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The establishing of a monthly prayer meeting throughout christendom constitutes a new era in the Christian church; and the multiplied associations for prayer, in relation to Sabbath schools, colleges, the observance of the Sabbath, and other interesting ob, jects, evince that Christians are' 'now more deeply sensible of the importance and the effiềucy of píayer, than they have been at former periods. Bui, however deep a consciousness any one they have possessed, of the obligation of prayer, and of its happy results, probably no one has ever yet been impressed with the subject in a degree corresponding with its magnitude. The language of the Bible, in relation to the efficacy of prayer, is very explicit. “Ask, and ye shall receive. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened. Where two or three of you are agreed on earth, touching any thing that ye shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."
Specific means are established in the kingdom of nature, for the production of the fruits of the earth. The showers of rain, and the rays of the sun, are indispensable to their growth and perfection. Prayer may be a means, indispensable in the kingdom of grace, for the conversion of sinners, and the ultimate triumph of the Redeemer's kingdom. The Lord himself affirms, “For this will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.”
As the millennial day approaches, the prayers of the church will undoubtedly be more frequent, more united, more fervent, and more manifestly successful, till the Spirit shall be granted in such copious effusions, that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth, and ali men shall know him, from the least to
the greatest.: .: The increased associations for social and public :prayer, demand of Christians a more particular effort to render them interesting and edifying. All who take a part in these exercises are required to seek the gift and grace
prayer ; to avoid, in manner and expression, what might naturally be repulsive, and to aspire after an elevated piety, and thus render these seasons of a deeply interesting and impressive character.
Dr. Watts' Guide to Prayer has proved peculiarly beneficial, and is justly held in the highest estimation by the most judicious ministers and Christians. On presenting a new edition of the work, it has been con
ceived that great benefits may result from combining with it the peculiar excellences of other treatises op prayer.
The present publication, therefore, consists of Three Parts.
In the First Part is condensed a large portion of Bickersteth's excellent treatise on the nature, duty, and privilege of prayer, with various other fopics, which form an appropriate Introduction to a work of this nature.
The Second Part consists of the entire treațise of Dr. Watts, entitled a Guide to Prayer; in which he most judiciously guards the reader against many errors, and points out most ably and satisfactorily; the means for acquiring a holy freedom and "pious elevation in the exercise.
The Third Part comprises devotional'exercises, şe, lected principally from the passages of Scriptuře: ar. ranged by Mr. Henry, in his Method of Prayer, and from Mr. Bickersteth's Forms of Prayer. The selections from Scripture are expressed as they stand in the sacred word, which may be varied in prayer to the case of an individual, or of a social meeting, as the occasion requires.
The following suggestions are submitted to the attention of the reader.
1. All aids to devotion are to be considered as hints for improvement, and not as specific and uniform rules
and examples. A general benefit may be derived from reading on the subject, by learning to avoid what is repulsive in manner, voice or expression; and by adopting what is appropriate and excellent, without copying particular forms, or being limited to specific regulations. Let each Christian endeavor to attain that fervent spirit of prayer, which will enable him in a strain of holy devotion, with strong faith, and cheerful hope, to bring the varying circumstances of himself, his family, the church, and the world, before the throne of grace, in a method which each particular occasion suggests, and in a manner calculated to console his own heart, and enkindle the dame of piếty,ir others..
Christianse eskould, in meetings for prayer, hayé particular • reference to the specific object of the meeting. Solomon's prayer at the dedication of thér ténple; copiously dwells on that subject; and the apostles, when met to fill the place of Judas, were absorbed in that single object. The interest in prayer meetings, for revivals of religion, or other purposes, is often diminished, by so blending the specific subject, with prayers of a general and diffusive character, as to prevent a concentration of desire in the petitions offered.
3. Care should be taken not to diminish the interest of a social prayer meeting, by improper length in each -prayer. Perhaps there is no greater obstruction to the
benefits of a prayer meeting, than inattention to this particular. When exhortations and suggestions are offered on this subject, few individuals suppose themselves to be addressed, because each person, while engaged in speaking, is less conscious than others, of the time occupied. Let each reader consider this suggestion in application to himself. In public prayers, and on occasions when only one exercise is anticipated, a greater copiousness is desirable ; the various parts of prayer may be regarded, and the various objects relating to individuals, the church, and the world,—to objects of benevolence, and the extension of the gospel, may be profitably combined. But where a number of Christians are expected to follow each other, conciseness, and a greater concentration of object in each individual, would awaken a deeper interest, and produce happier results. Instead of combining in every prayer all that might appropriately occupy the meeting, Jet one dwell principally on confession, another on petition, and another on thanksgiving. The same remark is applicable to the different objects to be presented. The state of the impenitent, of the inquiring mind, of the young, the aged, the church, the pastor, the heathen, might, as separate subjects, be copiously dwelt upon, in succession, by different individuals, and cause an awakened interest to pervade the exercise, Whenever weariness takes possession of the individuals engaged, their real prayer is, that the ser