Friday, September 12, 2008

"The Sinner's Prayer"

Here is how the Puritans (who are routinely misunderstood and caricatured) framed a ''Convert's First Prayer":

"My Father, I could never have sought my happiness in your love, unless you had first loved me. Your Spirit has encouraged me by grace to see you, has made known to me the reconciliation in Jesus, has taught me to believe it, has helped me to take you for my God and portion. May he grant me to grow in the knowledge and experience of your love, and walk in it all the way to glory.

"Blessed forever be your fatherly affection, which chose me to be one of your children by faith in Jesus: I thank you for giving me the desire to live as such. In Jesus, my brother, I have my new birth, every restraining power, every renewing grace.

"It is by the Spirit I call you Father, believe in you, love you. Strengthen me inwardly for every purpose of my Christian life; let the Spirit continually reveal to me my interest [share] in Christ, and open to me the riches of your love in him.

"May he abide in me that I may know my union with Jesus, and enter into constant fellowship with him. By the Spirit may I daily live to you, rejoice in your love, find it the same to me as to your Son, and become rooted and grounded in it as a house on rock.

"I know but little -- increase my knowledge of your love in Jesus, keep me pressing forward for clearer discoveries of it, so that I may find its essential fullness. Magnify your love to me according to its greatness, and not according to my deserts [what I deserve] or prayers, and whatever increase you give, let it draw out greater love to you."

-- Arthur Bennet, ed., "The Valley of Vision" (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust 1975), p. 53. [language and punctuation lightly modernized]

David Wells adds the comment: "This convert imagined that he knew little, but by today's standards he would stand among the theological giants."

("Losing Our Virtue" p. 42 [Eerdmans 1998]).

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