Rees Prichard Poems >>
Concerning Prayer, And Its Proper Requisites
PUT off thy shoes, ere thou thy God dost greet,
Thy ass, before thou sacrificest, bind —
Wash, ere the altar thou com'st near, thy feet,
And weigh, what thou requestest, well in mind.
Repent, ere thou dost God by pray'r implore,
And thy devotions, let thy deeds attend —
Be thankful always, when thy pray'rs are o'er ;
So shall thy prayers up to heav'n ascend.
Satan will try to tempt thee, ev'ry day,
The flesh wou'd fain deceive thee, ev'ry hour,
The world, and its delights, thy fall assay :
Seek thou, by pray'r, their efforts to o'erpow'r.
Prayer is good, in ev'ry land and clime —
Prayer is good, for men in ev'ry sphere —
Prayer is good, at ev'ry hour and time —
Prayer is good, on all accounts whate'er.
Pray'r is, a sacrifice to God most due —
A sure support, to guide the weak along —
A whip, to scourge the fiend and all his crew —
A sanctuary, from ev'ry ill and wrong!
Nay, constant prayer is a golden key,
Thy doors to open at the dawn of light —
A bolt, to shut them at the close of day —
A fort, to guard from harm, both day and night.
Prayer, has sooth'd the most obdurate breast —
Prayer, has angels with success assail'd —
Prayer, the fiercest fiends has dispossess'd —
Prayer, has over God himself prevail'd! —
Then, with thy pray'r, let heav'n and earth resound —
Like incense, it perfumes th' etherial plains —
On earth, it gives the fiend his deepest wound —
And brings to thee thyself the greatest gains.
With faith — with rev'rence — with a soul strung high —
With ardent zeal, and minds that never stray —
With knowledge — with a strong, incessant cry —
With close attention — 'tis that men shou'd pray.
Lift up thine eyes, thy knees devoutly bend,
Rouse up thy spirit, and thy bosom smite —
Open thy lips, thy hands abroad extend,
Pray with true fervor, and with all thy might.
Thou ne'er must call on gods of gold, or stone,
On saint or saintness, thy request to grant ;
But on the Lord, thro' Jesus Christ alone,
If thou wou'dst have, whatever thou dost want.
No one, but God, can our condition know,
No one, but God, can give us any aid,
No one, but God, can hear our pray'rs, below —
To God alone then shou'd our pray'rs be made.
God bids us call on him with fervent pray'r —
God promises, if we'll but ask, to give —
God hears each wish, and ev'ry good desire —
God can from trouble ev'ry soul relieve.
Not Abraham, nor St. James, can e'er pretend
Th' internal feelings of our hearts to guess —
No one, but God alone, can comprehend
Our wants, our woes, our sorrows, and distress.
To give to thousands whatsoe'er they seek,
Only belongs unto the King of kings —
Although in various languages they speak,
And ask at once a thousand diff'rent things.
The Virgin talks no English, I suppose,
Neither does Martha, Irish understand,
No Welsh, as I presume, St. Clement knows,
How can they then our mediators stand?
Abraham can ne'er our circumstances know,
Neither can John afford us any aid,
Peter, in heav'n, can't hear us here below :
To God alnoe then shou'd our pray'rs be said.
The Saints, of ev'ry sex and rank, revere,
But thou may'st only God himself adore:
Give them the honour they deserve — but ne'er,
On whatsoe'er pretence, their help implore.
There ne'er was Patriarch, or Apostle yet —
There ne'er was Prophet, as I've ever heard,
(For who cou'd such a circumstance forget?)
That e'er to any Saint his suit preferr'd.
There's not a promise in the Gospel made,
That we shall, any thing we beg, obtain;
Unless, for it, we shall with zeal have pray'd,
And that, for Jesus' sake, the same we gain.
Christ, is the only Mediator known,
Christ, is our only Advocate above,
And there is none, but Jesus Christ alone,
That can, for man, the dread Creator move.
Whate'er requests we shall to God address,
They must be all preferr'd, for Jesus' sake,
Who sits on God's right hand in perfect bliss,
There to receive whatever pray'rs we make.
