Gilbert Beebe on Prayer 4

The subject of prayer opens before us so wide a field for meditation, that we cannot, we know not where to stop when dwelling on the subject. Our principal object in this article is to relieve, so far as we may be enabled, some trembling ones who, from a sense of unworthiness, and of inability to order their speech aright before the Lord, have been sorely tempted to doubt their right to pray, and fear that its sinful for them to attempt it; we have labored to show that such are the very ones that are the most welcome to approach the awful Majesty of God in prayer and supplication. They come not in their own name, but in the all-prevailing name of him who forever liveth to make intercession for them and in them. — Prayer, as a mere duty, is a very dull and unavailing employment, yet it is a duty devolving on all who feel their need of Divine favor, because Christ has enjoined it upon them; but when led by the Spirit to the throne of grace, it is a most delightful privilege. Poor, weak and worthless as we are in and of ourselves, yet, “Sprinkled with reconciling blood, they may approach the throne of God,” and not be consumed; because the name of Jesus Christ, their Advocate with the Father, is upon them, and has sealed them with the Holy Spirit of promise. {Eph. i. 13} In prayer we are permitted to hold communion with God, through our High Priest, from over the mercy-seat. The apostle speaks {Eph. vi. 18} of “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,” &c; from which we infer that the apostolic practice of social as well as private prayer is to be perpetuated in the church of God until time shall be no more. — In social prayer, one is mouth for all who are present and qualified by the Spirit to unite in the devotion. If the saints who meet for prayer are, like the primitive saints, all of one heart and one mind, and all are led by the one spirit, there will be no discord, nor confusion, and the prayer expressed in words by him who is mouth for all will be equally the prayer of all. In social prayer we use the plural form of the personal pronouns, ‘our,’ ‘us,’ &c., as taught; {Matt. vi. 9-13;} this is proper, because it is the prayer of all who in their hearts can say, Amen. We have many instances recorded of the saints meeting for prayer, and the practice should be continued in the church of God. When Herod the king had killed James with a sword, and had imprisoned Peter also, intending also to deliver him unto death, many were gathered together praying; and their prayers were graciously heard and answered. {Acts xii. 1-19} We have many other accounts of the meeting of the primitive saints at places where prayer was wont to be made; and should not the saints of the present age walk in the footsteps of the early Christians? — But in social or public prayers, we should carefully avoid all ostentatious display, or effort to elicit the admiration and praise of men. Be not like those who pray to be heard and admired by men; nor should we use vain repetitions, for that is forbidden. Our words should be few; for God is high in the heavens, and we are on the earth. It is not becoming in ministers, while assaying to lead in public or social prayer, to presume to explain or expound anything to the Lord; for he needs no logic or explanation from us, and our prayers are to comprise supplication, intercession and thanksgiving, under a full conviction that the Lord knoweth all about us, that he searches the hearts and tries the reins of all, and with a solemn consciousness that all things are naked and open to his all-seeing eyes. In our public or social prayers, our wandering thoughts are prone to seek the applause of those who are present, and almost forget that we are professedly addressing the God whose dwelling is in the heavens, and from whose sight the inmost secrets of our heart cannot be concealed. The cruel tempter is ever ready to divert our mind from the awful solemnity of holding communion with the eternal God. How cold and dull and formal are our prayers when thus yielding to the carnal impulse of our fleshly nature and the temptation of the adversary; our pride and vain ambition are either inflated or mortified, as we have succeeded or failed to make a display. One would hardly believe Christians could be troubled in this way; but they are the only class that are really troubled on this account. Carnal professors and self-righteous Pharisees feel perfectly satisfied with their prayers if they can secure the applause of men; but those who are taught of God feel and lament the imperfection of their most solemn devotions, for they feel deeply their short-comings; and were it not for the blessed assurance that the Spirit helpeth their infirmities, supplying the ability which they lack, and making intercession for them according to the will of God, they would not dare to take the sacred name of God upon their lips in prayer or praise. —

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