by Matthew Henry
HT Chapel Library
The Lord’s Supper is a masterful devotional commentary on the holy ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ the night before His passion. The symbolism given in the Upper Room serves as a memorial for Christians throughout the church age. The author wonderfully exalts the glories of the gospel as proclaimed in this ordinance. The last section explores a thorough self-examination so that this means of grace is fully appropriated and applied. Every Christian will be greatly encouraged in the full meaning of their gospel privilege to join the Lord regularly and meaningfully at His Supper.
Prayer Before Partaking of the Lord's Supper
Most holy and blessed and gracious Lord God, with all humility and reverence, I here present myself before thee, to seek thy face and entreat thy favour, and, as an evidence of thy good-will towards me, to beg that I may experience thy good work in me.
I acknowledge myself unworthy, utterly unworthy of the honour; unfit, utterly unfit for the service to which I am now called. It is an inestimable privilege that I am permitted so often to hear from thee in thy word, and to speak to thee in prayer; and yet, as if this had been a small matter, I am now invited into communion with thee at thy holy table, there to celebrate the memorial of my Saviour’s death, and to partake by faith of the precious benefits which flow from it. I, who deserve not the crumbs, am called to eat of the children’s bread.
O Lord, I thank thee for the institution of this blessed ordinance, this precious legacy and token of love, which the Lord Jesus left to his church; that it is preserved to this age, that it is administered in this land, that I am admitted to it, and have now before me an opportunity to partake of it: Lord, grant that I may not receive thy grace herein in vain.
O thou who hast called me to the marriage-supper of the Lamb, give me the wedding garment; work in me a disposition of soul, and all those pious and devout affections which are suited to the solemnities of this ordinance, and requisite to qualify me for an acceptable and advantageous participation of it. Behold the fire and the wood, all things are now ready; but where is the lamb, for the burnt-offering? Lord, provide thyself a lamb, by working in me all that thou requirest of me upon this occasion. The preparation of the heart and the answer of the tongue are both from thee; Lord, prepare my unprepared heart for communion with thee.
Lord, I confess I have sinned against thee, I have done foolishly, very foolishly, for foolishness is bound up in my heart: I have sinned and have come short of the glory of God: I have come short of glorifying thee, and deserve to come short of being glorified with thee. The imagination of my heart is evil continually, and the bias of my corrupt nature is very strong toward the world and the flesh and the gratifications of sense; but towards God and Christ and heaven, I move slowly and with a great many stops and pauses. Nay, there is in my carnal mind a wretched aversion to divine and spiritual things. I have misspent my time, trifled away my opportunities, have followed after lying vanities, and forsaken my own mercies. God be merciful to me a sinner! For how little have I done, since I came into the world, of the great work that I was sent into the world about!
Thou hast taken me into covenant with thee, for I am a baptized Christian, set apart for thee and sealed to be thine; thou hast laid me, and I have also laid myself, under all possible obligations to love thee and serve thee and live to thee. But I have started aside from thee like a deceitful bow, I have not made good my covenant with thee, nor hath the temper of my mind and the tenor of my conversation been agreeable to that holy religion which I make profession of, to my expectations from thee, and engagements to thee. I am bent to backslide from the living God; and if I were under the law I were undone; but I am under grace, a covenant of grace which leaves room for repentance and promiseth pardon upon repentance, which invites even backsliding children to return and promises that their backslidings shall be healed. Lord, I take hold of this covenant, seal it to me at thy table. There let me find my heart truly humbled for sin and sorrowing for it after a godly sort: O that I may there look on him whom I have pierced and mourn and be in bitterness for him; that there I may sow in tears and receive a wounded Christ into a broken heart! And there let the blood of Christ, which speaks better things than that of Abel, be sprinkled upon my conscience, to purify and pacify it: There let me be assured that thou art reconciled to me, that my iniquities are pardoned, and that I shall not come into condemnation. There say unto me, Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.
And that I may not come unworthily to this blessed ordinance, I beseech thee, lead me into a more intimate and experimental acquaintance with Jesus Christ and him crucified; with Jesus Christ and him glorified; that knowing him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and being by his grace planted in the likeness of both, I may both discern the Lord’s body and shew forth the Lord’s death.
Lord, I desire by a true and lively faith to close with Jesus Christ, and consent to him as my Lord and my God: I here give up myself to him as my Prophet, Priest, and King, to be ruled and taught and saved by him: This is my beloved, and this is my friend. None but Christ, none but Christ! Lord, increase this faith in me, perfect what is lacking in it, and enable me, in receiving the bread and wine at thy table, by a lively faith to receive Christ Jesus the Lord. O let the great gospel doctrine of Christ’s dying to save sinners, which is represented in that ordinance, be meat and drink to my soul, meat indeed, and drink indeed: Let it be both nourishing and refreshing to me; let it be both my strength and my song, and be the spring both of my holiness and my comfort: And let such deep impressions be made upon my soul, by actual commemoration of it, as may abide always upon me and have a powerful influence upon me in my whole conversation, that the life I now live in the flesh, I may live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Lord, I beseech thee, fix my thoughts; let my heart be engaged to approach unto thee, that I may attend upon thee without distraction. Draw out my desires towards thee; give me to hunger and thirst after righteousness, that I may be filled; and to draw near to thee with a true heart, and in full assurance of faith; and since I am not straitened in thee, O let me not be straitened in my own bosom.
Draw me, Lord, and I will run after thee. O send out thy light and thy truth, let them lead and guide me; pour thy Spirit upon me, put thy Spirit within me, to work in me both to will and to do that which is good; and leave me not to myself. Awake, O north wind, and come thou south, and blow upon my garden; come, O blessed Spirit of grace, and enlighten my mind with the knowledge of Christ, bow my will to the will of Christ, fill my heart with the love of Christ, and confirm my resolutions to live and die with him.
Work in me, I pray thee, a principle of holy love and charity towards all men, that I may forgive my enemies (which by grace I heartily do), and may keep up a spiritual communion in faith, hope, and holy love, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Lord, bless them all, and particularly that congregation with which I am to join in this solemn ordinance. Good Lord, pardon every one that engageth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of their fathers, though not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. Hear my prayers, and heal the people.
Lord, meet me with a blessing, a Father’s blessing at thy table: Grace thine own institution with thy presence; and fulfil in me all the good pleasure of thy goodness and the work of faith with power, for the sake of Jesus Christ, my blessed Saviour and Redeemer. To him, with the Father, and the eternal Spirit, be everlasting praises. Amen.