"Men ought always to pray." Luke 18:1
Prayer is an important duty; and to the child of God, possessed of the Spirit of adoption — it is a delightful privilege. To call God Father, to pour out the heart before Him, to have communion with Him — is sweet indeed!
The only proper object of prayer is Jehovah, as the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, God — as our kind and gracious Father in Jesus, as inviting us to His throne, waiting to bless us, and ready to pardon sin!
The only medium of acceptable prayer is Jesus — Jesus as Mediator between God and man. He stands between God and sinners. He interposes His precious blood, and God is well pleased with all who come through Him. No acceptance for sinners — but through Jesus; no rejection of any sinner who comes in His dear name.
The kinds of prayer are several:
mental, when the soul prays without the voice;
vocal, when the voice and soul are both employed;
private, when we are alone with God;
family, when we collect our family, and plead with God for them;
public, when we draw near to God in the assembly of His saints;
ejaculatory, when we send up the brief petition in the field, the street, the shop, the work-room, or any other place.
The rule of prayer, is God's Word. Here we may learn what God is willing to give — from His promises, His precepts, and the history of His saints. To God's Word, we must add our own needs; for we do not always need exactly the same things; so that while God's Word tells us what God is willing to bestow generally — our own needs will direct us what to pray for particularly, at any one time.
The pleas to be used in prayer are, principally, the name of Jesus, for it is to prayer in His name, that the promise is made. We must ask for His sake; because He is worthy; because He obeyed the law, and suffered in our stead. We may add the mercy of God, and plead for His mercy's sake. So also his faithfulness, and ask because He is faithful to His Word. We may mention what He has already done for us before, and for others similarly circumstanced, for so did the saints of old.
Our assistance in prayer, is from the Holy Spirit; He teaches us our needs, brings the promises to our minds, stirs up our affections, whispers Abba, Father, and produces the unutterable groaning.
Our obligation to pray, is founded in . . .
the relation in which we stand to God;
the duties we have to perform;
the sins we have committed;
the command of Jesus;
the promises made to prayer; and
the state of the world, the church, and our own souls.
As to the nature of prayer, it is . . .
the child's application to a Father;
human misery's appeal to divine mercy;
the creature addressing his Creator;
the sinner approaching his gracious God;
and the needy seeking relief.
The encouragements to prayer, are almost endless:
the comfort enjoyed;
the holiness derived;
the evils prevented;
the blessings obtained;
the promises given;
the Scriptural examples of Abraham's servant, Jacob, Hannah, Jabez, Elijah, and a whole host besides.
It is truly important that we should pray always, or give
ourselves unto prayer, as to . . .
our proper business,
our sweetest pleasure,
our principal resource.
"Praying always, with all prayer!"
Prayer was appointed to convey,
The blessings God designed to give;
Long as they live should Christians pray,
For only while they pray, they live.
The Christian's heart his prayer indites,
He speaks as prompted from within;
The Spirit his petition writes.
And Christ receives and gives it in.
If pain afflicts, or wrongs oppress;
If cares distract, or fears dismay;
If guilt dejects, if sin distress;
The remedy's before you — pray!