Motives In Prayer
There is no greater argument in the world of our spiritual danger and unwillingness to religion, than the backwardness which most men have always, and all men have sometimes, to say their prayers ; so weary of their length, so glad when they are done, so witty to excuse and frustrate an opportunity : and yet all is nothing but a desiring of God to give us the greatest and the best things we can need, and which can make us happy : it is a work so easy, so honourable, and to so great purpose,-that in all the instances of the religion and providence, (except only the incarnation of his Son,) God hath not given us a greater argument of his willingness to have us saved, and of our unwillingness to accept it, his goodness and our gracelessness, his infinite condescension and our carelessness and folly, than by rewarding so easy a duty with so great blessings.
I cannot say any thing beyond this very consideration, and its appendages, to invite Christian people to pray often. But we may consider that,
1. It is a duty commanded by God and his holy Son.
2. It is an act of grace and highest honour, that we, dust and ashes, are admitted to speak to the eternal God, to run to him as to a father, to lay open our wants, to complain of our burdens, to explicate our scruples, to beg remedy and ease, support and counsel, health and safety, deliverance and salvation. And,
3. God hath invited us to it by many gracious promises of hearing us.
4. He hath appointed his most glorious Son to be the precedent of prayer, and to make continual intercession for us to the throne of grace.
5. He hath appointed an angel to present the prayers of his servants. And,
6. Christ unites them to his own, and sanctifies them, and makes them effective and prevalent; and,
7. hath put it into the hands of men to rescind, or alter, all the decrees of God, which are of one kind, (that is, conditional, and concerning ourselves and our final estate, and many instances of our intermedial or temporal,) by the powers of prayers.
8. And the prayers of men have saved cities and kingdoms from ruin: prayer hath raised dead men to life, hath stopped the violence of fire, shut the mouths of wild beasts, hath altered the course of nature, caused rain in Egypt, and drought in the sea: it made the sun to go from west to east, and the moon to stand still, and rooks and mountains to walk; and it cures diseases without physic, and makes physic to do the work of nature, and nature to do the work of grace, and grace to do the work of God, and it does miracles of accident and event: and yet prayer, that does all this, is, of itself, nothing but an ascent of the mind to God, a desiring things fit to be desired, and an expression of this desire to God, as we can, and as becomes us. And our unwillingness to pray, is nothing else but a not desiring what we ought passionately to long for; or, if we do desire it, it is a choosing rather to miss our satisfaction and felicity, than to ask for it.