Tag Archives: Prayer

“A Prayer Before Dying” by Zacharius Ursinus

“We give thanks to You, almighty, eternal, and merciful God and Father, because on account of Your inexhaustible mercy among us, You have gathered the Church to Yourself through the Word and Spirit, and You have revealed to us that only and solid comfort in Your Word, which we all know– we who breathe our last in true faith and with the invocation of Your name.

We give thanks not only because You granted to us the use of this life, and up to this point have kindly preserved us, but because You have also begun that spiritual and eternal life in us, and You embraced us in such great love that on our behalf You delivered up Your only begotten son to death, so that all who would believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

And You have called us to that blessed fellowship of Your son, and by the work of Your Holy Spirit You have kindled true faith in us, and You have mercifully protected us up to this day against the force and attack of the Devil.

You have guarded us in the truth known. And finally, You have fortified our hearts with this steadfast comfort, that temporal death is our entrance into eternal life.

We ask, O eternal God, that You would cause the pure and sincere teaching of the Gospel to enlighten us and our posterity forevermore, for the sake of the glory of Your name and our salvation.

Always raise up faithful ministers in place of those who have passed on, and send out many into Your harvest. Also strengthen and protect the good work that You have begun in us.

Forgive us our sins, and deliver us from eternal death, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Likewise, daily mortify our corrupt nature until at last we lay down the burden of sins, under which we frequently grow weary in this life. Cause that we are comforted with a firm faith in the blessed resurrection of our flesh to eternal glory.

Guard us against the temptations of Satan. Be at hand and help us especially when we must leave this life.

Cause us to be rendered compliant, ready, and thankful to Your divine will in our life and death, and let us rejoice in pain and suffering, because we are being conformed to our head, Christ.

Grant constancy to us, increase of faith, and holiness of life. Cause that we deny ourselves and seek things above, where Christ is, and let us not seek our joy in the desires of this world but in meditation upon Your Word.

And finally, pour out in our hearts the Spirit of grace and prayer so that we may always be vigilant, and let us pray that we would not fall into temptation but be ready, so that whenever it would please you, we would pass to you through a blessed, noble death, and bring us boldly to the tribunal of Your Son.

All this, what You would most mercifully lavish upon us, through and on account of Your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns with You forevermore, Amen.”

–Zacharius Ursinus, “A Godly Meditation Upon Death, (1564)” in Faith in the Time of Plague: Selected Writings from the Reformation and Post-Reformation, Eds. Stephen M. Coleman and Todd M. Rester (Glenside: PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2021), 269-270. Ursinus wrote this treatise in 1564 when a plague “was prowling about widespread along the banks of the Rhine.”

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“Help me to devote all my words and thoughts to You” by Hilary of Poitiers (A.D. 315-368)

“I know, O Lord God Almighty, that I owe You, as the chief duty of my life, the devotion of all my words and thoughts to Yourself.

The gift of speech which You have bestowed can bring me no higher reward than the opportunity of service in preaching You and displaying You as You are, as Father and Father of God the Only-begotten, to the world in its blindness and the heretic in his rebellion.

This is, to be sure, only the expression of my will. Besides this, I must pray for the gift of Your help and mercy that You may fill the sails of our faith and profession which have been extended to You with the breath of Your Spirit and direct us along the course of instruction that we have chartered.

The Author of this promise is not unfaithful to us who says: ‘Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.’ (Matthew 7:7)

We, of course, in our helplessness shall pray for those things that we need, and shall apply ourselves with tireless zeal to the study of all the words of Your Prophets and Apostles and shall knock at all the doors of wisdom that are closed to us, but it is for You to grant our prayer, to be present when we seek, to open when we knock.

Because of the laziness and dullness of our nature, we are, as it were, in a trance, and in regard to the understanding of Your attributes we are restricted within the confines of ignorance by the weakness of our intellect.

