Simply Let Them Go

-Beloved, have unity of spirit in prayer...- 1 Peter 3.8

How should one pray? John Tauler answers the question:

Every good person, when he intends to pray, should gather together to himself his external senses and look into his heart and mind to see that they are well focused on God. A person can do this in the highest, lowest, or intermediate manner. and to this end it is good for a person to examine very carefully what is most suitable and what most moves him to proper, true devotion; and let him then make use of his manner of work. But you should realize that whatever good person wants to engage in true, proper prayer, so that his prayer will truly be heard, must have already turned his back on all temporal and external things and on whatever is not divine, whether it be friend or foe, and on all vanity, whether it be clothes or jewels or anything of which God is not the true source. And he must separate his words and actions from all disorder, internal or external.

Often we are caught up in temporal matters and forget to set temporal things aside and focus on God. That has been happening to me over the last year. My study of the scriptures and historic theology became an idol and obscured my view of Jesus Christ and with Christ obscured my prayer life suffered. Pride in my own ability to hash out the deeper meaning of a text or passage left my soul barren and lifeless. Being focused on temporal things, like dispelling doubt or proving to others the truthfulness of the Reformed Confessions, was causing me to doubt and lack faith. The last few months I’ve focused my time on prayer instead of polemics, devotion instead of study, and just as He promised I was graciously brought back to prayer. 

This is how a person should prepare himself for true prayer. This is what St. Peter calls being one of spirit – that the heart and mind are attached completely to God alone, and that a person have the focus of his ground and spirit completely turned to God as present, and have a tender, benevolent attachment to God.

Children, everything we have, after all, we have from God. And how could it ever be otherwise than that we offer back completely everything that we have ever received from him with our interior focus and spirit, undivided and simple, turned toward him. And then one should engage all one’s facilities, interior and exterior, and should carry them up entirely into God.

A warning against ritualism and lack of zeal in prayer:

This is the proper manner of true prayer. And do not imagine that true prayer is when one babbles away outwardly with the mouth, reads the Psalter a lot, keeps vigils often, and fingers a rosary while one’s heart is running hither and yon. You should realize truly: all prayers or actions that hinder your spirit from praying should simply be let go, whatever they might be or be called, or however great or good they might seem, with the sole exception of prayers prescribed for those obliged by order or holy church.  Except for that, simply let go whatever else keeps you from true, essential prayer.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

“A 14th century Dominican, John Tauler was a renowned preacher of the middle ages. Although not as speculative or poetic as some of his contemporaries, Tauler’s sermons are among the noblest, showing his gift for clearly expressing spiritual truths. Inner Way is a collection of his festival sermons. Often called a Christian mystic, Tauler emphasized the “blessed contemplation” of God. However, his emphasis on divine contemplation was always tempered with practical advice for daily Christian living. Inner Way is consequently a true gem. It is historically valuable, spiritually enriching, and ideal for the liturgical season. Many believers–including Martin Luther–have found these sermons engaging and instructive. They are well worth the read.” Tim Perrine CCEL Staff Writer

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Praying the Scriptures

First posted in 2013

When I’m not sure what to pray for, when I know what to pray for but can’t seem to find the words or when I find a tornbiblepassage of scripture that stick in my mind I pray it. I found the following prayer in one of my old journals from last year. I’ll post it here on my blog to encourage others to pray the scriptures. Praying the scriptures has lead me to better and more frequent ruminations on the word and I personally found this manner of praying to be a perfect preperation for those sweet moments of reflection and meditation upon God’s word. It has been a helpful practice an essential practice for me personally to pray in this manner.

(Eph1:1) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Father, I thank you for the Holy Spirit, who brings life giving power, who made this unworthy sinner alive!

(1:2) Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is because of your dear son Jesus Christ I can approach you, by His blood I can enter into this Holy Place of prayer and receive forgiveness.

(1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

With my soul renewed, communion with you revived, I now see the sinfulness of my sin. Let me love you dear Jesus with my whole heart and life.

(1:4-5) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

You are truly a merciful God who remembers my sin no more. I beg you for continued mercy, that I may glorify you with my life, even when I know I do not deserve it.

(1:6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In Christ I was raised from the ruination of my past sins where I now abide above positionally in Christ in heaven and I thank you Lord.

(1:7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Lord God I thank you for Jesus! Oh how I love my Saviour…who bled and died, displaying love and purchasing grace that’s so amazing.

