Advice on Prayer Meetings

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Oh, how I wish more churches had a regular prayer meeting. Could it be that our shortcomings in piety, worship, and witness have a direct correlation to how few congregations spend time in earnest prayer? I tend to think so.

Studying M’Cheyne has reminded me of the prayer meeting’s significance. He understood concerted prayer to not only be a prerequisite to revival, but also an evidence of revival. One fruit the St. Peter’s revival of 1839–1840 was the commitment to prayer. In December 1840, the Presbytery of Aberdeen appointed a committee to inquire about the revivals taking place throughout Scotland. They wrote to M’Cheyne asking him to answer a series of fifteen questions related to the revival in Dundee. His answers were published later as Evidences on Revivals. He said during the revival “thirty-nine prayer meetings [were] held weekly in connection with the congregation, and five of these were conducted and attended entirely by little children.” After twelve months, M’Cheyne wrote, “I believe the number of these meetings is not much diminished,” although many were more private in nature.

Congregational prayer was something M’Cheyne prioritized from the beginning at Dundee. Not long after his installation at St. Peter’s he began a Thursday night prayer meeting that 800 people attended. He apparently earned a reputation for skill in leading congregational prayer, as Mr. J.T. Just wrote to him asking for advice in conducting prayer meetings.

M’Cheyne begins by saying, “No person can be a child of God without living in secret prayer; and no community of Christians can be in a lively condition without unity in prayer.” A true church is a praying church. And every church can always grow in prayer. Here then are some bits of wisdom M’Cheyne offers.

12 Helps For Prayer Meetings

  • “One great rule in holding them (prayer meetings) is, that they really be meetings of disciples.”
  • “The prayer-meeting I like best is where there is only praise and prayer, and the reading of God’s word.”
  • “Meet weekly, at a convenient hour.”
  • “Be regular in attendance. Let nothing keep you away from your meeting.”
  • “Pray in secret before going.”
  • “Let your prayers in the meeting be formed as much as possible upon what you have read in the Bible. You will thus learn variety of petition, and a Scripture style.”
  • “Pray that you may pray to God, and not for the ears of man.”
  • “Pray for the outpouring of the Spirit on the Church of Christ and for the world; for the purity and unity of God’s children; for the raising up of godly ministers, and the blessing of those that are so already.”
  • “Pray for the conversion of your friends, of your neighbours, of the whole town.”
  • “Pride is Satan’s wedge for splitting prayer-meetings to pieces: watch and pray against it.”
  • “Watch against seeking to be greater than one another; watch against lip-religion.”
  • “Above all, abide in Christ, and He will abide in you.”

Around this time M’Cheyne wrote to his great friend Andrew Bonar asking for more advice on prayer meetings. In the letter, M’Cheyne gives some humorous sanity on a pastors’ prayer meeting he just began. May those of us who minister the gospel remember it: “We began today a ministerial prayer-meeting, to be held every Monday at eleven for an hour and a half. This is a great comfort, and may be a great blessing. Of course, we do not invite the colder ministers; that would only damp our meeting. Tell me if you think this right.” I for one think it right, very right indeed.

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Book Recommendation: On Pastoral Ministry

A couple of weeks ago I came across John Henry Jowett’s 1912 Lyman Beecher lectures at Yale University entitled, “The Preacher: His Life and Work.” What a work! Jowett’s exhortations on the ministry are some of the more exhilarating ones I’ve read in some time.

Behind the Message, There Was a Man

blrudgbgkkgrhgookjqejllmvowobjikfzeqq_35After hearing the great Dr. Fairbairn preach, Jowett told his students at Airedale College, “Gentlemen, I will tell you what I have observed this morning: behind that sermon there was a man.” Although The Preacher provides scant autobiographical information, I had the same sense in reading Jowett’s work—there was a weight in its message.

Jowett was born in 1863 in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Like many great ministers before him, Jowett initially resolved to study law. God soon called him into the gospel ministry. He went on to train at Edinburgh and Oxford before assuming his first pastoral position at St. James Church in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The church held over 1,000 seats, and none were empty during Jowett’s ministry.

In 1911 he became the pastor at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. John Bishop says,

The church was crowded long before the hour of Jowett’s first service. Reporters crowded the side galleries, expecting to find a sensational preacher with dazzling oratory and catchy sermon topics on current events. Instead they found a shy, quiet little man, bald-headed and with a cropped white moustache, who spoke in a calm, simple manner.

He was at Fifth Avenue when he delivered the Lyman Beecher lectures on a pastor’s life and ministry. He stayed in New York until 1918 when we was called to succeed G. Campbell Morgan at Westminster Chapel in London. It was his last pastoral post, as he died in 1923.

Pithy and Practical

The Preacher contains seven different lectures: 1) The Call to Be a Preacher, 2) The Perils of the Preacher, 3) The Preacher’s Themes, 4) The Preacher in His Study, 5) The Preacher in His Pulpit, 6) The Preacher in the Home, and 7) The Preacher as a Man of Affairs. If you read anything in the book, read lectures 2, 4, and 5. Here are a few appetizers for you to meditate on:

  • “We may become so absorbed in words (of preaching) that we forget to eat the Word.” (42)
  • “We may become more intent on full pews than on redeemed souls.” (54)
  • Worldliness will cause “our characters to lose their spirituality. we shall lack that fine fragrance which makes people know that we dwell in ‘the King’s gardens.’ There will be know ‘heavenly air’ about our spirits.” (55)
  • Worldliness will cause us to be “wordy, but not mighty. we are eloquent, but we do not persuade. We are reasonable, but we do not convince. We preach much, but accomplish little. We teach, but do not woo.” (57)
  • If the gospel “is to be the weighty matter of our preaching, we surely ought to be most seriously careful how we proclaim it. The matter may be bruised and spoiled by the manner. The work of grace may be marred by our own ungraciousness.” (101)
  • “Happy-go-lucky sermons will lay no necessity upon the reason nor put any constraint upon the heart. Preaching that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.” (114)
  • “Here (in private prayer), more than anything else, our secret life will determine our public power.” (158)
  • “Men never learn to pray in public: they learn in private. We cannot put off our private habits and assume public ones with our pulpit robes.” (159)
  • “If men are unmoved by our prayers they are not likely to be profoundly stirred by our preaching.” (159)

Where to Find It

You can find reasonably priced reprints of Jowett’s book on Amazon. If you don’t want to spend money from your book budget, you can read it for free on Archive.com or Google Books.

Tolle lege!

Ministerial Roots

J.C. Ryle on the importance of practicing prayer, not just preaching its value:

It was said by an old writer that Luther’s habits of private prayer, and John Bradford’s habits of private prayer, were things more talked of than practised and imitated. Private prayer is one grand secret of the strength of the ministry. It is here that the roots of the ministry, practically speaking, are to be found. The ministry of a man that has gifts, however great, but who does not give the closet the principal place, must sooner or later become jejune and ineffective.

Quoted in Iain Murray, J.C. Ryle: Prepared to Stand Alone, 83.

Pleading, Leading, and Haunting

prayer_std_tSometimes you come across a quote from a book, and you stop reading the book. The thought is so weighty. The perspective is deep. One should not come hastily out of the heavy depths of truth.

Megan Hill’s marvelous Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in Our Homes, Communities, and Churches finished with a chapter on “Praying with Families and Guests.” Tucked away in her words about praying with one’s children arrives this missile from Terry Johnson:

Our children should grow up with the voices of their fathers pleading for their souls in prayer ringing in their ears, leading to their salvation, or else haunting them for the rest of their lives.

As a father of five young children, I long for such a voice to ring long and loud in the souls of my kids. May He make it so.

Plan Ahead

“A prayer should have a plan as much as a sermon . . . Extemporaneous prayer, like extemporaneous preaching, is too often the product of the single instant, instead of devout reflection and premeditation. No man, no creature, can pray well without knowing what he is praying for, and whom he is praying to. Everything in prayer, and especially public prayer, ought to be well considered and well weighed.” — Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, 271.

Praying Longer

Pray Constantly

I’ve never met a pastor who believes he prays enough. Even those for whom prayer is their life’s breath tell me how they long to pray with more concentrated length.

Count me among those pastors trying to figure out how to pray with greater faith and length.

