« PreviousContinue »
ON PRAYER IN GENERAL.
THE NATURE OF PRAYER.
The very soul of religion is prayer. need not wonder, that the open and inveterate enemies of revelation should be entire strangers to devotion; but all who own the Bible to be true, 'and yet live in the habitual neglect of prayer, are chargeable with the grossest inconsistency;—they are nominal Christians, and practical Atheists. Scarcely can we look into the Holy Scriptures, but we find the clearest injunctions and warmest exhortations to prayer. The Temple was expressly called the House of Prayer, because the Divine Being, the God of Israel, commanded his people to seek him there, and promised there to bow his ear to the
voice of their supplications. The whole Book of Psalms is a most admirable and excellent collection of prayers, which may both serve as models, and supply us with motives, in almost every kind of religious and devout exercise to which we are called.
The subject which we now propose to examine and discuss, is of the highest importance, and consequently demands the serious and fixed attention of all. There is perhaps not one point in the whole compass of morals and religion, upon which more misapprehensions and errors prevail, than on the nature of prayer. Even where we find some vague ideas of piety, a cloud of darkness and confusion often rests upon the mind in reference to this matter. And when ignorance and pride, impurity, prejudice, and presumption, rashly approach, and lay their unhallowed hands on the ark of God, the consequences are such as might be expected. The majesty of heaven is insulted and offended, and a curse comes down instead of a blessing.
Prayer is not eloquence of speech, or measured flow of well-chosen words, uttered in solemn and pathetic tones; it is not a particular posture of the body, as the bending of the knees, the lifting of the hands, or any other action adjusted to prescribed rules ; it is not a specious ceremony, dressed out in pomp and