(1:8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

And that gift of faith Dear Father, the salvation you wrought in my life, will always be before my eyes. Jesus will always be in my heart. Holy Spirit enable me to live as you have called me to live, as salt and light. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Yours in the Lord,

jm

“Mystical” Experience

This is a difficult subject to discuss considering my Reformed leanings, I mean, really…mystical experiences? These experiences started more than 15 years ago when I was young in the faith. I would spend every spare minute pouring over the scriptures, following scripture chains, reading tracts, short Bible studies, etc. always attended with repentance and prayer, sometimes even tears of sorrow over sin, or joy for the forgiveness I have in Christ. Over the years these experiences would happen after intense periods of prayer or intense studying of the sacred scriptures and theological works, but not always, that’s enough of an introduction.

hand sun

Here goes…

I’ll jump right in by explaining the very first experience I had over 15 years ago. At the time I had a job which allowed me to read throughout the day so I brought my Bible to work every shift and spent the majority of the day reading it. At the end of each day, after family time and everyone settled in, I would set time aside for prayer. Nothing crazy, just 30 minutes to pray and meditate. The first “mystical” experience I had took place after a time of fervent prayer. I wouldn’t say I did anything different, it was just time aside, a pattern I had been using for a few months at this point. I finished praying, and took the dog for her last walk of the day, this was my usual routine. As we walked our accustomed path I noticed a warmth or radiance to my surroundings. It was a pleasant fall evening, the sky was full of stars and I felt as if I was touching or apart of all that surrounded me including the stars above. It wasn’t trace like – just an experience.

When I looked up into the night sky it was as if I was united with all of creation and I lost my sense of time or space, just a deep connected-ness to God and creation. It’s difficult to describe or place into words, but it was similar to what you experience when you swim to the bottom of a pool and feel the water surrounding you, the water touching every part of your body. That night I felt as if I was rooted to the world with God and creation touching every part of my being. Throughout the experience I was overwhelmed with thankfulness to Jesus Christ. It was as if I was standing before my Lord, that I had entered the Holy of Holies and found myself complete in Him, in union with Jesus. The unity I felt with my Lord Jesus was humbling and overpowering. It’s difficult to say with any certainty how long this experience lasted, but it was a very happy, pleasing experience that really encouraged me fall deeper in love with Christ. After a time the experience faded somewhat. I wasn’t let down or disappointed when the experience was over, but I was further convinced of my need for Jesus Christ.

The experience I had that night stayed with me for a few days, the feeling of connected-ness, unity with God and creation through Jesus Christ, it all remained with me. Being somewhat of a bookworm I started to read up on mystical experience and found some confirmation of what had taken place in the writings of the Saints, especially the strangely beautiful experiences of God’s presence revealed to us in scripture. This mystical communion with Christ happened early in my Christian walk, I didn’t try to recreate the experience or avoid them. At the time I believed it was best to just let things happen, trusting in God. My reading and prayer routine continued and the experiences would continue to take place – often taking me by surprise. It could be during my walk home from work or while performing a daily task like getting the kids ready for bed. The feeling of thankfulness to Christ and unity with my surroundings would flood in and fill my soul with a sense of love that both lifted me up spiritually and humbled me at the same time.

A few years passed by and, as any good theology nerd, I read B.B. Warfield’s work “Mysticism and Christianity.” I was already leaning in the Reformed direction due to a plain reading of Romans 9 (among other passages), so I decided to shun all things mystical, convinced by Warfield’s good logical sense. Warfield wrote that a mystic was mute because they have feelings and not concepts. Fair enough. But I can’t help believing I understand better what it means to, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” or to, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way…” The concept of, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” is more real to me because of the experiential knowledge of these concepts Jesus Christ has granted me. I am convinced He supplies both head knowledge and heart knowledge!

For the past 15 or more years these mystical experiences have continue to take place and I am now thankful for them. After all, experiencing the risen Christ has deepen my love for Him, the scriptures and frequent participation in the Lord’s Supper. It sets me on my knees in a state of deeper repentance and prayer. If this makes me heterodox and I’m not convinced it does, or even that I am unique, may God have mercy upon me. May He guide me back to the narrow way. I’m not convinced I’m my experiences place me outside of the pale of Christian orthodoxy and so I’m ready to explore these experiences further. This confession may lead to more posts that many may consider heterodox, but please know that I still consider myself Reformed just not one that can walk in tight unanimity on the issue of my experiences of God.  May God forgive me where I error.

Yours in the Lord Jesus Christ who saves to the uttermost,

jm

PS: If you have any comments or thoughts on my post please leave them below.

PPS: No I have never done acid or any other illegal drugs. lol

PPPS: I’m hold on to some details – I’m not ready to share them yet.

Short Prayers

Wiki:Jacob-Böhme

Jakob Böhme (/ˈbməˈb-/;[2] 1575 – 17 November 1624) was a German Christian mystic and theologian. He was considered an original thinker by many of his contemporaries[3] within the Lutheran tradition, and his first book, commonly known as Aurora, caused a great scandal. In contemporary English, his name may be spelled Jacob Boehme; in seventeenth-century England it was also spelled Behmen, approximating the contemporary English pronunciation of the German Böhme.