Quickly Moving it Along

On the third Monday of each month, our church gathers for corporate prayer. We spend seventy minutes in groups of three to four praying for all manner of things: emphases of Scripture, other churches, our Gospel Partners, the children in our congregation, various people in authority, and whatever else is pressing. After nearly three years of leading these meetings I’ve learned many valuable lessons. Perhaps the most significant one is how easy it is to pray for an extended period of time—provided you have structure.

One of our “3 Commandments for Corporate Prayer” is that to be brief. I’m sure we all have many stories of individual prayers dominating a corporate gathering. People come ready to pray and then leave thinking, “I didn’t get any time to pray.” Thus, each month I try to remind our people to keep each prayer brief. That way everyone gets to pray and pray often.

Last week we spent an hour praying through the Beatitudes. That meant each group spent about five minutes praying through each Beatitude. We started at 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. (our end time for prayer) arrived with astonishing speed. Multiple people told me afterward how amazing it was to find that praying for an hour through Scripture was so easy. Rarely does a Prayer Night go by without someone saying something similar. When the prayers are structured and pointed, we surprise ourselves how long we can pray.

Why Hadn’t I Thought of This Before?

I try to block off the 2 p.m. hour for focused prayer. My problem, like so many struggling prayer-ers, is a wandering heart. I have tried praying through various portions of Scripture, working through a prayer app on my phone, and my concentration seems to fly forth like a leaf in a tornado. What I’ve been doing just isn’t working. While reflecting on the encouraging responses from Prayer Night I had something of an Archimedian—eureka!—moment. “Why not,” I thought, “do something similar in my own prayer time?” (I wish it didn’t take me so long to try such a strategy, but God leads us patiently and perfectly. He apparently didn’t mean for me to try this until now.)

I pulled up Word and wrote down sixty different points for prayer. My thought was that if I prayer through all sixty I’d find extended prayer entirely possible. I broke down the list into the following categories:

  • Personal Piety. I listed out seventeen different matters of personal holiness I long to grow in my life.
  • Family. I’m praying here for my immediate family by name and then any extended family issues that need intercession.
  • Pastoral Ministry. Here I’m praying for my preaching, evangelism, and faithfulness in my calling as a shepherd.
  • Church. I put down various issues related to IDC’s congregational life that need daily prayer. This section also includes praying for our church’s ministries and Gospel Partners.
  • Governing Authorities. I’m only trying to obey 1 Timothy 2:1–2.
  • Operation World‘s Country-of-the-Day
  • Matters of the Moment. This section is the most fluid of the bunch. For example, right now I’m for our Vacation Bible School that begins on August 1st. After next week this prayer point will rotate off the list.

Cautiously Optimistic

I recognize the method isn’t for everyone. I thrive on order and routine, so this plan suits me quite nicely. Having not done it for any substantial period, I won’t make bombastic proclamations about having discovered a silver bullet for prayer. All I’ll say at this point is: thinkmay have found the silver bullet. May you find something similar.

Using the Beatitudes

Praying the Beatitudes

One of the things we hope to be true about IDC is that we would be “a praying church.” We want our ordinary life together reflect that desire. One way we do that is by having different times of prayer throughout our gathered worship service. We also have a monthly prayer night where we invite the church body to spend a little over an hour praying for all manner of spiritual matters.

An Obvious Discovery

I thus often feel the pressing need to be creative in how I lead our church in prayer. By creative, I mean scouring Scripture for anything and everything applicable to our church’s prayer life. The Psalms and prayers of Paul are common companions. It only dawned on me last weekend that I’ve never (in the last 3.5 years) used the Beatitudes to guide us. So I got to work. I found a confession of sin framed around Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 and reworked it a bit. Then I put together a few supplications for each beatitudes Christ gave and we used them in for corporate prayer.

I’ve copied what we did below. I hope you might find it useful as you lead your congregation in prayer.

Using the Beatitudes as a Confession of Sin

Leader: Our Lord Jesus, you offered us all your blessings when you announced, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”
Church: but we have been rich in pride.

Leader: “Blessed are those who mourn”
Church: but we have not known much sorrow for our sin.

Leader: “Blessed are the meek”
Church: but we are a stubborn people.

