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HAVING been requested by the Compiler of “ Bible Prayers” to prefix a few words by way of introduction to her work, it is with much pleasure that I do so. In days like the present, when it may be truly said of the Church of Christ, “Without are fightings, within are fears," all who love the truth must feel that every endeavour to illustrate or give prominence to the simple Word of God, deserves and should receive the warmest and most cordial support.
The object of the following little book is simple: it is to gather together the many beautiful prayers of Scripture; to collect into one group all the various supplications which,
“Like orient pearls at random strung," lie richly scattered over the pages of God's holy Word. There have been many volumes of prayers given to the Christian world, and all of them containing much that is helpful to the child of God in his approaches to the throne of grace; but none of them, as far as the writer is aware, of the same nature with the present. The Compiler has made it her aim to give, not only scriptural prayers, but prayers in the exact words of Scripture; the very prayers breathed from the heart and uttered by the lips of those holy men of old, whose words and deeds have been recorded by the pen of inspiration for “our instruction in righteousness.”
It must have often struck the attentive reader of the Bible that the prayers which form an important part of its contents are not only the most beautiful that can well be imagined, but that they are adapted to every supposable circumstance in which the believer can be placed. For, whether his soul be lifted up with joy, or depressed with sorrow; whether his heart give forth the melody of thanksgiving, or be attuned to the more solemn notes of sadness; whether he be “afflicted or distressed in mind, body, or estate,” or be in pain, or sickness, or bereavement, he will find, in God's Word, petitions alike suitable to his state. This collection, therefore, of Scripture Prayers, arranged as they are under their several appropriate heads, will be acceptable to those who desire to possess, in a narrow compass, and adapted for convenient reference, the “confessions, petitions, intercessions, and thanksgivings,” which are interspersed throughout the Sacred Writings.
Nor can such a volume as the present fail of
being most welcome to those suffering brethren in the Lord, who, from “weakness of the flesh,” or anxiety of mind, feel it at times to be a most difficult thing to collect their thoughts and to approach the throne of grace with that pleasure and that profit which they so truly desire. For, let them but open “Bible Prayers,” and at once they will find a petition, a short ejaculation, a fervent supplication, formerly the utterance of a saint now in glory, which will assist them in making known their wants to their heavenly Father. And it cannot but be comforting to all such to remember that their Lord and Master, He who had “ the Spirit without measure,” and “ in whom were hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” in the time of His greatest agony, and in the hour when He “poured forth his soul unto death,” employed, not His own words, but a form of expression taken from the Scriptures. His thrilling cry upon the cross was the heart-breathed prayer of the son of Jesse before him, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?” And bowing his head, He gave up the ghost with the language of the same royal Psalmist on his lips, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
In justice to the compiler of the present volume another remark must be made. It cannot have
escaped the notice of the Bible student that some of its most striking petitions are addressed from man to man : such, perhaps, cannot, strictly speaking, be called prayers, which, in the highest acceptation of the term, are direct addresses to God; but as many of them may be turned into prayers, and all of them will furnish material for supplication, they are included in the present volume. The Compiler trusts her reasons for so doing will be accepted by those who might object that she has not rigidly adhered to the precise wording of her title.
To the Lord, in whose cause the work has been undertaken, it is now committed, with the feeling that in whatever way the Christian public may receive it, the hours of pleasant labour spent in its compilation cannot altogether be in vain. For the writer of this introduction, knowing as he does, that the diligent search of the Scriptures necessary for such a work has been, under God, profitable to the compiler, and believing that the volume itself may also tend to the comfort and edification of others, nothing remains but to commend it to the blessing of Him “without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy."
CHARLES DENT BELL, M.A. Hastings.