By John Bradford
There are nine things that pertain to the knowledge of true prayer:
1, To know what prayer is. 2, How many sorts of prayer there are. 3, The necessity of prayer. 4, To Whom we ought to pray. 5, By Whom we must pray. 6, Where to pray. 7, What to pray. 8, The excellency of prayer 9, What we must do, that our prayers may be heard.
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 (1 Tim. ii.) 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 is 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, us when men pray alone, and that is called private prayer; and how both these two 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.
There are four things that provoke us to pray: first, the commandment of God; secondly, sin in us, which drives us, from necessity, to God for succour, life, and 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; fourthly the subtlety of the enemy (who privily lurks in the inward parts, waiting to overthrow us even in those things we think are best done) stirs us vehemently thereunto.
4. To Whom we ought to pray.
Three things 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.
5. By Whom we should pray.
Christ is the only way by whom we have free access unto the Father, and for whom our prayers are accepted (our infirmities notwithstanding,)owithout whom all our prayers are abominable.
6. Where to pray.
As touching the place where we should pray, seeing all places are one, there is none forbidden; only the common prayer must be made in what place soever the congregation of Christ assembles.
7. What to pray.
This is according to the necessity of every man; and forasmuch as we need both spiritual and corporeal things, we may boldly ask them both: for as to ask spiritual gifts, is profitable and commanded, so to ask corporeal, is necessary and allowed.
8. Of the excellency of prayer.
The worthiness of prayer consists in two things; in the dignity of the commander, who is God, the fountain of all goodness, who commands only good things; and in the effect that follows it, which is the obtaining of whatsoever we desire faithfully, according to the will off God.
9. What to do that we may be heard.
First, we must put off our own righteousness, pride, and estimation of ourselves, and put on Christ with his righteousness; secondly, an earnest faith and fervent love, with the putting off all rancour, malice, and envy, is required; finally, true repentance knits up the knot, for in it are contained all the virtues before named.