Re-blog:

A Short Form of Prayer Before the Eyes of God

O great, unsearchable, holy God, Lord of all being, who in Christ Jesus, out of pure love for us, revealed your holy being in our humanity, I, a poor, unworthy, sinful man, come before your revealed face, in the humanity of Jesus Christ, even though I am unworthy to raise my eyes to You, and I implore You, and confess to You that I have been faithless and disloyal to Your great love and grace that You have given us.  I have forsaken the covenant that You, out of pure grace, made with me in baptism, in which You took me as a child and heir of eternal life.  I have led my desire into the vanity of this world, and defiled my soul thereby, and made it completely bestial and earthly, so that, because of the mire of the sin, my soul does not know itself, and sees itself wholly as a strange child before Your sight, unworthy to desire Your grace.  I lie as deep as my soul’s lips in the mire of sin and in the vanity of my corrupted flesh, and have only a small spark of breath in me that seeks Your grace.  In vanity I have thus become dead to myself so that, in this vanity, I dare not raise my eyes to You.

O God in Christ Jesus, who for the sake of poor sinners became man so that You could help them, to You I cry; I still have a spark of refuge for You in my soul.  I have not regarded Your purchased inheritance that through Your bitter death You purchased for us, and I have shared the inheritance of vanity in Your Father’s wrath, in the curse of the Earth, and am trapped by sin and half dead to Your kingdom.  I lie in weakness before your power, and angry death waits for me.  The devil has poisoned me so that I do not recognize my Savior.  I have become a wild shoot in Your tree and have devoured my inheritance from You with with the devil’s pits.  What shall I say before You, I who am not worthy of Your grace?  I lie in the sleep of death that has trapped me, and I am bound fast with three strong chains.  O help me, You Breaker of death.  I can and am able to do nothing.  I have become dead to myself and have no power before you, and dare not lift my eyes to you because of my great shame.  I am a defiled swineherd and have spent my inheritance with the false adulterous whore of vanity, wasting it in the lusts of the flesh.  In my own lust I have sought myself and not You.  Now I have become a fool in myself and am naked and bare; my shame stands before my eyes; I cannot hide it.  Your judgment waits for me.  What am I to say to You, You who are the judge of the world?  I have nothing more that I can bring to You.  Here I stand before You naked and bare, and fall down before Your face, and complain to You of my misery, and cry for Your great mercy.  Although I am not worthy, take me into Your death and let me die Your death in my death.  Strike down my assumed “I” and destroy by Your death my “I,” so that I no longer live, since in myself I only sin.  Kill the evil beast full of false cunning and self-desire, and redeem the poor soul from its heavy bondage.

O merciful God, it is because of Your love and patience that I am not already lying in hell.  I give myself up with my whole will, thought, and mind to Your grace, and ask for Your mercy.  By Your death I call out of the small spark of my life surrounded by death and hell, which open their jaws to me, and seek to swallow me up in death.  You have promised You will not put out the glimmering wick.  I have no other road by which to come to You than by Your suffering and death, because You have made our death life by means of Your humanity and have broken the chains of death.  Therefore I sink my soul’s desire into Your death, into the broken gates of Your death.

O great Fountain of the love of God, let me die to my vanity and sin in the death of my Redeemer Jesus Christ.

O Breath of the great love of God, revive my weak breath in me so that it may begin to hunger and thirst after You.  O Jesus, sweet power, in Your fountains of grace give my soul to drink the sweet water of eternal life so that it may wake from death and thirst after You.  O how it has become completely exhausted in Your power.  O merciful God, convert me; I cannot.  O Conqueror of death, help me to strive since the enemy holds me with his three chains and will not let my soul’s desire come before You.  Come, and take my soul’s desire into You.  Be my pull to the Father, and redeem me from the devil’s bonds.  Do not look upon my deformity, that I stand naked before You, and have lost my cloak.  Clothe my breath that lives in me and desires Your grace and let me once again see Your salvation.

O deepest Love of all, take my soul’s desire into You, and, by Your death, lead it into You out of death’s bonds through Your death into Your resurrection.  Revive me in Your power so that my desire and will begin to grow anew.  O Conqueror of death and God’s wrath, conquer my “I” in me.  Break its will, and crush my soul so that it is in fear before You, continually falling on the ground before You, and make it ashamed of its own will before Your judgment so that it may become an instrument obedient to You.  Bend it in death’s bonds; remove its power so that it wills nothing without You.

