A Way to Pray (Part One)
There is a fallacy (Chronological Snobbery) that claims that an idea is better or worse because it is either older or more modern than the opposing idea. But, older is not necessarily better, nor is it true that “only what is recent is decent”. There is, however, something to be said for a book that is still having an impact more than 300 years after it was written. Matthew Henry’s A Method of Prayer is such a book. But, I am not claiming that the book is good simply because it was first published in 1710. I am commending it because it calls us to (or back to) the practice of “praying the scripture.”
If you are a Christian in the habit of prayer, you have likely asked yourself the question, “How am I to pray for the world, a world in need of Christ?” To answer (at least partially) that question, I will add these sections from Ligon Duncan’s revision of Matthew Henry’s book to the On Mission section of this blog. I hope that it will encourage you to “pray the scriptures” the way Henry taught his people to pray.
Pray for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Lands
For the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts and the enlargement of the church by the bringing in of many to it.
O let the gospel be proclaimed to the whole creation; for how are men to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? And who shall send out laborers but the Lord of the harvest?
Let the people dwelling in darkness see a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them let a light dawn.
Add to your church day by day those who are being saved; enlarge the place of its tent, lengthen its cords, and strengthen its stakes.
Bring your offspring from the east and gather them from the west; say to the north, “Give up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring your sons from afar and your daughters from the end of the earth.”
Let them come with acceptance to your altar, and beautify your beautiful house; let them fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows.
In every place let incense be offered to your name, and pure offerings; and from the rising of the sun to its setting, let your name be great among the nations, and let the offering of the Gentiles be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
O let the earth be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Mark 16:15; Romans 10:14-15; Matthew 9:38; Matthew 4:16; Acts 2:47; Isaiah 54:2; Isaiah 43:5-6; Isaiah 60:7-8; Malachi 1:11; Romans 15:16; Romans 15:16; Isaiah 11:9 (all scripture passages from the ESV)
There are several options, should you want to secure a copy of Henry’s book for yourself. The original can be found in some rare bookshops. A .pdf copy of the original is available [here]. Two modern revisions are available [here] and [here]. Eight Versions are available as free eBooks. [here]. Differences are based on Bible versions used (NIV, ESV, NASB) and the perspective taken (First Person, Corporate). For 13 Convincing Arguments on Why to Pray the Scripture, take a look [here].