Men, one of the best ways to raise the thermostat of your devotion is to chew your way through the prayers of heroic Christians. As you prayerfully read these prayers, think about the meaning of each word. Slow your pace down until you can register the point of every phrase, every sentence. Picture a prayer as a musical score and your heart as a musical instrument. The aim of this exercise is to play the music with the instrument of your heart so that, not sound, but devotion results. Don’t just aspire for understanding; target repetition. Try to match each setiment, or feeling, represented in the prayer with a live and surging feeling in your own soul. How incredible would it be if you were able for an hour to download the spirit of Hudson Taylor, of Dawson Trotman, of John Fletcher, and use them for prayer. This is what you get to do by praying their prayers. You get to cloth your mind with their thoughts and infuse your spirit with their spiritual emotions until, progressively, the gap between their walk with God and yours is narrowed.
For anyone wanting to test this practice here is a snippet from one of John Wesley’s daily prayers. I’ve taken the liberty to update the language slightly for contemporary readers. See if a slow reading of these words does not kindle a deeper desire to know, serve, and obey the God who dwells in inaccessible light.
O my Father, my God, deliver me, I beg you, from all violent emotions: I know how greatly distracting these are both of the knowledge and love of You. O let none of them find a way into my heart, but let me ever possess my soul in meekness. O my God, I desire to fear them more than death; let me not serve these cruel tyrants, but You alone reign in my heart; let me be ever your servant, and love You with all my heart.
Deliver me, O God, from too intense a focus to even necessary business. I know how this pulls my thoughts from the one end of all my business, and inhibits that awareiness I have of living in Your presence. I know the narrowness of my heart, and that an eager attention to earthly things leaves it no room for the things of heaven. O teach me to go through all my tasks with so truly disengaged a heart, that I may still see You in all things, and see You as continually looking upon me; and that I may never lose that freedom of spirit which is necessary for the love of You.
Deliver me, O God, from a slothful mind, from all lukewarmness, and all dejection of spirit. I know these cannot but deaden my love to You; mercifully free my heart from them, and give me a lively, zealous, active, and cheerful spirit; that I may earnestly perform whatever You command, thankfully suffer whatever You choose for me, and be ever ardent to obey in all things Your holy love.
Deliver me, O God, from all idolatrous love of any creature. Preserve me, I beg you, from all such blind feeling; be a guard to all my desires, so that they fix on no creature any more than tends to build up my love of You. You require me to love You with all my heart: Help me, I ask you, and, You alone, be my security, that I may never open my heart to anything, but out of love to You.
Above all, deliver me, O my God, from all idolatrous self-love. I know, O God, (blessed be Your infinite mercy for giving me this knowledge) that this is the root of all evil. I know You made me, not to do my own will, but Yours. I know, the very corruption of the devil is, the having a will contrary to Yours. O be my helper against this most dangerous of all idols, that I may both discern its subtleties, and withstand all its force. O You who have commanded me to renounce myself, give me strength, and I will obey your command. My choice and desire is, to love myself, as all other creatures, in and for You. O let Your almighty arm so establish, strengthen, and settle me, that You may ever be the ground and pillar of all my love.