But, in what I shall now say concerning prayer, I shall not consider it as a privilege, but as a duty; for till we have some experience of the duties of religion, we are incapable of entering duly into the privileges; and it is too much the fashion of the day to view prayer chiefly as a mere privilege, such a privilege as it is inconsiderate indeed to neglect, but only inconsiderate, not sinful; and optional to use.
Now, we know well enough that we are bound to be in one sense in prayer and meditation all the day long. The question then arises, are we to pray in any other way? Is it enough to keep our minds fixed upon God through the day, and to commune with Him in our hearts, or is it necessary, over and above this habitual faith, to set apart particular times for the more systematic and earnest exercise of it? Need we pray at certain times of the day in a set manner? Public worship, indeed, from its very nature, requires places, times, and even set forms. But privateprayer does not necessarily require set times, because we have no one to consult but ourselves, and we are always with ourselves; nor forms, for there is no one else whose thoughts are to keep pace with ours. Still, though set times and forms of prayer are not absolutely necessary in private prayer, yet they are highly expedient; or rather, times are actually commanded us by our Lord in the text, "Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."