Let some to Cath'rine, or St. David fly,
To Clement, Martha, Martin — any one:
But, for my part, I never will apply
To any — but to Jesus Christ alone.
Seek then with earnestness, whene'er you pray —
Seek the direction of the Holy Ghost :
For none can, with effect, their prayers say,
Unless they can of his sure guidance boast.
Without the Spirit some may have essay'd
To talk with God, and strove their pray'rs to say;
But no man can, without the Spirit's aid,
Converse with God, or with attention pray.
Unless the conscience and the heart are join'd,
The tongue-born prayer God will never prize;
But that, which flows from an affected mind,
Will always prove a pleasing sacrifice.
Seek God, both with thy mouth, and with thy heart,
For either of the two will not suffice,
But let thy spirit with thy mouth take part,
And then 'twill prove a harmony most nice.
The pray'r, that issues wholly from the heart,
Is better much than those that only spring
From the bare lips, where t'other bears no part :
For such a prayer is an odious thing.
Moses more pleasingly his God address'd,
Upon his journey, tho' he nothing said,
Than erst the Jews, when they their wants express'd,
And with the lips, without the Spirit, pray'd.
Whate'er thou askest, ask with faith sincere;
Take no denial — ask with fervent mind —
And what thou askest, thou shalt have — ne'er fear;
Seek but with earnestness, thou'lt surely find.
The little birds their clamour never cease,
Until their dams with food their noise have still'd;
So man himself shou'd never hold his peace,
'Till God has ev'ry want and wish fulfill'd.
How earnest some will beg ('tis strange to say!)
For pence, or food their hunger to remove;
And yet how sluggishly the same will pray
For mercy, and the glorious joys above?
God is, to all that seek him, mighty kind —
To all, that ask, he's ready still to grant —
To grant to all, with an ungrudging mind —
Largely to grant, whatever they may want.
As a fond mother still inclines her ears,
When in the cradle her lov'd infant cries:
So God his creatures' supplications hears,
Removes their pressures, and their wants supplies.
For how can God but hear each Christian's pray'r,
Since for th' elect his holy Spirit pleads.
And, on the throne of his eternal Sire,
For them their Saviour ever intercedes?
If thou shalt ask for ought, in Jesus' name,
Thou either, what thou askest, shalt obtain,
(So thou dost earnestly entreat the same)
Or, what is more expedient, thou shalt gain.
Shou'd God to grant thee thy desire delay,
Shou'd he not answer thy petition soon,
'Tis that thou may'st with greater ardor pray,
Or beg a larger, and a better boon.
Seek, first, the glory of thy gracious Sire —
Seek, next, celestial happiness to gain —
God's kingdom and his righteousness desire —
And all thy wants besides thou shalt obtain.
Ask thou not ought, as long as thou dost live,
That is repugnant to God's holy Word:
If thou shou'dst ask, what he's not pleas'd to give,
Thy prayer will but irritate the Lord.
To covet earthly things, is very wrong,
When one may gain the wealth of Paradise —
Or for some dirty acres here to long;
But all the joys of heaven to despise.
As 'tis the nature of the swinish kind,
To tear the turf, and nuzzle in the mire:
So man by nature is to earth inclin'd,
And does not to celestial bliss aspire.
Seek thou, whate'er the scripture does permit —
Seek thou, whate'er's allow'd thee by the Lord;
But seek it in the manner that's most fit,
And most concordant with his written Word.
Whene'er to God thou prayest, be sincere,
And use no other language than thy own:
Better a word or two, whose sense is clear,
Than thousands mumbled in a tongue unknown.
He mocks his God, and does himself deceive,
Whoe'er attempts to ask, he knows not what,
And thinks to have, e'en what he can't conceive,
By mere lip labour, and unmeaning chat.
Ne'er let thy mouth thy lagging mind outstrip,
But tell thy heart to ponder well the whole:
God ne'er regards the prayer of the lip,
Without the full concurrence of the soul.
God, ev'ry thought and bosom secret knows,
God, is himself the Sire and source of light,
God, chuses pray'r, as from the heart it flows;
But empty words are nothing in his sight.
Cast ev'ry sin-polluted thought aside,
Whilst thou to God thy prayer dost prefer;
And let each worldly care, behind, be ti'd,
Whilst thou dost with the Lord of hosts confer.
Abraham let not his ass approach the scene,
Where he did erst his sacrifice prepare:
Permit not thou a thought, that is unclean,
To come — where thou dost offer up thy pray'r.
Like Abraham, thou must drive away, whate'er
Lights on thy sacrifice — and boldlyfight
With ev'ry thing that hinders thee to rear
The walls of Sion to their proper height.
The greater earnestness that Satan shows
To turn thy thoughts aside, when thou dost pray:
The more do thou his sly attacks oppose,
And fight against him, 'till he flees away.
As the fierce lion flees, and quits his prey,
Soon as the crowing of a cock he hears:
So does the fell destroyer scud away,
Whene'er our faith-fraught prayers pierce his ears.
The buffalo cannot that place come near,
Where young pigs squeak, or little chickens cry:
Neither can Satan on the spot appear,
Whence holy prayers are preferr'd on high.
Did not the wily fiend observe with pain,
That prayer lessen'd his extensive sway,
And seem'd most likely to subvert his reign,
He ne'er wou'd hinder any one to pray.
If thou hast thy salvation, then, at heart,
Thy Maker's glory, and thy own great need
Of pardon — ne'er let Satan make thee start
From hearing sermons — or thy pray'rs impede.
Whene'er thou prayest unto God — still mind
For ev'ry order in the church to pray —
Nor let thy prayers ever be confin'd
To thy ownself — like those the Pagans say:
For none of them are of her holy race,
Who pray not for her welfare and success,
But miscreant bastards, infamous, and base,
And enemies to Sion's happiness.
If Abraham kindly for Gomorrah pray'd,
And for the other cities of the plain:
Shou'd not we Christians beg our Maker's aid,
And choicest blessings for his chosen train?
Christ tells us all at any time to pray,
And ne'er the beneficial task give o'er:
St. Paul, to Timothy does likewise say,
That in all places we shou'd God adore.
Thrice ev'ry day, for the Almighty's aid,
The pious Daniel never fail'd to pray —
The royal Prophet, still more pious made
His supplications seven times a day.
Our blessed Saviour pass'd the live-long night
In prayer — though nor sin, nor guilt he knew,
And spent each day, as long as it was light,
In preaching to a dull and thankless crew.
Prayer is ever of the greatest weight,
In ev'ry place — at any time, or hour;
So that the heart is in a proper state,
To beg a favour from th' Almighty pow'r.
Upon the boistrous sea, or mountain's brow,
At our own home, or any where abroad,
Pray'r is a duty, which we always owe
(Where-e'er we are) unto th' eternal God.
We all shou'd pray, like Peter in his room,
Or else, like David, when a-bed he lay,
Or else, like Daniel, in the dungeon's gloom:
In ev'ry circumstance we still shou'd pray.
The sacred fire upon th' altar li't,
Never with-held from man its radiance bright —
To manifest that thou shou'dst ne'er permit
Thy zeal for pray'r to be extinguish'd quite.
Man is the temple, the Almighty loves —
Man's heart the altar, gives him most delight —
Pray'r is the sacrifice, he most approves —
Give him that sacrifice, both morn and night.
Let not thy temple wnt this sacrifice
At early morn, or at the noon-tide hour,
And don't forget at night, if thou art wise,
To give due praise unto th' eternal Pow'r:
So shall thy God familiar be with thee,
So shalt thou ever his assistance have,
So shalt thou ever in his favour be,
And thy dear soul from all its dangers save.
There's nothing in the world that shou'd impede
Good Christians, their Creator to address,
And do the work they have to do beside;
Whatever trade, or calling they profess.
A man may do his usual work, and yet
With unremitted zeal and ardor pray;
For mental pray'r will ne'er retard the feet,
Nor any labour of the hands delay.
