Jonathan Edwards on Prayer
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. Hebrews 2.1
Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
“Watch against the beginnings of a neglect of this duty. Persons who have for a time practiced, and afterwards neglect it, commonly leave it off by degrees. While their convictions and religious affections last, they are very constant in their closets, and no worldly business, or company, or diversion hinders them. But as their convictions and affections begin to die away, they begin to find excuses to neglect it sometimes. They are now so hurried; they have now such and such things to attend to; or there are now such inconveniences in the way, that they persuade themselves they may very excusably omit it for this time. Afterwards it pretty frequently so happens, that they have something to hinder, something which they call an excuse. After a while, a less thing becomes a sufficient excuse than was allowed to be such at first. Thus the person by degrees contracts more and more a habit of neglecting prayer, and becomes more and more indisposed to it.”
The danger in the life of faith is not radical, whole-hearted, complete rejection of belief and its practices. It is drift. We do not suddenly stop praying. We drift from it, little by little, and at each point we excuse our failure to devote time to prayer by telling ourselves we have more pressing duties. More pressing duties!? Than prayer? Jim Kennedy used to say that an excuse is the skin of a reason, stuffed with a lie. If we are excusing ourselves from prayer because we prefer to invest our time in other matters, then we are lying to ourselves about the importance of prayer. We are saying, in effect, that prayer may be important, but it’s not important to me – not very important, at any rate. And so Edwards ends his two-part sermon on prayer at the place where he began, warning us against making excuses for not praying, warning us against drifting from true faith into hypocrisy, and pleading with us to give prayer the place it rightly deserves in our walk with and work for the Lord.
What will you do today to increase and improve your time in prayer?
If Men Will Pray
Paul said that he wanted men everywhere to pray. But that won’t just happen. Someone will have to take the lead in showing men how to pray, enlisting them for the work, and helping them grow in consistency and power in their prayers. You have to start somewhere. Our booklet, If Men Will Pray, is a tool for learning to pray following Paul’s guidelines in 1 Timothy 2.1-8, and for enlisting another man for a 30-day prayer journey together. Watch this brief video, then order several copies of this booklet, and start enlisting your men for fuller, more consistent, and more satisfying lives of prayer (click here).
Thinking for a Christian Worldview
Christian thinkers have a Christian worldview. Our course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, uses twelve diagrams to provide a comprehensive framework for thinking and living Christianly in the world. It’s free, online, and available for you to study by yourself or with your leadership team, at your own pace and on your own schedule. For more information and to register, click here.
The Fellowship of Ailbe is supported through the generous and faithful gifts of those who benefit from and believe in our work. Does the Lord want to use you in this way? Please look to Him in prayer over this question. You can contribute to The Fellowship of Ailbe by using the Contribute button at our website, or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Thank you.
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.
- T.M. Moore
- March 26, 2017
Pray - no excuses.
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