It may be the best one-sentence description of a Puritan I’ve ever read. A man commented to Puritan Richard Rogers after his thorough teaching on the spiritual life, “I like you and your company very well, but you are so precise.” “O sir,” said Rogers, “I serve a precise God.” Puritans sought to be as precise as possible in love and service to God. Richard Rogers (1551-1618) was vicar of an Anglican church in Wethersfield, England. Puritans were harassed for their nonconformity to The Book of Common Prayer for refusing to wear a surplice (clerical robe) and making the sign of the cross in baptism. Richard, along with other Puritan clergy, were summarily removed from their pulpits for refusing to submit to everything prescribed in the prayer book. Richard frequently fielded questions from people on how to live with God. He wrote the book Seven Treatises in 1603 as his response. One treatise sets forth eight principles on what it means to live every day with God that follows here. Why not walk through this list in prayer? Confess and receive forgiveness. Ask for a ready mind to resist evil and find joy in serving God. Give thanks and pray for a steadfast heart. The last act in prayer invites us to lie down in peace. “Make us to lie down in green pastures and lead us beside still waters” (Psalm 23.2). May we lie down in God’s peace today:
1. Every day we are humbled by our sins.
2, Every day we are assured of God’s forgiveness.
3. Every day we prepare our minds to seek the Lord.
4. Every day we arm ourselves against evil.
5. Every day we nourish love and joy in the Lord.
6. Every day we give thanks for benefits received.
7. Every day we pray for steadfastness and constancy.
8. Every day we keep peace with God and lie down in it.
Rev. Dr. Peter James served 42 years as the senior of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, VA — 21 years in the 20th century and 21 years in the 21st century. He retired in 2021 and now serves as Pastor-in-Residence at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Even as a pastor, prayer came slowly to Pete. Read Pete’s story.