Forms of Prayer: Sunday Evening
General questions which a serious Christian may propose to himself before he begins his evening devotions.
- With what degree of attention and fervour did I use my morning prayers, public or private?
- Have I done anything without a present, or at least a previous, perception of its direct or remote tendency to the glory of God?
- Did I in the morning consider what particular virtue I was to exercise, and what business I had to do, in the day?
- Have I been zealous to undertake, and active in doing, what good I could?
- Have I interested myself any farther in the affairs of others than charity required?
- Have I, before I visited or was visited, considered how I might thereby give or receive improvement?
- Have I mentioned any failing or fault of any man, when it was not necessary for the good of another?
- Have I unnecessarily grieved any one by word or deed?
- Have I before or in every action considered how it might be a means of improving in the virtue of the day?
Particular Questions Relative to the Love of God
- Have I set apart some of this day to think upon His perfections and mercies?
- Have I laboured to make this day a day of heavenly rest, sacred to divine love?
- Have I employed those parts of it in works of necessity and mercy, which were not employed in prayer, reading, and meditation?
O My Father, my God, I am in Thy hand; and may I rejoice above all things in being so. Do with me what seemeth good in Thy sight; only let me love Thee with all my mind, soul, and strength.
I magnify Thee for granting me to be born in Thy Church, and of religious parents; for washing me in Thy baptism, and instructing me in Thy doctrine of truth and holiness; for sustaining me by Thy gracious providence, and guiding me by Thy blessed Spirit; for admitting me, with the rest of my Christian brethren, to wait on Thee at Thy public worship; and for so often feeding my soul with Thy most precious body and blood, those pledges of love, and sure conveyances of strength and comfort. O be gracious unto all of us, whom Thou hast this day (or at any time) admitted to Thy holy table. Strengthen our hearts in Thy ways against all our temptations, and make us "more than conquerors" in Thy love.
O my Father, my God, deliver me, I beseech Thee, from all violent passions: I know how greatly obstructive these are both of the knowledge and love of Thee. O let none of them find a way into my heart, but let me ever possess my soul in meekness. O my God, I desire to fear them more than death; let me not serve these cruel tyrants, but do Thou reign in my breast; let me be ever Thy servant, and love Thee with all my heart.
Deliver me, O God, from too intense an application to even necessary business. I know how this dissipates my Thoughts from the one end of all my business, and impairs that lively perception I would ever retain of Thee standing at my right hand. I know the narrowness of my heart, and that an eager attention to earthly things leaves it no room for the things of heaven. O teach me to go through all my employments with so truly disengaged a heart, that I may still see Thee in all things, and see Thee therein as continually looking upon me, and searching my reins; and that I may never impair that liberty of spirit which is necessary for the love of Thee.
Deliver me, O God, from a slothful mind, from all lukewarmness, and all dejection of spirit. I know these cannot but deaden my love to Thee; mercifully free my heart from them, and give me a lively, zealous, active, and cheerful spirit; that I may vigorously perform whatever Thou commandest, thankfully suffer whatever Thou choosest for me, and be ever ardent to obey in all things Thy holy love.
Deliver me, O God, from all idolatrous love of any creature. I know infinite numbers have been lost to Thee, by loving those creatures for their own sake, which Thou permittest, nay, even commandest, to love subordinately to Thee. Preserve me, I beseech Thee, from all such blind affection; be Thou a guard to all my desires, that they fix on no creature any farther than the love of it tends to build me up in the love of Thee. Thou requirest me to love Thee with all my heart: Undertake for me, I beseech Thee, and be Thou my security, that I may never open my heart to anything, but out of love to Thee.
Above all, deliver me, O my God, from all idolatrous self-love. I know, O God (blessed be Thy infinite mercy for giving me this knowledge), that this is the root of all evil. I know, the very corruption of the devil is the having a will contrary to thine. O be Thou my helper against this most dangerous of all idols, that I may both discern all its subtleties, and withstand all its force. O Thou who hast commanded me to renounce myself, give me strength, and I will obey Thy command. My choice and desire is, to love myself, as all other creatures, in and for Thee. O let Thy almighty arm so stablish, strengthen, and settle me, that Thou mayest ever be the ground and pillar of all my love.
By this love of Thee, my God, may my soul be fixed against its natural inconstancy; by this may it be reduced to an entire indifference as to all things else, and simply desire what is pleasing in Thy sight. May this holy flame ever warm my breast, that I may serve Thee with all my might; and let it consume in my heart all selfish desires, that I may in all things regard, not myself, but Thee.
O my God, let Thy glorious name be duly honoured and loved by all the creatures which Thou hast made. Let Thy infinite goodness and greatness be ever adored by all angels and men. May Thy Church, the Catholic seminary of divine love, be protected from all the powers of darkness. O vouchsafe to all who call themselves by Thy name one short glimpse of Thy goodness. May they once taste and see how gracious Thou art, that all things else may be tasteless to them; that their desires may be always flying up towards Thee, that they may render Thee love, and praise, and obedience, pure and cheerful, constant and zealous, universal and uniform, like that the holy angels render Thee in heaven.
Send forth Thy blessed Spirit into the midst of these sinful nations, and make us a holy people: Stir up the heart of our Sovereign, of the Royal Family, of the Clergy, the Nobility, and of all whom Thou hast set over us, that they may be happy instruments in Thy hand of promoting this good work. Be gracious to the Universities, to the Gentry and Commons of this land: And comfort all that are in affliction; let the trial of their faith work patience in them, and perfect them in hope and love.
Bless my father, etc., my friends and relations, and all that belong to this family; all that have been instrumental to my good, by their assistance, advice, example, or writing; and all that do not pray for themselves.
Change the hearts of mine enemies, and give me grace to forgive them, even as Thou for Christ's sake forgivest us.
O Thou Shepherd of Israel, vouchsafe to receive me this night and ever into Thy protection; accept my poor services, and pardon the sinfulness of these and all my holy duties. O let it be Thy good pleasure shortly to put a period to sin and misery, to infirmity and death, to complete the number of thine elect, and to hasten Thy kingdom; that we, and all that wait for Thy salvation, may eternally love and praise Thee, O God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, throughout all ages, world without end. "
"Our Father," etc.
Source: ‘John Wesley's Journal