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That Men ought always to pray * : Or, as it is in another Place, that Men pray every where, lifting up holy Hands without Wrath and Doubring .
In order, therefore, to convince such Men of the great Importance of praying frequently to God, and how inexcusable they are if they neglect so to do, I defire they would go along with me in the following Reflections. · Consider that Prayer is a Duty enjoined us purely for our own Sakes; a Duty, that is neither expensive of our Time, nor of Estates; no depth of Learning, no Subtilty of Parts is required to the Practice of it; 'tis what the Meanest as well. as the Highest may perform; 'tis suited to all Persons and all Conditions; the Miserable and Amicted, the Prosperous and Happy, the Poor and the Rich, the Young and Old, may all pray to God: no Circumstance of Life can incapacitate us for this Duty ; it obliges all, for all are the Creatures of God, and depend upon him for all the Comforts and Conveniencies of Life; In him we live, and move, and have our Being; and therefore (as the Psalmist advises) we should worship, and fall down, and * Luke xviii. 1.
ti Tim. ii. 8.
kneel before the Lord our Alaker; and what engages us the more fo to do, is, that God hath been graciously pleased to invite us to this Duty by the most endearing Promises, and annexed invaluable Blessings to the due Performance of it. He hath declared him self to be a God hearing Prayer; and has promised that He will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask it. Our Saviour has assured us, that if we pray to our Father which is in secret, our Father which feeth in secret, will reward us openly*; and that whatsoever we ask the Father in his name, he will give it us ti If any of you, says St. James, lack Wisdom, let bim ask of God, that giveth to all Men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him t. Nay, so far has God been pleased to condescend in this Matter, as to appeal even to Men themselves for the Truth of it. What Man is there of you, says our Saviour, whom if his Son ask Bread, will be give him a Stone? Or, if he ask a Fish, will he give him a Serpent? If ye then being evil, know how to give good Gifts unto your Children, how much more Mall your Father, which is in Heaven give good Things to them that ask him? As if he * Matt, vi, 6. + John xvi. 23. Jam. i.5. Matt. vii. 9, 10, 11,
should have faid, Was ever any earthly • Parent deaf to the Wants and Cries of • his Children: And if they asked for Food, • did he deride their Necessities, by giving • them what it was impoffible they should
eat? If ye then that are evil, that is niggardly and covetous, know not how to
resist the force of natural Affections, how • much rather ought ye to think, that your
Father, which is in Heaven, who sees, and knows, and pities all your
Wants; • He that is Goodness itself, who delights • in communicating the Effects of that • Goodness, and whose Love exceeds the • Kindness of the most tender. Parent ! • how much rather, I say, ought ye to • think, that such a Father will be ready
to hear the Prayers of his Children that • call upon Him? It is certain, and you
may be assured, that he will hear them, • and give good Gifts unto them that alk • him.
But he has made our asking of them one Condition of our receiving them from him.
And now, what higher Motives can we wish for, to excite our Performance of any Duty, than we have for this? What can we desire more to encourage our Addresses to God by Prayer, than to be assured, That
he will hear us? He who is the Lord of Heaven and Earth, whose Goodness as well as Power is infinite, and who is as willing as he is able, to relieve our Wants ? O the mighty Power of Prayer! who would ever be a Stranger to it? Who that considered the Excellency of Prayer, and what an Instrument it is of our Happiness both here and hereafter, would either neglect it, or be remiss or careless in the Performance of it? 'Tis the highest Privilege we are capable of in this life; by this we converse with God, and have an Intercourse with Heaven. Prayer is a never-ceasing Spring of Comfort, where we are invited to taste freely, and from whence proceeds such pleafant Streams as will refresh the Sout in alt the Troubles and Calamities of Life. Is any among you afflicted ? says St. James *, let him pray. This was the constant Practice of the Psalmist, and from his own Experience he has taught us what mighty Advantages attend it. When I am in Trouble, says he, I will call upon thee, O Lord, for thou heareft me.
And in another Place, I fought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my Fears t. In my Distress I called upon the Lord, and cried * Jam v, 13.
+ Pfal. xxxiv. 4.
unto my God; He heard
Voice out of his Temple, and my Cry came before him, even into his Ears *. Indeed, there is nothing in the World seems to prevalent with God, as the fervent Prayer of a righte":us Man : We are told by St. James, that it availeth much, when offered up in behalf of others; and to be sure, 'tis of no less Force, when our own Wants are the Subject of it.
Not that we are to conclude from hence, that all the Prayers, even of a righteous Man, shall 'immediately be answered by God: No, there may
wise Rea fons why God may see fit to deny what we ask, or at least defer the granting it, as, for the Trial of our Faith, or for the Exercise of some Virtue in us; or because we are not yet fit for the Blelling we defire; or that we ask for what he sees would be hurtful to us, or the like. . And there. fore, we must not understand the Promises which are made to Prayer, in an absolute, but a limited Sense; that is, that when we and our Prayers have those Qualifications which are necessary to make them acceptable to God, he will give us what we alk for, if he fees it fit for us: I say, fit for us; because we may (and I doubt, from a * Pial. xviii. 6.