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Constant searching of the Scripture is another subservient duty of prayer itself. That is the mirror wherein we may take the best view of ourselves, because it at once represents both what we are and what we ought to be; what we are in ourselves, and what we are by the grace of God; what are our frames, actions, and ways, and what is their defect in the sight of God. A higher instruction what to pray for, or how to pray, cannot be given us, Ps. xix. 7-9. Some imagine that to “search the Scriptures,” to take forms of speech or expressions accommodated unto all the parts of prayer, and to set them in order, or retain them in memory, is a great help to prayer. Whatever it be, it is not that which I intend at present. It is most true, if a man be “mighty in the Scriptures,” singularly conversant and exercised in them, abounding in their senses and expressions, and have the help of a faithful memory, it may exceedingly further and assist him in the exercise of this gift unto the edification of others. But this collection of phrases, speeches, and expressions, when perhaps the mind is barren in the sense of the Scripture, I know not of what use it is.

That which I press for is, a diligent search into the Scriptures as to the things revealed in them: for there our wants in all their circumstances and consequents are discovered and represented unto us; and so are the supplies of grace and mercy which God hath provided for us;—the former with authority, to make us sensible of them; and the latter with that evidence of grace and faithfulness as to encourage us to make our requests for them. The Word is the instrument whereby the Holy Spirit reveals unto us our wants, when we know not what to ask, and so enables us to make intercessions according to the mind of God, Rom. viii. 26, 27; Who is it, who almost at any time, reading the Scripture, with a due reverence of God, and subjection of conscience unto him, has not some particular matter of prayer or praise effectually suggested to him? And Christians would find no small advantage, on many accounts, not here to be insisted upon, if they would frequently, if not constantly, turn what they read into prayer or praise unto God, so that the instructions unto faith and obedience would be more confirmed in their minds, and their hearts be more engaged in their practice. For example we have, Ps. 119, where all considerations of God’s Will and our duty are turned into petitions.

John Owen (WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN PRAYER, Works Vol. 4  page 321>)
Lightly Edited by Jeff Maxwell ©



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