Wednesday, 12th.—In the evening with Mr. Moody. Talked over ordination. He suggested this to me, that being ordained over that people in particular, I might expect to be blessed chiefly to that people. I have been thinking of the case of Moses. He trembled and resisted before being sent, but from the moment that he was chosen we never hear of alarm or fear arising. The hand of God was with him. I observe that it is the ministers who are engaged in setting one apart that are especially to give themselves to ' fasting and prayer.' I consider that the laying-on of hands is a sort of relic of the gifts of the Holy Ghost in the primitive church; it does as really convey grace as their hands laid on any one gave the gifts of the Spirit. Veni, Creator Spiritus! Mr. Moody prayed that even beforehand I might be receiving much, that the vessel might be enlarged to take in very much more grace than usual.
Monday, Dec. 10th.—I have observed how Satan tries to get me employed on Sabbath and on Saturday evenings in other things than the direct work before me, and this especially keeps me from prayer. I think now I see that prayer and fasting unto prayer should be the employment of Saturday night and Sabbath evening. These will be times when Satan will be busy to prevent the word getting root. So also Monday morning. Want of this has kept me from being useful.
Wednesday, May 3rd.—Rose a little earlier than usual to fast and pray. I see that fasting and retirement, along with prayer, should go together. The effect upon the body and soul is somewhat like affliction. It brings down the tone of the spirit, subdues the flesh, draws off the soul from self-complacence, and makes the flesh unsatisfying. It discovers much to me that is humbling, it helps to remove my lightness of mind.
Friday, 20th.—Left alone in the house, and having previously, in prospect of this, got on with my preparation, spent most of this day in prayer and meditation with fasting.
Friday, 27th.—Tried again this day, but having let in some common business, and trusting to last week's help, I did not succeed so well. I prayed over the names of all my communicants.
Wednesday, June 1st.—Spent after three o'clock in fasting and prayer. Before retiring to rest have felt something of 'my soul longeth, yea even fainteth,' etc., and I lie down this night intensely desiring to feel constrained by the love of Christ.
Saturday, 4th.—'Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.' This has been in my mind. I felt for a week as if it were giving up all hope of freedom and comfort were the Lord to be managing everything even about my body, but today I rejoice! His will is holier, wiser, and more loving too than mine. Let Him be 'the Spirit in the wheels.'
Thursday, 25th.—Spent three hours this evening in prayer. Felt at the close, Ps. cxlv. 17. 'The Lord is righteous in all His ways,' etc., etc. Kept still watching unto prayer the rest of the evening, and intend, by the help of the Spirit, to do the same for a time tomorrow morning. I have joined fasting with prayer, as it always helps me to freedom from distraction. The matter of Glasgow will form part of my prayers tomorrow morning.
Dec. 31st.—Have been trying to pray more than usual at this season. My cry today has been for the Spirit of Resurrection, and for His gifts to the Church at large and to this spot. The consideration that this is probably my last year at Collace has not that rousing effect that it surely should have. Rather, I feel as if the Lord were making my way to remove to Glasgow plainer by the continued indifferent state of the people; little done, little felt. Horace is now on his way to Egypt. Psalm xc. is the song and prayer with which I close this year.
3rd January 1856.—I have been endeavouring to keep up prayer at this season every hour of the day, stopping my occupation, whatever it is, to pray a little, seeking thus to keep my soul within the shadow of the throne of grace and Him that sits thereon. This opening year may be a solemn one to me, resulting perhaps in my leaving this place. O that I might see more blessing on my work! O how bitter it is to perceive no impression made by the word preached! It often leaves my soul in a strange state of despairing sorrow. But, as it was said of old, Dolor est ingratus. I am apt to forget God's mercies.
Friday, 6th.—Tried to keep the forenoon of this day till two for prayer and fasting. Was interrupted several times, but nevertheless got help. I prayed over, and felt much, Job xl. 4: 'Behold! I am vile!' ‘I am light, I am insignificant, I am mean and base.' Also Daniel x. and other passages. Above all, I sought to live not for myself, not to enjoy comfort and gladness, but for God, my God, my exceeding joy. Praise for recent tokens of blessing upon my people. It is not simply the being cumbered with many things and troubled that hinders blessing; it is my being taken up with, and deeply interested in, many things that are not directly the Lord Himself. Whereas the Lord Himself is the one thing, fellowship with Him, delighting ourselves in Him.
Friday, 31st.—Most of the day in fasting and prayer till four o'clock. Found myself much revived in prayer for the heathen and those far off.
Saturday, September 3rd.—Set apart this forenoon for fasting and prayer. I began my fast, and got in my ordinary reading that word which followed me through the day, Hosea iii. 3: 'Thou shalt not be for any man,' and in that case I shall be found bending toward you! But my studies tempted me, thoughts of them coming in, so that a whole hour was occupied in putting down things that suddenly occurred to me. Writing the Geography of Palestine has too much encroached upon some other things, I fear; although the study has been profitable to my soul, as well as helped my knowledge.
Saturday, 25th.—The work at Hillhead still goes on; many more have been awakened. I have sought the Lord today, by fasting and prayer, that the blessing may come to my people in town also. How great the Lord's goodness seems to me at times in looking back all my life. Shall I ever have a hard thought of such a Lord as mine? His afflictions are sent in deep love, and then followed up by new mercies, as if He were hastening to soften the stroke. Today my little Janie sat in the study playing with some little books, and, as if sent by the Lord, went on repeating Psalm ciii and then the paraphrase, 'Take comfort, Christians, when your friends in Jesus fall asleep.' Was she God's messenger to me, lisping the message for my sake though she knew it not?
Saturday, 23rd.—Many remembrances today led me to spend it, from morning till afternoon, in fasting and prayer. Something of the Lord's presence enjoyed occasionally, and throughout a secret strength to continue in prayer more than for many weeks.
