Scudder: Formalism in Prayer

Scudder: Formalism in Prayer

From The Christian’s Daily Walk

 A heartless, hasty, prayer is an agent to sin.  A cursory performing of holy duties is a highway to a habit of hypocrisy.


A caution to be observed in your preparation to prayer, and in prayer, is: be not slight and formal herein. This is when you, cursorily [hastily] and out of custom only, [bring forward] your sins, your duties, God’s favours and his promises into a bare and fruitless remembrance. For:

  • if the heart be not seriously affected with anger, fear, grief, and shame for sin;
  • if it be not affected with a thankful acknowledgment of being beholden to God for his favours;
  • if it be not affected with hope and confidence in God at the remembrance of his blessed promises;
  • if the heart be not gained to a renewed resolution to reform what is faulty, and to cry earnestly to God for grace and mercy; and for the time to come to endeavour to live a godly life;
  • then all your preparation is nothing.

Nay, this slight and fruitless calling of sin and duty to remembrance, and no more, is a great emboldener and strengthener of sins, and a great weakener and quencher of the Spirit. For sins are like idle vagrants and lawless subjects: if officers call such before them, and either say nothing to them or only give them threatening words, but do not smite them and make them smart, they grow ten times more bold, insolent, and lawless. Good thoughts are like dutiful servants and loyal subjects, such as are ready to come at every call and offer themselves to be employed in all good services. Now if such be not entertained with suitable regard, if they be not cherished in their readiness, they (like David’s people) return disheartened, and their edge to future service is taken off, 2 Sam 19:3. Besides, a cursory performing of holy duties is the highway to a habit of hypocrisy, that accursed bane [poison] of all that is good.