O God, You are our God—early will we seek You. It is our joy and our delight, our highest privilege and our glorious honor, to approach in the name of Jesus Your throne of grace. We come with filial confidence, and cry unto You, ‘Abba, Father!’ Our hearts are too narrow to comprehend the riches of Your adopting love. Our lips fail when we strive to utter just praise. But hear us when we wrestle with You for larger supplies of Your Holy Spirit to enable us to realize our high estate.
We were once dead in trespasses and sins. But now our eyes are open to behold in part Your glory, and lips no longer dumb, hold sacred converse with You. We were strangers and outcasts—slaves in the prison-house of Satan—rebels against Your righteous rule—ignorant of Your gospel-love. But You have brought us near by the blood of Your dear Son. You have softened the heart of enmity. You have called us to be Your children by the faith of Jesus. You have admitted us into Your own family, and made us heirs of Your kingdom, and joint-heirs with Christ! Oh that we might love You—as You love us! Oh that we might walk worthy of You our God, and of Your heavenly calling! Oh that we might reflect the image of the Lord Jesus.
The gates of Your earthly sanctuary are now open to us. We are called to unite with Your favored children in public avowal that we are Yours. We are invited to lift up the voice of common prayer and praise with the multitude who keep holy day. We hear Your Spirit’s animating call, “Oh come let us sing unto the Lord! Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms!” Help us as obedient children, to draw near unto You. May we see Your beauty and Your glory with the clear eye of faith. May we feel Your Spirit’s mighty power in our hearts. May a live coal from the heavenly sanctuary touch our lips. May we find that we are the called of the Lord, free and strong to wrestle with You as the patriarch of old. May we rise far above earth, and have large foretaste of our heavenly home.
We remember with shame, that often our knees have bowed when our hearts have been unhumbled. Our confessions of misery as sinners have often been an empty sound. In the deep sense of our guilt—we fly for refuge into the wounded side of Jesus. Under the shelter of His cross we supplicate pardon for the past, and help in the worship of this day.
Except Your Spirit shall mightily move in us—no inward fire will kindle. O blessed Jesus, remember Your gracious Word. Do as You have said. Be present where Your people meet, and cause Your nearness to be felt. Especially clothe Your own Word with divine power. May it shine as a light from heaven, revealing You. Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O most mighty, with Your glory and Your majesty. And in Your majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness.
When Satan shall draw near to infuse coldness and slumber, and careless wanderings into our minds, or to carry away the good seed—may You rebuke him, and drive him far away. Be a wall of fire round about Your congregations, and the glory in their midst.
Heavenly Father, bless all who shall teach Your Word this day, whether in the pulpit, in the school, in visits to the sick, or beside the dying bed. May they receive from You what they shall dispense to others. May their own souls richly feed on the good provisions which from Your storehouse they bring forth. May it be clearly evident that their feet firmly walk in the narrow way to which they invite others. May they brightly shine in that light which they labor to diffuse.
Thus may there be showers of spiritual blessings on this weary earth. Water with fructifying dew all the good truth which shall be scattered. May the fruits of salvation be abundant. May the everlasting songs be augmented. Bind in closer bonds of love—pastors to their flocks, and flocks to their pastors, and all to You. Kindle mutual prayer for common weal. May they joy in each other’s joy, strengthen in each other’s strength, and be comforted in each other’s comfort. Hear our prayer. Hasten Your kingdom. Bless us for the sake of Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
Lord Almighty, as a family we commenced this day on bended knees; as a family, on bended knees we close it. Prayer opened the portals, let prayer now bar them. In humble faith we asked Your presence and Your grace. For Your presence and Your grace we now give thanks. We began, looking to the Savior; looking to the Savior we conclude.
We felt our need with morning light, we feel it not less at evening’s shade. We early smote upon our breasts as miserable sinners; as miserable sinners we smite again. Through all our lives no day has passed which has not proved us guilty in Your sight. The record of every moment—is a record of transgression. But this day the iniquity of holy things adds to our condemnation. Sanctuary-hours accuse us. Prayers have been uttered, while hearts have been prayerless. Praise has been often praiseless sound. Our best services are but as filthy rags. We utterly renounce them. They are unworthy of You, our God. We bewail them as bearing witness to the evil which dwells within us. When the spirit is willing—the flesh is weak. We do not worship You as we ought. We do not serve You as we would. “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind!” Isaiah 64:6. Be merciful, be merciful unto us—whose only hope is in Your unfailing mercy.
Blessed Jesus, we hide ourselves in the sure covert of Your wrath-appeasing wounds! Our sins rise higher than the heavens—but Your merits in our behalf surpass the very heaven of heavens! Our unrighteousness would weigh us down to hell—but Your glorious righteousness exalts us to Your heavenly throne! All things in us call for our damnation—but all things in You demand our acceptance. We appeal, then, from Your throne of perfect justice—to Your throne of boundless grace! Grant us to hear Your voice assuring us: that by Your stripes we are healed; that You have been bruised for our iniquities; that You have been made sin for us—that we might have Your divine righteousness; and that all our vile and grievous iniquities, are forgiven and buried in the ocean of Your sin-concealing blood! We are guilty—yet pardoned! We are lost in ourselves—yet fully saved in You!
We pray especially for all our fellow-worshipers. Pardon their shortcomings, even as we beseech You to pardon ours. Give them contrite hearts, even as we seek broken-heartedness for ourselves. Enable them to close this day clinging to the cross, even as we now seek safety and repose beneath its shelter. Hear our cry, too, for all the congregations throughout earth’s breadth. Accept and answer the prayers which Your Holy Spirit has breathed within them. You search the hearts and know what is the mind of the Spirit. Let, then, floods of descending grace enrich a weary world. Your treasury will not be lessened. Your people will be enlarged and cheered. Great will be their gain without decrease in You.
We pray for blessings upon blessings on all the ministers of Your sacred truth, who know nothing among their people but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Let not Your word return unto You void. You have kindled the light of life, and set it in the world’s gloom. Cause it, with increasing brightness, to outshine all mists of ignorance and superstition. Satan sees it, and trembles. He hates it, and would gladly extinguish it. Defeat his cruel wiles. Show that gospel-rays are far mightier than all powers of darkness.
In the riches of Your love You have opened the springs of heavenly knowledge in this wilderness world. Keep the stream pure from the corruption of man’s traditions and vain conceits. May every drop sparkle like crystal. May it flow clear and unsullied as mountain-snow. May it refresh as the morning-dew, The prince of this world strives to poison it with mixtures of all kinds of error. We look to You to keep the fountain of Your Word healthful and unadulterated.
Guard with Your preserving care the vine which Your right hand has planted. Do not allow the wild boar of the forest to lay it waste, nor the little foxes to spoil the tender grapes. Add to Your Church daily such as shall be saved. These prayers for ourselves, Your ministers, Your people, we humbly offer in the faith and name of Jesus Christ, and trusting only in His saving merits. Amen.