Pouring Out the Soul Unto God
From my daily Bible reading:
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” — Matthew 6:5-6 NRSV.
“προσευχη, prayer, is compounded of προς with, and ευχη a vow, because to pray right, a man binds himself to God, as by a vow, to live to his glory, if he will grant him his grace, &c. ευχομαι signifies to pour out prayers or vows, from ευ well, and χέω, I pour out; probably alluding to the offerings or libations which were poured out before, or on the altar. A proper idea of prayer is, a pouring out of the soul unto God, as a free-will offering, solemnly and eternally dedicated to him, accompanied with the most earnest desire that it may know, love, and serve him alone. He that comes thus to God will ever be heard and blessed. Prayer is the language of dependence; he who prays not, is endeavoring to live independently of God: this was the first curse, and continues to be the great curse of mankind. In the beginning, Satan said, Eat this fruit; ye shall then be as God; i. e. ye shall be independent: the man hearkened to his voice, sin entered into the world, and notwithstanding the full manifestation of the deception, the ruinous system is still pursued; man will, if possible, live independently of God; hence he either prays not at all, or uses the language without the spirit of prayer. (more…)
A Lenten Prayer
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give me this bread, that he may live in me, and I in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
God of the covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced the power of death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of repentance,
draw all people to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may put aside the deeds of death
and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.
A Prayer for Lent
God of wilderness and water,
your Son was baptized and tempted as we are.
Guide us through this season,
that we may not avoid struggle,
but open ourselves to blessing,
through the cleansing depths of repentance
and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen.
A Prayer for Advent
You are eternal salvation,
the unfailing life of the world.
you are truly our redemption.
Grieving that the human race was perishing
through the tempter’s power,without leaving the heights
you came to the depths in your loving kindness.
Readily taking our humanity by your own gracious will,
you saved all earthly creatures, long since lost,
restoring joy to the world.
Redeem our souls and bodies, O Christ,
and so possess us as your shining dwellings.
By your first coming, make us righteous;
at your second coming, set us free:
so that, when the world is filled with light
and you judge all things,
we may be clad in spotless robes
and follow in your steps, O King,
into the heavenly hall.
— Author unknown, 10th Century, found here.
A Prayer for Today (William Barclay)
O God, our Father, help us through this day so to live that we may bring help to others, credit to ourselves and to the name we bear, and joy to those that love us, and to you.
Cheerful when things go wrong;
Persevering when things are difficult;
Serene when things are irritating.
Enable us to be:
Helpful to those in difficulties;
Kind to those in need;
Sympathetic to those whose hearts are sore and sad.
Nothing may make us lose our tempers;
Nothing may take away our joy;
Nothing may ruffle our peace;
Nothing may make us bitter towards anyone.
So grant that through all this day all those with whom we work, and all those whom we meet, may see in us a reflection of the master, whose we are, and whom we seek to serve. This we ask for your love’s sake. Amen.
— William Barclay (1907-1978).
A Prayer for Today (John Baillie)
whose divine tenderness
ever outsoars the narrow loves and charities of earth,
grant us a kind and gentle heart towards all that live.
Let us not ruthlessly hurt any creature of thine.
Let us take thought also for the welfare of little children,
and those who are sick,
and the poor;
remembering that what we do unto the least of these his brethren
we do unto Christ our Lord. Amen.
— John Baillie (1886-1960).
A Prayer in Commemoration of George Whitefield & Francis Asbury
Holy God, you so inspired Francis Asbury and George Whitefield with evangelical zeal that their faithful proclamation of the Gospel caused a great awakening among those who heard them: Inspire us, we pray, by your Holy Spirit, that, like them, we may be eager to share your Good News and lead many to Jesus Christ, in whom is eternal life and peace; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
John Wesley on the Neglect of Private Prayer
I went over to Kingswood, and spake largely to the children, as also on Saturday and Sunday. I found there had been a fresh revival of the work of God among them some months ago: But it was soon at an end, which I impute chiefly to their total neglect of private prayer. Without this, all the other means which they enjoyed could profit them nothing.
