SATURDAY AFTER THE THIRD SUNDAY
ON PRAYING ALWAYS
Consider first, that we are not only to address ourselves to God by prayer, in the morning and in the evening, but we are also called upon, in the word of God, ‘to pray always,’ Luke xviii, i; to ‘pray without ceasing,’ 1 Thess. v. 17; and to ‘seek the face of the Lord evermore,’ Ps. civ. 4. The soul that truly loves her God, will never bear to stay all the day long, without often thinking of him and speaking to him, seeing he has both his eye and his heart always upon her. Love ever seeks the company and conversation of its beloved; now, it is by the means of prayer that we are introduced into the company and conversation of our great Lover, and we quickly lose both his love and him if we pass whole days in the forgetfulness of him. Besides, other dangers continually threaten us when we do not run under the wings of God, and keep close to him by continual prayer. So that if we love either God or ourselves, we must frequently in the day have recourse to prayer. ‘Tis the very breathing and life of the soul, and, therefore, to think to come it to the morning or evening only, is to expose the soul to the danger of perishing for want of breath.
Consider 2ndly, that the practice of this continual prayer does not require that we should be always upon our knees, nor yet that we should always have a prayer-book in our hands, or be always reciting a form of prayer; nor does it any ways break in upon our other employments, so as to be any hindrance to them – no not even to our common conversation, or recreations; but it only consists in a certain sense and conviction of the presence of God, and frequent conversions of the soul to him. Thus, for example, in the beginning of every action the soul should turn to her God, (who is always near her, and in the very midst of her,) by offering up to his honour and glory what she is going to do, and, at the same time, offering her whole self to him; thus, in the midst of all her actions and conversations, she should frequently tend to him by aspirations or breathings of love, and call him to her assistance by short ejaculatory prayers. This way of proceeding will sanctify all her common performances, and make them all partake both of the nature and of the benefit of prayer.
Consider 3rdly, how diligent the ancient patriarchs were in this exercise of praying always, since the Scriptures say, ‘they walked with God, and in his sight:’ which implies their ever thinking of him, and having a constant attention to please him. The like was the practice of the fathers of the desert, and of so many other saints, who, even whilst their hands were at work, took care to have their hearts centred in God. Christians, let us imitate these servants of God, and since no time, nor place, nor company, nor occupation can exclude the divine immensity, which fills heaven and earth, nor hinder God from being so near to us, that our very souls are not more present to our bodies which they animate, than God is to the very centre of our souls, let no time, nor place, nor company, nor occupation divert us from often thinking of him, and often speaking to him, in our hearts. No conversation can be so honourable, so profitable, or agreeable as this which we hold in the closet of our souls with our Sovereign God.
Conclude to aim, with all thy power, at this inward conversation with God, in the midst of all thy external occupations. In order to this keep thy mind pure from unprofitable amusements and roving imaginations, and thy heart from all disorderly ties and affections to creatures; and God will fill both thy mind and thy heart, and will effectually teach thee to pray always.