Many Christians find private prayer a difficult duty, and thus they either totally neglect it, or are negligent in their performance of it. In Private Prayer: A Christian Duty, Puritan pastor Oliver Heywood illustrates the necessity of spending time in private prayer each day. Using Matthew 6:6 as his text (“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”), Heywood teaches how to cultivate a habit of daily prayer which is both refreshing and delightful. He reviews the time, place, and content appropriate for our private prayers, and answers several objections that are commonly used to excuse ourselves from praying regularly—including lack of time, cold-heartedness, wandering thoughts, and not knowing what to say. Several Scriptural instances of private prayer are explored, including the Lord’s Prayer and the mighty wrestling of Jacob in prayer (Genesis 32). Through this teaching, the believer will find resources and encouragement to help fulfill this beneficial obligation.
Oliver Heywood (1630–1702) was an English Puritan pastor who was deprived of his pulpit for his Protestant beliefs. He cheerfully endured imprisonment and the confiscation of his worldly possessions so that he might bring the truth of the Gospel to his countrymen. Heywood published this book in 1671 while travelling from town to town preaching, in an itinerant ministry that spanned most of his career.
Out-of-print for nearly two hundred years, this classic treatise has been carefully prepared for the benefit of a new generation of Christian readers. Even those not accustomed to Puritan works will find Heywood’s warm and engaging style both eminently useful and Christ-exalting.