A Method for Prayer was written by Matthew Henry, March 25, 1710. For ease of reading, the editors have sought to update some of the author’s language. http://www.matthewhenry.org/
About the author
Matthew Henry (1662-1714) is best remembered for his Commentary on the Whole Bible, which he began in 1704. He completed Genesis through Acts by the time of his death. He was born near Whitchurch (Salop), England. He began preaching at the age of 23 and spent most of his ministry as pastor of a church in Chester (1687-1712).
- (1) Address God with Reverence and Awe
- (2) Reverently Adore God
- Reverently Adore God (continued)
- (2.1) Acknowledge God’s Eternality
- (2.2) Acknowledge God’s Omnipresence
- (2.3) Acknowledge God’s Perfect Knowledge
- (2.4) Acknowledge God’s Unsearchable Wisdom
- (2.5) Acknowledge God’s Incontestable Sovereignty
- (2.6) Acknowledge God’s Irresistible Power
- (2.7) Acknowledge God’s Purity
- (2.8) Acknowledge God’s Justice
- (2.9) Acknowledge God’s Unchanging Truth
- (2.10) Acknowledge God’s Greatness
- (3) Praise God for His Heavenly Splendor and Glory
- (4) Give Glory to God as the Creator of the World
- (5) Give Honor to the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- (6) Acknowledge your Dependence on God and your Obligations to Him
- (7) Own your Relation to God
- (8) Acknowlege the Privilege of Drawing Near to God in Prayer
- (9) Express your Unworthiness to Draw Near to God
- (10) Humbly Profess the Desire of your Heart for God
- (11) Profess your Believing Hope and Confidence in God
- (12) Entreat God’s Favorable Acceptance
- (13) Beg for the Spirit’s Assistance in Prayer
- (14) Aim for God’s Glory in Prayer
- (15) Rely on Jesus Alone for Acceptance with God
Introduction to Adoration
Of the First Part of Prayer, which is Address to God, Adoration of Him, with Suitable Acknowledgements, Professions, and Preparatory Requests
[Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]
Our spirits being composed into a very reverent and serious frame, our thoughts gathered in, and all that is within us charged in the name of the great God carefully to attend the solemn and awful service that lies before us and to keep close to it, we must, with a fixed attention and application of mind and an active lively faith, set the Lord before us, see his eye upon us, and set ourselves in his special presence, presenting ourselves to him as living sacrifices, which we desire may be holy and acceptable to God and a spiritual service; Romans 12:1(ESV) and then bind these festal sacrifices with cords up to the horns of the altar, Psalm 118:27(ESV) in such thoughts as these:
Let us now lift up our hearts, with our eyes and hands, to God in heaven. Lamentations 3:41(ESV)
Let us rouse ourselves to take hold of God, Isaiah 64:7(ESV) to seek his face, Psalm 27:8(ESV) and to ascribe to him the glory due his name. Psalm 29:2(ESV)
Unto you, O Lord, do we lift up our souls. Psalm 25:1(ESV)
Let us now with confidence enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh. Hebrews 10:19-20(ESV)
Let us now attend to the Lord with undivided devotion, 1 Cor 7:35(ESV) and let not our hearts be far from him when we draw near to him with our mouths and honor him with our lips. Isaiah 29:13(ESV)
Let us now worship God, who is spirit, in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23-24(ESV)
Address God with Reverence and Awe
Having thus engaged our hearts to approach God. Jeremiah 30:21(ESV)
We must solemnly address ourselves to that infinitely great and glorious Being with whom we have to do, as those who are possessed with a full belief of his presence and a holy awe and reverence of his Majesty, which we may do in such expressions as these:
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Revelation 4:8(ESV)
O you whose name is the LORD, who alone are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18(ESV)
O God, you are our God, earnestly we seek you; Psalm 63:1(ESV) our God, and we will praise you; our fathers’ God, and we will exalt you. Exodus 15:2(ESV)
O you who are the true God, the living God, the one only living and true God, 1 Thessalonians 1:9(ESV) and the everlasting King! Jeremiah 10:10(ESV) The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deuteronomy 6:4(ESV)
And may we thus distinguish ourselves from the worshipers of false gods.
