A certain business man had once been a professing Christian, but since moving to the city, and being in constant association with worldly people, he had gradually turned further and further to the "broad way". With his full program he forgot the vows once earnestly made.
During a time of unusual awakening in the churches, he was aroused to a sense of his own exceeding sinfulness, and once more he found peace and joy in believing. Among the resolves and promises fervently made, he determined to erect a family altar, and though conscious of great weakness, he wanted to show his large family circle his reliance on an all-helping Hand.
As the time for family worship drew near, he felt more and more uneasy as to what the result would be. It was a real cross he had to take up. Again and again the thought came: "I have promised and I must fulfil." At last the moment came when he had to show his willingness to reveal his own need of daily help. But just as he took the Bible in his trembling hand, the doorbell announced a visitor. It was a friend from a distance away. He was loved dearly, but was well known for his lack of belief in sacred things.
The struggle in his heart reached climax. Fear well-nigh gained the mastery. But his "I have promised God" was triumphant and he read from the sacred page and then knelt in prayer. "O Lord," fell from his trembling lips, and then came a pause. Again the words came from his overburdened heart, "O Lord!" followed by a second silence. A third time the same words fell into the stillness - and that was al he could pray.
The next morning his "cross" became praise. He no longer found difficulty in expressing the emotions that filled his soul. From that time on, the sacred hour of family worship was a blessed time indeed. But he often referred to, and regretted, the failure of that first prayer. He feared the influence it might have made on the mind of his unbelieving friend.
In a few weeks his fear turned to great rejoicing. "That prayer," so his friend wrote, "ha haunted me. The earnestness of those two words, 'O Lord,' deeply affected. Despite all I did , I could not get them out of my mind. I think if you had prayed fluently, I might have gone away unmoved. But it seemed such a reality to you - your heart seemed so full that the common expressions of prayer could not come quickly. Your simple, but powerful, 'O Lord,' said more to me than a volume of other words could have done."
"Blessed be His holy Name! I too, can now say, 'O Lord,' and feel that He is my Lord - the prayer-hearing, prayer-answering and sin-forgiving God - the one Lord over all, ever blessed, ever merciful, and full of all gracious compassion."
The business man found in this letter renewed encouragement for the faithful fulfilment of duty. More firmly than ever before he believed in the constant help God gives to those who, amid weakness and fear, strive to obey and honour Him.
[From: The Pilgrim, no. 564]