May I but speak of my own experience, and from that tell you the difficulty of praying to God as I ought; it is enough to make your poor, blind, carnal men, to entertain strange thoughts of me. For, as for my heart, when I go to pray, I find it so loath to go to God, and when it is with him, so loath to stay with him, that many times I am forced in my prayers; first to beg God that he would take mine heart, and set it on himself in Christ, and when it is there, that he would keep it there (Ps. 86:11). Nay, many times I know not what to pray for, I am so blind, nor how to pray, I am so ignorant; only (blessed be grace) the Spirit helps our infirmities (Rom. 8:26).
Oh the starting-holes that the heart hath in time of prayer! None knows how many by-ways the heart hath, and back-lanes, to slip away from the presence of God. How much pride also, if enabled with expressions? How much hypocrisy if before others? And how little conscience is there made of prayer between God and the soul in secret, unless the Spirit of supplication (Zech. 12:10) be there to help?
O how great a task is it, for a poor soul that becomes sensible of sin, and the wrath of God, to say in faith, but this one word, Father!
Oh! saith he, I dare not call him Father; and hence it is, that the Spirit must be sent into the hearts of God’s people for this very thing, to cry, Father (Gal. 4:6), it being too great a work for any man to do knowingly and believeingly, without it…No, here is the life of prayer, when in, or with the Spirit, a man being made sensible of sin, and how to come to the Lord for mercy; he comes, I say, in the strength of the Spirit, and cryeth, Father. That one word spoken in faith, is better than a thousand prayers, as men call them, written and read, in a formal, cold, lukewarm way.