Moses, the while he travell'd o'er the plain,
Joshua, whilst amid the mortal fray,
Christ, on the road, and Paul upon the main,
Cou'd mind their bus'ness — and find time to pray.
Although excuses often are allow'd,
In many a weighty and perplex'd affair;
Yet no excuse sufficient can be show'd
To screen, or palliate the neglect of pray'r.
Thou may'st absent thyself from church, when ill,
And pardon for thy absence may'st implore:
But, whatsoever thy complaint is, still
Thou'rt bound to pray — until thou art no more.
Thou may'st from acts of charity forbear,
When alms sufficient are not in thy pow'r:
But yet thou never must refrain from pray'r,
However destitute, however poor.
In ev'ry state, at ev'ry time and place,
Prayer is seasonable and useful still;
Let nothing hinder thee, in any case,
With proper zeal this duty to fulfil.
Whether in deep distress, or high in wealth,
In ev'ry state of life, wherein we are,
Or in diseases, or in perfect health,
A Christian may address his God with pray'r.
No locks, no bolts, no any human pow'r,
Nor all the world, can stop the rapid flight
Of pray'r — or hinder it, at any hour,
From posting to th' immortal Sire of light.
Pluck from its roots the quiv'ring tongue of man,
Cut off his feet, or chain them — from his heart
He ne'ertheless, spite of all hindrance, can
His fervent pray'rs to his Creator, dart.
Whether on feast or fast, by night or day,
At morn or eve, or any time you will,
Prayer to heav'n can wing its airy way —
Come when it will — it shall be welcome still.
Esther, tho' queen, was not allow'd to see
(But at some certain seasons of the year)
Her royal lord — but pray'rs always free
To go to God, without restraint or fear.
Get up, like Daniel, with the dawning light,
And make thy suit to God, at any hour,
Or rise, like David, in the dead of night :
For always ready is th' Almighty pow'r.
Tho' God to no man living does allow
The honour, with his Saviour to confer —
Yet ev'ry Christian's pray'r to heav'n may go,
And, at all seasons, gain admittance, there.
Through storms and show'rs, thro' ocean and the sky,
Through ev'ry fix'd or wand'ring star above,
Prayer to God himself shall mount on high,
And with the rapid flight of lightning move.
Not heav'n or earth, or any human pow'r,
Authority, or angel from the sky,
Can hinder pray'r, at any time or hour,
From holding conference with Christ on high.
It needs not ask St. Peter for his key,
But may through all the angels pass alone,
Without one obstacle to block its way,
Boldly unto our blessed Saviour's throne.
Prayer will force the Deity, to hear
Its plaints — and Christ, its doleful cause to plead —
Prayer will make the Spirit interfere,
With sighs and groans for it to intercede.
The Giver of each gift that's good, will ne'er
Turn back the pray'r that's faithfully address'd,
But Christ will bless each heart that is sincere,
Nor quit him, 'till he's of each wish possess'd.
If prayer shall not, what it asks, receive,
It some what, better yet than that, shall gain —
For Christ an ardent pray'r will never leave
To go for nought, or be preferr'd in vain.
What do we owe unto the gracious Pow'r,
Who, to our pray'rs, does the permission grant
To come unto his presence, any hour,
And to obtain from him whate'er we want?
Pray'r is an arm which reaches very far —
E'en from the earth unto the etherial sky —
To her God's treasures never have a bar,
But thence she takes, what may her wants supply.
Prayer, of old, a mighty giant slew —
Prayer, the lion's mouth shut up of yore —
Prayer, the gates of iron open threw —
Prayer, can save a man, at any hour.
Prayer, lock'd up the heavens long from rain —
Prayer, the ocean turn'd to solid land —
Prayer, rais'd up the dead to life again —
There's nothing can the force of Prayer withstand!
What thanks shou'd we, then, to the Godhead pay,
Who to our Prayers a free admission grants,
Whene'er we please, without the least delay,
And satisfies with bounty all our wants?
All due respect and rev'rence and renown,
Be to the Donor of each blessing given,
To him be honour, pow'r, and homage, shown,
Who kindly hears us from the highest heaven!
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