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A Guide to Prayer de Isaac Watts
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A Guide to Prayer (1715 original; edició 2001)

de Isaac Watts (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses
1432147,649 (4.43)No n'hi ha cap
A helpful and practical guide to prayer, which Watts describes as 'conversation with God above while we are here below'. From the author of such well-loved hymns as 'When I Survey the Wondrous Cross' and 'O God, Our Help in Ages Past'.
Títol:A Guide to Prayer
Autors:Isaac Watts (Autor)
Informació:Banner of Truth (2001), 192 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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A Guide to Prayer de Isaac Watts (1715)

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purpose of message: to help us to pray

6/29/14 CBC eve

1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
Php 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

A Guide to Prayer, Isaac Watts (1674 - 1748), published 1831?
A Guide to Prayer
Lord, Teach Us to Pray!
Luke 11:1; I John 2:27

Intro: We desperately need prayer—for students, for ourselves—that we don’t lose interest in the things of God: we need a spiritual awakening, we all have flesh!

To find the best teacher, ask, “Who was your teacher?” Wednesday night we reviewed that the best teacher, the ultimate teacher is the Holy Spirit (Ps. 119:102-I have not departed from; I Jn. 2:27). Beyond that, we know that God gives “pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints...” (Eph. 4:11ff), and we have a good one before us tonight to help teach us to pray—his name is Isaac Watts!

(IW’s Preface) Prayer is so great and necessary a part of religion that every degree of assistance in it will be always acceptable to pious minds. The inward and spiritual performance of this worship is taught us in many excellent discourses, but a regular scheme of prayer as a Christian exercise or a piece of holy skill, has been much neglected. ... Had I found any treatise that had satisfied my design, I would never have given myself the trouble of writing this in the first place or ventured to publish it now. ... But if there are any advances made here beyond the labors of great men in the last age, I hope the world will justify this attempt. And if younger Christians by perusing these papers shall find themselves improved in the holy skill of prayer, when they get nearest to the throne of grace, I entreat them to put in one petition for the author, who has languished under great weakness for some years past and is cut off from all public service. If ever he be restored again, he shall rejoice in further labors for their good; and he shall share in the pleasure of their improvements and assist them in the work of praise.

(IW’s Introduction) Prayer is a word which has broad meaning in Scripture. It includes not only a request for mercies, but it denotes the address of a creature on earth to God in heaven about everything that concerns his God, his neighbor or himself, in this world or the world to come. It is the conversation which God allows us to maintain with himself above, while we are here below. It is that language in which a creature communicates with his Creator and in which the soul of a saint often gets near to God, experiences great delight and, as it were, dwells with his heavenly Father for a short time before he comes to heaven. It is a glorious privilege with which our Maker has indulged us, as well as a necessary part of the obedience which he requires of us at all times and in every circumstance of life. 'Pray without ceasing' (I Thess. 5:17). 'In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God' (Phil. 4:6).'Praying always with all prayer and supplication' (Eph. 6:18).

I shall deliver my thoughts on the nature of prayer in the following order:
i. as a duty of worship;
ii. as it is to be performed by the gifts or abilities God has bestowed upon us;
iii. as it must be attended with the exercise of our graces; and
iv. as we are assisted in it by the Spirit of God.
I shall then conclude with an earnest address to Christians to seek after this holy skill of conversation with God.

Chapter 1: The Nature of Prayer (pgs. 10-33)

In speaking of prayer as a duty of worship required of us, we may, in order to understand the whole nature of prayer better, divide it into several parts. I think these may all be included in the following: invocation [mention of one or more of His names, declaration of our desire to worship Him, a desire of His assistance and acceptance], adoration, confession, petition, pleading, profession (or self-dedication), thanksgiving and blessing. I shall speak of each particularly (10).

A. Invocation O Lord my God and Friend, my Savior, I desire to worship You—unto You do I lift up my soul! Quicken me now to call on Thy name!
B. Adoration Thou art God, and there is none so beautiful and adorable as You! You are all-wise, all-powerful, and all-love. You have created all things, and You alone keep them going.
C. Confession I am born in sin and continue in sin, even after You give me a new nature and access to power which will deliver me from running after that which destroys my happiness. I deserve hell for my choices and my nature, and I see and admit that I am the one who chooses to go astray. I confess that I am unable to deliver myself without your help (enablement).

