Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Source- Orthodox Presbyterian Church

On Controversy
John Newton

Editor’s note: A minister, about to write an article criticizing a fellow minister for his lack of orthodoxy, wrote to John Newton of his intention. Newton replied as follows:

Dear Sir,

As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. You are of the strongest side; for truth is great, and must prevail; so that a person of abilities inferior to yours might take the field with a confidence of victory. I am not therefore anxious for the event of the battle; but I would have you more than a conqueror, and to triumph, not only over your adversary, but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations, which, if duly attended to, will do you the service of a great coat of mail; such armor, that you need not complain, as David did of Saul’s, that it will be more cumbersome than useful; for you will easily perceive it is taken from that great magazine provided for the Christian soldier, the Word of God. I take it for granted that you will not expect any apology for my freedom, and therefore I shall not offer one. For method’s sake, I may reduce my advice to three heads, respecting your opponent, the public, and yourself.

Consider Your Opponent

As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.” The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.

But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger. Alas! “He knows not what he does.” But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his.

Of all people who engage in controversy, we, who are called Calvinists, are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation. If, indeed, they who differ from us have a power of changing themselves, if they can open their own eyes, and soften their own hearts, then we might with less inconsistency be offended at their obstinacy: but if we believe the very contrary to this, our part is, not to strive, but in meekness to instruct those who oppose. “If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth.” If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable.

Consider the Public

By printing, you will appeal to the public; where your readers may be ranged under three divisions: First, such as differ from you in principle. Concerning these I may refer you to what I have already said. Though you have your eye upon one person chiefly, there are many like-minded with him; and the same reasoning will hold, whether as to one or to a million.

There will be likewise many who pay too little regard to religion, to have any settled system of their own, and yet are preengaged in favor of those sentiments which are at least repugnant to the good opinion men naturally have of themselves. These are very incompetent judges of doctrine; but they can form a tolerable judgment of a writer’s spirit. They know that meekness, humility, and love are the characteristics of a Christian temper; and though they affect to treat the doctrines of grace as mere notions and speculations, which, supposing they adopted them, would have no salutary influence upon their conduct; yet from us, who profess these principles, they always expect such dispositions as correspond with the precepts of the gospel. They are quick-sighted to discern when we deviate from such a spirit, and avail themselves of it to justify their contempt of our arguments. The scriptural maxim, that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” is verified by daily observation. If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit. The weapons of our warfare, and which alone are powerful to break down the strongholds of error, are not carnal, but spiritual; arguments fairly drawn from Scripture and experience, and enforced by such a mild address, as may persuade our readers, that, whether we can convince them or not, we wish well to their souls, and contend only for the truth’s sake; if we can satisfy them that we act upon these motives, our point is half gained; they will be more disposed to consider calmly what we offer; and if they should still dissent from our opinions, they will be constrained to approve our intentions.

You will have a third class of readers, who, being of your own sentiments, will readily approve of what you advance, and may be further established and confirmed in their views of the Scripture doctrines, by a clear and masterly elucidation of your subject. You may be instrumental to their edification if the law of kindness as well as of truth regulates your pen, otherwise you may do them harm. There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.

I readily believe that the leading points of Arminianism spring from and are nourished by the pride of the human heart; but I should be glad if the reverse were always true; and that to embrace what are called the Calvinistic doctrines was an infallible token of a humble mind. I think I have known some Arminians, that is, persons who for want of a clearer light, have been afraid of receiving the doctrines of free grace, who yet have given evidence that their hearts were in a degree humbled before the Lord.

And I am afraid there are Calvinists, who, while they account it a proof of their humility, that they are willing in words to debase the creature and to give all the glory of salvation to the Lord, yet know not what manner of spirit they are of. Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.

Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace. Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments. Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress his wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify. I hope your performance will savor of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.

Consider Yourself

This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking. It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers. If ever such defenses were seasonable and expedient they appear to be so in our own day, when errors abound on all sides and every truth of the gospel is either directly denied or grossly misrepresented.

And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry, contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which are at most but of a secondary value. This shows, that if the service is honorable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made?

Your aim, I doubt not, is good; but you have need to watch and pray for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you; he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defense of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.

Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate. If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.” This is our pattern, thus we are to speak and write for God, “not rendering railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that hereunto we are called.” The wisdom that is from above is not only pure, but peaceable and gentle; and the want of these qualifications, like the dead fly in the pot of ointment, will spoil the savor and efficacy of our labors.

