And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord…
Common sense tells us, that when people unite together in public worship, if their thoughts are to run in the same channel, they must agree beforehand what is to be the subject of their petitions, and the very words in which they are to be offered, if there is to be any certainty, satisfaction, and regularity in devotion. To sing out of a book is the same in principle as praying out of a book, and if the one is spiritual and right, so is the other also. Public worship should embrace confession, penitence, implorations, ascription, and thanksgiving. The prayer offered to God in His holy place should be sober, solemn, reverential, filial, scriptural, offered in faith, through the merits of the Divine Redeemer. Such, most emphatically, are the devotions of the Prayer Book. A Presbyterian minister, no less distinguished for his abilities than for his Christian charity, has lately given this little sketch from his pastoral experience. In looking up scholars for a mission-school, he was led to visit a poor woman, on her sick-bed, in the upper room of a crowded, comfortless tenement-house. The room was entirely dark, the only inlet of illumination being the swinging, twopaned ventilator overhead. Waiting until his eyes became accustomed to the dimness, he discovered that the apartment was merely a small closet, about six feet square. A shapeless mass of humanity was buried under a heap of coarse, tumbled coverlets, the victim of rheumatism; having occupied the same comfortless room for fourteen years. Although a member of the Church, no minister of the city knew of her existence, she having come from another place, and bringing no certificate of membership to commend her to pastoral care and oversight. When asked by the visitor whether she had ever given up her faith and hope, her pale, shrivelled face lighted up, as she answered, very decidedly, "Never!" She declined his kind offers of pecuniary aid, but thankfully accepted his proposal to pray with her. He was struck with the fact that, in his repeated visits, she avoided speaking much of herself, and seemed to prefer to spend all the time in talking of God's love, and the Saviour's abundant grace. Remembering the strong attachment of Churchmen for the Prayer Book, the Presbyterian minister learned several of the beautiful collects by heart, and one day, while praying, suffered his voice quietly to run into the form. The sick woman recognized the first sentence of the dear old words with a start of surprise; then she began to repeat the petitions aloud with him; and when he finished she sobbed aloud, with humble, grateful tears. It was a repetition of good George Herbert's dying expression of childlike affection for his spiritual mother: "Give me the prayers of my mother the Church, no other prayers are equal to them!"
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.