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/ Songbook.ManuelAdam.com June 26th, 2004 Newsletter!
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The Secret of a Contented Life by Chris Silard
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived
your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had
no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I
have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know
how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every
circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger,
abundance and need. I can do all things through him who
http://www.covlife.org/audio/2004_04_25.mp3 (right click, save
- Application Questions
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The Way of Salvation: Prayer
by Thomas Watson
'But I give myself
unto prayer.' Psa 109: 4.
I shall not here expatiate upon prayer, as it will be considered more
fully in the Lord's prayer. It is one thing to pray, and another thing
to be given to prayer: he who prays frequently, is said to be given to
prayer; as he who often distributes alms, is said to be given to
charity. Prayer is a glorious ordinance, it is the soul's trading with
heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit, and we go up to him by
What is prayer?
It is an offering up of our desires to God for things agreeable to his
will, in the name of Christ.
'Prayer is offering up our desires;' and therefore called making known
our requests. Phil 4: 6. In prayer we come as humble petitioners,
begging to have our suit granted. It is 'offering up our desires to
God.' Prayer is not to be made to any but God. The Papists pray to
saints and angels, who know not our grievances. 'Abraham be ignorant of
us.' Isa 63: 16. All angel-worship is forbidden. Col 2: 18, 19. We must
not pray to any but whom we may believe in. 'How shall they call on him
in whom they have not believed?' Rom 10: 14. We cannot believe in an
angel, therefore we must not pray to him.
Why must prayer be made to God only?
We are to pray 'for things agreeable to his will.' When we pray for
outward things, for riches or children, perhaps God sees these things
not to be good for us; and our prayers should comport with his will. We
may pray absolutely for grace; 'For this is the will of God, even your
sanctification.' I Thess 4: 3. There must be no strange incense offered.
Exod 30: 9. When we pray for things which are not agreeable to God's
will, it is offering strange incense.
- Because he only hears prayer. 'Oh thou that hearest prayer.' Psa
65: 2. Hereby God is known to be the true God, in that he hears
prayer. 'Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that
thou art the Lord God.' I Kings 18: 37.
- Because God only can help. We may look to second causes, and
cry, as the woman did, 'Help, my lord, O king.' And he said, 'If the
Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee?' 2 Kings 6: 26, 27.
If we are in outward distress, God must send from heaven and save;
if we are in inward agonies, he only can pour in the oil of joy;
therefore prayer is to be made to him only.
We are to pray 'in the name of Christ.' To pray in the name of Christ,
is not only to mention Christ's name in prayer, but to pray in the hope
and confidence of his merits. 'Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered
it,' &c. I Sam 7: 9. We must carry the lamb Christ in the arms of our
faith, and so shall we prevail in prayer. When Uzziah would offer
incense without a priest, God was angry, and struck him with leprosy. 2
Chron 26: 16. When we do not pray in Christ's name, in the hope of his
mediation, we offer up incense without a priest; and what can we expect
but to meet with rebukes, and to have God answer us by terrible things?
What are the several parts of prayer?
What are the several sorts of prayer?
- There is the confessors part, which is the acknowledgement of
- The supplicatory part, when we either deprecate and pray against
some evil, or request the obtaining of some good.
- The congratulatory part, when we give thanks for mercies
received, which is the most excellent part of prayer. In petition,
we act like men; in giving thanks, we act like angels.
That prayer is most likely to prevail with God which is rightly
qualified. That is a good medicine which has the right ingredients; and
that prayer is good, and most likely to prevail with God, which has
these seven ingredients in it:
- There is mental prayer, in the mind. I Sam 1: 13.
- Vocal. Psa 77: 1.
- Ejaculatory, which is a sudden and short elevation of the heart
to God. 'So I prayed to the God of heaven.' Neh 2: 4.
- Inspired prayer, when we pray for those things which God puts
into our heart. The Spirit helps us with sighs and groans. Rom 8:
26. Both the expressions of the tongue, and the impressions of the
heart, so far as they are right, are from the Spirit.
