“God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.” – Ps 67
Every one prays for something from God. But when we pray, we should be careful how we pray and for what we pray. The prayers of the majority of men are simply prayers for earthly and transient things, which often are not a blessing but a curse. The true Christian prays, indeed:
(1) For bodily blessings also, such as health, prosperity, food, the warding off of danger, help in need, support in sufferings, and deliverance out of trouble. Such prayers are acceptable to God, because He has promised in His word to give us these things.
But the true Christian does not stop at these things; for they are the lesser blessings which are often bestowed even without our prayer. On the contrary,
(2) He prays especially for spiritual blessings: for the Holy Spirit, for a godly heart, and for the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17). He prays for enlightenment, growth in goodness, sanctification, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; for these are the principal things which he can ask or receive of God. And if these are bestowed upon him, he regards them as his greatest treasure. The true Christian prays,
(3) Also for things eternal, for a happy end, for a blessed departure from this world, and for entrance into the bliss of heaven, that he may behold God face to face, and that, clothed with white robes and his conflict over, he may rejoice in God forever. The believer must pray for spiritual and heavenly things, if he would pray aright and in a manner acceptable to God.
(4) But at the same time he must be careful to live a blameless Christian life, so that God may be able to bestow these spiritual and heavenly blessings upon him; for they cannot be received by an unregenerate and wicked person.
O gracious and bountiful God, how great and glorious, how rich and mighty art Thou! Thou possesseth all things, and canst bestow all things.
Behold, I, Thy child, come to Thee, and pray for Thy gifts. Thou knowest that I brought nothing into this world, and that of myself I have nothing but my sinfulness. Every good thing I possess has come from Thee; for every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. Yea, what hast thou, O man, that Thou didst not receive?
O my God and Father, make me rich in soul: give me Thy Holy Spirit and a God-fearing heart; convert and enlighten me, that I may become a new man and a true Christian. Help me to fight and work, so that I may subdue all evil lusts, lay aside all bad habits, separate myself from the world, and present my body and soul a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto Thee. Behold, O God, how many are the dangers and temptations to which I am exposed in this world. Do Thou guide me by Thy power, that I may not be led astray nor turned aside from Thee. Dwell in my soul, control my heart, and grant me grace to be a living member of the body of my Jesus, and a new creature; then shall I be rich enough, honored enough, and happy enough in this world.
Provide for me also, O gracious God and Father, in earthly things. Thou knowest what I need, Thou seest what I lack. Give me nothing according to my will, but all according to Thine.
If health is good for me, then give me a healthy body that I may all the better perform the duties of my calling. Provide me with food and clothing; for Thou knowest that without these I cannot live. Be with me in all my ways, and guard me against harm. Add Thy blessing to my labor; for what Thou blessest is blessed indeed. Thou hast placed me in the world; Thou wilt also know how to sustain and provide for me. I cast all my burdens and cares upon Thee. O God, do Thou care for Thy child and preserve me; let me in future abundantly enjoy Thy Fatherly faithfulness and grace.
But since Thou, O God, hast not created me simply for the sake of this earthly life, I hope for still greater blessings at Thy hands. If I had nothing to hope from Thee but those gifts which concern my earthly welfare, then would I be the most wretched of men. Therefore, my Father, grant me also the heavenly gifts. Keep me in the faith until the end of my life; let me die in Christ; and take my soul unto Thyself into everlasting joy. If it be possible in accordance with Thy will, let me die while in the possession of my reason, and bring me, after my departure from this world, to the company of the elect in heaven, that I may be crowned, transformed, and clothed with robes of white, behold Thy face, and rejoice in Thee forever.
O my God, hear the voice of my supplications, and do not withhold what I ask. Of earthly gifts give me such as please Thee and are salutary for me; in spiritual things grant me a rich measure of Thy grace; and bring me at last to the gathering of the saints in light. Let me be united with Thee here in faith and love, and united with Thee in heaven for evermore. Amen.
|The Lord my Shepherd is,|
|I shall be well supplied:|
|Since He is mine and I am His,|
|What can I want beside?|
|He leads me to the place|
|Where heavenly pasture grows,|
|Where living waters gently pass,|
|And full salvation flows.|
|If e’er I go astray,|
|He doth my soul reclaim,|
|And guides me in His own right way,|
|For His most holy Name.|
|While He affords His aid,|
|I cannot yield to fear:|
|Though I should walk through death’s dark shade,|
|My Shepherd’s with me there.|
|The bounties of Thy love|
|Shall crown my following days;|
|Nor from Thy house will I remove,|
|Nor cease to speak Thy praise.|
– Watts, 1719.