O God, Holy Spirit, my Savior in Christ, teach me what I ought to do so that I might turn to You.  Redirect my will in me to You.  Draw me, in Christ, to the Father, and help me so that from now on I might leave sin and vanity and nevermore enter into them.  Awake true sorrow for past sins in me.  Keep me in Your bonds, and do not let me loose from deaths.  Enlighten my spirit so that I may see the divine way, and continually walk in it.  Take me from myself and give me completely to Yourself alone.  Do not let me begin, will, think, nor do anything without You.  O how long, Lord, will I not be worthy of what I desire of You?  Let my soul’s desire dwell merely in the doorways of Your outer room.  Make it a servant to Your servants.  Preserve it from the horrible pit in which there is no solace or refreshment.

O God in Christ Jesus, I am blind to myself.  I do not know myself because of vanity.  In my blindness You are hidden from me, You who are yet close by me.  Yet Your anger that my own desire has ignited has made me dark.  Take the breath of my soul’s desire to Yourself.  Test it, Lord, and shatter it, so that my soul may reach Your beam of sweet grace.

I lie before You as a dead man whose life, like a small spark, hovers at his lips.  Ignite it, Lord.  Direct my soul’s breath to You.  Lord, I wait on Your promise, for You have said, As I truly live, I have no desire in the death of the sinner, but that he turn and live, (Ezekiel 33:11).  I sink myself into the death of my Savior Jesus Christ, and wait on You, Your word is truth and life.

Amen.

CALVIN ON POSTURE IN WORSHIP

Source: The Calvinist International

SITTING ON THE PROMISES? Portrait of John Calvin

Two of the more common gestural accompaniments of prayer and worship in Scripture are kneeling and the lifting of one’s hands.

In several places in the Institutes and his commentaries, John Calvin reflects on the usefulness of such practices for Christian prayer and sketches an outline of what it is that God intends them to do; or, rather, what God intends to do by them (and the notion of instrumentality will emerge as clearly having been of great significance for Calvin).

We tend, I think, in the Reformed world particularly, to assume that posture has very little to do with prayer, for a variety of reasons (e.g., an allergy to certain traditions with which we’d rather not be associated; an intellectualizing and cerebral impulse in worship that has as a frequent corollary, though not as a necessary consequence, a perhaps too easy alliance with forms that fall within our collective comfort zones; 1etc.). Others perhaps move in the opposition direction, believing that certain actions must be done at certain times, and that a failure to perform these actions makes prayer less, well, prayerful.

For Calvin, both positions are errors because both misjudge the nature of externals and their relation to the worship of the heart–the former too easily dispensing with them and therefore too quickly leaving them to one side, the latter giving them more weight than is due to them. Worship of God without the heart is useless; but, at the same time, what we do with our bodies is closely bound up with what we do with our hearts, and not in a symbolic way merely. The posture of the body ought to be emblematic of the posture of the heart, yes. But, ideally, the posture of the body serves to form the posture of the heart as well: posture, that is, has what we might call, in syntactical terms, both an indicative and a hortatory function. Kneeling is not just a sign of submission; kneeling aids in producing submission.

To approach more closely to what should be involved in thinking about this issue, let us look at some excerpts from Calvin, beginning with the Institutes. (END QUOTE)

For the rest of the article please visit The Calvinist International

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Regulative Principle

Just to pique your interest…

Samuel Waldron explains the Regulative Principle in his Exposition of the 1689 using the following example. “Mr Anglican must use the materials of the Word of God, but has no blueprint and may use other materials. Mr. Puritan must use only materials of the Word of God and has a blueprint. It takes no special genius to discern which will be more pleasing to God.” Mr. Anglican represents the normative principle and Mr. Puritan represents the regulative principle.

Waldron also notes:

– God alone is to determine how the sinner approaches God in worship
– extra biblical practices usually tend to nullify true biblical worship (see video I posted earlier of holy laughter)
– we call into question the sufficiency of scripture when we add or make additions to the biblical norm
– the Bible explicity condemns all worship that is not commanded (Waldron lists the following scriptures: Lev. 10.1-3; Deut. 4.2, 12.29-32, 17.3; Josh. 1.7, 23.6-8; Matt. 15.13; Col. 2.20-23)
– how God is to be worship is explained here Deut. 12.29-32

John Owen is quoted, ” Three things are usually pleaded in the justification of the observance of such rites and ceremonies in the worship of God: First, that they tend unto the furtherance of the devotion of the worshipers; secondly, that they render the worship itself comely and beautiful; thirdly, that they are the preservers of order in the celebration thereof. And therefore on these accounts they may be instituted or appointed by some, and observed by all.”