- Prescribed prayer. Our Saviour has set us a pattern of prayer.
God prescribed a set form of blessing for the priests. Numb 6: 23.
- Public prayer, when we pray in the audience of others. Prayer is
more powerful when many join and unite their forces. Vis unita
fortior [A united force is stronger]. Matt 18: 19.
- Private prayer; when we pray by ourselves. 'Enter into thy
closet.' Matt 6: 6.
Thus you see what is the prayer which is most likely to prevail with
- It must be mixed with faith. 'But let him ask in faith.' James
1: 6. Believe that God hears, and will in due time grant, believe
his love and truth; believe that he is love, and therefore will not
deny you; believe that he is truth, and therefore will not deny
himself. Faith sets prayer to work. Faith is to prayer what the
feather is to the arrow; it feathers the arrow of prayer, and makes
it fly swifter, and pierce the throne of grace. The prayer that is
faithless is fruitless.
- It must be a melting prayer. 'The sacrifices of God are a broken
spirit.' Psa 51: 17. The incense was to be beaten to typify the
breaking of the heart in prayer. Oh! says a Christian, I cannot pray
with such gifts and elocution as others; as Moses said, 'I am not
eloquent;' but can't thou weep? Does thy heart melt in prayer?
Weeping prayer prevails. Tears drop as pearls from the eye. Jacob
wept and made supplication; and 'had power over the angel.' Hosea
- Prayer must be fired with zeal and fervency. 'Effectual fervent
prayer availeth much.' James 5: 16. Cold prayer, like cold suitors,
never speed. Prayer without fervency, is like a sacrifice without a
fire. Prayer is called a 'pouring out of the soul,' to signify
vehemence. I Sam 1: 15. Formality starves prayer. Prayer is compared
to incense. 'Let my prayer be set forth as incense.' Psa 141: 2. Hot
coals were to be put to the incense, to make it odoriferous and
fragrant; so fervency of affection is like coals to the incense; it
makes prayer ascend as a sweet perfume. Christ prayed with strong
cries. Heb 5: 7. Clamor iste penetrat nubes [Such a cry pierces the
clouds]. Luther. Fervent prayer, like a powder engine set against
heaven's gates, makes them fly open. To cause holy fervour and
ardour of soul in prayer, consider,
- Prayer without fervency is no prayer; it is speaking, not
praying. Lifeless prayer is no more prayer than the picture of a
man is a man. One may say as Pharaoh, 'I have dreamed a dream.'
Gen 41: 15. It is dreaming, not praying. Life and fervency
baptise a duty, and give it a name.
- Consider in what need we stand of those things which we ask
in prayer. We come to ask the favour of God; and if we have not
his love all we enjoy is cursed to us. We pray that our souls
may be washed in Christ's blood; if he wash us not we have no
part in him. John 13: 8. When will we be in earnest, if not when
we are praying for the life of our souls?
- It is only fervent prayer that has the promise of mercy
affixed to it. 'Ye shall find me, when ye shall search for me
with all your heart.' Jer 29: 13. It is dead praying without a
promise; and the promise is made only to ardency. The a tiles
among the Romans, had their doors always standing open, that all
who had petitions might have free access to them; so God's heart
is ever open to fervent prayer.
- Prayer must be sincere. Sincerity is the silver thread which
must run through the whole duties of religion. Sincerity in prayer
is when we have gracious holy ends; when our prayer is not so much
for temporal mercies as for spiritual. We send out prayer as our
merchant ship, that we may have large returns of spiritual
blessings. Our aim in it is, that our hearts may be more holy, that
we may have more communion with God and that we may increase our
stock of grace. The prayer which wants a good aim, wants a good
- The prayer that will prevail with God must have a fixedness of
mind. 'My heart is fixed, O God.' Psa 57: 7. Since the fall the mind
is like quicksilver, which will not fix; it has principium motus,
but non quietus [a principle of restlessness, not of peace]. The
thoughts will be roving and dancing up and down in prayer, just as
if a man who is travelling to a certain place should run out of the
road, and wander he knows not whither. In prayer we are travelling
to the throne of grace, but how often do we, by vain cogitations,
turn out of the road! This is rather wandering than praying.
