The Pilgrims at Plymouth, somewhere about 1628, prayed for rain. They met at 9 a.m., and continued in prayer for eight or nine hours. While they were assembled, clouds gathered and the next morning began rains which, with some intervals, lasted fourteen days. John Easter was, many years ago, an evangelist in Virginia. A large outdoor meeting was being held. Many thousands had assembled, when heavy storm clouds began to gather. There was no shelter to which the multitudes could retreat. The rain had already reached the adjoining fields when John Easter cried: ?Brethren, be still while I call upon God to stay the storm till the gospel is preached to this multitude.? He then knelt and prayed that the audience might be spared the rain and that after they had gone to their homes there might be refreshing showers. Behold, the clouds parted as they came near and passed to either side of the crowd and then closed again, leaving the place dry where the audience had assembled, and the next day the postponed showers came down upon the ground that had been the day before omitted.
Since God is immanent in nature, an answer to prayer, coming about through the intervention of natural law, may be as real a revelation of God?s personal care as if the laws of nature were suspended, and God interposed by an exercise of his creative power. Prayer and its answer, though having God?s immediate volition as their connecting bond, may yet be provided for in the original plan of the universe.
The universe does not exist for itself, but for moral ends and moral beings, to reveal God and to furnish facilities of intercourse between God and intelligent creatures. Bishop Berkeley: ?The universe is God?s ceaseless conversation with his creatures.? The universe certainly subserves moral ends ? the discouragement of vice and the reward of virtue; why not spiritual ends also? When we remember that there is no true prayer which God does not inspire. Every true prayer is part of the plan of the universe linked in with all the rest and provided for at the beginning. God is in nature and in mind supervising all their movements and making all fulfill his will and reveal his personal care. God can adjust the forces of nature to each other far more skillfully than can man when man produces effects which nature of itself could never accomplish. God is not confined to nature or her forces but can work by his creative and omnipotent will where other means are not sufficient. We then need have no fear, either that natural law will bar God?s answers to prayer or that these answers will cause a shock or jar in the system of the universe.
Matheson, Messages of the Old Religions, 321, 322 ? ?Hebrew poetry never deals with outward nature for its own sake. The eye never rests on
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