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  • LORD’S PRAYER, BELIEF, AND TEN COMMANDMENTS
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    LORD’S PRAYER, BELIEF, AND TEN COMMANDMENTS, WITH OTHER EXERCISES BY JOHN BRADFORD TO THE READER FA1 HERE hast thou, good reader, such godly meditations, prayers, and other exercises of that worthy witness of God, John Bradford, as God by his singular providence hath hitherto preserved, and now at the length brought to light, for thy comfort and commodity. Daily and hourly was this his exercise, to talk with God by faithful and hearty meditation and prayer, with power piercing the heavens: and many such godly exercises did he leave behind him, which either time hath consumed, or else such as keep them in store to their own private use do little consider what benefit they withhold from the church of God; which if they shall yet brotherly communicate, there shall not lack good will and diligence to set them abroad. In the mean season, let us with thankfulness receive, read, and practice these, as means to quicken our spirits, to stir up our dull hearts to a more fervent invocation of God’s holy name: which, how far it is from that it should be in us, and what need we have thereof, if our dead senses cannot feel, here may we see and perceive. Here may we learn to flee unto God by prayer, that we run not on still with this unthankful world into forgetfulness of his great benefits poured upon us, especially for the liberty of his gospel which we (in much mercy restored now unto us again) so unthankfully receive, so ungodly neglect, so wickedly abuse. God grant us his good Spirit to work in us this good work, to look about us in time; to consider our state past and present, as indeed we have great cause to do; and so with hearty prayer flee unto God to prevent the plagues that are at hand; lest with double woe we find the latter end worse than the beginning.

    INSTRUCTIONS TO BE OBSERVED CONCERNING PRAYER THERE be nine things that pertain to the knowledge of true prayer. First, to know what prayer is. Secondly, how many sorts of prayer there be.

    Thirdly, the necessity of prayer. Fourthly, to whom we ought to pray. By whom we must pray. Where to pray, and what to pray. The excellency of prayer. What we must do, that our prayers may be heard. [1] What prayer is.

    Prayer is a simple, unfeigned, humble, and ardent opening of the heart before God, wherein we either ask things needful, or give thanks for benefits received. Paul, in the first to Timothy and second chapter, calleth it by four sundry names in one sentence, to wit, prayer, supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving ;” in Latin, deprecatio, obsecratio, intercessio, et gratiarum actio. Whereof the first is for the avoiding and preventing of evil; the second is an earnest and fervent calling upon God for any thing; the third is an intercession for other; the fourth is a praising of God for things received. [2] There be two manner of ways how we should pray.

    First publicly, and that is called common prayer; and privately, as when men pray alone, and that is called private prayer: and how both these two are allowed before God, the scripture beareth testimony by the example of all the holy men and women before and after Christ. [3] Of the necessity of prayer.

    There be four things that provoke us to pray: first the commandment of God; secondly, sin in us, which driveth us of necessity to God for succor, life, and mercy; thirdly, our weak nature being unable to do any good requireth prayer to strengthen it, even as a house requireth principal pillars for the upholding of it; fourthly, the subtlety of the enemy (who privily lurketh in the inward parts, waiting to overthrow us, even in those things which we think to be best done) stirreth us vehemently thereunto. [4] To whom we ought to pray.

    Three things pertain to him that must be prayed unto: first, that he have such ears as may hear all the world at once; secondly, that he be in all places at once; thirdly, that he have such power that he may be able to help, and such mercy that he will deliver. [5] By whom we should pray.

    Christ only is the way” by whom we have free access unto the Father, and for whom our prayers are accepted, our infirmities notwithstanding: without whom all our prayers are abominable. [6 7] Where to pray, and what to pray.

    As touching the place where we should pray, seeing all places are one, there is none forbidden: only the common prayer must be made in what place soever the congregation of Christ doth assemble.

    What to pray, lieth in the necessity of every man: and forasmuch as we need both spiritual and corporal things, we may boldly ask them both; for, as to ask spiritual gifts it is profitable and commanded, so to ask corporal it is necessary and allowed. [8] Of the excellency of prayer.

    The worthiness of prayer consisteth in two things; in the dignity of the commander who is God, the fountain of all goodness, who also commandeth only good things; and in the effect that followeth it, which is the obtaining of whatsoever we desire faithfully according to the will of God. [9] What to do that we may be heard.

    First we must put off our own righteousness, pride, and estimation of ourselves, and “put on Christ” with his righteousness: secondly, an earnest faith and fervent love, with the putting off all rancor, malice, and envy, is required: finally true repentance knitteth up the knot, for in it are contained all the virtues aforenamed. J. BRADFORD.

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