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Full text of "The spirit of prayer"

Spirit Of 

Spirit Of 




Pray Always 1 

All Prayer 66 

Supplication in the Spirit 109 

Watch in Prayer 136 

Persevere in Prayer 173 

Supplication for all Saints, 194 




Praying always with all prayer aad supplication 
in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all per- 
severance and supplication for all saints. 

THE Apostle looking upon the Ephe- 
sians as militant saints, and fighting, 
not against flesh and blood, but against 
principalities and the powers of darkness ; 
instructs them, towards the latter end 
of this chapter, how they might become 
more than conquerors. To this end he 
tells them, first of all, where their strength 
lay ; they must " be strong in the Lord, 


and in the power of his might," verse 10; 
and then gives them a complete armour, 
which being put on, and the several 
pieces of it skilfully used, the wiles of 
Satan will be frustrated, and themselves 
enabled to withstand in the evil day, and 
having done all to stand. 

1 . They must be girded about with the 
girdle of truth. By error Satan has great 
advantage ; how many, like children, are 
tossed to and fro by every wind of doc- 
trine ! but a judgment rightly informed 
and well settled, that buys the truth and 
will by no means sell it, has a great influ- 
ence upon a Christian's stedfastness and 
growth in grace. 

2. They must have on the breast-plate 
of righteousness ; they must be righteous 
in heart, righteous in sincerity. A con- 
science, purged from dead w^orks, is a 
better defence than a wall of brass. Sa- 
tan cannot so easily disquiet them that 


are sincere, neither is he able to corrupt 
them ; their holiness being true, sin is 
hated, the allurements unto sin are con- 
temned, and God is followed hard after. 

3. Their feet must be shod with the 
preparation of the gospel of peace. They 
must be encouraged by that peace which 
the gospel publishes, to run the way of 
God's commandments; and that though 
those ways are never so difficult and un- 
pleasant to flesh and blood, they must 
hold fast the profession of their faith, and 
depart from evil, and go in the path that 
is called holy; though by thus doing, 
they never-so-much expose, and make 
themselves a prey. 

4. Above all, they must take the shield 
of faith, whereby they may quench the 
fiery darts of the wicked. Satan's tempta- 
tions are darts ; he does design our 
wounding, our pain, our death, in shoot- 
ing of them : and these darts may well be 

B 2 


called fiery ; they are shot from hell, and 
a hell in the conscience they make, if 
they are not quenched ; but faith is a 
shield to repel and beat them back : Faith 
makes application of the righteousness 
and strength of Christ ; and by this means, 
not only former wounds are assuaged and 
healed, but the soul is more secured for 
the future. 

6. The helmet of salvation must cover 
their heads in this day of battle v^^ith evil 
angels. A lively hope of salvation is very 
encouraging both unto patient continuance 
in well-doing, and also unto suffering for 
the sake of righteousness. 

6. The Apostle tells them, that the 
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of 
God, must be made use of. If this word 
be understood, believed, thought on, 
loved, stood in awe of; if it thus abide in 
us, we shall be strong, and overcome the 
evil one. 


These are the pieces of the armour of 
God. But in this combat with the devil, 
is there not need of auxihary forces ? cer- 
tainly there is a necessity of succour from 
heaven. The captain, therefore, of our 
salvation, must be looked unto, and di- 
vine aid continually implored and begged 
for. By prayer we have power with God, 
and power against our spiritual enemies 
No wonder that the apostle enjoins ''pray- 
ing always with all prayer and supplica- 
tion in the Spirit." &c. 

The text may be divided into these 
parts : 

1 . Here is a duty commanded, in the 
performance of which lies safety ; and that 
is, praying. 

2. The extent of this duty, it must be 
always, and it must be with all prayer. 

3. The due quahfications of this duty, 
which are these following : 

1st, It must be in the Spirit. 


2d, It must be with watching. 

3d, It must be with all perseverance. 

4. It must be with a public spirit; we 
must pray for all saints, as well as for 
ourselves, since they are engaged in the 
same war. 

That these words may be better under- 
stood, I shall answer these several ques- 
tions : 

1. Is there any difference between 
prayer and supplication ? I answer, the 
v^ord which is translated prayev; Joes in- 
timate 'we have to do with God in prayer ; 
to him we are to direct our petitions as 
an hearer, as an helper. The word whiclx 
is translated supplication, does intimate, 
that there must be an acknowledgment 
of our own indigency and wants, and 
a looking to the all-sufficient Lord for 

2. Anotlier question is this: What is 


meant by praying always ? I answer, the 
Greek phrase whicji the Holy Ghost 
useth, signifies, To pray every opportunity 
that is offered. This text gives no en- 
couragement unto the fond sect of the 
Euchites, who thought that prayer was to 
be their whole business : No, no ; there 
are other duties which God calls for, and 
which this of prayer must not jostle out. 
But all those opportunities which are 
afforded for prayer, must be heedfully 
observed, joyfully laid hold on, and dili- 
gently improved. This is to pray always. 
It is said of Mephibosheth, that he did eat 
always, or continually at the king's table. 
2 Sam. ix. 13. What! shall we from 
hence infer, that he spent day and night 
in nothing but eating ? no such matter ; 
but when the season of meal-time came, 
he was present. So to pray always, is to 
pray whenever prayer is seasonable. 
3 A third question is, What is meant 


by all prayer ? Bullinger refers this to the 
intention of fhe mind ; saying, that in this 
duty, there must be all possible devotion, 
and intentness, and fervency of heart. 
But Musculus understands prayer of every 
sort ; and indeed all kinds of prayer which 
God has appointed are needful, and the 
Lord is ready by the communications of 
his grace, to encourage to the practice of 
this duty in the full extent and latitude 
of it. 

4. Another question is this : What are 
we to understand by prayer in the spirit? 
Some refer this clause to the thing asked, 
as if we should slight all worldly enjoy- 
ments, and ask only for those blessings 
that are spiritual. It is confessed that 
spiritual blessings are to be most prized, 
and to be begged with the greatest im- 
portunity ; but yet temporal mercies may 
also with submission be desired. Daily 
bread we are allowed to ask for ; and that 


bread is sweetest, and most blest, that is 
the fruit of prayer. Others observe, and 
rightly, that this passage, praying in the 
spirit, may have relation both to the 
Spirit of God, and the spirit of him that 

It may have relation unto the Spirit 
of God. The Holy Ghost " makes inter- 
cession for believers, according to the will 
of God ; he helps their infirmities, who of 
themselves know not what to pray for a.^ 
they ought." Rom. viii. 26, 27. 

It may have relation unto the spirit 
of him that prays. Prayer must be the 
offspring of the heart, or else it will not 
be of any value or efficacy. The spirit of 
a man must understand what, and the 
worth of what is prayed for, and the affec- 
tions must be stirred in order to the at- 
tainment of it. 

5. A fifth question is. What are we to 
understand by Avatching unto prayer with 


all perseverance? We must watch over 
our hearts, and watch for God,' and this 
must be with continuance ; unless we 
continue to watch and pray, we may 
quickly enter and fall into temptation. 
And since all militant saints are in danger 
as well as we, and stand in so near rela- 
tion to Christ and to us, we should be 
much concerned for them, so as to desire 
their safety and welfare as ovir own. 

There are Six Doctrines which these 
words afford us. — 

1. A Christian's security lies very much 
in praying always. 

2. All prayer is of concernment to be 

3. Prayer, when rightly performed, is 
supplication in the spirit. 

4. In prayer, vv^atching is a necessary 

5. VVe must persevere if we would 
speed in prayer. 


6. Our spirits must be so public, as to 
supplicate for all the saints as well as for 

I begin with the first of these doctrines. 
That a Christian's security lies very much 
in praying always. Although he be 
armed from head to foot with the armour 
of God ; which, if any in the world, is 
armour of proof, yet he is not safe without 
prayer. Saints in Scripture have looked 
upon the throne of grace as their asylum 
and sanctuary, and have come here for 
refuge and strength in their troubles and 
temptations. David when he perceived 
the deceit and hatred of his adversaries, 
who fought against him witliout cause, 
says, it was his course, and truly it was a 
wise one, to give himself unto prayer, Ps. 
cix. 4. When his soul was among lions, 
and he dwelt among those that were set 
on fire, he " then cries unto God that per- 


formed all tilings for him." Psalm Ivii. 2, 
When the Apostle Paul was bufFetted by 
the messenger of Satan, he " besought the 
Lord thrice, that it might depart from 
him," and had this answer, " My grace is 
sufficient for thee." 2 Cor. xii. 7 — 9. 
Nay, the very Captain of our salvation, , 
Christ himself, not only used the word of 
God in temptation, and overcame the 
devil by Scripture weapons, but also he 
was wonderfully fervent in prayer : " In 
the days of his flesh he offered up prayers 
and supplications, with strong crying and 
tears, unto Him that was able to save him 
from death, and was heard, in that he 
feared." Heb. v. 7. 

I shall speak unto this doctrine in the 
following order. First, Give you a defi- 
nition of prayer, that you may know what 
it is. Secondly, Inform you what it is to 
pray always. Thirdly, Show you why a 
a Christian's security lies in prayer. 


Fourthly, Give you some reasons why he 
should be always praying. And, lasthf, 
Make application. 

In the first place, I am to give you a 
definition of prayer, that you may under- 
stand the nature of it. An old author 
gives this description, ' Prayer is an as- 
cension of the mind unto God, and asking 
those things which are convenient, from 
him. The mind must ascend as well as 
the voice, and both must be directed unto 
God alone; and those things only must 
be desired which the wise and gracious 
God sees convenient. Aquinus defines 
prayer, ' an act of tlie practical under- 
standing, explaining the desire of the will, 
and requesting something from another,' 
which being applied unto God, amounts 
to this much, that both the mind and will 
do act in prayer; the mind makes known 
what the will desires, " Lord, all my 


desire is before thee, and my groaning is 
not hid from thee/' Psalm xxxviii. 9. 
And then likewise, there is an earnest 
craving to have this desire satisfied. '• O 
satisfy us early with thy mercy, that we 
may rejoice and be glad all our days." 
Psalm xc. 14. 

But a more full definition of prayer is 
this: Prayer is a duty performed unto 
God by sensible and believing souls, in 
which they ask for things according to his 
will, in the name of Christ, with thanks- 
giving for what has already been received. 
This definition I shall take in pieces, and 
explain the parts of it. 

I. Prayer is a duty. — It is part of that 
homage and worship which we owe to 
God : this is evident by the light of nature ; 
the heathen mariners " cried unto the 
Lord " for preservation in a storm, Jonah i. ; 
but it is more evident by Scripture light : 
commands to pray are frequent. And he 


that does restrain prayer, casts off the 
fear of God, and says unto the Almighty, 
Depart from me, Job xxi. 14, 15. Prayer 
is a duty, for we are obliged to it by a 
precept; and that precept is for our pro- 
fit : we need help from heaven, and our 
wants that are of greatest concernment to 
be supplied, can be supplied by none but 
by Him that is all-sufficient ; and v/hen 
we cry to him, we give him glory ; for it 
argues we believe his power and mercy, 
which prove him able and ready to suc- 
cour and relieve us. 

II. Prayer is to be performed unto 
God, and to him only. — " Thou shalt 
worship the Lord thy God, and him only 
shalt thou serve," Matt. iv. 10. " Unto 
thee, my God and my King, will I pray. 
I will direct my prayer unto thee, and 
will look up." Psalm v. 2, 3. God's 
hand is not shortened, that it cannot ^ave, 
neither is his ear heavy, that it cannot 


hear. He is able to do, not only to the 
utmost of our desires, but " exceeding 
abundantly above all that we" can either 
"ask or think," Eph. iii. 20. The Papists 
dangerously corrupt holy worship by their 
sinful prayers to angels and saints, and 
especially to the virgin Mary. Cardinal 
Bonaventure has blotted out the name of 
Lo7'd in the book of the Psalms, and put 
in the name of Ladi^, and teaches Chris- 
tians to ask the same things, of the virgin 
Mary, vvhich David asked for at the hands 
of God himself. Under the Old Testa- 
ment we find that believers directed their 
supplications to God himself, and found 
him ready to hear and save ; and under 
the gospel, where the manifestation and 
communication of his grace are more full 
and plenteous, is there need to go to any 
other ? No, no ; " one God can supply 
our needs, according to his riches in glory 
by Christ Jesus." Phil, iv, 19. 


III. Those that pray, must be sensible. — 
Ignorance, and unbelief, and hardness of 
heart, make the words of prayer a mockery 
and abomination. They that pray, there- 
fore, must be sensible of their sins, of 
their needs, of their unworthiness to have 
those needs supplied; finally, they must 
be sensible that none can help them but 
the God they are praying to. 

1. They must be sensible of their sins. — • 
" I acknowledge my transgressions," says 
David, " and my sin is ever before me/' 
Psalm li. 3. " For our transgressions are 
multiplied before thee, and our sins testify 
against us ; for our transgressions are with 
us, and as for our iniquities, we know 
thein," Isa. lix. 12. Sin must be ac- 
knowledged with shame and sorrow, else 
it will separate between God and us, and 
prove a cloud, through which our prayers 
will never pass. There must be such a 
yense of sin as implies a hatred and wea- 


riness of it ; for if the heart out of love 
and liking of it, has a regard to sin, God's 
ear will be deaf, and his mercies re- 
strained. " if I regard iniquity in my 
heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer," 
Psalm Ixvi. 18. 

2. They that pray must be sensible of 
their needs.— All the posterity of Adam 
are needy, how rich and full soever they 
imagine themselves. The first man being 
a public person, had the whole stock in 
his own hand, and having lost it, has 
beggared his whole progeny; we are 
" all come short of the glory of God," as 
descended from Adam; we are flesh, 
and in " our flesh dwelleth no good 
thing." This must be understood and 
believed, poverty of spirit Christ com- 
mends, and pronounces those that are 
thus poor, " blessed," Mat. v. 3. For 
they that perceive " they are wretched, 
and miserable, and empty, and naked," 


will cry the louder to the Lord " for gold 
tried in the fire to enrich them, and white 
raiment that they may be clothed." The 
poor man that is ready to starve for 
hunger, how does he cry out ^ Bread, for 
the Lord's sake, bread,' for he sees his 
need of it. The condemned malefactor, 
how does he roar out for a pardon ? Be- 
cause he sees his life must quickly go, 
without it. And were we but better ac 
quainted with our wants, oh what strong 
cries would come from us, that sin might 
be forgiven, that grace might be wrought, 
that peace might be spoken, that spiritual 
maladies might be healed ! We all need 
these things as much and more than the 
hungry stand in need of bread. 

3. They that pray must be sensible of 
their unworthiness to have their need 
supplied. — Paul cries out, he was " less 
than the least of all saints ;" and Jacob, 
that he was " less than the least of mer- 

C 2 


cies." Job says, " Behold I am vile, and 
I abhor myself." We cannot lay claim 
to any thing as our due, but wrath and 
the curse. Whatever God bestows, it 
must be reckoned given, " not of debt, 
but of pure and free grace," Rom. iv. 
Daniel in prayer disclaims all merit in 
his righteousness, acknowledges that " con- 
fusion of face belonged to him and to 
Israel, because of their rebellions;" and 
says expressly, " We do not present our 
supplications before thee for our righteous- 
nesses, but for thy great mercies," Dan.ix. 
18. We may beg indeed for the greatest 
mercies — and the greater, the surer we 
are to speed ; for God is most liberal of 
the greatest ; but at the same time we 
must be sensible that the least mercy is 
too good for such evil ones as we are. 

4. They that pray must be sensible that 
none can help them but the God they are 
praying to. — " Truly in vain is salvation 


hoped for from the hiils and multitude of 
mountains/' — (the firmest things on earth 
will fail and deceive our hopes,) — " truly 
in the Lord our God is the salvation of 
Israel/' Jer. iii. 23. Therefore David lays 
this charge upon his soul, " to wait only 
upon God, and to have all its expectation 
from him. God will be seriously sought 
unto, when we are under the power of 
this conviction, that " no other helper can 
be found." 

IV. It follows in the definition, that those 
that pray must be believing souls. — Faith 
is a grace that is required in all their du- 
ties ; if this be wanting, God will not be 
honoured by our duties, nor ourselves 
advantaged. Though we hear never so 
often, if the word be not mixed with 
faith, it will not profit us, Heb. iv. 2. ; 
and unless our prayers are prayers in faith, 
they will not be effectual. Those that 
pray indeed, must be believers. 



1 . They must believe " that God is, and 
that he is a rewarder of them that dili- 
gently seek him/' Heb. xi. 6. ; they must 
have right apprehensions of his gracious 
nature, and of his goodwill towards men. 
He is willing to be reconciled, and has 
himself, without being sought unto, con- 
trived a way how a sinner's peace may be 
made. He sends ambassadors to them to 
treat about it, and entreat those that have 
offended him, that they would be no 
longer enemies by wicked works. He 
has declared, that " fury is not in him " 
towards those that are desirous of mercy, 
and that he does delight in nothing more 
than in compassion ; and that if any do 
imderstand and seek him, he is more 
willing to be found, than they can be 
eager to find him. These things being 
rightly conceived, encourage prayer ; and 
Satan by suggesting the contrary, draws 
off many from this duty. 


2. They that pray aright must, by be- 
lieving, be interested in Christ the Me- 
diator. Christ is " the way, and no man 
Cometh unto the Father but by him," 
John xiv. 6. Christ must be by faith re- 
ceived as the gospel offers him ; that is, 
as a " Prince and a Saviour ; " and by this 
faith, being united to hira, God looks upon 
believers as the brethren of Christ, as the 
spouse of Christ, nay, which is nearer, as 
Christ's members ; and will deny them 
nothing. Those that belong to Christy 
God is a God to them, and a Father to 
them as he is to Christ himself, and loves 
them as he loved Christ; John xx. 17. 
xvii. 23. ; surely he will then grant them 
their requests. 

3. Tliey that pray must by faith rely 
upon the promises that God has made of 
hearing. — He has said, " that they that 
ask shall receive, that they which seek 
shall find, and to them that knock it shall 


be opened/' Matt. vii. 7. And for fur- 
ther encouragement, because the Spirit 
teaches what to ask, and how to ask, 
Christ assures us, that God will more 
readily give his Spirit to those that ask 
him, than earthly parents bread unto their 
hungry children, " If ye then being 
evil, know how to give good gifts to your 
children, how much more shall your 
heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit unto 
them that ask him?" Luke xi. 13. How- 
comprehensive a promise is the promise 
of the Spirit? His work is to apply that 
salvation which Christ has purchased : 
and is sent on purpose that he may endite 
such petitions for the saints as will find 
audience. How plainly has the Lord 
said, that " his eye is upon the righteous, 
and his ear open to their prayers ? " 
Psalm xxxiv. 15. Such words should be 
rested on when we engage in this duty. 
4, The more confidently they that pray 

PR,".Y ALWAYS. 25 

conclude the performance of God's pro- 
mises, the more certainly will they be 
accomplished.' — Therefore we are com- 
manded to ask " in faith, nothing waver- 
ing,'' James i. 6.; and we are encouraged 
to draw near with a true heart, in full 
assurance of faith, Ileb. x. 22. ; and 
hearken to our Lord himself, " therefore 
I say unto you, whatever things ye desire 
when ye pray, believe that ye receive 
them, and ye shall have them,'^ Mark 
xi. 24. If we did but more firmly believe 
that God, according to his covenant, for 
his Son's sake, has pardoned sin ; and 
will heal our souls of their distempers, 
and will give grace sufficient, and make 
us to grow and increase with the increases 
of God ; verilyhis promises would appear 
to be real, and " according to our faith 
it would be to us.'' Thus you see how 
those that pray must be believers. 

V. In prayer, things must be asked for, 


according to the will of God.—" And 
this is the confidence that we have in liim, 
that if we ask any thing according to his 
will, he heareth us," 1 John v. 14. Christ 
tells his disciples, " if ye abide in me, 
and my words abide in you, ye shall ask 
what ye will, and it shall be done to you," 
John XV. 7. The word abiding in us dcr 
Clares the will of God, and regulates our 
wills ; and then v/hat we will, we shall 
have ; Luther said, ' Let my will be 
done, because my will, O Lord, is the 
same with thine.' 