Owen recognizes that some are changing the biblical order and practice by instituting what they like forcing others to observe and practice it. I see the regulative principle as freeing me from observing false traditions, human forms of piety, etc.) Owen hits the nail on the head with swift efficiency. All three points tend toward the preferences of man, they are man centered, rather than centered in the word of God.

Considering Deuteronomy: 12:

21. If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. 22. Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike. 23. Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. 24. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. 25. Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD. 26. Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose: 27. And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh. 28. Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God. 29. When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; 30. Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 32. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

v. 1.-2 destroy Temples belonging to false religion
v. 4-19 worship is prescribed where God reveals His name…the Tabernacle
v. 4. “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way.”
v.8 “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes,”
v. 20-21 the revealed will of God regulates worship
v. 29-21 we are not to be influenced by culture
v.31 “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”
v. 32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.”

Just a few notes from my reading on musical instruments being used in worship:

– David was given divine revelation to use them (when to use them, how to use them, etc.) which is why we find them listed in the Psalms (in the AV with instructions on what to use)

– The inclusion of musical instruments was not commanded/given by divine revelation in the NT

– Musical instruments were associated with worship in the Temple

– Synagogues did not use musical instruments because they were apart of worship in the Temple

– The early church, following the pattern of the NT, did not use instruments

– The church at large refused to use instruments in worship until the 19th century

– The new covenant deals with the heart, circumcision was of the heart not flesh, worship in the NT is a matter of the heart

– When Protestants, following the lead of Roman Catholicism, wanted to use instruments the argument was made, “to keep our children from leaving the church”

To say I read a lot is an understatement. My notes in the past have been a mess so I am not sure where the argument, “to keep our children from leaving” was used but I believe it was and Anglican.

What Early Christians believed about USING INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC

Interesting read…

Why do the Orthodox not use instruments in worship? Part 01 | OrthoCuban

Should we use instruments during worship? Comment and let me know your thoughts.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Divine Examination

The Soul Submitting to Divine Examination
the Sincerity of its Repentance and Faith.

Philip Doddridge, 

“Lord God! thou searchest all hearts and triest the reins of the children of men! (Jer. 17:10). Search me, O Lord, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, (Ps. 139:23-24). Doth not conscience, Lord! testify in thy presence, that my repentance and faith are such as have been described, or at least that it is my earnest prayer that they may be so? Come, therefore, O thou blessed Spirit! who art the author of all grace and consolation, and work this temper more fully in my soul. O represent sin to mine eyes in all its most odious colors, that I may feel a mortal and irreconcilable hatred to it! O represent the majesty and mercy of the blessed God in such a manner that my heart may be alarmed, and that it may be melted! Smite the rock, that the waters may flow, (Ps. 78:20): waters of genuine, undissembled, and filial repentance! Convince me, O thou blessed Spirit! of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment! (John 16:8). Show me that I have undone myself; but that my help is found in God alone, (Hosea 13:9), in God through Christ, in whom alone he will extend compassion and help to me! According to thy peculiar office, take of Christ and show it unto me, (John 16:15). Show me his power to save! Show me his willingness to exert that power I teach my faith to behold him as extended on the cross, with open arms, with a pierced, bleeding side; and so telling me, in the most forcible language, what room there is in his very heart for me! May I know what it is to have my whole heart subdued by love; so subdued as to be crucified with him, (Rom. 6:6); to be dead to sin and dead to the world, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, (Rom. 6:11). In his power and love may I confide! To him may I without any reserve commit my spirit! His image may I bear! His laws may I observe! His service may I pursue! And may I remain, through time and eternity, a monument of the efficacy or his Gospel, and a trophy of his victorious grace!

“O blessed God! if there be any thing wanting towards constituting me a sincere Christian, discover it to me, and work it in me! Beat down, I beseech thee, every false and presumptuous hope, how costly soever that building may have been which it thus laid in ruins, and how proud soever I may have been of its vain ornaments! Let me know the worst of my case, be that knowledge edge ever so distressing; and if there be remaining danger, O let my heart be fully sensible of it, sensible while yet there is a remedy!

“If there be any secret sin yet lurking in my soul, which I have not sincerely renounced, discover it to me, and rend it out of my heart, though it may have shot its roots ever so deep, and have wrapped them all around it, so that every nerve shall be pained by the separation! Tear it away, O Lord, by a hand graciously severe! And by degrees, yea, Lord, by speedy advances, go on, I beseech thee, to perfect what is still lacking in my faith, (l Thess. 3:10). Accomplish in me all the good pleasure of thy goodness, (2 Thess. 1:11). Enrich me, O Heavenly Father, with all the graces of thy Spirit; form me to the complete image of thy dear Son; and then, for his sake, come unto me, and manifest thy gracious presence in my soul, (John, 14:21, 28), till it is ripened for that state of glory for which all these operations are intended to prepare it Amen.” – The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul

Public Prayer

by WILLIAM PERKINS (1558-1602)billyperkins

We have been considering the preaching of the Word. Now, finally, something should be said about leading in public prayer. This is the second aspect of prophesying. In it the minister is the voice of the people in calling upon God (1 Sam. 14:24; Luke 11:1).

