Unformatted text preview: 《 Sermon Illustrations(Pr~R)》 (A
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Presence of Christ
Presence of Mind
Pride of Rank
Protestant Episcopal Church
Putting on Christ
Reading the Bible
Real Estate Agents
Reserves of God
Rest Cure Restitution
Reward of Merit
Reward of Virtue
River of Life
Rock of Ages
Ruling Passion Practice Sermon Illustrations
`Christianity refuses to be proved first and practiced afterwards: its practice and
its proof go hand in hand,' wrote I. R. Illingworth.
The sermons of a certain preacher were magnificent, but his life was so
inconsistent with his profession that, when he was in the pulpit, his congregation
wished he would never leave it; and, when he was out of the pulpit, they wished
he would never enter it again.
(1 Cor. 9. 27; Col. 2. 6)
Praise Sermon Illustrations
I can live for two months on a good compliment.—Mark Twain
Sigmund Freud once refused to attend a festival in his honor, remarking, "When
someone abuses me I can defend myself; against praise I am defenseless."
Every person needs recognition. It is expressed cogently by the lad who says,
"Mother, let's play darts. I'll throw the darts, and you say 'Wonderful!"
It is always a token of revival, it is said, when there is a revival of psalmody.
When Luther's preaching began to tell upon men, you could hear ploughmen at
the plough singing Luther's psalms. Whitefield and Wesley had never done the
great work they did if it had not been for Charles Wesley's poetry, and for the
singing of such men as Toplady, Scott, Newton, and many others of the same
class. When your heart is full of Christ, you want to sing.—C. H. Spurgeon
(Eph. 5. 18-20; Col. 3. 16)
I'll praise my Maker with my breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers.—Selected
"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,"
The praise or honor, power or glory be!
Our naked spirits bow in shame and dust,
And empty all our nothingness to Thee.
"Not unto us!" Oh Lord of lords, supreme,
Whate'er we work, Thou workest; Thine the praise. O wake us, cleanse us, light us with Thy beam,
And work in us, through us, to endless days.—Geo. Lansing Taylor
Three clergymen conversing, one said, "Give me praise for my preaching,
because I like it." The second said, "Give me praise that I may give it to my
Master." The third said, "Give my Master all the praise and let me not have
WIFE (complainingly)—"You never praise me up to any one."
HUB—"I don't, eh! You should hear me describe you at the intelligence office
when I'm trying to hire a cook."
"What sort of a man is he?"
"Well, he's just what I've been looking for—a generous soul, with a limousine
One negro workman was overheard talking to another:
"I'se yoh frien'. I jest tole the fohman, when he say dat nigger Sam ain't fit to feed
to de dawgs, why, I done spoke right up, an' tole him yoh shohly is!"
Prayer Sermon Illustrations
One of the most beautiful things that one can ever read on the subject of prayer
is a verse found in a Norwegian novel, The Wind from the Mountains, by Trygve
Gulbranssen. Adelaide hands to old Dag, who amid his sorrows and difficulties is
struggling toward the light, the bishop's Bible, with these lines on the flyleaf:
Our human thoughts and works are not so mighty
That they can cut a path to God, unbless'd,
And so from Him the gift of prayer is sent us
To hallow both our labor and our quest.
Over life, and death, and starlit spaces
The highroad runs, that at His word was laid,
And reaches Him across the desert places;
By prayer it is our pilgrimage is made.
How true that is! Over life and death and starlit spaces runs for us the highroad of
prayer, and by prayer our pilgrimage is made. What a friend we have in prayer! What a protector! And how little use we make of
it! When the Adantic cable was laid in 1850, there were great celebrations and
rejoicings on both sides of the Atlantic. But what is the Atlantic cable, with the
messages of war and peace, of nations in commotion and sore travail, which
flash across it, compared with the heavenly cable of prayer, whereby the tempted
and tried man communicates with the God of heaven, and receives messages
and messengers of encouragement from heaven just as Jacob did at Bethel
when he saw a ladder set up on earth, the top of which reached to heaven, and
the angels of God ascending and descending.
