Why we should pray about everything and hide nothing
The Westminster Assembly was an advisory body of theologians to the English Parliament which met at Westminster from 1643 to 1648. It produced a new range of standards for church order and government, worship and doctrine for the churches of England, Scotland and Ireland that have been used ever since by Presbyterian churches across the world.
2 May, 2024

Even when we are aware of needing God’s help in many areas of life, we can still be reluctant to pray. We think it’s too much to ask, perhaps — or maybe it’s too insignificant to mention in prayer. But Obadiah Sedgwick, a member of the Westminster Assembly, urges us in the folloiwng updated extract to pray about everything, and hold nothing back. The reasons he gives are all in the prayer-hearing God and His overflowing compassion.

“All prayer,” extends itself not only to all the kinds and forms of praying, but also to all the matters or things for which we pray.

Five reasons to pray about everything

God can hear every request as well as any individual request. He can hear a multiplied request as well as a single request. He doesn’t take things in, or observe things, by discourse, where one notion may be an impediment to grasping another. By reason of His omniscience, all things are equally simultaneously present to Him.

Indeed, God can grant many and great requests, as easily as the single and smallest petition. The greatest gift comes as freely and readily out of His hand as the most common mercy — even Jesus Christ, and pardon of many sins, are the same price as our daily bread. Though by comparison with the latter, the former gifts of a much more elevated nature and dignity, yet in respect of the fountain of them, all of them come from the freeness of His goodness and love.

Christ, by whom we are to put up all our requests (for He is our advocate and intercessor) is as ready and able to plead many and great requests, as well as a few and inferior ones. As He is our mighty Redeemer, so He is our mighty intercessor. And His blood is as efficacious and meritorious for many sins as for some.

This is the reason why God has made manifold promises. We may put up many and great requests all at once. The promises are called “the wells of salvation,” and “the breasts of consolation.” Now living wells afford a plenty, as well as a scanting measure of water. And the child may move from breast to breast, and draw enough from either, if one alone will not serve. If one promise does not cover all your needs, yet all of them do, and as God graciously comprehends all our supplies in all of His promises, so He has propounded them all to us, so that we would then there urge Him for the supply of all our necessities.

Lastly, God is rich in mercy, and plenteous in compassion. His mercies are often referred to as manifold mercies, and His goodness is called an abundant goodness, and His redemption a plenteous redemption, and His kindness a great kindness. Now mercy is a ready inclination to pity and help, and multitudes of mercies are like a compounded, and doubled, and redoubled opening up of God’s tenderness to do a sinner good.

Why we should hide nothing from God

You should conceal not even one of your distresses from God. The heart and life of man are full of sin, and just as full of need. There is not any branch of the soul, nor limb of the body, nor turning of the life, but is replenished with some necessity or other. You have a mind which still needs to be enlightned, a judgment which still needs to be captivated, a heart which still needs to be converted and humbled. How many sinful commissions there are which need to be bewailed, and how many particular and vile inclinations yet need to be subdued! Besides all this, every grace which you have (and there are manifold graces in a holy soul), every one of them is in exigence, and needs more spiritual filling, both for its habit, and acts, and degrees. Indeed, all our duties are only lame-handed motions, which need more strengthning, or like mixed rivers, which should run more clearly.

In this case what should we do? to whom should we go? should we divide the principles of our helps, and go for some to God, and for the most to created things? O in no wise! for all our help is only in Him, who alone can help all!

Or should we branch out our helps, and present them as a beggar does his needs, one day mentioning one need, and some distance of time later, bring up another? O no! Come with all, and with all at once, to God, who is as able, and as willing, for many sinners, as well as for one sinner — and for many sins in one person, as well as for one in any. As they did with the impotent and sick man, they brought all of him, bed and all, and laid him before Christ, so should we bring body and soul, and every distress of either, and present the whole bulk before the Lord at once, root and branches, for a manifold supply. We should press Him for manifold mercies, for abundant strength, for God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we are able to ask or think (Eph. 3).

Beloved, as your own unworthiness should not put you off from being a petitioner at the throne of grace, so the variety of your necessities should not discourage you from commencing your appeals at the throne of rich mercies. There is reason in God which will hearten us, and there is reason in ourselves to crave as earnestly and as simmultaneously for all our helps as for some. You equally need the pardon of this sin, as whatever else it may be, and mercy is as ready and able for both, as for either.

And if that corruption was more subdued, and yet this remained altogether untouched, you would have just as many, and more forcible, doubts about your situation from this discrepancy, and the inequality of the victory. Wherefore, as Abraham in his petition for the people of Sodom and Gommorrah took up request upon request, descending from high to low, from many to few, so should we in our requests ascend from one sin to more, from more to many, from many to all. You know that confession of sins should not only be particular, but universal; and our sorrow for sin should respect the kinds of sin as well as the particular acts? Well, all of this signals that there is an ampleness of grants, so much mercy and supply corresponding to the required latitude of confessions and sorrow.

Certainly it’s true that some one sin may (for some special reason, either of some guilt, or present insolency) be more insisted on then another, just as one clause in the plea may be urged more then another. Yet it should not be to the exception of the rest. “O that sin, Lord, by which I have dishonoured Thee so much, and yet which rages so much, pardon it, subdue it, out with it — and not only that, but sins like them, and not only them, but all my sins, blot them out, cleanse me from them!”

 

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