The fourth part of prayer consists of petition, which includes in it a desire of deliverance from evil (called deprecation), and a request of good things to be bestowed (sometimes called comprecation). For both of these we must offer up our petitions to God for ourselves and our fellow creatures (p. 16). The evils we pray to be delivered from are of a tem¬poral, spiritual or eternal kind.

D. Petition Father in heaven, take away the guilt of my sins by the atonement (paying the price) of Thy precious Son. Subdue the power of my sins by Thy Own Spirit! Give me the consolation (joy, hope, comfort) of Thy Spirit, and strengthen my soul to serve others and You! Give us this day our daily bread. Deliver us and heal us from our physical sicknesses. Restore unto me the joy of the full use of my knees, and more importantly, heal my wife’s foot! Grant a turning to Thee in our Lima community; save the lost and revive Your children. May there be an evident moving of Your Spirit in this city. Use Auglaize Bible, Bluelick Bible, Calvary Bible, Emmanuel Baptist, Hartford Christian, and Marian Baptist to see the lost saved and Your children serving You through their churches. Help our young people not to be caught up in the activities and preoccupations of this life (I warned our teachers of becoming absorbed in technology, a fearful thing). Give our civil leaders, especially Jim Jordan, the wisdom and strength to rule in the fear of God, and to lead mightily. Grant these petitions according to Your will and our refreshment, giving us the grace to endure what is difficult.
E. Pleading (similar to petition) My griefs and weaknesses hinder me from Thy service, and I often wonder if I can go on. Help me! Deliver me! You delight in mercy and I and my son and my wife need that mercy and grace now to be delivered from our near drownings.
F. Profession, or Self-Dedication
G. Thanksgiving
H. Blessing
I. Amen, or the Conclusion

Call upon God, adore, confess,
Petition, plead, and then declare
You are the Lord's, give thanks and bless,
And let Amen confirm the prayer (p. 51).

Chapter 2: The Gift of Prayer

The Gift of prayer may be described as an ability to suit our thoughts to all the various parts and designs of this duty, and a readiness to express those thoughts before God in the fittest manner to profit our own souls as well as the souls of others that join with us (p. 34). [This gift speaks particularly of the skill of praying which can be learned and developed, which is not to say that true prayer can ever happen without divine assistance.]

It is called a gift, partly because it was bestowed on the apostles and primitive Christians in an immediate and extraordinary manner by the Spirit of God, and partly because the ordinary assistance of the Spirit of God is required even to attain this holy skill or ability to pray.

In the first propagation of the gospel, it pleased the Spirit of God to bestow various powers and abilities on believers, and these were called the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4, 8, 9). Such were the gifts of preaching, of exhortation; of psalmody, that is, the making and singing of psalms, of healing the sick, of speaking many tongues, etc. Now, though these were given to men at once in an extraordinary way then, and the habits wrought in them by immediate divine power made them capable of exerting the acts on just occasions, these powers or abilities of speaking many tongues, of psalmody, of preaching and healing, are now to be obtained by human diligence, with due dependence on the concurring blessing of God. And the same must be said concerning the gift or faculty of prayer.

As the art of medicine or healing is founded on the knowledge of natural principles and is made up of rules drawn from the nature of things and from reason and observation, so the art of preaching is learned and attained by the knowledge of divine principles and the use of rules and directions for explaining and applying divine truths; and so, too, the holy skill of prayer is built on a just knowledge of God and ourselves, and may be taught in as rational a method by proper directions and rules. But because in a special manner we expect the aid of the Holy Spirit in things so serious and sacred, the faculties of preaching and praying are called the gifts of the Spirit even to this clay; whereas the word is not nowadays applied to the art of medicine or skill in the languages (p. 35).

Rule 6: If you find your heart so very dry and unaffected with the things of religion that you can say nothing at all to God in prayer, that no divine content occurs to your thoughts, go and fall down humbly before God and tell him with a grievous complaint that you can say nothing to him, that you can do nothing but groan and cry before him. Go and tell him that without, his Spirit you cannot speak one expression, that without immediate assistance from his grace you cannot proceed in this worship. Tell him humbly that he must lose a morning or an evening sacrifice if he does not condescend to send down fire from heaven upon the altar (55).

It is a most profitable practice, after you have heard a sermon, to confer with some fellow Christian who also heard it, and run over all the particulars of it that you can retain in your memory. Then go away and pray them over again; that is, make them the content and substance of your address to God. Plead with him to instruct you in the truths that were mentioned; to incline you to perform the duties recommended and to mourn over and mortify the sins that were reproved; to teach you to trust and live upon the promises and comforts proposed, and to wait and hope for the glories revealed in that sermon. Let this be done frequently afterwards in the same week, if the sermon be suited to your case and condition of soul. This will furnish you incredibly with riches of content and expression for the great duty of prayer (p. 74).

