by Thomas Brooks
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The following discourse on closet prayer I heartily recommend to your serious perusal. I have many reasons to hope, that when you have once read it over, you will be more in love with closet prayer than ever, and that you will set a higher price upon closet prayer than ever, and that you will make a better and fuller improvement of closet prayer than ever yet you have done. Consider what I say in my epistle to the reader, and labor so to manage this little treatise, which now I put into your hands, that God may be glorified, your own souls edified, comforted, and encouraged in the ways of the Lord, and that you may be "my crown and joy, in the great day of our Lord Jesus," 1 Thes. 2:19-20.
Christian Reader—The epistle dedicatory being so large, I shall do little more than give you the grounds and reasons of sending forth this little piece into the world, especially in such a day as this is. Now, my reasons are these:
1. First, Because God by his present dispensations calls more loudly for closet prayer now, than he has done in those last twenty years that are now passed over our heads. See more of this in the 16th argument for closet prayer.
2. Secondly, Because I have several reasons to fear that many Christians do not clearly nor fully understand the necessity, excellency, and usefulness of this subject, and that many, oh that I could not say any, live in too great a neglect of this indispensable duty; and that more than a few, for lack of light, err in the very practice of it.
3. Thirdly, For the refreshing, support, and encouragement of all those churches of Christ that walk in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Spirit, etc., especially that particular church to whom I stand related.
4. Fourthly, To preserve and keep up the power of religion and godliness both in men's houses, hearts, and lives. The power of religion and godliness lives, thrives, or dies, as closet prayer lives, thrives, or dies. Godliness never rises to a higher pitch than when men keep closest to their closets, etc.
5. Fifthly, Because closet prayer is a most sovereign remedy, a most precious antidote of God's own prescribing, against the plague that now rages in the midst of us, 1 Kings 8:37-39, etc.
6. Sixthly, Because every man is that really which he is secretly. Never tell me, how handsomely, how neatly, how bravely, this or that man acts his part before others; but tell me, if you can, how he acts his part before God in his closet; for the man is that certainly, which he is secretly. There are many who sweat upon the stage that are cold in their closets.
7. Seventhly, Though many worthies have done worthily upon all other parts of prayer—yet there are none either of a former or later date, that have fallen under my eye, who have written any treatise on this subject. I have not a little wondered that so many eminent writers should pass over this great and princely duty of closet-prayer, either with a few brief touches, or else in a very great silence. If several Bodies of Divinity are consulted, you will find that all they say clearly and distinctly as to closet-prayer, may be brought into a very narrow compass, if not into a nutshell. I have also inquired of several old disciples, whether among all the thousand sermons that they have heard in their days, that ever they have heard one sermon on closet-prayer? and they have answered, No. I have also inquired of them, whether ever they had read any treatise on that subject? and they have answered, No. And truly this has been no small encouragement to me, to make an offer of my mite; and if this small attempt of mine shall be so blessed, as to provoke others who have better heads, and hearts, and hands, than any I have, to do Christ and his people more service, in the handling of this choice point in a more copious way than what I have been able to reach unto, I shall therein rejoice.
8. Eighthly, and lastly, That favor, that good acceptance and fair quarter that my other poor labors have found, not only in this nation—but in other countries also, has put me upon putting pen to paper once more; and I hope that the good will of him who "dwelt in the bush," will rest upon this, as it has to the glory of free grace rested upon my former endeavors. I could add other reasons—but let these suffice.
Good reader, when you are in your closet, pray hard for a poor, weak, worthless worm, that I may be found faithful and fruitful to the death, that so at last I may receive a crown of life. So wishing you all happiness both in this lower and in that upper world, I rest,
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,