Monday 13 May 2013

Praying like the Puritans: Praying for Conversions!

It is surprising how little prayer there can be in the Western church for conversions. Has unbelief entered our minds due to difficult circumstances? Is it a theological reason that causes such little heartfelt prayer for conversions of people in our own day? I am not sure exactly as to the reason, but I am sure that the puritans can stimulate us to pray for the conversion of sinners. Let us look briefly at the "Westminster Directory of Public Worship", the Larger and Shorter Catechisms" which both expound on prayer using the Lord's prayer as a skeleton outline.

The Westminster Directory of Public Worship

There is a section called "Of Publick Prayer before the Sermon" which was to be conducted by the minister. It includes a confession of our great sinfulness, a bewailing our spiritual blindness, an acknowledgment that our Great high priest hears our request for the remission of sins and then, prayer for the propagation of the gospel. This is to include prayer for the conversion of the Jews, the bringing in of the fulness of the gentiles (Romans 11:25-27), the deliverance of distressed churches, and the blessing of God upon reformed churches. There are of course other aspects of prayer also covered but praying for conversions is included.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism

Prayer is a means of grace (question 88) and questions 98-107 focus entirely upon prayer. Listen to question and answer from Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

The second petition of the Lord's Prayer is: "Your kingdom come" Matthew 6:10 and this includes praying for advancement in the kingdom of God, so that ourselves and others are brought into it. Is this how you pray in your churches prayer meetings, and personally? We should!

The Westminster Larger Catechism

This fine document expounds the second petition of the Lord's Prayer in more detail. Here is question 191 "What do we pray for in the second petition?".

Answer: In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come), acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fulness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.

Let us pray fervently for the bringing in of the spiritual harvest and in accordance with Psalm 126:1-3.

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3  The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.

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