Rule 5 [regarding words to use when you pray]: Do not always confine yourselves to one set form of words to express any particular request, nor take too much pains to avoid an expression merely because you used it in prayer before (p. 85).

(Forms of Prayer: Prepared or Spontaneous—both have their strengths and dangers) [Preparing prayers greatly helps us become better prayers. One danger of prepared prayers is that spontaneous prayer reveals where our spirits are at the moment better than prepared prayers, allowing us to confront our deficient attitudes. Also, spontaneous prayers can be made to fit more exactly the circumstances, which always are unique.]

(The Voice in Prayer:) Direction 1: Let your words all be pronounced distinctly and not made shorter by cutting off the last syllabic, nor longer, by adding ‘hem’ or ‘o’, long breaths, affected groanings and useless sounds, coughing, etc., which some, have been guilty of and have sufficiently disgraced religion. Direction 2: Let every sentence be spoken loudly enough to be heard, yet not so loud as to affright or offend the ear (p. 87).

Chapter 3: The Grace of Prayer

In the first two chapters, I wrote concerning the external parts of prayer. I shall now briefly address the internal and spiritual part of that duty. This has been usually called the grace of prayer (p. 109). ... Grace, in its most general sense implies the free and undeserved favor of one person toward another that is esteemed his inferior. In the language of the New Testament, it is commonly used to signify the favor and mercy of God toward sinful creatures, which upon all accounts is acknowledged to be free and undeserved. Because our natures are corrupt and averse to what is good, whenever they are changed and inclined to God and divine things, this is done by the power of God working in us. Therefore this very change of nature, this renewed and divine frame of mind, is called in the common language of Christians by the name of grace (p. 109).

9. Then we conclude the whole prayer with our Amen of sincerity and of faith, in one short word expressing over again our adoration, our confessions and petitions, our trust and hope for the audience of our prayers and acceptance of our persons. From all these we should take encouragement to rise from this duty with a sweet serenity and composure of mind, and maintain a joyful and heavenly frame as those who have been with God.

But lest some pious and humble souls be discouraged when they do not find these lively exercises of faith, hope, love, fervency of desire, and divine delight in worship, and from that conclude that they do not have the grace of prayer, I would add this caution: all the graces of prayer are seldom at work in the soul at once in a great and perceptible degree. Sometimes one prevails more, and sometimes another, in this feeble and imperfect state.

And when a Christian comes before God with much deadness of heart, much overcome with carnal thoughts, and feels great reluctance even to pray, and falls down before God, mourning, complaining, self-condemning, and with sighs and deep groans in secret makes known his burden and his sins to God; though he can speak but few words before him, such a frame and temper of mind will be approved of by that God who judges the secrets of the heart and makes most compassionate allowances for the infirmity of our flesh. He will acknowledge his own grace working in that soul, though it be just breathing and struggling upward through loads of sin and sorrow (p. 118).

(Directions to Attain the Grace of Prayer:) Directon 3: Seek earnestly a state of friendship with him with whom you converse, and labour after a good hope and assurance of that friendship. ... Direction 5: Maintain always a praying disposition, a temper of mind ready to converse with God. This will be one way to keep all praying graces ever ready for exercise. Often and upon all occasions, visit him with whom you would obtain immediate communion at solemn times of devotion. Make the work of prayer your delight, and do not rest satisfied till you find pleasure in it.

Whatever advantages and opportunities you enjoy for social prayer, do not neglect praying in secret. At least once a day, constrain the business of life, to allow you to say something to God alone.

When you join with others in prayer and you are not the speaker, let your heart be kept intent and watchful to the work, that you may pray so much the better when you are the mouth of others to God.

In the midst of your duties in the world, take frequent occasion to lift up your heart to God. He is ready to hear a sudden sentence, and he will answer the breathings of a holy soul towards himself in the short intervals or spaces between your daily affairs. Thus you may pray without ceasing, as the apostle directs, and your graces may be ever active. If you make your addresses to God only in the morning and evening, and forget him all day, your heart will grow indifferent in worship; you will pay a salutation only with your lips and your knees and fulfil the task with dull formality.

