‘Prayer’ Category

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”: Spurgeon’s Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer

December 12th, 2013 Posted in 19th Century, Baptist Life & Thought, Biblical Spirituality, Church History, Eminent Christians, Great Quotes, Prayer

By Evan D. Burns

Charles Spurgeon was a master at taking a familiar biblical text and staring at it long and hard until he saw mountains of spiritual treasure emerge.  He read the Bible as a beggar in search for bread, and he never stopped looking even in places he had searched before. Here is a simple example of his active meditation on a familiar text—“The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6:9).  Let us seek and find the riches of God’s Word, even in familiar places.

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, etc.” Matthew 6:9.

This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.”

This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be thy name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father,” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration—“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God—“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent, but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:” and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts,” that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.

As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.”  We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of his dominion there shall be no end.

Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us thus to pray.[1]


 [1]Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, “October 29.”

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Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Prayer: Common Ground for Origen of Alexandria and Fuller of Kettering

June 19th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, 19th Century, Ancient Church: 2nd & 3rd Centuries, Andrew Fuller, Biblical Spirituality, Church Fathers, Church History, Eminent Christians, Prayer

By Dustin W. Benge

Throughout church history men have written treatises on the subject of prayer using the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9–13) as a framework to shape their pastoral instruction. Perhaps no connection could be made between early church father, Origen of Alexandria (184/185–253/254) and Andrew Fuller (1754–1815), except they both gave insightful expositions on the Lord’s Prayer.

Origen’s treatise on prayer (De Oratione) reads more as a practical pastoral handbook than a major theological treatise. Origen gave a beautiful interpretation of the opening address of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Origen believed a Christian could not proceed with the following petitions and requests contained within the Lord’s Prayer until this opening phrase is rightly understood. Origen pointed out that the Old Testament does not know the name “Father” as an alternative for God, in the Christian sense of a steady and changeless adoption.[1] Only those who have received the spirit of adoption can recite the prayer rightly. Therefore, the entire life of a believer should consist in lifting up prayers that contain, “Our Father who art in heaven,” because the conduct of every believer should be heavenly, not worldly. Origen explained:

Let us not suppose that the Scriptures teach us to say “Our Father” at any appointed time of prayer. Rather, if we understand the earlier discussion of praying “constantly” (1 Thess 5:17), let our whole life be a constant prayer in which we say “Our Father in heaven” and let us keep our commonwealth (Phil 3:20) not in any way on earth, but in every way in heaven, the throne of God, because the kingdom of God is established in all those who bear the image of Man from heaven (1 Cor 15:49) and have thus become heavenly.[2]

Like Origen, Fuller began his exegesis of the Lord’s Prayer by establishing that prayer must be dependent upon the character of the one to whom we are allowed to draw near, namely, “Our Father.” The recognition of God as “Our Father” implies that sinners have become “adopted alien[s] put among the children.”[3] Those adopted into God’s family can therefore rightly approach God as their Father but it must, as Fuller clarifies, be through a Mediator. Fully consistent with the Messianic age, Christ set himself within the context of the prayer as the One through which the Christian must come if he or she is to approach God as “Father.” Fuller states, “The encouragement contained in this tender appellation is inexpressible. The love, the care, the pity, which it comprehends, and the filial confidence which it inspires, must, if we are not wanting to ourselves, render prayer as a most blessed exercise.”[4]

Origen and Fuller arrive at the same conclusion. They both see the phrase, “Our Father,” as the affirmation within the Lord’s Prayer that anchors the proceeding requests and brings great confidence within the one praying. Understanding God as “our Father” is the gift that causes the joy of prayer to be realized.


                [1] On Prayer (De Oratione) (Coptic Orthodox Church Network).

                [2] Origen, “On Prayer,” 125.

                [3] The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, 1:578.

                [4] The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, 1:578.

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Dustin W. Benge (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Associate Pastor and Pastor for Family Ministries at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. Dustin is a junior fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center and lives with his wife, Molli, in Mobile.

