by Thomas Vincent
What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?
Ans. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Q. 1. What is generally useful for our direction in prayer?
A. The whole Word of God is generally useful for our direction, as it containeth plenty of matter for prayer, guideth us to the manner of it, and aboundeth with variety of expressions which most fitly may be used in it.
Q. 2. What is the special rule for our direction in prayer?
A. The special rule for our direction in prayer is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called The Lord's prayer. "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name," etc.
Q. 3. How many parts are there in the Lord's prayer?
A. There are three parts in the Lord's prayer; the preface, the petitions, and the conclusion.
C. Quest. What doth the preface to the Lord's prayer teach us?
Ans. The preface of the Lord's prayer, (which is, "Our Father which art in heaven,") teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.
Q. 1. What is the preface of the Lord's prayer itself?
A. The preface of the Lord's prayer itself, is in these words, "Our Father which art in heaven."
Q. 2. What do the words, "Our Father;' in the preface, teach us?
A. These words, "Our Father," in the preface, teach us--
1. To draw near unto God with confidence, both of his all-sufficiency and his readiness to help us; as also with a filial affection of desire, love, and delight, as children to a Father. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." --Romans 8:16. "Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." --Ephesians 3:20. "If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" --Matthew 7:11.
2. To pray to God with and for others, he being a common Father unto all his people. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication for all saints." --Ephesians 6:18.
Q. 3. Are we to pray unto God only for the saints and such as are his children?
A. We must pray unto God, not only for the saints and his children, but also for all men: we must pray, not only for the Church in general, but also for the nation wherein we live for magistrates, and for ministers; and not only for our friends, but also for our enemies. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." --Psalm 122:6. "I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." --1Timothy 2:1.
2. "Love your enemies, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." --Matthew 5:44.
Q. 4. What do these words, "Which art in heaven," teach us?
A. These words, "Which art in heaven," teach us to draw near unto God with all holy reverence, because of our great distance, God being not our earthly Father, but our Father which is in heaven. "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth." --Ecclesiastes 5:2.
CI. Ques. What do we pray for in the first petition?
Ans. In the first petition, (which is, "Hallowed be thy name,") we pray, That God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.
Q. 1. What is the second part in the Lord's prayer?
A. The second part in the Lord's prayer is petitions.
Q. 2. How many petitions are there in the Lord's prayer?
A. There are six petitions in the Lord's prayer.
Q. 3. What is the first petition in the Lord's prayer?
A. The first petition in the Lord's prayer is in these words, "Hallowed be thy name."
Q. 4. What is meant by the name of God?
A. By the name of God is meant, God's titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works, whereby God is pleased to make himself known. See the explication of the fifty-fourth answer.
Q. 5. What is it to hallow God's name?
A. To hallow God's name, is, to sanctify, honour, and glorify God in all things whereby he maketh himself known. "Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear and your dread." --Isaiah 8:13. "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." --Psalm 96:8,9.
Q. 6. What do we pray for in the petition, "Hallowed be thy name?
A. In the petition, "Hallowed be thy name," we pray--
1. That God would hallow and glorify his own name, by magnifying himself in the world, and by disposing all things for his own glory. "Let thy name be magnified for ever." --2Samuel 7:26. "Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek thy name, O Lord: that men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the Most High over all the earth." --Psalm 83:16,18.
2. That God would enable us to hallow and glorify his name, by confessing and forsaking our sins, which rob him of his glory; by admiring and adoring him in his glorious titles and attributes, in his infinite excellences and perfections; by believing, loving, and obeying his word; by observing and attending upon his worship and ordinances; by magnifying him in his works, and making use of his creatures for his glory; by sincere, diligent, zealous, and constant endeavours to promote his honour and interest in our places and relations; and that the chief design of our thoughts, words, and actions, may be the glory of God, and that he would enable others also thus to hallow and glorify his name. "God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee." --Psalm 67:1,3. "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever." --Romans 11:36.
CII. Ques. What do we pray for in the second petition?
Ans. 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.
Q. 1. What is meant by the kingdom of God, which, in this petition, we are to pray for the coming of?
A. By the kingdom of God, which, in this petition, we are to pray for the coming of, is meant--
1. The kingdom of God's grace here in this world. "The kingdom of God is within you." --Luke 17:21.
2. The kingdom of God's glory in the other world. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" --1Corinthians 6:9.