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, they are vanity and a lie, the work of human hands; Psalm 115:4(ESV) those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:8(ESV) But the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name, Jeremiah 10:16(ESV) God over all, blessed forever. Romans 9:5(ESV)
Their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves, Deuteronomy 32:31(ESV) for he is the Rock of ages; the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock: Isaiah 26:4(ESV) His name endures forever, and his renown throughout all ages, Psalm 135:13(ESV) even when the gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens. Jeremiah 10:11(ESV)
Reverently Adore God
We must reverently adore God, as a Being transcendently bright and blessed, self-existent and self-sufficient, an infinite and eternal Spirit who has all perfections in himself, and give him the glory of his titles and attributes.
O LORD our God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, you cover yourself with light as with a garment; Psalm 104:1-2(ESV) and yet to us you make darkness your canopy, Psalm 18:11(ESV) for we cannot draw up our case because of darkness. Job 37:19(ESV)
This is the message which we have heard of you, and we set our seal to it that it is true: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all; 1 John 1:5(ESV) God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16(ESV)
You are the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, and from whom proceeds every good and perfect gift. James 1:17(ESV)
You are the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. 1 Timothy 6:15-16(ESV)
Reverently Adore God (continued)
We must acknowledge his Being to be unquestionable and past dispute.
The heavens declare your glory, O God, and the sky above proclaims your handiwork. Psalm 19:1(ESV) Your eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived in the things that have been made, Romans 1:19-20(ESV) so that they are fools without excuse who say, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1(ESV) For surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth, Psalm 58:11(ESV) and in heaven too.
We therefore draw near to you believing that you exist and that you powerfully and bountifully reward those who diligently seek you. Hebrews 11:6(ESV)
Yet we must own his nature to be incomprehensible.
We cannot find out the deep things of God; we cannot find out the limit of the Almighty. Job 11:7(ESV)
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:3(ESV)
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? Psalm 106:2(ESV)
— And his perfections to be matchless and without compare.
Who is a God like you, O LORD, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11(ESV)
Who in the skies can be compared to the LORD? Who among the heavenly beings is like the LORD? O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are with your faithfulness all around you? Psalm 89:6-8(ESV)
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Psalm 86:8-10(ESV)
No creature has an arm like God, or can thunder with a voice like his. Job 40:9(ESV)
And that he is infinitely above us and all other beings.
You are God and not man; you do not have eyes of flesh, nor do you see as man sees. Your days are not as the days of man, nor your years as a man’s years. Job 10:4-5(ESV)
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are your thoughts higher than our thoughts and your ways than our ways. Isaiah 55:9(ESV)
All nations before you are like a drop from a bucket, or the dust on the scales; and you take up the coastlands like fine dust; Isaiah 40:15(ESV) they are as nothing, and are accounted by you as less than nothing and emptiness. Isaiah 40:17(ESV)
Acknowledge God’s Eternality and Omnipresence
Particularly in our adorations we must acknowledge:
That he is an eternal God, immutable, without beginning of days or end of life or change of time.
You are the King of ages, immortal, invisible. 1 Timothy 1:17(ESV)
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God; Psalm 90:2(ESV) the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8(ESV)
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away; but you are the same, and your years have no end. Psalm 102:25-27(ESV)
You are God and do not change; therefore we are not consumed. Malachi 3:6(ESV)
Are you not from everlasting, O LORD our God, our Holy One? Habakkuk 1:12(ESV) You are the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, who does not faint or grow weary, whose understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28(ESV)
That he is present in all places, and there is no place in which he is not included or out of which he is excluded.
You are a God at hand and not a God far away; none can hide himself in secret places so that you cannot see him, for you fill heaven and earth. Jeremiah 23:23-24(ESV)
You are not far from each one of us. Acts 17:27(ESV)
We cannot go anywhere from your presence or flee from your Spirit: If we ascend to heaven, you are there! If we make our bed in Sheol, in the depths of the earth, behold you are there! If we take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead us, and your right hand shall hold us, Psalm 139:7-10(ESV) for we can never outrun you.
