« 이전계속 »
Study the Psalms of David in this view. The primitive Christians used to learn the whole book by heart, and thus have prayers ready for every occasion. Would not this be a profitable exercise for the young? And the Bible is not only useful as furnishing matter for your prayers, but when read in faith and humility, it is wonderfully calculated to excite devotional feelings, and to quicken our hearts in calling on God. All devout persons have, like David, loved the law of the Lord.*
The hinderances which have been mentioned may perhaps solve that which has often been a difficulty in the minds of persons who have seen no good effect produced by the prayers of some professors. The duty of prayer may be discharged so erroneously and carelessly, with such a mixture of sin, and impure motives; men's affections may still be so engaged in the world, that there is little or no real desire of heart, little or no true prayer. When they rise from their knees, their petitions are quite forgotten; the occupations of the world come on; and if any good affections or desires had been excited, they are choked by the cares of this life.
Hence we may see those, who neglect not stated seasons of prayer, and give much time to it, still yielding like others to bad tempers, and though probably some general good may arise from their prayers, yet there is little perceptible difference between them and those who pray not at all.
* Gray, a writer who has already been quoted, speaks of the following impediments to prayer. “Dur low design. We pray in secret that we may be more
fitted to pray abroad. We aim at honour to ourselves, not
glory to God. Our formality, or prayer without faith and love. Our neglect of seeking the Spirit. Our not employing Jesus as a mediator, Our eartbly, worldly minds. Our resisting and grieving the Spirit in our ordinary walk.
Our pride of beart." The knowledge of these difficulties and impediments is one step towards overcoming tben.
This shews the necessity of praying in a right spirit, in order to gain the advantage promised to this great duty.
Sect. II.--Rules to assist in attaining the Spirit of
1. LOOK FOR THE AID OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. Undoubtedly the great helper of the soul in devotional exercise, is the Holy Ghost. Without bis assistance we cannot at all pray aright, or acceptably to God. Be not content, then, unless you obtain this assistance. Be not content with a formal circle of duties, without the life, pleasure, and power of religion. You ought not to be satisfied without receiving the promises and praying in the Holy Ghost. Jude 20. He helpeth the infirmities of Christ's people. He is the Spirit of adoption, enabling them to cry, Abba Father; and therefore if
you are a true disciple of Christ, you ought to expect, and obtain his help. Think that prayer very defective in which your mind is not sensible of the Divine presence, in which your heavenly Father does not manifest his presence by imparting to you some feelings of sorrow for sin, some holy thirstings and longings after the grace and blessing of God, some ardent desires after holiness and conformity to his will; which feelings and desires are manifestly the fruit of his Spirit. Every man is more or less with his Lord in prayer, as he is more or less under the teachings of the Holy Spirit. Where
the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, 2 Cor. iii, 17. Through this divine influence binderances are removed, and all those graces imparted, which are required in acceptable prayer. He takes of the things of Christ, and shews them to us, and leads us by him to the Father. Eph. ii, 18. Ever remember, then, that the preparation of the heart in man is from the Lord. Prov. xvi, 1.“ The Spirit of grace and supplication is like a quickening spirit, entering into a dead body, that insinuates life and activity into all the parts, conveys a warmth into every limb, and gives a freshness and beauty to the whole; which, whatever other perfections it may have, is, without this, but a languid, cold, dead, or lifeless thing.” Prayer, then, for the aid of the Holy Spirit, is the best preparation for prayer. Plead the promise, “ Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.” Ps. X. 17. Urge the entreaty, Quicken us, and we will call upon thy nume. Ps. Ixxx, 18.
2. TRUST ONLY IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST. To pray in the name of Christ, is rightly to view and depend on his intercession, his atonement, his purchase, and his strength. This is the only prevailing plea. Be persuaded of your own sinfulness and guilt. Mention none other name, but the name of Jesus; none other merits but the merits of Jesus, when you approach unto God.
Have a constant eye to his intercession, saying with Jeremiah, “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy naine's sake.” Jer, xiv, 7, and Ps. xxv, 11. The assurance that you have such a High Priest, should esceedingly encourave you in approaching to, in continuing at, and in retiring from the throne of grace. All your prayers are defective a id defiled ; but Jesus offering up even such prayers, (as was shown at large in the sd chapter,) througia His intercession they become effectual ;
while the most fervent prayer you ever made, if it fostered a self-righteous spirit, and was trusted in, instead of Christ, will only add to your guilt, and increase your condemnation. Regard his atonement. He has made peace by the blood of his cross; and “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” Here, then, is a sufficient ground of confidence in your approaches to God. Consider his purchase. All the blessings that you need, and for which you ask, were bought by his blood, and are laid up ready for you, to be received on asking. Heaven itself is a purchased possession. Eph. i, 14. Depend on his strength. Without Christ "you can do nothing;" but you may say, "I can do all through Christ strengthening me.” You can only get near to God in and by Christ Jesus. Let this name of Christ encourage you to begin your prayer, notwithstanding all your sins; and quiet your mind after your prayer, notwithstanding all your defects. “Coming to the throne of grace in Christ's name," says Traill, “is another thing than commonly men take it to be. Some think it is only to say in their prayers, 'for Christ's sake.' To ask in His name is a higher business than to be reached by unbelievers, and men devoid of the Spirit of God. If “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost;" (1 Cor. xii, 3.) - how shall men call on him in whom they have not believed ?" But can you take the Searcher of hearts to witness, that you build all your hopes of acceptance at the throne of grace in the name and mediation of Jesus. Can you say, I have no name to come to God in, but Christ's. Since all that came in his name were welcome, I will come also ; haying no plea but Christ's name, no covering but his robe of righteousness--I will expect answers of peace and acceptarce, only in that blessed beloved. As much as Christ is out of your minds in praying, so much are you out in praying, and your praying out of that it ought to be. That which we beg is out of Christ's store. In whose name do we beg it, but in his ? for whose sake, but for his? Out of whose hand do we receive what we ask and get, but out of his ? It is marvellous that people should pretend to prayer, and think they pray, who yet forget Jesus Christ, who is all in all, in all right prayer."
3. BE WATCHFUL. Watch unto prayer. It is observable how frequently watchfulness and prayer are joined together by our Lord and his Apostles. Jesus Christ says, “ Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape.” Luke xxi, 36. St. Paul says, Continue in prayer, and watch in the same; (Col. iv, 2.) and St. Peter, after saying, the end of all things is at hand, exhorts them, Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 1 Peter iv, 7. You should watch FOR FAVOURABLE OPPORTUNITIES
In some happy moments, when circumstances concur to call us to this duty, a more than ordinary divine influence seems to be granted to the Christian, disposing and inclining his heart to pray, and wonderfully assisting him with suitable thoughts, and desires. There is a full breeze, as it were, of spiritual aid vouchsafed. In this case, we should spread every sail, seize the happy opportunity, be instant in prayer, and make large advances towards the haven where we would be.
Watch AGAINST those HINDERANCES which have already been mentioned, and need not be repeated. Your hearts are evil, watch over them at all times. This is needful to keep them in a proper state for prayer.Worldly-mindedness, or the indulgence of any sin in the heart, greatly unfits us for approaching Him, who