Tuesday, December 23, 2008

0 A Fountainhead of Prayer, Nourishment of the Soul

In the closing paragraphs of Flavel's Keeping the Heart (Volume 5, Complete Works of John Flavel, Banner of Truth) several motives to our active 'keeping of the heart' are offered. What we find in these last pages are honey for the soul - to have sat under the preaching of this pastor of the flock of God must have been true blessing indeed.

One such valuable paragraph is the following motivation to pursue a life of meditative reflection upon our hearts as a normal course of our lives... see if it stills and quiets your heart and sets it upon a course of continual remediation as it has me:
Acquaintance with your own hearts would be a fountain of matter to you in prayer.

A man that is diligent in heart-work and knows the state of his own soul, will have a fountain-fulness of matter to supply him richly in all his addresses to God; his tongue shall not falter and make pause for want of matter; Psal. xlv.1 "My heart is inditing a good matter:" or, as Montanus renders the original, my heart is boiling up good matter, like a living spring, that is still bubbling up fresh water; and then my tongue is as the pen of a ready writer. Others must pump their memories, rack their inventions, and are often at a loss, when they have done all; but if thou have kept, and faithfully studied, thine own heart, it will be with the (as Job speaks in another case) like bottles full of new wine that want vent, which are ready to burst. As holy matter flows plentifully, so more feelingly and sweetly from such a heart. When a heart-experienced Christian is mourning before God over some special heart-corruption, wrestling with God for the supply of some special inward want, he speaks not as other men do that have learned to pray by rote; their confessions and petitions are squeezed out; his drop freely, like pure honey from the comb. It is a happiness to be with or near such a Christian. (Volume 5, page 500, Complete Works of John Flavel, Banner of Truth)
This smacked me right upside the head like the proverbial 2x4. In this small paragraph, Flavel has given me a precious jewel, even as I am chastised at the thought that he has placed in my mind. Sadly it is true that words sometimes escape my confessional duties with God. How little, then, must I know my own heart? To prayer, to prayer, o my soul. Flavel has richly blessed the church with his call upon us to mediate seriously upon our hearts, and seek God's rich blessing of heart-knowledge. It is hard work - as we have to face the ugliness therein - but great is the grace of God showered upon the penitent sinner. I commend this passage to you for your thought and consideration; may God bless you in it as He has me.



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