Recognize God’s Perfect Knowledge and Unsearchable Wisdom
That he has a perfect knowledge of all persons and things, and sees them all, even that which is most secret, at one clear, certain, and unerring view.
All things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account, even the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12-13(ESV)
Your eyes are in every place keeping watch on the evil and the good: Proverbs 15:3(ESV) They run to and fro throughout the whole earth, that you may give strong support to those whose hearts are blameless toward you. 2 Chronicles 16:9(ESV)
You search the heart and test the mind, that you may give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds. Jeremiah 17:10(ESV)
O God, you have searched us and known us! You know when we sit down and when we rise up; you discern our thoughts from afar. You search out our path and our lying down and are acquainted with all our ways. Even before a word is on our tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:1-4(ESV) Such knowledge is too wonderful for us; it is high; we cannot attain it. Psalm 139:6(ESV)
Darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:12(ESV)
That his wisdom is unsearchable, and the counsels and designs of it cannot be fathomed.
Your understanding, O Lord, is infinite, for you determine the number of the stars, and give to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4-5(ESV)
You are wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom; Isaiah 28:29(ESV) wise in heart and mighty in strength. Job 9:4(ESV)
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; Psalm 104:24(ESV) all according to the counsel of your own will. Ephesians 1:11(ESV)
Oh, the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33(ESV)
Acknowledge God’s Incontestable Sovereignty and Irresistible Power
That his sovereignty is incontestable, and he is the owner and absolute Lord of all.
The heavens, even the heavens are yours, Psalm 115:16(ESV) and all their hosts. The earth is yours and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1(ESV) In your hand are the depths of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are yours also: The sea is yours, for you made it, and your hands formed the dry land. Psalm 95:4-5(ESV) Every beast of the forest is yours, and the cattle on a thousand hills. Psalm 50:10(ESV) You are therefore a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:3(ESV)
In your hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:10(ESV)
Your dominion is an everlasting dominion, and your kingdom endures from generation to generation: You do according to your will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay your hand or say to you, “What have you done?” Daniel 4:34-35(ESV) or “Why have you done that?”
That his power is irresistible, and the operations of it cannot be controlled.
We know, O God, that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2(ESV) Power belongs to you; Psalm 62:11(ESV) and with you nothing is impossible. Luke 1:37(ESV)
All authority is yours, both in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18(ESV)
You kill, and you make alive; you wound, and you heal; and there is none that can deliver out of your hand. Deuteronomy 32:39(ESV)
What you have promised you are able also to perform. Romans 4:21(ESV)
Acknowledge God’s Purity and Justice
That he is a God of unspotted purity and perfect rectitude.
You are holy, O you who are enthroned on the praises of Israel: Psalm 22:3(ESV) Holy and awesome is your name, Psalm 111:9(ESV) and we give thanks to your holy name. Psalm 30:4(ESV)
You are of purer eyes than to see evil; Habakkuk 1:13(ESV) neither may evil dwell with you. Psalm 5:4(ESV)
You are the Rock, your work is perfect, all your ways are truth and justice; a God of faithfulness and without iniquity. Deuteronomy 32:4(ESV) You are our Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in you. Psalm 92:15(ESV)
You are kind in all your works, Psalm 145:17(ESV) and holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore. Psalm 93:5(ESV)
That he is just in the administration of his government, and never did, nor ever will do, wrong to any of his creatures.
Righteous are you, O God, when we complain to you, Jeremiah 12:1(ESV) and you will be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Psalm 51:4(ESV)
Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong; for according to the work of a man he will repay him. Job 34:10-11(ESV)
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God, even when your judgments are like the great deep! Psalm 36:6(ESV) And though clouds and thick darkness are all around you, yet righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Psalm 97:2(ESV)
Acknowledge God’s Unchanging Truth and Greatness
That his truth is invariable, and the treasures of his goodness inexhaustible.
