Jonathan Edwards and Resolutions (64): Warm, Vibrant, and Consistent Prayer Life
64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
I love this resolution. A lot. The warmth and sensitivity to the Spirit it exudes is clear and biographies about Edwards testify to this spiritual sensitivity. Edwards was joyful- far from some Calvinistic stoic. Yes, he was serious. Yes, he was an intellectual (perhaps the greatest in American history) yet, not rigid, cold, or ignorant to the Spirit of God's prompting. Now, perhaps this resolution was made because Edwards was inclined toward academia at the expense of a warm, vibrant Spirit-filled prayer life. I am not sure. But the testimony of Edwards' life paints a vibrant, joyful interest in and love of God.
This resolution also unsettles me because I fall so short of this sort of Spirit-mindfulness in my own prayer life. However, here we have Edwards paying attention to the state of his soul and the orientation of his soul to God. There are promptings here Edwards wants to pray about. And instead of suppressing these 'longings of the soul' or ignoring 'groanings', he aimed to give himself space to pray. And not just pray but pray consistently. Perhaps as he crafted this resolution he had the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge in mind (Luke 18:1-8). It is in that parable that Jesus teaches an important lesson about dependency, consistency, and the justice of God. In the parable, the widow has been wronged and she consistently pleads with an unjust judge (who does not fear God) to bring her adversary to justice. The judge is so overwhelmed by the persistence of the widow that he ends up granting her request. Jesus concludes the parable by saying this:
7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? zWill he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8)
Our God is just. He is good and He invites us to come to Him for all things. He isn't annoyed by us and as we pray according to His will, He truly accomplishes his work through the means of our prayers. Furthermore, Scripture informed sensitivity and consistency in prayer is a key ingredient to a warm, joyful walking with God.