Sunday, July 17, 2011

John Bunyan on Prayer

The Puritan John Bunyan is best known as the writer of "Pilgrim's Progress." But the rest of his ministry has been forgotten. For example, I didn't know until I started putting this post together, that he had spent twelve years in prison for his faith. He also wrote other spiritual works. The one that is relevant here was "I Will Pray with the Spirit" (available online here).

Bunyan was a sincerely spiritual man. I found the following quote in "Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer," edited by Joel Beeke and Brian Najapfour. I find so much that the Puritans said to be deeply convicting. I frequently ask God to give me the faith, faithfulness, and passion that they had.

Bunyan said, "Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the word, for the good of the Church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God." Notice the things that he includes in his definition of prayer: the attitude of the heart, the intimate devotion to the Trinity, and the scripture-based expectations. In fact, the Puritans were known for their advocacy of praying the Bible back to God, with the expectation that He would always be pleased to hear His own Word. That implies an intimate knowledge of the Bible. Can any of us read this without feeling ashamed of our cold and impotent prayers?

No comments: