Jonathan Edwards on Prayer
“But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mark 4.20
Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
“When you find by experience, that the seed which was sown in your hearts, though at first it sprang up and seemed flourishing, is withering away, as by the heat of the sun, or is choked, as with thorns; this shows in what sort of ground the seed was sown, that it is either stony or thorny ground; and that therefore it is necessary you should pass through another change, whereby your heart may become good ground, which shall bring forth fruit with patience.”
The parable of the soils is often misunderstood, as if all the soils were somehow “Christian,” but one was more Christian than the others. The others had the seed sown in them, and were in the same “field,” so they represent a kind of Christian experience as well, only one not as well developed as in that good soil. This was not what Jesus intended. Where the seed takes root and grows, it bears fruit, because the dead seed has become alive. Where there is no fruit, for whatever reason, there the seed remains dead. Edwards is arguing that the most natural and abiding fruit of true conversion is private prayer. Where that does not exist, or where we are drifting from it, we have reason to question whether the seed sown in the soil of our hearts has ever truly taken root. Jesus expects fruit of His converting Word. Edwards did, too. Do we?
What fruit of faith do you expect from your own life?
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The Poetry of Prayer
It matters how we look at prayer. If we do not find prayer alluring, fraught with potential for knowing the Lord and growing in Him, and a resource for revival that can empower our daily lives, then we’re not likely to spend much time in prayer. Our book, The Poetry of Prayer, can help you look at prayer through new eyes. Following 17th century poet George Herbert, we meander through a showcase of illustrations designed to put prayer in a new and more appealing light, and to encourage us to make more of this great privilege. Along the way, exercises can help us appropriate George Herbert’s images for an enriched experience of prayer. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.All quotations from Jonathan Edwards, “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer” in Edward Hickman, ed., The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1834, 1995), Volume Two, pp. 71 ff.
What Sort of Ground?
- T.M. Moore
- March 18, 2017
Where there's no fruit of prayer, there's no good soil.
Jonathan Edwards on Prayer
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore