But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6
These words of our Saviour are plain, and to be taken literally. Here we have a positive precept for every Christian to pray alone. Closet duties declare sincerity. The more sincerity, the more the soul will be faithful in the closet. Where do you read in all the Scripture, that Pharaoh, Saul, Judas, Demas, or the scribes and Pharisees, ever poured out their souls before the Lord in secret? Secret prayer is not the hypocrite’s ordinary walk or trade. There is great cause to fear whether a heart is right with God, whose devotion is only spent among men. Only sincerity will enable a man to make a trade in private prayer. When we pray in public, there are many things that might bribe and provoke a carnal heart: pride, vain-glory, applause, or a great name. A hypocrite in all his duties trades more for a good name than for a good life, and a good report than for a good conscience – like fiddlers more careful in tuning their instruments, than in composing their lives. In private prayer, there is no such influence. God will reward his people outwardly for their faithfulness in secret. He will reward them here in part, and hereafter in all perfection. He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. They that sow in tears secretly shall reap in joy openly. Private prayer shall be rewarded before men and angels. How openly did God reward Daniel for his secret prayer! (Dan. 6:10, 23-28). God in the great day will recompense his people before all the world, for every secret prayer, tear, sigh, and groan from his people. In that day, he will declare to men and angels how often his people have poured out their souls before him in secret places, and will accordingly reward them. Ah, Christians! If we really believed this, how we would be in private prayer more frequently and more abundantly.
Over the past fifty years there has been a great resurgence of interest in the writings of the Puritans. The reading of their works has brought great benefit to the people of God in many lands. Christians from many different backgrounds and cultures owe a great debt of gratitude to those faithful pastors and preachers who continue to speak through their writings even though they have long since entered into their heavenly reward. The Puritans really knew how to teach and apply God’s Word in the Spirit’s power!
Richard Rushing has compiled this book of daily devotional readings from his favorite Puritan authors because of the great help he has gained from their works. “How thrilling it has been for me to read the Puritans on the glory and attributes of God, divine providence, fellowship with God, holiness of life and the mortification of indwelling sin, heavenly mindedness, prayer, evangelistic zeal, and trust in the Lord during times of affliction. At every turn these truths are eloquently taught, faithfully applied, and kindly offered as the subject of sweet spiritual meditation.”
This book is sent forth with the prayer that it will open a door to the vast stores of treasure to be found in the writings of the Puritans and that it will stimulate further exploration of this rich spiritual inheritance.