Instructions on Prayer

There are nine things that pertain to the knowledge of true prayer.

  1. What prayer is. Prayer is a simple, unfeigned, humble and ardent opening of the heart before God; wherein we either ask things needful, or give thanks for benefits received. Paul (1Timothy 2) calls it by four sundry names in one sentence, namely prayer, supplication, intercession and thanksgiving: whereof the first is, for the avoiding and preventing of evil; the second is an earnest and fervent calling upon God for any thing; the third in an intercession for others; the fourth is a praising of God for things received.
  2. There are two manner of ways how we should pray. First, publicly, and that is called common prayer; second, privately, when we pray alone, and thus called private prayer. Both of these are allowed before God, the Scripture bears testimony by the example of all the holy men and women before and after Christ.
  3. Of the necessity of prayer. Farthings provoke us to pray: first, the commandment of God; secondly, the sin in us, which drives us, from necessity, to God for mercy; thirdly, our weak nature being unable to do any good, requires prayer to strengthen it, even as a house requires principal pillars for the upholding of it; fourth the subtlety of the enemy who lurks in the inward parts waiting to overthrow us which thus stirs us to prayer.
  4. To Whom we ought to pray. Three thing pertain to Him that must be prayed unto: first, that He have such ears as may hear all the world at once; secondly, that He be in all places at once; thirdly that He have such power that He may be able to help and such mercy that He will deliver.