“And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Luke 17:13
How earnestly men can cry for help when they feel their need of it.
We read that as our Lord ‘entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers’. It is difficult to conceive any condition more thoroughly miserable than that of men afflicted with leprosy. They were cast out from society: they were cut off from all communion with their fellows. The men described in the passage before us appear to have been truly sensible of their wretchedness. They ‘stood afar off’; but they did not stand idly doing nothing. ‘[T]hey lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ They felt acutely the deplorable state of their bodies. They found words to express their feelings. They cried earnestly for relief when a chance of relief appeared in sight.
The conduct of the ten lepers is very instructive. It throws light on a most important subject in practical Christianity, which we can never understand too well. The subject is prayer.
How is it that many never pray at all? How is it that many others are content to repeat a form of words, but never pray with their hearts? How is it that dying men and women, with souls to be lost or saved, can know so little of real, hearty, business-like prayer? The answer to these questions is short and simple: the bulk of mankind have no sense of sin; they do not feel their spiritual disease; they are not conscious that they are lost, and guilty, and hanging over the brink of hell. When a man finds out his soul’s ailment, he soon learns to pray. Like the leper, he finds words to express his want. He cries for help.
How is it, again, that many true believers often pray coldly? What is the reason that their prayers are so feeble, and wandering, and lukewarm, as they frequently are? The answer once more is very plain: their sense of need is not so deep as it ought to be; they are not truly alive to their own weakness and helplessness, and so they do not cry fervently for mercy and grace.
*Excerpted from Day By Day With J.C. Ryle: A New Daily Devotional of Ryle’s Writings by J.C. Ryle (Christian Heritage, 2011).
About J.C. Ryle:
J. C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) was the first Bishop of Liverpool. He was one of the most authoritative churchmen of his time and his writings have been in constant demand throughout the last hundred years. His popularity was due to his clear and simple style, his longevity due to his being a profound thinker and compassionate pastor.
Where to Buy:
Day By Day With J.C. Ryle: A New Daily Devotional of Ryle’s Writings by J.C. Ryle is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below: