Three Marks of Right Prayer

“I know if the grace of God be in you, it will be as natural to you to groan out your condition, as it is for a suckling child to cry for the breast. Prayer is one of the first things that discovers a man to be a Christian (Acts 9:12). But yet if it be right, it is such prayer as follows. (1) To desire God in Christ, for himself, for his holiness, love, wisdom, and glory. For right prayer, as it run only to God through Christ, so it centres in him, and in him alone. ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire,’ long for, or seek after, ‘beside thee’ (Psalm 73:25). (2) That the soul might enjoy continually communion with him, both here and hereafter. ‘I shall be satisfied, when I awake with’ thine image, or in ‘thy likeness’ (Psalm 17:15). ‘For in this we groan earnestly’ (2 Corinthians 5:2). (3) Right prayer is accompanied with a continual labour after that which is prayed for. ‘My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning’ (Psalm 130:6). ‘I will rise now, I will seek him whom my soul loveth’ (Song of Soloman 3:2). For mark, I beseech you, there are two things that provoke to prayer. The one is a detestation of sin and the things of this life; the other is a longing desire after communion with God in a holy and undefiled state and inheritance.”

– John Bunyan, Prayer, p.47

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