You are good, and your steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1(ESV)
Your steadfast love is great toward us, Psalm 117:2(ESV) and your faithfulness endures to all generations. Psalm 100:5(ESV)
You have proclaimed your name: The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. Exodus 34:6-7(ESV) And this, your name, is our strong tower. Proverbs 18:10(ESV)
You are good and do good, Psalm 119:68(ESV) good to all; and your mercy is over all that you have made. Psalm 145:9(ESV) But truly God is in a special manner good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. Psalm 73:1(ESV)
O that you would make all your goodness pass before us, Exodus 33:19(ESV) that we may taste and see that the Lord is good, Psalm 34:8(ESV) and your steadfast love may be always before our eyes. Psalm 26:3(ESV)
Lastly, that when we have said all we can of the glorious perfections of the Divine nature, we fall infinitely short of the merit of the subject.
Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of God! But the thunder of his power who can understand? Job 26:14(ESV)
The Almighty – we cannot find him; he is great in power, in justice and abundant righteousness; Job 37:23(ESV) he is exalted far above all blessing and praise. Nehemiah 9:5(ESV)
Praise God for His Heavenly Splendor and Glory
We must give to God the praise of that splendor and glory wherein he is pleased to manifest himself in the upper world.
You have established your throne in the heavens, Psalm 103:19(ESV) and it is a throne of glory, high and lifted up; and before you the seraphim cover their faces. Isaiah 6:1-2(ESV) And it is in compassion to us that you hold back the face of that throne and spread a cloud over it. Job 26:9(ESV)
You make your messengers winds, and your ministers a flaming fire. Psalm 104:4(ESV) Thousands of thousands of them minister to you, and myriads of myriads stand before you, to do your pleasure. Revelation 5:11(ESV) They are mighty ones who obey the voice of your word. Psalm 103:20-21(ESV) And we have come by faith and hope and holy love into a spiritual communion with that innumerable company of angels in festal gathering and the spirits of the righteous made perfect, even to the assembly of the firstborn, in the heavenly Jerusalem. Hebrews 12:22-23(ESV)
Give Glory to God as the Creator of the World
We must give glory to him as the Creator of the world and the great Protector, Benefactor, and Ruler of the whole creation.
You are worthy, O Lord, to receive blessing and honor and glory and power, for you have created all things, and for your praise and by your will they existed and were created. Revelation 4:11(ESV)
We worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water; Revelation 14:7(ESV) who spoke, and it came to be; who commanded, and it stood firm; Psalm 33:9(ESV) who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light; Genesis 1:3(ESV) “Let there be an expanse,” and he made the expanse; Genesis 1:6-7(ESV) and he made it all very good; Genesis 1:31(ESV) and they continue this day by his appointment, for all things are his servants. Psalm 119:91(ESV)
Yours is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter. Psalm 74:16-17(ESV)
You uphold the universe by the word of your power, Hebrews 1:3(ESV) and in you all things hold together. Colossians 1:17(ESV)
The earth is full of your creatures, as is the great and wide sea. Psalm 104:24-25(ESV) The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season: You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. Psalm 145:15-16(ESV) Man and beast you save, O LORD, Psalm 36:6(ESV) and give food to all flesh. Psalm 136:25(ESV)
You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you, Nehemiah 9:6(ESV) whose kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19(ESV)
A sparrow will not fall to the ground apart from you. Matthew 10:29(ESV)
You made man at first of dust from the ground and breathed into him the breath of life, and so he became a living creature. Genesis 2:7(ESV)
And you have made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. Acts 17:26(ESV)
You are the Most High, who rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever you will; Daniel 4:25(ESV) for it is from the LORD that a man gets justice. Proverbs 29:26(ESV)
Hallelujah, the Lord God Almighty reigns, Revelation 19:6(ESV) and works all things according to the counsel of his own will, to the praise of his own glory! Ephesians 1:11-12(ESV)
Give Honor to the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
We must give honor to the three persons in the Godhead distinctly, to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that great and sacred Name into which we were baptized and in which we assemble for religious worship, in communion with the universal church.
