Sunday, December 2, 2007

Marks of True Prayer

I have been a reader of The Banner of Truth magazine off and on for the last twenty-plus years, and with rich profit for my soul. The magazine is remarkable for its warm and lively orthodoxy.

In the previous month's issue, we had fine articles such as "Aspiring to Live a Quiet and Peaceable Life" by Tom Lyons, and "Conscience: A Voice of God" by Peter Barnes. This month, Joel Beeke of the Netherlands Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids offers an instructive thirty-three "Marks of a True Believer." Here are a few.

#1 True prayer brings heaven down into the soul and lifts the soul up to heaven.

#9 True prayer is the believer's greatest weapon in the armoury of God. The Puritan Thomas Lye confessed: "I had rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous."

#11 True prayer has more to do with God than man. It is wrapped up in holy concern for the glory and kingdom of God.

#12 true prayer longs for revival. Its expectation is only in the Lord. When Adoniram Judson had laboured for 8 years without one apparent convert his Mission Board sincerely asked him if he had any expectation left. An affirmative answer prompted the question: "But how great is your expectation?" Judson responded: "As great as the promises of God."

#13 True prayer does not focus upon itself or the petitioner. It does not turn inward for morbid introspection, but turns inward to bring all the sinner's deadness and depravity outward and upward toward the Almighty God of grace.

Also consider these titles published by The Banner of Truth Trust:

The Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) - From the Foreword, by Sinclair Ferguson: “It is full of rich spiritual wisdom and insight culled from the experience of a man who knew both the sorrows of life and the joys of faith in great abundance…. I pray that many readers will find here the help, comfort, wise counsel, and spiritual compass that we and our friends have so often discovered in meditating on these pages.”

The Life of John Newton by Josiah Bull - "This is no arid record of the past. Besides being a worthy memorial to the life and work of John Newton, this biography will also encourage those who love the gospel to consecrate themselves to the Master’s service as Newton did."

David: Man of Prayer, Man of War by Walter Chantry - "Only the supreme providence of God and the unfathomable depths of divine grace could have conceived and forged the life of David. God made the son of Jesse into the emblem of the kingly office which only Christ would fulfill more gloriously. He embodied all the qualities of manly nobility and charm. Everyone in his day loved David, except the most ugly and despicable figures. No matter how high David rose above other men, his spirit was childlike toward the Lord. He who was equally at home holding the shepherd’s staff, the warrior’s sword, the poet’s harp, and the ruler’s sceptre, was completely transparent in the humbling of himself before the God of all the earth. This ease and simplicity in worship draws out our deepest emotions as we read the life of David, King of Israel. We love this man for showing us how to pray from every point of life’s compass. We love him for showing us how, in the midst of spiritual failure, we too can draw near to the Lord again in trust and devotion. Perfectionists will not be comfortable with David. Those who stumble often, but who always turn with melted hearts to God for pardon and help, will find in him a brother for all situations. Such people will love the sacred history of his life and find it totally engrossing."

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