Praying Like a Puritan

O my Savior, help me. I am slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb; I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights….” Those Puritans sure knew how to pray; and it’s not because they had extensive vocabularies and were good with metaphors.

Theirs was a deep piety grounded in the Scriptures. As a result, they knew the depth of their sin; it is why their confessions were rarely, “God forgive me”—but instead, nuanced to precision:

I am pained by my graceless heart, my prayerless days, my poverty of love, my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience, my wasted hours, my unspent opportunities. I am blind while light shines around me: take the scales from my eyes, grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.

Their petitions then got to the heart of the matter:

Make it my chiefest joy to study Thee, meditate on Thee, gaze on Thee, sit like Mary at Thy feet, lean like John on Thy breast, appeal like Peter to Thy love, count like Paul all things dung.

They were bold in asking for more grace:

Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be more decision in my character, more vigor in my purposes, more elevation in my life, more fervor in my devotion, more constancy in my zeal.

And they knew how to end a prayer well:

As I have position in the world, keep me from making the world my position; may I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the Creator; let not faith cease from seeking Thee until it vanishes into sight. Ride forth in me, Thou King of kings and Lord of lords, that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

One doesn’t need to wax poetic to pray like this; for it is never about the words. As I heard one time, “some prayers break the backs of words”; the point being that sometimes our best prayers are our silent ones. But we won’t be able to pray like this unless our love and devotion to the One we pray to is deep; and our understanding of self is as well. And depth of both is gained in one place; the Scriptures.

The Puritans knew how to pray because they were trained by the Book. Go read and study and you will be amazed at the prayers that come out of your mouth.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
June 30, 2011

[above prayer taken from, “The Disciple’s Renewal,” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions]

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