A Lord's Day Evening Prayer (from Matthew Henry)
O eternal and forever blessed and glorious Lord God! Thou art God over all, and rich in mercy to all that call upon thee, most wise and powerful, holy, just, and good; the King of kings, and Lord of lords; our Lord and our God.
Thou art happy without us and hast no need of our services, neither can our goodness extend unto thee, but we are miserable without thee; we have need of thy favours and are undone, forever undone, if thy goodness extend not unto us, and therefore, Lord, we entreat thy favour with our whole hearts; O let thy favour be towards us in Jesus Christ, for our happiness is bound up in it, and it is to us better than life. We confess we have forfeited thy favour, we have rendered ourselves utterly unworthy of it; yet we are humbly bold to pray for it in the name of Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us.
We bewail it before thee, that by the corruption of our natures we are become odious to thine holiness and utterly unfit to inherit the kingdom of God, and that by our many actual transgressions we are become obnoxious to thy justice and liable to thy wrath and curse. Being by nature children of disobedience, we are children of wrath and have reason both to blush and tremble in all our approaches to the holy and righteous God. Even the iniquity of our holy things would be our ruin, if God should deal with us according to the desert of them.
But with thee, O God, there is mercy and plenteous redemption: Thou hast graciously provided for all those that repent and believe the gospel, that the guilt of their sin shall be removed through the merit of Christ’s death, and the power of their sins broken by his Spirit and grace; and he is both ways able to save to the uttermost all those that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives making intercession for us.
Lord, we come to thee as a Father, by Jesus Christ the Mediator, and earnestly desire by repentance and faith to turn from the world and the flesh to God in Jesus Christ, as our ruler and portion. We are sorry that we have offended thee, we are ashamed to think of our treacherous and ungrateful carriage towards thee. We desire that we may have no more to do with sin, and pray as earnestly that the power of sin may be broken in us, as that the guilt of sin may be removed from us: And we rely only upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ and upon the merit of his death for the procuring of thy favour. O look upon us in him, and for his sake receive us graciously; heal our backslidings and love us freely and let not our iniquity be our ruin.
We beg, that being justified by faith, we may have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation for sin, that he may be just and the justifier of them which believe in Jesus. Through him who was made sin for us, though he knew no sin, let us who know no righteousness of our own, be accepted as righteous.
And the God of peace sanctify us wholly, begin and carry on that good work in our souls, renew us in the spirit of our minds, and make us in every thing such as thou wouldest have us to be. Set up thy throne in our hearts, write thy law there, plant thy fear there, and fill us with all the graces of thy Spirit that we may be fruitful in the fruits of righteousness, to the glory and the praise of God, mortify our pride and clothe us with humility; mortify our passions and put upon us the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God a great price. Save us from the power of a vain mind, and let thy grace be mighty in us to make us serious and sober-minded. Let the flesh be crucified in us, with all its affections and lusts; and give us grace to keep under our body, and to bring it into subjection to the laws of religion and right reason, and always to possess our vessel in sanctification and honour.
Let the love of the world be rooted out of us, and that covetousness which is idolatry; and let the love of God in Christ be rooted in us. Shed abroad that love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, and give us to love thee the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and might; and to do all we do in religion from a principle of love to thee.
Mortify in us all envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness; pluck up these roots of bitterness out of our minds and give us grace to love one another with a pure heart, fervently, as becomes the followers of the Lord Jesus, who has given us this as his new commandment. O that brotherly love may continue among us, love without dissimulation!
We pray thee, rectify all our mistakes; if in any thing we be in an error, discover it to us, and let the Spirit of truth lead us into all truth, the truth as it is in Jesus, the truth which is according to godliness; and give us that good understanding which they have that do thy commandments; and let our love and all good affections abound in us yet more and more, in knowledge and in all judgment.
Convince us, we pray thee, of the vanity of this world and its utter insufficiency to make us happy, that we may never set our hearts upon it, nor raise our expectations from it; and convince us of the vileness of sin, and its certain tendency to make us miserable, that we may hate it and dread it and every thing that looks like it or leads to it.
Convince us, we pray thee, of the worth of our own souls and the weight of eternity, and the awfulness of that everlasting state which we are standing upon the brink of; and make us diligent and serious in our preparation for it, labouring less for the meat that perisheth and more for that which endures to eternal life, as those who have set their affections on things above and not on things that are on earth, which are trifling and transitory.
O that time and the things of time may be as nothing to us in comparison with eternity and the things of eternity; that eternity may be much upon our heart and ever in our eye; that we may be governed by that faith which is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen; looking continually at the things that are not seen, that are eternal.
Give us grace, we pray thee, to look up to the other world with such a holy concern, as that we may look down upon this world with a holy contempt and indifferency, as those that must be here but a very little while, and must be somewhere forever; that we may rejoice as though we rejoiced not, and weep as though we wept not, and buy as though we possessed not, and may use this world as not abusing it; because the fashion of this world passeth away, and we are passing away with it.
O let thy grace be mighty in us and sufficient for us, to prepare us for the great change which will come certainly and shortly, and may come very suddenly; which will remove us from a world of sense to a world of spirits, from our state of trial and probation to that of recompense and retribution; and to make us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light; that when we fail, we may be received into everlasting habitations.
