Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/paul-baynes-brief-directions-unto-a-godly-life-chapter-thirteen-spiritual-armor/

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE OF PRAYER

Now to comes to those helps either by ourselves alone or other also (for the other kind shall have another place) there are prayer and reading.

Prayer is calling upon God according to his will. It has two parts, thanksgiving amd request. Whereunto is added to be confession of sins.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is that part of prayer in which we be comforted by some benefit, which in favor God bestows upon us, [and] are drawn to love and praise and show forth fruits thereof. In this direction there to be observed three things, and three motives onto them.

The first motivation is knowledge and due consideration of some particular benefit received or promised us. 1 Samuel 25:32, Genesis 24:27, Luke 17:15. Without these three can be no true and hearty thanks giving, howsoever and words there be a protestation for fashion’s sake.

The second is joy and gladness of heart, for the benefit which we think up or call to mind. Psalm 126:1-2. Except we find sweetness in the mercies, no duty of thanks can include sort be performed by them.

The third is a persuasion that the benefit for which we give thanks comes to us from God’s fatherly love. This is a far greater cause of gladness the benefit itself. Psalm 116:5

The Duty of Thanksgiving

The first duty is the continuance of our love to God. Psalm 126:1.

The second is a desire to set forth his glory and in words to profess and confess his goodness. For if we love the Lord, we cannot but be carried with this fervent desire to advance and magnify. Psalm 116:12, Psalm 111.

The third is a further preceding in obedience and walk worthy of his kindness. This is one if it be lacking from the rest, makes them all lame and main goodness odious to God as the mortlings which were offered to him and sacrifices. Deuteronomy 6:10 — 11, Psalm 50:16.

If in this manner we should frame ourselves to thankfulness, it must needs be a mighty and forcible means to mollify the hard heart and to hold under the sturdy corruptions of it[1]. So they may be subject to God, yea even went strong provocations to draw up to the contrary.
Confession

Thus much for Thanksgiving. Now for confession. Confession is an acknowledgment of ourselves to be guilty and worthily to deserve God’s wrath for our grievous offenses; together with a free and humble bewailing of them before God. [As for sins which are unknown, we confess them generally.] But those which we do know (according to the nature of them) particularly.

To the right practice of this, there are four things required:

The first, that we feel our sins odious and burdensome to us.

Secondly, that we accuse ourselves of them to God.

Thirdly, that we stand at his mercy, having deserved condemnation.

Fourthly, that we abase ourselves thereby, and so are weakened and our pride abated.

All these are in the confession of David, Psalm 51; of Daniel in Daniel 9; of the prodigal son in Luke 15:7.

Now this confession being from time to time often made onto God, will not suffer us to go far and live long in any sin. [Instead] hunt it out, before it be warm and nestled in us[2]. And therefore it must needs be of great force to strengthen us in a godly life.

Request

The last part of prayer is request. It is that part of prayer wherein we earnestly pour out our suits onto God, in contrition of heart, according to his will, with comfortable hope that through Christ we shall be heard, and therefore forsaking the sin which might hinder our suit.

The Duty of Requesting

In this duty also there are four things to be observed.

First, that we show this contrition of heart, by being pressed with feeling of our wants [that is what we lack, our], unworthiness, miserable estate, and manifold miseries, earnestly desiring to be pardoned and eased. 1 Samuel 1:15. Luke 18:3.

If this be so (as will soon follow upon right confession), we shall neither pray in lip labor which God abhors[3]; nor think ourselves too good to wait upon God’s leisure, if at first he grant not a request, but continue them as he commands.

But we ask only those things which we have a word for, and in such sort as he has promised them[4]. 1 John 5:14.

That we quicken ourselves[5] to come in faith and confidence in ofttimes to come cheerfully to this duty. James 6:1. John 16:24.

The Fruits of Requesting

Now to the end that we may come with cheerful the light onto this duty, let us consider the fruits which are especially three.

First, that by prayer we are made in a sort acquainted and familiar with God, and know his mind and will, and how he is affected to us, being admitted to speak to him. James 4:8, John 15:26, Revelation 3:10.

Secondly, that ot gives life to God’s graces in us, which before lay half dead. As we may see an example of Esther.

Thirdly, it reaches out to us in our greatest need, the good things and gifts of God which our-selves desire. Matthew 7:7.

A Final Note
The fourth and last property of prayer is that we bring not with us the sins which will turn away the ears of God from hearing us. Such are any sins not repented of, but laid in, secretly at the least, and not renounced. Proverbs 28:19, Psalm 7:4.

These are the parts of prayer which if they be reverently and humbly at joined together, as they ought, accompanied with the aforementioned properties; if we be fallen, they will raise us up; if we be heavy, they will comfort us; if we be dull, they will quicken us; they are a present remedy to the oppressed heart, preserver of the godly life, a giver of strength to the weak, a special means to make a man live in every estate wherein God has set him. Therefore prayer must needs be a strong and mighty help to the godly life for if we pray well, and keep ourselves in case fit to perform this duty, we shall not need fear in our life teeny great annoyance.

 

 

[1] To mollify a hard heart would be to make a hard heart soft. To hold under corruptions would be resist and force out corruptions.

[2] Discover and expose your own sins before you become comfortable with your sins.

[3] Bare outward formality, conduct without a true corresponding frame of heart, is condemned by God. Isaiah 1:12-14. The Puritans repeatedly condemned such formality. They rather commended “heart religion” (to use the phrase of John Wesley from the next century). “God requires the heart; and religion is most in managing and tuning the affections, for they are the wind that carries the soul to every duty. A man is like the dead sea without affections.” “The Spiritual Favorite”, by Richard Sibbes in vol. 6 of the collected works, page 97.

[4] Our prayers must be such as accord with the revelation of God in Scripture.

[5] Strengthen and make ourselves more alive.