail to be a spiritual benefactor to hundreds and thousands? He deserves to be poor who has no desire to be rich and will not even take the trouble to ask for wealth. He who will not so much as open his mouth must expect no pity should he starve. Oh, Beloved, do not pinch yourselves, but ask the largest conceivable blessings! Spread your most capacious net, for the multitude of fish will fill it! Dig the deepest pools, for the rain will brim them! Bring forth all your empty vessels, for the oil shall be multiplied till all are overflowing.
Beloved, let us ask great things for ourselves. I do not mean let us ask great temporal blessings—we may leave everything of that kind with God and this is the limit He puts to such prayer—"Give us day by day our daily bread." Having food and raiment let us be content. But as for spiritual things, ask what you will and it shall be done unto you. Here the treasury has neither lock nor key! The lid is taken off from the jewelry box—help yourself—and if you are straitened you are not straitened in God, you are straitened in your own heart! I beseech you, young Christians, do not be satisfied with getting as much Grace as the people you live with, who profess to be Christians, for there are hosts of them that I would not like to risk my soul with.
I am not their judge, but I think, I think it will be an extraordinary thing if they get into Heaven. I know some very loud-mouthed talkers whose actions are not pretty at all, and the less said about them the better. I mean some professors when I speak thus. I mean members of Churches. Now, do not you young people make them your standard—get far beyond them! Outstrip the ordinary run of Christians who are consistent and no more. I would urge you to seek far higher things than they possess. They are said to be "consistent," though I do not know what they are consistent with. They do nothing that is grossly wrong and they are good, ordinary, respectable people, but as to joy in the Lord and being filled with the Holy Spirit, and real faith—daring faith, love and zeal for God's Glory—and agony for the conversion of souls, why, large numbers of very consistent people know nothing about these things except when they read about them in the Bible!
Surely their condition is more consistent with membership in Laodicea than in the New Jerusalem! Their consistency is not consistency with the Divine will, but a miserable consistency with their own dead-and-alive profession. Oh, you that are beginners in the Divine Life, I pray you be not as your fathers! Do not take any of us for a standard. We are a good-for-nothing generation, taking us all round, and there had need be a far better race springing up that shall really believe and act upon their faith! We need a generation who will so live unto God with a more intense, strong and mighty life than most of us have ever realized. Open your mouth wide, young Christian, for a large measure of the Holy Spirit and for a mighty fullness of the life of God, that it may be in you a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.
Open your mouths wide, dear Friends, and ask great things for the Church. The Church of God, I hope, is in a better condition than she was some years ago, but we have not yet learned what it is to believe in great works being done for God. There are still Churches, which if they were to have half-a-dozen added to them in a year, would be intensely satisfied, if not overjoyed, instead of calling for prayer and fasting and humiliation because so few are brought to Christ. There are Church members around us who do not believe in many people being converted at once. If the Gospel were preached so that a dozen were brought in at one time, they would impute it to undue excitement and doubt its being the work of the Spirit of God, though we have the New Testament and the Acts of the Apostles, especially, to lead us to expect such things.
There are Churches to which, if God were to send a hundred converts at once, they would not receive them, but would put them through a rigid quarantine! And you may be sure our heavenly Father will not send His new-born babes to places where they will not be cheerfully admitted! There are certain Churches whose modes of testing and trying are such that the young lambs would be torn to bits before they would get into the green pastures—and there would hardly be two legs and a piece of an ear left after they had passed the examination—the Good Shepherd will not send His lambs where such a tribe of wolves stand gaping for prey. Pray for the Church, that she may have greater faith in her God, greater belief in the Gospel which she preaches, greater closeness of walk with Jesus, greater care to obey her Master's precepts—and then you may open your mouth wide and expect to see the kingdom of Christ more fully come.
Open your mouth for this great city. Who can think what a city we live in without desiring to be mighty in prayer for it? At this moment Scotland is a land where religion has mighty influence and I trace it mainly to the prayers of John Knox. His mighty pleading with God anchored Scotland to the Gospel and she cannot get away from it. We have urgent need to pray for England in these evil times. Many are preying upon her, we have need to pray for her. The darkness thick-ens—among the learned it has blackened into Egyptian night and among the illiterate it is as the valley of the shadow of death. Skepticism is descending upon us like a horrible mist, chilling faith even to the very marrow of our bones. Superstition, like a feverish fog, pollutes the air. We have need to cry to the Lord to do some great work in these days—to smite His enemies upon the cheekbone—and to send forth His power among His friends.
