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example, platform, or directory, according to the contents whereof we must direct our prayers.
Therefore for the further help of young professors, I shall briefly touch on the several branches of that admirable, compendious rule of prayer, which you have Matt. vi. 9-13; and the rather, because it may seem to refer chiefly, though not solely, to closet devotion: what I shall say to it may be a practical analyzing of it, in its several parts and branches.
First, The preface, Our Father which art in heaven. You may thus make use of it: Infinite and eternal Majesty, the Maker of heaven and earth, who dwellest in the highest heavens, and in the lowest hearts, who seest all things here below, and art a God that hearest prayer; I am a poor worm at thy foot-stool, looking up to the throne of thy grace; cast a fatherly eye upon me, and though I be by nature a child of wrath, yet through Jesus Christ make me thy child by grace and adoption, teach me to cry, Abba, Father, with holy reverence and filial confidence ; raise my heart to heaven, beget in me faith in thy promises, love to my brethren, and due apprehensions of thy sovereign power, and gracious condescension; that praying by the help of thy Spirit, in the name of thy Son, I may obtain good at thy fatherly hands.—Secondly, The petitions.
1. Hallowed be thy Name: O my God, I have dishonoured thee all my days by my ignorance, pride, hardness, and unthankfulness, and I am unapt and unable to glorify thee, but do thou glorify thyself in my conversion and salvation; help me to know and adore thee, to make a high account of thy titles, attributes, and ordinances; to believe thy word and admire thy works, in mercy or judgment; help me with spiritual thoughts becoming my holy profession, with pious lips speaking good of thy name, and a suitable conversation to walk before the Lord. Holy God, destroy atheism, ignorance, idolatry, and profaneness; magnify thy name through the world, and direct and dispose all things to the advancement of thy glory, by thy over-ruling providence, and thy infinite wisdom.
2. Thy kingdom come: Lord, I must confess, that by nature I am dead in sin, and a bond-slave to the prince of darkness, who rules in my heart, and leads me captive by ignorance, error, and disobedience; but do thou, by the power of thy grace, cast out the strong man, and take possession of my heart; sway thy blessed sceptre in me, and bring my whole man to obedience. Destroy Satan's kingdom, propagate the gospel among all nations, purge thy house, furnish thy church with officers, orders, and pure ordinances; make kings nursing fathers to it, convert sinners, confirm saints, comfort the sad, and hasten thy second coming to judgment, and the blessed kingdom of glory.
3. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Holy Majesty, I acknowledge my natural ignorance of thy will, and inability to obey it, yea, enmity and antipathy against it; my best services are imperfect, my spirit repining under thy hand, and my will perversely resisting grace, and rushing into sin; but, dear Lord, inform my mind, conquer my will, order my affections sweetly to comply with thy mind; teach me to do thy will in obedience; make me content with thy will concerning me in every providence; beget in me those heavenly dispositions that are in the glorious angels, and glorified saints, that with humility, cheerfulness, diligence, and faithfulness, zeal, sincerity and constancy, I may be actively and passively at thy disposal.
4. Give us this day our daily bread : Heavenly Father, I must confess, that by the original apostacy of man, I have lost my right to every morsel of bread, and deserve not to breathe in thy air, or tread on thy earth! my sin hath put a curse and sting into every comfort, I can obtain nothing by my industry, yet am prone to desire, get, and use thy mercies unlawfully; thy blessing only is the staff of my bread; help me to wait on thy providence in a moderate use of lawful means; give me a competency of outward comforts, thy blessing in the use thereof, and contentment therewith; and, above all, a right thereto in Christ, and prevent needless cares and sensual delights.
5. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors : Lord, I am wofully guilty of original and actual sin, and ain thereby a debtor to divine justice ; I owe millions, and cannot pay a single farthing, therefore deserve to be cast into the dark dungeon of eternal torments; but, dear Lord, thou hast found a ransom, who stands in man's stead to be surety for him. O accept me in thy beloved Son Jesus Christ; wash away my sins in his blood; clothe my naked soul with his glorious robes; give me saving faith, to embrace him upon his own terms; free my soul from the guilt and punishment of sin ; pardon my daily failings, and seal an acquittance in my conscience, which tells me I do freely forgive all offences against myself.
6. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Lord, it were righteous with thee to leave me to be assaulted and conquered by Satan, my soul's cruel enemy. My heart is growing sensual, proud, and careless ; apt to thrust myself into temptations, but unable to resist or overcome them : thou mayest justly bring me into occasions and leave me to myself therein; but, O my God, keep my soul from being tempted, or assist me in the hour of temptation, or recover me out of my foils and falls ; sanctify my slips, make my standing surer in thy strength, tread Satan under my feet, con
quer the world for me, crucify me unto the world, subdue my flesh within, and in due time raise my soul above all sins and snares, into thine immediate presence.
And then shut up all with such like words as these, on that conclusion; For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever. Amen. Omy God, I am unworthy thou shouldest grant my petitions for any thing in myself; all my arguments in prayer, and grounds of acceptance, I fetch from thyself. Thou hast a kingdom of grace, and throne of grace, from whence thou hearest prayers, and dispenseth blessings : all the power is in thine hands, to give and to forgive, to kill or make alive, and the glory shall be thine if thou hear my prayer; and blessed be my God for all my mercies. I ascribe to thee, and thee alone, eternal sovereignty, omnipotence, and glorious excellency, which, as I desire all may be given to God, so I am humbly emboldened by faith, to rest upon thy power and promise, that in due time thou wilt hear my requests; and, as a token of that my desire and confidence, my soul doth echo forth, Amen, even so be it.
Thus I have given you a specimen from the Lord's prayer, of directions for the matter of our prayers. I shall but propound another scripture instance, relative to arguments in prayer. .
Jacob, an example of powerful pleading with God.
GOD would have his people converse with him in a rational way, and God's children have employed many pleas in prayer, which they have produced in strong expostulations, as we may find scattered up and down in scripture, as Moses, Nehemiah, Ezra, and Daniel, in their approaches to God; and above all, David through
the book of Psalms, is exceeding full this way. But I shall pass by the rest, and fix only upon one scripture instance, and the rather because it was a secret or solitary prayer, of which we are now speaking, and there are notable pleas therein, which may possibly suit our condition, therefore I shall briefly examine the parts of it, and recommend it to your imitation. It is that of good Jacob, who was trained up in this holy art of wrestling with God;—Gen. xxxii. 9-12. His pleas there may be reduced to these ten particulars.
1. He makes use of suitable titles of God; he calls him “Lord,” or Jehovah, which denotes God's self-existence, and his giving being or existence to the promises, in first making them, and then making them good. Thus do you, sirs, raise in your hearts suitable apprehensions of God, and let your expressions be answerable; acknowledge God as the infinite, omniscient, omnipotent Majesty, able to do beyond what you can ask or think, and that you neither need nor desire any more than what his almighty power can effect; tell him, if all-sufficiency cannot supply you, you are content to go unsped; but you question neither his hand nor heart; you are sure he both can and will help his children in their need; he will make good with his hand, what he hath spoken with his mouth, for he is Jehovah.
2. He pleads covenant relation to God. “O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac,” and so my God! this is an admirable plea. If God own a soul in a covenant relation, he will certainly do it good ; though his grace be free, yet when God hath chosen any to be his, he hath as it were engaged himself to own them; now he hath pledged his truth. Thus then a believer may plead_Lord thou hast been my father's God, and wilt thou not be my God? and wilt thou be my God, and withhold such a mercy from