Taken From A Narrative of the Early Life, Travels, and Gospel Labors of Jessey Kersey, Late of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Chapman, 1851, pages 187-189.
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[P. 187] It appears to me that this important concern is not correctly estimated by many professors of religion; and therefore on entering into the act, they lose sight of the advice of the Saviour upon this awful subject. It appears clear, that he encouraged his disciples to live in a state of prayer,--that they should always cherish in their minds, desires, for the blessings of preservation; and therefore has promised that if we ask, we shall receive. Now it is evident if no request is made, there can be no reason to expect that anything will be [P. 188] granted. But those precious souls who are quickened by an experimental knowledge of the love of God, are always leaning upon, and looking to the Divine Spirit for preservation; and therefore they ask in agreement with the mind of the spirit, and that which they ask for they receive.
But although such are the blessed privileges of the saints, yet it may be taken for granted, that in the multitude of expressions used by many in the form of prayer, it is in reality not such, and therefore will not be granted. In the sixth chapter of Matthew the Saviour has furnished such views of this subject as every Christian should seriously examine and consider. He charges the Pharisees with loving to pray standing at the corners of the streets, that they might be seen of men. He also remarked that they made use of many words; as if the great giver of every good and perfect gift required to be informed of what we stood in need of. On this point he tells us that our Father knoweth what we stand in need of before we ask him. He therefore recommends us to make our prayers in secret; and assures us that our Father who sees in secret, himself will reward us openly. As I have reflected upon this subject, I have been convinced that it is time for a reform to take place in relation to it.
Many meetings are held that go under the name of prayer meetings; and in them the persons composing them are in the practice of what they call praying, one after another. So far as I can understand the subject, it would be improper for the different members to repeat their request for the same thing. If one person is authorized to pray in a meeting, his prayer is offered on behalf of all that are present. And it appears [P. 189] like a repetition, for another to put up his request in the same meeting for the same thing.
By prayer, I understand that the individual solicits that the will of God may be done. Any other request must be contrary to the Divine Mind, and therefore could not be acceptable to the Almighty, nor can we believe that it would be granted. Prayer, therefore, to be acceptable to God, must be dictated by the Divine Spirit. Consequently all those who attempt to pray without being moved thereunto by the Divine Spirit are acting in their own wills, and cannot be thereby benefitted.
In my reflections upon this subject I have been led to desire that the Society-of Friends especially, as we profess to be a spiritually minded people, we may be very guarded how we undertake to call an assembly into the solemn act of vocal supplication, upon any outward natural feeling, or consideration. In my own experience, I may say, that I have found, when I have felt something moving on my mind and seeming to point to a public act, that as I have calmly waited for a clear opening to move therein, the impression has subsided and settled away; and the mind has been released by an inward and spiritual application to the throne of grace. It is this kind of prayer that is evidently recommended by the blessed Saviour of men. Surely, if when we pray, we are to enter into the closet and shut the door,--we are then waiting upon our holy Head, and he will, according to his promise reward us openly.