I think I have explained sufficiently that the text means ask great things. But one more remark I must cover, and that is that many of us have need to ask for enlarged capacities. It would be of no use to open your mouth if you could not swallow what was put into it, or if you could not digest it after you had swallowed it. And there are many precious Truths of the Gospel which uninstructed Believers could not digest if they knew them. Therefore there is great need that their minds should be strengthened and fitted to feed upon strong meat. The grand Truths of the Covenant. The Doctrines of Election and Predestination.
The glorious facts of the Immutable Love of God and the indissoluble union of the saints with Christ, and their consequent everlasting safety—all these are sublime matters which cannot be appreciated by every novice, but require a spiritually educated mind to enjoy them. Thousands of professors sneer at these eternal Truths because they have not the spiritual digestion which could assimilate such grand soul-feeding meat! They remind me of little, conceited boys affecting to despise the diet of men because they, themselves, have no taste except for sugar plums and sponge cakes. There are many mercies which persons ask for and if God were to bestow them, they would not know what to do with them! It would be like giving them a white elephant—they would not know where or how to keep it.
Yonder Brother asks for more talent and yet he does not use what he already has! Another Brother begs the Lord to make him successful in his work, but he would be top heavy and proud, and exalted above measure if he were favored with a little success. One man craves that he may know, but his knowledge would puff him up. Another prays that he may feel, but his feelings would drown his faith! If we had more room for the Lord's gifts, we should receive more. I have half a mind to exhort you to imitate the rich fool and pull down your barns and build greater. He was a fool because he meant to gather a store of wheat and grain of the earth—but if you can build greater barns to hold the precious Grace which comes from Heaven, you will be wise, indeed.
God will not give you what you cannot receive or put to healthy use. But, Oh, pray to Him, "Lord, enlarge my heart, expand my soul and give me a nobler mind free from selfishness, less cramped with ideas of my own consequence! Make me less important, more loving, more careful for the souls of others, more ambitious for Your Glory, more intensely consecrated to Your Word and will." While self hoards up its treasures there is no room for Divine things! And the surest way for our enlargement is to turn out the vile stuff. Tobiah's furniture is in the chamber of the house of the Lord and out it must go! Then there will be room for the treasure which the Master bestows.
II. The second head is the promise. "Open your mouth wide, AND I WILL FILL IT." You might expect such a promise as that. You could not think it possible for the Lord to say, "Open your mouths for nothing." It would not be according to His usual way of procedure. He does not set His servants praying and then say somewhere behind their backs, "they shall seek My face in vain." Tantalus belongs to the heathen mythology, not to the Christian's experience. "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
I gather from this promise, first, that it is a promise only made to those who open their mouths wide. Some Brethren never get their mouths filled because they never open them to any extent. They ask for some little mercy and they may get it, or may not. There is no promise about such shut-mouthed prayers—if they had opened their mouths wide they would have, for sure, had the mouth-filling blessing. With the world, it is the less you ask for, the more likely you will be to obtain it, but God's thoughts are not as our thoughts. With God, the more you ask, the more likely are you to be heard. Half open your mouth and it may or may not be filled, but, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
We always pray well and successfully when the Spirit of God enables us to stand on elevated ground and plead on godlike terms for blessings which for value, number and greatness are worthy of the infinite bounty of Jehovah. We are then dealing with God as He loves to be dealt with, for He is a rich and great God, and loves to be approached with great prayers and great requests. And when we draw near in that fashion we shall be quite sure to succeed. I would encourage you, dear Brothers and Sisters, who seem to have failed in your supplications, to enquire whether they may not have failed because their requests were too little.
God seems to say to His servant, "You have not asked enough. Come, Man, you are trifling with Me! Here is My Mercy Seat—I am rich, infinitely rich, and willing to give you according to your desires—and you are asking me for mere odds and ends. Do not play with Me in this way! Ask for something which I can feel a pleasure in giving to you— something worthy of a God." "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." Should not this thought greatly strengthen us when next we draw near to God in prayer?