When Grant was fighting his last campaign with cancer at Mount McGregor,
General O. O. Howard, who had honestly won the title "The Christian Soldier,"
came to call on him. He spoke for a time to Grant about some of the battles and
campaigns of the war in which both men had played so illustrious a part. Grant
listened for a time and then, interrupting him, said, "Howard, tell me what you
know about prayer." Face to face with death and the unknown, the question of
prayer was of greater interest to the dying soldier than the reminiscences of his
In the diary of his prison experience at Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor, Alexander
Stephens thus describes the close of his prison day: "He undresses and
stretches himself on his bunk. Here with soul devout he endeavors through
prayer to put himself in communion with God. To the Eternal, Prisoner, in
weakness and full consciousness of his own frailty, commits himself, saying from
the heart, 'Thy will, and not mine, be done.' With thoughts embracing the wellbeing of absent dear ones, and all the world of mankind besides, whether friend
or foe, he sinks into that sweet and long sleep from which he arose this morning."
A medical missionary captured by bandits in China, informed that he was to be
shot at a spot ten minutes' distance away, tells how a terrible fear and
helplessness came over him at the thought of such a death so far away from his
native country, from his friends and his family. But he had strength enough to
pray. This was his prayer: "My Lord God, have mercy on me, and give me
strength for this trial. Take away all fear, and if I have to die, let me die like a
man." Instantly, he said, his terrible fear began to disappear. By the time he had
reached the gorge where he was to be shot he felt perfectly calm and unafraid. At
the last moment, however, the bandits relented and his life was spared. In the
days which followed, full of danger and suffering, the memory of this experience
was cherished more and more. "My own will had failed in the most critical
moment of my life. But the knowledge that I could depend on a power greater
than my own, one that had not failed me in that crisis, sustained me in a
wonderful way to the very end of my captivity. What ingratitude it would be in me
not to proclaim this power."
Harold Dixon, one of the three men on a raft who drifted for thirty-four days a
thousand miles in their rubber raft, eight feet by four, with no food and no water,
speaking of the prayer meetings which they held every night, said: "There was a
comfort in passing our burden to someone bigger than we in this empty vastness.
Further, the common devotion drew us together, since it seemed we no longer
depended entirely upon each other, but could appeal simultaneously to a Fourth
that we three held equally in reverence."
That reference to a "Fourth" with them in that raft makes one think of those three
Hebrew lads in the fiery furnace who prayed to God and put their trust in God,
and how, when Nebuchadnezzar came to look into the fiery furnace to see what
had happened to them, he saw that they were unharmed by the flames, and lo, in
the midst of them, he saw the form of a Fourth, like unto the Son of Man! That is
one of the great blessings of prayer. It puts you into fellowship with the form of a
Fourth—with God, with Jesus Christ, the Saviour of men.
There was once a godless seaman who was in a boat fishing with his
companions when a storm came up which threatened to sink the ship. His
companions begged him to offer a prayer; but he demurred, saying it was years
since he had prayed or entered a church. But finally, upon their insistence, he
made this prayer: "O Lord, I have not asked you for anything for fifteen yeairs,
and if you deliver us out of this storm and bring us safe to land again, I promise
that I will not bother you again in another fifteen years!"
There is no doubt that many of those who pray earnestly in time of great distress,
afterward, when the storm is over and the danger is past, forget God. But that in
no way invalidates the fact that in their distress and danger they realized that there was a higher power than themselves and turned to that power in earnest
Madame Chiang Kaishek, who is a product of Christian missions and whose
father and mother were devout Methodists, relates how her mother would spend
hours in prayer in a room on the third floor of their home. At the time of the
Manchurian invasion Madame Chiang said one day to her mother: "Mother, you
are so powerful in prayer, why don't you pray that God will annihilate Japan by an
earthquake or something?"