How shall we cure these vain impertinent thoughts, which distract
us in prayer, and, we fear, hinder its acceptance?
- Be very apprehensive in prayer of the infiniteness of God's
majesty and purity. His eye is upon us in prayer, and we may say
as David, 'Thou tellest my wanderings.' Psa 56: 8. The thoughts
of this would make us hoc agere, mind the duty we are about. If
a man were to deliver a petition to an earthly prince, would he
at the same time be playing with a feather? Set yourselves, when
you pray, as in God's presence. Could you but look through the
keyhole of heaven, and see how devout and intent the angels are
in their worshipping God, surely you would be ready to blush at
your vain thoughts and vile impertinences in prayer.
- If you would keep your mind fixed in prayer, keep your eye
fixed. 'Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in
the heavens.' Psa 123: 1. Much vanity comes in at the eye. When
the eye wanders in prayer, the heart wanders. To think to keep
the heart fixed in prayer, and yet let the eye gaze, is as if
one should think to keep his house safe, and yet let the windows
- If you would have your thoughts fixed in prayer, get more
love to God. Love is a great fixer of the thoughts. He who is in
love cannot keep his thoughts off the object. He who loves the
world has his thoughts upon the world. Did we love God more, our
minds would be more intent upon him in prayer. Were there more
delight in duty, there would be less distraction.
- Implore the help of God's Spirit to fix your minds, and make
them intent and serious in prayer. The ship without a pilot
rather floats than sails. That our thoughts do not float up and
down in prayer, we need the blessed Spirit to be our pilot to
steer us. Only God's Spirit can bound the thoughts. A shaking
hand may as well write a line steadily, as we can keep our
hearts fixed in prayer without the Spirit of God.
- Make holy thoughts familiar to you in your ordinary course
of life. David was often musing on God. 'When I am awake, I am
still with thee.' Psa 139: 18. He who gives himself liberty to
have vain thoughts out of prayer, will scarcely have other
thoughts in prayer.
- If you would keep your mind fixed on God, watch your hearts,
not only after prayer, but in prayer. The heart will be apt to
give you the slip, and have a thousand vagaries in prayer. We
read of angels ascending and descending on Jacob's ladder; so in
prayer you shall find your hearts ascending to heaven, and in a
moment descending upon earthly objects. O Christians, watch your
hearts in prayer. What a shame is it to think, that when we are
speaking to God our hearts should be in the fields, or in our
counting-houses, or one way or other, running upon the devil's
- Labour for larger degrees of grace. The more ballast the
ship has the better it sails; so the more the heart is ballasted
with grace, the steadier it will sail to heaven in prayer.
- Prayer that is likely to prevail with God must be argumentative.
God loves to have us plead with him, and use arguments in prayer.
See how many arguments Jacob used in prayer. 'Deliver me, I pray
thee, from the hand of my brother.' Gen 32: 11. The arguments he
used are from God's command 'Thou saidst to me, Return to thy
country;' ver 9; as if he had said, I did not take this journey of
my own head, but by thy direction; therefore thou canst not but in
honour protect me. And he uses another argument. 'Thou saidst, I
will surely do thee good;' ver 12. Lord, wilt thou go back from thy
own promise? Thus he was argumentative in prayer; and he got not
only a new blessing, but a new name. 'Thy name shall be called no
more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God,
and hast prevailed;' ver 28. God loves to be overcome with strength
of argument. Thus, when we come to God in prayer for grace, let us
be argumentative. Lord, thou callest thyself the God of all grace;
and whither should we go with our vessel, but to the fountain? Lord,
thy grace may be imparted, yet not impaired. Has not Christ
purchased grace for poor indigent creatures? Every drachm of grace
costs a drop of blood. Shall Christ die to purchase grace for us,
and shall not we have the fruit of his purchase? Lord, it is thy
delight to milk out the breast of mercy and grace, and wilt thou
abridge thyself of thy own delight? Thou hast promised to give thy
Spirit to implant grace; can truth lie? can faithfulness deceive?
