Personal Reformation, Part 2
This is part 2 of Robert Murray M'Cheyne's Personal Reformation. This section deals primarily with prayer as a means of grace and of keeping the heart.
I ought not to omit any of the parts of prayer—confession, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, and intercession.
I ought to pray before seeing any one.
- “Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, and then have family prayer, and breakfast, and forenoon callers, often it is eleven or twelve o’clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system.”
- “Family prayer loses much of its power and sweetness; and I can do no good to those who come to seek from me. The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, and the lamp untrimmed. Then, when secret prayer comes, the soul is often out of tune.”
- “I feel it is far better to begin with God—to see His face first—to get my soul near Him before it is near another.”
- “If I have slept too long, or am going an early journey, or my time is any way shortened, it is best to dress hurriedly, and have a few minutes alone with God, than to give it up for lost.”
- “In general, it is best to have at least one hour alone with God, before engaging in anything else.”
- “I must be careful not to reckon communion with God by minutes or hours, or by solitude…I have pored over my Bible, and on my knees for hours, with little or no communion; and my times of solitude have been often times of greatest temptation.”
I ought to daily intercede for…
- My own family, connections, relatives, friends.
- My flock—the believers, the awakened, the careless, the sick, the bereaved, the poor, the rich, my elders, Sabbath school teachers, day-school teachers, children, tract-distributors—that all means may be blessed.
- Sabbath-day preaching and teaching, visiting of the sick, visiting from house to house, providence, sacraments.
- The whole town, the Church of Scotland, all faithful ministers, for vacant congregations, students of divinity, for missionaries to Jews and Gentiles.
I ought to pray far more for our church, for our leading ministers by name, and for my own clear guidance in the right way, that I may not be led aside, or driven aside, from following Christ.
I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God.
- It is my noblest and most fruitful employment, and not to be thrust into any corner.
- The morning hours, from six to eight, are the most uninterrupted, and should be thus employed, if I can prevent drowsiness.
I ought not to give up the good old habit of prayer before going to bed; but guard must be kept against sleep.
I ought to read three chapters of the Bible in secret every day, at least.
I ought on Sabbath morning to look over all the chapters read through the week, and especially the verses marked.
It must be acknowledged that Robert Murray M’Cheyne lived in a particular time and place and thus all of his routines may not readily apply to our modern setting. Yet, we should all appreciate his thoughtfulness and care given to the upkeep of his soul. We can learn from M’Cheyne although we do not adopt every routine that he had. What is most important is that we have a method, a plan for how we will grow in grace and the knowledge of God. M’Cheyne was deliberate in his communion with God and pursuit of holiness, he had a method. What is your strategy and method for growing in your faith and drawing near to God?
George Mueller (1805-1895), pastor, evangelist, director of orphanages in Bristol, England would heartily agree with M'Cheyne's personal reformation. He said the following about the importance of daily communion with God:
- "According to my judgment the most important point to be attended to is this: above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself! Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself."