What’s the use of prayer?

Q. 2. What is the use of prayer? Seeing God cannot be changed and moved by us, what good can it do to us, and how can it attain our ends?

A. You may as wisely ask, what good any thing will do towards our benefit or salvation, which we can do, seeing nothing changeth God. As God, who is one, maketh multitudes of creatures; so God, who is unchangeable, maketh changeable creatures; and the effect is wrought by changing us, and not by changing God. You must understand these great philosophical truths, that, 1. All things effect according to the capacity of the receiver. 2. Therefore, the various effects in the world proceed from the great variety of receptive capacities. The same sunbeams do cause a nettle, a thorn, a rose, a cedar, according to the seminal capacity of the various receivers. The same sun enlighteneth the eye, that doth not so by the hand or foot, or by a tree, or stone: and it shineth into the house whose windows are open, which doth not so when the windows are shut; and this without any change in itself. The boatman layeth hold on the bank, and pulls as if he would draw it to the boat, when he doth but draw the boat to it. Two ways prayer procureth the blessing without making any change in God. First, by our performing the condition on which God promiseth his mercy. Secondly, by disposing our souls to receive it. He that doth not penitently confess his sin, is unmeet for pardon; and he that desireth not Christ and mercy, is unmeet to be partaker of them: and he that is utterly unthankful for what he hath received, is unmeet for more.

–Richard Baxter, The Catechising of Families

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Published in: on January 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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