Puritan’s Prayer on Lord’s Day Morning

O MAKER AND UPHOLDER OF ALL THINGS,

Day and night are thine; they are also mine from thee-

the night to rid me of the cares of the day,

to refresh my weary body,

to renew my natural strength;

the day to summon me to new activities,

to give me opportunity to glorify thee,

to serve my generation,

to acquire knowledge, holiness, eternal life.

But one day above all days is made especially

for thy honour and my improvement;

The sabbath reminds me of thy rest from creation,

of the resurrection of my saviour,

of his entering into repose,

Thy house is mine,

but I am unworthy to meet thee there,

and am unfit for spiritual service.

When I enter it I come before thee as a sinner,

condemned by conscience and and thy Word,

For I am still in the body and in the wilderness,

ignorant, weak, in danger,

and in need of thine aid.

But encouraged by thy all-sufficient grace

let me go to thy house with a lively hope of meeting thee,

knowing that there thou wilt come to me and give me peace.

My soul is drawn out to thee in longing desires

for thy presence in the sanctuary, at the table,

where all are entertained on a feast of good things;

Let me before the broken elements, emblems of thy dying love,

cry to thee with broken heart for grace and forgiveness.

I long for that blissful communion of thy people

in thy eternal house in the perfect kingdom;

These are they that follow the Lamb;

May I be of their company!

 

 

Prayer of the Lord’s Day

O LORD MY LORD,

This is thy day, the heavenly ordinance of rest, the open door of worship, the record of Jesus’ resurrection, the seal ofthe Sabbath to come, the day when saints militant and triumphant unite in endless song.

I bless thee for the throne of grace, that here free favour reigns; that open access to it is through the blood of Jesus; that the veil is torn aside and I can enter the holiest and find thee ready to hear, waiting to be gracious,inviting me to pour out my needs, encouraging my desires, promising to give more than I ask or think.

But while I bless thee, shame and confusion are mind: I remember my past misuse of sacred things, my irreverent worship, my base ingratitude, my cold, dull praise.

Sprinkle all my past Sabbaths with the cleansing bloods of Jesus, and may this day witness deep improvement in me.

Give me in rich abundance the blessings the Lord’s Day was designed to impart;

May my heart be fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares;

Flood my mind with peace beyond understanding; may my meditations be sweet, my acts of worship life, liberty, joy, my drink the streams that flow from thy throne, my food the precious Word, my defense the shield of faith, and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.

[Arthur Bennett, “Lord’s Day Eve” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 194].

John Owen on Prayer

John Owen on prayer:

When prayer is a delight to believers, refreshing their spirits, calming their minds and comforting their consciences, then it is true prayer (Psalm 36:7-9). If prayer does not have this effect on us, we need humbly to plead that it should. Moreover, when prayer is accompanied by a longing to behave in holy ways, then we may say that prayer has come from a spiritual mind. Believers who pray rightly will try to live rightly and to avoid anything that would prevent godliness [Thinking Spiritually (London: Grace Publications, 1998), 20].

A Puritan’s Prayer on Worship

As you prepare for coming Lord’s Day service with God’s people, here’s a Puritan’s prayer on worship for your meditation:

O GLORIOUS GOD,

 

It is the flame of our life to worship You,

the crown and glory of our soul to adore You,
heavenly pleasure to approach You.

Give us power by Your Spirit to help us worship now,
that we may forget the world,
be brought into fullness of life,
be refreshed, comforted, blessed.

Give us knowledge of Your goodness
that we might not be over-awed by Your greatness;

Give us Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God,
that we might not be terrified,
but be drawn near with filial love,
with holy boldness;

He is our mediator, brother, interpreter,
branch, daysman, Lamb;
him we glorify,
in him we are set on high.

Crowns to give we have none,
but what You have given we return,
content to feel that everything is ours when it is Yours,
and the more fully ours when we have yielded it to You.

Let us live wholly to our Saviour,
free from distractions,
from carking care,
from hindrances to the pursuit of the narrow way.

We are pardoned through the blood of Jesus –
give us a new sense of it,
continue to pardon us by it,
may we come every day to the fountain,
and every day be washed anew,
that we may worship You always in spirit and truth.

