« AnteriorContinua »
blessed Lord meant this, when he said of such worshippers, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." How few, alas! pray to God as they ought; for how few desire and pray for what is necessary to their salvation! The sacrifice of ourselves, the humiliation and conquest of our selflove, the entire submission of our will to God-these are the things for which, as Christians, we ought to pray. How many, full of themselves and of their own imaginary devotion and piety, håve never uttered one true prayer! Our Lord tells us, that the poor Publican, who lifted up his heart to God, with only the words, "God be merciful to me a sinner," was accepted before the Pharisee, who pleaded his own merits, and his long prayers, and whose self-love prompted him to despise the poor sinner who stood beside
2. When our hearts are sincerely filled with the love of God, our prayers are offered up to him, not merely through our self-interest in the things for which we pray, but with a fervent desire that we may pray for such things as it may please him to grant. We know not what is best for
US, and frequently ask for what would prove our greatest misfortune; whereas, when we pray
for grace to love and serve our Creator; when we 66 seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, we have the assurance of our blessed Lord himself, that all other things shall be added unto us.
3. On this principle, Prayer becomes a duty easy to be performed at all times, and in all circumstances; for if we are unable to bow our knees before God, yet we can at all times bow down our hearts in his sight; and from our hearts the love of God can always ascend to him, without the aid of our lips. This is what St. Paul means, when he desires us to
pray without ceasing.” God will ever listen to the desire of a heart, truly and humbly devoted to Him. He will ever hear the pious supplication of the poor in spirit; of those who are low in their own sight, and who feel their own vileness. The grace of God is ready to help all such, and “the spirit of God itself maketh intercession for them, with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
4. This state of the heart is therefore the very essence of Prayer; and though the occupations of the world, and our stations and business in it, may cause frequent wanderings of our thoughts from God, yet if we keep his grace alive in our hearts, we can never be separated from his love and care: it will be to our souls as a shining lamp, burning continually before the throne of God; and our Saviour tells us, that “ blessed are they, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching."
5. In order to keep up, and preserve in our weak and sinful natures, this state of mind, this blessed reliance on God, and (if we may so call it) responsibility to Him, two things are necessary to be observed by us : First, that we carefully nourish and cherish it; next, that we avoid every thing which may tend to weaken or destroy it. In order, therefore, to keep alive the grace of God in our hearts, we should strictly, and every day of our lives, observe stated hours of Prayer. To this should be added a moderate portion of religious reading and meditation on the Divine Nature of our Creator, and on his mercies to ourselves, with a constant habit of self-examination. These exercises should prepare us for the Holy Communion, which we should receive as often as we can. We should carefully avoid every thing that
can remove us from God, and sacrifice every attachment to such objects as may be displeasing to him. We should with doubt and fear shun every temptation of this kind; especially profane and dissipated company, and the participation of any pleasures and amusements, which interest the passions too highly ; in short, whatever may lead our hearts to forget God, or abate our zeal for his service.
6. Our religious reading should be confined chiefly to such books as will instruct us in the performance of our duties, and place us on our guard against our faults, particularly those which we are most liable to fall into from our passions, or our situation in the world.Books of this sort will shew us the greatness of God, and the wonders of his works, and teach us, at the same time, what we owe to Him, and how infinitely we fall short of that obedience which is his due.