FOR A SPIRIT OF PRAYER
Most merciful and gracious God, who hast promised to fulfill the desire of them that fear thee, and to give to everyone that asketh of thee; who, for our encouragement to come boldly to the throne of grace, hast given thy Son to be a merciful and faithful High Priest; draw us, we beseech thee, by thy Holy Spirit to the devout exercise of prayer. Convince us deeply of our guilt and weakness, of our blindness and depravity, that so with great earnestness and constancy we may cry unto thee, the God of our life, and of our strength; to enable us to perform every Christian duty, to fill us with all knowledge and with all goodness.
Let not our prayer be a mere service of the lips, or be offered up only to pacify conscience. May it be the hunger and thirst of our souls after thyself, and after all those spiritual blessings, without which we must perish forever. Create and maintain in us, O God! a sensibility of the infinite worth of spiritual blessings, and a dread of spiritual evils, that we may pray always, and not faint. Let our wants be so pressing as to force us to pray. May we understand that thy ear hearkens to the most stammering tongue, and to the groaning of all that bewail their captivity to sin. And that we may never be at a loss for matters of supplication, confession, and thanksgiving, teach us to observe narrowly the various workings of our evil nature, to know our peculiar duties and temptations, and to remember the daily mercies of our God to us sinners.
And as thou knowest the great corruption of our hearts; how apt we are, from the practice of the world and the suggestions of Satan, lightly to esteem the all-important duty of prayer; O Lord, impress with power upon our hearts the example of all thy honored and glorified saints, and the practice of they dear Son our only Savior in the days of his flesh. Let their assiduity and earnestness in prayer make us always ashamed and self-condemned for any backwardness we feel to the exercise of this duty. Give us an understanding to know that the prayer of faith is the only appointed means of obtaining the blessings which enrich the soul; the only instrument of preserving the connection of all the graces of the divine life; and that no higher affront can be offered to thy name than to live without prayer.
Do thou, O God, who requires men to come before thee with such dispositions as shall ascribe to thee the honor due to thy most holy name, prepare our hearts to pray, with a determined opposition to the whole bod of sin, with a stedfast purpose to cast away all our transgressions, and to have respect to all thy commandments. Convince us, O Lord, that if we regard iniquity in our heart, thou will not hear us; but if we call upon thee in truth, thou will hear us, and bless us in our deed.
In all our addresses to thee, may we draw nigh with a contrite heart and with a humble spirit. May a sense of our defilement, and our sin, a knowledge of thy infinite purity, and a conviction of the distance between sinners and the eternal God, fill our souls with humility and self-abasement.
Deliver us, O God, from turning our very prayers into sin, and provoking thy wrath by daring to approach thee in our own name, trusting in our own goodness. To Jesus, who endured the cross, and ever liveth to make intercession, may we always look in all our prayers, and bring every offering to him, as the only person in heaven or earth, for whose sake and at whose hands it becomes thee to receive our request.
And grant us full assurance of the success of all our prayers which have thy glory for their aim, a humble heart for their root, and the intercession of Christ engaged for their success. In all our devotions may we through Christ and the Spiritís influence have access to thee with a firm dependence, and with an increasing delight in this holy exercise. And we beseech thee, O God, to fill our hearts with such conceptions of the truth of thy promises, made to all who call upon thee; such faith in the name and power of Christ employed in behalf of all believing supplicants who approach thee; and such a remembrance of the happy fruits of prayer experienced by all the generations of thy children, that we may esteem prayer our high privilege, and be more and more fervent and diligent in the use of it, till all our prayers shall be completely answered, and changed into everlasting praise.
And as we beg for the spirit of prayer, so we request also what is equally necessary for us, the love of thy blessed word. Thou hast caused all holy scripture to be written for our reproof, for our correction, for our instruction in righteousness, oh, teach us, we beseech thee, the true meaning and interpretation thereof. Let us not go wrong out of the way of thy commandments, by leaning to our own understanding, or by calling any man master. Give us to delight in reading thy word and pondering it in our hearts. And as we read, may we drink deep into its spirit, be molded by it in all our sentiments, tempers, and practice; that in the end we may enjoy that eternal life, which is revealed in thy word, and promised to all them that obey it. Hear our prayers, and do abundantly for us above all we can ask or think, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.