It is the infrequency of prayer which makes prayer so difficult. It is not a great effort now and then, which makes the things even of this life easy to us; it is their being the habit of our bodies or our minds. It was by continued exercise which we were not aware of, that our bodies, as children, were strengthened; it was by continued practice that we learnt anything. By continued gazing at far-off objects, the eye sees further than others; by continued practice the hand becomes steadied and obeys the motions of our mind. So and much more must the mind, by continual exercise, be steadied, to fix itself on Him whom it cannot grasp, and look up to Him whom it cannot see. Yea, so much the more exceedingly must it with strong effort fix itself by His grace on Him, because we cannot see Him or approach to Him, but by His revealing Himself and coming down to us, and giving us eyes to see and hearts to comprehend; and this He will do only to the earnest and persevering, and to us severally, as we are such. They then will pray best, who, praying truly, pray oftenest. …

Neglect nothing which can produce reverence. Pass not at once from the things of this world to prayer, but collect thyself. Think what thou art, what God is; thyself a child, and God thy Father; but also thyself dust and ashes, God, a consuming fire, before whom angels hide their faces: thyself unholy, God holy; thyself a sinner, God thy Judge. Then forget not that of thyself thou canst not pray. We come before Him, as helpless creatures, who need to be taught what to ask for, and knowing, to be enabled to ask, and asking, to be enabled to persevere to ask. Then watch thyself, what helps or hinders thee to fix thy mind on God. Then as to the words of our prayer: we should beware how we pass hastily over any of our prayers. It is not how much we say, but what we pray, which is of real moment. …

Distraction will come through weakness, ill-health, fatigue: only pray, guard, strive against it; humble yourselves under it, and for the past negligences, of which it is mostly the sad fruit; rely less upon yourself, cast yourself more upon God, hang more wholly upon Him, and long the more for that blessed time, when the redeemed of the Lord shall serve Him day and night without distraction.

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