The Christian in Complete Armour
We were blessed this past Sunday to hear a simple message from Matthew 6:11 that brought to our minds many important themes: In prayer, we sign our declaration of dependence on God for both temporal and spiritual necessities. We trust God for the present and leave the future in his providential care. We pray for one another and with one another; (‘Give us…our…’) Finally, we are reminded that Jesus is the ultimate staple for all of life. In him we find sustenance, in him we find rest and peace, in him we find life.
What follows are some of my favorite quotes along these themes from “The Christian in Complete Armour”, by William Gurnall. I hope they will be a blessing to you as they have been to me.
Suppose a man was going about some important business, and had him in his company that alone could help or hinder the dispatch of it; were it not strange that he should travel all day with him, and not apply himself to this person to make him his friend? This is thy case: thou and all thy affairs are at the absolute disposal of the great God, to bless or blast thee in every enterprise. Now, God is always in thy company, at home and abroad. Surely, didst thou believe this firmly, thou wouldst often in a day turn
thyself to him, and beg his good-will to favor thy undertaking.
Whatever we prefer in our desires, above the glory of God, is an idol-worship by us. The heart can engrave as well as the hand; and an idol in the heart is as bad as one set up in the house.
Secondly, when the thing prayed for is denied. He that aims sincerely at God’s glory in prayer for a mercy, (I speak now of such mercies as are but conditionally promised,) will cheerfully submit to the will of God in a denial, because God can in such petitions glorify himself, by denying as well as granting them. David prayed and fasted for the life of his child; it dies notwithstanding: does this denial make him fall out with God? Is he clamorous and discontented? No, it raiseth no storm in his heart, to hinder him in the service of God; he washeth his tears from his cheeks, changes his apparel, and goes cheerfully into the house of God and worshippeth, 2 Sam. 12:20, so powerfully did the will of God determine his will.
Pray often rather than very long. It is difficult to remain long in prayer, and not slacken in our affections.
1 Thes. 5:17-18 Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks: in both which places the whole matter of prayer is comprehended in request and thanksgiving. These two are like the double motion of the lungs, by which they suck in and breathe out the air again. In the petitionary part of prayer, we desire something at God’s hands: in thanksgiving, we return praise to him for mercies received from him.
Now the good things promised are either spiritual or temporal; such a large field hath the Christian given him for his requests to walk in; for godliness hath the promise of life that now is, and of that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:8).
Pray and work or pray and starve.
Temporal blessings are chiefly to be desired for the sake of the spiritual. He is thy chief good, and therefore thou infinitely dishonourest him, if thy desires can be satisfied with anything short of him.
Prov. 30:8-9 Self-denial is the best self-seeking, for by neglecting ourselves for God’s sake, we oblige him to take the care of us upon himself; and he is the only happy man, whose sole dependence is upon God.
It shews a bad heart to make a great noise in prayer for corn and wine, and to be faint in the desire for Christ and his grace; nor is it any better when one acknowledges the goodness of God in temporals but takes little notice of those greater blessings which concern another life.
“Thankfulness is costly work: ‘Shall I offer to God that which cost me nothing?’
We see there is need not only to stir up our people to pray, but also to teach them how they may pray.
Observe, therefore, what is thy chief impediment to fervency in prayer, and set thyself vigorously against it: if thou art remiss in this, thou wilt be much more so in prayer itself.
Prefer spiritual blessing in thy prayer for others before temporal. Is it a sick friend? If health be all thou beggest for him, thou art not faithful to him; he may have that and be the worse for it.
Thirdly, be not discouraged in your prayers for others, though and answer doth not presently overtake them. Thou prayest for a rebellious child, or carnal friend, who yet continue to be so; take heed thou dost not presently think them past grace and give over the work. Samuel saw the people he prayed for mend slowly, yet hear what he saith, 1 Sam. 12:23 ‘God forbid I should cease praying for you.’
Certainly, as it shews want of charity not to pray for others, so no want of pride not to desire prayers from others!