Zeal for Your doctrine leads us to grasp the knowledge of divine things and the obedience of faith carries us beyond the natural power of comprehension.

And therefore we look to Your support for the first trembling steps of this undertaking, to Your aid that it may gain strength and prosper.

We look to You to give us the fellowship of that Spirit Who guided the Prophets and the Apostles, that we may take their words in the sense in which they spoke and that we may explain the proper meaning of the words in accordance with the realities they signify.

We shall speak of things which they preached in a mystery; of You, O God Eternal, Father of the Eternal and Only-begotten God, Who alone are without birth, and of the One Lord Jesus Christ, born of You from everlasting.

We may not sever Him from Thee, or make Him one of a plurality of Gods, on any plea of difference of nature. We may not say that He is not begotten of You, because You are One.

We must not fail to confess Him as true God, seeing that He is born of You, true God, His Father.

Grant us, therefore, precision of language, soundness of argument, grace of style, loyalty to truth.

And grant that what we believe we may also speak, namely, that, while we recognize You as the only God the Father and the only Lord Jesus Christ from the Prophets and the Apostles, we may now succeed against the denials of the heretics in honoring You as God in such a manner that You are not alone, and proclaiming Him as God in such a manner that He may not be false.”

–Hilary of Poitiers, The Trinity, ed. Roy Joseph Deferrari, trans. Stephen McKenna, vol. 25, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1954), 25: 33–34. (1.37-38)

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“His special instruments of revival” by Arnold Dallimore

“Yea, this book is written in the desire— perhaps in a measure of inner certainty— that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more bring into being His special instruments of revival, that He will again raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ.

And what manner of men will they be?

Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace.

They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labour and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat.

They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”

–Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1970), 1: 16.

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“The throne of God’s saving grace” by Robert Traill

“I know no true religion but Christianity. I know no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ: of His divine person, (the image of the invisible God, Col. 1:15); of His divine office, (the Mediator betwixt God and men, 1 Tim. 2:5); of His divine righteousness, (He is the Lord our Righteousness, Jer. 23:6; which name is also called upon His church, Jer. 38:16) and of His divine Spirit, (which all that are His receive, Rom. 8:9).

I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in His saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in Him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.

Ministers and Christians of this spirit, have for many years been my brethren and companions, and, I hope, shall ever be, whithersoever the hand of God shall lead me.

Through the Lord’s mercy to me, (as to many in London), I have often heard what is far more worthy of the press, than anything I can publish.

Whatever you may think of my way of managing this subject, (and indeed there is nothing in that, either as designed or expected by me, or that in itself deserveth any great regard); yet the theme itself, all must judge, who have spiritual senses, is of great importance, and always seasonable.

It is concerning the throne of God’s saving grace, reared up in Jesus Christ, and revealed unto men in the gospel; with the application all should make to that throne, the great blessings to be reaped by that application, and mens great need of those blessings.

May the Lord of the harvest, who ministered this seed to the sower, make it bread to the eater, and accompany it with His blessing on some that are called to inherit a blessing, and I have my end and desire; the reader shall have the benefit; and the Lord shall have the glory; for of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Robert Traill
London
March 25, 1696″

–Robert Traill, “Preface to The Throne of Grace,” The Works of Robert Traill, vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1810), ix-x.

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“There are more Simeons in the world than we suppose” by J.C. Ryle

“We have in these verses the history of one whose name is nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament, ‘a just and devout man’ named Simeon. We know nothing of his life before or after the time when Christ was born.

We are only told that he came by the Spirit into the temple, when the child Jesus was brought there by His mother, and that he ‘took him up in his arms and blessed God’ in words which are now well-known all over the world.

We see, in the case of Simeon, how God has a believing people even in the worst of places, and in the darkest times. Religion was at a very low ebb in Israel when Christ was born.

The faith of Abraham was spoiled by the doctrines of Pharisees and Sadducees. The fine gold had become deplorably dim. Yet even then we find in the midst of Jerusalem a man ‘just and devout,’– a man ‘upon whom is the Holy Ghost.’

