A Guide to Prayer
In this valuable work, Isaac Watts shows what prayer is and helps us to make better use of the glorious privilege given to all Christians of conversing with our Father. As he wrote in A Guide to Prayer, “Prayer is the conversation which God allows us to maintain with Himself above, while we are here below, in which the soul of a saint often gets near to God, experiences great delight, and as it were, dwells with his heavenly Father for a short time before he comes to heaven.”
In a thoroughgoing study, Watts covers invocation, adoration, confession, petition, pleading, profession (or self-dedication), thanksgiving, blessing, and more. He describes in vivid and persuasive terms what a gift prayer is, how to express ourselves in prayer, even down to details like gesture and voice, and the help of the Spirit in prayer.
To Isaac Watts, prayer was more than a duty required in the worship of God. It was ‘the conversation which God allows us to maintain with himself above, while we are here below…in which the soul of a saint often gets near to God, experiences great delight and, as it were, dwells with his heavenly Father for a short time before he comes to heaven.’
But Watts knew that most Christians need help in the use of this great privilege, so that our prayers should be both acceptable to God and ‘a delightful and profitable exercise to our own souls and to those that join with us’.
Watts deals in turn with the nature of prayer, prayer viewed as a gift which can be developed, prayer as dependent on the fruits of divine grace, and the assistance of the Spirit of God in prayer. In his final chapter he brings forward several arguments to persuade all Christians to develop and use ‘this holy skill of conversation with God’.