Look For The Rainbow

“Thus you see that a rainbow is round about the throne of grace, and what this rainbow is. Look then, when you go to prayer, for the throne; and that you may not be deceived with a fancy, look for the rainbow too. The rainbow, that is, as I have said, the personal performances of Christ your Saviour for you. Look, I say, for that it is his righteousness; the token of the everlasting of the covenant of grace; the object of God’s delight, and must be the ground of the justification of thy person and performances before God. God looks at, look you at it, and at it only (Psalm 71:16). For in heaven or earth, if that be cast away, there is nothing to be found that can please God, or justify you. If it be said faith pleases God; I answer, faith is a relative grace; take then the relative away, which as to justification, is this spangling robe, this rainbow, this righteousness of Christ, and faith dies, and becomes, as to what we now treat of, extinct and quenched as tow.”

– John Bunyan, Prayer, p.82

Advertisements

The Meritorious Cause of All the Grace We Enjoy

“That scripture also gives us a little light herein, ‘And I beheld, lo! in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb, as it had been slain’ (Rev. 5:6). This is to show the cause why grace is so freely shown to us, even for that there stands there, in the midst of the throne, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb as it had been slain, or, as it was made a sacrifice for our sin; for, as a slain Lamb, he now lives in the midst of the throne, and is the meritorious cause of all the grace we enjoy.”

– John Bunyan, Prayer, p.75

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

Counsel to Fully Express Yourself Before the Lord in Prayer

“If you would more fully express yourself before the Lord, study, first, your fallen estate; secondly, God’s promises; thirdly, the heart of Christ, which you may know or discern by his condescension and bloodshedding, also by mercy he has formerly extended to great sinners. Plead your own vileness, by way of bemoaning, Christ’s blood by way of expostulation; and in your prayers, let the mercy that he has extended to other great sinners, together with his rich promises of grace, be much upon your heart. Yet let me counsel you to take heed that you content not yourself with words. However, whether your words be few or many, let your heart go with them; and then you shall seek him, and find him, when you seek him with your whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13).”

– John Bunyan, Prayer, p.44

The Willingness That is in the Heart of God to Save Sinners

“There is nothing that will press the soul more to seek after God, and to cry for pardon, than an understanding of the willingness that is in the heart of God to save sinners. If a man should see a pearl worth an hundred pounds lie in a ditch, yet if he understood not the value of it, he would lightly pass it by: but if he once get the knowledge of it, he would venture up to the neck for it. So it is with the souls concerning the things of God: if a man once get an understanding of the worth of them, then his heart, nay, the very strength of his soul, runs after them, and he will never leave crying till he have them. The two blind men in the gospel, because they did certainly know that Jesus, who was going by them, was both able and willing to heal such infirmities as they were afflicted with: therefore they cried, and the more they were rebuked the more they cried (Matt. 20:31).”

– John Bunyan, Prayer, p.38

The Necessity of the Spirit to Pray and Continue in Prayer

“As the heart must be lifted up by the Spirit, if it pray aright, so also it must be held up the Spirit when it is up, if it is to continue to pray aright. I do not know what or how it is with others’ hearts, whether they be lifted up by the Spirit of God, and so continued, or no: but this I am sure of, first, that it is impossible that all the prayer books that men have in the world, should lift up, or prepare the heart, for that is the work of the great God himself. And, in the second place, I am sure that they are as far from keeping it up, when it is up. And indeed here is the life of prayer, to have the heart kept with God in the duty. It was a great matter for Moses to keep his hands lifted up to God in prayer; but how much more then to keep the heart in it! (Exod. 17:12).

The want of this is that which God complains of; that men draw nigh to him with their mouth, and know him with their lips, but their hearts are far from him (Is. 29:13; Ezek. 33:31), but chiefly they that walk after the commandments and traditions of men, as the scope of Matthew 15:8-9 testifies. And verily, may I but speak my own experience, and from that tell you the difficulty of praying to God as I ought, it is enough to make your poor, blind, carnal men to entertain strange thoughts of me. For, as for my heart, when I go to pray, I find it so loth to go to God, and when it is with him, so loth to stay with him, that many times I am forced in my prayers, first to beg of God that he would take mine heart, and set it on himself in Christ, and when it is there, that he would keep it there. Nay, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray, I am so ignorant; only blessed be grace, the Spirit helps our infirmities (Ps. 86:11).

O the starting-holes that the heart has in the time of prayer! None knows how many by-ways the heart has, and back-lanes, to slip away from the presence of God. How much pride also, if enabled with expressions! How much hypocrisy, if before others! And how little conscience is there made of prayer between God and the soul in secret, unless the Spirit of supplication be there to help! When the Spirit gets into the heart, then there is prayer indeed, and not till then.”

– John Bunyan, Prayer, p.31-32

Prayer is More Than Words

“The soul that rightly prays, it must be in and with the help and strength of the Spirit; because it is impossible that a man should express himself in prayer without it. By this I mean that it is impossible that the heart, in a sincere and affectionate way, should pour out itself before God, with those groans and sighs that come from a truly praying heart, without the assistance of the Spirit. It is not the mouth that is the main thing to be looked at in prayer, but whether the heart is so full of affection and earnest in prayer with God that it is impossible to express their sense and desire; for then a man desires indeed when his desires are so strong, many, and mighty, that all the words, tears and groans that come from the heart cannot utter them: ‘The Spirit helpeth our infirmities, and maketh intercession for us with’ sighs and ‘groanings which cannot be uttered’ (Rom. 8:26).

That is but poor prayer which is only one of words. A man that truly prays one prayer cannot express with his mouth or pen the unutterable desires, sense, affection, and longing that went to God in his prayer. The best prayers have often more groans than words: and those words that they have are but a lean and shallow representation of the heart, life and spirit of prayer.”

– John Bunyan, Prayer, p.32-33