Conscience, Prayer, and Public Worship (Gurnall)

The Christian in Complete Armour: 3 Volume Set Gurnall, William cover image

In his lengthy discussion of prayer based on Ephesians 6:18, William Gurnall connected it (prayer) to conscience and public worship. Habitually joining with other believers for Lord’s Day worship is a duty of the Christian. So is prayer – public and private. Here’s how Gurnall weaves these together. I’ve edited it for readability.

Make conscience of joining with the church in her public worship. Do not think you are left to your own liberty whether you will or not, but bind it upon you conscience as a duty, for so indeed it is. You think it is the minister’s duty to dispense ordinances. Surely then it is your duty to attend on them. He might as well pray for you at home as come to church and not find his people there. Is there a woe to him if he does not provide food for your souls, and none for you if you come not to partake of it? How can you reasonably think so? And when you come, think not you are on time if you get there for the sermon, though you miss the prayers, which should prepare you for the word and sanctify the word to you. It is not the way to profit by one ordinance to neglect another. The minister may preach, but God must teach you in order for you to profit. If God does not open your understanding to conceive of, and your heart to conceive by, the word you hear, no fruit will come of it. Now prayer is the key to open God’s heart, as his Spirit the key to open your heart.

William Gurnall, The Christian’s Complete Armor, II.400

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015