Two Recent Books by AFCBS Junior Fellow Dustin Benge

February 27th, 2013 Posted in 16th Century, 18th Century, Biblical Spirituality, Books, Eminent Christians, Prayer

By Steve Weaver

Dustin Benge, one of the contributors to this blog (and Junior Fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center), has recently published two books featuring devotional selections from the writings of two of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. Benge’s first book provided daily devotions from the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and was published by Reformation Heritage Books (sample pages here). Don Whitney (Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) has said the following about this volume.

“Few Christian writers could be mentioned in the same breath with Jonathan Edwards when it comes to heart-stirring devotional writing that is theologically rock-solid. Dustin Benge has done the church a great service by compiling these God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Gospel-centered, soul-enriching excerpts from some of Edwards’s magnificent, but lesser-known sermons. Read edifying passages from Edwards like this every day for awhile, and you’ll be the better for it.”

A second work by Benge, which was also published by Reformation Heritage Books, provides a selection of 150 prayers by John Calvin (sample pages here). These prayers were previously only available in Calvin’s voluminous Old Testament commentaries. Benge has now made these prayers accessible to a new generation through his diligent efforts. Steven J. Lawson, author of The Expository Genius of John Calvin, had this to say about the volume.

 “Dustin Benge has done the church a great service by compiling this generous selection of prayers by the great Genevan Reformer, John Calvin. Extracted from his luminous Old Testament Commentaries, these fervent intercessions reveal the warm piety that accompanied this theological genius. Calvin’s personal logo was an open hand, holding a heart, extended upward to God with the words, ‘My heart I offer to Thee, Lord, promptly and sincerely.’ This book clearly demonstrates such singular devotion to God. Here is Calvin’s high doxology, arising upward from his high theology. And here is his exaltation of God, ascending from sound exegesis and exposition. By reading these prayers, I have no doubt but that your own heart will be likewise inflamed.”

You can listen to an MP3 lecture by Benge on the prayers of John Calvin which was delivered at an AFCBS mini-conference a couple of years ago. You can read Benge’s continuing reflections on biblical spirituality at the new blog “Tinkers & Saints” which he maintains along with fellow AFCBS contributor and Junior Fellow Dustin Bruce.

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Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a junior fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 2 and 13.

An idea for St Patrick’s Day: praying for Ireland

March 12th, 2010 Posted in Prayer

Like any good Irishmen I love the fun of St Patrick’s Day. He is a great saint to remember.

But what about this idea this coming March 17: we pray for Ireland? If you need help, the John Owen quote a couple posts ago (on March 10) is a good place to begin.

Praying with Jown Owen for Ireland

March 10th, 2010 Posted in 17th Century, Prayer

I love this quote from John Owen–may God make me faithful in prayer for that land:

“How is it that Jesus Christ is in Ireland only as a lion staining all his garments with the blood of his enemies; and none to hold him out as a lamb sprinkled with his own blood to his friends? Is it the sovereignty and interest of England that is alone to be there transacted? For my part, I see no farther into the mystery of these things but that I could heartily rejoice, that…the Irish might enjoy Ireland so long as the moon endureth, so that Jesus Christ might possess the Irish. …If they were in the dark, and loved to have it so, it might something close a door upon the bowels of our compassion; but they cry out of their darkness, and are ready to follow every one whosoever, to have a candle. If their being gospelless move not our hearts, it is hoped their importunate cries will disquiet our rest, and wrest help as a beggar doth an alms.”


The Steadfastness of the Promises, and the Sinfulness of Staggering (Works, 8:235-236).

Pray for Dr. Mohler

February 16th, 2008 Posted in Prayer

You who bow the knee and pray to the Living Christ, Lord of heaven and earth, our great High Priest, please remember our dear brother Dr Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who needs surgery to remove a pre-cancerous tumor in his colon. Dr Mohler has been a tremendous encouragement to God’s people as he has been at the forefront of a remarkable work of grace in our day. May we who have richly benefited from his ministry be an encouragement to him as we pray for restoration of health and strength.