[Revised from Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 1994), 196].

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

From The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Preliminary to Matthew 5:7

Lord willing, I’m planning to preach Matthew 5:7 this Sunday morning. And here’s my preliminary thought, borrowing the words from Thomas Watson on “how many ways may we be unmerciful to the names of others?”

  1. By misreporting them (i.e., gossips, slander), a sin forbidden. ‘Thou shalt not raise a false report’ (Exodus 23:1). The tongue of a slanderer shoots out words to wound the fame of another and make it bleed to death. Some think that it is no great matter to defame and traduce another, but know, this is to act the part of a devil. O how many unmerciful men are there, who indeed pass for Christians, but play the devil in venting their lies and calumnies! Wicked men in Scripture are called ‘dogs’ (Psalm 22:16). Slanderers are not like those dogs which licked Lazarus’ sores to heal them, but like the dogs which ate Jezebel. They rend and tear the precious names of men. Valentinian the Emperor decreed that he who was openly convicted of this crime of slander should die for it. And Pope Gregory decreed that such a person should be excommunicate, and not have the communion given him.
  2. We are unmerciful to the names of others when we receive a slander, and then report what we hear. ‘Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people’ (Leviticus 19:16). A good man is one that ‘doeth not evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour’ (Psalm 15:3). We must not only not raise a false report, but not take it up. To divulge a report before we speak with the party and know the truth of it is unmercifulness and cannot acquit itself of sin. The receiver is even as bad as the thief. When others have stolen away the good names of their brethren, have not we received these stolen goods? There would not be so many to broach false rumours, but that they see this liquor pleases other men’s taste.
  3. We deal unmercifully with the names of others when we diminish from their just worth and dignity; when we make more of their infirmities and less of their virtues. ‘Speak not evil one of another’ (James 4:11).
  4. We are unmerciful to the names of others when we know them to be calumniated yet do not vindicate them. A man may sometimes as well wrong another by silence as slander. He who is merciful to his brother is an advocate to plead in his behalf when he is injuriously traduced. When the apostles, who were filled with the wine of the Spirit, were charged with drunkenness, Peter vindicated them openly (Acts 2:15). A merciful man will take the dead fly out of the box of ointment.
  5. They are in an high degree unmerciful to the names of others who ‘bear fase witness against’ them (Psalm 27:12). ‘Put not thy hand with the wicked to be a false witness’ (Exodus 23:1). ‘Putting the hand’ is taking an oath falsely, as when a man puts his hand upon the book and swears to a lie. So Tostatus expounds it. This ‘false-witness’ is a two-edged sword. The party forsworn wounds another’s name and his own soul. A false witness is compared to a maul or hammer (Proverbs 25:18). It is true in this sense, because he is hardened in impudency – he blushes at nothing – and in unmercifulness. There is no softness in a maul or hammer, nor is there any relenting or bowels to be found in a false withess. In all these ways men are unmerciful to the names of others [Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2000), 148-50].

Those words were first published in 1660, which has been one of the “rarest” of Watson’s work. So, who says the Puritans don’t speak to us today?

Book Review: The Mortification of Sin

I finally finished this book today! Here’s one of the memoriable excerpts:

One of the choicest and most important parts of spiritual wisdom is to find out the subtleties, policies, and depths of any indwelling sin; to consider where its greatest strength lies – how it uses occasions, opportunities, and temptations to gain an advantage. We need to find out its pleas, pretences, and reasonings, and see what its strategies, disguises and excuses are!

We need to continue to attack our lusts daily with the spiritual weapons that are most detrimental to it. This is the key to the warfare. Even when we think that a lust is dead because it is quiet, we must labour to give it new wounds and new blows every day (Col. 3:5).

This abridged edition of John Owen is classic indeed! It is difficult to find books worthy of your time and money on the subject of “mortification of sin” in the top ten contemporary Christian books list. That should say something about the contemporary readership. We are not so concerned about our sin than we are about our self-esteem, self-image, self-pleasure, and self-love. I doubt that average church-goers even know what “mortification of sin” means when such apprehension and applications are critical to one’s sanctification. That is why a book like this is a must to anyone who is serious about sin and sanctification.