Wesley, John - Sermon 89 - extract on how to pray
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The generality of Christians, as soon as they rise, are accustomed to use some kind of prayer; and probably to use the same form still which they learned when they were eight or ten years old.
Now I do not condemn those who proceed thus (though many do,) ...though they have used the same form, without any variation, for twenty or thirty years together. But surely there is "a more excellent way" of ordering our private devotions.
What if you were to follow the advice given by that great and good man, Mr. Law, on this subject Consider both your outward and inward state, and vary your prayers accordingly. For instance:
Suppose your outward state is prosperous; suppose you are in a state of health, ease, and plenty, having your lot cast among kind relations, good neighbours, and agreeable friends, that love you and you them; then your outward state manifestly calls for praise and thanksgiving to God.
On the other hand, if you are in a state of adversity; if God has laid trouble upon your loins; if you are in poverty, in want, in outward distress; if you are in any imminent danger; if you are in pain and sickness; then you are clearly called to pour out your soul before God in such prayer as is suited to your circumstances.
In like manner you may suit your devotions to your inward state, the present state of your mind.
Is your soul in heaviness, ...Then let your prayer consist of such confessions, petitions, and supplications, as are agreeable to your distressed situation of mind.
On the contrary, is your soul in peace? Are you rejoicing in God? Are his consolations not small with you? Then say, with the Psalmist: "Thou art my God, and I will love thee: Thou art my God, and I will praise thee."
You may, likewise, when you have time, add to your other devotions a little reading and meditation, and perhaps a psalm of praise, -- the natural effusion of a thankful heart. You must certainly see that this is "a more excellent way" than the poor dry form which you used before.