Connecting Prayer and History

January 11th, 2007 Posted in Prayer

This past Sunday my pastor, Carl Muller, preached an excellent sermon on 2 Thessalonians 3:1, one of my favourite Pauline texts. He emphasized first that Paul was “passionate about seeing God glorified in the saving of many souls through the ministry of the Word.” This should be true of us as well.

The text also sets forth, Pastor Muller asserted, a pattern for us—the pattern of being a person of prayer. I was struck by one point especially with regard to this second main point. We are to “pray,” he said, “with a sense of history.”

He drew this from the phrase “as happened among you” (ESV). The Thessalonians were being urged to remember how the Word of God had impacted their lives, and pray for the same results to happen in Corinth where the Apostle was labouring.

In other words, when we pray, we are to remember how the Lord has moved in the past and pray with a due sense of the greatness of his power and grace. A very helpful connect of history and prayer.

A Journalling Prayer and John Newton

December 2nd, 2006 Posted in Prayer

Journalling has been a time-honoured Christian means of grace in Evangelical circles stretching back to the Puritans. Here is an excellent prayer by John Newton (1725-1807) in this regard:

“I dedicate unto Thee this clean unsullied book and at the same renew my tender of a foul blotted corrupt heart. Be pleased O Lord! to assist me with the influence of Thy Spirit to fill the one in a manner agreeable to Thy will, and by Thy all sufficient grace to overpower and erase the ill impressions sin and the world have from time to time made in the other: so that both my public converse and retired meditation may testify that I am indeed Thy servant, redeemed, renewed and accepted in the sufferings, merit and mediation of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and Holy Spirit, be glory honour and dominion world without end.” (Sunday 22nd December 1751).

It is the bicentennial of his death next year and Sola Scriptura Ministries (http://www.sola-scriptura.ca/) has a great conference lined up in London, ON, in November to celebrate that and two other key historical events—the tercentennial of the birth of Charles Wesley and the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade.

Check out the conference here: “The Dungeon Flamed With Light” – The Great Awakening in the 18th Century November 16-27, 2007 – London, Ontario

John Sutcliff, “The Prayer Call of 1784″

October 9th, 2006 Posted in 18th Century, Prayer

Here is the document referred to in the previous blog, John Sutcliff’s “The Prayer Call of 1784.” It is an important text in that it was central to revival coming to the Calvinistic Baptist Churches in the UK during the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.

Upon a motion being made to the ministers and messengers of the associate Baptist churches assembled at Nottingham, respecting meetings for prayer, to bewail the low estate of religion, and earnestly implore a revival of our churches, and of the general cause of our Redeemer, and for that end to wrestle with God for the effusion of his Holy Spirit, which alone can produce the blessed effect, it was unanimously RESOLVED, to recommend to all our churches and congregations, the spending of one hour in this important exercise, on the first Monday in every calendar month.

We hereby solemnly exhort all the churches in our connection, to engage heartily and perseveringly in the prosecution of this plan. And as it may be well to endeavour to keep the same hour, as a token of our unity herein, it is supposed the following scheme may suit many congregations, viz. to meet on the first Monday evening in May, June, and July, from 8 to 9. In Aug. from 7 to 8. Sept. and Oct. from 6 to 7. Nov. Dec. Jan. and Feb. from 5 to 6. March, from 6 to 7; and April, from 7 to 8. Nevertheless if this hour, or even the particular evening, should not suit in particular places, we wish our brethren to fix on one more convenient to themselves.

We hope also, that as many of our brethren who live at a distance from our places of worship may not be able to attend there, that as many as are conveniently situated in a village or neighbourhood, will unite in small societies at the same time. And if any single individual should be so situated as not to be able to attend to this duty in society with others, let him retire at the appointed hour, to unite the breath of prayer in private with those who are thus engaged in a more public manner.