In this connection we should note the following points:

1. The subject of public prayer should be, first, the deficiencies and sins of the people, and then the graces of God and the blessings they stand in need of (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). Tertullian says, ‘We do all pray for all emperors, that they may obtain a long life, a quiet reign, a safe family, courageous armies, a faithful council, loyal subjects, a peaceable world, and whatsoever things are desired of a man and of Caesar.’ Again, ‘We pray for emperors for their ministers and powers, for the state of the time, for the quietness of their affairs, and for the delaying of their death.’ The Lord’s Prayer covers these areas under six headings: God’s glory, God’s kingdom, and our obedience, the preservation of life, the forgiveness of sins, and the strengthening of the spirit.

2. The form of prayer should be as follows: One voice, that of the minister alone, should lead in prayer, the congregation joining in silently but indicating their agreement at the end by saying, ‘Amen’ (Neh. 8:6; Acts 4:24; 1 Cor. 14:16). This was the practice in the early church, as Justin says: ‘When the president has finished his prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present cry out with a favourable approbation, saying, Amen.’

3. But the one voice which expresses the corporate prayers of the congregation needs to be understood (1 Cor. 14:15). It should not lead in prayer in a jagged and abrupt fashion, but with a steady flow of petitions, so that empty repetitions are avoided (Matt. 6:7).

4. There are three elements in praying: (i) Carefully thinking about the appropriate content for prayer; (ii) Setting the themes in an appropriate order; (iii) Expressing the prayer so that it is made in public in a way that is edifying for the congregation.

To the Triune God be the glory!

A Father’s Resolutions by Cotton Mather

Cotton_MatherPARENTS, Oh! how much ought you to be continually devising for the good of your children! Often device how to make them “wise children”; how to give them a desirable education, an education that may render them desirable; how to render them lovely and polite, and serviceable in their generation. Often devise how to enrich their minds with valuable knowledge; how to instill generous, gracious, and heavenly principles into their minds; how to restrain and rescue them from the paths of the destroyer, and fortify them against their peculiar temptations. There is a world of good that you have to do for them. You are without the natural feelings of humanity if you are not in a continual agony to do for them all the good that ever you can. It was no mistake of an ancient writer to say, “Nature teaches us to love our children as ourselves.”