Her mother looked gravely at her and said: "When you pray or expect me to pray,
don't insult God's intelligence by asking Him to do something which would be
unworthy of you, a mortal."
"After that," said Madame Chiang, "I can pray for the Japanese people."
Few persons, perhaps, have read the sequel to Robinson Crusoe's story of his
captivity on the lonely island—Serious Reflections—in which Crusoe tells how he
revisited the island and endeavored to convert to Christianity the mixed colony of
English and natives. Most notorious among these islanders was the wicked and
profligate seaman Will Atkins. After his conscience had been reached and it was
suggested to Atkins that he and his companions teach their wives religion, he
responded, "Lord, sir, how should we teach them religion? Should we talk to
them of God and Jesus Christ, and heaven and hell, it would make them laugh at
us." In his ever charming style Defoe describes Atkins sitting by the side of his
tawny wife under the shade of a bush and trying to tell her about God,
occasionally going off a little distance to fall on his knees to pray, until at length
they both knelt down together, while the friend who was watching with Crusoe
cried out, "St. Paul! St. Paul! behold he prayeth!"
In Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" we have the poetic
conception of how sin hinders prayer. After the Ancient Mariner had
killed the sacred albatross, in his distress he tried to pray. But his lips
could not pronounce the words:
I looked to Heaven, and tried to pray
But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came, and made
My heart as dry as dust. It was only after his repentance, and when the spell of judgment had
been lifted, that he found himself able to pray, and set out on his
pilgrimage from land to land, to teach by his own example love and
reverence to all things that God made and loves. The great poem
comes to a conclusion with the Ancient Mariner telling his delight in
going to the church with the goodly company to pray.
When Senator Penrose of Pennsylvania, stricken with his last sickness,
was being wheeled about in a chair, his once gigantic frame shrunken
and haggard, Penrose said to his faithful Negro valet, "William, I want
you to tell me the truth, not what the doctors tell me, but the truth. Do
you think I'm getting better?"
With tears in his eyes, the Negro answered, "Senator, I will tell you the
truth. You are not far from the end. Amen."
With that Penrose lifted a once mighty hand and said, "Then, William,
when you go to church tomorrow, put up a prayer for me."
In Dick's Philosophy of a Future State , the book which converted David
Livingstone, there is preserved a beautiful prayer made by a Mrs.
Sheppard, a lady of Somersetshire, for the conversion of Lord Byron. In
the prayer she referred to him as one as much distinguished for his
neglect of God as for the transcendent talents God had bestowed upon
him. She prayed that he might be awakened to a sense of his danger
and led to seek peace and forgiveness in Christ.
After the woman's death her husband forwarded the prayer to Byron. It
took him in one of his best moods; and he responded, "I can assure
you that not all the fame which ever cheated humanity into higher
notions of its own importance would ever weigh in my mind against the
pure and pious interest which a virtuous being may be pleased to take
in my behalf. In this point of view, I would not exchange the prayer of
the deceased in my behalf for the united glory of Homer, Caesar, and
The head of an insane asylum for the inebriate in New York testified
that those who were sent there by their relatives or neighbors or by the
state simply to get rid of them and to restrict their liberties never recovered. The ones who recovered were those who had some loved
one, father or mother, or wife or child, or sister, praying for them.
Suffering love has the power to restore. So the suffering love of God in
Christ can restore the sinner.
What could be finer than that final touch which Thackeray gives to the
beautiful character of Amelia in Vanity Fair: "No more fighting was
heard at Brussels. The sound of battle rolled miles away. Darkness
came down on the field and city, and Amelia was praying for George,
who was lying on his face dead, with a bullet through his heart."
Sorrow, anguish, battles, wounds, darkness, and death; but shining in
that darkness the calm star of a faithful woman's intercession!
Here is a great modern cannon, one of those big guns about which we
have heard so much. Here is the long and graceful barrel of the gun
pointing loward the foe. But there is nothing in that barrel by itself.
Birds could nest in it. And here is the wheel that elevates and lowers
the gun. But there is nothing in that wheel itself which could strike
against the enemy. And here is the range finder, a delicate and
beautiful instrument. And here is the shell, or cartridge, with the
powder back of it, ready to be hurled against the foe. But there is
nothing in that shell of itself which can injure the enemy. And back of
the gun is the gunner, ready to do his work with strong mind and
trained hand. But in himself there is nothing, no power, that can hurt
the enemy. It is only when the spark of fire is applied to the powder
that that great cannon with its intricate mechanism and its deathdealing shell and its trained gunners becomes an instrument of power
So prayer is the spark that brings the power of man into action.
Doctor Charles Parkhurst, distinguished preacher and reformer of New
York, in an address in which he dealt with his early religious life related
how he had often heard his father pray in the church, at the family
altar, and at the family table. But it was only when he heard him
praying aloud on his knees in the barn that he knew the reality of
prayer and the deep reality of the religious life. In his Confessions Augustine relates how he set out for Rome from
Carthage against the prayers and entreaties of his godly mother, who
was praying earnestly for his salvation. Augustine deceived her when
she was weeping over him by telling her that he was merely going on
board to see a friend who was sailing for Italy. When his mother
refused to go home without him, he persuaded her to pass the night in
a memorial chapel of the martyr Cyprian. But that night while his
mother Monica was praying in the chapel, beseeching God to prevent
him from going, Augustine set sail.
This departure of her son must have seemed to Monica at that time the
refusal to grant her prayer; yet in the providence of God the journey to
Italy was to be the means of Augustine's conversion. The denial of the
mother's prayer was in the end a great answer to her prayer for the
salvation of her gifted son. "But Thou," says Augustine, "in Thy hidden
wisdom, didst grant the substance of her desire, yet refused the thing
she prayed for in order that Thou mightest effect in me what she was
ever praying for. . . .' She loved to keep me with her as mothers are
wont, yes, far more than most mothers, and she knew not what joy
Thou wast preparing for her out of my desertion."
Here we have a striking and beautiful illustration of how God
sometimes answers a prayer for the salvation of a soul after what
seems, to the one who prays, a long delay.
There are answers beyond our answers—that is, beyond what seems to
us an answer. David lay on the ground all night and prayed for the
recovery of that child of love and sin; but the prayer, as he asked it,
was not answered. The child died, but David did not cease to pray and
to believe in prayer. He comforted himself and said of the child, "I shall
go to him, but he shall not return to me" (II Sam. 12:23).
Paul prayed earnestly, if ever man did. He besought the Lord three
times that his grievous and painful thorn in the flesh be taken from him;
but his prayer, in that form, was not granted. The thorn remained to
pierce and harass him to the end of his days. And yet at the same time
God answered him when he prayed, and this was his answer: "My grace is sufficient for thee" (II Cor. 12:9). Paul found that to be the
answer to his unanswered prayer.
On the wilderness journey the people had been saved from starvation
by the manna which fell for them from heaven. But they began to weary
of it and lusted for the fleshpots of Egypt, saying: "Who shall give us
flesh to eat? . . . Our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all save
this manna to look upon" (Num. 11:4, 6). The answer of the Lord to this
complaint and ingratitude was to give them as a judgment that for
which they asked. A wind blowing in from the sea covered the ground
about Israel's camp with quails. For a night and two days the greedy,
flesh-lusting people gathered the quails and ate them; but while the
flesh was yet between their teeth God smote the people with a great
plague. The place where the victims of the plague were buried was
called the Graves of Lust. God let them have the quails for which they
asked, but with them he sent the plague. The psalmist's inspired
comment on that bit of Hebrew history is this: He gave them the desire
of their hearts, but sent leanness into their soul (Ps. 106:15).
Ling Wei's Answer to Prayer
The new Chinese evangelist was very homely but the Lord, looking into his heart,
saw there a burning love for Him and a desire for the salvation of his people.
His mother was not a Christian ...
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