We pay our homage to three that testify in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; for these three are one. 1 John 5:7(KJV)
We adore you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, Matthew 11:25(ESV) and the eternal Word, who was in the beginning with God and was God, through him all things were made, and without him was not any thing made that was made; John 1:1-3(ESV) and who in the fullness of time, Galatians 4:4(ESV) became flesh and dwelt among us and showed his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14(ESV)
And since it is the will of God that all men should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father, John 5:23(ESV) we adore him as the radiance of his Father’s glory and the exact imprint of his nature; herein joining with the angels of God, who were all bidden to worship him. Hebrews 1:3-6(ESV)
We pay homage to the exalted Redeemer, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth, Revelation 1:5(ESV) confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:11(ESV)
We also worship the Holy Spirit, the Helper, whom the Son has sent from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, John 15:26(ESV) and who is sent to teach us all things and to bring all things to our remembrance; John 14:26(ESV) who indited the Scriptures, holy men of God writing them as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:21(ESV)
Acknowledge your Dependence on God and your Obligations to Him
We must acknowledge our dependence upon God and our obligations to him as our Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor.
You, O God, made us, and not we ourselves, and therefore we are not our own but yours: 1 Corinthians 6:19(ESV) your people, and the sheep of your pasture; Psalm 100:3(ESV) let us therefore worship and bow down and kneel before the LORD, our Maker. Psalm 95:6(ESV)
You, Lord, are the former of our bodies, and they are fearfully and wonderfully made and intricately woven. Your eyes saw our unformed substance, and in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for us, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:14-16(ESV)
You have clothed us with skin and flesh; you have knit us together with bones and sinews; you have granted us life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved our spirits. Job 10:11-12(ESV)
You are the Father of our spirits, Hebrews 12:9(ESV) for you formed the spirit of man within him, Zechariah 12:1(ESV) and made us these souls. Jeremiah 38:16(ESV) The Spirit of God has made us, and the breath of the Almighty gives us life. Job 33:4(ESV) You put wisdom in the inward parts and give understanding to the mind. Job 38:36(ESV)
You are God our Maker, who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens. Job 35:10-11(ESV)
We are the clay, and you are our potter; we are the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8(ESV)
You are he that took us from the womb and kept us in safety when we were at our mothers’ breasts; we have been cast upon you from our birth and held up by you. Psalm 22:9-10(ESV) You are our God from our mothers’ womb, and therefore our praise is continually of you. Psalm 71:6(ESV)
In you, O God, we live and move and have our being, for we are your offspring. Acts 17:28(ESV)
In your hand is our breath, and yours are all our ways; Daniel 5:23(ESV) for the way of man is not in himself, neither is it in man who walks to direct his steps, Jeremiah 10:23(ESV) but our times are in your hand. Psalm 31:15(ESV)
You are the God who has been our shepherd all our life long to this day and redeemed us from all evil. Genesis 48:15-16(ESV)
It is because of the steadfast love of the LORD that we are not cut off, even because your mercies never come to an end: they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23(ESV)
If you take away our breath, we die and return to the dust out of which we were taken. Psalm 104:29(ESV)
Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? From your mouth, O Most High, both good and bad come. Lamentations 3:37-38(ESV)
Own your Relation to God
We must declare this God to be our God and own our relation to him, his dominion over us, and propriety in us.
Our souls have said to the LORD, “You are our Lord, we have no good apart from you; Psalm 16:2(ESV) neither if we are righteous are you the better.” Job 35:7(ESV)
You are our King, O God: Psalm 44:4(ESV) Other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance. Isaiah 26:13(ESV)
We declare today that the LORD is our God, and that we will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice and give ourselves to him, to be his people for a treasured possession, as he has promised, that we may be a holy people to the Lord our God; Deuteronomy 26:17-19 and might be to him for a name, a praise, and a glory. Jeremiah 13:11(ESV)
O Lord, truly we are your servants; we are your servants, born in your house, and you have loosed our bonds: Psalm 116:16(ESV) We have been bought with a price, and therefore we are not our own; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(ESV) and so we yield ourselves to the Lord, 2 Chronicles 30:8(ESV) and join ourselves to him in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten. Jeremiah 50:5(ESV)
We are yours, save us, for we seek your precepts; Psalm 119:94(ESV) it is your own, Lord, that we give you, and that which comes from your hand. 1 Chronicles 29:16(ESV)
Acknowledge the Privilege of Drawing Near to God in Prayer
We must acknowledge it an unspeakable favor and an inestimable privilege that we are not only admitted, but invited and encouraged, to draw near to God in prayer.
