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i. 15. hath no reference at all to what we mean : but by common use, every one knows the signification, and many are pleased with the significancy of it.
Divers heads of prayer may no doubt be added to those which I have here put together, and many scripture expressions too, under each head, (for I have only set down such as first occurred to my thoughts) and many other expressions too, not in scripture words, which may be very comprehensive and emphatical, and apt to excite devotion. And perhaps, those who covet earnestly this excellent gift, and covet to excel in it, may find it of use to them to have such a book as this interleaved, in which to insert such other heads and expressions as they think will be most agreeable to them, and wanting here. And though I have here recommended a good method for prayer, and that which has been generally approved, yet I am far from thinking we should always tie ourselves to it: that may be varied as well as the expression : thanksgiving may very aptly be put sometimes before confession or petition, or our intercessions for others before our petitions for ourselves, as the Lord's prayer. Sometimes one of these parts of prayer may be enlarged upon much more than another; or they may be decently interwoven in some other method : Ars est celare artem,
There are those (I doubt not) who at some times have their hearts so wonderfully elevated and enlarged in prayer, above themselves ; at other times such a fixedness and fullness of thought, such a fervour of pious and devout affections, the product of which, is such fluency and variety of pertinent and moving expressions, and in such a just and natural method, that then to have an eye to such a scheme as this, would be a hindrance to them, and would be in danger to cramp and straiten them ; if the heart be full of its good matter, it may make the tongue as the
But this is a case that rarely happens, and ordinarily there is need of proposing to ourselves a certain method to go by in prayer, that the service may be performed decently and in order, in which, yet one would avoid that which looks too formal. A man' may write straight, without having his pa
Some few forms of prayer I have added in the last
chapter, for the use of those who need such helps, and that know not how to do as well or better without them; and therefore I have calculated them for families. If any think them too long, let them observe that they are divided into many paragraphs, and those mostly independent, so that when brevity is necessary, some paragraphs may be omitted.
But after all, the intention and close application of the mind, the lively exercises of faith and love, and the outgoings of holy desire towards God, are so essentially necessary to prayer, that without these in sincerity, the best and most proper language is but a lifeless image. If we had the tongue of men and angels, and have not the heart of humble serious Christians in prayer, we are but as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. 'Tis only the effectual fervent prayer, the Deesis energumene, the inwrought, inlaid prayer that avails much. Thus, therefore, we ought to approve ourselves to God in the integrity of our hearts, whether we pray by or without a precomposed form.
When I had finished the third volume of Expositions of the Bible, which is now in the press, before I procee'l, as I intend, in an humble dependence on the Divine providence and grace, to the fourth volume, I was willing to take a little time from that work to this poor performance, in hopes it might be of some service to the genera. tion of them that seek God, that seek the face of the God of Facob ; and if any good Christian receive assistance from it in their devotions, I hope they will not deny me one request, which is, that they will pray for me, that I may obtain mercy of the Lord, to be found among the faithful watchmen on Yerusalem's walls, Who never hold their peace day nor night, but give themselves to the word and prayer, that at length I may finish my course with joy. CHESTER,
MATTHEW HENRY. March 25th, 1710.
A Method for Prayer.
Of the first Part of PRAYER, which is Address to God,
Adoration of him, with suitable. Acknowledgments, Professions and preparatory Requests.
Our spirits being composed into a very reverend and serious frame, our thoughts gathered in, and all that is within us charged in the name of the great God, carefully to attend the solemn and awful service that lies before us, and to keep close to it, we must with a fixed attention and application of mind, and an active lively faith, set the LORD BEFORE US, see his eye upon us, aad set ourselves in his special presence, presenting ourselves to him as living sacrifices, which we desire may be holy and acceptable, and a reasonable service ;a and then bind these sacrifices with cords to the horns of the altar,b in such thoughts as these :
Let us now lift up our hearts,c with our eyes and hands unto God in the heavens.d
Let us stir up ourselves to take hold on God,e to seek his face, and to give him the glory due unto his name.ga
Unto thee, O Lord, do we lift up our souls.h
Let us now, with humble boldness, enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, in the new and Living way, i which he hath consecrated to us through the Veilik
a Rom. xii, 1,
6 Psal. cxviii, 27,
c Lam, jii, 41,
Let us now attend upon the Lord without distraction, and let not our hearts be far from him, when we draw nigh unto him with our mouths, and honour him with our lips.a
Let us now worship God; who is a SPIRIT, in spirit and in truth : for such the Father seeks to worship him.b
Having thus engaged our hearts to approach unto God,c
1. We must solemnly address ourselves to that INFI. NITELY GREAT and GLORIOUs Being with whom we have to do, as those that are possessed with a full belief of his PRESENCE and a holy awe and reverence of his MAJESTY ; which we may do in such expressions as these.
Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come.d
O'thou whose name alone is JEHOVAH, and who art the most high over all the earth !e
.O God, thou art our God, early will we seek thee; our God and we will praise thee; our father's God and we will exalt thee.h
O thou who art the true God, the living God, the only living and true God, and the everlasting King !ị The Lord our God, who is one Lord.k
And we may thus distinguish ourselves from the worshippers of false gods.
The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, they are vanity and a lie, the works of men's hands; they that make them are like unto them, and so is every one that trusteth in them. But the portion of Jacob is not like them, for he is the former of all things, and Israel is the rod of his inheritance ; the Lord of hosts is his name,m God over all, blessed for evermore.r
Their rock is not our rock, even the enemies themselves being judges; for he is the rock of ages, the Lord Jehovah, with whom is everlasting strength :p whose name shall endure for ever, and his memorial unto all generations,9 when the gods that have not made a Mat. xv. 8.' b John, iv. 23 24. c Jer, XXX. 21. d Rev. iv, 6. e Psal. Ixxxiii. 18. g Ps. Ixxxiji. 1. h Exod. xv. 2 i Jer. x, 10.
k Deut. vi. 4. < Psal. cxv. 4. m Jer. %. 15. 16. n Ron), ix. 5. o Deut. xxxii, 31. n Isa. xxvi. 4. q Psal. cxxxv. 13,