by Charles H. Stalker
The Son of God had five thousand when He was
feeding them with the loaves and fishes, He had a multitude when He was opening
the eyes of the blind, but when He was sweating the death sweat for a lost
world, He was alone.
I want to say, beloved, that this is as true as it has ever been. You will spend much time alone with God, and the greatest struggles and the greatest battles of your life will take place when you are alone. There will be meetings and there will be messages, but you must have something that will take you through alone. Until you have something that will defy the devil and defeat all hell and drive back the powers of darkness when you are alone, you will never have much victory. It is good to have someone to pray with, that is the right thing, but there is nothing that will give you courage and build up your character so much as being alone with God in the great battles of your life. We are apt to depend on people, and we are apt to listen to them. Jesus was left by the multitude and left by His followers, that is the thing; left by His followers, those who had been with Him and knew Him best. They were tired and weary, and they had no conception of what was going on; they saw it not. It is good to be with our friends and to hear their encouraging words, but, beloved, you will get more alone with God in prayer, in communion and in struggle than you will ever get in any other way. This is the point where a great many fail they are not prepared to go through alone with nobody around. Remember you will have to die alone, and God wants you to get the victory alone.
Another thing I want you to notice. Carnality is sleeping while Holiness is weeping. That has always been the case. Now you want to get away from the sleeping to the weeping, and if you weep, you will weep alone. You live and talk with your friends, but when you go to prayer they are not there. Look at Jesus up there on the mountain, looking over Jerusalem while it is sleeping, and what does He say? "How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her brood under her wing, and ye would not." They would not. That was the secret. "Your house is left unto you desolate." It is too late now; the opportunity is past. God help us to see these things this morning. If you laugh, the world laughs, with you; if you weep, you weep alone.
Why did He weep? Because He saw a lost world. Why did they sleep? Because they had calamity. Their eyes were open to see the miracles, but when it came to the great struggle, they were asleep. The Son of God had no doubt walked as far as they had and was just as weary, but He was facing the cross. He was praying for a lost world, and His heart was beginning to break, and Peter, James and John, not Judas now, but Peter, James and John, the chosen ones, those who had been with Him most, were sleeping. How few are willing to go out and go through with God alone. It means a great deal, but it is worth all it costs, and things you get that way you can have for time and eternity. So you see how much it meant for the Son of God to go through that struggle. When He came back to His disciples, He found them sleeping. How it must have torn His very heart. Three times He returned and found them sleeping. He was alone, and He was weeping, and He sweat as it were great drops of blood, even on a cold morning. Someone says, "How do you know it was a cold morning? "Only a short distance away Peter was warming himself by a fire." He was sweating; it was just the burden of soul. There is nothing, beloved, that will bring such agony as a burden of soul. You can carry a financial burden, you can carry a physical burden, but when you get a burden of soul, it will bring out of your veins the blood that is there. And it is a wonderful thing to know that God hears and answers prayer. A prayer takes something out of you. It took sweat from the Son of God. It takes something out of you, but it brings something to you. A great many people think it is just a pastime, but when the heart is in it, it takes something out of you.
Now it is easier to get preachers and singers than prayers. People will do everything else before they will pray. There is a demand for prayers, but there are not enough to supply the demand. I do not like to speak on this subject without spending most of the night in prayer. It seems a special picture. He was just praying, and He had to do His praying alone. There is something peculiar about prayer; there is something special about prayer. Talking to man is one thing, but talking to God is quite another, and it seems that the devil wants to keep people from praying.
The Holy Ghost is faithful and beloved you do not realize what privileges you have until you are filled with the Holy Ghost. He makes intercessions for you with "groanings which cannot be uttered". Now the groanings of Jesus could be uttered. Notice, He groaned in spirit and He uttered groans, but the Holy Ghost intercedes with groanings which cannot be uttered. You might pray a few words, but that prayer becomes special when it is groaned out by the Holy Ghost at the throne of God. Prayers that become groans always get an answer. And it says Jesus "sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground." And He went back the third time, but they did not understand. They did not notice the disappointment when He said, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" He asked for just one hour, but they were too sleepy, and they did not wait with Him even one hour. God help everyone of us this morning not to miss anything He has for us. Another thing that seems so very impressive, was about the last thing Jesus said to them "Sleep on now." He had awakened them twice; but the third time He went back He said, "Sleep on now". It is one of the most pathetic and saddest utterances there is in the Bible. The disappointment at the cross was hardly equal to this; it scarcely meant so much when they took His garment and tore it to pieces and gave Him vinegar to drink. This "Sleep on now," showed they had missed the great opportunity of their lives.
They disappointed Him in the hour that He needed them most. There was only one Transfiguration, and there was only one Gethsemane. Now they had disappointed Him, and He said, "Sleep on now." Later, these disciples went to the Upper Room and received the Holy Ghost; but just think of the people who never wake up.
What is time for? Just weeping and praying and groaning for a lost world. What is eternity for? Rejoicing with the blood washed and the redeemed. They may be sleeping all around you, but you can be wide awake, and the greatest honor that can be given to you is to have a burden for souls that will lay on your heart till it breaks. People have remarked that certain men would have lived longer if they had not had such a burden for souls, but if you die with a broken heart, there is no lost time. You had better live ten years with the Holy Ghost than a hundred without Him. The Holy Ghost energizes and inspires and gives courage and character so that you can accomplish more in ten years than some people would do in a hundred. The burden for souls is rare; not many have it, and some say they would not like that kind of burden. It takes real life to carry it, and people may not live so long, but they will live through all eternity.
Jesus might have lived longer if He had not carried such a burden, and His followers might have lived longer if they had not received the Holy Ghost. We say that because they all died an unnatural death. John might have stayed off the Isle of Patmos if he had not had the Holy Ghost. They chose to have the Holy Ghost and die an unnatural death rather than have carnality and live a hundred years. That is the secret, and may God help someone to receive the Holy Ghost, and in life and in death have the victory . God help you to be willing to pay the price. Do not miss your opportunity; it is within your reach now, and the Holy Ghost will be faithful to you. There was only one Transfiguration, only one Gethsemane, and only one Calvary. Jesus went through and died of a broken heart. Take the step now, regardless of anyone, and God will meet your need. Let us pray.