[9: PRAYER, PAGES 301-304]

John Wilbur

Wilbur, John. A Narrative and Exposition of the Late Proceedings of New England Yearly Meeting, With Some of its Subordinate Meetings & Their committees, in Relation to the Doctrinal Controversy Now Existing in the Society of Friends: Prefaced by a Concise View of the Church, Showing the Occasion of its Apostacy, both Under the Former and Present Dispensations, With an Appendix. Edited from Record Kept, From Time to Time, of Those Proceedings, and Interspersed With Occasional Remarks and Observations. Addressed to the Members of the Said Yearly Meeting. New York: Piercy & Reed, Printers, 1854, pages 277-325.

(All italics added by J.W. for emphasis. All words supplied in [Square Brackets] by J.W.
Page numbers from original publication by -pds in {Set Brackets.}

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J.J. Gurney, (Observations, p. 291, 7th edit.): "No one can, with any show of reason, deny that our Lord's precept respecting our entering into the closet--shutting the door--and praying to our Father, who sooth in secret, is to be understood literally; and therefore such a practice, as far as circumstances allow, is universally incumbent upon Christians. If we would grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, it must be our frequent practice--especially at the commencement and end of each day--to retire into solitude, and there seek for ability to pour out our prayers to theLord, with a diligent and fervent spirit. Nor ought we to forget, that we may be assisted in the performance of this Christian duty, by kneeling down in a deliberate and solemn manner, &c. (p. 292.) "To the occasional use of the prayer which our Lord condescended to recite, I cannot conceive that any reflecting Christian can for a moment object: and I believe that our children ought to be accustomed to it from early life."
(On Love to God, p. 77.) "With respect to our children, more particularly, it is surely our duty, by watchful instruction, and sometimes by uniting with them in their private religious exercises, to train them {p. 301} in the habit of daily prayer--just as we see the parent bird, by frequent example and experiment, teaching and inducing her young ones to use the wings which God has given them."

Contrast the above with

Robert Barclay, (Apol. Prop. XI. p. 364.) "We find that Jesus Christ, the author of the Christian religion, prescribes no set form of worship to his children. Note. If any object here, that the Lord's prayer is a prescribed form of prayer, and therefore of worship given by Christ to his children, I answer, first, this Cannot be objected by any sort of Christians that I know; because there are none who use not other prayers, or that limit their worship to this. Secondly, this was commanded to the disciples, while yet weak, before they had received the dispensation of tile Gospel; not that they should only use it in praying, but that He might show them by one example, how that their prayers ought to be short, and not like the long prayers of the Pharisees. And that this was the use of it, appears by all their prayers, which divers saints afterwards made use of, whereof the Scripture makes mention; for none made use of this, neither repeated it, but used other words, according as the thing required, and as the spirit gave utterance. Thirdly, that this ought to be so understood, appears from Rom. viii. 26, where the Apostle saith, ' We know not what weshould pray for as we ought, but the spirit itself maketh intercession for us,' &c. But if this prayer had been such a prescribed form of prayer to the church, that had not been true, neither had they been ignorant what to pray, nor should they have needed the help of the spirit to teach them." (p. 392.) "Our adversaries, whose religion is all for the most part outside, and such whose acts are the mere product of man's natural will and abilities, as they can preach, so can they pray when they please, and therefore have their set particular prayers. I meddle not with the controversies among themselves concerning this, some of them being for set prayers as a liturgy, others for such as are conceived extempore: it suffices {p. 303} me that all of them agree in this,--that the motions and influence of the spirit of God are not necessary to be previous thereunto; and therefore, they have set times in their public worship, as before and after preaching, and in their private devotion, as morning and evening, and before and after meat, and other such occasions, at which they precisely set about the performing of their prayers, by speaking words to God, whether they feel any motion or infiuence of the spirit or not; so that some of the chiefest have confessed that they have thus prayed without the motions or assistance of the spirit, acknowledging that they sinned in so doing; yet they said they looked upon it as their duty so to do, though to pray without the spirit be sin. We freely confess that prayer is both very profitable, and a necessary duty commanded, and fit to be practised frequently by all Christians; but as we can do nothing without Christ, so neither can we pray without the concurrence and assistance of his Spirit. But that the state of the controversy may be the better understood, let it be considered, first, that prayer is two-fold, inward and outward. Inward prayer is that secret turning of the mind towards God, whereby, being secretly touched and awakened by the light of Christ in the conscience, and so bowed down under the sense of its iniquities, unworthiness and misery, it looks up to God, and joining with the secret shinings of the seed of God, it breathes toward Him, and is constantly breathing forth some secret desires and aspirations towards Him. It is in this sense that we are so frequently in Scripture commanded to pray continually, which cannot be understood of outward prayer, because it were impossible that men should be always upon their knees, expressing words of prayer; and this would hinder them, from the exercise of those duties no less positively commanded. Outward prayer is, when as the spirit, being thus in the exercise of inward retirement, and feeling the breathing of the spirit of God to arise powerfully in the soul, receives strength and liberty by a superadded motion and influence to bring forth either audible sighs, groans, or words, and that either in public assemblies, or in ptivat% or at meat, &c. As then inward {p.304} prayer is necessary at all times so, so long as the day of every man's visitation lasteth, he never wants some influence, less or more, for the practice of it; because he no sooner retires in his mind, and considers himself in God's presence, but he finds himself in the practice of it. The outward exercise of prayer, as needing a greater and superadded influence and motion of the Spirit, as it cannot be continually practised, so neither can it be so readily, so as to be effectually performed, until his mind be some time acquainted with the inward," &c. (p. 397.) "If any man know not how to pray, neither can do it without the help of the Spirit, then it is to no purpose for him, but altogether unprofitable, to pray without it."
I. Penington (Works, Vol I. p, 21 ): "Mark, all prayer and supplication must be in the Spirit; Yea, it must be always in the Spirit, which speaks in the heart to God, and makes the intercession, or it is no prayer. If a man speak ever so much from his own spirit, with ever so much earnestness and affection, yet it is no prayer, no true prayer, but only so far as the Spirit moves to it, and so far as the Spirit leads and guides in it."

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