Leader: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”
Church: but we are filled to the full with other things.

Leader: “Blessed are the merciful”
Church: but we are harsh and impatient.

Leader: “Blessed are the pure in heart”
Church: but we have impure hearts.

Leader: “Blessed are the peacemakers”
Church: but we have not sought reconciliation.

Leader: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness”
Church: but our lives reflect the world.

Leader: “Blessed are you when people insult you because of me”
Church: but we have hardly made it known that we are yours.

Leader: Your Law is holy and your words are perfect; You alone are blessed.
Church: We plead with you to forgive our sins and give us the blessing of your righteousness.

Using the Beatitudes for Corporate Supplication

For our Prayer Night, I simply added three suggested petitions for each beatitude. You can of course change/add/remove any and all of them. I mean for this to just be a catalyst for what you might do.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 
– Pray for dependence on God’s power
– Pray for hope in heaven
– Pray for satisfaction in Christ alone

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
– Pray for greater awareness of sin’s evil
– Pray for greater hatred of sin
– Pray for increased comfort from God and in the gospel

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” 
– Pray for submission to God’s word
– Pray for humility towards others
– Pray for joy in our spiritual inheritance

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” 
– Pray for souls that long for God
– Pray for lives that are hungrier for heaven 
than for the world
– Pray for hearts eager to put on the 
righteousness of Christ

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” 
– Pray for increasing compassion towards the hurting
– Pray to have mercy on the doubting
– Pray for joyful resting in Christ’s mercy

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
– Pray for the Spirit’s help in covenanting with our eyes to look on no impure thing
– Pray for homes marked by purity
– Pray for earnestness in seeing Jesus

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
– Pray for the church to maintain unity in the 
bonds of peace
– Pray for wisdom to aid reconciliation
– Pray for delight in our spiritual adoption

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
– Pray for steadfastness in suffering
– Pray for the persecuted church
– Pray for unwavering allegiance to Jesus

“Blessed are you when others revile you . . . on my account.”
– Pray for courage in speaking of the gospel
– Pray for fear of man to decrease and fear 
of God in increase
– Pray for perseverance in knowing our 
ultimate reward lies in heaven

24 Points on Piety

Piety in the Ministry

“Piety,” is one of those words I’d love to recover and restore to a prominent place in gospel ministry.

I love how it rolls rhetorically, but my affection for it is ultimately biblical. Paul told Timothy, “Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Pastors must be practitioners of piety.

Old Princeton to the Rescue

The founders of Princeton Theological Seminary established the school with the ambition that it be “a nursery of vital piety.” Archibald Alexander embodied this dream in the seminary’s earliest years. He insisted, “Eminent piety should be earnestly sought after and assiduously cultivated.” To help his ministerial students see the treasure of piety, Alexander—in a lecture entitled “Qualifications for Pastoral Office—offered the following advantages of pursuing piety and helps to maintaining piety.

14 Advantages of Pursuing Piety

  1. Some degree of eminence in piety is requisite for our own satisfaction.
  2. The work is so great and sacred, and the consequences so awful, that none will duly feel and act under the responsibilities of the office, but one whose heart is warmed with the fervent love to Christ and the souls of men.
  3. The duties of the ministry will never be faithfully performed by any one but he who is deeply under the influence of divine truth. He will become indolent and careless or will sink into discouragement—or will become entangled with worldly engagements.
  4. He will not be able to converse with edification to the people without this.
  5. It is necessary to preserve the minister from ambition and vain glory.
  6. Necessary to make him speak with confidence of the excellency and comforts of true piety.
  7. Eminent piety is requisite to enable a minister to compose sermons induced with the right spirit. To feed the devotions of the people, etc.
  8. Without a good degree of eminence in piety, the minsters example will not be savory and consistent. it is necessary to preserve him from sin. He should be higher than all the people in spiritual attainments.
  9. It will greatly increase his influence.
  10. Will enable him to bear with patience the persecution of enemies.
  11. It will be better than all rules of rhetoric in the delivery of sermons.
  12. It will make the work of the ministry delightful.
  13. Will prepare for sickness and death.
  14. Eminent piety will diffuse a solemn seriousness, over the manners. Gravity, composure of countenance—dignity of demeanor—propriety in every word, look and gesture.

