MONDAY, SECOND WEEK IN LENT
ON THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER
Consider first, that all Christians are indispensably obliged to pray, because it is an homage and worship we owe to God. He is our first beginning and our last end; he is the inexhaustible source of all our good; therefore he justly expects we should daily worship him, and daily acknowledge our total dependence on him, by a diligent application to him by prayer. We are all bound by our creation and redemption frequently to present ourselves before the throne of God with acts of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving; we are all bound to honour him by frequent acts of faith, hope, and love; and it is in prayer, and by prayer, we perform these duties: they are all neglected if prayer be neglected. It was appointed in the divine law that twice every day, viz., morning and evening, an unspotted lamb should be offered in sacrifice, in the temple of God, as a daily worship he expected from his people; and shall not the children of the new law be equally obliged, twice a day at least, to offer up their homage of prayer in the temple of their hearts? Daniel chose rather to be cast into the den of the lions than not worship his God by prayer three times a-day. And shall not this convince Christians of the strict necessity of this exercise?
Consider 2ndly, the necessity of prayer, inasmuch as it is by divine appointment the channel through which the graces and blessings of God are to flow into our souls. We can do nothing towards our salvation without the grace of God; but with his grace we can do all things. Now, prayer is the great means of procuring and obtaining this all-necessary grace; ‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.’ O how often is this repeated and inculcated in holy writ! How much are we there pressed to be earnest and fervent in prayer! Does our God then stand in need of us or our prayers? No, certainly. He stands not in need of us, but we continually stand in need of him; and therefore out of love to us, he is so often pressing us to pray, because he sees that without frequent and fervent prayer we must be for ever miserable. Blessed be his name for this his infinite charity.
Consider 3rdly, the necessity of prayer, from the warfare in which we are engaged the whole time of our mortal pilgrimage, with three most desperate enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are surrounded with dangers on all sides, and with dangers that threaten us with nothing less than the loss of God, and a miserable eternity. We walk in the midst of snares; our way is beset with robbers and murderers; we breathe a pestilential air; we live in a world that is very wicked; in the midst of worldlings, a deluded people who are strangers to the Gospel, who by word and work encourage sin, and seek to drag us along with them into the broad road of perdition. We carry about with us a load of flesh, which weighs down the poor soul, and tyrannizes over her with its passions and lusts; these hold a correspondence with the third enemy the devil, and are ever ready to betray us to him, to make us his companions in never-ending woe. We have whole legions of his wicked angels to fight against, crafty and malicious spirits, bent upon sparing no pains to destroy us. And what shall we do? Or what can we do to escape all these dangers, and overcome all these enemies? We must watch arid pray; and God will watch over us, and give us the victory over them all. Prayer will engage God on our side, and all our enemies shall fall before us; for if God is with us, it is no matter who is against us.
Conclude to have recourse to prayer in all dangers and temptations; and since our whole life is full of dangers and temptations, let us make our whole life, as much as possible, a life of prayer.