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tion of Christ, and the promises of God, in and through him, to draw all our encouragement to pray, and all our hopes of acceptance in prayer, from him, and him alone.
As to the manner in which we ought to pray, we have already considered it in part. We have seen that we should pray with the heart, or offer up desires to God; that we should
in the name of Christ. We may further observe:
We ought to pray with an awful sense of the majesty of God. “ With God is terrible majesty ; Job. xxxvii. 22. 6 God trieth the hearts and reins;" Ps. vii. 9. He desireth “ truth in the inward parts ;" Ps. Li. 6. He is “ of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity;" Hab. i. 13. He is a God of almighty power, who can do with us as he pleases, and who holds our eternal destinies in bis hands. He is therefore "greatly to be feared ; and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him ;" Ps. Lxxxix. 7. And it becomes us to approach him, filled with solemn awe, under a realizing sense of his character.
We ought also to pray under a deep sense of our own unworthiness, necessities, and sins. We are sinful, guilty creatures, unworthy of the least of God's mercies, and entirely dependent on him, for every thing we need. It therefore becomes us to come before God, under a deep sense of these things. The prodigal approached his Father saying, “ Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son ;": Luk. xv. 21. Thus the publican approached God, when he went up into the temple to pray ; “ Standing afar off, he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying. God be merciful to me a sinner;" Luk. xviii. 13. And thus we find, from their prayers which are left on record, David, Ezra, Daniel, and the Scripture saints generally, approached God, realizing their unworthiness, necessities, and sins.
Again, we ought to pray with penitent, thankful, and enlarged hearts. Under a sense of our sinfulness, we ought to pray with penitent hearts; for “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit : a broken and a contrite heart, O God thou wilt not despise;" Ps. li. 17. Under a sense of the divine goodness, we ought to pray with thank
ful hearts. “With thanksgiving (saith our text) let your requests be made known unto God.” We ought also to pray with enlarged hearts, desiring and expecting great blessings. For God has said, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it;" Ps. lxxxi. 10. We glorify the infinitely rich grace of God, by coming with enlarged hearts.
Again, we ought to pray with faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please himn : for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him;" Heb. xi. 6. And our Saviour promised, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive; Mat. xxi. 22. And James exhorted, “Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering;" Jam. i. 6. • We ought also to pray with fervour, or an engagedness of soul. For “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much; Jam. v. 16. Further, we ought to pray with a forgiving spirit, and in charity with all men. For our Saviour hath directed, “When ye stand praying, forgive, if have ought against any ; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses ;” Mark xi. 25, 26.
We ought also to pray with perseverance, and not give over, because we have not the assurance that we are immediately answered. “ Men ought always to pray, and not to faint;" Luk. xviii. 1.
And we ought to look after our prayers, and wait for an answer, with such a solicitude as those manifest, who are desirous to receive something of importance from others.
Such is the manner in which acceptable prayer is offered to God. But we cannot of ourselves thus pray.
We are blind. We know not of ourselves, what to pray for as we ought ; nor how to pray; and we have of ourselves no holy desires to pray aright. The Spirit of God belpeth our infirmities, and teacheth us how to pray aright, and every acceptable prayer is offered up by the help of the Holy Spirit
. This we are taught in the following passage : “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot
grace of God.
be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God;" Rom. viii. 26, 27.
How absolutely, brethren, are we dependent on the grace of God for all spiritual blessings. For not only are these blessings given freely when we ask, without any thing in return from us, to entitle us to them ; but we are excited to ask, and our very petitions are indicted by the Holy Spirit. Let us then ever feel our dependence on the aids of the Spirit, and seek his help ; and let us ascribe the glory of all the good we are or have to the
The use of prayer has been disputed by some, on the ground, that God knows our wants before we inform him, and that his purposes are fixed, and our prayers cannot alter them. To such I would answer. The use of prayer is not to inform the omniscient God of something which he did not know before; but to bring us into such a fiumble, dependent, believing, and thankful frame of mind, as to fit us to receive the divine blessings, and improve them aright. Further, it is true, that God's purposes are fixed, and our prayers cannot alter them; but at the same time the means and end are inseparably connected together in the divine counsels. God has determined to bestow blessings upon his people; but at the same time, he has equally determined, that he will be sought unto, by prayer, to bestow these blessings.
