A Topical Study:

Prayer

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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.]

 

A Study by Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

 

How to Begin Every Day with God, pt. 5

 

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).

 

We must “look up”; that is,

1. We must look up in our prayers, as those that speak to one above us, infinitely above us, the high and holy One who inhabits eternity; as those that expect every good and perfect gift to come from above, from the Father of lights; as those that desire in prayer to enter into the holiest, and to draw near with a true heart. With an eye of faith we must look above the world and everything in it, must look beyond the things of time. What is this world, and all things here below, to one that knows how to put a due estimate upon spiritual blessings in heavenly things by Jesus Christ? The spirit of a man at death goes upward (see Eccl. 3:21), for it returns to God who gave it, and therefore is mindful of its original.  It must in every prayer look upwards towards its God, towards its home, as having set its affections on things above, wherein it has laid up its treasure. Let us therefore in prayer lift up our hearts with our hands unto God in the heavens (see Lam. 3:14). It was anciently usual in some churches for the minister to stir up the people to pray with this word, Sursum Corda, up with your hearts; unto thee, O Lord, do we lift up our souls.

2. We must look up after our prayers.

a. With an eye of satisfaction and pleasure. Looking up is a sign of cheerfulness, as a down look is a melancholy one. We must look up, as those, that having by prayer referred ourselves to God, are easy and well pleased, and with an entire confidence in his wisdom and goodness, patiently expect the issue. Hannah, when she had prayed, looked up, looked pleasant; she went her way and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad (see I Sam. 1:18). Prayer is heart’s ease to a good Christian; and when we have prayed, we should look up, as those that through grace have found it so.

b. With an eye of observation, what returns God makes to our prayers. We must look up, as one that has shot an arrow looks after it, to see how near it comes to the mark; we must look within us, and observe what the frame of our spirit is after we have been at prayer, how well satisfied they are in the will of God, and how well disposed to accommodate themselves to it; we must look about us, and observe how providence works concerning us, that if our prayers be answered, we may return to give thanks; if not, we may remove what hinders, and may continue waiting. Thus we must set ourselves upon our watch-tower to see what God will say unto us (see Heb. 2:1), and must be ready to hear it (Psalm 85:8), expecting that God will give us an answer of peace, and resolving that we will return no more to folly. Thus must we keep up our communion with God; hoping that whenever we lift up our hearts unto him, he will lift up the light of his countenance upon us. Sometimes the answer is quick:  while they are yet speaking I will hear; quicker than the return of any of your posts; but if it be not, when we have prayed, we must wait.

Let us learn thus to direct our prayers, and thus to look up; to be inward with God in every duty, to make heart-work of it, or we make nothing of it. Let us not worship in the outward court, when we are commanded and encouraged to enter within the vail. 

 

 [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