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Preparation for Prayer Meeting

October 9, 2013

Here’s an excerpt from John Gill’s “Body of Practical Divinity” to help as you prepare your mind and heart for prayer meeting.

The parts of prayer, of which it consists; the apostle, in Philippians 4:6 uses four words
to express it by; and which are commonly thought to design distinct species or parts of
prayer; which are comprehended under the general name of “requests,” or petitions, as
“prayer and supplication with thanksgiving”: and he also uses four words for it,199 with
some little difference, in 1 Timothy 2:1 “Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of
thanks;” by which one and the same thing may be signified in different words, according to
the different respects which it has; but if these have different senses, and are different
species or parts of prayer, Origen’s account of them seems as good as any; that “supplication”
is for some good that we stand in need of; “prayer” for greater things, when in great
danger, that is, deliverance from it; “intercession” is expressed with more freedom, familiarity,
and faith, with greater confidence of having what is asked of God; and “thanksgiving” is an
acknowledgment of good things obtained of God by prayer. But to proceed, and more particularly
consider the parts of prayer, of what it consists; and I mean not to prescribe any
form of prayer, but to direct to the matter and method. And,

a. In prayer there should be a celebration of the divine perfections; and it is proper to
begin with this; we should declare the name of the Lord to whom we pray, and ascribe
greatness to our God; we should begin with some one or other of his names and titles, expressive
of his nature, and of the relation he stands in to us as creatures, and new creatures;
and make mention of some one or more of his perfections, which may serve to command
an awe and reverence of him; to engage our affections to him; to strengthen our faith and
confidence in him, and raise our expectations of being heard and answered by him, as before
observed; as of his purity, holiness, and righteousness; of his omniscience, omnipotence,
and omnipresence; and of his immutability and faithfulness, love, grace, and mercy.

b. There should be an acknowledgment of our vileness and sinfulness, of our meanness
and unworthiness in ourselves; we should come before a pure and holy God under a sense
of the depravity and pollution of our nature, and of our unworthiness to be admitted into
his presence, and to worship at his footstool; when we take upon us to speak unto the Lord,
we should own, with Abraham, that we are but “dust and ashes;” not only frail and mortal
creatures, but sinful and impure; and with Jacob, that we are not “worthy of the least of all
the mercies” showed us, nor of receiving any favour from God; and therefore do not present
our supplications to him “for our righteousnesses, but for his great mercies”.

c. There should be a confession of sin; of the sin of our nature, of original sin, of indwelling
sin; of the sins of our lives and actions; of our daily transgressions of the law of
They seem to answer to four words used by the Jews, of prayer, ברכה בקשה תפלה תחנה
God in thought, word, and deed: this has been the practice of saints in all ages; of David,
Daniel, and others (Ps. 32:5, 51:3-5) and which is encouraged (1 John 1:9).

d. There should be a deprecation of all evil things, which our sins deserve; so our Lord
taught his disciples to pray; “Deliver us from all evil;” and this seems to be the meaning of
the saints oftentimes when they pray for the forgiveness of their own sins and those of others,
that God would deliver them out of present distress, of what kind soever, remove his
afflicting hand, which lies heavy upon them, and avert those evils which seem to threaten
them, and prevent their coming upon them; in which sense we are to understand many of
the petitions of Moses, Job, Solomon, and others (Ex. 32:32; Num. 14:19, 20; Job 7:21; 1
King 8:30, 34, 36, 39, 50).

e. Another part or branch of prayer is, a petition for good things, which are needed;
for temporal mercies, such as regard the sustenance of our bodies, the comfort, support,
and preservation of life; so our Lord has taught us to pray; “Give us this day our daily bread;”
which includes all the necessaries of life. Agur’s prayer with respect to this is a very wise
one, and to be copied after (Prov. 30:7-9). Spiritual blessings are to be prayed for; which,
though laid up in covenant, and are sure to all the covenant ones, what God has promised,
and will be performed; and we may have this confidence in him, that whatsoever we ask,
according to his will, we shall have; but then they must be asked for; seeing, for what he has
promised, and will do, he will “yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for
them” (Ezek. 36:37).

f. Prayer should always be accompanied with thanksgiving; this should always be a
part of it; since, as we have always mercies to pray for, we have always mercies to be thankful
for (Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6).

g. At the close of this work it is proper to make use of doxologies, or ascriptions of
glory to God; of which we have many instances, either of which may be made use of (Matthew
6:13; Eph. 3:21; 1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 1:24, 25; Rev. 1:5, 6), which serve to show forth the praises
of God, to express our gratitude to him, and our dependence on him, and expectation of
receiving from him what we have been praying for; and the whole may be concluded with
the word “Amen,” as expressing our assent to what has been prayed for, our wishes and
desires for the accomplishment of it, and our full and firm persuasion and belief of our
having what we have been asking for, according to the will of God.

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