I do not wonder that many of the 
heathens reasoned against prayer ; they, 
being unacquainted with the mind of 
God, knew not what to ask for. But in 
the scripture God has declared his mind 
to us, and that is our directory. 

Tliere is a threefold will of God, which 
we are to regard in prayer — his will of 
purpose, of precept, and of promise. 


1 . His will of purpose. — God's purpose 
concerning his people, is wise and gra- 
cious, therefore it is called " the good 
pleasure of his goodness," by the apostle, 
2 Thess. i. 11.; and it was but reason 
that this purpose should be submitted to. 
We may ask sometimes for that which it 
may not be fit for us to receive. In tem- 
porals especially we are at a loss; and 
are not able to determine what measure 
of such kind of mercies is most meet for 
us. When therefore we beg for the con- 
tinuance of life, the prolonging or restor- 
ing of health, the enjoyment of outward 
comforts ; all must be done with this pro- 
viso, that the will and purpose of God 
may stand and be accomplished ; for we 
may conclude, that when the Lord de- 
nies outward mercies, which we with 
submission beg for, he intends kindness in 
that very denial. 

2. In prayer God's will of precept is to 


be regarded .—Whatever he commands us 
to do, we may with boldness go to him 
for strength, which may enable us for the 
performance. The Lord calls and com- 
mands Israel to turn. " Turn ye, turn ye 
from your evil ways, for why will ye die, 
O house of Israel 1 " Ephraim turns this 
into prayer, " turn thou me, and I shall 
be turned, for thou art the Lord my God," 
Jer. xxxi 18. God commanded David 
to keep his precepts diligently. David 
takes hold of this, and cries out, '* Oh that 
my ways were directed, that I might keep 
thy statutes ! " Psalm cxix. 4, 5. He re- 
quires that we should love and fear him ; 
we may without presumption beg that he 
would " circumcise our hearts to love 
him, and put his fear into our hearts, that 
we may not depart from him." 

3. In prayer God's will of promise is 
also to be eyed. — And though the pro- 
mises of the life that now is, belong to be- 


lievers,yet especially they prize and plead 
the promises of spiritual and everlasting 
blessings. These we are to look upon 
" as exceeding great and precious/' and 
sure promises ; and to beg, that by them 
" we may be made partakers of the divine 
nature, and escape the corruption that is 
in the world through lust," 2 Pet. i. 4. 
What can the Lord promise more than he 
does ? " The Lord God is a sun and shield, 
the Lord will give grace and glory ; no 
good thing will he withhold from them 
that walk uprightly," Psalm Ixxxiv. 11. 
When we entreat him to make good his 
promises, we do in effect but entreat him 
to glorify his power and love, his truth 
and faithfulness. 

VI. Prayer must be in the name of 
Christ.— What name more prevalent? 
" Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatso- 
ever ye shall ask the Father in my name, 


he will give it you." When we make use 
of tlie mediation of Christ, we go the way 
to speed. The Papists make use of the 
mediation of angels and departed saints. 
But the apostle tells us, as of " one God," 
so of one " mediator between God and 
man, the man Christ Jei^us." Saints in- 
deed on earth may pray one for another? 
because God has commanded it ; it main- 
tains love among them, and the strongest 
need the prayers of the weaker. How 
earnestly does the apostle Paul beseech 
the believing Romans that they would 
strive together with him in their prayers 
to God for him, Rom. xv. 30. But not 
a word of prayer directed to any saint in 
scripture. And when Jacob was in dis- 
tress, and the angels of God met him, he 
said, " this is God's host ; " but he begged 
nothing of them, but v/restles with God 
himself, and, as a prince, prevailed. 


We must pray in the name of Christ ; 
and there are four things which we are to 
have an eye to — 

1 . The satisfaction of Christ. — He has 
been " woi.uded for transgression," he 
" bare the curse ; " so that we may beg 
with confidence to bs delivered from it. 
He has made peace by dd bleed of his 
cross ; we have encouragement ,:- beseech 
the Lord to be reconciled, and ihat he 
would no longer be a foe, lui: a father 
to us. 

2. We are to eye the purchase of Christ. 
— He has purchased all the blessings of 
the new covenant. Heaven itself is called 
" a purchased possession," Eph. 1. 14. 
Christ paid a price for it, that it might 
be ours. It is not only an act of grace, 
but an act of righteousness in God, con- 
sidering what Christ has paid for, to 
forgive sin, and to give salvation. 

3. We are to eye the intercession of 


Christ. — " He is able to save them to the 
uttermost, that come unto God by him, 
seeing he ever lives to make intercession 
for them/' Heb. vii. 25. Our great High 
Priest is passed into the heavens, and his 
work is there, to pray for believers, and 
his Father hears him always. How can 
prayers miscarry that are backed with the 
intercession of such an one ? 

4. We are to eye the strength of Christ, 
and his assistance. — Rightly to pray is a 
matter of difficulty ; Christ by his Spirit is 
ready to help the infirmities of believers ; 
so that notwithstanding all discourage- 
ment and opposition from within and 
from beneath, they shall make something 
of this duty of prayer, and obtain the 

VII. In prayer there must be thanks- 
giving for what has been already received. 
Praise is the sublimest part of prayer. 
Praise is a debt; and how vast is the 


debt, if we consider the multitude, great- 
ness, freeness, and continuance of mercies? 
Praise sweetens prayer; nothing more 
pleasing to God, nothing more pleasant 
to ourselves. And to give thanks for 
benefits received, is as effectual a way to 
prevail for more mercy, as the most vehe- 
ment and strongest cries. O, therefore, 
that all who pray, would also " praise the 
Lord for his goodness, and for his won- 
derful works to the children of men ! " 
Psalm cvii. 8. Tlius have I explained 
the definition, and opened the nature of 
prayer to you. 

In the second place I am to inform you 
what it is to prai/ always. This I have 
touched upon already, but shall more fully 
speak of in these particulars. 

1 . To pray always implies, being always 
in a disposition and frame to pray when 
God requires it. — The heart must be re- 



conciled to this duty, and fall in love with 
it, and go to the throne of grace with 
alacrity. Much may be got at the mercy- 
seat ; the unsearchable riches of Christ 
are unlocked, and we may take as much 
as the hand of faith can grasp, without 
being checked or upbraided. The God 
whom we have to do with, " gives libe- 
rally and like himself," James i. 5. The 
heart should be forward to pray, and be 
weary of, and through grace subdue more 
and more that evil which, alas, is *' pre- 
sent when good is about to be performed," 
Rom. vii. 21. 

2. To pray always implies, laying hold 
of all opportunities to pray, that are gra- 
ciously vouchsafed to us. — Whenever there 
is a meet season and a motion to pray, 
we should catch such an occasion by the 
forelock, for when once it is past, it is 
past recalling. Stated times of prayer 
ordinarily, should in no wise be neglect- 


ed; and when there are extraordinary 
calls to this duty, they should by all 
means be heeded. 

3. To pray always implies, praying in 
every state and condition. — In sickness, 
in health, in prosperity, in adversity, 
prayer is to be used; without prayer, 
sickness will be unsanctified, and an un- 
comfortable load ; and if it be taken off, 
it will be in anger ; without prayer, health 
will be a judgment, and only serve to 
encourage a neglect of the soul and ano- 
ther world ; without prayer adversity will 
be intolerable, and prosperity will be a 
snare, and occasion forgetfulness of God, 
and a daring to rebel against him. No 
condition should cause a cessation of 
prayer, for the apostle says, " pray with- 
out ceasing," 1 Thess. v. 17. 

4. To pray always implies, not to let 
fall any suit till it be granted. — We must 
not faint in prayer, nor give over, though 

D 2 


we do not presently speed. Luke xviii. 1 » 
•" He spake a parable to them to this end, 
that men ought always to pray, and not to 
faint." Importunity prevailed with an 
unrighteous judge, surely then it will be 
prevalent with the Father of mercies. 
God does not presently grant sometimes, 
to try whether we duly esteem mercies ; 
and if we do, we shall think them worth 
our while to pray still for them, and wait 
till they are given. 

5. To pray always implies, not to give 
over praying while we are on earth. — 
This ordinance we must never be above ; 
for we always need to engage in it. Our 
life is a continued warfare, we have need 
to pray for defence and victory; our 
knowledge and grace is imperfect, we 
have need to pray for the increase of both, 
and that we may be helped to press to- 
ward the mark for the prize of the high- 
calling of God. 


In the third place, I am to tell you, 
why a Christian's security lies in prayer. 

1 . Prayer engages God on a Christian's 
side. — He promises to hear the cry of the 
righteous ones ; and hearing their cry im- 
plies the engaging of his power and good- 
ness for their supply and safety. In 
prayer there is an acting of holy desires, 
unto which satisfaction is assured ; and 
there is an acting of trust and faith, and 
God will show himself strong in behalf 
of them that fly unto his name, as to a 
tower of defence, and rely upon his ever- 
lasting arm. He that believes, and has 
his expectation from the Lord, shall not 
be ashamed. The apostle hesitates not 
to say, *' whosoever calleth on the name 
of the Lord, shall be saved," Rom. x. 13 ; 
that is, whosoever calls with faith and 
fervency. Such calling engages God for 
■us, and " if He be for us, who can be 
against us?" Rom. viii. 31. Our ini- 


quities, though never so strong, he can 
easily subdue ; the world, and the god of 
the world, are weak compared with the 
Almighty. He can deliver from the evil 
world, from the evil one, from every evil 
work, and preserve us to his heavenly 

2. Prayer weakens the flesh, with the 
aiFections and lusts of it. — Our great dan- 
ger is from these home-bred enemies ; 
" our lusts do war against our souls," 1 
Pet. ii. 11 ; and the apostle threatens be- 
lievers, " if ye live after the flesh, ye shall 
die," Rom. viii. 13. What course does 
David take to obtain the victory over his 
corruptions? he prays against them. — 
" Cleanse me from secret faults ; keep 
back thy servant from presumptuous sins. 
Let no iniquity have dominion over me ! 
Create in me a clean heart, and uphold 
me with thy free Spirit!" These and 
such like were his cries, and he did not 


cry in vain. The believer, in prayer, 
pleads that it is for God's honour to kill 
corruption, that it is his declared will, 
even man's sanctification ; that it is his 
work to sanctify ; that he has promised 
to sanctify throughout, in body, soul, 
and spirit; and he is faithful, and there- 
fore will do it. 1 Thess, v. 23, 24. He 
pleads, that Christ died that he might 
redeem and purify from iniquity ; that he 
might cleanse his church, and " present it 
unto himself a glorious church, not having 
spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but 
that it might be holy, and without ble- 
mish," Eph. V. 27. And such pleas are 
effectual to the obtaining of grace, and 
mortifying the deeds of the body. 

3. A Christian's security lies in prayer, 
for prayer obtains better things than the 
world can boast of. Let the world allure 
by its strongest baits, and present unto 
the Christian the greatest gains, the sweet- 


est pleasures, yet blessings more valuable 
are to be got at the throne of grace. The 
heart in prayer is taken up with the 
thoughts of, and eager desires after, the 
privilege of reconciliation and adoption, 
communion with God, and the commu- 
nications of his grace and Spirit, an eter- 
nal weight of glory, a crown of life, an 
enduring substance, fulness of joy, and 
pleasures for evermore. Psalm xvi. These 
are the things above, that in prayer are 
sought ; and what are things below in 
comparison ? The heart that is placed on 
these, is the better armed against the 
world : as long as spiritual and eternal 
blessings are secured, the world is neither 
desired, nor dreaded by it. 

4. Prayer is an undermining of Satan. 
The powers of hell have felt the force of 
this duty. Christ commanded his disci- 
ples to pray, when he perceived the devil 
about to winnow them : " Pray that ye 


enter not into temptation.'^ Lukexxii. 40. 
If as oft as we are assaulted by the temp- 
ter, we did but look unto the Lord for 
grace to help in the time of need, temp- 
tation would be very unsuccessful. Two 
things are done in prayer against Satan ; 
by our confession of sins, this accuser is 
silenced; by petition, grace is obtained to 
withstand him. 

By confession of sin this accuser is 
silenced. Satan is styled, "the accuser 
of the brethren ;" and to show how mali- 
cious and eager he is in his accusations, 
he is said to " accuse them day and night 
before God." Rev. xii. 10. But in prayer, 
believers bring bills of indictment against 
themselves ; not only all that Satan can 
truly lay to their charge, do they also lay 
to their own charge ; but also all that 
God has against them, they acknowledge ; 
they cover not their sins, but confess and 
aggravate them ; they blame and judge 


themselves. And how earnest are they 
that sin confessed may be pardoned, and 
purged away by the blood of Christ ? 
Now Satan's mouth is stopped ; his charge 
signifies nothing ; for thus confessing sin, 
and looking unto Jesus for cleansing as 
well as atonement, " God is faithful and 
just to forgive them their sins, and to 
cleanse them from all unrighteousness," 
1 John i. 9. 

By petition, grace is obtained to with- 
stand Satan. The apostle Paul, when 
buffetted by the devil, falls to prayer, and 
what answer has he ? The Lord said 
unto him, " My grace is sufficient for 
thee, for my strength is made perfect in 
weakness." And the apostle is satisfied 
that the power of Christ rested on him. 
Prayer brings us to the God of Peace, 
who promises to tread Satan under our 
feet shortly, Rom. xvi- 20. By prayer 
wisdom is derived from God : and the 


more wise the Father of lights makes us, 
the better we understand the devil's wiles, 
and his design is seen through, which is 
to deceive, to defile, and at last to murder 
souls. And as wisdom is increased, so 
faith, and love, and fear, and other graces, 
by prayer ; and the more we believe God, 
the less credit we shall give the evil one ; 
the more we love God, the more we shall 
hate that evil which we are tempted to ; 
the more we fear the Lord, the more will 
our hearts be united to him ; and it will 
be a matter of great difficulty to persuade 
us unto departing from him. 

5. A Christian's security lies in prayer, 
for a prayer is a great means to make 
every other ordinance effectual for our 
safety and spiritual advantage. The word 
of God and prayer are coupled together : 
" But we will give ourselves continually 
to prayer, and to the ministry of the 
word," Acts vi. 4. Our sermons which 


we preacli unto you, should be begged 
from heaven ; they should be begun, 
ended, followed after with prayer ; and if 
you that are hearers would but help us 
herein by prayer, it would be in effect to 
help yourselves. If there were but more 
praying before you come to the sanctuary, 
that you might be taught to profit, so 
many sermons would not be lost; so 
much seed would not be sown in vain. 
Prayer sets an edge upon the word, and 
makes it quick and powerful to kill sin, 
and keep off Satan. Prayer works the 
word into the heart, and being hid there, 
is is a mighty preservative against iniquity. 
There is a spiritual instinct in believers to 
join prayer with every ordinance of God ; 
because they know that ordinances can- 
not secure or benefit them, except the 
Lord concur and work along with them. 
I have proved that a Christian's security 
lies in prayer. 


In the fourth place, I am to give you 
some reasons why we ought to pray al- 

1. We should pray always, because 
God is always ready to hear. " Tlie 
Lord's ear is not heavy, that it cannot 
hear." Isa. lix. 1. He hearkens after 
prayer, and " looks down from heaven 
upon the children of men, to see if there 
be any that understand and seek God." 
Psalm xiv. 2. The Father is said to seek 
for right worshippers, namely, those that 
worship him in spirit and in truth, John 
iv. 23. we have therefore encouragement, 
at all times to trust in him, and at all 
times to pour out our souls before him. 
" God is a refuge for us, Selah." Psalm 
Ixii. 8. Verily, seeking of God in since- 
rity, never was yet in vain, and never will 
be. God has heard sinners then, when 
they perhaps have little thought he mind- 
ed them. Wlien Ephraim liemoaued 


himself, was as a bullock unaccustomed 
to the yoke, was ashamed, and confound- 
ed because of his evil ways, and cried, 
" Turn thou me, and I shall be turned ;'' 
says God, " I have heard him, I have 
surely heard Ephraim," Jer. xxxi. 18, 19 ; 
and gives him to understand, that " he 
was a dear son, a pleasant child, and that 
he would surely have mercy on him." 
There is not a tear but God has a bottle 
to put it in, nor a sigh but God observes 
it, nor a true desire, but he is ready to 

2. We should pray always, because 
Christ always intercedes ; " He is able to 
save them to the uttermost that come unto 
God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make 
intercession for them." Heb. vii. 25. The 
prayers of believers will be well seconded. 
This Angel of the covenant has incense 
sufficient to perfume, and to make the 
prayers of all the saints at all times ac- 


ceptable. Christ in heaven is always 
presenting to his Father his sufferings, 
and by his sufferings all that we pray for 
has been purchased. His blood therefore 
is said to speak in Scripture, and it 
" speaks better things than that of Abel." 
Heb. xii. 24. The blood of Christ cries 
in God's ears, on the behalf of those that 
pray, that " the curse that Christ hath 
borne may be 'removed from them; that 
the sins for which Christ was wounded, 
may be forgiven them ; and that out of 
the fulness of Christ they may receive, and 
grace for grace." 

3. We should pray always, because 
the Spirit is always ready to help our in- 
firmities. This Spirit Christ promised, 
and, according to his promise, sent him ; 
and this Spirit is styled the " Spirit of 
grace and supplications," Zech. xii. 10. ; 
for he gives grace and ability to make 
supplications acceptable. And this Spirit 


abides with believers always. " I will 
pray the Father, and he shall give you 
another Comforter, which shall abide with 
you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth, 
whom the world cannot receive, because 
it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; 
but ye know him, for he dwelleth with 
you, and shall be in you." John xiv. 16, 
17. The Spirit is ready to instruct us 
what to pray for, to remove the load of 
indisposition to this duty, to quicken our 
deadness therein, to enlarge our hearts in 
desires after the God of all grace, to 
strengthen us to wrestle for a blessing. 
And truly God is not to be prevailed 
with, but by the meditation of his Son, 
and by the strength of his own Spirit. 

4. We should pray always, because 
Satan is always forward to assault us. 
Satan is compared to a lion in Scripture. 
And i^lian observes concerning the lion, 
that if at any time he is beaten back, he 


retires with his face towards you, as being 
ready upon the least encouragement, to 
make another attempt. In like manner 
Satan watches, has his eye always upon 
us, and is ever forward to tempt ; and 
should not we be ever forward to pray ? 
Our whole life is a time of temptation ; 
wicked spirits are continually engaged 
against us. " We wrestle," says the 
apostle, " with principalities and powers, 
with the rulers of the darkness of this 
world, with spiritual wickedness in high 
places." These enemies are invisible, so 
it is more difficult to withstand them ; 
they are too subtle, and too strong for us ; 
we had need therefore to pray without 
ceasing, since they cease not endeavour- 
ing to bring us both to sin and ruin. 

5. We should pray always, because 
corruption will quickly recruit, and re- 
cover strength upon the least neglect of 
prayer. Had David been praying when 


he was sleeping so long in the day time ; 
or after his sleep had been ended, had he 
gone to the throne of grace, instead of 
idly walking upon the roof of his palace ; 
nay, when first he cast his eyes on Bath- 
sheba, if he had presently looked up to 
heaven and cried, that that spark of con- 
cupiscence might have been extinguished 
before it set him in a flame ; his foul fall, 
and the doleful consequences of it, might 
have been prevented. But duty was 
neglected, and lust took the advantage of 
that neglect, and he was hurried into two 
as heinous sins almost as can possibly be 
committed : 2 Sam. xi. Experience 
shows us, that if we omit, or are slight in 
prayer, that day our passions are most 
easily stirred, and our lusts get ground. 
Thus Amalek prevailed when Moses' 
hands began to hang down; but when 
they were held up towards heaven, Israel 
had the better. 


I come, in the last place, to the appli- 
cation. And if the christian's security lies 
so much in praying always, 

The first use is of instruction, concerning 
the extreme danger that prayerless souls 
are in. It will be faithfulness and kind- 
ness to make such sensible of their dan- 
ger ; therefore I shall a little stay upon it, 
and manifest their peril in these parti- 

1 . Those that are strangers to prayer^ 
God is against them. O dreadful! What 
is God ? And who are they ? Who can 
stand before his indignation? Who can 
defend himself against that arm that is 
omnipotent ? The mountains quake, the 
hills melt, the devils tremble before this 
God ; the whole world compared with him, 
" is but as the drop of the bucket, and 
the small dust on the balance, and all the 
inhabitants of tlie world are nothing, less 
than nothing, and vanily." Isa. xl. 15. 17. 
E 2 


Surely it is fearful to have so glorious and 
great a God an enemy. But an enemy 
he is unto all that count not his love and 
favour worth the praying for. Those that 
will not entreat him to be reconciled, it is 
a sign they neither value his love nor 
fear his wratli ; and under wrath they are 

2. Those that are strangers to prayer, 
their mercies are not mercies indeed to 
them ; that threatening is fulfilled upon 
them, " I will send a curse upon you, 
and will curse your blessings," Mai. ii. 2. 
Prayer will turn curses into blessings. 
Afflictions are part of the curse inflicted 
because of sin, but prayer alters the nature 
of them ; for the sanctification of them 
being begged and granted, they work to- 
gether for the good of them that feel them. 
Affliction yields " the peaceable fruits of 
righteousness to them that are exercised 
thereby," says the Apostle. On the other 


side, where prayer is not, blessings are 
a snare, and the good things which are 
received, work together for the harm 
and ruin of those that do enjoy them. 
There is a spirit of slumber that has seized 
on them in the midst of their enjoyments, 
and their table, their plenty, their abund- 
ance becomes " a snare, and a trap, and a 
stumbling block, and a recompence to 
them," Romans xi. 8, 9. 

3. Those that are strangers to prayer, 
Satan is endeavouring their ruin, and there 
is none to hinder him. Satan is said in 
Scripture to fill tlie hearts of the ungodly, 
to keep possession of them, and to work in 
the children of disobedience. Tlie devil 
is come down with great wrath ; and like 
a roaring lion, he walketh about, seeking 
whom he may devour. And truly he 
finds abundant prey, for most watch not 
at all, pray not at all against him. Those 
that pray not, are led captive by Satan at 


his pleasure, and they do not care or de- 
sire to have his snare broken, nor them- 
selves recovered. 

4. Those that are strangers to prayer, 
how certain is it, that, continuing as they 
are, they will miss of those great things 
revealed in the gospel, since they count 
them not worth their seeking ! The gospel 
informs us of the one thing needful, of the 
pearl of great price, of the kingdom of 
God and his righteousness; and this is 
the law that is established, that they who 
would have these things must seek them. 
They that seek them not, understand not 
their worth, nor their own need, and 
therefore certainly and justly go without 

5. Those that are strangers to prayer, 
are in danger of meeting with a deaf ear, 
when cries are extorted by calamity. O 
read and tremble, Prov, i. 26 — 28. " I 
will laugh at your calamity, I will mock 


when your fear cometli, when your fear 
Cometh as desolation, and your destruc- 
tion as a whirlwind ; when distress and 
anguish cometh upon you, then shall they 
call upon me, but I will not answer ; they 
shall seek me early, but they shall not 
find me." The meaning is this, that when 
cries are extorted merely by distress, and 
only the removal of calamity is desired, 
there being no true humiliation for sin, 
nor desire to be reformed, all such cries 
will be neglected. If you will not seek 
the Lord while he may be found, nor call 
upon him while he is near, when you cry 
in extremity, he may be far off from you. 
6. Those that are strangers to prayer, 
should consider, that quickly the accepted 
time, which they improve not, will be past, 
and then they shall beg, but must certainly 
be denied. We read in Scripture of calls 
that no heed was given to. When the 


foolish virgins came after the door was 
shut, and said, " Lord, Lord, open unto 
us ; " alas, they spake too late, the door 
was not opened ; but the reply is, " I 
know you not whence you are." When 
the rich man begged for a drop of water 
to cool his tongue, being tormented in the 
flame, this was not granted ; to intimate 
that not the least mitigation of torment in 
hell is to be looked for. All at last will 
be ready to pray, Lord, open the door that 
lets into thy kingdom and glory ! Lord? 
vouchsafe a little ease and respite in the 
midst of our excessive agonies and sor- 
rows ! But oh, God's ear will be shut 
then eternally as well as heaven's gate, 
and his mercy clean gone for ever ! What 
madness is it then to waste all our ac- 
cepted time, and not to come to the throne 
of grace, before the day of grace comes to 
an end ! 


The second use shall be of caution. 
Two things you are to be cautioned 
about : 

1 . Take heed of resting in prayer itself' 
in the bare duty done. Prayer is your 
security, not in itself considered, but 
because it " leads you to the rock that is 
higher than you," Psalm Ixi. 2. Prayer 
puts you under the Lord's wing, and you 
are covered with his feathers, and his 
truth becomes your shield and buckler. 
They that trust in the mere form, vainly 
imagining, that speaking the words of 
prayer will help them ; they use prayer 
like a charm, and are unacquainted with 
the right manner of praying. 

2. Take heed of thinking that any kind 
of prayer will secure you, and engage God 
for you. Unbelieving prayers, where 
Christ is not relied on for audience ; cold 
and careless prayers, where the things 
prayed for are not' prized; hypocritical 


prayers, where the heart is not indeed en- 
gaged, will not reach God's ear, will not 
fetch the blessing. Sin's bow will abide 
in strength, notwithstanding these prayers ; 
nor will the strong holds of Satan be thrown 
down by them. 

The third use shall be of exhortation 
unto this duty of prayer. The arguments 
to persuade you are these following : 

1. Scripture commands are very fre- 
quent, which require this duty. How 
often is prayer called for; and not only 
the Lord's authority in these commands is 
to be regarded, but also his goodness ; he 
does not require prayer, that he may re- 
ceive from us, for he is so much above us 
that he needs us not, nor our performances; 
and so infinitely perfect, that there can be 
no addition to the perfection of his being, 
or his blessedness; but therefore the Lord 
calls us to " pray always," Luke xxi. 36. 
" to pray every where," 1 Tim. ii. 8. <'to 


continue instant in prayer," Rom. xii. 12. 
" in every tiling, by prayer and supplica- 
tion, to make our requests known unto 
God/' Phil. iv. 6.; because he is willing 
to give what we need, and to communicate 
that mercy, without which we must needs 
be miserable. 

2. The efficacy of prayer should per- 
suade to prayer.— He that bids you seek 
his face, if your hearts echo back, " Thy 
face, Lord, will we seek," will in nowise 
hide his face from you, nor put you away 
in anger," Psalm xxvii. 8, 9. By prayer 
you may prevail with God for his love ; 
and being interested in that, nothing will be 
denied. That the efficacy of prayer may 
be evident, I shall imitate the apostle, 
speaking concerning faith, (Heb.xi) and 
reckon up the wonders that have been the 
effects of prayer. 

By prayer Abraham had saved Sodom, 
though the cry of their sins was so loud 


and great, if there had been ten righteous 
persons in it. By prayer he obtained a 
son from God, when his wife Sarah, was 
past child-bearing. 

By prayer Jacob was delivered from the 
wrath of his brother Esau; Jonah, by 
prayer, out of the whale's belly ; and the 
three children out of the seven times heated 
Babylonish furnace. 

By prayer, David stayed the plague, so 
that it seized not on Jerusalem, and caused 
the sword of the destroying angel to be 
put up into the sheath again. 

By prayer Elias stayed the rain for 
three years and six months ; and by the 
same means opened the clouds of heaven, 
that the earth brought forth her fruit. By 
prayer he brought down fire, which con- 
sumed the two captains and their fifties 
that came to take him. 

By prayer, Joshua commanded the sun, 
and it stood still in Gibeon, and the moon 


in the Valley of Aijalon ; for the Lord 
hearkened to the voice of a man, and fought 
for Israel, 

By prayer, Daniel stopped the mouths 
of lions, and came untouched out of the 
den ; and by prayer, Peter and Paul and 
Silas were delivered out of prison ; shackles 
and iron gates being but weak things to 
the power of supplications. 

And what shall I more say ? for time 
would fail me, as the apostle speaks, if I 
should tell of Samuel, of Samson, Je- 
hoshaphat, and of the prophets and apos- 
tles, who by prayer procured thunder to 
destroy their enemies; out of weakness 
were made strong; turned to flight the 
mighty hosts of adversaries ; the dead they 
raised to life again ; made the lame from 
the w^omb to walk and leap ; healed dis- 
eases beyond the skill of art to cure, — 
Behold prayer's efficacy, though performed 
by men of like passions with ourselves ! 


this should persuade us to the love and 
practice of the duty. 

3. "Who is it that would hinder you 
from prayer ? — Who stands at your right 
hand to resist you? Certainly it is an 
enemy, who is unwilling you should draw 
nigh to God, because he knows it is so 
good for you, Psalm Ixxiii. Your own 
hearts also are ready to draw back, but 
this argues their egregious folly and despe- 
rate wickedness. 

4. What has followed upon the omis- 
sion of prayer ? — Has not this omission 
ushered in sins of commission ? Have 
you not, when you have neglected to cry 
for strength in your souls, found yourselves, 
like Reuben, unstable as water? Have 
you not easily been induced to do that 
which has filled the face of God with 
frowns, and the mouth of conscience with 
reproaches ? On the other side, has not 
prayer been with success sometimes ? have 


you not found encouragement and grace 
at the mercy-seat ? Oh do that wliich 
both bitter and sweet experience prompts 
you to. 

5. Prayer is an honourable employ- 
ment. — In this duty you have admittance 
to the ear of the King of Heaven ; how 
high is your company ? your " fellowship 
is with the Father and with his Son Jesus 
Christ," 1 John i. 3. Though the Lord 
be high, yet he hath respect unto the low- 
ly ; he will regard the prayer of the most 
destitute, and not despise it ; he allows 
you a freedom to pour out your complaints, 
and to malce known before him your trou- 
bles. And what honour is this, to have 
to do immediately with God, " to have 
him so nigh to you in all that you call 
upon him for?" Deut. iv. 7. 

6. Frequency and fervency in prayer 
will be a great evidence of your regenera- 
tion and adoption. The child when born. 


cries, and the sinner when born again 
prays. Of Paul it was said as soon as he 
was converted, " Behold he prayeth," 
Acts ix. 11. It is the spirit of adoption 
that makes us cry, " Abba, Father." If 
we cannot be satisfied unless we approach 
unto God, and value his favour and fel- 
lowship above all earthly things ; and are 
chiefly desirous of those blessings which 
he never gives in wrath ; and having 
given, never takes away again ; we may 
conclude from our spiritual breathing, our 
spiritual life. Now a good evidence of 
regeneration, what will it be worth in a 
day of trouble, in a dying hour ? 

The last use shall be of encouragement 
to believers, 

1. Their prayers are God's delight. — 
" The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomi- 
nation to the Lord ; but the prayer of the 
upright is his delight," Prov. xv. 8. " O 
my dove, that ait in the clefts of the rock, 


in the secret place of the stairs, let me see 
thy countenance, let me hear thy voice, 
for thy voice is sweet, and thy countenance 
is comely," Cant. ii. 14. We are pleased 
with the talk and requests of our children, 
though their language be lisped and broken ; 
and God is infinitely more indulgent than 
earthly parents are or can be, and much 
more wilUng to give good things than they. 
Matt. vii. 11. 

2. There are many reasons why the God 
whom believers pray to, should answer 

First. They are his chosen ones. — God 
pitched his love on them before the foun- 
dation of the world was laid. 

Secondly. They are his Son's purchase. 
— He has bought them with a price, shed 
his blood for the remission of their sins, 
and given his life for their ransom. 

Thirdly. They are in covenant with 


God. — He has engaged to be their God, 
and surely he will be their guard also. 

FourtJdy. They are vessels of mercy, 
in whom he deigns to glorify his grace and 
love for ever. 

Surely then he will heed these when 
they pray; he will give them the good 
they need, and save them from the evil 
which makes them fly to him for shelter. 
I have done with the first doctrine, That 
a Christian's security lies very much in 
praying always. 

All prayer is of concernment to be used 
— " praying always with all prayer," says 
the text. — Prayer is a duty of very great 
extent, and the parts of it are admirably 
suited to the present state and condition of 
a Christian, and the divers kinds of prayer 
very well agree with the various circum- 
stances wherein we are. All the ways of 


seeking God shall be to purpose, if he be 
but sought diligently, and according as he 
himself has appointed ; for he tells us 
plainly, that " he says not to the seed of 
Jacob, seek ye me in vain," Isa. xlv. 19. 

Two things I shall here insist on. 1st, 
I shall speak concerning the parts of 
prayer, and show how all these parts are 
to be used. 2dly, I shall mention the 
several kinds of prayer, and endeavour so 
to persuade and direct you to each kind, 
that this duty may be performed in its 
utmost latitude. 

1 begin with the parts of prayer, and 
they are these: — 

1. One part of prayer is an humble 
compellation, or naming of God. — Those 
titles that are given him in Scripture we 
must be acquainted with ; and such should 
be used as are most suitable unto the mat- 
ter of our prayers, and which have the 
greatest tendency to excite those gracious 



and spiritual affections which are required 
in our supplications. If we consult the 
prayers of saints, which are recorded in 
the Bible, we shall find that God is called 
sometimes " Lord," sometimes " Father," 
sometimes " the great and Mighty and 
Terrible God," sometimes " the King of 
Glory," sometimes " the High and Lofty 
One that inhabits eternity, whose name is 
Holy," sometimes " the God and Father 
of Christ," and likewise "the Father of 
Mercies, and God of all Comforts." It is 
not amiss to add unto God's title those 
attributes, the consideration whereof may 
help towards such a frame of spirit as 
becomes prayer. 

Would we have our heart in a holy 
awe, and filled with reverence and godly 
fear? Mention then his omnipresence, 
greatness, his holiness, and jealousy. Would 
we have our hearts broken for sin? Men- 
tion his anger and hatred of iniquity ; and 


withal, his goodness, and forbearance, and 
readiness to be reconciled for " the riches 
of his goodness and long-suffering strongly- 
lead unto repentance," Rom. ii. 4. Fi- 
nally, would we in our requests have our 
desires enlarged, and our faith encourag- 
ed, and be also forward to praise ? Men- 
tion then the freeness of God's love, the 
superabundance of his grace, as he is the 
Father of Jesus Christ. As of old he was 
styled, " the Lord that brought Israel out 
of Egypt," and afterwards, " the Lord that 
delivered Judah from the North country,'' 
namely, out of the Babylonish captivity ; 
so likewise in the New Testament, he is 
called " the God and Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ," Eph. i. 3. ; 1 Pet. i. 3. ; 2 
Cor. i. 3. Christ is the only prevailing 
advocate in prayer; and his relation to 
God the ground of our hope and expecta- 


2. A second part of prayer is, acknow- 
ledgment and confession of sin. — This 
confession God requires. " Only acknow- 
ledge thy iniquity," that thou hast trans- 
gressed against the Lord thy God. To 
confess sin has been the practice of the 
penitent. God has been honoured when 
offending of him has been acknowledged 
most unreasonable and heinous ; and 
confession has had a great influence to 
the making of sinners humble and asham- 
ed ; and upon it how quickly has forgive- 
ness followed ! " When I kept silence," 
(that is, while I excused and extenuated 
my sin, and refused ingenuously to ac- 
knowledge it,) *♦ my bones waxed old ; 
through my roaring all the day long. For 
day and night thy hand was heavy upon 
me; my moisture was turned into the 
drought of summer. I acknowledged my 
sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I 


not hid. I said, I will confess my trans- 
gressions unto the Lord ; and thou forgavest 
the iniquity of my sin," Psalm xxxii. 3 — 5. 
This confession of sin in prayer should 
be particular ; general acknowledgments 
move but little; the very root of sin 
must be dug unto, and bewailed. Paul 
cries out, he was a *" blasphemer, and a 
persecutor, and injurious,'' 1 Tim. i. 13. 
and laments " the law in his members," 
the body of death, that made him so 
forward unto evil, Rom. vii. David 
particularizes his uncleanness and blood- 
guiltiness, and traces these abominable 
streams unto the fountain whence they 
issued forth, the corruption of his nature. 
^' Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and 
in sin did my mother conceive me," Ps. 
li. 5. Our despising the remedy which 
Christ offers in the gospel, should also be 
confessed with special sorrow ; for herein 
we go beyond the very devils, who never 


had one ofter of pardon and grace made 
to them. And finally, as there is abun- 
dant cause, we should fall to "judgmg 
and condemning ourselves." One that is 
truly penitent is, as a certain author ex- 
presses it, " a faithful pleader for God 
against himself." We must unclasp the 
book of conscience and spread it before 
the Lord, we must hold up our hands and 
cry, ' Guilty, guilty !' and say we can lay 
claim to nothing as our due, but severity 
and punishment. 

3. A third part of prayer is deprecation, 
or praying against what we have deserved, 
and are afraid of. — We ought, with great 
solicitude, to pray against the anger and 
hatred of God. " He, even He, is to be 
feared : who can stand in his sight when 
once he is angry ?" Psalm Ixxvi. 7. The 
anger of God expresses itself several ways : 
the lightest expression of it, namely, in 
temporal and outward calamities, are 


sometimes very terrible. Pestilence, fa- 
mine, the sword of war, which devours 
flesh and drinks blood : how intolerable 
are they to look upon? But spiritual 
judgments are worse than these, and argue 
hotter displeasure ; when the Lord gives 
sinners up to blindness of mind, seared- 
ness of conscience, strong delusions, vile 
affections, hardness of heart ; this shows 
he is extremely angry. The other may, 
but these judgments especially should be 

But the worst of all is to come in the 
other world, and that is the vengeance of 
eternal fire ! Oh how importunate should 
we be to be delivered from wrath to come ! 
that we may not be sentenced to depart 
with a curse at the great day ! that hell 
may not be our eternal home ! How 
importunate should we be, that we may 
not in utter darkness be gnawed by the 
worm that never dies, that we may not 


dwell with devouring fire, nor inhabit 
everlasting burnings. 

4. A fourth part of prayer is petition. — 
Here God gives us leave to be bold and 
large, and when we have asked never so 
much, he is ready to do exceeding abun- 
dantly above all that we can ask, or has 
entered into the heart of man to conceive. 
Pardon we should petition for, for we 
highly need it; and the Lord has said, 
" though we have made him to serve with 
our sins, and wearied him with our iniqui- 
ties, yet he will blot out our trangressions 
for his own sake, and remember our sins 
no more," Isa. xliii. 24, 25. Till a par- 
don be obtained, nothing else can be ex- 
pected ; but when once God in Christ is 
reconciled, and become a Father, nothing 
will be denied. His love, therefore, and 
the sense of it, should be entreated with 
our whole heart. And since the Lord 
has promised to give both grace and 


glory, (Psalm Ixxxiv. 11.) we may be 
bold to be petitioners for both. We should 
be earnest that grace and holiness may be 
wrought, in truth in our hearts, that grace 
may be continually increased, and that we 
may persevere, and be faithful to the very 
death ; and, at length, attain that glory, 
honour, and immortality which is pro- 
mised unto patient continuance in well- 
doing. Temporal blessings also we have 
leave to ask, for the Lord considers our 
frame, and every way is ready to encou- 
rage us unto our duty. 

5. A fifth part of prayer is, intercession 
for others. — Not only those should be 
remembered by us, that stand in a near 
relation to us, but we should be concerned 
for the whole city, for the whole nation ; 
nay, for the whole church of Christ mili- 
tant upon earth. We should " prefer 
Jerusalem before our chief joy," we should 
" not keep silence," we should " give the 


Lord no rest till he establish, and till he 
make Jerusalem a praise in the earth," 
Isa. Ixii. 6, 7. We should in nowise hold 
our peace, " till the righteousness thereof 
go forth as brightness, and the salvation 
thereof as a lamp that burneth ;" that is, 
till the church is both reformed, and de- 
livered from oppressing adversaries. In 
prayer we are to have regard to ourselves, 
to others, nay, to the Lord himself, and to 
Christ his Son. We are to beg that his 
name may be hallowed, from the rising of 
the sun, to the going down of the same ; 
that his kingdom may come ; and that all 
on earth may do his will, and submit unto 
the sceptre of his word. 

6. Another part of prayer is impreca- 
tion. — Some are such, that we are to 
desire the Lord would tight against them. 
The evil angels, we may pray that the 
Lord will rebuke them, and pull down 
that kingdom of darkness under which 

ALL PRAY En. 77 

the most of men are held in bondage. In 
reference to men, we must be much upon 
our guard against wishing them personal 
evil. David and the other prophets are 
not examples for us to follow in this 
matter; for they knew by a prophetic 
spirit God's intentions concerning the 
persons that they prayed against. The 
general rule which we ought to follow, is 
this ; " But T say unto you, love your 
enemies ; bless them that curse you, do 
good to them that hate you; pray for 
them that despitefully use you, and per- 
secute you," (Mat. v. 44. ;) this is to 
resemble God, " who maketh his sun to 
rise on the evil and the good." We are 
to beg rather the conversion than the 
confusion of our enemies ; and supposing 
they are implacable and incorrigible, we 
must desire rather that they may be hin- 
dered from doing harm by their designs 
and power, than that harm may come to 


them. Even when we pray against Anti 
Christ, whom we find devoted in Scripture 
to destruction, we must have no private 
grudge against the persons of any, but 
our eye must be fixed on Christ's ho- 
nour, which Popery so much injures, and 
on the advancement of his kingdom in 
the world. 

7. A seventh part of prayer is, thanks- 
giving, — ^The Lord's prayer ends with a 
doxology, or giving honour unto God : 
" For thine is the kingdom, and the 
power, and the glory, for ever," Mat, vi. 
13. To praise is to " speak with the 
tongues of angels," All the creatures 
that are visible, are mute, besides man ; 
* he is the world's high-priest,' that should 
offer this sacrifice of praise for all ; ' he 
is the tongue of the creation,' which 
should be sounding forth God's goodness 
towards all. How much does the Lord 
let forth unto us ! And shall we deny him 


the revenue of praise? His mercies are 
without number, and his love without 
motive, and without measure : when 
praise is offered, he accounts himself glo- 
rified. Psalm 1. 23. Therefore " in every 
thing we should give thanks, for this is 
the will of God in Christ Jesus concern- 
ing us," 1 Thess. V. 18. Thus have I gone 
over the parts of prayer, and none of these 
parts are needless. 

In the second place, I am to give you 
the several kinds of prayer. Prayer is 
two-fold ; vocal, when the voice and heart 
are joined together; mental, when the 
heart only is engaged. 

I shall speak first of vocal prayer, when 
tongue and heart go together in this duty. 

There are several reasons why the 
tongue is to be made use of in prayer. 

1 . With our tongues we are to honour 
God ; and when they are thus employed 
speaking to him, or of him, or for him, 


then they are our glory. As there are 
sins of the tongue, so duties of the tongue 
too; and as the tongue of the swearer, 
blasphemer, filthy and foolish talker, is 
harsh and hateful to God, so the tongue 
of him that prays sincerely, is pleasant. 
Christ tells his spouse, that " her voice was 
sweet, and her countenance comely." 

2. In praying with others, words are 
necessary. Some must be the mouth of 
the rest unto God. 

.3. Words, especially Scripture lan- 
guage, help to excite and stir up the 
affections, and they serve to keep the 
heart more intent upon the duty. 

This vocal prayer is threefold : first, 
prayer in the closet : secondly, prayer in 
the family : thirdly, prayer in the public 
congregation and assembly . Of all these 
I shall speak in order. 

I. Prayer in the closet. — That secret 
prayer is the Lord's ordinance, is very 


fevident : " But thou, when thou prayest, 
enter into thy closet, and when thou hast 
shut thy door, pray to thy Father which 
is in secret/' Matt. vi. 6. And as our 
Lord gave this precept, so he is our ex- 
ample in regard of secret prayer : " And 
in the morning, rising up a great while 
before day, he went out, and departed 
into a solitary place, and there prayed," 
Mark i. 35- Jacob was left alone, and 
wrestled with God, and had the name of 
Israel given him, for as a prince he had 
power with God and prevailed, Gen. 
xxxii. 24. 28. Now if you would be 
fully informed what this wrestling was, 
compare the forecited place with Hosea 
xii. 3, 4. " By his strength he had 
power with God : yea, he had power over 
the angel," that is, the Angel of the cove- 
nant, " and prevailed : he wept and 
made supplication unto him." 


Now for the better managing of this 
sort of prayer, let these rules be observed 
diligently : 

1 . Study privacy, be as secret as pos- 
sible, though we are not to be ashamed of 
any duty ; and though our light is to shine 
before men, that they seeing our good 
works, may glorify our Father in heaven, 
yet a Christian is to do much out of the 
sight of others. As long as God's ear is 
open to the most whispering prayers, 
what need is there that any other ear 
should hear a word which we speak? 
When there is a desire that men should 
take notice of our prayers, God takes no 
notice of them, unless of the hypocrisy in 
them, to abominate them ; therefore we 
have that caution from the Lord Jesus ; 
" And when thou prayest, thou shalt not 
be as the hypocrites are_, for they love to 
pray standing in the synagogues, and in 


the comers of the streets, that they may 
be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, 
they have their reward," Mat, vi. 5. 

2. Take the fittest time for secret prayer. 
The morning especially is to be chosen, 
though once more in a day at least, it 
should be your ordinary practice to pour 
out your hearts in private before the 
Lord : " My voice shalt thou hear in the 
morning," says David, Psalm v. 3. " In 
the morning, O Lord, will T direct my 
prayer unto thee, and will look up." If 
the soul be serious in its address unto 
God, in the beginning of the day, it is 
likely to have the more grace, and strength 
to resist temptations, and to walk with 
God all the day long. It is better to be 
shorter in the evening duties, and larger 
in the morning; then the spirits are 
fresher and more abundant, and the soul 
has not such clogs in its actings, as it 
meets with when the body is spent and 

(' 2 


tired. But if something unavoidably fall 
out, that you cannot pray at the time you 
desire, and were wont, be sure lay hold of 
some other opportunity, and neglect not 
the duty altogether. 

3. Let the word of God be looked 
into, and meditated on when prayer is 
made : The word will direct you, quicken 
and encourage you unto prayer. By the 
word, God speaks to you, as by prayer 
you speak to him; if you regard not 
God's voice, how can you expect he 
should mind yours ? If you will not hear, 
and obey, he will not hear and grant what 
you request of him. " The word should 
dwell richly in you," Col. iii. 16. ; your 
delight should be in the law of the Lord, 
and in that law should you meditate day 
and night. The Scriptures should be 
searched, which shows they are a depth, 
and all is not, at first looking into them, 
discovered : " You must seek here as for 


silver, and search here as for hid treasure, 
if you would understand the fear of the 
Lord, and find the knowledge of God." 
How enlightening, how enlivening, how 
cleansing, and transforming is the Word 
of God ! How sweet and desirable are the 
Lord's testimonies ! When the Spirit be- 
comes the expositor of Scripture, and 
opens the eyes too, to behold wondrous 
things out of God's law, and affects the 
heart, O then there is such efficacy, profit, 
and sweetness as is beyond comparison ! 

4. Be liberal in this duty of secret 
prayer. Pray with an enlarged, and with 
a free spirit; grudge not the time you 
spend here, for this is the best way of 
turning time unto a good account. Be 
sensible how good it is to draw nigh to 
God, for the promise is. If you draw nigh 
to God, he will draw nigh to you. " Draw 
nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to 
you; cleanse your hands, ye sinners; 


purify your hearts, ye double-minded," 
James iv. 8. Now God's drawing near 
implies his being reconciled to us ; his 
manifesting his power and grace for our 
help and supply. O therefore go unto 
God with a holy eagerness, who is so 
ready to meet you, and " to satiate the 
■weary soul, and to replenish every sorrow- 
ful soul." We must be much and often 
with God, for this is the way to come to 
an acquaintance with him : and the better 
we are acquainted with him, the more we 
shall love him, and be sensible of his love 
to us. Listen to what is said. Job xxii. 21 . 
" Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at 
peace; thereby good shall come unto thee." 
5. In secret prayer, be very particular. 
Ease your consciences by a particular 
enumeration of your iniquities, and the 
aggravations which have heightened them. 
Make known all your wants, before that 
God, who has styled himself, " God All- 


sufficient ; " fear not that the Lord will be 
weary of hearing, or be backward to give 
a gracious return. When you are alone 
with God, you may use the greater free- 
dom of speech ; this being particular, will 
contribute much unto your brokenness of 
heart, with which the Lord is well pleased, 
and also unto a sense of your manifold 
wants, and making of you meet to be 

6. Look after secret prayer : Stand 
upon your watch-tower, and observe what 
answer is given. The merchant inquires 
after the ships that he sends to sea. When 
a petition is presented to a prince, you 
wait what answer will be returned. Be 
thus wise in prayer; if you speed not, 
find out the impediment ; if you do speed, 
be encouraged to exercise faith in God, 
and to persist in prayer. " Because he 
hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore 
will I call upon him as long as I live,'' 


says David, Psalm cxvi. 2. And let 
answers of prayer be matter of praise, that 
Satan and conscience may not accuse you 
of, and God may not be angry at, your 

Thus of the rules concerning secret 
prayer. Now follow the arguments to 
persuade unto it. 

1. Consider, God sees in secret. — In 
secret places God sees ; for he fills both 
heaven and earth ; his omnipresence is an 
evident demonstration of his omniscience. 
As he cannot be confined to any place, so 
neither can he be excluded. " All things 
are open and naked before him," Heb. 
iv. 13. And as his seeing in secret is 
matter of terror to the ungodly, so of joy 
unto the righteous. David speaks both 
with wonder aud with gladness, (Psalm 
cxxxix. 7—10.) " Whither shall I go 
from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee 
from thy presence ? If I ascend up into 


heaven thou art there ; if I make my bed 
in hell, behold, thou art there ; if I take 
the wings of the morning, and dwell in 
the uttermost part of the sea, even there 
shall thy hand lead me, and thy right 
hand shall hold me." In what secret 
corner soever you are, God is with you ; 
all your sighs and groans, your complaints 
and desires are taken notice of. 

2. Frequency in secret prayer is a 
great argument of uprightness and sin- 
cerity. It is a sign you seek God himself, 
when none but God knows of your seek- 
ing him. What the apostle speaks of the 
Jew, may be applied unto the Christian : 
He is not a Christian that is one outwardly, 
but he that is one inwardly ; not so much 
openly, as in secret. The praise of such 
is not of men, but of God. 

3. Secret prayer is a marvellous way to 
thrive in gi-ace, and to grow rich towards 
God. By this means faith will grow ex- 


ceedingly, love will abound, and our sonls 
will prosper. Some tradesmen keep a 
shop and drive a trade there, and gain 
thereby; but they have a secret way of 
trading, which is not observed, and by 
this they grow wealthy in a short space. 
A Christian that is much in secret with 
God, O how much does he gain ! How 
good does such an one find the Lord ! 
How ready both to forgive, and to give ! 
And he can set his seal unto that truth, 
that " God is plenteous in mercy unto 
them that call upon him," Psalmlxxxvi.5. 
4. Secret prayer is a means to fit for 
public ordinances. — They that are most 
upon their knees in the closet, w^ill get 
most benefit in the sanctuary. The pre- 
paration of the heart is from God, and he 
must in secret be sought unto, to fit our 
spirits for solemn worship. Those that, 
before they come to hear, pray that the 
Gospel may come to them, not in word 


only, but in power also, and the Holy 
Ghost, and much assurance, these are 
likely to find the Gospel working effec- 
tually, and that it is the power of God to 
their salvation. Those that before they 
come to the table, examine themselves 
alone, beg that God would search them, 
and are importunate for strength against 
every corruption, for all the fruits of 
Christ's sufferings ; for all the graces of 
the Spirit ; are not likely to be sent away 

5. Secret prayer is a means to keep the 
impression of public duties upon the heart, 
after the duties themselves are ended. 
Your work is not over when public ordi- 
nances are over. Has any sin been dis- 
covered and reproved ? You must go in 
secret, and bewail it, and cry out, ' Lord, 
let not this nor any iniquity have the do- 
minion over me.' Has any duty been 
made manifest ? you should go in secret 


and cry, " Incline my heart unto thy tes- 
timonies, and make me to go in the path 
of thy commandments." Have any gra- 
cious and holy resolutions, by the motions 
of the Spirit with the word, been made ? 
you must go alone and beg, ' Keep this, 
O Lord, for ever in the imagination of the 
thoughts of my heart, and establish my 
heart unto thee.' 

6. Secret prayer is the way to have 
special tokens of God's love, and those 
joys that a stranger does not intermeddle 
with. Oh the sweet meltings and thawings 
of the heart for sin, as it is an abuse of 
mercy, that are experienced in secret 
prayer ! Oh the visits that the great Phy- 
sician of souls does then make ! How 
suitably and gently does he deal with the 
wounded spirit! What assurance does 
he give, that he will in no wise cast out, 
but give rest unto the weary and heavy- 
laden ! Oh what peace is spoken to the 


saints in answer to prayer ! what sweet 
intimations are given, and sometimes what 
a rich and full persuasion of their interest 
in that love, which is unchangeable and 
everlasting ! Surely " the secret of the 
Lord is with them that fear him, and he 
will show them his covenant." 

7. Consider, God will reward openly. 
This argument Christ uses (Matt. vi. 6.) 
to enforce secret prayer : " Thy Father 
which seeth in secret shall reward thee 
openly." As all secret wickedness shall 
at last be detected and punished, so all 
secret piety and godliness shall be made 
manifest before the whole world at the 
judgment day, and the reward will be ex- 
ceedine: great and everlasting. 

So much, then, concerning prayer in 
the closet. 

II. Prayer in the family is to be insisted 
on. And that family prayer is a duty? 


may be evidently proved by these argu- 

1 . The apostle in the text enjoins all 
prayer, and family prayer is one kind that 
holy men have used. Joshua resolves, 
that he and his house would serve the 
Lord ; and prayer is so principal a part 
of divine service, that in Scripture it is 
sometimes put for the whole. " Then 
began men to call upon the name of the 
Lord ; " that is, in a more public manner 
to worship him. So of Cornelius it is 
said, " that he feared God with all his 
house, and prayed unto the Lord always," 
Acts X. 2. 

2. Parents are called to bring up their 
children in the nurture and admonition 
of the Lord, to teach them in the way 
wherein they ought to go, and to be a 
pattern to them of the discharge of every 
Christian duty. But how can they more 
effectually furnish them with such an ex- 


ample, than by bowing their knees along 
with them before the throne of grace, and 
imploring in their presence the best of 
blessings upon them ? Few things are 
more calculated to impress the minds of 
children and of servants, than hearing 
these prayers of the head of the family ; 
and where they are seconded by a con- 
sistent example, a signal blessing has 
often accompanied them. 

3. The family stands in need of bless- 
ings, which they are to beg for together, 
and to deprecate family evils. And for 
encouragement Christ has promised that 
where " two or three are gathered to- 
gether in his name, he will be in the midst 
of them." Now, in family duties two or 
three are gathered together in Christ's 
name, and his presence may, without pre- 
sumption, be expected. 

4. Wrath is threatened upon prayerless 
families. " Pour out thy fury upon the 


families that call not upon thy name," 
Jer. X. 25. I grant indeed that the word 
families is of such a latitude, that it ex- 
tends unto countries and kingdoms; but 
if there be an obligation upon countries 
and kingdoms to join in calling upon God, 
surely then families more strictly taken, 
are in no wise exempted. 

Having proved family prayer a duty, I 
shall lay down some directions as to the 
performance of it. 

1 . Be sensible that prayer is a business 
of greater concernment than any worldly 
business whatsoever. You are indeed to 
be diligent to your callings that are par- 
ticular ; but your general callings are of 
greatest weight. The general calling is 
that which all are called to : and what are 
all called to ? They are called to serve 
and glorify God, and to work out their 
own salvation. Prayer is a part of your 


homage to the King of heaven. Much 
spiritual and eternal benefit is to be ob- 
tained by it, therefore do it not as a bye- 
business, neither let every small matter 
cause the omission of it. 

2. Believe that success in your callings 
depends upon the Lord's blessing. " The 
blessing of the Lord maketh rich," says 
Solomon, " and he addeth no sorrow with 
it," Prov. X. 22. With this it is in vain 
to rise up early, and to sit up late, and to 
eat the bread of carefulness. Now prayer 
for this blessing is the way to fetch it. 
I grant indeed that many thrive in the 
world without prayer ; but then wealth is 
a curse and a snare to them ; it is a weight 
that hinders them from ascending into the 
hill of the Lord, and helps to sink them 
into destruction and perdition. 

3. Let prayer be ordinarily twice a-day, 
as under the old law there was a morning 
and evening sacrifice ; and let the whole 



family join in it if it be possible, since 
there are none but need prayer, and may 
receive advantage by it. 

4. Let the Word of God be read when 
prayer is made, that not only you, but 
your households after you, may be ac- 
quainted with the mysteries of the gospel, 
and with the will of God, Abraham 
communicated what he had learned from 
the Lord unto his family; he used his 
authority, " and commanded his children, 
and his household after him, to keep the 
way of the Lord, Gen. xviii. 19. 

5. Take heed of customariness, and for- 
mality in family worship ; engage always 
with a serious spirit, and in every duty 
stir up yourselves to take hold on God. 

I conclude with the motives to persuade 
you to family prayer. 

1 . You that are governors have a charge 
of the souls that dwell under your roof, and 
must answer for them. Therefore you are 


to pray with tliem, to pray for them ; else 
you will incur the guilt of the blood of 
souls, and that will lie heavy. You pro- 
vide food for your households, for you 
are unwilling it should be said, you are 
so much worse than infidels, as to suffer 
any to starve that dwell with you. Oh 
what unmercifalness is it patiently to suffer 
those of your household to go on in the 
way that leads to damnation ; and not to 
call upon the Lord, in their hearing, that 
they may be saved ! 

2. Families are the seminaries both of 
church and state ; and therefore as you 
desire the church may be pure, and the 
state righteous, look well imto your fami- 
lies ; and let religion flourish in them. 
Reformation indeed must begin at per- 
sons ; and if every one would mend one, 
all would be reform.ed. But from per- 
sons it must proceed to houses : And if 
these were once leavened with godliness, 

H 2 


what holy cities, and what an happy 
nation would there be ! 

3. Consider, family worship has been 
woefully neglected of late in these declin- 
ing times. How many large consciences, 
loose principles, and loose practices, are 
there to be found among us ! We match 
Laodicea in lukewarmness; and what was 
said of languishing Sardis, may be applied 
to us, that we have " a name to live, hut 
are dead.'' In many families all are dead 
as a stone, and there is a most impious 
and gross neglect of God and duty; and 
in other families all, are ready to die; 
lively services are rarely to be found. O 
it is high time to awake, and vigorously 
to endeavour, that in our houses the Lord 
may be served by all, and that with all 
their heart, and all their soul, and all 
their mind, and all their strength. 

Thus much on the subject of family 


III. Prayer in the public congregation 
and assembly is to be spoken of. God's 
temple of old was styled the " house of 
prayer," because there his people met 
together to seek his face. Public prayer 
is a great ordinance, and when rightly 
managed, of great efficacy. 

Now the rules concerning public prayer 
are these. 

1 . These prayers must be performed in 
a known tongue, that all may understand 
and be edified, (1 Cor. xiv.) ; and they 
should be well expressed ; nothing that 
is crude, unseemly, or that borders upon 
nonsense or impropriety, should be brought 
forth in the assembly. 

2. Come at the very beginning. To 
come late, is both offensive to God, and 
to serious spirits ; and it is to cheat and 
defraud your own souls. And when you 
are there, let your gesture be reverend; 
for God expects worship and adoration 


from your whole man ; internal from 
the soul, and external from the body. 

3. Take heed of distraction, when there 
are so many objects to divert you, and 
your hearts are so exceeding slippery. 
Remember God's jealous eye is fixed upon 
you ; and as he cannot be deceived, so he 
cannot endure to be mocked by you, 
Gal. vi. 6. 

4. Take heed of carnal designs in your 
public duties. Let not your supplications 
be like those of the Pharisees and Scribes, 
of whom Christ says, they made " prayers 
only for a pretence and show," Luke xx. 
47. The hypocrites are like the birds of 
prey, which though they soar never so 
high towards heaven, yet their eye is still 
downward, that they may catch some- 
thing. Be not seemingly devout in the 
congregation, that you may the more un- 
suspectedly be unjust in your shops, and 
secretly intemperate and unclean. But 


be very sincere in your public addresses 
unto God ; as knowing you have to do 
with him that sees not as man sees, that 
judges not according to outward appear- 
ance, but tries the heart and reins. 

And, to persuade you to this public 
prayer, consider, 

1. God is hereby acknowledged and 
honoured. His people hereby testify to 
the world, that there is a Lord in heaven, 
whom they worship, and from whom they 
have their expectation. And indeed this 
is one reason of public institutions, that 
we may make a profession to the world 
whose we are and whom we serve. 

2. Tlie Lord vouchsafes something to 
his people in the sanctuary, that elsewhere 
is not to be found. David was in an ad- 
mirable frame when he was in the wilder- 
ness of Judah : God was liberal to him 
both of grace and comfort ; but he was 
not satisfied, because deprived of the pub- 


lie ordinances that were administered in 
the tabernacle ; therefore he cries out, 
" My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh 
longeth for thee, to see thy power and thy 
glory so as I have seen thee in the sanc- 
tuary," Psalm Ixiii, 1, 2. 

3. The united prayers of many saints 
together, are stronger, and more apt to 
prevail. Much fire together gives the 
greater heat, and many waters joined, run 
with more violence ; and in like manner, 
when a great congregation joins together 
as one man to wrestle with God in prayer, 
how successful are they likely to be ! 
Abraham alone had like to have prevailed 
for Sodom ; but suppose there had been 
an assembly of righteous ones belonging 
to Sodom that had joined with Abraham 
in prayer, surely the city had been spared. 

I have despatched vocal prayer, which 
I divided into three kinds, secret, family, 
and public. 


In the second place, I come to speak 
of mental prayer, when the heart alone 
without the tongue is engaged. Now this 
mental prayer is two-fold : First, more 
solemn ; and secondly, more sudden and 
ejaculatory. It is lawful and possible to 
pray alone with the heart in a more solemn 
manner, and truly in some places and in • 
some circumstances, words may not be so 
convenient to be uttered ; but where it is 
convenient words should be used, because 
it is difficult to pray any while only in 
the heart, and do it without roving. 

But mental prayer, that is more sudden 
and ejaculatory, I shall a little dilate upon. 
In this kind of prayer, the soul lifts up 
itself to God, in some short desire or re- 
quest. Thus " Moses cried unto God," 
Exod. xiv. 15. and yet we read not of a 
word uttered. Thus Nehemiah prayed, 
when king Artaxerxes was speaking to 
him; Neh. ii. 4. These holy ejaculations 


are the very breathings of the new crea- 
ture; they mightily help to keep down 
the lustings of the flesh, and to preserve 
us unspotted by the world, or the unclean 
god of it ; but the heart hereby is kept 
close to the God of heaven. 

Concerning this mental ejaculatory 
prayer, let these directions be observed. 

1 . Let the heart frequently be sending 
up desires to God. All true desires are 
observed, are pleasing to him, and shall 
be satisfied ; let these desires therefore be 
strong, and principally after the greatest, 
that is to say, spiritual blessings. 

2. In all your civil employments, 
let your hearts ever and anon be thus 
engaged ; this will make and keep you 
spiritual; it will hinder your estrange- 
ment from God, and your being ensnared 
by the unrighteous mammon. 

3. Let every temptation at the very first 
be resisted by this kind of prayer : thus, 


" watch and pray, that ye enter not into 
temptation/' Matt. xxvi. 41 . O sigh and 
groan to the God of all grace, when you 
find Satan assaulting, and a sinful and 
deceitful heart ready to yield, that you 
may have " grace to help in time of 
need," Heb. iv. 

4. Let this prayer begin and end every 
duty ; sigh before for assistance, and sigh 
afterwards for acceptance, and that infir- 
mities, through Christ Jesus, may be 
passed by ; and that you may obtain some 
spiritual advantage by every ordinance. 

5. Begin and end every day with men- 
tal prayer. As soon as ever you awake, 
there are many watching for your first 
thoughts ; Satan, and sin, and the world 
will have them, if your souls are not 
lifted up to the Lord. Let him be last 
likewise in your thoughts ; this is the way 
to lie down in peace and safety, Psalm iv. 

6. Especially upon the Sabbath-day, 


ejaculatory prayer should be abundant ; 
you must not then think your own thoughts, 
nor find your own pleasures. Holy desires 
should issue forth continually. Sabbaths 
would be gainful seasons indeed, were they 
but thus improved. 

7. Mix mental prayer and praise 
together. Let your souls, and all that 
is within you, bless the Lord upon any 
manifestation of his goodness, while you 
desire blessings from him. 

And thus have I gone over the parts 
and kinds of prayer. Much work indeed 
I have told you of, but the more work the 
better; for the more grace is to be expect- 
ed in order unto the performing of what 
is required. I shall conclude with a very 
brief application in two words. 

1 . How sharply are they to be reproved , 
and liow melancholy is their condition, 
who, instead of praying with all prayer. 


use no prayer, but live in the total neglect 
of this duty ? 

2. Let the disciples of Christ be per- 
suaded to pray with all prayer. AH 
prayer that God has appointed, he is 
ready to hear. In all prayer the name of 
Christ must be used, as it is only for his 
sake we can expect acceptance ; and the 
promises of God, which are sure, exceed- 
ing great and precious, may be pleaded ; 
and how glad may we be that the Lord 
has appointed so many successful ways of 
seeking him, wherein he has consulted the 
variety of our conditions and necessities ! 
So much for the second doctrine. 

Prayer when rightly performed, is sup- 
plication in the Spirit. Indeed, all our 
worship of God, who is a spirit, "must 
be in spirit and in truth," else it is in fact 
no worship. As the body without the 


spirit is dead, so duties without spirit are 
dead also. 

In the handling of this point, I shall, 
first, open to you. What it is to pray in 
the spirit : Secondly, Lay down the rea- 
sons of the doctrine : Thirdly, Answer 
some cases of conscience about praying in 
the spirit: Lastly, Make application. 

First, What it is to pray in the spirit. 
This, as I have already intimated, refers 
both to the spirit of him that prays, and 
also to the Spirit of God, who helps to 

(1.) This praying in the spirit refers 
unto the spirit of him that prays, and se- 
veral things are here included. 

1. To pray with our spirit, implies, to 
pray with understanding. " I will pray 
with the spirit, and I will pray with the 
understanding also," 1 Cor. xiv. 15. We 
must not only understand the words that 


are spoken, but also, and that principally, 
the worth of those things which we petition 
for ; we must likewise in some measure 
be acquainted with the all-sufficiency and 
faithfulness of that God whom we pray to, 
and with our own indigency that are the 
petitioners. The Athenians had an altar 
dedicated " to the unknown God :" and 
they are said "ignorantly to worship him;" 
and truly all their worship degenerated 
into superstition. We must know the 
Lord and ourselves, what his promises 
and our own needs are, else prayer will 
be of no account. 

2. To pray with our spirit, implies to 
pray with judgment, discerning between 
things that differ. There is as vast a dif- 
ference between sin and holiness, as there 
is between deformity and beauty : There 
is as vast a difference between the crea- 
ture and the Creator, as there is between 
the " broken cisterns that can hold no 


water," and " the fountain of living wa- 
ters." " Be astonished, O ye heavens at 
this, and be horribly afraid ; be ye very 
desolate, (saith the Lord,) for my people 
have committed two evils, they have for- 
saken me, the Fountain of living waters, 
and hewed them out cisterns, broken cis- 
terns that can hold no water." There is 
as vast a difference between a state of 
grace and a state of wrath, as there is 
between heaven and hell. Now he that 
prays, must be apprehensive of all this ; 
and a believing apprehension of it, will 
make him earnest for the loving-kindness 
of the Lord, and that he may taste more 
and more of the Fountain of living waters, 
and be cleansed from all defilements. 

3. To pray with our spirits implies, to 
pray with intention of mind. Abraham 
drove away the fowls that did light upon 
his sacrifice ; and so should we drive away 
the impertinent, and sinful, and t--iible- 


some thoughts that arise, or are injected 
into our hearts, when we engage in prayer. 
Our hearts cannot wander in the least, 
but they are espied by him, whose ^ name 
is jealous.' We should therefore desire 
that the Lord himself, who holds the wind 
in his hand, would seize upon our more 
unruly hearts, and keep them close to 
himself in duty, especially considering 
there are some kinds of distractions that 
nullify and make void prayer; distrac- 
tions that are not regarded, not lamented, 
not watched, or striven against. 

4. To pray with our spirits, implies, to 
pray with spiritual affections. The affec- 
tions are the wings of the soul ; and the 
soul is carried either to or from any thing, 
according as the affections are inclined. 
The apostle, exhorting to seek the things 
that are above, presently adds, " Set your 
affection on things above," Col. iii. 1,2. 
intimating, we shall never seek the things 


above in good earnest, unless our affec- 
tions be placed on them. Those affections 
that have evil for their object, must spend 
their strength upon sin, which is the worst 
of all evils. Sin must be hatea most per- 
fectly ; sin must cause the deepest sorrow ; 
sin must be most feared ; and against sin 
the heart should rise with the greatest 
indignation. Those affections that have 
good for their object, as love, desire, and 
the like, should run with a full stream 
towards God, and those great things that 
are brought to light by the gospel, and 
promised in the covenant of grace. The 
stronger and more spiritual our affections 
are in prayer, the better success will fol- 
low : It is said of Judah, (2 Chron. xv. 
15.) that they " sought the Lord with 
their whole desire, and he was found of 

(2.) This praying in the Spirit, refers to 
the Spirit of God who helps to pray. The 


Apostle Jude exhorts to build up ourselves 
on our most holy faith, and to pray " in 
the Holy Ghost/' Jude 20.; and solo 
keep ourselves in the love of God ; look- 
ing for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ 
unto eternal life. Now the operation, or 
working of the Spirit of God in prayer, I 
shall explain in these particulars. 

1 . The Spirit of God teaches believers 
what to pray for ; he opens their eyes to 
understand the Word, and to know what 
the will of the Lord is. " We know 
not," (says the apostle) " what we should 
pray for as we ought, but the Spirit 
maketh intercession for the saints ac- 
cording to the will of God," Rom. viii. 27. 

2. The Spirit removes impedinients to 
prayer ; he turns that love, that naturally 
is in the heart to sin, into hatred; he 
causes the world that was idolized to be 
contemned ; he cures that infidelity, in 
reference to the excellency of spiritual 

I 2 


things, that the unrenewed soul is full of; 
as also that enmity against God and holi- 
ness, which was in the mind all the while 
it was carnal. " Where the spirit of the 
Lord is, there is liberty," 2 Cor. iii. 17.; 
the fetters are knocked off, the clogs re- 
moved, the soul is brought out of prison, 
and is made free, both unto the perform- 
ance of duty, and free in the performance 
of it. 

3. The Spirit encourages unto prayer; 
he lets believers understand, that " now is 
the accepted time, that now is the day of 
salvation." Wherefore, he saith, I have 
heard thee in a time accepted, and in a 
day of salvation have I succoured thee ; 
behold, now is the accepted time, be- 
hold, now is the day of salvation." 
2 Cor. vi. 2. Though the Lord should 
have been sought much sooner, yet it is 
not too late to seek him now ; he will be 
found by the hearty seeker ; sach seeking 


shall not be in vain : " But if from thence 
thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou 
shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy 
heart, and with all thy soul." Deut.iv. 29. 

4. The Spirit enables believers to ex- 
ercise those graces that are required in 
prayer. There are four graces especially 
that should be exercised, Humility, Faith, 
Love, Patience. 

1 . Humility. The Lord has a special 
regard to the humble ; whereas the proud 
he knows afar off, and has threatened to 
resist the proud. The humble soul has 
high and awful apprehensions of God in 
prayer, and mean, very mean thoughts of 
itself. Abraham was humble when he 
said, " Behold, I have taken upon me to 
speak unto the Lord, who am but dust 
and ashes." Job was humble when he 
said, " Mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I 
abhor myself." Tlie good angels them- 
selves are humble, though never in the 


least Qffenders. The cherubim " cover 
their faces with their wings, and cry out, 
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the 
whole earth is filled with his glory." How 
vile then should we be in our own eyes 
who by our guilt are so obnoxious ; who 
have so many foul spots and stains upon 
our souls, which are the effects of sin, 
nay, whose very " righteousnesses are but 
as filthy rags?'' Isa. Ixiv. 6. 

2. Faith is to be exercised in prayer ; 
and truly we may come with confidence 
to the throne of grace, if we consider the 
power of God, which is not only most 
mighty, but almighty. " I am God Al- 
mighty," saith the Lord to Abraham, the 
father of the faithful. He can do more 
for us than we can desire should be done 
for us. Nothing is too hard for him ; 
and although all other helps fail, he needs 
them not: his arm, when alone, can 
bring salvation. This power of God may 


safely be relied on, for he is also full of 
mercy. " God hath spoken once, twice 
have I heard this, that power belongeth 
unto God, also unto thee belongeth mercy." 
Psalm Ixii. David was encouraged by 
this in his supplications, Psalm xxv. 6. 
" Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies 
and thy loving kindnesses, for they have 
been ever of old." And we have not 
only an intimation of God's merciful na- 
ture, but in his covenant, he has promised 
to show mercy, for this he delights in ; 
and Christ is the Mediator of this cove- 
nant, so that it is most sure. Hear the 
apostle, Heb. viii. 10. 12. " Tliis is the 
covenant that I will make, saith the 
Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, 
and write them in their hearts : and I will 
be to them a God, and they shall be to me 
a people ; for I will be merciful to their 
unrighteousness, and their sins, and ini- 
quities will I remember no more." 


3. Love is to be exercised in prayer, 
There must be a love to our neighbour, 
and they must from the heart be forgiven, 
who have trespassed against u?. Shall 
we think much of a few pence, when we 
are debtors many thousand talents? But 
principally, there must be love to the 
Lord expressed in prayer ; his favour, 
and fellowship with him must be longed 
for ; the soul must thirst for God, for the 
living God, as the chased hart after the 
water-brooks. And when he does mani- 
fest himself, he must be rejoiced and de-^ 
lighted in, and his grace admired, what- 
ever is received. 

4. Patience is also to be exercised in 
prayer. There must be a patient waiting 
in this duty, a right understanding of 
God's wisdom and faithfulness ; that he 
knows what, and when to give, and will 
do it in the best time and measure, will 
be a great means to cure our over-hasti- 


ness. David is to be imitated, who said, 
" I waited patiently for the Lord/' and 
he lost nothing by it ; for it follows, " He 
inclined his ear unto me, and heard my 
cry." These are the graces which the 
Spirit enables believers to exercise in 

5. The Spirit directs believers unto 
Christ, as the alone prevailing advocate. 
We are said to have access to the Father, 
by the Spirit, and through the Son. 
Eph. ii. 18. The Spirit leads us to Christ 
as the Mediator, who is the way unto 
God. The Spirit shows, that God having 
given Christ, has opened, through him, 
the treasures of his grace, and for his 
sake will give freely all things. The 
Spirit still is turning the eye of the be- 
liever towards the Lord Jesus, and in 
prayer instructs us how to improve his 
relation to us, who is bone of our bone, 
flesh of our fieah, and is become a head 


and husband to us ; how to improve his 
sufferings, by which all that we need has 
been procured ; how to improve his in- 
tercession, which, as it is incessant, so it 
is never denied; and, finally, how to 
improve his power and authority, for he 
can do what he will, both in heaven and 
in earth. He is the Prince of Peace, and 
the Lord of life and glory : he can give 
peace, and life, and glory to whom he 

6. The Spirit makes believers sincere in 
their aims when they pray. They design 
the hallowing and honouring of God's 
name, as well as their own welfare. They 
beg for pardon and grace, not only be- 
cause it is good for themselves to have 
these, but likewise, because the Lord glo- 
rifies his grace, and mercy, and goodness, 
in forgiving, and healing, and saving those 
that cry to him. 

Thus you see what it is to pray in the 


spirit ; and consequently it does not lie 
barely, either in fluency of utterance, or in 
variety of expressions, or in multitude of 

Now follow the reasons of the doctrine, 
and they are of two sorts : First, Why 
our own spirits should engage in prayer. 

1. Because God is a Spirit. Our Lord 
assigns this as a reason why worship 
should be in spirit, because God is a 
Spirit, who is worshipped. 

2. He principally requires our spirit. 
"My son, give me thine heart." Prov.xxiii. 
26. And truly he does narrowly observe 
where our hearts are, when we are at 
prayer; and no wonder, for our spirits 
are most capable of serving him. To 
admire, fear, love, trust in him, these are 
the principal ways of worshipping him, 
and this is done with the heart. 

3. Without our spirits, prayer is but a 


mockery. If the Lord is honoured with 
the mouth, and the heart be far from him, 
God says, " In vain do they worship me, 
and I will not hold them guiltless." And 
this you may observe, that when our hearts 
are not engaged in prayer, they are com- 
manded by the Lord's enemies : Sin, the 
world, and Satan, do detain them. 

The second sort of reasons are. Why we 
must pray by the help of the Spirit of 
God. His assistance is necessary, 

1. Because of our darkness. We of 
ourselves know not God, nor his will, nor 
our own greatest needs, nor wherein lies 
our great interest and truest happiness. 

2. Because of our deadness. Active we 
are as to sin, but unto prayer indisposed. 
The dead man must be lifted and carried, 
for of himself he cannot stir. We that 
naturally are without strength, nay, with- 
out life, cannot lift up our souls to God, 
unless the Spirit lift them up to him. 


3. Because of the opposition that is 
made by the evil one. When we come 
to the mercy-seat, the devil makes nothing 
of taking the right hand of us ; he is 
ready to resist us, as he did Joshua the 
high-priest, Zee. iii. 1.; and we are not 
able to withstand him, unless the Spirit of 
God, who is infinitely stronger, rebuke 
him for us. 

4. Tlie Spirit's assistance is necessary 
in prayer, because of that natural averse- 
ness in our own hearts unto what is good. 
Whereas we should hate the evil, and love 
the good ; we hate the good, and love the 
evil ; nay, in the very best, there is a law 
in the members, which wars against the 
law of the mind, and evil is present. If 
the Spirit were not also mightily and gra- 
ciously present, there would be an utter 
inability as to prayer, or any duty which 
God requires. 


In the third place, I am to answer some 
cases of conscience concerning the spirit 
of prayer. 

1 , Whether all believers have the spirit 
of prayer ? 

I answer, that all true believers have 
this spirit ; for the spirit of grace, which 
all saints have received, is also a spirit of 
supplication, Zech. xii. 10. ; and the 
apostle expressly says, " if any man have 
not the spirit of Christ, he is none of 

2. Whether only believers have the 
spirit of prayer ? 

I answer. The spirit of prayer is pecu- 
liar to believers ; for where the Holy 
Ghost does help the heart to pray, he 
cleanses the heart from what before defiled 
it, and turns the heart and the desires of 
it towards God ; so that this is now its 
language, " Whom have I in heaven but 


thee ? and there is none on earth I desire 
besides thee," Psalm Ixxiii. 25. 

3. Whether the spirit of prayer may 
not be lost? 

I answer, That the Spirit may be griev- 
ed by our corruptions when they prevail, 
and when we grow slothful and heedless 
how we enter into temptation ; and being 
grieved, may v^'ithdraw his quickening 
and assisting influences. But the Spirit 
is never quite lost by those that have been 
truly renewed by him. He " abides for 
ever" where he has consecrated any to be 
his temple, John xiv. 1.6. David after 
his fall, says, " Restore unto me the joy 
of thy salvation," to show that his joy was 
lost ; but he prays, " take not thy holy 
Spirit from me," to signify that the Spirit 
was not quite departed, though that de- 
parture was deserved and feared. 

4. May not persons excel in the gift of 
prayer, that yet are void of the spirit ? 


I answer in the affirmative. The gift of 
prayer may only serve to puflF up profes- 
sors with pride. How are such pleased 
in reflecting upon the repute they have 
gained by their enlargedness in expression! 
And this pride is not checked, is not ab- 
horred. Tlie words of prayer may be 
used, and a carnal, worldly design carried 
on. Hypocrites aim at an eminency in 
gifts, that they may pass for godly ; and 
under the cloak of religion, cover their 
wickedness ; and in their most enlarged 
supplications they aim at their own profit 
or fame ; and are prodigiously destitute 
of the fear of God. It is certain the gift 
of prayer may be in the unsound-hearted ; 
for even the gift of prophecy, which the 
apostle prefers before other gifts, we find 
in wicked men. " Many will say unto 
me in that day. Lord, Lord, have we not 
prophesied in thy name? Then will I 
profess unto them, I never knew you ; 


depart from me, ye workers of iniquity," 
Matt. vii. 22, 23. 

5. May not some that have the spirit of 
prayer be very weak in the gift of utter- 
ance ? I answer. Yes : There was much 
of the spirit of prayer in Hezekiah, when 
he " chattered like a crane or swallow, and 
mourned like a dove," Isa. xxxviii. 14. 
The Lord regards not so much the expres- 
sion as affection ; and the heart may be 
sincere in its desires, when, not only be- 
cause of the strength of those desires, but 
also through confusion, there wants utter- 
ance. Let not those therefore that are 
but weak in expression be discouraged ; 
for the heart may highly value mercy and 
grace, and obtain both when prayer is but 
lisped, and stammered forth by the tongue. 
Now follows the application. 

Use 1. Of reproof, which belongs, 
1. To those who pray in form, but 


whose heart and spirit pray not with them. 
They put the Lord off with the bended 
knees, the stretched-forth hands, the lift- 
ed-up eyes, the labour of the lips, the 
fruit of their invention ; but all this while 
their hearts are not with him, and their 
affections run astray after their vani- 
ties and iniquities. The prayers of such 
dissemblers are dead prayers, and truly 
are to be numbered among their dead 
works ; and their prayers not being mind- 
ed by themselves, how should God have 
regard to them, unless it be to hate and 
punish them ? 

2. They are to be reproved, who make 
light of the Spirit of God, and of his assist- 
ance in this duty of prayer. They account 
the aid of the Holy Ghost, a needless, a 
notional, and imaginary thing. Such 
never knew what it is to wrestle v/ith God, 
what it is to sigh and groan, and be, as it 

. THE SPIRIT. 131 

were, in travail, till the blessings begged 
for are obtained. O how impossible is it 
that nature should rise thus high, till the 
Spirit do renew and elevate it ! 

Use 2. Of trial, whether we have the 
spirit of prayer or not? And this may 
be discerned by these following signs. 

1. Those that have the spirit of prayer, 
by the Spirit have been convinced of sin ; 
John xvi. 8. He has discovered sin, 
broken their hearts for it, and it is now 
become a load to them, though, before, 
they loved it never so extremely. Before 
they hid sin, now they lay it open in 
prayer ; before they excused it, now they 
aggravate it, and judge themselves worthy 
of hell and v/rath, because of it. 

2. Those that have the spirit of prayer, 
are made to look unto Christ crucified. " I 
will pour out upon the house of David, 
and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spi- 
rit of supplication : Then shall they look 

K 2 


upon him whom they have pierced, and 
mourn for him, and be in bitterness as one 
is in bitterness for the loss of a first-born,'' 
Zech. xii. 10. Christ crucified is looked 
upon by such with a weeping eye, because 
their sin was the cause of his sufferings ; 
and with Tin eye of dependence, for all 
their expectation of grace, and peace, and 
life, is through him alone. 

3. They that have the spirit of prayer, 
are earnest for the fruits and graces of the 
spirit ; that love, joy, peace, long-suffer- 
ing, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, 
temperance, all which the apostle enu- 
merates. Gal. V. 22, 23. may be in them 
and abound ; and they are restless in 
prayer for the mortification of the deeds 
of the flesh, for they consider w?iat is 
said, Rom. viii. 13. " if ye live after the 
flesh, ye shall die ; but if ye through the 
Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, 
ye shall live." 


4. They that have the spirit of prayer, 
are enabled to go unto God as unto a 
father. " And because ye are sons, God 
hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into 
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father," Gal. 
iv. 6. Not but that doubts and fears may 
be in those that have the spirit ; witness 
the Psalmist, who cried out, " Will the 
Lord cast off for ever ; and will he be 
favourable no more ? Is his mercy clean 
gone for ever ; doth his promise fail for 
evermore ? Hath God forgotten to be 
gracious ; hath he in anger shut up his 
tender mercies?" Psalm Ixxvii. 7 — 9. 
But at length, and truly it may be long 
before, faith gets the better of unbelief 
Many that are the children of God cannot 
always call him Father ; yet even then 
they go to him, and are not quite beat off 
from him ; and there is a secret trust, 
that he has some gracious respect to them ; 


and by this they are encouraged still to 
persist in prayer. 

Uses. Of exhortation. Prize and value 
the spirit of prayer. As without his help 
you cannot pray to any purpose ; so he 
can make prayer mightily prevailing. 
The Spirit will create an holy boldness in 
your access to the throne of grace ; he will 
enlarge your hearts in this duty ; which 
enlargements are not without sweetness 
and great satisfaction. The Spirit will 
draw up and indite such petitions for you, 
as will not be denied, and give some 
encouraging intimation of your being ac- 
cepted, and answered in the Beloved. 

Now, if you would have the spirit of 
prayer, follow these directions. 

1 . Rest not in the bare gift of prayer ; 
let it not satisfy you that you have a pray- 
ing tongue, and no more : All your sup- 
plications are but a flattering the Lord 


with your lips, and a lying unto him with 
your tongues, while your hearts are not 
right with him. 

2. Be sensible of your need of the Spirit. 
Light and liberty, life and liveliness, are 
the effects of the Spirit ; good motions, 
holy affections, are his offspring. Without 
him, you will be like Pharaoh's chariots 
when the wheels were taken off, and drive 
on heavily; but he can make your souls 
like the chariots of Amminadab. 

3. Part with every thing that grieves 
the Spirit. Foster not any lust or inordi- 
nate affection, that may render your hearts 
an unpleasant habitation to him. 

4. Frequently beg for the Spirit, and 
especially in secret. Tliis will be a sign 
that you indeed desire him. Plead the 
promises which you find, Luke xi. 13. 
" If ye, then, being evil, know how to 
give good gifts to your children, how much 
more shall your heavenly Father give the 


Holy Spirit unto them that ask him?" 
And what God has promised, Christ died 
that he might purchase ; nay, Christ has 
prayed that the Spirit might be bestowed; 
and therefore you may pray with the 
greater encouragement and assurance- 
Thus concerning the third doctrine. 

In prayer, watching is a necessary in- 
gredient. Watching is a duty which the 
great Prophet Christ himself frequently 
pressed ; and the injunction is . general, 
" What I say unto you, I say unto all, 
Watch," Mark xiii. 37. He knew that a 
spiritual lethargy is a disease most inci- 
dent. But if at any time, surely in holy 
duties this heedlessness and sleepiness, 
does discover itself; we had need there- 
fore to rouse up our spirits, that are so 
sluggish naturally. Deborah speaks to 
herself four times : " Awake, awake ; 
Deborah awake, awake ; utter a song," 


Judges V. 12. We have need thus again 
and again to call upon our souls to awake 
and be watchful, when about to utter a 
prayer. Watching and prayer are joined 
in Scripture : and not only so, but watch- 
ing is required in prayer ; Col. iv. 2. 
" Continue in prayer, and watch in the 
same with thanksgiving." So 1 Pet. iv. 7. 
" But the end of all things is at hand, 
be ye therefore sober, and watch unto 

In the handling of this doctrine, I shall, 
1st, show what we are to watch against in 
prayer. 2dly, What we are to watch over. 
3dly, What we are to watch for. 4thly, 
What manner of watching is required in 
prayer. 5thly, Give the reason why 
watching is so necessary. Lastly, make 

In the first place, I am to tell you, what 
we are to watch against in prayer. 


1. We must watch against indwelling 
corruption. There is a law in our members 
that wars against the law of our minds ; 
and the law in our members commands 
quite contrary to the law of God. This 
law says, pray not at all ; but especially 
forbids seriousness and fervency in prayer; 
and if not watchful, this law will sway and 
over-rule us, and bring us into captivity to 
the law of sin. We had need look to our- 
selves, for when we have thought of doing 
good, " evil will be present with us.'' 
And if care be not taken,' the evil will 
hinder our doing of the good. O how 
deep is tlie corruption of our nature ! 
How desperately wicked is the heart of 
man ! How great are the remainders of 
sin, in those that are most renewed ! And 
since the remaining flesh still does lust 
against the Spirit, this flesh is to be nar- 
rowly eyed, that it may be weakened 


and checked, else it will spoil all our 

2. When praying, we must watch against 
the evil one. Satan likes not to see us at 
the throne of grace, because lie knows and 
has felt the sufficiency of that grace, that 
believers obtain there. " I besought the 
Lord," says the apostle, " when buffetted 
by the messenger of Satan," 2 Cor. xii. 8.; 
and the power of Christ so rested upon 
him, that Satan had no power, unless it 
were full sore against his will, to keep 
him humble, and to hinder his being ex- 
alted above measure. The devil therefore, 
with might and main, withstands us in 
prayer ; and how many are his wiles, that 
he may keep us ofl' from this most advan- 
tageous duty ! Sometimes he objects the 
difficulty of prayer; sometimes he says, it 
is needless to spend so much time therein ; 
sometimes, it is fruitless, and that little 
comes of all our cries and tears ; sometimes 


he proposes other business to be done, that 
we may be diverted from engaging with 
that fervour and devotedness we ought to 
feel in this duty. How busy our adver- 
sary the devil is, we should be acquainted 
with, and watch against his wiles ; and 
do our duty without crediting or regarding 
his instigations. 

3. When praying, we must watch 
against the cares of this world Our 
Lord cahtions against over-solicitousness 
about " what we shall eat, what we shall 
drink, wherewithal we shall be clothed ;" 
as that which would hinder us from seek- 
ing the kingdom of God, and his righte- 
ousness, Mat. vi. 32, 33. Earthly care 
will allow but little or no time to prayer, 
and does very much distract the heart in 
that duty. Worldly projects make bold 
to come into the thoughts; and secular 
business and employments are minded? 
even then when the Lord seems to be 


worshipped. Surely it is our wisdom to 
take heed to the apostle, Phil. iv. 6. " Be 
careful for nothing, but in every thing by 
prayer and supplication with thanksgiv- 
ing, let your requests be made known 
unto God." Prayer is an antidote against 
this care, as this care is an impediment 
unto prayer. 

4. When praying, we must watch 
against the pleasures of this life. There 
is a strange proneness to those pleasures 
wherewith the senses are gratified, to be- 
witch the heart ; and if these are loved 
and admired, prayer will be irksome and 
unpleasant, and we shall easily be drawn 
wholly to neglect that which we do not at 
all like. She that continued in prayer 
and supplication was not one that lived 
in pleasure, 1 Tim. v. 5, 6. Watch 
against pleasures, which are but for a 
season, and when ended, torments follow 
that will never end. We read of that 


rich man in the gospel, that was clothed 
in purple and fine linen, and fared sump- 
tuously and deliciously every day ; we 
read, I say, that he feasted, but not that 
he prayed, till he was in the place of tor- 
ment. Pleasure before hindered prayer ; 
torment forced him to pray ; but, alas ! it 
was then too late. Despise sensual plea- 
sures, and when they are presented to 
entice thee, scorn them. In the Lord, 
and in prayer, infinitely truer and more 
solid delight is to be found. 

5. When praying, we must watch 
against deceitful riches. Christ says we 
cannot serve God and mammon. If the 
love of money be the root of evil, as the 
apostle affirms, then it must needs be an 
hindrance to duty. Moses had low 
thoughts of the treasures of Egypt ; nay, 
looked upon the very reproach of Christ 
as greater riches. Heb. xi. If any are 
deceived by such treasure, and grow eager 


after it, it will certainly hinder them from 
seeking him that is invisible, especially 
from diUgently seeking him. One great 
reason why many pray so seldom and so 
coldly, is worldly-mindedness ; they are 
altogether for growing rich in the world, 
so their desires are small of growing rich 
towards God. Luther was a man much 
and mighty in prayer; he spent three 
hours a-day constantly herein; but he 
was also eminent for his contempt of 
riclies. And therefore, when one said, 
why don't you stop Luther's mouth against 
the pope, by some preferment? it was 
answered, Tliat German beast — (he should 
have said, that German saint) — does not 
care for silver. 

6. When praying, we must watch 
against the sins that do most easily beset 
us. The sin of our constitution, the sin 
of our calling, the sin which has naturally 
the greatest interest in our love, is the 


arch-rebel against God, and our chief 
enemy; and upon the least unwatchful- 
ness, this sin will prevail ; and upon its 
prevailing, backwardness to prayer, and 
deadness in it, will be the consequence. 
But not only the sin that doth so easily 
beset us, but every weight must be laid 
aside, if we would, with freedom, con- 
verse with God in prayer. Every iniquity 
allowed of, defiles the soul, and separates 
between the Lord and us, and unfits for 
communion with him ; therefore we must 
watch and strive against all sin without 

In the second place, I am to inform 
you, what in prayer we are to watch over. 

1 . In prayer we are to watch over our 
thoughts. — It is a proverb, but none of 
Solomon's, nor a wise one, that ' thoughts 
are free.' God sees the thoughts, and 
the wicked must forsake not his way only, 


but " his thoughts, if he will return to 
the Lord, and partake of mercy," Isa. Iv. 
7. If thoughts are not watched over, 
there may be "- so many thoughts so many 
sins,'' and guilt thereby vastly increased. 
Thoughts are very quick and tleet things, 
and great is the natural vanity, imperti- 
nence, and confusedness and sinfulness of 
them. If there be no eye to them, nay, 
if the eye be not very careful, prayer may 
be made, and God prayed to, and not 
thought on all the while. Right prayer is 
hard labour, and the labour lies very 
much about the thoughts, in fixing them 
upon God, in keeping out vain imagina- 
tions, and expelling them as soon as 
notice is taken of their intrusion. 

2. In prayer, we are to watch over our 
reasoning faculty. — There are certain rea- 
sonings which the apostle calls " high 
things, that exalt themselves against the 
knowledge of God," which must be 


brought into captivity, 2 Cor. x. 5. We 
must not be peremptory in arguing and 
determining that this, and that, and the 
other thing is good for us, but refer our- 
selves to his wisdom and good pleasure, 
who does all things for his people both 
well and wisely. And as we must not 
lean to our own understandings, in judg- 
ing what temporal mercies are most con- 
venient; so neither are we to grow so 
bold and presumptuous as to reason 
against any of the attributes or promises 
of God, nor any part of his will which he 
has revealed. 

The Lord has proclaimed himself gra- 
cious to his people, terrible to his enemies; 
we must pray on, and believe this, though 
enemies are high, and his church never so 
much oppressed. Though providences do 
seem never so much to thwart God's pro- 
mises, yet we must believe that God is 
faithful in his promises, and pray, and 


wait for their accomplishment. Finally, 
we must not reason against any pait of 
his will ; but though his commands are 
never so strictly holy, we must approve of 
them, and beg grace to keep them. 

3. In prayer we are to watch over our 
hearts. — " Keep ;^thy heart with all dili- 
gence/' Prov. iv. 23. Heed must be 
taken that there be no jarring between our 
wills and the will of God ; for his will is 
holy, just, and good ; ours therefore should 
always comply with his. As the echo 
answers and returns the voice, so should 
our will's complying, answer God's will 
commanding. This you may observe in 
David, a man after God's own heart. 
The Lord says, " Seek ye my face;" 
David's heart echoes back, " Thy face, 
Lord, will I seek;" so Psalm cxix. 4. 5. 
the Lord " commands to keep his pre- 
cepts diligently ;" David's echo is, " O 
that my ways were directed, that I might 
L 2 


keep thy statutes ! " We must see to pur 
hearts in prayer, that they be sincere in 
hating what the Lord abhors, and in 
choosing what he offers in the gospel, and 
also promises to bestow. 

4. In prayer we are to watch over our 
consciences, that they perform their offices 
faithfully. — Their office is to observe and 
condemn every miscarriage, to urge unto 
a more spiritual manner of praying, and 
to be restless and unquiet, if prayer be 
omitted upon any slight pretence, or " the 
male in the flock be not offered to the 
Lord, but a corrupt thing." A tender 
conscience is a blessing that can never be 
sufficiently valued; this will cause the 
best to be given unto God ; this will not 
be satisfied till God approves and com- 
mends ; and what a heaven follows upon 
prayer, when the Lord himself and his 
officer, conscience, are both pleased ! But 
if we grow unwatchful over oui- consci- 


ences, and suffer them to fall asleep, and 
become seared, a thousand faults in 
prayer will be winked at, nay, we shall be 
iDut little reproached for the total omission 
of it. 

5. In prayer we are to watch over our 
affections. — ^The more of affection in 
prayer, the more pleasing the duty will be 
to God, and the more pleasant to him 
that performs it. There is enough in the 
Lord to draw forth the very strength of 
our affections. How great is his good- 
ness ! how able and powerful is his hand 
to save ! how unsearchable are the riches 
of his grace ! " Eye has not seen, ear has 
not heard, neither has it entered into the 
heart of man, what he has prepared for 
those that wait upon him," Isa. Ixiv. 4. 
We are inexcusable if all this move not 
our affections. We should watch and 
observe when our affections do but begin 
to incline towards former lovers, and then 


compare those lovers and the Lord toge- 
ther, that other things may be contemned, 
and our souls may even break for longing 
after God. 

6. In prayer we are to watch over our 
outward man. — Our tongues and senses 
must be looked to ; our tongues must 
speak reverently, considering God is in 
heaven and we upon earth, Eccles. v. 2. ; 
and we must have warrant from God's 
own word for the words we utter before 
him. Our senses must be guarded, else 
at the ear, or eye, especially something or 
other may enter that may disturb prayer, 
and hinder it from being so fervent and 

You see what we must watch over. 

In the third place, I am to show what 
we must watch for in prayer. 

1. We must watch for fit seasons to 
pray. — ^There are some times and seasons 


in which God is nearer than at others, 
and more ready to be found of them that 
seek him ; this the prophet intimates, 
" seek ye the Lord, while he may be 
found ; call ye upon him, while he is 
near," Those seasons of grace and love 
are carefully to be observed and improved 
to the uttermost. When the Lord came 
so near to Jacob as to suffer him to take 
hold of him, that was a special season ; 
and Jacob was sensible of it, aiid wrestled 
long, and with an holy vigour ; he kept 
his hold, and would not let go till he had 
got the blessing, Gen. xxxii. 29. That 
also was a special opportunity, when the 
" Lord spake unto Moses, face to face, as 
a man speaketh to his fiiend,'' Exodus 
xxxiii. 11. Moses improved this, and 
begged for the Lord's presence with him, 
and with the people of Israel ; and having 
prevailed for this, he adds farther, " Lord, 
I beseech thee, show me thy glory," v, 18. 


Hereupon the Lord made his goodness 
to pass before him, and proclaimed, " The 
Lord God, merciful and gracious, long 
suffering, abundant in goodness and in 
trutli, keeping mercy for thousands, for- 
giving iniquity, transgression, and sin." 