The grand object of prayer is to be that the Holy Spirit may be poured down on our ministers and churches, that sinners may be converted, the saints edified, the interest of religion revived, and the name of God glorified. At the same time, remember, we trust you will not confine your requests to your own societies [i.e. churches]; or to your own immediate connection [i.e. denomination]; let the whole interest of the Redeemer be affectionately remembered, and the spread of the gospel to the most distant parts of the habitable globe be the object of your most fervent requests. We shall rejoice if any other Christian societies of our own or other denominations will unite with us, and do now invite them most cordially to join heart and hand in the attempt.

Who can tell what the consequences of such an united effort in prayer may be! Let us plead with God the many gracious promises of His Word, which relate to the future success of His gospel. He has said, “I will yet for this be enquired of by the House of Israel to do it for them, I will increase them with men like a flock.” Ezek. xxxvi.37. Surely we have love enough for Zion to set apart one hour at a time, twelve times in a year, to seek her welfare.

Attached to John Ryland, Jr., The Nature, Evidences, and Advantages, of Humility (Circular Letter of the Northamptonshire Association, 1784), 12.

“I Wish I Had Prayed More”: John Sutcliff and Prayer

October 9th, 2006 Posted in 18th Century, Prayer

In 1842, on the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society, the Baptist pastor and writer, F.A. Cox, reflecting on the origins of the Society, stated:

“The primary cause of the missionary excitement in [William] Carey’s mind, and its diffusion among the Northamptonshire ministers [was] … the meeting of the Association in 1784, at Nottingham, [when] it was resolved to set apart an hour on the first Monday evening of every month, “for extraordinary prayer for revival of religion, and for the extending of Christ’s kingdom in the world.” This suggestion proceeded from the venerable [John] Sutcliff. Its simplicity and appropriateness have since recommended it to universal adoption; and copious showers of blessing from on high have been poured forth upon the churches.” [History of the Baptist Missionary Society, From 1792 to 1842 (London: T. Ward & Co./G. & J. Dyer, 1842), 1:10-11].

From the vantage point of the early 1840s, Cox saw the Prayer Call of 1784—proposed by John Sutcliff for adoption by the Northamptonshire Baptist Association and centred on the need to seek revival through prayer—as pivotal in that it focused the prayers of Calvinistic Baptist churches in the Association on the nations of the world. It thus prepared the way for the emergence of the Baptist Missionary Society and the sending of Carey to India.

Yet he also notes that the “universal adoption” of the concert of prayer by churches beyond the ranks of the Calvinistic Baptist denomination had led to rich times of revival, when God poured forth upon these churches “copious showers of blessing.” Later historians would describe this period of blessing as the Second Evangelical Awakening (1790-1830).

Some of them, like J. Edwin Orr and Paul E.G. Cook, would concur with Cox and rightly trace the human origins of this time of revival and spiritual awakening to the adoption of the concert of prayer by the Calvinistic Baptists in 1784 [J. Edwin Orr, The Eager Feet: Evangelical Awakenings 1790-1830 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1975), 95, 191-92, 199; Paul E. G. Cook, “The Forgotten Revival” in Preaching and Revival (London: The Westminster Conference, 1984), 92].

However, in one area Cox’s statement in somewhat misleading. In describing John Sutcliff as “the venerable Sutcliff” he leaves the reader with an idyllic impression of the Baptist pastor. How sobering to find that this man, who was at the heart of a prayer movement that God used to bring so much spiritual blessing to His church, also struggled when it came to prayer.

When Sutcliff lay dying in 1814 he said to Fuller: “I wish I had prayed more.” For some time Fuller ruminated on this statement by his dying friend. Eventually he came to the conviction that Sutcliff did not mean that he “wished he had prayed more frequently, but more spiritually.”

Then Fuller elaborated on this interpretation by applying Sutcliff’s statement to his own life:

“I wish I had prayer more for the influence of the Holy Spirit; I might have enjoyed more of the power of vital godliness. I wish I had prayed more for the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in studying and preaching my sermons; I might have seen more of the blessing of God attending my ministry. I wish I had prayed more for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to attend the labours of our friends in India; I might have witnessed more of the effects of their efforts in the conversion of the heathen. [cited J. W. Morris, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Andrew Fuller (London, 1816), 443].