Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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A Word About Written Prayers

by William Carson

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The Knowledgeable Reader will recall that the Puritans did not think much of written prayers. They encouraged extempore prayer both in public and private worship. However, they did not condemn written prayers per se.

The Puritans felt that using written prayers to the exclusion of extempore prayer would inhibit the working of the Holy Spirit and lead to a stunted prayer life. Surely this is true. However, we have the opposite problem in the church today: our contemporary prayers are hasty, vapid, repetitious, and stilted. "Stunted" would be an over-generous characterization for most of our prayers today!

I have therefore started to include a selection of prayers from the Puritans, Spurgeon, and other sources in Fire and Ice. It is my hope that they will be examples, not for slavish imitation, but to widen our horizons and enlarge our expectations for prayer.

It is important to remember Thomas Boston's admonition that a special giftedness in prayer is not necessarily the influence of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the reverse may sometimes be true. It is my hope that the reader, as he considers these materials in Fire and Ice, will increase in his dependence on the Holy Spirit of prayer.

A quote from Thomas Fuller:

"So many confess their weakness, in denying to confess it, who, refusing to be beholden to a set form of prayer, prefer to say nonsense, rather than nothing, in their extempore expressions. More modesty, and no less piety, it had been for such men to have prayed longer with set forms that they might pray better without them."

Under the Blood, a prayer of Spurgeon

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