Calvin and Spurgeon on Reverent Prayer
Although neither the word “reverence” nor “awe” is found in Matthew 6, our Lord’s instruction concerning how we are to pray begins with that idea. Insolence and presumption, the antitheses of reverential awe, have no place in the heart of a believer who is seeking God’s face. Reverence must have been what Jesus had in mind when he told us to begin our prayers with the words,
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9).
So what does reverential prayer look like or sound like. Calvin and Spurgeon together focus on one element. Said Calvin:
“Whoever engages in prayer should apply it to his faculties and efforts, and not, as commonly happens, be distracted by wandering thoughts. For nothing is more contrary to reverence for God than the levity that marks an excess of frivolity utterl devoid of awe” (Institutes, III:xx.5).
Spurgeon adds this word:
“Our prayers must never grovel; they must soar and mount. We need a heavenly frame of mind. Our addresses to the throne of grace must be solemn and humble, not flippant and loud, or formal and careless. The colloquial form of speech is out of place before the Lord; we must bow reverently and with deepest awe. We may speak boldly with God, but still he is in heaven and we are upon earth, and we are to avoid presumption. In supplication we are peculiarly before the throne of the Infinite, and as the courtier in the king’s palace puts on another mien and another manner than that which he exhibits to his fellow courtiers, so should it be with us” (Lectures to My Students, 55).