Besides, the objector has the whole word of God against him. And not only this, but the dictates of reason, and the feelings of mankind, expressed by the voice of all ages and nations, are against him. And his own practice would soon contradict his present sentiments, if be was with Paul brought to see himself. Soon would it be said of him, as of Paul, “ Behold he prayeth."
Of the great efficacy of prayer, we bave several instances in the Scriptures. Jacob wrestled with the angel of the covenant, and by his importunity prevailed to obtain a blessing. Moses stood in the breach between an offended God, and a guilty people, and by his prayers prevailed to avert deserved and threatened destruction. Elijah prayed, and the judgments of dearth and famine followed in answer. He prayed again, and the heavens gave their rain, and the earth brought forth its increase. The disciples were with one accord, in one place, on the day of Pentecost, doubtless praying, and suddenly the Holy Ghost was poured upon them, and their word was attended with irresistible energy, and vast multitudes were added to the church.
Prayer was made without ceasing of the church, unto God” for Peter, when in prison ; and the night before his intended execution, the Lord sent his angel and miraculously released him. These are some of the instances, which are recorded in Scripture, of the great efficacy of prayer, to encourage the friends, and confound the enemies of this duty. And we are told, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man ayaileth much ;" Jam. v. 16.
In the conclusion of this discourse, let me ask you my hearers, do you pray? If you do not, you have no part in the blessings of salvation. Every prayerless soul is a Christless soul. The word of God every where condemns you; and the Heathen will rise up in the judgment against you ; for they pray to their stupid idols, the only gods they know ; but you pray not to the true God, whose being and character are made known unto you. You are yet in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity: God is angry with you every day; and soon will bis wrath be poured out upon you, unless you repent, and begin, in earnest, by prayer, to call upon him. He will pour out his fury upon
the people that call not on his name. Do you pray, my hearers ? But are your prayers a lifeless form? Do you not offer up the desires of your hearts unto God? Do you not, when you approach God, feel the absolute need of a mediator between you and a holy God, and rely for the acceptance of your petiitons on his merits alone? Do you not pray for such things as are agreeble to the divine will ? And do you not pray with reverence, and humility, with penitent, believing, and thankful bearts, and in charity with all men? Your prayers are no prayers in the sight of God; but an abomination to him. The Lord will not hear you ; you are yet in your sins and under his wrath, O prayerless sinner, awake and call upon God. Begin to pray, in earnest, now, while your prayers may be heard, and answered, or you will pray in vain when it is too late. You will hereafter, cry Lord, Lord, open unto us, and will hear !!
answer, I know you not, depart from me ye workers of iniquity. Or you will
as the rich man did, for a drop of water to cool your tormented tongue, and will hear the answer that there is an impassible gulf fixed between you and the place of bappiness. Be intreated, my hearers, to seek the Lord now, while he may be found, and to call opon
bim now while he is near, lest the dreadful sentence be executed upon you, “ Because I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity ; I will mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you : then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer ; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.” May the Lord of his infinite mercy keep us all from this dreadful doom.AMEN.
THE KINDS AND SEASONS OF PRAYER.
EPHESIANS VI. 18. FIRST CLAUSE.
Praying always with all prayer."
* Praying always” is an exhortation frequently given in the Scriptures. The import of this exhortation is, not that we should be always upon our knees, formally employed in the act of praying unto God; for then there would be no time for the performance of the numerous other duties incumbent upon us ; but that we should habitually maintain a praying frame of heart, be frequent and constant or habitual in the performance of the duty, have stated seasons daily devoted to it, and never neglect it in the proper seasons. Hence the clause “ praying always" will lead us to consider the seasons of prayer.