Prayer is the application of need to Him who only can relieve it, the voice of sin to Him who alone can pardon it. It is the urgency of poverty, the prostration of humility, the fervency of penitence, the confidence of trust. It is not eloquence, but earnestness; not the definition of helplessness, but the feeling of it; not figures of speech, but compunction of soul. It is the "Lord, save us, we perish," of drowning Peter; the cry of faith to the ear of mercy.
Adoration is the noblest employment of created beings; confession, the natural language of guilty creatures; gratitude, the spontaneous expression of pardoned sinners. Prayer is desire; it is not mere conception of the mind, nor a mere effort of the intellect, nor an act of the memory; but an elevation of the soul towards its Maker; a pressing sense of our own ignorance and infirmity; a consciousness of the perfection of God, of his readiness to hear, of his power to help, of his willingness to save. It is not an emotion produced in the senses, nor an effect wrought by the imagination; but a determination of the will, an effusion of the heart.
Prayer is the guide to self-knowledge, by prompting us to look after our sins in order to pray against them; a motive to vigilance, by teaching us to guard against those sins which, through self-examination, we have been enabled to detect.
Prayer is an act both of the understanding and of the heart. The understanding must apply itself to the knowledge of the Divine perfections, or the heart will not be led to the adoration of them. It would not be a reasonable service, if the mind was excluded. It must be rational worship, or the human worshiper would not bring to the service the distinguishing faculty of his nature, which is reason. It must be spiritual worship, or it would lack the distinctive quality to make it acceptable to him who is a Spirit, and who has declared that he will be worshiped "in spirit and in truth."
Prayer is right in itself as the most powerful means of resisting sin and advancing in holiness. It is above all right, as everything is, in which has the authority of Scripture, the command of God, and the example of Christ.
What a triumph for the humble Christian, to be assured that "the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity," condescends at the same time to dwell in the heart of the contrite– in his heart! to know that God is the God of his life; to know that he is even invited to take the Lord for his God. To close with God's offers, to accept his invitations, to receive God as our portion, must surely be more pleasing to our heavenly Father than separating our happiness from his glory. To disconnect our interests from his goodness, is at once to detract from his perfections, and to obscure the brightness of our own hopes. The declarations of the inspired writers are confirmed by the authority of the heavenly hosts. They proclaim that the glory of God and the happiness of his creatures, so far from interfering, are connected with each other. We know but of one anthem composed and sung by angels, and this most harmoniously combines "the glory of God in the highest with peace on earth and good will to men."
"The beauty of Scripture," says the great Saxon reformer, "consists in pronouns." This God is our God -- God, even our own God shall bless us. How delightful the appropriation! to glorify him as being in himself consummate excellence, and to love him from the feeling that this excellence is directed to our felicity! Here modesty would be ingratitude -- disinterestedness, rebellion. It would be severing ourselves from Him in whom we live, and move, and are; it would be dissolving the connection which he has condescended to establish between himself and his creatures