The Grace of Prayer

October 13, 2009

Richard Sibbes “Some are loath to do good because they feel their hearts rebelling, and duties turn out badly. We should not avoid good actions because of the infirmities attending them. Christ looks more at the good in them which he means to cherish than the ill in them which he means to abolish. Though eating increases a disease, a sick man will still eat, so that nature may gain strength against the disease. So, though sin cleaves to what we do, yet let us do it, since we have to deal with so good a Lord, and the more strife we meet with, the more acceptance we shall have. Christ loves to taste of the good fruits that come from us, even though they will always savor of our old nature.”

“A Christian complains he cannot pray. `Oh, I am troubled with so many distracting thoughts, and never more than now!’ But has he put into your heart a desire to pray? Then he will hear the desires of his own Spirit in you. `We know not what we should pray for as we ought’ (nor how to do anything else as we ought), but the Spirit helps our infirmities with `groanings which cannot be uttered’ (Rom. 8:26), which are not hid from God. `My groaning is not hid from thee’ (Psa. 38:9). God can pick sense out of a confused prayer. These desires cry louder in his ears than your sins. Sometimes a Christian has such confused thoughts that he can say nothing but, as a child, cries, `O Father’, not able to express what he needs, like Moses at the Red Sea. These stirrings of spirit touch the heart of God and melt him into compassion towards us, when they come from the Spirit of adoption, and from a striving to be better.”

“`Oh, but is it possible’, thinks the misgiving heart, `that so holy a God should accept such a prayer?’ Yes, he will accept that which is his own, and pardon that which is ours. Jonah prayed in the fish’s belly (Jon. 2:1), being burdened with the guilt of sin, yet God heard him. Let not, therefore, infirmities discourage us. James takes away this objection (James 5:17). Some might object, `If I were as holy as Elijah, then my prayers might be regarded.’ `But,’ says he, ‘Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are.’ He had his passions as well as we, or do we think that God heard him because he was without fault? Surely not. But look at the promises: `Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee’ (Psa. 50:15). `Ask, and it shall be given you’ (Matt. 7:7) and others like these. God accepts our prayers, though weak, because we are his own children, and they come from his own Spirit; because they are according to his own will; and because they are offered in Christ’s mediation, and he takes them, and mingles them with his own incense (Rev. 8:3).”

“There is never a holy sigh, never a tear we shed, which is lost. And as every grace increases by exercise of itself, so does the grace of prayer. By prayer we learn to pray. So, likewise, we should take heed of a spirit of discouragement in all other holy duties, since we have so gracious a Saviour. Pray as we are able, hear as we are able, strive as we are able, do as we are able, according to the measure of grace received. God in Christ will cast a gracious eye upon that which is his own.”

Extract from The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes.


John Calvin on Prayer

September 29, 2009

johncalvin“Prayer has not been instituted that we might arrogantly exalt ourselves before God, nor that we should extol our dignity, but so that we might admit our poverty, groaning like children telling their father about their troubles. Such a way of thinking should, rather be like a spur, moving us to pray even more.”

“There are two things which should really stir us up to pray: first of all, God’s directive which commands us to pray; and then the promise by which he assures us that we will receive what we ask.”

(John Calvin)

S. Lewis Johnson on Prayer

September 29, 2009

SLEWISJOHNSON In this 8 part series provided by the SLJ Institute, Dr. S. Lewis Johnson teaches on the theology of prayer in a way that is sadly, and unfortunately, lacking in many (so-called) churches today. Highly recommended for all Christians no matter their stage of spiritual maturity. Each lesson is available here or you can download each MP3 individually below.

  1. The Theology of Prayer: the Nature, Object and Grounds of Prayer
  2. Prayer and the Attributes, part I (Why Bother and Infinite, Omnipotent God of Love?)
  3. Prayer and the Attributes, part II (Does Prayer Change an Unchanging God?)
  4. Prayer and the Decrees
  5. The Problem of Unanswered Prayer, part I
  6. The Problem of Unanswered Prayer, part II
  7. The Necessity of Prayer
  8. Importunate Prayer

Prayer Not Prayed

June 14, 2009

martinlutherbook How many pray the Lord’s Prayer several thousand times in the course of a year, and if they were to keep on doing so for a thousand years they would not have tasted nor prayed one iota, one dot, of it!

In a word, the Lord’s Prayer is the greatest martyr on earth (as are the name and word of God). Everybody tortures and abuses it; few take comfort and joy in its proper use.

(Martin Luther)

Red Envelope Day

March 1, 2009

Please help be a voice for hope and change by participating in Red Envelope Day on March 31st, 2009.

Red Envelope Project

…and please remember to pray for the President that his heart and mind will be changed about abortion.

Rule of Prayer

January 12, 2009

by John Calvin

1. Let the first rule of right prayer then be, to have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God. This we shall accomplish in regard to the mind, if, laying aside carnal thoughts and cares which might interfere with the direct and pure contemplation of God, it not only be wholly intent on prayer, but also, as far as possible, be borne and raised above itself. I do not here insist on a mind so disengaged as to feel none of the gnawings of anxiety; on the contrary, it is by much anxiety that the fervor of prayer is inflamed.

2. Another rule of prayer is, that in asking we must always truly feel our wants, and seriously considering that we need all the things which we ask, accompany the prayer with a sincere, nay, ardent desire of obtaining them.

3. The third rule to be added is: that he who comes into the presence of God to pray must divest himself of all vainglorious thoughts, lay aside all idea of worth; in short, discard all self-confidence, humbly giving God the whole glory, lest by arrogating anything, however little, to himself, vain pride cause him to turn away his face.

4. The fourth rule of prayer is, that notwithstanding of our being thus abased and truly humbled, we should be animated to pray with the sure hope of succeeding.

Excerpt from Of Prayer — A Perpetual Exercise Of Faith. The Daily Benefits Derived From It.

Without Christ Without Prayer

October 18, 2008

Christopher Love “Jacob could not receive the blessing from the father but in the garments of his elder brother; nor can we receive anything from the hands of God but in the robes of Christ. No prayer can be accepted by God but in and through the intercession of Jesus Christ. If Christ is not an intercessor in heaven, no prayer will be heard on earth. In Revelation 8:3, it is written that there was "an angel that came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne." The word in Greek has this purpose: that He should add in prayers to the prayers of the saints. It is as if the prayer of Christ and a believer were all one. In Isaiah 56:7 God promises, "I will bring My people to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer." Our prayers are but as so many ciphers that signify nothing till the intercession of Christ is added to them. Without that they cannot be accepted.”

(From When is Prayer heard? by Christopher Love)