Q. 2. What do we request, in our praying that God's kingdom of grace may come?
A. We request, in our praying that God's kingdom of grace may come--
1. That the kingdom of Satan, and all the professed enemies of God's kingdom, may be destroyed; and that all the power also of sin in ourselves and others, whereby Satan hath dominion, may be subdued. "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him." --Psalm 68:1. "He that committeth sin is of the devil. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." --1John 3:8.
2. In general, that the kingdom of God's grace might be advanced in the world, above all other kingdoms. "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." --Isaiah 2:2.
3. In particular, that ourselves and others might be brought into this kingdom of God's grace, by the power and efficacy of God's work and Spirit in our conversion. "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified, even as it is with you." --2Thessalonians 3:1. "The Gentiles to whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." --Acts 26:17,18. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." --Romans 10:1.
4. That ourselves and others, who are brought already into the kingdom of grace, may be kept in it by strengthening and establishing grace. "The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." --1Peter 5:10.
Q. 3. What do we request in praying that the kingdom of God's glory may come?
A. We request, in our praying that the kingdom of God's glory may come, that his kingdom of glory may be hastened, which will appear and be manifested unto the whole world at the second coming and appearance of the Lord Jesus to judgment. "He which testifieth these things, saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." --Revelation 22:20.
CIII. Ques. What do we pray for in the third petition?
Ans. In the third petition, (which is, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,) we pray, That God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.
Q. 1. What is meant by the will of God, which we are to pray that it might be done?
A. By the will of God, which we are to pray that it might be done, is meant--
1. The will of God's precept, or that which he is pleased to require of us. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." --Matthew 7:21.
2. The will of God's providence, or that which he is pleased to do with us, and unto us. "If I might have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you." --Romans 1:10. "It is better if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing." --1Peter 3:17.
Q. 2. What do we request, when we pray that the will of God's precept be done?
A. When we pray that the will of God's precept be done, we request--
1. That ourselves and others, who naturally are dark and ignorant of his will, may, by his Word and Spirit, be enabled to know and understand it. "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord. Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." --Ephesians 5:8,17. "We cease not to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." --Colossians 1:9.
2. That ourselves and others, who naturally have in our hearts an enmity against God's law, might be inclined and enabled to obey and do whatever it is the will of God to command. "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." --Romans 8:7. "Incline my heart unto thy testimonies." --Psalm 119:36. "Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy Spirit is good." --Psalm 143:10. "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them." --Ezekiel 36:27.
Q. 3. What do we request, when we pray that the will of God's providence may be done?
A. When we pray that the will of God's providence may be done, we request that ourselves and others might have compliance of will with the will of God, so as thankfully to accept merciful providences, and patiently submit unto afflictive providences. "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." --Luke 1:38. "And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done." --Acts 21:14.
Q. 4. How are we to pray that God's will may be done by ourselves and others?
A. We are to pray that God's will may be done by ourselves and others on earth, universally, readily, unweariedly, constantly, even as it is done in heaven. "Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominions: bless the Lord, O my soul." --Psalm 103:20,22.
CIV. Ques. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
Ans. In the fourth petition, (which is, "Give us this day our daily bread,") we pray, That, of God's free gift, we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.
Q. 1. What is meant by "our daily bread?"
A. By "our daily bread," is meant all outward provision for our daily sustenance. "I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread." --Psalm 132:15.
Q. 2. What do we ask in praying for "our daily bread?"
A. In praying for "our daily bread," we do not ask plenty, but a competent portion of the good things of this life, such as God seeth to be necessary and most convenient for us. "Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me." --Proverbs 30:8.
Q. 3. May we not have convenient outward provisions without our asking?
A. We may have convenient outward provisions without our asking, but we cannot have them without God's giving. "Thou givest them their meat in due season." --Psalm 145:15.
Q. 4. Why need we ask of God daily outward provisions, if we may have them without asking?
A. We ought to ask for our daily outward provisions--
1. Because God requireth that we should ask for these things; and he hath promised only unto such, that they should not want them. "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." --Psalm 34:10.
2. Because, in asking aright our daily outward provisions, we ask and obtain the blessing of God with them; and without asking, if we have these things, we have them with God's curse. "And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water." --Exodus 23:25.
CV. Ques. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
Ans. In the fifth petition, (which is, "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,") we pray, That God, for Christ's sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.
Q. 1. What is meant by "our debts?"
A. By "our debts," is meant our sins against God, whereby we are indebted unto his justice, which we can no otherwise satisfy than by undergoing eternal punishment.
Q. 2. Have all need of forgiveness, and may any debt be forgiven?
A. All, being sinners, have need of forgiveness, and any sins (excepting the sin against the Holy Ghost) may be forgiven. "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." --Psalm 130:3,4.
Q. 3. May we pray unto God for the forgiveness of our sins upon the account of our own merits?
A. We have no merit, in the sight of God, of our own; and therefore we must pray that God would freely pardon all our sins, of his own mercy and loving-kindness. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions." --Psalm 51:1.
Q. 4. May we hope by prayer to obtain forgiveness, of God's mercy, without any merits?
A. God being infinitely just, as well as merciful, we must bring merit before him, that we may obtain forgiveness of him; but because we have it not of our own, and he has provided it for us in his Son, we must pray for pardon for the merits' sake of Christ, who hath purchased forgiveness for us with his blood. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." --Ephesians 1:7.
Q. 5. What may encourage us to ask forgiveness from God?
A. We may be encouraged to ask forgiveness from God, when, by his grace, we are enabled with our hearts to forgive others. "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." --Matthew 6:14.
CVI. Ques. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
Ans. In the sixth petition, (which is, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,") we pray, That God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.
Q. 1. What do we request in praying, "Lead us not into temptation?"
A. In praying, "Lead us not into temptation," we request that God would keep us from being tempted unto sin.
Q. 2. How doth God keep us from being tempted unto sin?
A. God keepeth us from being tempted unto sin, either when he restraineth the devil (the great tempter of mankind) from assaulting us with his prevailing temptations; or else restraineth us from coming into those ways where temptations are waiting for us, and where we should be tempters unto ourselves. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." --Matthew 26:41. "Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me." --Psalm 19:13.
Q. 3. What do we request in praying, "Deliver us from evil?"
A. In praying, "Deliver us from evil," we request, that when we are tempted by the devil, or the flesh, or the world, unto sin, that we may be supported and strengthened to resist and overcome the temptations, so as to be delivered, by the power of God's sufficient grace, from falling into the evil of sin. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." --James 4:7. "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." --1Corinthians 10:13. "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee." --2Corinthians 12:7,9.
CVII. Ques. What doth the conclusion of the Lord's prayer teach us?
Ans. The conclusion of the Lord's prayer, (which is, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen,") teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only; and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and in testimony of our desire and assurance to be heard, we say Amen.
Q. 1. What is the conclusion of the Lord's prayer itself?
A. The conclusion of the Lord's prayer itself is in these words, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen."
Q. 2. What is the first thing which this conclusion of the Lord's prayer doth teach us?
A. The first thing which this conclusion of the Lord's prayer doth teach us, is, to take our encouragement in prayer, not from ourselves; or any worthiness of our own, but from God only, who having the kingdom and eternal sovereignty, the power and eternal all-sufficiency, the glory for ever, and therefore incomparably glorious in his faithfulness, goodness, and most tender mercy, we may persuade ourselves that he is both able to give what we ask, and that he is willing, and will give what he hath promised unto us. "We do not present our supplications for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken, and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God." --Daniel 9:18,19. "Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God; for unto thee will I pray." --Psalm 5:2. "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." --Ephesians 3:20,21.
Q. 3. What is the second thing which this conclusion of the Lord's prayer doth teach us?
A. The second thing which this conclusion of the Lord's prayer doth teach us is, in our prayers to God to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory unto him. "Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, and thou art exalted as head above all. Now, therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name." --1Chronicles 29:10,11,13. "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory, for ever and ever. Amen." --1Timothy 1:17.
Q. 4. Why are we to say, "Amen?"
A. We are to say, "Amen," which signifleth so be it, or, So shall it be, in testimony of our desires and assurances to be heard. "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." --Revelation 22:20.