— John Wesley, Journal: Friday September 4, 1772.
A Prayer for Today (Richard Meux Benson)
Comfort, we ask you, most gracious God,
all who are cast down and faint of heart
amidst the sorrows and difficulties of the world;
and grant that,
by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit,
they may be lifted up to you
with hope and courage,
and enabled to go upon their way
rejoicing in Your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Richard Meux Benson (1824-1915)
A Prayer for Today
“Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.” — Exodus 3:1,2.
Your voice burns within the depths of our being,
O God of our ancestors,
and draws us into your presence and service.
Hear the cries of your people
and speak a word of comfort,
that we may proclaim to all the earth
the glory of your name. Amen.
A Prayer for Rest
who after the creation of the world rested from all you works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures:
Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties,
may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary,
and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Adam Clarke on Prayer
“PRAYER has been defined, ‘an offering of our desire to God for things needful, with an humble confidence to obtain them through the alone merits of Christ, to the praise of the mercy, truth, and power of God.’ And ‘its parts are said to be invocation, adoration, confession, petition, pleading, dedication, thanksgiving, and blessing.’ Though the definition be imperfect, yet, as far as it goes, it is not objectionable; but the parts of prayer, as they are called, (except the word petition,) have scarcely anything to do with the nature of prayer. They are, in general, separate acts of devotion; and attention to them in what is termed ‘praying,’ will entirely mar it, and destroy its efficacy.
“It was by following this division, that long prayers have been introduced among Christian congregations, by means of which the spirit of devotion has been lost: for, where such prevail most, listlessness and deadness are the principal characteristics of the religious services of such people; and these have often engendered formality, and frequently total indifference to religion. Long prayers prevent kneeling, for it is utterly impossible for man or woman to keep on their knees during the time such last; where these prevail, the people either stand or sit. Technical prayers, I have no doubt, are odious in the sight of God; for no man can be in the spirit of devotion who uses such: it is a drawing nigh to God with the lips, while the heart is, almost necessarily, far from him. (more…)
A Prayer from the Darkness – Psalms 25:16-18
There are times when God seems absent. It seems that direction and blessing are gone. We have no sense that our prayers are being heard. We may be in a time of stress and trial, where there seems to be no relief in sight. Service that formerly brought us joy becomes dry and unrewarding. And we ask: Why?
At this point, the theological knowledge of God’s Omnipresence doesn’t help. This tells us that God is theoretically present. But, since the evidences of God’s favor seem missing from our life, this theoretical knowledge is no comfort. If God is present, why does God seem to be standing apart from us?
The Psalms often speak of these times. There is no denial here. The reality is that God’s most devoted followers sometimes go through dark times when God seems absent.
I have often reflected on this. It seems strange to me, but it is true: there have been seasons of blessing and seasons of darkness. I don’t know why. There have been times when I seemed to be living under a curse. Then, there have been times of blessing. And, it often doesn’t seem to make sense. I’ve never been able to connect these times of curse with moral faults either — something I notice Job’s companions tried to do for also him — and failed. Times of darkness happen unexpectedly, without warning or underlying reason. (more…)
A Prayer for Enemies
An old prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Who didst command us to love our enemies,
and those who defame and injure us,
and to pray for them and forgive them;
Who Thyself didst pray for Thine enemies,
who crucified thee:
grant us, we pray,
the spirit of Christian reconciliation and meekness,
that we may heartily forgive every injury
and be reconciled with our enemies.
Grant us to overcome the malevolence and offenses of people
with Christian meekness and true love of our neighbor.
We further beseech Thee, O Lord,
to grant to our enemies true peace and forgiveness of sins;
and do not allow them to leave this life without true faith
and sincere conversion.
And help us repay evil with goodness,
and to remain safe from the temptations of the devil
and from all the perils which threaten us,
in the form of visible and invisible enemies. Amen.