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[Matthew Henry is greatly known for his magnificent commentary on the whole Bible.  He also wrote a book proposing A Method for Prayer, in between writing volumes of that commentary.  This series of articles is from that book.]

 

How to Begin Every Day with God, pt. 3,

by Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

 

      My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord;

in the morning will I direct my Prayer unto thee,

and I will look up

(Psalm 5:3).

 

If you have all this to say to God, what should hinder you from saying it, from saying it every day?  Why should not he hear your voice, when you have so many errands to him?

1. Let no distance hinder you from saying it. You have occasion to speak with a friend, but he is a great way off.  You cannot reach him; you know not where to find him, nor how to get a letter to him, and therefore your business with him is undone. But this needs not keep you from speaking to God; for though it is true God is in heaven, and we are upon earth, yet he is nigh to his praying people in all that they call upon him for.  He hears their voice wherever they are. “Out of the depths I have cried unto thee,” saith David (Ps. 130:1).  “From the ends of the earth I will cry unto thee,” (Ps. 61:2). Nay, Jonah saith, “Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice” (Jonah 2:2).  In all places we may find a way open heavenward, thanks to him who by his own blood has consecrated for us a new and living way into the holiest, and settled a correspondence between heaven and earth.

2. Let not fear hinder you from saying what you have to say to God. You have business with a great man, it may be, but he is so far above you, or so stern and severe towards all his inferiors, that you are afraid to speak to him, and you have none to introduce you, or speak a good word for you, and therefore you choose rather to drop your cause; but there is no occasion for your being thus discouraged in speaking to God.  You may come boldly to the throne of his grace; you have there a liberty of speech, leave to pour out your whole souls. And such are his compassions to humble supplicants, that even his terror need not make them afraid.  It is against the mind of God that you should frighten yourselves.  He would have you encourage yourselves, for you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption, by which you are brought into this among the other glorious liberties of the children of God.  Nor is this all:  we have one to introduce us, and to speak for us, an advocate with the Father.  Did ever children need an advocate with a father?  But that by those two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation.  We have not only the relation of a father to depend upon, but the interest and intercession of an advocate, a high Priest over the house of God, in whose name we have access with confidence.

3. Let not his knowing what your business is, and what you have to say to him, hinder you.  You have business with such a friend, but you think you need not put yourselves to any trouble about it, for he is already apprised of it; he knows what you want and what you desire, and therefore it is no matter for speaking to him. It is true all you desire is before God; he knows your wants and burdens, but he wills to know them from you.  He hath promised you relief, but his promise must be put in suit, and he will for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them (see Ezek. 36:37). Though we cannot by our prayers give him any information, yet we must by our prayers give him honor. It is true, nothing we can say can have any influence upon him, or move him to show us mercy; but it may have an influence upon ourselves, and help to put us into a frame fit to receive mercy. It is a very easy and reasonable condition of his favors. “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Matt. 7:7).  It was to teach us the necessity of praying, in order to our receiving favor, that Christ put that strange question to the blind men: “What would ye that I should do unto you?” (Matt. 20:32; Mark 10:36).  He knew what they would have, but those that touch the top of the gospel sceptre must be ready to tell, what is their petition, and what is their request.

4. Let not any other business hinder our saying what we have to say to God. We have business with a friend, perhaps, but we cannot do it, because we have not leisure; we have something else to do, which we think more needful.  But we cannot say so concerning the business we have to do with God, for that is without doubt the one thing needful, to which everything else must be made to truckle and give way.  It is not at all necessary to our happiness that we be great in the world, or raise estates to such a pitch. But it is absolutely necessary that we make our peace with God, that we obtain his favor, and keep ourselves in his love. Therefore no business for the world will serve to excuse our attendance upon God; but, on the contrary, the more important our worldly business is, the more need we have to apply ourselves to God by prayer for his blessing upon it, and so take him along with us in it. The closer we keep to prayer, and to God in prayer, the more will all our affairs prosper.

Shall I prevail with you now to let God frequently hear from you; let him hear your voice, though it be but the voice of your breathing (see Lam. 3:56), that is a sign of life; though it be the voice of your groanings, and those so weak that they cannot be uttered (see Romans 8:26).  Speak to him though it be in broken language, as Hezekiah did:  “Like a crane or a swallow so did I chatter” (Isa. 38:14).  Speak often to him, he is always within hearing.  Hear him speaking to you, and have an eye to that in everything you say to him, as when you write an answer to a letter of business, you lay it before you.  God’s word must be the guide of your desires, and the ground of your expectations in prayer.  Do not expect he should give a gracious ear to what you say to him, if you turn a deaf ear to what he saith to you.

You see you have frequent occasions to speak with God, and therefore are concerned to grow in your acquaintance with him, to take heed of doing anything to displease him, and to strengthen your interest in the Lord Jesus, through whom alone it is that you have access with boldness to him.  Keep your voice in tune for prayer, and let all your language be a pure language, that you may be fit to call on the name of the Lord (see Zeph. 3:9).  And in every prayer remember you are speaking to God, and make it to appear you have an awe of him upon your spirits. Let us not be rash with our mouth, nor hasty to utter anything before God, but let every word be well weighed, because God is in heaven, and we upon earth (see Eccl. 5:2).  And realize that if he had not invited and encouraged us to do it, it would be unpardonable presumption for such sinful worms as we are to speak to the Lord of Glory (see Gen. 18:27).  Be concerned to speak the heart, heartily; for it is for our lives, and for the lives of our souls, that we are speaking to him.  

 

[This study will continue in the next issue, D.V.]

 

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This article is taken from:  Henry, Matthew.  A Method for Prayer. Glasgow: D. Mackenzie, 1834. (Originally published in 1710).  A PDF file of this book can be downloaded, free of charge, at:

             http://www.ClassicChristianLibrary.com