Excerpt From “The Book Of Private Devotions” By Hannah Moore (1745 - 1833)
In prayer, then, the perfections of God, and especially his mercies in our redemption, should occupy our thoughts as much as our sins; our obligations to him as much as our departures from him. We should keep up in our hearts a constant sense of our own weakness, not with a design to discourage the mind and depress the spirits, but with a view to drive us out of ourselves in search of the Divine assistance. We should contemplate our infirmity in order to draw us to look for His strength, and to seek that power from God which we vainly look for in ourselves: we do not tell a sick friend of his danger in order to grieve and terrify him, but to induce him to apply to his physician, and to have recourse to his remedy.
The success of prayer, though promised to all who offer it in perfect sincerity, is not so frequently promised to the cry of distress, to the impulse of fear, or the emergency of the moment, as to humble perseverance in devotion; it is to patient waiting, to assiduous solicitation, to unwearied importunity that God has declared that He will lend His ear, that He will give the communication of His Spirit, that He will grant the return of our requests. Nothing but this holy perseverance can keep up in our minds a humble sense of our dependence. It is not by a mere casual petition, however passionate, but by habitual application, that devout affections are excited and maintained, that our converse with Heaven is carried on. It is by no other means that can be assured, with St. Paul, that" we are risen with Christ," but this obvious one — that we thus seek the things which are above; that the heart is renovated; that the mind is lifted above this low scene of things; that the spirit breathes in a purer atmosphere; that the whole man is enlightened, and strengthened, and purified; and that the more frequently so the more nearly we approach to the throne of God.
Every prayer should he offered in the name of Jesus. Through him alone we have access with boldness to the throne of grace. He is our advocate with the Father. When the believer appears before God in secret, the Saviour appears also: for he "ever liveth to make intercession for us." He hath not only directed us to call upon his Father as "Our Father" and to ask him to supply our daily need, and to forgive us our trespasses; but hath graciously assured us that "whatsoever (we) shall ask in his name, he will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John, xiv. 13.). And saith (14th verse,) "if ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." And again (John xvi. 23, 24.) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." All needful blessing oft suited to our various situations and circumstances in this mortal life, — all that will be necessary for us in the hour of death, and all that can minister to our felicity in a world of glory, hath he graciously promised, and given us a command to ask for, in his name. And what is this but to plead, when praying to our heavenly Father, that Jesus hath sent us; and to ask and expect the blessings for his sake alone?
God is faithful, who hath promised. He saith, concerning everyone who ''hath set his love upon" him, "He shall call upon me and I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him" (Ps. xci. 14, 15.). His promises are evidently designed to direct us in our supplications, and to excite in us an expectation of their fulfilment. And what is prayer but the offering up of the desires of the heart for some good thing, which the Lord hath directly or indirectly promised in his holy word to bestow? The very act itself implies that a blessing may be vouchsafed, in answer to our petitions; and his promises assure us there will, though the time and manner of conferring it are reserved to himself: and he best knows what will suit us, and the best possible time of bestowing it. Therefore, he who obeys the divine precepts heartily, pleads the promises in prayer perseveringly, waits their fulfilment patiently, and is content if God be glorified, though himself be not gratified, may confidently expect seasonable and suitable answers to all the prayers he offers in sincerity at a throne of grace, in the name of Jesus.
(Editor's Note: Hannah Moore, according to the book Glorious Companions: Five Centuries Of Anglican Spirituality by Richard H. Schmidt , was a socialite, friend of John Newton and William Wilberforce. A socialite, she was the second youngest of five daughters. Her writings came out of her desire to run schools and work among the poor. She also wrote in support of abolition of slavery.)