Private Prayer: A Christian Duty


Cover Art (1200x1600)Many Christians find private prayer a difficult duty, and thus they either totally neglect it, or are negligent in their performance of it. In Private Prayer: A Christian Duty, pastor Oliver Heywood illustrates the necessity of spending time in private prayer each day. Using Matthew 6:6 as his text, Heywood teaches how to cultivate a habit of daily prayer which is both refreshing and delightful. He reviews the time, place, and content appropriate for our private prayers, and answers several objections that are commonly used to excuse ourselves from praying regularly—including lack of time, cold-heartedness, wandering thoughts, and not knowing what to say. Several Scriptural instances of private prayer are explored, including the Lord’s Prayer and the mighty wrestling of Jacob in prayer (Genesis 32). Through this teaching, the believer will find resources and encouragement to help fulfill this beneficial obligation.

Oliver Heywood (1630–1702) was an English Puritan pastor who was deprived of his pulpit for his Protestant beliefs. He cheerfully endured imprisonment and the confiscation of his worldly possessions so that he might bring the truth of the Gospel to his countrymen. Heywood published this book in 1671 while travelling from town to town preaching, in an itinerant ministry that spanned most of his career.

Out-of-print for nearly two hundred years, this classic treatise has been carefully prepared for the benefit of a new generation of Christian readers. Even those not accustomed to Puritan works will find Heywood’s warm and engaging style both eminently useful and Christ-exalting.

Contents and Outline:

  1. Introductory Observations
    1. The context considered
    2. The words explained
    3. The doctrines suggested
    4. Several instances in Scripture of private prayer
  2. Reasons to Prove that Private Prayer is a Christian Duty
    1. Privacy is convenient for prayer
    2. The relationship between God and a genuine Christian
    3. God’s omniscience and omnipresence
    4. The liberality of God
  3. Comprising Information—
    1. Concerning places of prayer
    2. On the nature of prayer
    3. The effectiveness of private prayer
    4. A love of retirement is characteristic of a true Christian
  4. Cases Which Merit Reprehension
    1. Wicked men reproved
    2. Professors of religion reproved
  5. Instructions Relative to Private Devotions
    1. On preparation
    2. Directions concerning what is essential to private prayer
    3. The circumstances of secret prayer
    4. In what way attention may be profitably occupied after having been engaged in devotional exercises
  6. On the Matter or Words of Prayer
    1. The Lord’s Prayer
    2. Jacob, an example of powerful pleading with God
  7. A Conclusion to the Subject of Private Prayer
    1. The exhortation of the text enforced
    2. Several objections considered and answered
    3. Some cases of conscience examined and solved

Paperback (ISBN 9781499524345), $14.99; e-Book (ISBN 9781312707023), $4.99. 129 pages. Available from these e-tailers:

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