Chapter 4: The Spirt of Prayer

AlI the rules and directions that have been laid down in order to teach us to pray will be in-effectual if we have no divine aids [primarily the Holy Spirit]. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think one thought, and all that is good comes from God. ... My task in this chapter shall be first to prove by plain and easy arguments that the Spirit of God does assist his people in prayer, then to show what his assistances are and how far they extend, that we may not expect more from him than Scripture promises nor attribute too little to his influences. And after a few cautions laid down, I shall give some directions on how the aids of the Holy Spirit may be obtained (p. 124).

2. In Luke 11:13, after Christ had answered the request of his disciples and taught them how to pray by giving them a pattern of prayer, he recommends them to ask his Father for the Holy Spirit, for a fuller and further assistance and instruction in this work of prayer, as the whole context seems to intimate (p. 127).

6. 'The "effectual fervent prayer" of a righteous man.' This is the way we translate James 5:16. In the original it is decsis cncrgoumene, the 'inwrought' prayer. This word is used to describe persons possessed with a good or evil spirit, and it signifies here prayer wrought in us by the good spirit that possesses us, that leads and guides us. The word is used in this sense several times in 1 Corinthians 12, where the gifts of the Holy Spirit are spoken of. Yet let it be observed that here the apostle is speaking of an inwrought prayer that all Christians might be capable of, for his epistle is directed to all the scattered tribes of Israel (James 1:1). And he tells them all to confess their faults to one another and pray for one another, that they might be healed, and for this reason: because the inwrought prayer of the righteous availeth much (p. 129).

I think also, on the other hand, that these persons expect too much from the Spirit in our day:

i. Those who wait for all their inclinations to pray from immediate and present dictates of the Spirit of God, and who will never pray but when the Spirit moves them. I find in Scripture frequent exhortations to pray and commands to pray always, that is, to pray upon all occasions. Yet I find no promise or encouragement to expect that the Holy Spirit will, by sudden and immed¬iate impulses in a perceptible way, dictate to me every time of prayer. For though the Spirit of God should sometimes withdraw himself in his influences, my duty and obligation to constant prayer still remain (p. 135).

2. He blesses our diligence in reading, hearing, meditation, study and attempts of prayer, by which, while we attend to useful rules and instructions, we treasure up a store of material for this duty and learn by degrees to express our thoughts with propriety and decency, to our own and others' edification.

Thus, in order to grow in the knowledge of the things of God as Christians, he adds a blessing to our studies: in the learning of tongues to interpret Scripture, and in the holy skill of exhortation, in order to become able ministers. All these are called spiritual gifts because, as has been shown, in the primitive times they were given suddenly and in an extraordinary manner, without laborious study to acquire them. But in our day these are to be obtained and developed by labour and use, by repeated trials, by time and experience, and the ordinary blessing of the Spirit of God (p. 137).

The same must be said concerning the gift of prayer. He sanctifies our memory, to treasure up those parts of the Holy Scripture that are proper to be used in prayer; he makes it faithful to retain them and ready to recall them at proper times. If men become skilful in any faculty, and especially that which belongs to religion, it is justly attributed to God and his Spirit. For if he teaches the ploughman to manage wisely in sowing and reaping (ha. 28:26—29), much more does he teach the Christian to pray (p. 138).

3. He inclines our hearts to pray and keeps them intent upon the work. By nature there is in all men an estrange¬ment from God, and there is too much of it remaining in the best. There is a natural reluctance to the duties of immediate communion with God and a weariness in them. It is only the Spirit of God that works a heavenly disposition in us, that makes us ready to pray always, that stimulates us to take occasion from the many concerns of our souls or the affairs of life to go to the mercy-seat and abide there. It is he that kindly and secretly suggests,
Now is the accepted time. The Spirit says to the soul secretly, Seek my face; and the soul replies, Thy face, Lord, will I seek (Psa. 27:8).The Spirit says, Come to God by prayer, as well as to Christ by faith (Rev. 22:17). It is he that enlarges the desires towards God and gives silent intimations of hearing and acceptance. By his good stirrings he overcomes our delay and answers the carnal objections of our sinful and slothful hearts. He gives our spirits liberty for the work, as well as in it, and recalls our thoughts when wandering from God in worship, whether they be drawn away by our eyes, or our ears, or our busy imaginings, or the suggestions of the evil one.
It is the Holy Spirit who holds us to the duty in opposition to all discouragement, and makes us to wrestle and strive with God in prayer, to pour out our hearts before him, and to stir up ourselves to take hold of him, in agreement with the words of Scripture (Gen. 32:24; Rom. 15:30; Psa. 62:8; Isa. 64:7).The means which the Spirit of God generally uses to bring us to prayer and keep us to the duty is by working in our souls a lively sense of the necessity and advantage of it, or giving us some refreshment or delight in and by it (p. 139).

