Puritan Gems

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Calvin's Rules of Prayer

Being raised in a church culture that promoted God's servititude to man's prayers, I have found these rules to be most helpful in effectively praying while honoring God's most wise and determinant counsel.

1.) First, reverence to God. “Have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God”. All giddiness of mind must be excluded, and all our feelings seriously engaged. This confirmed by the form of lifting the hand in prayer. We must ask only in so far as God permits. To help our weakness, God gives the Spirit to be our guide in prayer. What the office of the Spirit in this respect. We must still pray both with the heart and the lips. Ask only in so far as God permits, not according to foolish and depraved affects.

2.) Second, a sense of our want. Truly feel our wants, seriously consider what we ask (not perfunctory, and have an ardent desire of receiving them. This rule violated
a. By perfunctory and formal prayer
b. By hypocrites who have no sense of their sins.
c. By giddiness in prayer.

3.) Third, the suppression of all pride. Divest oneself of all vain thoughts, lay aside all sense of self-worth, and pray seriously and earnestly. Advantage of thus suppressing pride. It leads to earnest entreaty for pardon, accompanied with humble confession and sure confidence in the Divine mercy. This may not always be expressed in words. It is peculiar to pious penitents. A general introduction to procure favour to our prayers never to be omitted.

4.) Fourth, Pray with a sure hope of succeeding --a sure confidence of being heard animating us to prayer. The kind of confidence required, viz., a serious conviction of our misery, joined with sure hope. From these true prayer springs. How diffidence impairs prayer. In general, faith is required. This faith and sure hope regarded by our opponents as most absurd. Their error described and refuted by various passages of Scripture, which show that acceptable prayer is accompanied with these qualities. No repugnance between this certainty and an acknowledgment of our destitution.


Puritan said...

Thanks for that brother.

Anonymous said...

This is good advice - and some I hope to always remember and heed.

Jeff said...

"Being raised in a church culture that promoted God's servititude to man's prayers..."
Yeah, both my family and others I have met in society or seen on TV have seemed to treat God like He is some giant wishing well in the sky, or a giant Santa Claus in the sky, or some magic genie that is just waiting to grant our every wish.

"All giddiness of mind must be excluded..."
How contrasting to a certain extremely popular, so-called "revival" that they have been holding in my state, where the 'preacher' laughs like a maniac on stage, supposedly prompted by the Holy Spirit. To me, its showmanship.

"Ask only in so far as God permits, not according to foolish and depraved affects."
Yeah, in contrast to some televangelists, who say there is nothing wrong with asking God for a Cadillac or some other fancy cars. Most of the people in the world don't even own a car.

"Truly feel our wants"..."Pray with a sure hope of succeeding --a sure confidence of being heard..."
When I have been deadly serious with God about what I was praying for, and have trusted Him completely, He has answered my prayers in unbelievable, fantastic ways. But if you pray and don't really believe that He will answer you, or if you are just casually and randomly praying for things only because you think you're supposed to be praying about something (like, when you are in some prayer meeting and its your turn to pray, so you just pray because you're 'supposed to') you put it, "By perfunctory and formal prayer..." then God is not likely to answer your prayers, because He knows you are not really serious about it. OR, He knows that you are not really fully trusting Him to answer you, so therefore you don't really have faith. And, if you don't really believe that God can do it, or that He will do it, then why should He do it for you? In contrast, when you are 'walking in the Spirit,' or when you are 'filled with the Holy Spirit,' God will even answer your desires, sometimes even when you don't actually pray about them! I have seen God do so in my own personal life. Because, if you are truly walking with Him, and surrendered to Him, then He delights in answering the desires of your heart. If you are truly surrendered to Him, the desires of your heart will not be toward pride or selfishness, but will be for godly things, and for things which will bring glory to God. Therefore, because what you desire is based on what God loves, instead of being based on sinful things that God hates, God will happily answer the desires of your heart...sometimes, as I said, even when you don't pray for them! God is a good and loving Daddy to His children (i.e., the Elect). At the same time, however, God, though He is very patient, will not put up with disobedience. He will disipline His children. And, with those who are NOT His children (i.e., unbelievers, who, although they are creatures who were reproduced from God's original creation, they are none of His, but are His enemies, and are objects of His wrath), He will punish all sin, though He is holding off His punishment for a while, in order to give them time to repent (in other words, he will let them live their life out on this earth, rather than throw them into Hell right this instant, so that they may have time to repent and turn to Christ; of course, if their name was chosen before the beginning of time, they will at some point repent, because the Holy Spirit will prepare their heart and move them to do so; if their name was not chosen before the beginning of time to be in the Lamb's Book of Life, then they are left to their own free will, and man's free will alone will never choose to follow Christ, because the unredeemed heart is deceitful above all things, and only wants to go its own way).