10 Helps to Maintaining Piety

  1. You should set yourselves to correct your own faults and imperfections.
  2. You should set before you a high standard of moral excellence.
  3. There must be no procrastination of this business.
  4. You must live under the habitual influence of eternal things.
  5. You must be deeply sensible of your own inability to attain this excellence by your own efforts alone.
  6. You must not despond, or despair of success if you seem for a long time to make no progress.
  7. Avail yourself of your imperfections & faults to measure your humility & caution.
  8. Let the good example and spirit of other ministers enrich you but beware of catching from them a worldly spirit.
  9. Read frequently the memoirs of the most devoted & pious servants of Jesus Christ.
  10. Pray without ceasing for aid from above.

In the Spiritual Gym

I say, “Let the recovery and restoration of piety to its place of necessity continue.” Of particular encouragement, for me at least, is Alexander’s realism about the whole endeavor: “You must not despond, or despair of success if you seem for a long time to make no progress.” I often despair, especially at the end of another year, of my small growth in holiness. I find myself in these days freshly stirred to pray fervently for greater holiness in 2016.

Will you join me?

Preaching Nourished by Prayer

The Pastor and Prayer

It’s a perennial question, “Where should you start a book on preaching?” You could give a brief theology of Scripture, survey its primacy in church history, or you could do something totally different like write a chapter on prayer. That’s exactly where Gary Millar and Phil Campbell begin their book Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake. That emphasis seems just right. That apostles did say they would devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). So, when a book self-consciously reflects this order my interest is automatically piqued.

Gary Millar takes five pages and fills them with punch and pith on the necessity of prayer if we are ever going to keep Eutychus awake. His sage counsel is summarized with these points: 1) resolve now to pray fervently for your own preach, and 2) make sure that your church prays together for the preaching.

Putting It Into Practice

To illustrate the power of the second point Millar recounts his experience at Gilcomston South Church. I found the example of this community stirring. May it do the same for you and lead to you place greater emphasis on prayer in your preaching ministry. Millar writes,

From 1988-1991 (when I was a theological student), I was part of a remarkable church family. Gilcomston South Church of Scotland in Aberdeen wasn’t a huge church. Nor was it a particularly ‘happening’ church. We met twice on a Sunday, had a midweek central Bible study and a Saturday night prayer meeting—and that was it. There was an organ, and we sang five hymns or psalms (often to Germanic minor tunes). The pastor, William Still, preached steadily through the Bible (this was still relatively novel at the time, even though he had been doing it for 40 years). But what set that church family apart was its very simple commitment to ‘the ministry of the word nourished by prayer’ (as Mr. Still would repeatedly say). I have never been part of a church family that had a greater sense of expectancy when we gathered to hear the Bible explained. And I have never been part of a church family where prayer was so obviously the heartbeat of everything that went on. And I have never been part of a church family where God was so obviously present week by week as he spoke through his word. And, it seems to me, there might just be a connection.

Of course ‘Gilc’ was, and is, just like any church family—full of flawed, messed-up people like you and me. But those of us who had the privilege of ‘passing through’ went on from there with an indelible sense that preaching and praying go together. It was just part of the DNA of the church family. The precious group of 50 or 60 people who met week by week at the Saturday night prayer meeting spend most of the two hours praying for the proclamation of the gospel elsewhere—in other churches in our city, in Scotland, and on every continent around the world, one by one. Eventually, someone would pray, ‘And Lord, spare a though for us in our own place tomorrow . . .’ and the others, who had been praying faithfully on their own all through the week for the preaching at Gilc, would murmur a heartfelt ‘Amen.’

Helps for Private Prayer

200px-Thomas_BrooksI first read Thomas Brooks’ The Privy Key to Heaven in December 2011. After completing the book I wrote on the bottom of the last page, “One of the most life changing books I’ve read.” I finished the book again yesterday and I made a strikingly similar remark, “No book moves me to private prayer like this one.” Every reading reawakens fervency for the closet and faithfulness to Christ. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Taking Matthew 6:6 as his text, Brooks’ offers this summary doctrine: That closet or private prayer is an indispensable duty, that Christ himself hath laid upon all that are not willing to lie under the woeful brand of being hypocrites.

