- Act.Faith puts forth an exciting act, whereby it provokes the Christian and strongly presseth him to pray. And this it doth,
(1.) By discovering to the creature his own beggary and want, as also the fulness that is to be had from God in Christ for his supply—both which faith useth as powerful motives to quicken the soul up to pray. As the lepers said to one another, ‘Why sit we here until we die? If we say, We will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: come, and let us fall into the host of the Syrians,’ II Kings 7:3, 4. Thus faith rouseth up the soul to prayer. If thou stayest at thy own door, O my soul, thou art sure to starve and die. What seest thou in thyself but hunger and famine? No bread there; no money to buy any in thy own purse. Up therefore, haste thee to thy God, and thy soul shall live. O sirs, are you pressed with this inward feeling of your own wants? Press to the throne of grace as the only way left for your supply. You may hope it is faith that sends you. Faith is the principle of our new life. ‘I live,’ said Paul, ‘by the faith of the Son of God,’ Gal. 2:20. This life being weak, is craving and crying for nourishment, and that naturally, as the new-born babe doth for the milk. If therefore you find this inward sense prompting and provoking of you to cry to God, it shows this principle of life—faith I mean —is in thee.
Objection. But, may not an unbeliever pray in the sense of his wants, and be inwardly pinched with them, which may make him pray very feelingly?
Answer. We must distinguish of wants. They are either spiritual or carnal. It cannot be denied, but an unbeliever may be very sensible of outward carnal wants, and knock loud at heaven-gate for supply. We find them ‘howling on their beds, and assembling themselves for corn and wine,’ Hosea 7:14. There is the cry of the creature, and the cry of the new creature. Every creature hath a natural cry for that which suits their nature. Hence, ‘The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God,’ Ps. 104:21. But, give the lion flesh, and he will not roar for want of grass; give the ox grass, and you shall not hear him lowing for flesh; so give the faithless, graceless person his fill of his carnal food—sensual enjoyments—and you shall have little complaint of spiritual wants from him. They are therefore spiritual wants you must try your faith by. If thou canst heartily pray for love to Christ, faith on him, or any other grace—feeling the want of them, as a hungry man doth of his food —thou mayest conclude safely there is this principle of new life, which, like the veins at the bottom of the stomach, by its sucking, puts thee to pain till it be heard and satisfied; for these graces being proper to the new creature, can be truly desired of none but one that is a new creature.
(2.) Faith excites to prayer from an inward delight it hath in communion with God. ‘It is good for me,’ saith the psalmist, ‘to draw near to God.’ Now mark the next words, ‘I have put my trust in the Lord,’ Ps. 73:28. We take delight to be often looking where we have laid up our treasures. This holy man had laid up his soul, and all he had, in God, by faith, to be kept safely for him; and now he delights oft to be with God. He hath that which invites him into his presence with sweet content. By faith the soul is contracted to Christ. Now, being espoused to Christ, there is no wonder at all that it should desire communion with him. And prayer, being the place of meeting where Christ and the soul can come the nearest on this side of heaven, therefore the believer is seen so oft walking that way. Canst thou say, poor soul, that this is thy errand when praying—to see the face of God? Can nothing less, and needest thou nothing more to satisfy, and recreate thy soul in prayer, than communion with God? Certainly God hath thy faith, or else thou couldst not so freely bestow thy love on him and take delight in him.