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are in order knit, and fitly hanging together with
Scholar. They be, indeed, most nearly joined, for they belong to the First Table of God's Law, and do contain the principal duties of godliness toward God.
Mast. In declaring of Prayer, what order shall we follow ?
Scho. This order, Master, if it so please you: first, to shew who is to be prayed unto: secondly, with what affiance: thirdly, with what affection of heart: and, fourthly, what is to be prayed for.
Mast. First, then, tell me who thou thinkest is to be called upon?
Scho. Surely, none but God alone.
Mast. Why so?
Scho. Because our life and salvation standeth in the hand of God alone, in whose power are all things. Sith then God doth give us all that is good, and that a Christian ought to wish and desire; and sith he alone is able, in every danger, to give help and succour, and to drive away all perils: it is meet that of him we ask all things, and in all distresses flee to him alone, and crave his help. For this he himself, in his Word, asketh and requireth, as the peculiar and proper worshipping of his majesty.
Mast. Dost thou then say, that we must use Prayer and Supplication, like as all other duties of godliness, according to the prescription of God's Word, or else we cannot please God?
Scho. Yea, verily; for every offence in religion is committed by changing the order and manner appointed by God.
Mast. Hitherto, then, thou hast said, that God alone is to be called upon, putting all our trust in him, and that to him all things, as to the spring-head of all good things, are to be imputed; now followeth next to declare with what confidence we wretched mortal men, that are so many ways unworthy, ought to call upon the immortal God.
Scho. We are, indeed, every way unworthy. But we thrust not ourselves in, proudly and arrogantly, as if we were worthy, but we come to him in the name and upon the trust of Christ our Mediator, by whom the door being opened to us, though we be most base silly wretches, made of clay and slime, oppressed with conscience of our own sins, we shall not be forbidden to enter, nor shall have hard access to the majesty of God, and to the obtaining of his favour.
Mast. We need not, then, for access to God, some man to be our mean or interpreter, to commend and declare our suit unto him, as it were unto some worldly prince.
Scho. Nothing less; unless we will think that God is as men be, bound to one place; that he cannot understand many things but by his servants; that he sometimes sleepeth, or hath not
eisure to hear. For, as touching our unworthiness, we have already said, that our Prayers stand in confidence, not upon any thing in us,
but upon the only worthiness of Christ, in whose
name we pray......
Mast. Go on then.
Scho. The sum is this, that we must come to call upon God the Father, resting upon the affiance of the promises made to us by Christ, and trusting upon his intercession, leaving all respect of our own worthiness, and framing our Prayers, as it were, out of the mouth of Christ; which doing, as it is most agreeable to the truth of the Scriptures, so it is most far from the fault of arrogance and presumption.
Mast. Thinkest thou that they which so pray to God as thou sayest, ought to have a good hope to obtain what they ask?
The Lord himself doth also command us to ask with sure faith, making therewith a promise, and adding an oath, that it shall be given us whatsoever we ask with faith. And likewise his Apostles do teach that right Prayer proceedeth from faith. Therefore we must alway lay this most assured foundation of Prayer, that, resting upon sure trust of his fatherly goodness, we must determine that God will hear our Prayers and Petitions, and that we shall obtain so far as it is expedient for us. Therefore they that come rashly and inconsiderately to Prayer, and such as pray doubting and uncertain of their speeding, they do without fruit pour out vain and bootless words.
Mast. I see with what confidence thou sayest
we must call upon God. Now tell me with what affection of heart we must come unto him.
Scho. Our hearts must be sore grieved with feeling of our need and poverty, and the miseries that oppress us, so far forth that we must turn with great desire of deliverance from that grief, and of God's help which we pray for. Being thus disposed in heart, it cannot be but that we shall most attentively, and with most fervent affection, with all manner of Prayers and Petitions, crave that we desire.
Mast. I see, then, it is not enough to pray with tongue and voice alone.
Scho. To pray, not applying thereto our minds and attentiveness, without which our Prayers can never be effectual, is not only to take fruitless labour in vain, (for how shall God hear us, when we heed not to hear ourselves?) and not only to pour out vain and fruitless, but also hurtful words, without offending God's majesty; so far off is it that such- Prayers can appease the majesty of God, that is displeased with our offence.
How know we that it is thus ?
Scho. Sith God is a Spirit, and (as I may so call him) a must pure mind; he both in all other things, and specially in Prayer, whereby men, as it were, talk and commune with God, requireth the soul and mind. And he also testifieth that he will be near to them only that call upon him truly, that is, with their heart, and that their
Prayers please him. On the other side, God doth worthily abhor and detest their Prayers, that feignedly and unadvisedly utter with their tongue that which they conceive not with their heart and thought, and deal more negligently with immortal God, than they are wont to do with a mortal man. Therefore in Prayer the mind is ever needful, but the tongue is not alway necessary.