Prayer

Puritan Prayer: The Mover

O SUPREME MOVING CAUSE,

May I always be subordinate to thee,
be dependent upon thee,
be found in the path where thou dost walk,
and where thy Spirit moves,
take heed of estrangement from thee,
of becoming insensible to thy love.

Thou dost not move men like stones,
but dost endue them with life,
not to enable them to move without thee,
but in submission to thee, the first move.

O Lord, I am astonished at the difference
between my receivings and my deservings,
between the state I am now in and my past gracelessness,
between the heaven I am bound for and the hell I merit.

Who made me to differ, but thee?
ceive Christ than were others;
I could not have begun to love thee hadst thou not first loved me,
or been willing unless thou hadst first made me so.

O that such a crown should fit the head of such a sinner!
such high advancement for an unfruitful person!
such joys for such a rebel!

Infinite wisdom cast the design of salvation
into the mould of purchase and freedom;
Let wrath deserved be written on the door of hell,
But the free gift of grace on the gate of heaven.

I know that my sufferings are the result of my sinning,
but in heaven both shall cease;
Grant me to attain this haven and be done with sailing,
and may the gales of thy mercy blow me safely into harbour.

Let thy love draw me nearer to thyself,
wean me from sin, mortify me to this world,
and make me ready for my departure hence.

Secure me by thy grace as I sail across this stormy sea.
Taken from The Valley of Vision, The Banner of Truth Trust.

Prayer: Personal Gratification or Kingdom Fruitfulness?

As I left the house this morning, I grabbed a CD containing the message “Ask Whatever You Wish” by John Piper. As always when listening to John Piper, my heart was challenged by his passionate preaching. In this message he was dealing with the statement by Jesus in John 15:7,

If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.

Piper explains that this verse, understood in its context, is pointing to prayers prayed to produce fruit for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. One paragraph of this sermon stands out:

Prayer is not for gratifying natural desires. It is for fruit-bearing, for the glory of God. Another way of saying it is this: if you want God to respond to your interests, you must be devoted to his interests. God is God. He does not run the world by hiring the consulting firm called Mankind. He lets mankind share in the running of the world through prayer to the degree that we consult with him and get our goals and desires in tune with his purposes.

The key, says Piper, to having answered prayer is to be filled with the Word of God. This is stated explicitly in John 15:7, “If … my words abide in you …” then “ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” Piper put this together in a memorable way at the end of his sermon. The thought is expressed poetically as:

More saturated by the word
More surely will our prayers be heard

I highly recommend that you read the entire sermon by clicking the above title or by clicking here. If you would like to hear the audio CD, just request a copy from me. I have permission to distribute it. For more John Piper audio sermons check out his radio broadcast page here for the current broadcast and approximately thirty archived broadcasts.

A Preacher’s Prayer from the Puritans

The following prayer is taken from The Valley of Vision which is a collection of Puritan prayers. I believe this is a very important devotional book to have in your library. God has often used these God-saturated prayers of the Puritans to revive my own dead, dry heart. This prayer is called “A Minister’s Preaching” on pp. 348-349 in my leather edition printed in 2002.

MY MASTER GOD,

I am desired to preach today,
but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth,
that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,
with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view things pertinent to my subject,
with fullness of matter and clarity of thought,
proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,
and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself,
and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,
and to set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached,
and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
and help me to use the strongest arguments
drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
that men might be made holy.

I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,
that I might be a pure channel of thy grace,
and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people,
and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer,
or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,
from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayersand Devotions (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975) Leather edition reprinted in 2002.