My father seems to have a plethora of excellent resources on spiritual and biblical things. I love that about him. So when I recently posted a George Downame quote (the one my lovely friend Erin sent me with the bouquet of flowers), he was reminded of some Downame resources he’s used in the past when preparing sermons & studying Scripture. This last week, he gave me some pages (with some excellent spellings and such, you’ll notice!) from “A Godly And Learned Treatise of Prayer,” and I wanted to share some highlights here with you all. Prayer is something we all should pray to grow in, with wisdom and diligence.
excerpts from “A Godly And Learned Treatise of Prayer”
by George Downame, 1640. [sic]
This praying with earnest desire is commended to us in the word of God by divers significant phrases…
For, as Augustine saith, For the most part this businesse is effected better with grones then words, with weeping rather then speaking.
In matters temporall or spirituall which are necessary to salvation… as we are to ask them conditionally, so far forth as they may stand with Gods glory and the good of our selves and our brethren, so are we to believe that he will so far forth grant them, and therefore that he will either grant our desire or that which is better. For which cause in such requests we are most willingly with our Saviour Christ to submit our will and desires to the will and pleasure of God…
After our prayer is ended we must quietly rest in the good will and pleasure of God; not doubting but the Lord as he hath heard our prayers, so in his good time will grant the same as shall be most for his glory and our good. And this is the meaning of the word Amen, wherewith our Saviour hath taught us (as it were) to seal up our prayers: for thereby as we signifie the consent of our desire, so also the assent of faith.
Secondly, as we crave good things at the hands of God, so we our selves must endeavour to attain unto them by all good means possible. For otherwise our prayer is a tempting of God, as if we would have our desire granted as it were by miracle, and a fruit of no faith or unfeigned desire of the thing asked. For if we did truly believe and unfeignedly desire the thing which we ask, we would leave no good means unattempted for the obtaining thereof. As for example, when I pray for faith or any other spirituall grace, I must besides my prayer use all the good means carefully which the Lord hath ordained for the begetting and increasing of those graces in us, as the hearing of the word preached, receiving the Sacrament, reading and meditating in the word, &c.
Thirdly, if having prayed and used other means we do not obtain our desires, let us before we go any further labour to find out the cause.
Fourthly, having used the means and endeavoured to remove the impediments, we are to persist and persevere in prayer without fainting. To which purpose our Saviour propounded the parable of the widow and the judge, Luke 18.1. giving us to understand that those things which we do not obtain at the first, by reason of our perseverance and importunitie shall be granted.
Fifthly, as we are to persist with a kind of importunitie in our prayers, so are we with patience to expect the Lords leisure…
Sixthly, if having persisted in prayer and long expected the Lords leisure we yet have not obtained our suit, insomuch that the Lord may seem rather wholly to deny it then for a time to delay it, we are to rest in the good will and pleasure of God, being perswaded that he hath heard our prayers in a better manner then we desired, hearing us though not ad voluntatem yet ad utilitatem, that is, for our profit though not according to our will; after the manner of wise and carefull parents, who will not give to their children what they ask but what is profitable; and of good Physicians, who will not grant their patients what they desire but what is expedient.
As for example; A man being trouble with some infirmitie, which is as a prick in his flesh moving him to sinne, prayeth unto God to be delivered from it: but howsoever his prayer in desiring to be freed from evil is acceptable unto God, yet it may be he will not grant it, the denial being more for his glory and our profit: for his glory, because his power is manifested in our weaknesse; to make us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, to make us more circumspect of our wayes, knowing that we carry such an enemy about us, as if we stand not upon our guard will be ready to foil us.
But if contrariwise the Lord hath heard our prayers and granted our requests, then are we, First, to be thankfull unto God for his goodnesse… Secondly, our love of God must be increased and our faith confirmed with greater confidence to make our prayers unto him for the time to come…