« ForrigeFortsæt »
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 treatise 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 elevą. tion in the exercise.
The Third Part comprises devotional'exercises, ses lected principally from the passages of Scripture: orranged 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 Aąme of piếty.ir others.. ... Christians- ésħożild, in meetings for prayer, haye particular • reference to the specific object of the meeting. Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the tenaple; 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 in(erests 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
vice may close, instead of joining in the petitions which are presented.
4. All persons who would derive benefit from a prayer meeting, should repair to it with a prayerful spirit, and not wait for the arrival of the season to awaken their devotional feelings. Individual and retired prayer happily abstracts the mind from worldly cares, prepares the heart to mingle in social exercises, and imparts those celestial benefits which are to be anticipated from intercourse with heaven.
“ Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw,
AIDS TO DEVOTION.
GENERAL VIEWS OF PRAYER.
Selected from Bickersteth's Treatise on Prayer.
THE NATURE OF PRAYER.
It is the nature of prayer, that it gives to needy and sinful men,
in the limited time of this life, every day, yes, every hour, the great privilege of access to the King of kings and Lord of lords, to the Most High, and the Most Holy, and this with the utmost freedom and confidence; the access not merely of a servant to a master, or a subject to a king: but of a child to a tender parent.
Prayer is, then, a holy intercourse with God." It is, as the martyr Bradford expresses it, "a simple, unfeigned, humble, and ardent offering of the heart before God, wherein we either ask things needful, or give thanks for benefits received.” ACceptable prayer is the desire of the heart offered up to God through the infuence of his Spirit, in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, for things according