Prepare us, we beseech thee, for whatever we may meet with betwixt us and the grave: We know not what is before us, and therefore know not what particular provision to make; but thou dost, and therefore we beg of thee to fit us by thy grace for all the services and all the sufferings which thou shalt at any time call us out to; and arm us against every temptation which we may at any time be assaulted with, that we may at all times and in all conditions glorify God, keep a good conscience, and be found in the way of our duty, and may keep up our hope and joy in Christ, and a believing prospect of eternal life; and then welcome the holy will of God.
Give us grace, we pray thee, to live a life of communion with thee both in ordinances and providences, to set thee always before us, and to have our eyes ever upon thee, and to live a life of dependence upon thee, upon thy power, providence, and promise, trusting in thee at all times and pouring out our hearts before thee; and to live a life of devotedness to thee and to thine honour and glory, as our highest end. And that we may make our religion not only our business, but our pleasure, we beseech thee, enable us to live a life of complacency in thee, to rejoice in thee always; that making God our heart’s delight, so may we have our heart’s desire: And this is our heart’s desire, to know and love and live to God, to please him and to be pleased in him.
We beseech thee, preserve us in our integrity to our dying day and grant that we may never forsake thee or turn from following after thee, but that with purpose of heart we may cleave unto the Lord and may not count life itself so dear to us, so we may but finish our course with joy and true honour.
Let thy good providence order all the circumstances of our dying, so as may best befriend our comfortable removal to a better world; and let thy grace be sufficient for us then to enable us to finish well; and let us then have an abundant entrance ministered to us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
And while we are here, make us wiser and better every day than others; more weaned from the world, and more willing to leave it: More holy, heavenly, and spiritual; that the longer we live in this world, the fitter we may be for another, and our last days may be our best days, our last works our best works, and our last comforts our sweetest comforts.
We humbly pray thee, accomplish all that which thou hast promised concerning thy church in the latter days; let the earth be filled with thy glory. Let the fulness of the Gentiles be brought in, and let all Israel be saved.
Let the mountain of the Lord’s house be established upon the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills, and let all nations flow unto it.
Propagate the gospel in the plantations, and let the enlargement of trade and commerce contribute to the enlargement of thy church. Let the kingdom of Christ be set up in all places upon the ruins of the devil’s kingdom.
Hasten the downfall of the man of sin, and let primitive Christianity, even pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, be revived and be made to flourish in all places; and let the power of godliness prevail and get ground among all that have the form of it.
Let the wars of the nations end in the peace of the church, the shakings of the nations end in the establishment of the church, and the convulsions and revolutions of states and kingdoms in the settlement and advancement of the kingdom of God among men, that kingdom which cannot be moved.
Let Great Britain and Ireland flourish in all their public interests. Let thine everlasting gospel be always the glory in the midst of us, and let thy providence be a wall of fire round about us. Destroy us not, but let a blessing be among us, even a meat-offering and a drink-offering to the Lord our God.
Be very gracious to our sovereign lord the king, protect his person, preserve his health, prolong his days, guide his councils, let his reign be prosperous, and crown all his undertakings for the public good.
Bless the privy counsellors, the nobility, the judges, and magistrates in our several counties and corporations, and make them in all their places faithful and serviceable to the interest of the nation, and every way public blessings.
Bless all the ministers of thy holy word and sacraments; make them burning and shining lights, and faithful to Christ and to the souls of men. Unite all thy ministers and people together in the truth and in true love one to another; pour out a healing spirit upon them, a spirit of love and charity, mutual forbearance and condescension, that with one shoulder and with one consent all may study to promote the common interests of our great Master and the common salvation of precious souls.
We pray thee, prosper the trade of the nation and our coasts, disappoint the devices of our enemies against us, preserve the public peace, and keep all the people of these lands in quietness among themselves and due subjection to the authority God hath set over us; and let the Lord delight to dwell among us and to do us good.
Bless the fruits of the earth, continue our plenty, abundantly bless our provision, and satisfy even our poor with bread.
We bless thee for all the mercies of this thine own holy day; we have reason to say that a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! Bless the word we have heard this day to us and to all that heard it; hear our prayers, accept our praises, and forgive what thy pure eye hath seen amiss in us and our performances.
Take us under thy protection this night, and enable us to close the day with thee, that we may lie down, and our sleep may be sweet. Be with us the week following in all our ways; forgive us that we brought so much of the week with us into the sabbath, and enable us to bring a great deal of the sabbath with us into the week, that we may be the fitter for the next sabbath, if we should live to see it.
Make us meet for the everlasting sabbath, which we hope to keep within the veil, when time and days shall be no more; and let this day bring us a sabbath-day’s journey nearer heaven, and make us a sabbath-day’s work fitter for it.
As we began this Lord’s Day with the joyful memorials of Christ’s resurrection, so we desire to conclude it with the joyful expectations of Christ’s second coming and of our own resurrection, then to a blessed immortality, triumphing in hopes of the glory of God.
Bless the Lord, love the Lord, O our souls, and let all that is within us love and bless his holy name, for he is good and his mercy endures for ever. In praising God, we desire to spend as much of our time as may be, that we may begin our heaven now, for in this good work we hope to be spending a happy eternity.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, and our God, in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, dominion and praise, henceforth and for ever. Amen.