Pray Always 1
All Prayer 66
Supplication in the Spirit 109
Watch in Prayer 136
Persevere in Prayer 173
Supplication for all Saints, 194
SPIRIT OF PRAYER,
EPHESIANS Vi. li
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,
2 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 3
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
4 PPvAY ALWAYS.
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
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
FRAY ALWAYS. O
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
1 . Here is a duty commanded, in the
performance of which lies safety ; and that
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.
O PRAY AL^yAYS.
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
That these words may be better under-
stood, I shall answer these several ques-
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 7
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
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 9
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
10 PRAY ALWAYS.
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 11
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-
12 PRAY ALWAYS.
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 13
Fourthly, Give you some reasons why he
should be always praying. And, lasthf,
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
14 PKAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 15
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
16 PRAY ALWAYS.
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.
PRAY ALV/AYS. 17
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-
18 PRAY ALWAYS.
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,"
PRAY ALWAYS. 19
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-
20 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 21
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
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 23
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
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
24 PRAY ALWAYS.
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,
26 PRAY ALWAYS.
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 27
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
28 PRAY ALWAYS.
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-
PRAY ALWAYS. 29
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
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,
30 PRAY ALWAYS.
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 31
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
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
32 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 33
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-
34 PRAY ALWAYS.
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-
PRAY ALWAYS. 35
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
36 ■ PRAY ALWAYS.
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 37
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-
38 PllAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 39
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-
40 PRAV ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 41
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
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
42 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 43
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
44 PRAY ALWAYS,
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 45
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
46 PRAY ALWAYS.
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-
PRAY ALWAYS. 47
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
48 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 49
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
50 PRAY ALWAYS,
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.
PRAY ALWAYS. 51
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.
52 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 53
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
54 PRAY ALWAYS.
his pleasure, and they do not care or de-
sire to have his snare broken, nor them-
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 55
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
56 PRAY ALWAYS.
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 !
PRAY ALWAYS. 57
The second use shall be of caution.
Two things you are to be cautioned
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
58 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 59
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
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
60 PRAY ALWAYS.
and great, if there had been ten righteous
persons in it. By prayer he obtained a
son from God, when his wife Sarah, was
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
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 61
in the Valley of Aijalon ; for the Lord
hearkened to the voice of a man, and fought
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 !
62 PRAY ALWAYS.
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-
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
PRAY ALWAYS. 63
you not found encouragement and grace
at the mercy-seat ? Oh do that wliich
both bitter and sweet experience prompts
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.
64 PRAY ALWAYS.
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
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,
PRAY ALWAYS. 65
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
66 ALL PRAYEK.
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
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
ALL PRAYER. 67
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
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
68 ALL PRAYER.
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
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
ALL PRAYER. 69
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-
70 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 71
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
72 ALL PRAYER.
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
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
ALL PRAYER. 73
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
74 ALL PRAYER.
dwell with devouring fire, nor inhabit
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
ALL PRAYER. 75
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
76 ALL PRAYER.
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
78 ALL PRAYER.
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
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
ALL PRAYER. 79
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,
80 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 81
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."
82 ALL PRAYER.
Now for the better managing of this
sort of prayer, let these rules be observed
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
ALL PR/VYER. 83
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
84 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PIIAYER. 85
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;
86 ALL PRAYER.
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-
ALL PRAYER. 87
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,''
88 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 89
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-
90 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 91
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
92 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 93
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
II. Prayer in the family is to be insisted
on. And that family prayer is a duty?
94 ALL PRAYER.
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-
ALL PKAYER 95
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
96 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 97
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
98 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 99
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,
100 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 101
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
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
102 ALL PRAYER.
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
ALL PRAYER. 103
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
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-
104 ALL PRAYER.
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,
ALL PRAYER. 105
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
106 ALL PRAYER.
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,
ALL PRAYER. 107
" 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,
108 ALL PRAYER.
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.
ALL PRAYER. 109
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
110 SUPPLICATION IN
spirit is dead, so duties without spirit are
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
THE SPIRIT. Ill
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
112 SUPPLICATION IN
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-
THE SPIRIT. 113
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
114 SUPPLICATION IN
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
THK SPIRIT, 115
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
116 SUPPLICATION IN
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
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
THE SPIRIT. 117
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,
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
118 SUPPLICATION IN
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
THE SPIRIT. 119
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."
120 SUPPLICATION IN
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-
THE SPIRIT. 121
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
122 SUPPLICATION IN
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
THE SPIRIT. 123
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
124 SUPPLICATION IN
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.
THE SPIRIT. 125
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
126 SUPPLICATION IN
In the third place, I am to answer some
cases of conscience concerning the spirit
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
THE SPIRIT. 127
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 ?
128 SUPPLICATION IN
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 ;
THE SPIRIT. 129
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
13p SUPPLICATION IN
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
132 SUPPLICATION IN
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."
THE SPIRIT. 133
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 ;
134 SUPPLICATION IN
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
THE SPIRIT. 135
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
136 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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,"
WATCH IN PRAYER. 137
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.
138 WATCH 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
WATCH iN PKAYER. 139
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
140 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 141
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
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
142 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 143
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
144 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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,
WATCH IN PllAYER. 145
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
146 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 147
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
148 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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-
WATCH IN PRAYER. 149
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
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
150 WATCH IN PRAYER.
compare those lovers and the Lord toge-
ther, that other things may be contemned,
and our souls may even break for longing
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 151
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.
152 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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,
WATCH IN PRAYER. 153
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.
154 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 155
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
There are more extraordinary motions
of the Spirit unto prayer. — Upon some
remarkable providence, either cross or
kindness ; upon the hearing of some more
156 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 157
Lord is not backward to give, if we are
heedful and forward to take encourage-
ment. The Lord encourages to prayer
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
158 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 159
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
160 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 161
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
162 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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-
WATCH IN PRAYER. 163
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."
164 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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-
WATCH IN PRAYER. 165
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
166 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 167
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.
168 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
WATCH IN PRAYER. 169
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.
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
170 WATCH IN PRAYER.
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
The prayers of unwatchful saints are
uncomfortable. The Spirit is grieved by
WATCH IN PRAYER. 171
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
172 WATCH IN PRAYEK.
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'
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 173
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
174 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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
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.
PERSEVERE IN FRAYER. 175
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
176 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 177
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
178 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 179
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
180 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 181
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
182 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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,
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 183
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
184 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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
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
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 185
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,
186 PERSEVEEE IN PRAYER.
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
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 187
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
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
188 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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;
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 189
biat who now have thrown off this and
other ordinances of Christ, being carried
away either by a profane, or by an
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.
Many are carried away from prayer
by an erroneous spirit. These not only
190 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 191
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
192 PERSEVERE IN PRAYER.
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
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.
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER. 193
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
194 SUPPLICATION FOR
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
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
ALL SAINTS. 195
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
196 SUPPLICATION FOR
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
ALL SAINTS. 197
Lord's eyes, and we should have regard
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.
198 ALL SA.INTS.
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
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-
ALL SAINTS. 199
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
200 ALL SAINTS.
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
ALL SAINTS. 201
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
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
202 ALL SAINTS.
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
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
ALL SAINTS. 203
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.
rHINTED BY L. B. SEELEY,