2. We must watch for admonitions 
from conscience unto prayer. — When 
conscience says, * Thou hast not yet 
prayed in secret ;' then go and pour out 
thy heart before him that sees in secret. 
Thou hast not yet prayed in thy family ;, 
call all of thy household together, and 
join in begging that the Lord would have 
mercy upon all. Conscience is by no 
means to be disregarded, but its admoni- 
tions should be taken. 

The authority which the Lord allows to 
conscience is great, and its office is of a 
large extent. Conscience is a witness, 
and a judge, and a monitor. As a witness 
it takes notice of the evil which we do, 


of the good which we refuse to do, and 
likewise observes when we are careful 
of our duty. As a judge, it acquits or 
condemns, according as we have been 
either good or faithful, or evil and sloth- 
ful servants. As a monitor, it tells us 
before-hand of our duty, and as we would 
avoid its accusations and reproaches, we 
should not venture upon any sin which it 
cries out against, nor neglect prayer, or 
any other duty which it charges us to per- 
form, as we will answer it before God. 

3. We must watch for the motions of 
the Spirit unto prayer. — When the Holy 
Ghost moves to this duty, and his motions 
are heeded and obeyed, we are to conclude, 
that the same Spirit which moves to prayer, 
will assist in prayer. It is a wonderful 
privilege that the Spirit is sent unto the 
churches, and is speaking and striving for 
their good. Every one, "should have an 
ear to hear what the Spirit says," Rev. iii. 


When the Spirit speaks concerning sin, 
* this is not the way,' therefore avoid it : 
' Oh do not this abominable thing which 
God hates ;' we must by no means con- 
sent to evil. When the Spirit says con- 
cerning duty, " This is the way, walk in 
it," Isa, XXX. 31. we must by all means 
yield unto that which is good. If the 
Lord by his Spirit says, " Seek my face," 
with the greatest eagerness we should 
reply, " Tliy face. Lord, will we seek," 
and he will not then hide his face from 
us, nor put his servants away in anger. 

The motions of the Spirit unto prayer 
are twofold — ordinary, extraordinary. 

There are more ordinary motions unto 
prayer. — It is the mind and will of the 
Spirit, that our usual times for prayer 
of all sorts should be observed ; and 
though deadness and indisposition be 
never so great, and our hearts draw back 
from the throne of grace, yet we must go 


thither. Experience teaches that where 
deadness at the beginning of prayer has 
seemed invincible, yet on a sudden it has 
been removed, and the duty has been car- 
ried on and concluded by more than or- 
dinary enlargements. The Israelites were 
commanded to go forward, when they 
came to the Red Sea ; they might have 
answered, What ! would you have us 
march in the water, and be drowned ? 
Well, but forward they go, and the water 
is dried up before them, Exod. xiv. So 
truly, many times, when about to pray, 
there is great listlessness and many dis- 
couragements ; yet we must go forward, 
and engage in our duty, and the sea is 
dried up before us ; these discouragements 
are removed. 

There are more extraordinary motions 
of the Spirit unto prayer. — Upon some 
remarkable providence, either cross or 
kindness ; upon the hearing of some more 


than ordinary affecting truths ; upon some 
special manifestations by way of quicken- 
ing and peace; the Spirit may move tmto 
more than ordinary plying of this work of 
prayer. And the iron is by all means to 
be struck while it is thus hot. An extra- 
ordinary motion of the Spirit raised David 
out of his bed at madnight : " At midnight 
I will arise to give thanks unto thee, be- 
cause of thy righteous judgments/' Psalm 
cxix. 62. So we read also, Acts xvi. 25. 
that at midnight Paul and Silas prayed 
and sang praises unto God, and the pri- 
soners heard them. Here let it be observed, 
that when the Spirit of God thus extraor- 
dinarily moves to pray, he sweetly and 
strongly inclines the heart to comply with 
his motion ; there is a quickening heat 
goes along with his persuasions to engage 
in this duty. 

4. We must watch for all manner of 
encouragements in prayer. — And truly the 


Lord is not backward to give, if we are 
heedful and forward to take encourage- 
ment. The Lord encourages to prayer 
various ways. 

By making us sensible what a privilege 
access to the mercy-seat is. — He causes 
us to be satisfied and delighted in his 
presence ; and our hearts cry out, Oh 
how good is it for us to be here ! " This 
is none other than the throne of grace, 
and this is indeed the gate of heaven. It 
is good for me to draw nigh unto God," 
says holy David. Psalm Ixxiii. 

The Lord encourages to prayer, by 
melting of the heart for sin ; he thaws the 
ice by the beams of his love. Sense of 
unkindness, and unsuitable carriage to- 
wards the Father of mercies, causes plenty 
of godly sorrow, and the heart hereby is 
exceedingly alienated from its iniquity. 

Tlie Lord encourages to prayer by en- 
larging the desires after himself, making 


the soul enamoured of him, and altogether 
unsatisfied till it taste and see his good- 

By intimations of audience. — ^The Lord 
said unto Daniel at the close of his 
prayer, " O man, greatly beloved," Dan. 
ix. 23. Christ answers the woman of 
Canaan, " Great is thy faith ; be it unto 
thee even as thou wilt," Matt. xv. 28. 
When God, after we have been earnest 
for pardon, for sanctification, for grace to 
honour and to please him, causes a peace 
and calmness in our spirits, and we have 
a hint, that our petitions are according to 
his will, and will be granted ; here is great 
encouragement in prayer. Now such 
encouragements should be watched for, 
and laid hold on with the greatest thank- 

5. We must watch for the returns of 
prayer. The Psalmist had been praying, 
and he resolves he would hearken "what 


God the Lord would speak," that is, by- 
way of answer, Psalm Ixxxv. 8. In like 
manner the church, concluding that the 
Lord would at last hear, resolves to wait 
for him ; " Therefore will I look unto the 
Lord, I will wait for the God of my salva- 
tion ; my God will hear me," Micah vii. 
7. If you watch not for returns of prayer, 
you do not consider wliat you do, or with 
whom you have to do in prayer. When 
you pray, you take the name of God into 
your mouths ; and shall that be taken in 
vain ? When you pray you engage in an 
ordinance of God, and shall that be used 
in vain? What! do ye imagine that 
God's hand is shortened, or his ears heavy, 
and his bowels straitened ? Not looking 
after your prayer, dishonours him more 
than you are aware of. He speaks to you, 
and does for you in vain. And this is the 
ready course to provoke him to keep si- 
lence, and to shut his hand : You are 


therefore, with the prophet, to stand upon 
your watch-tower, and to observe what 
God says to you, Hab. ii. 1. 

Here pne grand case of conscience is to 
be proposed and resolved ; How we shall 
know whether prayer be answered, Yea or 
No ; and the blessings we have begged, 
given as a return to our requesting them ? 

I answer, that blessings are of two 
sorts — those that are peculiar to saints, 
those that are common to the ungodly. 

1 . There are blessings that are peculiar 
to the saints ; such as the sense of God's 
love, strength ^against corruption, righte- 
ousness and true holiness, peace of con- 
science, power to run in the ways of God's 
commands without weariness, and to walk 
without fainting. If such blessings as 
these are prized, and earnestly desired in 
prayer, and after prayer are bestowed, 
they may be concluded " the fruit of sup- 
plication." " In the day when I cried 


thou answeredst me/' says David, " and 
strengthenedst me with strength in my 
soul," Psalm cxxxviii. 3. He prayed for 
grace and spiritual strength, and had it, 
and concludes his prayer was answered. 
It is only the children of God who long 
and beg for such blessings ; and if the 
Lord's hand be open, and gives the bless- 
ings begged, we may also conclude that 
his ear was open to the begging. 

2. There are blessings that are common 
to the ungodly ; as health, food, raiment, 
relations, prosperity, removing of afflic- 
tions ; and mercies of the like nature. 
It is more difficult to know when these 
are given or continued as a return to 
prayer ; but yet this may be known in 
these particulars — 

1. Temporal blessings are the frait of 
prayer, when they were begged not only 
of God, but for God, that they might be 


employed in his service and to his praise. 
Joshua begged for victoiy over the Ca- 
naanites, but he had an eye to God's great 
name, which he knew would be disho- 
noured if Israel were overthrown. Josh, 
vii. 9. When we desire some estate that 
we may do good with it, and honour the 
Lord with our substance ; when we de- 
sire health and strength that we may be 
the more useful, and serve our generation 
according to the will of God, and what we 
desired is bestowed, surely prayer is heard. 
2. Temporal blessings are the fruit of 
prayer, when they are begged with an 
humble and holy submission, and not 
asked as the principal things. When we 
pray for daily bread, and the meat that 
perishes, in such a measure as the Lord 
sees most meet to deal forth to us ; but 
our greatest hunger and thirst is after 
higher things, even that meat which en- 


dures to everlasting life, and the waters of 
that fountain that is always flowing, and 
yet ever full. 

3. Temporal blessings are obtained by 
prayer, when they prove as cords to draw 
the heart nearer to God, and effectually 
engage unto obedience. David was 
brought very low, the sorrows of death 
compassed him ; he calls upon the name 
of the Lord for deliverance, (Psalm cxvi. 
3, 4.) ; well, deliverance is granted, and 
what effect had it ? It makes him admire 
divine mercy, it strengthens his faith, it 
makes him cry out, " Truly I am thy 
servant," and resolve to " walk before 
God in the land of the living." Surely 
this deliverance came by prayer ; and so 
himself was persuaded, (verse 1,2.) "I 
love the Lord, because he hath heard my 
voice and supplication, because he hath 
inclined his ear to me ; therefore will I 
call upon him as long as I live." 
M 2 


I have showed you what we are to 
watch for in prayer. 

In tYie fourth place, I am to show what 
manner of watching is required. 

1 . Our watch must be very strict ; and 
this strictness will be acknowledged rea- 
sonable, if we consider that prayer is a 
business of weight. Life or death, bless- 
ing or cursing, will follow according as 
we speed well or ill in prayer. When we 
come to the throne of grace, we entreat 
for no less than the forgiveness of millions 
of offences; the least of which, if unpar- 
doned, is sufficient to expose us to eternal 
condemnation : we entreat for "no less 
than grace and glory ; we deprecate no 
less than the anger of the Almighty, and 
everlasting torments. Surely we should 
be watchful and full of care by all means, 
to speed in a duty of such vast concern- 


2. Our watch must be continued — it 
must be before, and in, and after prayer, 
and all little enough. 

We must watch before prayer, that 
every thing may be avoided and removed, 
that may hinder the heart from preparing 
to have to do with God : it is not easy to 
enter rightly upon this duty. 

We must watch in prayer. Prayer 
is expressed in Scripture by the metaphor 
of wrestling. If the wrestler watch not, 
he prevails not, but is easily foiled. If 
we are not very vigilant all the while we 
are praying, God, whom we wrestle with, 
will withdraw, and we shall miss of the 
blessing ; and Satan that wrestles against 
us, will presently overcome us. 

We must watch after prayer. We 
must trace our hearts,, and mark how they 
have behaved themselves ; we must ob- 
serve and bemoan our failings, and be 
thankful for assisting grace. We must be 


the same upon our legs that we were upon 
our knees, and live according to our 

In the fifth place, follow the reasons 
why watching is so necessary in prayer. 

1 . God watches how this duty is per- 
formed, and has denounced a curse on 
those that do the work of the Lord negli- 
gently. He narrowly observes where the 
thoughts are, and how much of the heart 
and affection is in every prayer. Hearken 
to the apostle, " neither is there any crea- 
ture that is not manifest in his sight, but 
all things" (even the thoughts and intents 
of the heart, whereof he hath spoken in 
the foregoing verse) " are naked and open 
unto the eyes of him with whom we have 
to do." Heb. iv. 1 3. 

2. Satan watches. In a time of war 
there is the stricter watch : now our life is 
a warfare, therefore we should be ever 


vigilant ; " our adversary the devil goes 
about/' (1 Peter v. 8.) endeavouring to 
do all the mischief, and to hinder all the 
good he possibly can. Satan is very busy 
about us in prayer, and if our unwatch- 
fulness gives him but the least encourage- 
ment and advantage, he presently spies 
and takes it. 

3. Unless we watch, our hearts will 
deal treacherously. They will start aside 
from God like deceitful bows, and the 
arrow of prayer will be far from hitting 
the mark ; but our supplications will de- 
generate into mere formality j whereas, 
if we are intent and serious, and do mind 
our business while we are at prayer, we 
shall undoubtedly make something of it. 
I come at last to the application. 

Use first is, of Reproof. Two sorts of 
persons deserve, and highly need, as well 
as deserve, a reprehension. 


1 . The careless hypocrite is to be re- 
proved. The Scripture, which has this 
pre-eminence above all other laws, that 
it binds the very heart and conscience, 
does speak very terribly against hypocrisy, 
which is the heart's dissimulation and 
going away from God, even when the 
external part of devotion is yielded to 
him. The folly of the praying hypocrite 
will appear in these things. — 

His conscience is fast asleep in 
prayer, and lets hira do even what he 
pleases; but this sleeping lion will at 
length awake ; at farthest, hell will awaken 
his conscience, and then it will bitterly 
reproach him, and never cease reproach- 

The hypocrite regards not the God he 
is praying to. He is not awed by the Lord's 
majesty, nor affected with his mercy; 
neither is he afraid of provoking him to 
jealousy, but presumes upon God, as if 


he were altogether such an one as him- 
self; " these things hast thou done, and 
I kept silence; and thou thoughtest I was 
altogether such an one as thyself : but I 
will reprove thee, and set them in order 
before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye 
that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, 
and tliere be none to deliver," Psalm 1. 
21, 22. 

The hypocrite regards not the things 
he is praying for, nor himself that is con- 
cerned in prayer. He is not concerned ' 
for his soul, which is most truly himself; 
and though he prays for the favour of 
God, for the kingdom of God, and de- 
liverance from everlasting fire prepared 
for the devil and his angels ; yet he is so 
cold and heedless, as if he were indifferent 
whether lieaven or hell were his eternal 

2. The drowsy and declining saints are 
also to be reproved. These having been 


once so thoroughly awakened, are more 
without apology, if they grow again un- 

The prayers of unv/atchful saints 
have very bad mixtures. Oh the forget- 
fulness, and fearlessness, and weariness, 
and mocking of the Lord, that believers 
under their declinings are to be charged 
with ! How near do they come to the 
borders of unregeneracy ! how like are 
they to the unsound-hearted ! 

The prayers of unwatchful saints are 
very unprofitable. Children they are, but 
alas ! they improve not their relation, nor 
make serious application to their Father, 
The Spirit is in them, but they accept not 
of his strength and grace. Prayer is not 
totally laid aside, but little comes of it, 
because they do not vigorously engage 
in it. 

The prayers of unwatchful saints are 
uncomfortable. The Spirit is grieved by 


their carelessness, and how can it be ex- 
pected he should be a comforter to them ? 
Conscience is dissatisfied, and is con- 
tinually grudging, because they do not stir 
up themselves to lay hold on God, when 
they call upon him, Isa. Ixiv. 7. Much 
fear, much bondage, many secret gripes 
of spirit follow upon careless praying. 

The prayers of unwatchful saints are 
so offensive, that they may justly fear 
some stroke from God, some smarting rod 
to awaken the spirit of prayer in them. 
" I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and 
as a young lion to the house of Judah. I, 
even I, will tear and go away : I will take 
away, and none shall rescue him," Hos. 
V. 14. Now what was the reason of this 
severity ? It follows, verse 15, " In their 
affliction they will seek me early." He 
thrust the spur into their side, and made 
them bleed, to make them mend their 
sluggish pace in duty ; he chastened them 


that he might hear louder cries, and have 
more serious prayers from them. 

Use. 2. Shall be of Exhortation. Be 
persuaded to watch in prayer. Those that 
watch not at all, pray not at all in God's 
account ; those that watch most, make 
most of prayer. These arguments I shall 
further use to second this exhortation. 

1 . The more watchful you are in prayer, 
the better you will understand the devil's 
enmity. You will perceive his envy and 
his hatred, and how loath he is that you 
should receive any distinguishing mercies, 
especially at the hand of God ; therefore 
he does so bestir himself, that he may 
resist you. And the better you know this 
enemy, the better armed you will be. 

2. The more watchful you are in prayer, 
the more will you be acquainted with your- 
selves, and with your own hearts. You 
will more fully understand your wants, 
and your spiritual plagues; and the UU' 


derstanding of these is one good step to 
the supply and cure. 

3. The more watchful you are in prayer, 
the more experimentally will you under- 
stand the loving-kindness of the Lord : you 
will find that he deals bountifully. ^" Re- 
turn unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord 
hath dealt bountifully with thee," Psalm 
cxvi. 7. God is certainly willing to give. 
They that watch in prayer, take notice 
vvhat they receive; and great joy it is to 
behold the prayers which, as messengers 
we dispatched to heaven, return loaded 
with mercy. " Ask and you shall re- 
ceive, that your joy may be full." So 
much then, for the fourth doctrine. 

We must persevere if we would speed 
in prayer ; or, prayer must be with all 
perseverance. The words of the text are 
not without emphasis ; not only persever- 
ance, but all perseverance is required by 


the apostle. There should not be the least 
fainting, but a vigorous persisting in our 
supplications. Observe hovv^ the apostle 
speaks in other places ; Col. iv, 2. " Con- 
tinue in prayer ;" and, Rom. xii. 12. " Re- 
joicing in hope, patient in tribulation, 
continuing instant in prayer." 

In speaking to this doctrine, I shall first 
tell you what it is to persevere in prayer. 
2dly, What kind of perseverance is re- 
quired. 3dly, Give you the reasons of 
this perseverance. Lastly, make appli- 

In the^rs^ place. What it is to persevere 
in prayer. 

1 . This perseverance in prayer, implies, 
resolvedness of spirit against all opposi- 
tion. The resolution is not to be made 
in our own strength, but in the power of 
grace, and then it will be firm, and hold. 
He that perseveres in prayer, resists Satan's 
endeavours to hinder him in his duty. 


Though this lion roar upon him by fearful 
blasphemous thoughts ; though this adver- 
sary buffet him by confused, amazing, and 
affrighting imaginations ; yet all his skill 
does not beat him off from prayer; the 
more busy he finds Satan, the more need 
he perceives of calling upon God. And 
as the devil cannot prevail by his more 
irksome temptation, so as to cause an 
omission of prayer; in like manner, on 
the other side, the more pleasing tempta- 
tions are withstood. When he speaks big 
words concerning sports and pastimes 
and pleasures of sense ; when he talks at 
an high rate of worldly advantages, that 
are to be pursued, that he may divert and 
draw away the heart from prayer ; yet he 
that perseveres in this duty, believes this 
lying and deceitful spirit in nothing. 

Nay, he retorts upon him, and answers, 
that therefore he prays, that he may find 
true joy, and greater sweetness in God 


than the creatures can possibly yield; 
that therefore he prays, because he has a 
mind to be rich indeed, and to have a 
treasure in heaven, where neither moth 
nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves 
cannot break through, nor steal. 

And as for that opposition he meets 
with from within, from the corruption of 
his heart, which is indeed the greatest ; he 
bewails it, struggles with it, and cries out 
for the Spirit of life to quicken and help 
him. He is convinced of the necessity of 
prayer, and the excellency of what is 
prayed for ; and opposition is but a whet 
to him, that he may stir up himself to lay 
hold on God. 