If we act in a wrong spirit, we shall bring little glory to God, do little good to our fellow creatures, and procure neither honor nor comfort to ourselves. If you can be content with showing your wit, and gaining the laugh on your side, you have an easy task; but I hope you have a far nobler aim, and that, sensible of the solemn importance of gospel truths, and the compassion due to the souls of men, you would rather be a means of removing prejudices in a single instance, than obtain the empty applause of thousands. Go forth, therefore, in the name and strength of the Lord of hosts, speaking the truth in love; and may he give you a witness in many hearts that you are taught of God, and favored with the unction of his Holy Spirit.

Reprinted from The Works of John Newton, Letter XIX “On Controversy.” Reprinted from New Horizons, October 2002.

From Valley of Vision……..

Holy Lord,

I have sinned times without number,

and been guilty of pride and unbelief,

of failure to find thy mind in thy Word,

of neglect to seek thee in my daily life.

My transgressions and short-comings

present me with a list of accusations,

But I bless thee that they will not stand against me,

for all have been laid on Christ;

Go on to subdue my corruptions,

and grant me grace to live above them.

Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings

of the mind bring my spirit into subjection,

but do thou rule over me in liberty and power.

I thank thee that many of my prayers

have been refused –

I have asked amiss and do not have,

I have prayed from lusts and been rejected,

I have longed for Egypt and been given a

wilderness.

Go on with thy patient work,

answering ‘no’ to my wrongful prayers,

and fitting me to accept it.

Purge me from every false desire,

every base aspiration,

everything contrary to thy rule.

I thank thee for thy wisdom and thy love,

for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject,

for sometimes putting me into the furnace

to refine my gold and remove my dross.

No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin.

If thou shouldst give me choice to live

in pleasure and keep my sins,

or to have them burnt away with trial,

give me sanctified affliction.

Deliver me from every evil habit,

every accretion of former sins,

everything that dims the brightness

of thy grace in me,

everything that prevents me taking delight

in thee.

Then I shall bless thee, God of Jeshurun,

for helping me to be upright.

From Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan Prayers…….

O God of grace,

T hou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,

          and hast imputed his righteousness

     to my soul,

   clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,

   decking me with jewels of holiness.

But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;

   my best prayers are stained with sin;

   my penitential tears are so much impurity;

   my confessions of wrong are so many

     aggravations of sin;

   my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with

     selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance;

I need my tears to be washed;

I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,

   no loom to weave my own righteousness;

I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,

   and by grace am always receiving change of

     raiment,

   for thou dost always justify the ungodly;

I am always going into the far country,

   and always returning home as a prodigal,

   always saying, Father, forgive me,

   and thou art always bringing forth

     the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it,

   every evening return in it,

   go out to the day’s work in it,

   be married in it,

   be wound in death in it,

   stand before the great white throne in it,

   enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of

   the exceeding sinfulness of sin,

   the exceeding righteousness of salvation,

   the exceeding glory of Christ,

   the exceeding beauty of holiness,

   the exceeding wonder of grace.

In honor of the upcoming “Reformation Day”, I thought I would post one of Martin Luther’s prayers. This is the one he prayed the night before his famous speech at the Diet of Worms. I was listening to it on my way into town yesterday and it literally gave me goosebumps! I hope it blesses you as well…….

“Almighty, eternal God, what a contemptible thing this world is! Yet how it causes men to gape and stare at it! How small and slight is the trust of men in God. How frail and sensitive is the flesh of men, and the devil so powerful and active through his apostles and the ‘wise’ of the world! How soon men become disheartened and hurry on, running the common cause, the broad way to hell, where the godless belong! Their gazes fixed on what is splendid and powerful, great, and mighty! If I too were to turn my eyes to such things, I would be undone! The verdict would already have been passed against me, and the bell that is to toll my doom would already have been cast.

O God, O God, O Thou my God, my God, help me against the reason and wisdom of all the world! Do this! Thou must do it, Thou alone, for this cause is not mine, but Thine! For myself, I have no business here with these great lords of the world! Indeed, I too desire to enjoy days of peace and quiet and to be undisturbed. But Thine, O Lord, is this cause, and it is righteous and of eternal importance! Stand by me, Thou faithful eternal God. I rely on no man! Futile and vain is all; lame and halting all that is carnal and smacks of the flesh. God, O God, dost Thou not hear me, my God? Art Thou dead? Nay, Thou canst not die! Thou art merely hiding Thyself. Hast Thou chosen me for this task? I ask Thee!

