1. Let us bear in mind the precept of the wise man. "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few." [Eccles. v. 2.] Prayers framed at the moment are likely to become irreverent. Let us consider for a few moments before we pray, into whose presence we are entering,—the presence of God. ...

2. In the next place, Forms of prayer are necessary to guard us against the irreverence of wandering thoughts. If we pray without set words (read or remembered), our minds will stray from the subject; other thoughts will cross us, and we shall pursue them; we shall lose sight of His presence whom we are addressing. This wandering of mind is in good measure prevented, under God's blessing, by Forms of prayer. Thus a chief use of them is that of fixing the attention.

3. Next, they are useful in securing us from the irreverence of excited thoughts. And here there is room for saying much; for, it so happens, Forms of prayer are censured for the very circumstance about them which is their excellence. They are accused of impeding the current of devotion, when, in fact, that (so called) current is in itself faulty, and ought to be checked. ... This, then, is an especial use of Forms of prayer, when we are in earnest, as we ought always to be; viz. to keep us from self-willed earnestness, to still emotion, to calm us, to remind us what and where we are, to lead us to a purer and serener temper, and to that deep unruffled love of God and man, which is really the fulfilling of the law, and the perfection of human nature. ...

4. Further, Forms are useful to help our memory, and to set before us at once, completely, and in order, what we have to pray for. It does not follow, that when the heart is really full of the thought of God, and alive to the reality of things unseen, then it is easiest to pray.

PPS 1/20 Forms of Private Prayer

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