From The Return of Prayers, chapter 2.
There have been some minor updating of old English words and punctuation.
Concerning prayers put up for the ChurchFirst, there may be some prayers which you must be content never yourselves to see answered in this world, the accomplishment of them not falling out in your time. For example, those that such you haply make for the calling of the Jews, the utter downfall of God’s enemies, the flourishing of the Gospel, the full purity and liberty of God’s ordinances, and the particular flourishing and good of the society and place you live in. All you, whose hearts are right, treasure up many such prayers as these, and sow much of such precious seed, which you must be content to have the Church (it will be) in after ages [i.e., after you have passed on] to reap. All which prayers are not yet lost, but will have answers; for as God is an eternal God, and Christ’s righteousness an everlasting righteousness, and therefore of eternal efficacy (Dan 9:21), being offered up by the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14), so are prayers which are the work of the eternal Spirit of Christ, made to that God in His name, and in Him are eternally accepted and of eternal force, and therefore will take place in after ages.
- Such was the prayer that Stephen made for his persecutors, which took place in Saul when Stephen was dead.
- Such was David's prayer against Judas (Psa 109:8-9), which took effect above a thousand years after, as appears in Acts 1:20.
- Such were the prayers of the Church, for three hundred years, in the primitive times, that kings might come to the knowledge of the truth, leading them to peaceable and quiet lives in all godliness and honesty (which Paul, in Nero’s time, exhorted unto, 1 Tim 2:2,) were not answered and accomplished until Constantine’s time, when the Church brought forth a man child.
- Such was Isaiah (Isa 58), after he had exhorted to, and given directions for, fasting and prayer in a right manner, he adjoins this promise: Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach; namely for this, because his fasting and prayers might have influence into many ages yet to come, in the accomplishment of what was prayed for.