I am sure Thou hast. Were so, let it be, then. Thy will be done. For never in my life did I intend to oppose such great lords. Never had I resolved to do this! O God, stand by me in the Name of Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, Who shall be my protector and defender, yea, my mighty fortress, through the might and the strengthening of Thy Holy Spirit. Lord, where tarriest Thou? O Thou my God, where art Thou? Come, O come! I am ready to lay down my life for this cause, meek as a lamb, for the cause is righteous and it is Thine. I will not separate myself from Thee forever. Be that decision made, in Thy Name!

The world must leave my conscience unconquered even though it were full of devils and though my body, the work and creation of Thy hands, should be utterly ruined! But Thy Word and Spirit are a good compensation to me, and after all, only the body is concerned. The soul is Thine, and belongs to Thee, and willingly it will remain eternally. Amen. God help me. Amen.”

Thanks to Ben at Symphony of Scripture for already having it posted.

It was asked of me in another post, how can I believe the way I do and still worship at church. I’m not sure in what spirit the question was being asked in, and really it doesn’t matter. It is hard to convey a passion for something on a blog post like you can in face to face meetings, which makes answering the question in a way the other person can fully understand more difficult. But as I read this Puritan prayer this morning it reinforced , not only my doctrinal and theological beliefs, but I think it may provide an answer to the question that was asked of me this morning. I hope as you read it, it blesses you as it did me………….This is why I worship.

 

O Lord,

Iam a shell full of dust,

      but animated with an invisible rational soul

      and made anew by an unseen power of grace;

Yet I am no rare object of valuable price,

   but one that has nothing and is nothing,

   although chosen of thee from eternity,

   given to Christ, and born again;

I am deeply convinced

   of the evil and misery of a sinful state,

   of the vanity of creatures,

   but also of the sufficiency of Christ.

When thou wouldst guide me I control myself,

When thou wouldst be sovereign I rule myself.

When thou wouldst take care of me I suffice myself.

When I should depend on thy providings I supply

   myself,

When I should submit to thy providence I follow

   my will,

When I should study, love, honour, trust thee,

   I serve myself;

I fault and correct thy laws to suit myself,

Instead of thee I look to a man’s approbation,

   and am by nature an idolater.

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back

   to thee.

Convince me that I cannot be my own God,

     or make myself happy,

   nor my own Christ to restore my joy,

   nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.

Help me to see that grace does this by providential

    affliction,

   for when my credit is good thou dost cast me

      lower,

   when riches are my idol thou dost wing them

      away,

   when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into

      bitterness.

Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy

     appetite, lustful heart;

   show me that none of these things

     can heal a wounded conscience,

     or support a tottering frame,

     or uphold a departing spirit.

   then take me to the cross

   and leave me there.

I found this series of articles over at Pulpit Magazine. Thought I’d share………..

“The story is told about a small town in the south. For many years, this town had been “dry” in that no alcohol was ever sold or served there. But one day a businessman in the area decided to build a tavern. In response to this new tavern, a group of Christians from a local church became concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. Shortly after the prayer meeting that night, lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.

In the aftermath of the fire, the owner of the tavern sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible for his loss. But the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. After his initial review of the case the presiding judge began the trial with an official statement. He said: “No matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear: the tavern owner believes in prayer, and the Christians do not.”Read The Rest

Part 2

Part 3

From Valley of Vision

O Spirit of God,

H elp my infirmities;

         When I am pressed down with a load

of sorrow,

perplexed and knowing not what to do,

slandered and persecuted,

made to feel the weight of the cross,

help me, I pray thee.

If thou seest in me

any wrong thing encouraged,

any evil desire cherished,

any delight that is not thy delight,

any habit that grieves thee,

any nest of sin in my heart,

then grant me the kiss of thy forgiveness,

and teach my feet to walk the way of

thy commandments.

Deliver me from carking care,

and make me a happy, holy person;

Help me to walk the separated life with

firm and brave step,

and to wrestle successfully against weakness;

Teach me to laud, adore, and magnify thee,

with the music of heaven,

And make me a perfume of praiseful gratitude

to thee.

I do not crouch at thy feet as a slave before a tyrant,

but exult before thee as a son with a father.

Give me power to live as thy child in all my actions,

and to exercise sonship by conquering self.

Preserve me from the intoxication that comes

of prosperity;

Sober me when I am glad with a joy that comes

not from thee.

Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom,

not asking whether the road be rough or smooth.

I request only to see the face of him I love,

to be content with bread to eat,

with raiment to put on,

if I can be brought to thy house in peace.