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Practice of Piety: Directing a Christian How to Walk, that He May Please God.
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Meditations to stir us up to Morning Prayer.

1. If, when thou art about to pray, Satan shall suggest that thy prayers are too long, and that therefore it were better either to omit prayers, or else to cut them shorter, meditate that prayer is thy spiritual sacrifice, wherewith God is well pleased (Heb. xiii. 15, 16;) and therefore it is so displeasing to the devil, and so irksome to the flesh. Bend therefore thy affections (will they, nill they) to so holy an exercise; assuring thyself, that it doth by so much the more please God, by how much the more it is unpleasing to thy flesh.

2. Forget not that the Holy Ghost puts it down as a special note of reprobates, “They call not upon the Lord, they call not upon God.” (Psal. xiv. 4; liii. 4.) And when Eliphaz supposed that Job had cast off the fear of God, and that God had cast Job out of his favour, he chargeth him that he restrained prayer before God (Job xv. 4;) making that a sure note of the one, and a sufficient cause of the other. On the other side, that God has promised that “whosoever shall call on his name shall be saved.” (Rom. x. 13.) It is certain that he who makes no conscience of the duty of prayer, has no grace of the Holy Spirit in him, for the spirit of grace and of prayer are one (Zech. xii. 10:) and therefore grace and prayer go together. But he that can from a penitent heart morning and evening pray to God, it is sure that he has his measure of grace in this world, and he shall have his portion of glory in the life which is to come.

3. Remember, that as loathing of meat, and painfulness of speaking, are two symptoms of a sick body; so irksomeness of praying when thou talkest with God, and carelessness in hearing, when God, by his word, speaks unto thee, are two sure signs of a sick soul.

4. Call to mind the zealous devotions of the Christians in the primitive church, who spent many whole nights and vigils in watching and praying for the forgiveness of their sins, and that they might be found ready at the coming of Christ; and that David was not content to pray at morning, at evening, and at noon (Psal. lv. 16, 17), but he would also rise up at midnight to pray unto God (Psal. cxix. 62.) And if Christ did chide his disciples, because they would not watch with him one hour in praying {Matt. xxvi. 40), what chiding dost thou deserve, who thinkest it too long to continue in prayer but one quarter of an hour? If thou hast spent divers hours at a vain ball or play; yea whole days and nights in carding and dicing, to please thy flesh, be ashamed to think that praying for a quarter of an hour is too long an exercise for the service of God.

5. Consider, that if the papists, in their blind superstition, do in an unknown, and therefore unedifying tongue, fit only for the children of mystical Babylon (1 Cor. xiv. 14; Gen. xi. 79; Rev. xvii. 5), mutter over upon their beads every morning and evening so many scores of ave-maries, paternosters, and idolatrous prayers, how shall they, in their superstitious devotion, rise up in judgment against thee, professing thyself to be a true worshipper of Christ? If that thou thinkest these prayers too long a task, being shorter for quantity than theirs, but far more profitable for quality, tending only to God’s glory, and thy good; and so compiled of Scripture phrase, as that thou mayest speak to God, as well in his own holy words, as in thine own native language: be ashamed that papists, in their superstitious worshipping of creatures, should show themselves more devout than thou in the sincere worshipping of the true and only God (John xvii. 3.) And indeed a prayer in private devotion should be one continued speech, rather than many broken fragments.

6. Lastly, when such thoughts come into thy head, either to keep thee from prayer, or to distract thee in praying, remember that those are the fowls which the evil one sends to devour the good seed, and the carcases of thy spiritual sacrifices; but endeavour with Abraham, to drive them away (Gen. xv. 11.) Yet notwithstanding, if thou perceivest at times, that thy spirits are dull, and thy mind not apt for prayer and holy devotion, strive not too much for that time, but humbling thyself at the sense of thine infirmity and dulness, knowing that God accepteth the willing mind, though it be oppressed with the heaviness of the flesh (Matt. xxvi. 41; 2 Cor. viii. 12), endeavour the next time to recompense this dulness, by redoubling thy zeal, and for the time present, commend thy soul to God in this, or the like short prayer:—

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