It is a cheering thought that God never leaves Himself entirely without a witness. Small as His believing church may sometimes be, the gates of hell shall never completely prevail against it.

The true church may be driven into the wilderness, and be a scattered little flock, but it never dies.

There was a Lot in Sodom and an Obadiah in Ahab’s household, a Daniel in Babylon and a Jeremiah in Zedekiah’s court; and in the last days of the Jewish Church, when its iniquity was almost full, there were godly people, like Simeon, even in Jerusalem.

True Christians, in every age, should remember this and take comfort. It is a truth which they are apt to forget, and in consequence to give way to despondency.

‘I only am left,’ said Elijah, ‘and they seek my life to take it away.’ But what said the answer of God to him, ‘Yet have I left me seven thousand in Israel.’ (1 Kings 19:14, 18.)

Let us learn to be more hopeful.

Let us believe that grace can live and flourish, even in the most unfavorable circumstances.

There are more Simeons in the world than we suppose.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 51-52. Ryle is commenting on Luke 2:25-35.

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“The hand of the Lord is a thousand times better than the hand of Herod” by J.C. Ryle

“We see in the early history of John Baptist the nature of the blessing that we should desire for all young children. We read that “the hand of the Lord was with him.’ (Luke 1:66)

We are not told distinctly what these words mean. We are left to gather their meaning from the promise that went before John before his birth, and the life that John lived all his days.

But we need not doubt that the hand of the Lord was with John to sanctify and renew his heart– to teach and fit him for his office– to strengthen him for all his work as the forerunner of the Lamb of God– to encourage him in all his bold denunciation of men’s sins—and to comfort him in his last hours, when he was beheaded in prison.

We know that he was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. We need not doubt that from his earliest years the grace of the Holy Ghost appeared in his ways. In his boyhood as well as in his manhood the constraining power of a mighty principle from above appeared in him.

That power was the ‘hand of the Lord.’ This is the portion that we ought to seek for our children.

It is the best portion, the happiest portion, the only portion that can never be lost, and will endure beyond the grave. It is good to have over them ‘the hand’ of teachers and instructors; but it is better still to have ‘the hand of the Lord.’

We may be thankful if they obtain the patronage of the great and the rich. But we ought to care far more for their obtaining the favor of God.

The hand of the Lord is a thousand times better than the hand of Herod. The one is weak, foolish, and uncertain; caressing today and beheading tomorrow.

The other is almighty, all-wise, and unchangeable. Where it holds it holds for evermore. Let us bless God that the Lord never changes.

What He was in John the Baptist’s day, He is now.

What He did for the son of Zacharias, He can do for our boys and girls.

But He waits to be entreated. If we would have the hand of the Lord with our children, we must diligently seek it.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 32-33. Ryle is commenting on Luke 1:57-66.

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“His mercy will live longer than thy sin” by John Bunyan

“Child of God, thou that fearest God, here is mercy nigh thee, mercy enough, everlasting mercy upon thee.

This is long-lived mercy. It will live longer than thy sin, it will live longer than temptation, it will live longer than thy sorrows, it will live longer than thy persecutors.

It is mercy from everlasting to contrive thy salvation, and mercy to everlasting to weather it out with all thy adversaries.

Now what can hell and death do to him that hath this mercy of God upon him? And this hath the man that feareth the Lord.

Take that other blessed word, and O thou man that fearest the Lord, hang it like a chain of gold about thy neck—’As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him’ (Psalm 103:11).

If mercy as big, as high, and as good as heaven itself will be a privilege, the man that feareth God shall have a privilege.

Dost thou fear God?—’Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him’ (Psalm 103:13).”

–John Bunyan, “A Treatise on the Fear of God,” in The Works of John Bunyan, ed. George Offer, 3 vols. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1991), 1: 470.

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