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TO THE READER.
HE following “Method for Prayer" has been
abridged from the more comprehensive work of Matthew Henry, that “Prince of commentators,” as he has been truly called by one of the greatest of living preachers
I cannot do better than quote part of his preface to the reader, which is dated from Chester, March 29th, 1710.
“A Golden Thread of Heart-Prayer must run thro' the Web of the whole Christian Life; we must be frequently addressing ourselves to God in short and sudden Ejaculations, by which we must keep up our Communion with God in Providences and common Actions, as well as in Ordinances and religious Services. Thus prayer must be sparsim (a sprinkling of it) in every Duty, and our eyes must be ever towards the Lord.
"It is desirable that our Prayers should be copious and full: Our Burthens, Cares, and wants are many,
are our sins and mercies. The Promises are numerous and very rich, our God gives liberally, and
hath bid us open our mouths wide, and He will fill them, will satisfy them with good things. We are not straiten'd in Him, why then should we be stinted and straiten'd in our own Bosoms ? Christ had taught His Disciples the Lord's Prayer, and yet He tells them (John xvi. 24), that hitherto they had asked nothing, i.e., nothing in comparison with what they should ask when the Spirit should be pour'd out, to abide with the Church for ever; and they should see greater things than these. Then ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
“ But since at the same time we cannot go over the tenth part of the Particulars which are fit to be the Matter of Prayer, without making the Duty burthensome to the Flesh, which is weak even where the Spirit is willing (an Extream which ought carefully to be avoided), and without danger of intrenching upon other religious Exercises, it will be requisite that what is but briefly touched upon at one time, should be enlarged upon at another time: And herein this Storehouse of Materials for Prayer may be of use to put us in remembrance of our several Errands at the Throne of Grace, that none may be quite forgotten.
“As to the Words and Expressions we use in Prayer, though I have here in my Enlargements upon the several Heads of Prayer confin'd myself almost wholly to Scripture Language, because I would give an Instance of the Sufficiency of the Scripture to furnish us for every good Work, yet I am far from thinking, but that it is convenient and often necessary to use other Expressions in Prayer, besides those
that are purely Scriptural; only I would advise that the Sacred Dialect be most used, and made familiar to us and others in our dealing about Sacred Things.
“ Divers Heads of Prayer may no doubt be added to those which I have here put together, and many Scripture Expressions too, under each Head (for I have only set down such as first occurr'd to my Thoughts), and many other Expressions too, not in Scripture Words, which may be very comprehensive and emphatical, and apt to excite Devotion. And perhaps those who covet earnestly this excellent Gift, and covet to excel in it, may find it of use to them to have such a Book as this interleav'd, in which to insert such other Heads and Expressions as they 'think will be most agreeable to them, and are wanting here. And though I have here recommended a good Method for Prayer, and that which has been generally approv'd, yet I am far from thinking we should always tie ourselves to it; that may be varied as well as the Expression : Thanksgiving may very aptly be put sometimes before Confession or Petition, or our Intercessions for others before our Petitions for ourselves, as the Lord's Prayer.
“ There are those (I doubt not) who at some times have their Hearts so wonderfully elevated and enlarg'd in Prayer, above themselves at other times; such a Fixedness and Fulness of Thought, such a Fervor of Pious and devout Affections, the Product of which is such a Fluency and Variety of pertinent and moving Expressions, and in such a just and natural method, that then to have an Eye to such a scheme as this,