2. This perseverance in prayer implies, 
getting through all discouragements. The 
more that blind Bartimeus was discouraged 
by the people, " he cried the louder, Jesus, 
thou Son of David, have mercy upon 
me ; " and his cry was heard ; according 


to his desire, he had his sight restored. 
The woman of Canaan who came to Christ 
that her daughter might be dispossessed of 
a devil, met with great discouragements, 
but overcame them all, Matt. xv. 22—28. 
When first she uttered her request, " Christ 
answered her not a word." This one 
would have thought, might have struck 
her dumb, and made her conclude it vain 
to have spoken any more. But, no; still 
she cried after him ; whereupon the dis- 
ciples intercede for her. Christ answers, 
he " was sent to the lost sheep of the 
house of Israel." Here was a second re- 
pulse ; but neither did this discourage. 
She comes and worships him, and says, 
" Lord, help me ! " Christ says, " It is 
not meet to cast the children's bread unto 
the dogs," This was a third repulse, and 
worst of all ; and yet she gives not over, 
but pleads, that though she were indeed 
no better than a dog, yet crumbs might 


be given her. And now she succeeds; 
and whatever she had a mind to was 

He that perseveres in prayer will not be 
discouraged. Is his guilt great? he re- 
plies, that the Lord's mercy will be the 
more magnified, if he obtain a pardon. 
Is he much distempered ? he replies, the 
more will the skill of the great Physician 
be shown in healing his spiritual diseases. 
Is he very unworthy ? he replies, that 
the prodigal upon his returning, found 
his father's doors, and his father's arms 
open, though he came home in rags ; 
having before wasted all his substance 
among the harlots, and in riotous living. 
Though he is wretched, and miserable, 
and poor, and blind, and naked ; yet he 
says, that Christ has eye-salve to make 
him see, gold tried in the fire to make him 
rich, and white raiment to cover him, 
Rev. iii. 17, 18. It is a mercy-seat, it is 


a throne of grace he goes to ; and there- 
fore discouragements are not invincible. 

3. This perseverance in prayer implies 
continual importunity. Importunity is 
many times troublesome to man, but God 
is delighted with it. Humility, indeed, 
becomes us in our addresses to him, but 
yet vs^e are allowed to be urgent, to be in- 
stant, to be pressing in those things which 
are according to the will of the Lord, and 
he loves to see us so ; for it argues we 
value highly what we beg with importu- 
nity. The unjust judge was prevailed 
with by the widow's importunity, and will 
the Lord neglect importunate prayer, who 
has commanded and encouraged impor- 
tunity, and who is so righteous and gra- 
cious ? He that perseveres in prayer 
follows the Lord with his request; he 
will not let him alone till he has a pardon, 
and that pardon sealed : He will not let 
him alone till his lusts, which arc the 

N 2 


worst of spiritual enemies, are killed; 
till more grace is granted, of which he 
cannot have too great a measure. Take 
notice of David's importunity, Psalm cxix. 
145 — 147. " I cried with my whole heart, 
hear me, O Lord, I will keep thy statutes. 
I cried unto thee, save me, and I shall 
keep thy testimonies ; I prevented the 
dawning of the morning, and cried, I 
hoped in thy word ; mine eyes prevent the 
night watches," &c. He cried, and cried, 
and cried again, before the dawning of the 
morning, and in the night watches. Be- 
hold how urgent he was in prayer. 

4. This perseverance in prayer, implies 
an holy unsatiableness after God ; and 
desiring still more, though never so much 
be obtained. Indeed, there is a great 
obligation upon us to be thankful for the 
least measures of grace ; but we are not 
to be contented with the greatest, but still 
longing for more. Though David enjoyed 


SO much 01 God, and had such a sense of 
his loving-kindness, which was better than 
Hfe, and experienced that communion with 
the Lord, which was more satisfying than 
marrow and fatness ; yet we find him still 
following hard after God. " My soul 
followeth hard after thee, thy right hand 
upholdeth me," Psalm Ixiii. 8. And in- 
deed the more we taste and see how gra- 
cious the Lord is, it cannot but increase 
our longing, and raise our thirst to a 
greater vehemency. The apostle Paul, 
though he had attained to so much, yet he 
says, " I forget those things that are 
behind ; and reach forth unto those things 
that are before, and press towards the 
mark, for the prize of the high calling of 
God." Phil. iii. 13, 14. 

5. This perseverance in prayer implies, 
a continuing to engage in all kinds of 
prayer. There should be a constant and 
daily course of prayer, even unto the end 


of life ; and if at any time by weakness 
or otherwise, the course be necessarily 
interrupted, our hearts, at least, should 
then be working towards God, being 
sensible that he is our all, that all our 
hope is in him, and that all our help is 
from him. It is a happy thing so to 
habituate and accustom ourselves to pray- 
er, as to make it become natural to us, 
and to esteem it as necessary as our very 

In the second place, I am to tell you 
what kind of perseverance is required. 

1 . In this perseverance there should be 
no interruptions. Daniel, rather than his 
course of praying before his God and giving 
thanks should be interrupted, chose to ad- 
venture the loss of dignity, of his prince's 
favour, and his own life besides. And 
that God whom he served continually did 
deliver him. Daniel resolves to open his 
mouth in prayer; God sends his angel, 


and stops the mouths of the lions, that 
they did not hurt him. And as carnal fear 
should not cause the omission of prayer, 
so neither should any prevailing corrup- 
tion and deadness. Still the Lord is to 
be sought unto, and served. 

2. In this perseverance there should be 
a continual endeavour to excel, and do 
better; to pray with more and more 
spirituality and liveliness. It is a sad 
sight to see children as weak now, as they 
were several years ago. We conclude 
that there is some bad humour that op- 
presses nature, and causes that weakness, 
and is an impediment to their growth. It 
is thus, and more sad to see Christians 
stand at a stay, and perform duties no 
better now than some years ago they vised 
to perform them. If there be still the 
same deadness, the same unbelief, the 
same worldly-mindedness and distractions 
which were wont to be, it argues, the 


spirit is kept under by the flesh and its 
prevalency. We are not only to do more 
than others, but to do more than ourselves. 
The Lord requires us, and truly gives 
ample encouragement to be not only 
stedfast and unmoveable, but also " to 
abound in the work of the Lord." "The 
path of the just should be like the shining 
light, that shineth more and more unto 
the perfect day." Pro v. iv. 18. All 
our duties are motions homeward, and 
heaven is our home. And the nearer 
home, the swifter should our spiritual 
motions be. 

In the tJiird place, follow the reasons 
why prayer should be with perseverance. 

1 . Divine commands are very express, 
not only to perform the duty, but to con- 
tinue in the duty. In the text, not only 
praying is enjoined, but praying always, 
and with all perseverance. And, 1 Tliess. 
V. 17. " Pray without ceasing." God's 


word of command should cause us per- 
petually to stand in awe : we must not 
dare to cease doing that which he would 
have us without ceasing employed in. 

2. The Lord perseveres in attending 
and encouraging ; therefore we should 
persevere in praying. His eye is con- 
tinually upon his people. Eye, and ear, 
and heart, and hand are all open ; and if 
we open our mouths wide, we shall be 
filled. Psalm Ixxxi. 10. 

3. The Lord is as worthy to be sought 
unto still, as sought to at all ; therefore 
we should continue in seeking him. — 
Though our expectation from other things 
be never so high, yet upon trial we shall 
discover their emptiness and vanity ; but 
the more we know God, and the greater 
experience we have of him, the more we 
shall behold his fulness, and how good it 
is to draw near to him. Israel went astray 
after other lovers, but found her mistake, 


and resolves to return to her first husband, 
for then it was best with her. Hos. ii. 7. 
God's service is such as no fault at all is 
really to be found therein ; and therefore 
to leave that service, is very unreasonable, 

4. We are far from attaining all that is 
attainable by prayer. Clearer discoveries 
there may be of God — there may be much 
larger communications of grace — there 
may be more of peace and joy ; therefore 
it concerns us to wait on the Lord still, 
and not to grow weary of our attending. 

5. This present world is full of enemies 
and snares ; therefore we should continu- 
ally have recourse to the God of all grace, 
that grace may be proportioned to our 
wqrk, and to our danger. The world is 
evil; and the evil one is very active to draw 
us to evil ; and he has a strong and nu- 
merous party within our own souls, even 
all the remainders of corruption. Surely 
unless we persevere in prayer, and thereby 


engage him for us, " who is able to keep 
us from falling, and to present us faultless 
before the presence of his glory with ex- 
ceeding joy," Jude 24. we shall not 
persevere to the end, and be saved. The 
application follows. 

Use 1. — Of Reproof, which belongs, 
1 . To them who pray in a time of dis- 
tress and affliction ; but after that is re- 
moved, and their slavish fear allayed, they 
quickly give over. Thus the children of 
Israel, " when God slew them, then they 
sought him ; they returned and inquired 
early after God, they remembered that 
God was their Hock, and the high God 
their Redeemer. But as soon as the Lord 
ceased smiting, they ceased crying ; they 
flattered with their tongues, and were 
unstedfast in his covenant," Psalm Ixxviii. 
34 — 37. This is the way to have affliction 
quickly return again, and that with more 


of gall and wormwood ; or to have spi- 
ritual judgments, which are a great deal 
worse, succeed temporal ones. 

2. Reproof belongs to them that pray 
for a little while, while the conviction is 
fresh and strong ; and the exhortation to 
this duty is still sounding in their ears. 
But by degrees the conviction wears off, 
and the exhortation is forgotten ; and 
then, Oh, how do their hearts depart from 
God, and what a task, and tedious thing 
is prayer to them ! But those foregoing 
convictions will very much aggravate 
their after omissions; these omissions 
having been given way to, especially at 
first, with much violence offered to their 
own consciences ; and resisting the Holy 
Ghost, who strives to make them perse- 
vere in supplication. 

3. Reproof belongs to apostates, that 
somewhile made a great profession, and 
none more forward to pray than they; 


biat who now have thrown off this and 
other ordinances of Christ, being carried 
away either by a profane, or by an 
erroneous spirit. 

Many are carried away by a profane 
spirit; and having restrained prayer, 
even restraining grace is taken from them. 
They run out to all excess of riot ; they 
are abominably vicious, intemperate, un- 
clean, unrighteous; they declare to all, 
that seven unclean spirits are entered into 
them ; and that their last end is likely to 
prove worse than their beginning. They 
once indeed did know the holy command- 
ment ; but are now turned from it ; and 
it is happened to them according to the 
proverb, " The dog is turned to his own 
vomit again, and the sow that was washed, 
to her wallowing in the mire," 2 Pet. ii. 
21, 22. 

Many are carried away from prayer 
by an erroneous spirit. These not only 


break the Lord's commands, but persuade 
themselves they do well in it, and endea- 
vour to draw others to the hke transgres- 
sion ; and hereby their guilt and danger 
is the greater. Every one that speaks 
against prayer, or any other ordinance of 
Christ, as he strikes at Christ's authority, 
who is King of the church, so he is de- 
ceived, and made use of by the devil to 
injure souls, by drawing them away from 
God and their duty. But it may be 
objected, that the apostle himself says. 
Col. ii. 20. " Why are ye subject to 
ordinances?'' I answer, the 21st verse 
following, shows what ordinances the 
apostle speaks of, viz. the ceremonial 
ordinances; " Touch not, taste not, 
handle not." He is not to be understood 
concerning the ordinances of Christ's in- 
stitution ; for in this very epistle, he does 
command that the " Word of God should 
dwell richly in them ;" and that they sing 


psalms with grace in their hearts to the 
Lord ; and that they should continue in 

4. Reproof belongs to them that limit 
God, and conclude, if they are not heard 
presently, that they shall never be an- 
swered ; and so in effect say. Why should 
we seek the Lord any longer ? Vile and 
sinful creatures should not be so quick 
with God. What though we tarry some 
time before we have the grace and com- 
fort we beg ; if it comes at last, is not 
the Lord gracious to a wonder ? Besides, 
the Lord knows when it is fittest to an- 
swer prayer ; therefore it becomes us 
patiently to wait, for his rightly timing of 
his benefits is not the smallest part of 

Use 2. Of Direction ; how you may 
persevere in prayer. 

1. Be exceeding jealous and afraid 
whenever you find deadness and formality 


seizing upon you. You know not whe- 
ther it may grow. The prognostic signs 
of an approaching distemper easily per- 
suade you to take preventing medicine. 
O when you find your hearts out of order, 
fear, and go to your physician to heal 
your hearts, and reduce them to the right 
praying frame. 

2. Take heed of quenching the Spirit. 
Let your ears be open to hear what he 
says to the churches, Rev. ii. Deliver up 
yourselves wholly unto the Spirit's con- 
duct and guidance ; be led to him, from 
what ways, and in what ways he pleases, 
else he will be grieved and withdraw ; 
and if he does so, alas, your helper will 
be gone, and your infirmities will hinder 
your perseverance in prayer ! 

3. Be sensible that all your prayers 
will be lost, if now you should totally 
and finally give over. That righteousness 
will be reckoned as none at all ; that is. 


just like the morning cloud, and as the 
early dew that vanishes away. Pray on, 
therefore, that all may not be in vain. 

4. Labour to be acquainted with the 
sweetness of prayer, that you may have 
experience of those quickenings, those 
enlargements, those supports, those ra- 
vishing delights that the saints have found 
sometimes in prayer, and then you will 
like the duty so well, that you will not 
easily be drawn off from it. 

5. Depend upon him that gives power 
to the faint, and increases strength in 
them that have no might. He faints not^ 
neither is he weary, and he alone can 
keep you from being weary in well-doing. 
As he only can help you when you cry, 
so he alone can help you to hold on in 

6. Cheer up yourselves with this con- 
sideration, that if you persevere in prayer 
but a little while longer, in heaven all 


your prayers will be fully answered. 
Remember, that if prayer lasts as long as 
time lasts, time will quickly be succeeded 
by eternity, and prayer will end in ever- 
lasting praises. So much then, for the 
fifth doctrine. 

The sixth and last doctrine is this — Our 
spirits must be so public, as to supplicate 
for all saints as well as for ourselves ; 
therefore the apostle adds in the text, 
" and supplication for all saints." 

Here I shall first show what saints the 
apostle speaks of; and, secondly, why we 
should pray for them all ; and then give 
you the uses. 

First, What saints the apostle speaks 
of. The saints are of two sorts; tri- 
umphant in heaven — militant on earth. 

1. Triumphant in heaven; and these 
do not need our prayers. We need not 
pray that they may be eased of their 


loads, for their burdens are removed, and 
they are entered into perfect rest. We 
need not pray that God would manifest 
himself to them, for they see him as he is, 
and not as here, in a glass darkly ; nor 
that they may be freed from sorrow, and 
defended from enemies, for their joy is 
fiill, all tears are wiped away, and they 
are past all danger: "They are made 
pillars in the heavenly temple, and they 
shall go no more out," Rev. iii. 12. In 
all the Bible we find not one petition for 
departed saints. They are with the 
Lamb, crowned above, and are above our 

2. Militant saints on earth; and of 
these the text speaks, and to these the 
words are to be confined ; and truly all 
of them claim a share in our supplica- 

1. Wc arc to pray for saints of all 
nations. Prayer may reach them, though 


never so far; and the God we pray to is 
acquainted with every saint in particular 
throughout the universe ; He knows what 
they all want, and how to supply all their 

2. We are to pray for saints of all per- 
suasions, as long as they hold the head, 
and are dear to Christ, notwithstanding 
their difference from us in opinion. 
Surely, notwithstanding this difference, 
they should be upon our hearts to desire 
their good. Oh that there were less quar- 
relling and disputation, and more praying 
and supplication one for another ! and 
this would be a great means to unite, and 
to heal our breaches. 

3. We are to pray for saints of all con- 
ditions, high and low, rich and poor, bond 
and free, male and female. Every saint 
is a jewel, and a jewel is not to be con- 
temned, though it lie upon a dunghill. 
The meanest saints are precious in the 


Lord's eyes, and we should have regard 
to them. 

The reasons why our supplications 
should be for all saints are these : — 

1 . Because of their relation to God. 
They are all his children, and he has 
the love of a Father to them ; nay, he is a 
thousand limes more full of affection than 
earthly parents can be. If God love them, 
we should, and show our love by our 
wishing their good ; especially consider- 
ing how much the honour of God is con- 
cerned in them, and how much his name 
is glorified in their preservation. 

2. Because of their relation to our Lord 
Jesus. Should not we pray for them, 
since Christ died for them ? He bought 
them with the price of his own blood, and 
they are all espoused to him ; nay, they 
are his members ; those for whom he ever 
lives to make intercession. Surely then 
we also should intercede in their behalf. 


3. We should pray for all saintS;, be- 
cause of our relation one to another. We 
are all begotten by the same seed, we are 
all members one of another; '^ so we 
being many, are one body in Christ, and 
every one members one of another," Rom 
xii. 5. We are all animated by the same 
Spirit, one of whose principal fruits is 
love; and love should be expressed in 
prayer. Finally, we are all heirs to the 
same inheritance. Oh how importunate 
should we be, that we may all come safely 
thither ! 

4. We should pray for all saints, be- 
cause all are engaged in the same war, 
and are wrestling with the same enemies. 
We should beg, therefore, that all may be 
kept from the evil of the world ; that Satan 
may be trod under the feet of all ; that 
sin may be subdued in all ; and that all 
may at last be made more than con- 


5. All saints are carrying on the same 
design ; the glory of God, and the ad- 
vancement of the kingdom and interest of 
Christ; we should help one another by 
prayer, that this great end may be at- 

Usel. Of consolation. Saints have 
more prayers going for them than they are 
aware of. Those that you never saw, nor 
shall see in this world, are concerned for 
you, and are desiring that you may have 
that grace and strength which you need> 
considering the difficulty of your work, 
and your many adversaries. As every 
one should pray for all, so all are praying 
for every one ; and this is matter of great 

Use 2 Of reproof to those that are of 
a selfish spirit, wlio are all for themselves, 
but Zion they look not after. These have 
neither love to Christ, nor to their own 


souls upon a right footing. If they loved 
tiie Head, they would be solicitous for the 
welfare of the body ; and if they truly 
desire the good of their own souls, they 
would have pity on the souls of others 
that are of equal value. 

Use 3. Of exhortation. Be more fre- 
quent and fervent in praying for all the 
saints. This will be a great argument 
that you are indeed members of the body 
of Christ, when all your fellow-members 
are loved ; when you feel their sorrows, 
and are concerned for their welfare. 

1 . Pray for the saints' unity, that they 
maybe knit together in love; their beauty 
lies much in their agreement, and their 
strength in their being united. But if a 
house or kingdom be divided, division 
has a tendency to destruction. Christ 
prayed that his disciples " might be one," 
as that which would serve very much to 
convince the world that God had sent 


him. For the divisions of saints is not 
the least cause of prevailing infidelity, and 
of men's questioning the very truth of 

2. Pray for the saints' purity, that the 
Church may be more and more cleansed, 
and conformed to the holy doctrine of 
the gospel, and like her holy Head the 
Lord Jesus. 

3. Pray for the saints' prosperity, espe- 
cially for those glorious and peaceable 
times after antichrist's ruin, and the calling 
home of the Jev^^s, when the kingdoms of 
the world shall become the kingdoms of 
the Lord and of his Christ. 

4. Pray for the saints' increase ; and in 
thus doing you are kind unto the world. 
Beg that the prince of darkness may lose, 
and that Christ may gain more and more 
subjects every day, and that out of the 
quarry of mankind more may be taken 


to be made living stones in the Lord's 

5. Pray for the saints' support under 
all oppressions, for their perseverance to 
the end ; and that the Lord Jesus would 
hasten his second appearing, when all his 
church shall be triumphant, when devils 
and the reprobate world shall be confined 
to hell, and all the elect shall join together 
in shouting forth hallelujahs unto him 
that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb 
for ever. 

Tlius have I finished this argument of 
Prayer. What are now your resolutions! 
Shall there be prayerless families still, or 
any strangers unto secret duty, notwith- 
standing all that has been spoken ? May 
pardon, and grace, and life, and salvation 
be all obtained for asking ! and will you 
not do thus much ? will you neither be 


earnest for others nor for your ownselves ? 
Shall none of the directions that have been 
given be followed? Shall all the argu- 
ments that have been used be unsuc- 

O Thou that coramandest and hearest 
prayer ! O Thou that helpest thy people 
to pray ! pour out tlie spirit of grace and 
supplication; that thy throne of grace 
may be surrounded with supplicants, that 
there may be a great flocking to the mercy- 
seat, and grace may be imparted abun- 
dantly to thy own glory, through Jesus 
Christ the great High Priest, who is passed 
into the heavens, and is at thy right-hand 
for ever. Amen.