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and more manifestly successful, till the Spirit shall be granted in such copious effusions, that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth, and all men shall know him fruin the least to the greatest.
The increased associations for social and public prayer, demand of Christians a more particular effort to render them interesting and edifying. All who take a part in these exercises are l'equired to seek the gift and grace of prayer; to avoid, in manner and expression, what might naturally be repulsive, and to aspire after an elevated piety, and thus render these seasons of a deeply interesting and impressive character.
Dr. Watts' Guide to prayer has proved peculiarly beneficial, and is justly held in the bighest estimation by the most judicious ministers and Christians. On presenting a new edition of the work, it has been conceived that great benefits may result from combining with it the peculiar excellencies of other treatises on prayer.
The present publication, therefore, consists of 'Three Parts.
In the First Part is condensed a large portion of Bicker steth's excellent treatise on the nature, duty, and privilege of prayer, with various other topics, which form an appropriate Introduction to a work of this nature.
The Second Part consists of the entire treatise of Dr. Watts, entitled a Guide to Prayer; in which he most judiciously guards the reader against many errors, and points out most ably and satisfactorily, the means for acquiring a holy freedom and pious elevation in the exercise.
The Third Part comprises devotional exercises, selected from the passages of Scripture, arranged by Mr, Henry, in his Method of Prayer, and from Mr, Bickersteth's Forms Prayer. The selections from Scripture are expressed as they stand in the sacred word, which may be varied in prayer to the case of an individual, or of a social meeting, as the occasion requires.
The following suggestions are submitted to the attention of the reader.
1. All aids to devotion are to be considered as hints for improvement, and not as specific and uniform rules and exam. ples. A general benefit may be derived from reading on the
subject, by learning to avoid what is repulsive in manner, voice or expression; and by adopting what is appropriate and excellent, without copying particular forms, or being limited to specific regulations. Let each Christian endeavor to attain that fervent spirit of prayer, which will enable him in a strain of holy devotion, with strong faith, and cheerful hope, to bring the varying circumstances of himself, liis family, the church, and the world, before the throne of grace, in a method which each particular occasion suggests, and in a manner calculated to console his own heart, and enkindle the flame of piety in others.
2. Christians should, in meetings for prayer, lauve particular reference to the specific object of the meeting. Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple copiously dwells on that subject; and the apostles, when mel to fill the place of Judas, were absorbed in that single object. The interest in prayer meetings, for revivals of religion, or other purposes, is often diminished, by so blending the specific subject, with prayers of a general diffusive character, as to prevent a concentration of desire in the petitions offered.
3. Care should be taken not to diminish the interest of a social prayer meeting by improper length in each prayer. Perhaps there is no greater obstruction to the benefits of a prayer meeting, tian inattention to this particular. When exhortatious and suggestions are offered on this subject, few individ. uals suppose themselves to be addressed, because each person, while engaged in speaking, is less conscious than others, of the time occupied. Let each reader consider this suggestion in application to himself. In public prayers, and on occasions when only one exercise is anticipated, a greater copioumess is desirable; the various parts of prayer may be regarded, and the various objects relating to individuals, the church, and the world,—to objects of benevolence, and the extension of the gospel, may be profitably combined. But where a number of Christians are expected to follow each other, concise less, and a greater concentration of object in each individual, wouldi awa. ken a deeper interest, and produce happier results. Instead
of combining in every prayer all that might appropriately oa cupy the meeting, let one dwell principally on confession, an. other on petition, and another on thanksgiving. The same re mark is applicable to the different objects to be presented. The state of the impenitent, of the inquiring mind, of the young, the aged, the church, the pastor, the heathen, might, as separate subjects, be copiously dwelt upon, in succession, by diferent individuals, and cause an awakened interest to pervade the exercise. Whenever weariness takes possession of the individuals engaged, their real prayer is, that the service may close, instead of joining in the petitions which are presented.
4. All persons who would derive benefit from a prayer meeting, should repair to it with a prayerful spirit, and not wait for the arrival of the season to awaken their devotional feelings. Individual and retired prayer happily abstracts the mind from worldly cares, prepares the heart to mingle in social exercises, and imparts those celestial benefits which are to be anticipated from intercourse with heaven.
“ Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw,
GENERAL VIEWS OF PRAYER.
THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF PRAYER.