Saturday, Oct. 14th.—Tried to fast and pray, but was restless till the evening. The thought of how the Lord has supported me since this day last year was very strengthening. My evening chapter was John xv., where I met with 'Every branch that beareth fruit He purgcth, that it may bear more' But I deeply feel my perverseness, not learning as I should. Lord, sanctify to me the memories of this solemn season! I should never forget, also, that the Lord has shown me singular kindness, first, in regard to my children, they going on without their mother in a way that I could scarcely have believed. Next, my health, in never having had a pain since this time last year. It is plain still that the Lord, seeing it needful to take away the desire of my eyes, has at the same time smoothed the affliction in every way. Not one day has passed, since this time last year, during which my beloved Isabella has not been distinctly before me. Yet one thing; I seldom sleep a whole night now without awaking before the day breaks, and then thoughts of what I have lost come up with sudden power oftentimes.
Saturday, 26th.—The life of Henry Craik has helped me to-day in solemn meditation, fasting, and prayer. In him I see how the Lord enabled one of His own to go on continually doing all for God, in studying, preaching, writing, keeping him abounding in prayer, and in meditation upon the Word. He was also enabled to live, not before man but God, declining to do many things that might have been expected of him, because, if he occupied himself with them, he must neglect retirement, fellowship with God, and family duties. Now, I am apt to go wrong here. He was to have called upon me the last time he was in Glasgow, but was then ill of his sickness unto death. Well, my call will come. May I be sustained in death-bed trouble as he was! If, however, the Lord take me away quickly, without warning, it may be better still in some respects; but I have no choice.
Saturday, 29th.—Tomorrow is our Communion, in preparation for which, as well as because an opportunity of special benefit to my soul, I spent till mid-day fasting and praying. Some considerable sense of nearness to the Lord at times. I sought as much to be drawn into His presence and to Himself as weaned from the world. I want exceedingly to be content with the Lord Himself alone, though I have continual temptation to try the employment of other engagements in a certain degree.
Saturday, 22nd.—Spent the whole forenoon in fasting and prayer. A time of sadness at the review of unimproved seasons, especially my bereavement; unattained blessings; backsliding; lukewarmness; weak, feeble faith; unheavenliness of mind and walk. My appeal is to Eph. iii. 20. I ask, seek, knock at my Father's heart through the Beloved Son for the Spirit's larger blessing. I want fruit a hundredfold; 'life more abundantly;' 'all grace abounding toward me that I, having all-sufficiency,' etc.; 'abiding in the Lord,' with the unction from the Holy One; 'eyes opened, that I may know the exceeding greatness of His power,' etc.; 'rooted and grounded in love, comprehending height, depth, length, breadth,' etc.; ' filled with the fulness of God;' 'filled with the Spirit.' And as a minister, out of me ' rivers of living water,' 'turning many to righteousness;' an earthen vessel to carry Christ's name, used as Boanerges or as Barnabas. There was, I notice, use made in the times of Pentecost of both Peter and John together. Change me, Lord, from glory to glory, into Thine image, till glory come.
Friday, Dec. 29th.—Psalm cii. 15, a token of God's grace to others for the sake of those that plead for them has been dwelling upon my mind and leading me on to urge my petition for my family. Being quite alone I have been able to keep a fast as well as pray all day. I have been thirty-three years in the ministry; the Lord Jesus will cover all the sins of that time and will claim favour for me by His life and death in the thirty-three years of the days of His flesh.
Glasgow, Saturday, October 4th.—Got nearly the whole day for fasting and prayer, being disengaged from my own people on the forenoon of tomorrow. Again and again I laid upon the mercy-seat the words of Jeremiah xxxiii. 3. I now try to pray every Sabbath before leaving the pulpit, 'Lord, give fruit, forgive the sin, fill me with the Spirit again and again, and accept my praise.'
Thursday, 24th.—After a season of fasting and prayer ten days ago, I found something peculiar in my experience; and last Monday, when seeking an appropriate word for our Workers' Meeting, there was given me a peculiarly solemn one, ' The dead praise not God!
Friday, 1st Jan. 1875.—Met as usual for prayer and praise. Cheered at the close by one of our men wishing to speak, awakened by my little book, The Cup of Wrath. What a year the past has been! What is this to be?
Saturday, 30th.—Got time today to spend some hours in waiting on the Lord at the well, very thirsty for blessing, feeling my poverty in all spiritual grace, longing to be able to pray more; seeking the opening of my eyes to see more than I do in every truth.
Sept. 9th.—At Perth Conference. Great enlargement when speaking of 'the rest,' followed by a time of impotence rising from want of much prayer. Nothing but constant intercourse with the Lord will carry on the soul. I got last Saturday set apart as a day of prayer; and I trace much of my help to that day. I hope this winter to get such a day of prayer and fasting once a month.
Monday, 18th.—Yesterday the Lord gave me opportunity and strength of body and soul for more than ordinary work. My usual services and my young men's class, and then after, a sermon at the Seamen's Chapel, and then another in the tent. Have now just about completed thirty-eight years of my ministry. What wonderful kindness, what sovereign grace in giving me such time for service!
Saturday, Oct. 14th.—Time for prayer and fasting. Specially led back to the day of my great bereavement. My heart's desire is that the sweetness of divine communion may to me be such that it will make all other wants forgotten. Come near, Lord. Come very near.
Tuesday, 30th.—Tomorrow we return to Glasgow. Today have been led to pray about sin and right views of righteousness. My fasting here has been chiefly giving up all else in order to pray. One good token is found in this, viz., my dreams of late have been full of comforting thoughts.
Taken from the Diary and Letters of Andrew A. Bonar
, D.D.. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1894).