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Learning to Pray from the Puritans

Blog

Luann Budd, president of NEWIM, blogs about the spiritual life of a leader, shares insight from what she is reading, and reflects on the call to Christian leadership.

Learning to Pray from the Puritans

Luann Budd

For several years, I pondered how I can do what Paul exhorts us to do in Col. 3:1, “set your hearts things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above...” How do we do that?

I’ve been using The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers during my devotional time. I was surprised to notice how often the Puritans prayed that they could enjoy TODAY one of the blessings we are promised in heaven. Some examples:

"Let there be unrestrained fellowship with Jesus, today.”

“In heaven we will hear the Divine Accolade, may we hear today, “Well done." 

“In heaven, we will breathe joy. May we be filled with joy as we receive the gifts You give.”

I had never thought to pray that I will receive, today, a taste of what awaits me in heaven.  I think this Puritan practice of reflecting on the realities of heaven and praying to receive a small gift of them today is a practice that helps us to set our hearts and minds on heaven.

A Puritan prayer:

O LORD,

I live here as a fish in a vessel of water, only enough to keep me alive, but in heaven, I shall swim in the ocean.

Here I have a little air in me to keep me breathing but there I shall have sweet and fresh gales;

Here I have a beam of sun to lighten my darkness, a warm ray to keep me from freezing; yonder I shall live in light and warmth for ever.

My natural desires are corrupt and misguided, and it is Thy mercy to destroy them,

My spiritual longings are of Thy planting, and Thou wilt water and increase them;

Quicken my hunger and thirst after the realm above. Here I can have the world, there I shall have Thee in Christ. Here is a life of longing and prayer, there is assurance without suspicion, asking without refusal. Here are gross comforts, more burden than benefit, there is joy without sorrow, comfort without suffering, love without inconstancy, rest without weariness.

Give me to know that heaven is all love, where the eye affects the heart, and the continual viewing of the beauty keeps the soul in continual transport of delight.

Give me to know that heaven is all peace, where error, pride, rebellion, passion raise no head.

Give me to know that heaven is all joy, the end of believing, fasting, praying, mourning, humbling, watching, fearing, repining;

And lead me to it soon.

from The Valley of Vision, p. 203