You have commanded us to pray always, with all prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, and, to that end, to keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints; Ephesians 6:18(ESV) to continue in prayer, and in everything, by prayer and supplication, to let our requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6(ESV)
You have directed us to ask and seek and knock, and have promised that we will receive, we will find, and it will be opened to us. Matthew 7:7(ESV)
You have appointed for us a great High Priest, in whose name we may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16(ESV)
You have assured us that while the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, the prayer of the upright is acceptable; Proverbs 15:8(ESV) and that the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies you; Psalm 50:23(ESV) and the sacrifice of thanksgiving will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. Psalm 69:30-31(ESV)
You are he who hears prayer, and therefore to you shall all flesh come. Psalm 65:2(ESV)
You say, “Seek my face,” and our hearts say to you, “Your face, LORD, do we seek.” Psalm 27:8(ESV) For, should not a people inquire of their God? Isaiah 8:19(ESV) To whom shall we go but to you? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68(ESV)
Express your Unworthiness to Draw Near to God
We must express the sense we have of our own meanness and unworthiness to draw near to God and speak to him.
But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? That God whom heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain, 2 Chronicles 6:18(ESV) with man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm? Job 25:6(ESV)
Who are we, O Lord GOD, and what is our father’s house that you have brought us thus far to present ourselves before the Lord? 2 Samuel 7:18(ESV) That we have through Christ an access in one Spirit to the Father? Ephesians 2:18(ESV) And yet, as if this had been a small thing in your sight, you have spoken concerning your servants for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! 2 Samuel 7:19(ESV)
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him, Psalm 8:4(ESV) and thus magnify him?
Oh let not the Lord be angry, if we who are but dust and ashes undertake to speak to the Lord of glory. Gen 18:27-30(ESV)
We are not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servants; Genesis 32:10(ESV) nor is it right to take the children’s bread and throw it to such as we are; yet the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table; Matthew 15:26-27(ESV) and you bestow your riches on all who call on you. Romans 10:12(ESV)
Humbly Profess the Desire of your Heart for God
We must humbly profess the desire of our hearts towards God, as our felicity and portion and fountain of life and all good to us.
Whom have we in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that we desire besides you or in comparison with you. When our flesh and our heart fail, Lord, be the strength of our heart and our portion forever, Psalm 73:25-26(ESV) the chosen portion of our inheritance in the other world and of our cup in this; and then we will say that the lines have fallen for us in pleasant places, and that we have a beautiful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6(ESV)
Your name and remembrance are the desire of our souls; our souls yearn for you in the night, and our spirits within us earnestly seek you. Isaiah 26:8-9(ESV)
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants our soul for you, O God; our soul thirsts for God, for the living God, Psalm 42:1-2(ESV) who commands his steadfast love by day, and at night his song is with us; a prayer to the God of our life. Psalm 42:8(ESV)
O that we may come hungering and thirsting after righteousness, Matthew 5:6(ESV) for you fill the hungry with good things, but the rich you send away empty. Luke 1:53(ESV)
O that our souls may thirst for you, and our flesh faint for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water; that we may see your power and glory, as we have looked upon you in the sanctuary. Your steadfast love is better than life; Psalm 63:1-3(ESV) our souls will be satisfied with that as with fat and rich food, and then our mouths will praise you with joyful lips. Psalm 63:5(ESV)
Profess your Believing Hope and Confidence in God
We must likewise profess our believing hope and confidence in God and his all-sufficiency, in his power, providence, and promise.
