What does it take to pray like a Puritan? And why would we want to?
For the Puritans, prayer was neither casual nor dull but a passionate affair.1 A cry for mercy. Unabashed praise for the Creator of all things. Vibrant expressions of deep Christian faith that are a shining example of holy living.
I want my conversation with God to be like that.
In Piercing Heaven, a collection of carefully selected prayers from leading Puritans, we are reminded that heartfelt prayer is central to the Christian life.
Here is just one of the hundreds of prayers in Piercing Heaven—this one penned by Puritan Robert Hawker (1753–1827) as he reflects on the beauty of the King seen in his love for lowly sinners.
In the beauty of Jesus
In your beauty, blessed Lord, we see a fullness of grace, truth, and righteousness. It corresponds exactly to the wants of poor sinners—your blood, to cleanse. Your grace, to comfort. Your fullness, to supply.
In you there is everything we can want: life, light, joy, pardon, mercy, peace, happiness here, glory hereafter.
Do I not see you, my King, in your beauty, when I behold you coming with all these for me? So I must cry out with the psalmist, “I will love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my strength and my song; and he is become my salvation.”
And that is not all. Because when I see the King in his beauty, I see him also in his love. Yes, blessed Lord, you are so beautiful, for you have so loved poor sinners that you give yourself for them.
Come then, you blessed, holy, lovely one, and ravish my spiritual senses with your beauty, that my whole soul would be filled only with the love of Jesus every day.[/pullquote]
And we know that our love for you did not come first, but your love to us came first. Your love prompted ours. Your love filled our hearts and, by your Spirit, first prompted our minds to look toward you. That makes you lovely indeed.
And now, Lord, every day’s view of you increases that love, and brings home your beauty more and more. The more often you stoop to visit my poor soul, the more beautiful you appear.
Every appearance, every view, every glimpse of Jesus, tends to make my God and King more gracious and lovely to my soul, and adds fresh fervor to my love.
Come then, you blessed, holy, lovely one, and ravish my spiritual senses with your beauty, that my whole soul would be filled only with the love of Jesus every day. Until that day when, from seeing you here below, through your grace, I come to look upon you, and live forever in your presence, in the full beams of your glory in your throne above.
Learn more about Piercing Heaven and what makes the prayers of the Puritans so profound:
This post is adapted from Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans by Robert Elmer, available now through Lexham Press. The title is the addition of an editor.
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- Robert Elmer. Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press), 2019.