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#49010 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:08 AM Rules for Prayer
chestnutmare Online   content

Registered: Monday, September 8, 2003
Posts: 2765
Loc: NH
In the writings of John Calvin you will find a great emphasis on prayer in the Christian’s life. Calvin considered habitual prayer to be so important that, according to Joel Beeke, “Calvin focused more on the practice of prayer than on its doctrine.” The following guides are Calvin’s Rules for Prayer:

The first is a heartfelt sense of reverence. In prayer, we must be “disposed in mind and heart as befits those who enter conversation with God.” [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.20.4–5.] Our prayers should arise from “the bottom of our heart.” [John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), 679.] Calvin calls for a disciplined mind and heart, asserting that “the only persons who duly and properly gird themselves to pray are those who are so moved by God’s majesty that, freed from earthly cares and affections, they come to it.” [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.20.5.]

The second rule is a heartfelt sense of need and repentance. We must “pray from a sincere sense of want and with penitence,” maintaining “the disposition of a beggar.” [Ibid., 3.20.6–7.] Calvin does not mean that believers should pray for every whim that arises in their hearts, but that they must pray penitently in accord with God’s will, keeping His glory in focus, yearning for every request “with sincere affection of heart, and at the same time desiring to obtain it from him.” [Ibid., 3.20.6; cf. Wallace, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Christian Life, 280–281.]

The third rule is a heartfelt sense of humility and trust in God. True prayer requires that “we yield all confidence in ourselves and humbly plead for pardon,” trusting in God’s mercy alone for blessings both spiritual and temporal, [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.20.8–10.] always remembering that the smallest drop of faith is more powerful than unbelief. [Ibid., 3.2.17.] Any other approach to God will only promote pride, which will be lethal: “If we claim for ourselves anything, even the least bit,” we will be in grave danger of destroying ourselves in God’s presence. [Ibid., 3.20.8.]

The final rule is to have a heartfelt sense of confident hope. [Ibid, 3.20.11–14.] The confidence that our prayers will be answered does not arise from ourselves, but through the Holy Spirit working in us. In believers’ lives, faith and hope conquer fear so that we are able to “ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:6, KJV). This means that true prayer is confident of success, owing to Christ and the covenant, “for the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ seals the pact which God has concluded with us.” [Cited in Niesel, The Theology of Calvin, 153.] Believers thus approach God boldly and cheerfully because such “confidence is necessary in true invocation . . . which becomes the key that opens to us the gate of the kingdom of heaven.” [Commentary on Ephesians 3:12. For a helpful explanation of Calvin’s four rules of prayer, see Don Garlington, “Calvin’s Doctrine of Prayer,” The Banner of Truth, no. 323–324 (Aug.–Sept. 1990): 45–50, and Stephen Matteucci, “A Strong Tower for Weary People: Calvin’s Teaching on Prayer,” The Founders Journal (Summer 2007): 21–23.]

These rules may seem overwhelming—even unattainable—in the face of a holy, omniscient God. Calvin acknowledges that our prayers are fraught with weakness and failure. “No one has ever carried this out with the uprightness that was due,” he writes. [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.20.16.] But God tolerates “even our stammering and pardons our ignorance,” allowing us to gain familiarity with Him in prayer, though it be in “a babbling manner.” [Ibid.; John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, trans. James Anderson (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1845; repr. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 2:171.] In short, we will never feel like worthy petitioners. Our checkered prayer life is often attacked by doubts, [Commentary on Matthew 21:21.] but such struggles show us our ongoing need for prayer itself as a “lifting up of the spirit” [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.20.1, 5, 16; cf. Joel R. Beeke, The Quest for Full Assurance: The Legacy of Calvin and His Successors (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1999), 49.] and continually drive us to Jesus Christ, who alone will “change the throne of dreadful glory into the throne of grace.” [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.20.17.] Calvin concludes that “Christ is the only way, and the one access, by which it is granted us to come to God.” [Ibid., 3.20.19.]

—Joel R. Beeke, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology, ed. Burk Parsons (Reformation Trust, 2008), 236–237.

#49011 - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 5:50 PM Re: Rules for Praye [Re: chestnutmare]
Pilgrim Offline

Head Honcho

Registered: Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Posts: 13821
Loc: NH, USA
I believe these guidelines also apply to biblical, godly worship. If one applies them faithfully, then it would rule out much what is currently done as worship in many churches today. (Mk 12:6; Heb 12:28)

simul iustus et peccator

#49013 - Thursday, July 19, 2012 6:10 AM Re: Rules for Praye [Re: chestnutmare]
Tom Mor Offline

Registered: Sunday, February 12, 2012
Posts: 17
Loc: County Donegal, Ireland

I found this an excellent, edifying and instructive devotional;I thank you for it

I recently concluded a home group Bible study on Hebrews. Here is an extract from Calvin's commentary on that book, on Heb 8:3.

Heb 8:3. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

The Apostle intends to show, that Christ’s priesthood cannot coexist with the Levitical priesthood. He proves it in this way, — “The Law appointed priests to offer sacrifices to God; it hence appears that the priesthood is an empty name without a sacrifice. But Christ had no sacrifice, such as was offered under the Law; it hence follows, that his priesthood is not earthly or carnal, but one of a more excellent character.”
Let us now examine every clause. The first thing that deserves notice, is that which he teaches that no priest is appointed except to offer gifts; it is hence evident, that no favor from God can be obtained for men except through the interposition of a sacrifice. Hence, that our prayers may be heard, they must be founded on a sacrifice; their audacity, therefore, is altogether pernicious and fatal, who pass by Christ and forget his death, and yet rush into the presence of God. Now, if we wish to pray in a profitable manner, we must learn ever to set before us the death of Christ, which alone sanctifies our prayers. For God will never hear us unless he is reconciled; but he must be first pacified, for our sins cause him to be displeased with us. Sacrifice must necessarily precede, in order that there may be any benefit from prayer.
We may hence further conclude, that no one either among men or angels is qualified for pacifying God, for all are without any sacrifice of their own which they can offer to appease God. And hereby is abundantly exposed the effrontery of the Papists who make Apostles and martyrs to share with Christ as mediators in the work of intercession; for in vain do they assign them such an office, except they supply them with sacrifices.

Calvin's Commentaries.

#49015 - Thursday, July 19, 2012 8:44 AM Re: Rules for Praye [Re: Tom Mor]
Pilgrim Offline

Head Honcho

Registered: Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Posts: 13821
Loc: NH, USA
EXCELLENT quote from Calvin...

Cf. Jh 9:31; Prov 15:29; 28:9; Isa 1:15; Jer 14:12; Zech 7:814; Heb 4:14-16.

simul iustus et peccator

#49122 - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:31 AM Calvin's prayer [Re: chestnutmare]
chestnutmare Online   content

Registered: Monday, September 8, 2003
Posts: 2765
Loc: NH
"Grant, Almighty God, that, since to a perverse, and in every way a rebellious people, thou didst formerly show so much grace, as to exhort them continually to repentance, and to stretch forth thy hand to them by thy Prophets, — O grant, that the same word may sound in our ears; and when we do not immediately profit by thy teaching, O cast us not away, but, by thy Spirit, so subdue all our thoughts and affections, that we, being humbled, may give glory to thy majesty, such as is due to thee, and that, being allured by thy paternal favor, we may submit ourselves to thee, and, at the same time, embrace that mercy which thou offerest and presentest to us in Christ,that we may not doubt but thou wilt be a Father to us, until we shall at length enjoy that eternalinheritance, which has been obtained for us by the, blood of thine only-begotten Son.


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