The true spiritual order of prayer seems to me to consist of something more than mere arrangement. It is most fitting for us first to feel that we are now doing something that is real; that we are about to address ourselves to God, whom we cannot see, but who is really present; whom we can neither touch nor hear, nor by our own senses can apprehend, but who, nevertheless, is as truly with us as though we are speaking to a friend of flesh and blood like ourselves. Feeling the reality of God’s presence, our mind will be led by divine grace into a humble state; we shall feel like Abraham, when he said, ‘I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.’ Consequently we shall not deliver ourselves of our prayer as boys repeating their lessons, as a mere matter of rote, much less shall we speak as if we were rabbis instructing our pupils, or as I have heard some do, with the coarseness of a highwayman stopping a person on the road and demanding his purse of him; but we shall be humble yet bold petitioners, humbly importuning mercy through the Saviour’s blood. We shall not have the reserve of a slave but the loving reverence of a child, yet not an impudent, impertinent child, but a teachable obedient child, honouring his Father, and therefore asking earnestly, but with deferential submission to his Father’s will. When I feel that I am in the presence of God, and take my rightful position in that presence, the next thing I shall want to recognise will be that I have no right to what I am seeking, and cannot expect to obtain it except as a gift of grace, and I must recollect that God limits the channel through which he will give me mercy—he will give it to me through his dear Son. Let me put myself then under the patronage of the great Redeemer.
For meditation: In emergencies believers can pray to God on the spur of the moment (Nehemiah 2:4). At other times it is only right and proper to take both care and time (Nehemiah 1:4; Matthew 6:5–7).