Remember, too, that this is a promise given by One who can fulfill it and will. "Open your month wide, and I will fill it" is a sort of challenge. "See whether you can ask for more than I can give you." Try whether your faith can outrun your God! See whether you can expect more of God than He will bestow. Take His promise and challenge Him, and see whether He will run back from it. He promises great things and unsearchable, let your soul's necessities impel you to ask for the greatest conceivable blessings and see whether He will deny you. "Prove Me, now, says the Lord of Hosts, and
Oh, if Israel had been in an experimenting mind, what wonders would they have seen! How would the windows of Heaven have been flung back and Infinite Good been showered down! But they were not in a praying mood. God encouraged them to ask by the favor with which He had surrounded them, for of old He had scattered manna about their habitations, and from the Rock He had drawn forth flowing streams. Thus He seemed to say to them, "Oh, Israel, see how you are surrounded with miracles! Heaven and earth are made subservient to you. Nothing is too hard for Me—I open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the deserts—believe in Me and act according to the scale upon which I am acting to you—and see whether I shall fail in anything." Even so the Lord puts it to you, dear Brethren, and it is not an empty boast. He is not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should repent. Has He said, and shall He not do it? "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
Oh, what stories I could tell, here, of my own experience if it did not seem like egotism. When I read, as I continually do, slurs put upon our prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God, and find that it has become a current opinion that there really is no such a thing as an answer to prayer, I feel indignant! Why, Sirs, I am as sure that God hears my prayers as I am certain that you hear me! To me the energy of prayer is as self-evident as the weight of a substance, or the force of a motive power. The law of gravitation I might doubt, but the law that God hears prayer I cannot! The wonder to me is that men should stand up and assert that God does not hear prayer when they cannot be supposed to know everything and dare not claim to have any very special acquaintance with prayer, itself, such as to qualify them to calculate its results.
Those who deny the efficacy of prayer never pray! No, are not capable of offering prevalent prayer. Why do they speak so positively? What do they know about it? How dare they, as philosophers, speak dogmatically of that which they have never tried? I can say, and I do say it honestly, that hundreds of times, about all sorts of things, I have taken my case to God and have obtained the desire of my heart, or something far better—and that not by mere coincidence, as these objectors assert—but in a manner palpably in reply to my pleadings. There are multitudes of Brothers and Sisters here, who, from their own experience, can bear the same witness!
Yet a fellow gets up who never tried prayer and says it is of no avail! We find it hard to have patience with him. How does he know? He reminds me of the Irish prisoner who was brought up for murder and half-a-dozen people swore that
they had seen him do the deed. "Your Lordship," he said, "I could bring ten times as many that didn't see me do it." Yes, but that was no evidence at all! And in the same way, these people have the impudence to set up their theory on no better grounds than the fact that they do not pray and God does not hear them! What is the good of such evidence? We know He would not hear them if they did not pray. When He does hear simple men and women, guiltless persons who, if they were put on the witness stand, would be reckoned to be the best witnesses a court could have—is their witness to go for nothing?
And others of us, whose character, I trust, would bear us through any cross-examination—are we to assert that God has answered our prayers and be prepared to die to prove our sincerity, if need be—and yet be told that men who have not tried it, and say it is not so, are philosophers and are to be believed sooner than we are? We may not be philosophers, but we are honest men and have done nothing to make our testimony unreliable. It is easy to call us fools, but hard names prove nothing but the weakness of those who use them. Take Christians as a rule and they are not less sharp-witted than skeptics. Indeed, even when they have been fanatical, they have seldom said or done such unwise things as skeptical philosophers have propounded and attempted to carry out. However, it little matters what the ungodly say, the foundation of God stands sure.
Oh, Brethren, we will prove the power of prayer more than ever! If we have asked and had, we will ask more and we shall have more. If we have opened our mouths and God has filled them, we will open our mouths wider and obtain a larger blessing. The very best way to put to rout the falsehood of these philosophic atheists is more real prayer—fools are unanswerable. Christian Brethren, look at the promise again. "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it," and then answer the question—how will the Lord fill our mouth? First, He will fill it with prayers. Do you ever feel as if you could not pray? Do not yield to the feeling, for then is the time to pray! When you cannot pray you must pray. Hold your empty mouth open before God, for the Holy Spirit to put the prayer into it.
I have come away from attempting to pray and felt I did not pray. And the next time I have knelt down I have been very fluent in prayer and yet there was more real prayer in my groaning and sighing and heaving heart when I thought I failed, than there was in the fluency of the second occasion! Open your mouth wide, dear Brothers and Sisters, and God will fill it with petitions of an acceptable kind. The Holy Spirit will give you "groans that cannot be uttered." No prayer excels that in which the creature feels as if it could not pray and did not pray—and yet the Creator, Himself, strives mightily within!
Then, open your mouth wide and He will fill it with the actual blessings. He will not merely put blessings into your hands, but He will fill your mouth with them. It is one thing to have the cup of blessing in your hand and quite another thing to drink thereof. Many a man possesses what he never enjoys—the fruit on the tree is his own, but its sweet flavor never gladdens his mouth. When the Lord, in love, bestows a blessing, He teaches us how to enjoy it! He gives us the essence of the meat, the soul of the solace, the juice of the vine, the heart of the joy—not merely the legal claim to it but the actual enjoyment of it! This is the cream of the cream, the mercy of the mercy, the filling of the mouth with the promised good.
The Lord will also fill our mouth with praises. Open your mouth wide and God will fill it with songs, with shouts, with gratitude which cannot be expressed in words. Some of us know what it means to have our mouths so full of God's praises all day long that we have wanted all mankind and all the angels to help us magnify the Lord. Open your mouths wide, then, and God will fill them with prayer, with blessing, and with praise.
In conclusion, is there not very much of rebuke in this to most of us? Parents, have you prayed for the salvation of your children—vehemently and earnestly? All your children? Teachers in the classes, have you expected the conversion of all your children and prayed for it? Preachers of the Gospel, have you looked for many conversions and prayed for them? Brethren who labor for Christ in any capacity, have you expected to see London converted to God and looked for it and worked for it? In Gospel fisheries we generally catch what we fish for. If we fish with a fly we may get one fish, but if we know how to use the great dragnet, by mighty faith we shall take 153 great fishes! And for all that, the net will not be broken! Open your mouth wide, Brothers and Sisters, and be rebuked to think you have not opened it wide before.
But is there not also a word here of consolation to the sinner? "Open your mouth wide," says God, even to you, "and I will fill it." What do you need, Sinner? "Well, I want a little comfort." Do not ask for that, Brother. Ask for the Lord Jesus Christ at once. "Open your mouth wide." "Oh, I want a little peace. I am so troubled." Do not ask for that,
Brother. Ask for a whole Christ and a perfect salvation now. "I want to feel some measure of impression under this sermon." Do not pray for that, Sister. Ask God for a new heart and a right spirit outright, and now! "Open your mouth wide." "Will I have it if I asked for it?" It is written, "He that asks receives; he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened."
If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you shall have this unspeakably great blessing of being immediately saved, for, "He that believes on the Son of God has everlasting life." "Open your mouth wide." "But I am such a sinner." Open your mouth, Man! The promise makes no limit as to who you are. "But I am—I am—." There, I mind not what you are. Open your mouth, Man! Open your mouth wide! If we were to gather together in one place all the little waifs and strays of London streets, and were to say to them, "Children, we are going to give you a good dinner, and all you have to do is open your mouths," I do not suppose one little hungry wretch would shut his mouth, or turn away muttering, "I am not fit." Oh dear, no! You can be quite sure that they would open their mouths if all were hungry, and would need no pressing either!
And so will you, too, if the Spirit of God has made you hunger and thirst after righteousness. Open your mouth wide, believing that Jesus is the Christ! Trust your soul with Him and ask, now, for immediate pardon through His precious blood, and you will not be denied. May the Holy Spirit make you hungry and then your longing mouth shall be filled—and God shall have all the glory. May His blessing rest upon you for Christ's sake.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—Psalm 81. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"—978, 986, 980.
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