God loves thus to be overcome with arguments in prayer.
- Prayer that would prevail with God, must be joined with
reformation. 'If thou stretch out thy hands toward him; if iniquity
be in thy hand, put it far away.' Job 11: 13, 14. Sin, lived in,
makes the heart hard, and God's ear deaf. It is foolish to pray
against sin, and then sin against prayer. 'If I regard iniquity in
my heart, the Lord will not hear me.' Psa 66: 18. The loadstone
loses its virtue when bespread with garlic; so does prayer when
polluted with sin. The incense of prayer must be offered upon the
altar of a holy heart.
Use one. It reproves -
Use two. Be persons given to prayer. 'I give myself,' says David,
'to prayer.' Pray for pardon and purity. Prayer is the golden key that
opens heaven. The tree of the promise will not drop its fruit unless
shaken by the hand of prayer. All the benefits of Christ's redemption
are handed over to us by prayer.
- Such as pray not at all. It is made the note of a reprobate,
that he calls not upon God. Psa 14: 4. Does he think to have an alms
who never asks it? Do they think to have mercy from Cod who never
seek it? Then God would befriend them more than he did his own Son.
Christ offered up prayers with strong cries. Heb 5: 7. None of God's
children are born dumb. Gal 4: 6.
- It reproves such as have left off prayer, which is a sign that
they never felt the fruit and comfort of it. He that leaves off
prayer leaves off to fear God. 'Thou castest off fear, and
restrainest prayer before God.' Job 15: 4. A man that has left off
prayer, is fit for any wickedness. When Saul had given over
inquiring after God he went to the witch of Endor.
I have prayed a long time for mercy, and have no answer. 'I am weary of
crying.' Ps 69: 3.
Why does God delay an answer to prayer?
- God may hear us when we do not hear from him; as soon as prayer
is made, God hears it, though he does not presently answer. A friend
may receive our letter, though he does not presently send us an
- God may delay prayer, yet he will not deny it.
- Because he loves to hear the voice of prayer. 'The prayer of the
upright is his delight.' Prov 15: 8. You let the musician play a
great while ere you throw him down money, because you love to hear
his music. Cant 2: 14.
- God may delay prayer when he will not deny it, that he may
humble us. He has spoken to us long in his word to leave our sins,
but we would not hear him; therefore he lets us speak to him in
prayer and seems not to hear us.
- He may delay to answer prayer when he will not deny it, because
he sees we are not yet fit for the mercy we ask. Perhaps we pray for
deliverance when we are not fit for it; our scum is not yet boiled
away. We would have God swift to deliver, and we are slow to repent.
- God may delay to answer prayer, that the mercy we pray for may
be more prized, and may be sweeter when it comes. The longer the
merchant's ships stay abroad, the more he rejoices when they come
home laden with spices and jewels; therefore be not discouraged, but
follow God with prayer. Though God delays, he will not deny. Prayer
vincit invincibilem [conquers the invincible], it overcomes the
Omnipotent. Hos 12: 4. The Syrians tied their god Hercules fast with
a golden chain, that he should not remove. The Lord was held by
Moses' prayer as with a golden chain. 'Let me alone;' why, what did
Moses? he only prayed. Exod 32: 10. Prayer ushers in mercy. Be thy
case never so sad, if thou canst but pray thou needest not fear. Psa
10: 17. Therefore give thyself to prayer.
[From The Godly Man's Picture by Thomas Watson, a Puritan Paperback
edition published by the Banner of Truth.]
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Desiring God 2004 National Conference - September 24-26,
conference will including speakers like C.J. Mahaney, John Piper,
David Powlison, and Al Mohler. For more information, see
- Dr. Al
Mohler and others present on Biblical Sexuality
http://www.sbts.edu/resources/ssmag/2004/spring04.pdf (2.79 MB)
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