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Adoration is the noblest employment of created beings; confession the natural language of guilty creatures; gratitude the spontaneous expression of pardoned sinners. Prayer is desire: it is not a mere conception of the mind, not an effort of the
intellect, not an act of the memory, but an
elevation of the soul towards its Maker; a
pressing sense of our own ignorance and infirmity, a consciousness of the perfections
of God, of his readiness to hear, of his power to help, of his willingness to save. It is not an emotion produced in the senses, nor an effect wrought by the imagination;
but a determination of the will, an effusion
of the heart.
Prayer is an act both of the understand
ing and of the heart. The understanding must apply itself to the knowledge of the Divine perfections, or the heart will not be
led to the adoration of them.
not be a reasonable service if the mind
were excluded. It must be rational wor
ship, or the human worshipper will not bring to the service the distinguishing faculty of his nature, which is reason. It must be spiritual worship, or it will want the distinctive quality to make it acceptable to Him who is a spirit, and who has declared that he will be worshipped “in spirit and in truth."
Man is not only a sinful but also a helpless, and therefore a dependant being. This offers new and powerful motives to prayer, and shows the necessity of looking continually to a higher power, to a better strength than our own. If that Power sustains us not ve fall; if He direct us not we wander. His guidance is not only perfect freedom, but perfect safety. Our greatest
danger begins from the moment we imagine
we are able to go alone.
He who does not believe this fundamen
tal truth, “the helplessness of man,” on
which the other doctrines of the Bible are
built--even he who does nominally profess
to assent to it as a doctrine of Scripture, yet if he does not experimentally acknowledge it-if he does not feel it in the con
victions of his own awakened conscience,
in his discovery of the evil workings of his own heart, and the wrong propensities of his own nature, all bearing their testimony
to its truth,--such a one will not pray
earnestly for its cure—will not pray with that feeling of his own helplessness, with that sense of dependance on Divine assist
ance which alone makes prayer efficacious.
Nothing will make us truly humble, nothing will make us constantly vigilant, nothing will entirely lead us to have recourse to prayer, so fervently or so frequently as this ever-abiding sense of our corrupt and helpless nature, as our not being able to ascribe any disposition in ourselves to anything that is good, or any power to avoid, by our own strength, an thing that is evil.
Prayer is right in itself as the most powerful means of resisting sin and advancing in holiness. It is above all right, as everything is which has the authority of Scripture, the command of God, and the
example of Christ.
There is perfect consistency in all the
ordinances of God; a perfect congruity in
the whole scheme of his dispensations. If
man were not a corrupt creature, such prayer as the gospel enjoins would not have been necessary. Had not prayer been an important means for curing those corruptions, a God of perfect wisdom would
not have ordered it.
He would not have
prohibited everything which tends to inflame and promote them, had they not existed; nor would he have commanded
everything that has a tendency to diminish
and remove them, had not their existence
been fatal. Prayer, therefore, is an indis
pensable part of his economy and of our
We cannot attain to a just notion of
prayer while we remain ignorant of our
own nature, of the nature of God as re