And if, when we are engaged in our worldly affairs or in divine worship, the devil is permitted by sudden violent impressions on the imagination, to draw our hearts away to sinful objects, why should it be counted a strange thing that the blessed Spirit should cast in holy stirrings and encouragements to the duty?

Chapter 5: Persuasive Arguments to Learn to Pray

5. A fifth persuasive argument to seek the gift of prayer shall be drawn from the easiness of attaining it with the common assistance of the Holy Spirit. I call it easy in comparison of the long toil and difficulty that men go through in order to acquire a common knowledge in arts, sciences or trades in this world; but it is not to be expected without some pains and diligence.

Some young persons may be so unwise as to make two or three bold attempts to pray in company before they have well learned to pray in secret. And finding themselves much at a loss and bewildered in their thoughts, or confused for want of presence of mind, they have abandoned all hopes and contented themselves with saying it is impossible. And as they have tempted God by rashly venturing upon such an act of worship without any due care and preparation, so they have afterward thrown the blame of their own sloth upon God himself, saying it is a mere gift of heaven, but God has not bestowed it upon me. This is as if a youth who had just begun to read logic should attempt immediately to dispute in a public school, and finding himself baffled and confounded, should cast away his book, renounce his studies and say, I shall never learn it, it is impossible. When we seek any attainment, we must begin regularly and go on gradually toward perfection with patience and labour. Let but the rules recommended in the second chapter of this treatise for acquiring the gift of prayer be duly followed, and I do not doubt that a Christian of ordinary capacity may in time gain enough of this skill as to answer the demands of his duty and his station.

Rather than be utterly destitute of this gift of prayer, I would make such an experiment as this: Once a month I would draw up a new prayer for myself in writing, for morning and evening, and for the Lord's Day, according to all parts of this duty described in the first chapter of this book, or out of the Scriptures that Mr Henry has collected in his Method for Prayer, which book I would recommend to all Christians. I would use it constantly all that month, yet never confining myself all along to those very same words, but giving myself liberty to put in or leave out, or enlarge according to the present workings of my heart or the occurrences of providence. Thus by degrees I would write less and less, at last setting down little more than heads or hints of thought or expression, just as ministers learn by degrees to leave off their sermon notes in preaching. I would try whether a year or two of this practice would not equip me with an ability in some measure to pray without this help, always making it one of my petitions that God would pour more of his Spirit upon me and teach me the skill of praying. And by such short notes and general heads of prayer well drawn up for children according to their years and knowledge, they may be taught to pray by degrees and begin before they are six years old.

(Wikipedia) Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748) was an English Christian hymn writer, theologian and logician. A prolific and popular hymn writer, his work was part of evangelization. He was recognized as the “Father of English Hymnody,” credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in use today and have been translated into numerous languages.

Born in Southampton, England, in 1674, Watts was brought up in the home of a committed religious Nonconformist; his father, also Isaac Watts, had been incarcerated twice for his views. At King Edward VI School, Watts had a classical education, learning Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

From an early age, Watts displayed a propensity for rhyme. Once, he responded when asked why he had his eyes open during prayers:

A little mouse for want of stairs
ran up a rope to say its prayers.

Receiving corporal punishment for this, he cried:

O father, father, pity take
And I will no more verses make
  keithhamblen | Jul 2, 2014 |
A true Christian classic. Isaac Watts approaches prayer with both form and freedom. This is not a book of prayer, where prayers are given to us complete. Nor is it a mere call to prayer, instructing us to pray with no guidance, but rather it is a biblical structure to prayer, giving us a form by which to conform our prayer, but leaving the content to us.

Prayer is largely regarded as an improvised activity, to move as the person praying moves. The result of that idea has been, in my own prayers and many I've heard, almost a rambling and directionless prayer, full of distractions and pauses. What Watts advocates is more structure to these prayers. We should still pray for particular situations and events and thereby add our own content, but Watts uses the Bible to promote structure to hold up that personalized content.

The result has made an immediate difference in my prayer life. It has lost none of the personal nature, but has gained a direction and control that lacked before. I recommend this book to all Christians. ( )
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A helpful and practical guide to prayer, which Watts describes as 'conversation with God above while we are here below'. From the author of such well-loved hymns as 'When I Survey the Wondrous Cross' and 'O God, Our Help in Ages Past'.

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