I love this poem by written by Isaac Watts the famous theologian, logician and hymn writer who was born in the late 1600’s. This hymn is one of 750 that he was inspired to write. It is a worship filled reminder of what prayer is and why we pray.
On Prayer by Isaac Watts
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.Continue Reading
Praying for an hour may sound daunting at first, but it can actually go by faster than you think. Many times when we spend an hour with a close friend, we look up surprised to see the time has passed so quickly and it’s time to part. This is the way to pray and to enjoy prayer, to see it as time spent with a dear friend, Jesus, who we have all to ourselves in sweet private conversation in our personal hour of prayer.
First, you must set aside a specific time to meet, knowing that God will be waiting for you. Make sure you eliminate all distractions by selecting a private place where you can talk in freedom and without being interrupted by phones and other distractions.
All you need is a quiet place and an eager heart, however you may find other supplies useful for prayer aids. Items such as your bible, a pen, paper for scribbling notes or thoughts that come to mind, a journal for writing your prayer if you prefer, a hymnbook, a favorite devotional book, soft instrumental music or soft scriptural lullaby music, a box of Kleenex, a cup of coffee, tea or other favorite drink, a candle or even an old fashioned oil lamp if you prefer.
“Converse much with Christ…Delight to walk with him, to meet him, to view his beauty, to hear his voice, to taste his sweetness. Take all occasions to present yourselves before him. Depart not out of his presence, until he smiles and he speaks kindly to your heart. Stay until he reveals his presence by impressions, light, heat and enlargement. Remain until you find acceptance and peace. Enjoy his presence.” – David Clarkson
I love this. So many Christians, myself included, sometimes struggle with seeing Christ. It’s hard to spend time with someone you don’t see or can’t hear. Prayer time feels awkward and alone as if you are talking to yourself. I’ve been there. You remind yourself of faith in God’s word and the promise of his presence so you keep at it. You keep showing up and talking to your imaginary friend or so it might feel some days because you just can’t see him or sense his presence beside you. As you pray, the park bench next to you seems painfully empty.
Then something happens slowly that you don’t understand. A mysterious peace floods your heart. Anxiety is suddenly gone. Words from what you read that morning or in the days before come suddenly to mind and address your questions, fears and concerns and comfort you. Why didn’t I think of that before? Confusion turns to understanding and acceptance. Before you didn’t know what to do and now you know what you must do. You have been counseled.
Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, Speak that my soul may hear;
Speak to my heart, Lord Jesus, Calm ev’ry doubt and fear.
Speak to my heart, oh, speak to my heart,
Speak to my heart, I pray;
Yielded and still, seeking Thy will,
Oh, speak to my heart today.
It’s strange how verses and truths collide in your life sometimes. This is often how I hear God speak to me. It’s when a common verse, a common theme runs throughout my morning devotional readings, prayer time, leisure readings, bible study preparations, extracurricular activities, Sundays Sermon, conversations and just throughout every aspect of my daily activities of life.
There really doesn’t seem to be any off limit areas for the Word of God to show up unexpectedly and present Himself before my eyes to remind me that He sees me and hears me. He knows my hearts hidden thoughts, questions, wishes and concerns that I have set aside to the back of my mind. He addresses them and counsels me on them before I even make them known to be answered. Thoughts and wishes that seem to be too small and trivial to be expressed are answered by Him.
One morning several weeks ago, I was flipping through an old hymn book when I ran across a hymn that I had never heard before called Speak to My Heart. I loved the lyrics to this hymn and spent time praying over the words. I wondered what this old hymn actually sounded like when it was sung and wished that I could hear it. I made a mental note to try and find it on the internet later when I had time. I took a picture of the hymn and pasted it on my personal Facebook page just commenting that I loved this old hymn I had ran across. I felt guilty sharing it stating that I loved it when I had never heard it sung before, but I did love it’s words and I wanted to remember them.Continue Reading
If someone took all your books away and only allowed you to keep three of four, what would they be?
I had a recent visitor comment on my blog post A Diary of Private Prayer that this was one of his favorite books and that if his books were to be taken away and he was only allowed to keep three of four, this one would always make his list. His comment made me look at my own overflowing book shelves and ask which ones would I keep if I could only keep three or four. I had attempted to reply back with my response but at the point where my comment turned to over 345 words, I figured it qualified as a valid blog post.
I am quite a book lover myself and narrowing it down to only three or four outside the bible would be quite a painful experience. I would have to say mine would be The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett. It’s very similar to John Baillie, only very much expanded. It is a collection of puritan prayers that are heart felt. I have posted a few of my favorites on my blog. The Gift of Gifts, Sleep and Choices. I have several more but I know the book is copyrighted and I am always fighting the temptation to post them all. But there are more posted at Oldlandmarks.com. There is actually a Walking Through the Valley of Vision Prayer Guide that you can use with this devotional book at the Gospel Coalition website. Walking Through The Valley of Vision: A Strategy for Prayer.Continue Reading
We all have lost loved ones and we would do anything to get them to come to Jesus, but they won’t and they can’t. They have no desire for him. No need of him that they can see. No belief. They aren’t willing. Or maybe they are too weak to come to Jesus. Too blind. Too paralyzed. Too possessed, if not by a demon then by alcohol, drugs, lies or some other strong influence that drives them.
Don’t give up hope. Only come to Jesus yourself asking Him to come to them or carry them and lay them before Jesus yourself through prayer. The bible is full of stories of parents seeking Jesus on behalf of their sick children at home, unable to travel. [pullshow] It is full of stories of family and friends bringing their loved ones to Jesus for healing. Once word reached them that Jesus would soon be passing by, he would be near to them in their own town, they seized the opportunity to go to Jesus on their behalf.Continue Reading
The following is a wonderful story that I read in Mrs. Charles E Cowman’s devotional Springs in the Valley back on February 10th and noted the page. It is a very encouraging story regarding the power of prayer and angelic protection as told by a Moravian missionary.
An American missionary and his wife bravely went to their station, where, twenty years before, two missionaries had been killed and eaten by the natives. They said as they took up their work it seemed as if often they were surrounded not only by the hostile natives, but by the very powers of darkness. These latter were so real, that night after night they were forced to get up and strengthen their hearts by reading the Word of God. Again, they would pray.
One day a man came and said, “I would like to see your watchmen close at hand.”
The missionary replied: “I have no watchmen; I have only a cook and a little herd boy. What watchmen do you mean?”
The man asked permission to look through the missionaries’ home. Every corner of the house was carefully searched, and the man came out of the house greatly disappointed.
Then the missionary asked the man to tell him about the watchmen to whom he referred. Here is the man’s answer:
“When you and your wife came here we determined to kill you as we did the missionaries twenty years ago. Night after night we came to carry out our intentions, but there always stood around your house a double row of watchmen with glittering weapons, and we dared not come near. At last we hired a professional assassin, who said he feared neither God nor devil. Last night he came close to your house – we followed at a distance – brandishing his spear. There stood the shining watchmen, and the killer fled in terror. So we have given up our purpose to kill you, but tell me, who are the watchmen?”
The missionary opened up the word of God and read: “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them.” (Psa. 34:7)
“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him.” (Deut. 33:12)
“The Lord hid them.” (Jer.36:26)
I love this passage speaking of morning devotions and prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I ran across it in the book Watch and Pray, Christian teachings on the Practice of Prayer edited by Lorraine Kisly.
Before the heart unlocks itself from the world, God wants to open it for himself; before the ear takes in the countless voices of the day, it should hear in the early hours the voice of the Creator and Redeemer. God prepared the stillness of the first morning for himself. It should remain his.Continue Reading
I recently ran across and bought this old classic devotional called A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie. I had never heard of this little gem before. It is divided by 31 chapters for each of the 31 days of the month and has two pages for each day, one entitled Morning and the other Evening. Sort of like Spurgeon’s devotional called Morning & Evening. Each day has a morning prayer and an evening prayer that serves as an aide to your prayer time along with a blank page on the left so that you can write down your own prayers and intercessions to be prayed along with it.
I love cool, breezy early mornings. I love the sweetness found in the air like aromatherapy. It soothes and refreshes me the moment I walk out of my front door. It calls me to pause and breath deep for a moment, to try to take in as much of it as I possibly can and enjoy it to it’s very depths. It reminds me of how small I am, how little I can contain and how abundant God’s graces are.
For a moment, all thoughts about yesterday’s past events, all concerns about today’s upcoming events and all worries about tomorrow’s future events are forgotten by the sweet smells that fill the air and begin to fill me calling me to enjoy the moment, to live in this moment, not the past or the future but in the present, in his presence where he dwells and holds out his hand waiting to lead me forth to face the new day.