King David once wrote this in a song, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (133:1).
David celebrated what many Christians experienced after a political storm that ended in 1660. For hundreds of years later the winds of the Puritan Movement blew. The religious phenomenon took different forms in things like family worship and private devotion.
Even so, one conviction created an astounding unity among many branches of Christendom: namely, that the authority of Scripture should shape the whole of the Christian life, including the shaping of one’s life in prayer. These convictions knit together English dissenters and Anglican evangelicals, Congregationalists and New England Presbyterians, and others.
A minister and professor in England named Arthur Bennett (1915-1994) wrote that these groups born out of the Puritan Movement had “a close-knit union that transcended differences of worship, discipline, and polity. They spoke the same language, shared the same code of values … breathed out the same God-centered aspirations.”
Part of the same spiritual air they breathed was their practical devotion to prayer and meditation. This shaped the strength of their character. Like King David, some of their prayers have not been lost. They kept track of what they prayed. They wrote down their prayers. Keeping a prayer journal is a way to keep track of one’s life.
Some of their prayers have been gathered and reworked into the book,“The Valley of Vision,” edited by Arthur Bennett. Here is the prayer titled, “God’s Cause.”
SOVEREIGN GOD, Thy Cause, not my own, engages my heart, and I appeal to you with greatest freedom to set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns:
Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice, for to bring honour to thy name is my sole desire.
I adore thee that thou art God, and long that others should know it, feel it, and rejoice in it.
O that all people might love and praise thee, that thou mightest have all glory from the intelligent world!
Let sinners be brought to thee for thy dear name!
To the eye of reason everything respecting the conversion of others is as dark as midnight.
But thou can accomplish great things; the cause is thine, and it is to thy glory that people should be saved.
Lord, use me as thou wilt, do with me what thou wilt; but, O, promote thy cause, let thy kingdom come, let thy blessed interest be advanced in this world!
O do thou bring in great numbers to Jesus! let me see that glorious day, and give me to grasp for multitudes of souls; Let me be willing to die to that end; and while I live let me labour for thee to the utmost of my strength, spending time profitably in this work, both in health and in weakness.
It is thy cause and kingdom I long for, not my own.
O, answer thou my request!
Yes. Long after the political storm that created the Puritan Movement has subsided, we can still enjoy the same wind of the Spirit that runs through their prayers. For when God’s people live in unity, “there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” (verse 3).
Now that’s something to Celebrate!