I long to grow in my life of prayer.
It is astonishing that I have come so far on so feeble prayer. Like holding my breath while running, it makes no sense, it will not last long, and I will not get very far without collapsing.
I need to commune with God, not just as a Pastor, but simply as a Christian. Prayer brings me back to my dependence on God for my every need. Prayer is worship before the throne of grace. Prayer is the least I could do, the simplest act of faith, and yet it is the greatest power of change in my life and one of the hardest disciplines to maintain.
I’ve been studying from Joel Beeke’s, Taking Hold of God; Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer*. I came across this summary of Matthew Henry’s “Directions for Praying All Day” that I thought worth sharing. May you be blessed and encouraged in your prayers as I was.
Directive One: Begin Every Day with God
Henry wrote, “It is our wisdom and duty to begin every day with God.” David testified in Psalm 5:3 that the morning hours are especially good for prayer. Likewise, Henry observed that the priests offered a sacrificial Lamb and burned incense every morning, and singers thanked the Lord every morning. He cited these examples to indicate that all Christians, who are spiritual priests in Christ, should offer spiritual sacrifices every morning to God. God who is Alpha, requires our first fruits; therefore, we should give him the first part of the day. God deserves our best, not just the leftovers of the day when we are tired and worn out. Henry wrote, “In the morning we are most free from company and business, and ordinarily have the best opportunity for solitude.” God gives us fresh mercies every morning, so we should give Him fresh thanksgivings and fresh meditations on His beauties. In the morning we prepare for the work of the day, let us commit it to God. Begin every day with God.
Directive Two: Spend Every Day With God
The Christian’s attendance upon God throughout the day is captured in the phrase to wait upon the Lord. “To wait on God, is to live a life of desire towards him, delight in him, dependence on him, and devoted ness to him,” Henry wrote. We should spend our days desiring God, like a beggar constantly looking to His benefactor, hungering not onl for His gifts but for the One who is the Bread of Life. We should live in delight of God, like a lover with his beloved. “Do we love God?” Henry asked. Constant dependence is the attitude of a child towards his Father whom he trusts and on whom he casts all his cares. A life of devotedness is that of a servant towards His Master, “ready to observe his will, and to do his work, and in everything to consult his honor and his interest.” It is “to make the will of his precept the rule of our practice,” and “to make the will of his providence the rule of our patience.” Henry thus argued that to pray without ceasing is a disposition of the heart waiting upon the Lord all through the day.
Directive Three: Close Every Day with God
Henry said we may end our days in contentment if we have the Lord as our God. He wrote, “Let this still every storm, on and and create a calm in thy soul. Having God Be ourGod in covenant, we have enough; we have all. And though the gracious soul still desires more of God, it never desires more than God; in him it reposted itself with a perfect complacency; in him it is at home, it is at rest.”
Henry advised us to lie down with thanksgiving to God when we go to bed at night. We should review his mercies and deliverances at the end of each day. “Every bite we eat, and every drop we drink, is mercy; every step we take, and every breath we draw, mercy.” We should be thankful for nighttime as God’s provision for our rest, for a place to lay our heads, and for the health of body and peace of mind which allows us to sleep.
Henry suggested we might fall asleep with thoughts such as these:
To thy glory, O God, I now go to sleep. Whether we eat or drink, yea, or sleep, for this is included in whatever we do – we must do it for the glory of God…. To thy grace, O God, and to the word of thy grace I now commend myself. It is good to fall asleep, with a fresh surrender of our whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, to God… O that when I awake I may still be with God; that the parenthesis of sleep, bough long, may not break off the thread of my communion with God, but that as soon as I awake I may resume it!
Oh may I, may we, learn to live in prayer like this!