In you, O LORD, do we take refuge; let us never be put to shame; Psalm 31:1(ESV) indeed, let none who wait for you be put to shame. Psalm 25:3(ESV)
For God alone our souls wait in silence; from him comes our salvation: He only is our rock and our salvation! Psalm 62:1-2(ESV) In him is our glory, our might, and our refuge; and our hope is from him. Psalm 62:5-7(ESV)
When no refuge remains to us, and no one cares for our souls, we cry to you, O LORD, “You are our refuge, our portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:4-5(ESV)
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7(ESV) We will trust in your steadfast love, O God, forever and ever, and will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly. Psalm 52:8-9(ESV)
We have hoped in your word; Psalm 119:81(ESV) O remember your word to your servants, in which you have made us hope. Psalm 119:49(ESV)
Entreat God’s Favorable Acceptance
We must entreat God’s favorable acceptance of us and our poor performances.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?” But this we say, “O LORD, lift up the light of your face upon us, and that shall put joy in our hearts, more than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:6-7(ESV)
We entreat your favor with all our heart, Psalm 119:58(ESV) for in this we labor, that whether we are at home or away, we may please the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:9(ESV)
Hear our prayer, O LORD, give ear to our pleas for mercy; in your faithfulness answer us, Psalm 143:1(ESV) and be near to us whenever we call upon you; Deuteronomy 4:7(ESV) for you have never said to the offspring of Jacob, “Seek me in vain.” Isaiah 45:19(ESV)
You who hear the young ravens that cry, Psalm 147:9(ESV) be not deaf to us, lest if you be silent to us, we become like those who go down to the pit. Psalm 28:1(ESV)
Let our prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of our hands be acceptable in your sight as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2(ESV)
Beg for the Spirit’s Assistance in Prayer and Aim for God’s Glory
We must beg for the powerful assistance and influence of the blessed Spirit of grace in our prayers.
Lord, we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but let your Spirit help us in our weakness and intercede for us. Romans 8:26(ESV)
O pour upon us a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, Zechariah 12:10(ESV) the Spirit of adoption teaching us to cry, “Abba, Father”; Romans 8:15(ESV) that we may find in our hearts to pray this prayer: Send out your light and your truth; let them lead us, let them bring us to your holy hill and to your dwelling; to God, our exceeding joy. Psalm 43:3-4(ESV)
O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise. Psalm 51:15(ESV)
We must make the glory of God our highest end in all our prayers.
This is what you, O LORD, have said: that you will be sanctified among those who are near you, and before all the people you will be glorified. Leviticus 10:3(ESV) We therefore worship before you, O Lord, that we may glorify your name; Psalm 86:9(ESV) and therefore we call upon you, that you may deliver us, and we may glorify you. Psalm 50:15(ESV)
For from you and through you and to you are all things. Romans 11:36(ESV)
Rely on Jesus Alone for Acceptance with God
We must profess our entire reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for acceptance with God and come in his name.
We do not present our plea before you because of our righteousness, Daniel 9:18(ESV) for we are before you in our guilt, Ezra 9:15(ESV) and cannot stand before you because of it; Psalm 130:3(ESV) but we make mention of Christ’s righteousness, even of his only, who is the LORD our righteousness. Jeremiah 23:6(ESV)
We know that even spiritual sacrifices are acceptable to God only through Christ Jesus, 1 Peter 2:5(ESV) nor can we hope to receive anything but what we ask of you in his name; John 16:23(ESV) and therefore, bless us in the Beloved, Ephesians 1:6(ESV) that other angel who put much incense to the prayers of the saints and offers them up on the golden altar before the throne. Revelation 8:3(ESV)
We come in the name of the great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, Hebrews 4:14-15(ESV) and is therefore able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25(ESV)
Behold, O God, our shield, and look on the face of your Anointed, Psalm 84:9(ESV) in whom you have by a voice from heaven declared yourself to be well pleased; Lord, be well pleased with us in him. Matthew 3:17(ESV)