IT is said that Rowland Hill once had to put up in a village where there was no other house to put up at but a tavern; and having a pair of horses to bait, and going into the best room of the inn, he was considered to be a valuable guest for the night. So the host came in, and he said, “Glad to see you, Mr. Hill.” “I am going,” was the reply, “to stay with you to-night.
Will you let me have family prayer to-night in this house?” “I never had such a thing as family prayer here,” said the landlord, “and I don’t want to have it now.” “Very well; then just fetch my horses out; I can’t stop in a house where they won’t pray to God. Take the horses out.” Now, being too good a guest to lose, the man thinks better of it, and promises to have family prayer. “Ah, but,” said Hill,” I’m not in the habit of conducting prayer in other people’s houses. You must conduct it yourself.” The man said he could not pray. “But you must,” said Rowland Hill. “Oh, but I never did pray.” “Then, my dear man, you will begin to-night,” was the answer. So when the time came, and the family were on their knees, “Now,” said Rowland Hill, “every man prays in his own house: you must offer prayer to-night.” “I can’t pray, I can ’t, ’“ said the landlord. “What, man, you have had all these mercies to-day, and are you so ungrateful that you cannot thank God for them? Besides, what a wicked sinner you have been! Can’t you tell God what a sinner you’ve been, and ask for pardon?”
The man began to cry, “I can’t pray, Mr. Hill, I can’t, indeed I can’t.” “Then tell the Lord, man, you can’t; tell him you can’t pray,” said Mr. Hill, “and ask him to help you.” Down went the poor landlord on his knees. “O Lord, I can’t pray: I wish I could.” “Ah! you have begun to pray,” said Rowland Hill, “you have begun to pray, and you will never leave off. As soon as God has set you to pray, faint though it be, you will never leave off. Now I’ll pray for you.” And so he did, and it was not long before the Lord was pleased, through that strange instrumentality, to break the landlord’s hard heart, and to bring him to Christ. Now, I say if any of you can’t pray, tell the Lord you can’t. Ask him to help you to pray: ask him to show you your need to be saved; and if you can’t pray, ask him to give you everything that you need. Christ will make as well as take the message. He will put his own blood upon your prayer; and the Father will send down the Holy Ghost to you to give you more faith and more trust in Christ.