In typical Puritan fashion he proceeds to meditate on his main point with a laser focus and a warm heart. The bulk of the book gives twenty arguments for closet prayer—things like “Christ did it,” “Life is the only time for it,” and “Christ is much delighted by it.” My interest in this post, however, are the final “rules” he offers to encourage Christians unto faithfulness and consistency in private prayer.

8 Rules to Apply for Persistent Private Prayer

1) Lament greatly and mourn bitterly over the neglect of this choice duty. He who does not make conscience of mourning over the neglect of this duty, will never make conscience of performing this duty. Oh that your heads were waters, and your eyes a fountain of tears—that you might weep day and night for the great neglect of closet-prayer, Jer 9:1. He who mourns most for the neglect of this duty, will be found most in the practice of this duty.

2) Habituate yourselves, accustom yourselves, to closet-prayer. Make private prayer your constant trade. Frequency begets familiarity, and familiarity confidence. We can go freely and boldly into that friend’s house whom we often visit. What we are habituated to, we do with ease and delight.

3) Keep a diary of all your closet-experiences. Oh, carefully record and book down all your closet mercies! Oh, be often in reading over your closet experiences, and be often in meditating and in pondering upon your closet experiences! There is no way like this, to inflame your love to closet-prayer, and to engage your hearts in this secret trade of private prayer.

4) Be sure that you do not spend so much of your precious time in public duties and ordinances, as that you can spare none for private duties, for secret services. Ah! how many are there that spend so much time in hearing of this man and that, and in running up and down from meeting to meeting, that they have no time to meet with God in their closets. O sirs! your duties are never so amiable and lovely, they are never so sweet and beautiful, as when they are seasonably and orderly performed.

5) Love Christ with a more inflamed love. Oh strengthen your love to Christ, and your love to closet-duties. Lovers love much to be alone, to be in a corner together, Song 7:10-12. Certainly the more any man loves the Lord Jesus, the more he will delight to be with Christ in a corner.

6) Be highly, thoroughly, and fixedly resolved, in the strength of Christ, to keep close to closet-duties, in the face of all difficulties and discouragements which you may meet with (Psa. 44:17-20). A man of no resolution, or of weak resolution, will be won with a nut, and lost with an apple. Satan, and the world, and carnal relations, and your own hearts, will cast in many things to discourage you, and take you off from closet prayer; but be nobly and firmly resolved to keep close to your closets, let the world, the flesh, and the devil, do and say what they can.

Of all the duties of religion, Satan is the most deadly enemy to this duty of secret prayer; partly because secret prayer spoils him in his most secret designs, plots, and contrivances against the soul; and partly because secret prayer is so musical and delightful to God; and partly because secret prayer is of such rare use and advantage to the soul; and partly because it keeps the soul far from pride, vain glory, and worldly applause. Therefore he had rather that a man should pray a thousand times in public in the church, or in the corner of the streets—than that he should pray once in his closet. Therefore you had need to steel your hearts with holy courage and resolution, that whatever suggestions, temptations, oppositions, or objections you may encounter with, that yet you will keep close to closet prayer.

7) Labor for a greater effusion of the Holy Spirit. The greater measure any man has of the Spirit of God, the more that man will delight to be with God in secret.

There are many people who say, they would be more in their closets than they are—but that they meet with many hindrances, many occasions, many diversions, many temptations, many oppositions, many difficulties, many discouragements, which prevent them. Ah, friends! had you a greater measure of the Holy Spirit upon you, none of these things would ever be able to hinder your secret trade heavenward

8) Be frequent in the serious consideration of eternity. Oh see eternity standing at the end of every closet-prayer, and this will make you pray to purpose in your closets.  O sirs! every work you do, is a step to a blessed, or to a cursed, eternity. Every motion, every action in this life, is a step toward eternity.

If there be any way or means on earth to bring us upon our knees before God in secret, it is the serious and solemn thoughts of eternity. Oh that the fear of eternity might fall upon all your souls! Oh that you would all seriously consider, that after a short time is expired, you must all enter upon an eternal estate!