RESOLVED—

  1. At the birth of my children, I will resolve to do all I can that they may be the Lord’s. I will now actually give them up by faith to God; entreating that each child may be a child of God the Father, a subject of God the Son, a temple of God the Spirit—and be rescued from the condition of a child of wrath, and be possessed and employed by the Lord as an everlasting instrument of His glory.
  2. As soon as my children are capable of minding my admonitions, I will often, often admonish them, saying, “Child, God has sent His son to die, to save sinners from death and hell. You must not sin against Him. You must every day cry to God that He would be your Father, and your Saviour, and your Leader. You must renounce the service of Satan, you must not follow the vanities of this world, you must lead a life of serious religion.
  3. Let me daily pray for my children with constancy, with fervency, with agony. Yea, by name let me mention each one of them every day before the Lord. I will importunately beg for all suitable blessings to be bestowed upon them: that God would give them grace, and give them glory, and withhold no good thing from them; that God would smile on their education, and give His good angels the charge over them, and keep them from evil, that it may not grieve them; that when their father and mother shall forsake them, the Lord may take them up. With importunity I will plead that promise on their behalf: “The Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit unto them that ask Him.” Oh! happy children, if by asking I may obtain the Holy Spirit for them!
  4. I will early entertain the children with delightful stories out of the Bible. In the talk of the table, I will go through the Bible, when the olive-plants about my table are capable of being so watered. But I will always conclude the stories with some lessons of piety to be inferred from them.
  5. I will single out some Scriptural sentences of the greatest importance; and some also that have special antidotes in them against the common errors and vices of children. They shall quickly get those golden sayings by heart, and be rewarded with silver or gold, or some good thing, when they do it. Such as,
    • Psalm 11:10—”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
    • Matthew 16:26—”What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
    • 1 Timothy 1:15—”Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
    • Matthew 6:6—”When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.”
    • Ephesians 4:25—”Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.”
    • Romans 12:17, 19—”Recompense to no man evil for evil . . .. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves.”
  6. Jewish treatise tells us that among the Jews, when a child began to speak, the father was bound to teach him Deuteronomy 33:4—”Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.” Oh! let me early make my children acquainted with the Law which our blessed Jesus has commanded us! ‘Tis the best inheritance I can give them.
  7. I will cause my children to learn the Catechism. In catechizing them, I will break the answers into many lesser and proper questions; and by their answer to them, observe and quicken their understandings. I will bring every truth into some duty and practice, and expect them to confess it, and consent unto it, and resolve upon it. As we go on in our catechizing, they shall, when they are able, turn to the proofs and read them, and say to me what they prove and how. Then, I will take my times, to put nicer and harder questions to them; and improve the times of conversation with my family (which every man ordinarily has or may have) for conferences on matters of religion.
  8. Restless will I be till I may be able to say of my children, “Behold, they pray!” I will therefore teach them to pray. But after they have learnt a form of prayer, I will press them to proceed unto points that are not in their form. I will charge them with all possible cogency to pray in secret; and often call upon them, “Child, I hope, you don’t forget my charge to you, about secret prayer: your crime is very great if you do!”
  9. I will do what I can very early to beget a temper of kindness in my children, both toward one another and toward all other people. I will instruct them how ready they should be to share with others a part of what they have; and they shall see my encouragements when they discover a loving, a courteous, an helpful disposition. I will give them now and then a piece of money, so that with their own little hands they may dispense unto the poor. Yea, if any one has hurt them, or vexed them, I will not only forbid them all revenge, but also oblige them to do a kindness as soon as may be to the vexatious person. All coarseness of language or carriage in them, I will discountenance.
  10. I will be solicitous to have my children expert, not only at reading handsomely, but also at writing a fair hand. I will then assign them such books to read as I may judge most agreeable and profitable; obliging them to give me some account of what they read; but keep a strict eye upon them, that they don’t stumble on the Devil’s library, and poison themselves with foolish romances, or novels, or plays, or songs, or jests that are not convenient. I will set them also, to write out such things as may be of the greatest benefit unto them; and they shall have their blank books, neatly kept on purpose, to enter such passages as I advise them to. I will particularly require them now and then to write a prayer of their own composing, and bring it unto me; that so I may discern what sense they have of their own everlasting interests.
  11. I wish that my children may as soon as may be, feel the principles of reason and honor working in them—and that I may carry on their education, very much upon those principles. Therefore, first, I will wholly avoid that harsh, fierce, crabbed usage of the children that would make them tremble and abhor to come into my presence. I will treat them so that they shall fear to offend me, and yet mightily love to see me, and be glad of my coming home if I have been abroad at any time. I will have it looked upon as a severe and awful punishment to be forbidden for awhile to come into my presence. I will raise in them an high opinion of their father’s love to them, and of his being better able to judge what is good for them than they are for themselves. I will bring them to believe ’tis best for them to be and do as I will have them. Hereupon I will continually magnify the matter to them, what a brave thing ’tis to know the things that are excellent; and more brave to do the things that are virtuous. I will have them to propose it as a reward of their well-doing at any time, I will now go to my father, and he will teach me something that I was never taught before. I will have them afraid of doing any base thing, from an horror of the baseness in it. My first response to finding a lesser fault in them shall be a surprise, a wonder, vehemently expressed before them, that ever they should be guilty of doing so foolishly; a vehement belief that they will never do the like again; a weeping resolution in them, that they will not. I will never dispense a blow, except it be for an atrocious crime or for a lesser fault obstinately persisted in; either for an enormity, or for an obstinacy. I will always proportion the chastisements to the miscarriages; neither smiting bitterly for a very small piece of childishness nor frowning only a little for some real wickedness. Nor shall my chastisement ever be dispensed in a passion and a fury; but I will first show them the command of God, by transgressing whereof they have displeased me. The slavish, raving, fighting way of discipline is too commonly used. I look upon it as a considerable article in the wrath and curse of God upon a miserable world.
  12. As soon as we can, we’ll get up to yet higher principles. I will often tell the children what cause they have to love a glorious Christ, who has died for them. And how much He will be well-pleased with their well-doing. And what a noble thing ’tis to follow His example; which example I will describe unto them. I will often tell them that the eye of God is upon them; the great God knows all they do and hears all they speak. I will often tell them that there will be a time when they must appear before the Judgment-Seat of the holy Lord; and they must now do nothing that may then be a grief and shame unto them. I will set before them the delights of that Heaven that is prepared for pious children; and the torments of that Hell that is prepared of old for naughty ones. I will inform them of the good things the good angels do for little ones that have the fear of God and are afraid of sin. And how the devils tempt them to do ill things; how they hearken to the devils, and are like them, when they do such things; and what mischiefs the devils may get leave to do them in this world, and what a sad thing ’twill be, to be among the devils in the Place of Dragons. I will cry to God, that He will make them feel the power of these principles.
  13. When the children are of a fit age for it, I will sometimes closet them; have them with me alone; talk with them about the state of their souls; their experiences, their proficiencies, their temptations; obtain their declared consent unto every jot nd tittle of the gospel; and then pray with them, and weep unto the Lord for His grace, to be bestowed upon them, and make them witnesses of the agony with which I am travailing to see the image of Christ formed in them. Certainly, they’ll never forget such actions!
  14. I will be very watchful and cautious about the companions of my children. I will be very inquisitive what company they keep; if they are in hazard of being ensnared by any vicious company, I will earnestly pull them out of it, as brands out of the burning. I will find out, and procure, laudable companions for them.
  15. As in catechizing the children, so in the repetition of the public sermons, I will use this method. I will put every truth into a question to be answered with Yes or No. By this method I hope to awaken their attention as well as enlighten their understanding. And thus I shall have an opportunity to ask, “Do you desire such or such a grace of God?” and the like. Yea, I may have opportunity to demand, and perhaps to obtain their early and frequent (and why not sincere?) consent unto the glorious gospel. The Spirit of Grace may fall upon them in this action; and they may be seized by Him, and held as His temples, through eternal ages.
  16. When a Day of Humiliation arrives, I will make them know the meaning of the day. And after time given them to consider of it, I will order them to tell me what special afflictions they have met with, and what good they hope to get by those afflictions. On a Day of Thanksgiving, they shall also be made to know the intent of the Day. And after consideration, they shall tell me what mercies of God unto them they take special notice of, and what duties to God they confess and resolve under such obligations. Indeed, for something of this importance, to be pursued in my conversation with the children, I will not confine myself unto the solemn days, which may occur too seldom for it. Very particularly, on the birthdays of the children, I will take them aside, and mind them of the age which (by God’s grace) they are come unto; how thankful they should be for the mercies of God which they have hitherto lived upon; how fruitful they should be in all goodness, that so they may still enjoy their mercies. And I will inquire of them whether they have ever yet begun to mind the work which God sent them into the world upon; how far they understand the work; and what good strokes they have struck at it; and, how they design to spend the rest of their time, if God still continue them in the world.
  17. When the children are in any trouble—if they be sick, or pained—I will take advantage therefrom, to set before them the evil of sin, which brings all our trouble; and how fearful a thing it will be to be cast among the damned, who are in ceaseless and endless trouble. I will set before them the benefit of an interest in a CHRIST, by which their trouble will be sanctified unto them, and they will be prepared for death, and for fullness of joy in a happy eternity after death.
  18. Among all the points of education which I will endeavor for my children, I hope to see that each of them—the daughters as well as the sons—may gain insight into some skill that lies in the way of gain (however their own inclination may most carry them), so that they may be able to subsist themselves, and get something of a livelihood, in case the Providence of God should bring them into necessities. Why not they as well as Paul the Tent-Maker! The children of the best fashion, may have occasion to bless the parents that make such a provision for them! The Jews have a saying worth remembering: “Whoever doesn’t teach his son some trade or business, teaches him to be a thief.”
  19. As soon as ever I can, I will make my children apprehensive of the main end for which they are to live; that so they may as soon as may be, begin to live; and their youth not be nothing but vanity. I will show them, that their main end must be, to, acknowledge the great God, and His glorious Christ; and bring others to acknowledge Him: and that they are never wise nor well, but when they are doing so. I will make them able to answer the grand question of why they live; and what is the end of the actions that fill their lives? I will teach them that their Creator and Redeemer is to be obeyed in everything, and everything is to be done in obedience to Him. I will teach them how even their diversions, and their ornaments, and the tasks of their education, must all be to fit them for the further service of Him to whom I have devoted them; and how in these also, His commandments must be the rule of all they do. I will sometimes therefore surprise them with an inquiry, “Child, what is this for? Give me a good account of why you do it?” How comfortably shall I see them walking in the light, if I may bring them wisely to answer this inquiry.
  20. I will oblige the children to retire sometimes, and ponder on that question: “What shall I wish to have done, if I were now a-dying?”—and report unto me their own answer to the question; of which I will then take advantage, to inculcate the lessons of godliness upon them.
  21. If I live to see the children marriageable, I will, before I consult with Heaven and earth for their best accommodation in the married state, endeavor the espousal of their souls unto their only Saviour. I will as plainly, and as fully as I can, propose unto them the terms on which the glorious Redeemer would espouse them to Himself, in righteousness, judgment, and favor and mercies forever; and solicit their consent unto His proposals and overtures. Then would I go on, to do what may be expected from a tender parent for them, in their temporal circumstances.”
—Cotton Mather