*Praying for Salvation
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
Psalm 19:8 NIV
There is a kind of order wherein God Himself is generally pleased to use these means in bringing a sinner to salvation. One goes senselessly on in his own way. God comes upon him unaware—by an awakening sermon or conversation, an awful providence, or a stroke of His convincing Spirit without any outward means. Having now a desire to flee from the wrath of God, he purposely goes to hear how it may be done. If he finds a preacher who speaks to the heart, he is amazed and begins searching the scriptures.
The more he hears and reads, the more convinced he is; the more he meditates day and night. By these means, the arrows of conviction sink deeper into his soul. He begins to talk of the things of God and to pray to Him, scarce knowing what to say. Perhaps it is only in “groans which cannot be uttered,” perhaps doubting whether the high and lofty God will regard such a sinner as he. So he goes to pray with those who know God, in the congregation. He observes others partaking of the Lord’s Supper. He thinks, “Christ has said, ‘Do this!’ How is it that I do not? I am too great a sinner; I am not worthy.”
He struggles awhile, finally breaking through; and so he continues in God’s way: in hearing, reading, meditating, praying, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper; till, in the manner that pleases Him, God speaks, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this forty-fifth lesson on prayer, Wesley again talks of the providence of God in saving a person, specifically in the process God may use by means of grace. In the scripture Wesley draws from, Psalm 19:8, we get a glimpse of how God permeates everything He gives us to draw us to himself. But a complete reading of Psalm 19 gives us even more insight.
1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, 5Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. 6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. 7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. 10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. 12Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. 13Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. 14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer (NASB).
Notice the progression of revelation God provides about Himself in this Psalm. We notice first in verses 1-6 that nature tells of God’s glory. The apostle Paul says in Romans 1:18-20, “18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (NASB). This is called general revelation.
Next, we see God’s law, His testimony, His precepts, His commandments, His fear, and his judgments. They are more desirable than gold and sweeter than the honeycomb. These are known as special revelation. Of course, Jesus is the culmination of special revelation.
Lastly, we see how general revelation and special revelation lead to personal revelation, where God is working sufficiently in the heart of man.
Wesley sums up his lesson with, “He struggles awhile, finally breaking through; and so he continues in God’s way: in hearing, reading, meditating, praying, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper; till, in the manner that pleases Him, God speaks, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’”