A Method for Prayer | Section 9 | Short Forms of Prayer
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SECTION 9 | Short Forms of Prayer | 9.4 | Evening Prayer for a Family
Most holy and blessed and glorious Lord God, whose we are, and whom we are bound to serve; for, because thou madest us, and not we ourselves, therefore we are not our own, but thine, and unto thee, O Lord, do we lift up our souls; thy face, O Lord, do we seek; whither shall we go for happiness, but to thee, from whom we derive our being.
Thou art the great Benefactor of the whole creation; thou givest to all life and breath and all things: thou art our Benefactor, the God that hast fed us and kept us all our life long unto this day. Having obtained help of God, we continue hitherto monuments of sparing mercy and witnesses for thee, that thou art gracious, that thou art God and not man; for therefore it is that we are not cut off.
One day tells another, and one night certifies to another, that thou art good and doest good and never failest those that seek thee and trust in thee. Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and of the evening to praise thee.
It is through the good hand of our God upon us that we are brought in safety to the close of another day, and that after the various employments of the day, we come together at night to mention the loving-kindness of the Lord and the praises of our God, who is good, and whose mercy endureth forever.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with his benefits, even the God of our salvation; for he that is our God is the God of salvation. We have from thee the mercies of the day in its day, according as the necessity of the day requires, though we come far short of doing the work of the day in its day, according as the duty of the day requires.
We bless thee for the ministration of the good angels about us, the serviceableness of the inferior creatures to us, for our bodily health and ease, comfort in our relations, and a comfortable place of abode, that thou hast not made the wilderness our habitation and the barren land our dwelling; and especially that thou continuest to us the use of our reason, and the quiet and peace of our consciences.
We bless thee for our share in the public tranquility, that thou hast given us a good land in which we dwell safely under our own vines and fig-trees.
Above all, we bless thee for Jesus Christ and his mediation between God and man, for the covenant of grace made with us in him, and all the exceeding great and precious promises and privileges of that covenant, for the throne of grace erected for us, to which we may in his name come with humble boldness, and for the hope of eternal life through him.
We confess we have sinned against thee; this day we have sinned and done foolishly: O God, thou knowest our foolishness, and our sins are not hid from thee. We misspend our time, we neglect our duty, we follow after lying vanities, and forsake our own mercies. We offend with our tongues: Are we not carnal and walk as men, below Christians? Who can understand his errors? Cleanse us from our secret faults.
We pray thee, give us repentance for our sins of daily infirmity and make us duly sensible of the evil of them and of our danger by them, and let the blood of Christ, thy Son, which cleanseth from all sin, cleanse us from it, that we may lie down to night at peace with God, and our souls may comfortably return to him, and repose in him as our rest.
And give us grace to repent every day for the sins of every day, so that when we come to die, we may have the sins but of one day to repent of, and so we may be continually easy.
Do us good by all the providences we are under, merciful or afflictive; give us grace to accommodate ourselves to them, and by all bring us nearer to thee, and make us fitter for thee.
We commit ourselves to thee this night, and desire to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Let the Lord be our habitation, and let our souls be at home in him.
Make a hedge of protection, we pray thee, about us and about our house and about all that we have round about, that no evil may befall us, nor any plague come nigh our dwelling. The Lord be our keeper, who neither slumbers nor sleeps: Lord, be thou a sun and a shield to us.
Refresh our bodies, we pray thee, with quiet and comfortable rest, not to be disturbed with any distrustful disquieting cares and fears; but especially let our souls be refreshed with thy love, and the light of thy countenance and thy benignity, which is better than life.
When we awake, grant that we may be still with thee, and may remember thee upon our beds, and meditate upon thee in the night-watches, and may improve the silence and solitude of our retirements for communion with God and our own hearts; that when we are alone, we may not be alone, but God may be with us, and we with him.
Restore us to another day in safety, and prepare us for the duties and events of it; and by all supports and comforts of this life, let our bodies be fitted to serve our souls in thy service, and enable us to glorify thee with both, remembering that we are not our own, we are bought with a price.
And forasmuch as we are now brought one day nearer our end, Lord, enable us so to number our days, as that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Let us be reminded by our putting off our clothes and going to sleep in our beds, of putting off the body, sleeping the sleep of death, and making our bed in the darkness shortly, that we may be daily dying in expectation of it and preparing for our change, that when we come to die indeed, it may be no surprise or terror to us, but we may with comfort put off the body and resign the spirit, knowing whom we have trusted.
Lord, let our family be blessed in him, in whom all the families of the earth are blessed, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things, by Christ Jesus, and with temporal blessings as far as thou seest good for us. Give us health and prosperity, but especially let our souls prosper and be in health, and let all that belong to us belong to Christ, that we who live in a house together on earth may be together forever with the Lord.
Look with pity upon a lost world, we beseech thee, and set up Christ’s throne there where Satan’s seat is; send the gospel where it is not, make it successful where it is; let it be mighty through God to the pulling down of the strong-holds of sin.
Let the church of Christ greatly flourish in all places and make it to appear that it is built upon a rock, and that the gates of hell cannot prevail against it; and suffer not the rod of the wicked any where to rest upon the lot of the righteous.
Let the land of our nativity be still the particular care of thy good providence, that in the peace thereof we may have peace. Let glory dwell in our land, and upon all the glory let there be a defence.
Rule in the hearts of our rulers. We pray thee, continue the king’s life and government long a public blessing; make all that are in places of public trust faithful to the public interest; and all that bear the sword, a terror to evil doers, and a protection and praise to them that do well. Own thy ministers in their work, and give them skill and will to help souls to heaven.
Be gracious to all that are dear to us: Let the rising generation be such as thou wilt own, and do thee more and better service in their day than this has done.
Comfort and relieve all that are in sorrow or affliction, lay no more upon them than thou wilt enable them to bear, and enable them to bear what thou dost lay upon them.
Do for us, we pray thee, abundantly above what we are able to ask or think, for the sake of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, who is the Lord our Righteousness. To him with the Father and the eternal Spirit, be glory and praise, now and for ever. Amen.