O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. Psalm 5:3
How shall we remedy our wandering thoughts in prayer? (1.) We must wait upon him for the power of his grace. As long as his love and grace are powerful in us, we are kept in a lively, heavenly frame. As this abates, the soul swerves, and returns to vanity and sin. (2.) Meditate upon the greatness of God. It is of great consequence with whom we are dealing. O if you could see him that is invisible, you would have more reverence! Imagine yourself in heaven in the midst of the blessed angels standing before the all-seeing God. O with what reverence, with what fear, should a poor worm creep into his presence! (3.) Seek to mortify the lusts that are apt to draw away your minds. What thoughts are we pestered with when we come to God? One vile affection will hinder our praying. (4.) Prepare for prayer. Take note of the impediments that distract you, and put off carnal distractions. Resolve to shut your heart against God’s enemy and direct it only to God. (5.) Focus on our purpose. Watch against the first temptation to divert our attention no matter how reasonable it seems. The devil’s policy is to cheat us of the present duty by an unseasonable distraction. He does not begin by casting in a thought of blasphemy; that would make us quake and shake. He begins with reasonable thoughts. Be careful to avoid them. Do not even dispute with the diversion, but despise it. (6.) Develop spiritual affections and you will find it more delightful to converse with God. Is there any better company than God’s when we seek our soul’s good? (7.) Consider the weight of responsibility. Are we not dealing with life and death issues? (8.) Promote solemn meditation in the things of God. As a man entertains truth in his heart, he will be ready in word and affection to avoid so frequent distractions.
Dr. Packer has had a long-standing passion for the Puritans. Their understanding of God and His ways with man has largely formed his own spirituality and theological outlook. In A Quest for Godliness, the esteemed author of Knowing God and a dozen other books shares with his readers the rich world of Puritanism that has been so influential in his own life.
Dr. Packer masterfully uncovers the hidden treasures of Puritan life and thought. With crystalline clarity he reveals the depth and breadth of Puritan spiritual life, contrasting it with the superficiality and deadness of modern Western Christianity.
Drawing on a lifetime of study, Dr. Packer takes the reader on a survey of the lives and teachings of great Puritan leaders such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, and Jonathan Edwards. He offers a close look at such subjects as the Puritan view of the Bible, spiritual gifts, the Sabbath, worship, social action, and the family. He concludes that a main difference between the Puritans and ourselves is spiritual maturity–the Puritans had it; we don’t.
In a time of failing vision and decaying values, this powerful portrait of Puritans is a beacon of hope that calls us to radical commitment and action when both are desperately needed.
A Quest for Godliness is a profoundly moving and challenging exploration of Puritan life and thought in a beautifully written book. Here is J. I. Packer at his very best.