Prayer thoughts by John Wesley

Prayer Thoughts

from John Wesley (1703 – 1791)



TREMENDOUS INSIGHT:  All of God’s Works Are Done In Believing Prayer.  All who desire the grace of God are to wait for it in the way of prayer.


SECRET PRAYER:  There is a time when thou art openly to glorify God, to pray and to praise Him in the great congregation.  But when thou desirest more largely and more particularly to make thy request know unto God…use all the privacy thou canst.  (Only leave it not undone, whether thou hast any closet, any privacy, or no).  POUR OUT ALL THEY HEART BEFORE HIM.  He shall reward thee openly.  “Pray to thy Father which is in secret”. (Matthew 6:6)


VAIN REPETITIONS:  Do not use abundance of words without any meaning.  Say not the same thing over and over again;  think not the fruit of your prayers depends on the length of them…The thing here reproved is not simply the length, any more than the shortness of our prayers;  but, length without meaning;  speaking much, and meaning little or nothing.  Not all repetitions are vain:  for our Lord Himself prayed thrice, repeating the same words.  “Use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do.”  (Matthew 6:7)


ON PRAYER MEETINGS:  He wrote on one occasion:  Every time I preached I found more and more hope that God would revive His work in this city.  I know He will, if the prayer meetings are restored; THESE ARE NEVER WITHOUT FRUIT.  In his famous Letters we read:  I love prayer meetings and which they were set up in every corner of town.


CHARACTER OF ONE TO WHOM PRAYER IS A CONSTANT ATTITUDE OF THE SOUL:  For indeed he “prays without ceasing”.  It is given him “always to pray, and not to faint”.  Not that he is always in the house of prayer; though he neglects no opportunity of being there.  Neither is he always on his knees, although he often is, or on his face, before the Lord his God.  Nor yet is he always crying aloud to God, or calling upon Him in words; for many times ‘the Spirit maketh intercession for him with groans that cannot be uttered”.  HIS HEART IS EVER LIFTED UP TO GOD, AT ALL TIMES, AND IN ALL PLACES.  In this he is never hindered, much less interrupted, by any person or thing.  In retirement, or company, in leisure, business, or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord.  Whether he lies down, or rises up, God is in all his thoughts;  he walks with God continually, having the loving eye of his mind still fixed on Him, and everywhere “seeing Him that is invisible”.




O Lord, seeing there is in Christ Jesus an infinite fullness of all that we can want or wish, O that we may all receive of His fullness, grace upon grace; grace to pardon our sins and subdue our iniquities, to justify our persons and to sanctify our souls; and to complete that holy change, that renewal of our hearts, whereby we may be transformed into the blessed image wherein Thou didst create us.  O make us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of thy saints in light.


THE BEST OF ALL IS, GOD IS WITH US!  “I’ll praise…” I’ll praise where among his very last words, attempting to repeat a psalm, February 1791.








“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be offered for all men…” (1 Timothy 2:1 NEB)


“Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the fellowship must enter every day.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer


If we are to be good intercessors it might be helpful to learn more about what intercessory prayer is.  In Prayer Power Unlimited, by J. Oswald Sanders, he lists the five principle elements of prayer:

adoration (worship); confessions; thanksgiving; petition and intercession (sometimes together called supplication).  He says that “prayer cannot be analysed, since it is a unity, an outpouring of the single life of the one who prays.”  But healthy prayer should have all those elements.


The Lord’s Prayer that we looked at last week is an example of complete praying with these elements.  The prayer is half way completed before personal need is mentioned.  Worship, thanksgiving, and confession are the Godward aspects of prayer.  Petition and intercession the aspects that are directed towards man.


The word petition is from the Greek word meaning ‘to beg, to lack’.  It refers to asking for one’s personal needs.  It comes from a sense of inadequacy, the inability to meet one’s own needs.  “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in times of need.” Hebrews 4:16.


In intercession we are concerned for the needs and interests of others.  When we more from petition to intercession we are shifting our centre of gravity from our own needs to the needs and concerns of those around us.  Intercessory prayer is selfless prayer, even self-giving prayer.  In the on-going work of the Kingdom of God nothing is more important than intercessory prayer.  The idea behind the Greek word here is “to fall in with a person, to draw near so as to converse freely, and hence to have freedom of access”.  It is a word used to describe a child who goes to his father on behalf of another, or a person who enters the king’s presence for another.  The pray-er forgets himself and his own needs and identifies with the needs of the one for whom he prays.  (Two examples for reflection:  The prayers of Abraham for Sodom, Genesis 18:23-33, and Moses for Israel, Exodus 32:1-14).


We are not left alone in this work of intercessory prayer.  Our humble prayers of intercession are backed up and reinforced by our eternal Intercessor.  Paul assures us that it is “Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.”  Romans 8:34.  As if to intensify the truth of this, the writer to the Hebrews declares Jesus an eternal priest after the order of Melchizedek who “always lives to make intercession” Hebrews 7:25.


Gracious Holy Spirit, so much of my life seems

To revolve around my interests and my welfare.

I would like to live just one day in which every-

Thing I did benefited someone besides myself.

Perhaps prayer for others is a starting point.

Help me to do so without any need for praise

or reward.

                                                            In Jesus’ name.