George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
The Two Petitions of the Prodigal
A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that calleth to me. And he divided unto them his living--Luk 15:11-12
Father, Give Me
I wonder if my readers ever noticed that the prodigal made two petitions to his father. The first was: "Father, give me." "Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me." The son was growing weary of the home. He felt acutely that he was missing things. The world was big, and the days were going by, and he was young, and he was missing things. It is always bitter, when the heart is young, and the world is rich in visions and in voices, to dwell remote, and feel that one is missing things. The fatal mistake the prodigal made was this--he thought that all that he wanted was far off. He thought that the appeasing of his restlessness lay somewhere over the hills and far away. He was destined to learn better by and by; meantime he must have every penny for his journey, and he came to his father and said, "Father, give me." Mark you, there is no asking of advice. There is no consulting of the father's wishes. There is no effort to learn the father's will in regard to the disposition of the patrimony. It is the selfish cry of thoughtless youth, claiming its own to use just as it will: "Father, give me what is mine."
Father, Make Me
So he got his portion and departed, and we all know the tragic consequences, not less tragic because the lamps are bright, and the wine sparkling, and the faces beautiful. The prodigal tried to feed his soul on sense; and the Lord, in that grim way of His, changes the cups, the music, and the laughter into the beastly routing of the swine. Then the prodigal came to himself. Memories of home began to waken. He lay in his shed thinking of his father. Prayers unbidden rose within his heart. And now his petition was not "Father, give me." He had got all he asked, and he was miserable. His one impassioned cry was, "Father, make me." "Father, make me anything you please. Make me a hired servant if you want to. I have no will but yours now. I am an ignorant child and you are wise." Taught by life, disciplined by sorrow, scourged by the biting lash of his own folly, insistence passed into submission. Once he knew no will but his own will. He must have it, or he would hate his father. Once the only proof of love at home was the getting of the thing that he demanded. But now, "Father, I leave it all to thee. Thou art wise; I have been very foolish. Make me--anything thou pleasest."
Insisting on Nothing, He Got Everything
And surely it is very noteworthy that it was then he got the best. He never knew the riches in the home till he learned to leave things to his father. When he offered his first petition, "Father, give me," the story tells us that he got the money. He got it, and he spent it; in a year he was in rags and beggary. But when the second petition, "Father, make me," welled up like a tide out of the deeps, he got more than he had ever dreamed. "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him." He got the garment of the honored guest. "Bring shoes and put them on his feet, and a ring and put it on his finger." All that was best and choicest in the house, the laid-up riches of his father's treasuries were lavished now on the dusty, ragged child. Insisting on nothing, he got everything. Demanding nothing, he got the choicest gifts. Willing to be whatever his father wanted, there was nothing in the house too good for him. The ring, the robe, the music and the dancing, the vision of what a father's love could be, came when the passionate crying of his heart was, "Father, make me"--anything thou pleasest.
I think that is the way the soul advances when it is following on to know the Lord. Deepening prayers tell of deepening life. Not for one moment do I suggest that asking is not a part of prayer. "Ask, and it shall be given you." "Give us this day our daily bread." I only mean that as experience deepens we grow less eager about our own will, and far more eager to have no will but His. Disciplined by failure and success, we come to feel how ignorant we are. We have cried "Give," and He has given, but sent leanness to our soul (Psa 106:15). And all the time we were being trained and taught, for God teaches by husks as well as prophets, to offer the deep petition, "Father, make me." He gives, and we bless the Giver. He withholds, and we do not doubt His love. We leave all that to Him who knows us, and who sees the end from the beginning. Like the prodigal, we learn a wiser prayer than the fierce insistence of our youth. It is, "Father, make me"--whatso'er Thou pleasest.
Might I not suggest that this was peculiarly the prayer of the Savior? The deepest passion of the Savior's heart rings out in the petition, "Father, make Me." Not "Father give Me bread, for I am hungry; give Me angels, for I stand in peril." Had He prayed for angels in that hour of peril, He tells us they would have instantly appeared. But, "Father, though there be scorn and shame in it, and agony, and the bitterness of Calvary, Thy will be done; make Me what Thou wilt." How gloriously that prayer was answered, even though the answer was a cross! God made Him (as Dr. Moffatt puts it) our wisdom, that is our righteousness and consecration and redemption. Leave, then, the giving in His hands. He will give that which is good. With the prodigal, and the Savior of the prodigal, let the soul's cry be, "Father, make me."
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