“May the God of Samuel Pearce be my God!”

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Samuel Pearce’s (1766–1799) only pastoral charge was at Cannon Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, England. Here he labored for the conversion of many of the illiterate poor of Birmingham who had been drawn to the city because of work in the factories of the Industrial Revolution. He saw some 335 converted and baptized during his ten-year ministry. His passion for the lost found outlet in other venues: preaching in neighboring villages; writing tracts for Muslim sailors and dock workers in London; ardently supporting the first missionary society, the Baptist Missionary Society that sent William Carey to India in 1793 (Carey was one of his closest friends); going on an arduous mission to Ireland for six weeks and preaching to Roman Catholics.

In short, his friend Andrew Fuller saw him as a paradigm of missionary spirituality. No wonder Fuller prayed: “May the God of Samuel Pearce be my God!”


Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

Judson’s Baptismal Prayer

By Evan D. Burns

The first American missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850), wrote a number of different kinds of tracts, some of which have never been translated before into English. For my Ph.D. dissertation research, I have managed the translation project of a few of his untranslated Burmese tracts. It is fascinating to read them for the first time in English. For instance, in one of his practical tracts for church order and discipleship, The Septenary, Judson suggested this prayer as part of the closing liturgy for the baptism service:

Prayer to be said before baptism….  O almighty and everlasting God, who has great compassion; previously I/we had worshiped and followed the wrong god and have transgressed against our Saviour and have sinned.  By your grace I/we repent and confess my/our sins.  Referring to the fact that those who believe in Jesus Christ and took baptism will be saved, with faith I/we ask to be baptized.  As body filth is washed off by water may my/our conscience be washed off by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Like the dead body of flesh is buried in the ground through baptism, die as son of the world and in coming out of the water help me/us to resurrect as new person of heaven.  The person who takes baptism must discard wrong religion and worship the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit till the end of days.  Rejecting own preference, bear the cross and follow Jesus Christ.  I/we promise to try and put into effect all the principles a believer should follow.  Grant upon me/us the Holy Spirit so that I/we do not break my/our promise and abide with the principles all the days of my/our life/lives.  I/we reverently pray that when I/we pass away from this world let me/us be at thy foot together with the saints enjoying the never-ending heavenly riches, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.[1]

[1]Adoniram Judson, The Septenary, or Seven Manuals, 2nd ed. (Maulmain: American Baptist Mission Press, 1836), 66-67.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Fuller’s Sketch of the Lord’s Prayer

By Evan D. Burns

Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) was a skillful pastor-theologian.  He was also a soul physician who knew how to guide God’s people into a deeper knowledge of Christ.  Below is an example of Fuller’s ability to unfold the principles and meaning of Scripture in a way that is clear, practical, and faithful to the text.  Fuller summarizes the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9-15) with a few simple observations:[1]

If in anything we need Divine instruction, it is in drawing near to God. It does not appear to have been Christ’s design to establish a form of prayer, nor that it was ever so used by the disciples; but merely a brief directory as to the matter and manner of it. Such a directory was adapted not only to instruct, but to encourage Christians in their approaches to God.

  1.  First, The character under which we are allowed to draw near to the Lord of heaven and earth.—“Our Father.”
  2. Secondly, The place of the Divine residence.—“Our Father, who art in heaven.”
  3. Thirdly, The social principle which pervades the prayer.—“Our Father—forgive us,” etc.
  4. Fourthly, The brevity of it.—“Use not vain repetitions, but in this manner pray ye.”
  5. Fifthly, The order of it.—Our attention is first directed to those things which are of the first importance, and which are fundamental to those which follow.

As there are three petitions in respect of God’s name and cause in the world, so there are three which regard our own immediate wants; one of which concerns those which are temporal, and the other two those which are spiritual.

  1.  “Give us this day (or day by day) our daily bread.” Bread comprehends all the necessaries, but none of the superfluities, of life.
  2. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” As bread in this prayer comprehends all the necessaries of life, so the forgiveness of sin comprehends the substance of all that is necessary for the well-being of our souls.
  3. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The last petition respected the bestowment of the greatest good; this, deliverance from the worst of evils. Christ teaches us to suspect ourselves.

The concluding doxology, though omitted by Luke, and thought by some not to have been originally included by Matthew, appears to agree with the foregoing petitions, and to furnish encouragement to hope for an answer.

[1]Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 1: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 578-583.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”: Spurgeon's Meditations on the Lord's Prayer

By Evan D. Burns

Charles Spurgeon was a master at taking a familiar biblical text and staring at it long and hard until he saw mountains of spiritual treasure emerge.  He read the Bible as a beggar in search for bread, and he never stopped looking even in places he had searched before. Here is a simple example of his active meditation on a familiar text—“The Lord’s Prayer” (Matt 6:9).  Let us seek and find the riches of God's Word, even in familiar places.

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, etc.” Matthew 6:9.

This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.”

This child-like spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be thy name.” The child lisping, “Abba, Father,” grows into the cherub crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

There is but a step from rapturous worship to the glowing missionary spirit, which is a sure outgrowth of filial love and reverent adoration—“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Next follows the heartfelt expression of dependence upon God—“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Being further illuminated by the Spirit, he discovers that he is not only dependent, but sinful, hence he entreats for mercy, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors:” and being pardoned, having the righteousness of Christ imputed, and knowing his acceptance with God, he humbly supplicates for holy perseverance, “Lead us not into temptation.” The man who is really forgiven, is anxious not to offend again; the possession of justification leads to an anxious desire for sanctification. “Forgive us our debts,” that is justification; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” that is sanctification in its negative and positive forms.

As the result of all this, there follows a triumphant ascription of praise, “Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.”  We rejoice that our King reigns in providence and shall reign in grace, from the river even to the ends of the earth, and of his dominion there shall be no end.

Thus from a sense of adoption, up to fellowship with our reigning Lord, this short model of prayer conducts the soul. Lord, teach us thus to pray.[1]

 [1]Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, “October 29.”


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.

Prayer: Common Ground for Origen of Alexandria and Fuller of Kettering

By Dustin W. Benge

Throughout church history men have written treatises on the subject of prayer using the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9–13) as a framework to shape their pastoral instruction. Perhaps no connection could be made between early church father, Origen of Alexandria (184/185–253/254) and Andrew Fuller (1754–1815), except they both gave insightful expositions on the Lord’s Prayer.

Origen’s treatise on prayer (De Oratione) reads more as a practical pastoral handbook than a major theological treatise. Origen gave a beautiful interpretation of the opening address of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Origen believed a Christian could not proceed with the following petitions and requests contained within the Lord’s Prayer until this opening phrase is rightly understood. Origen pointed out that the Old Testament does not know the name “Father” as an alternative for God, in the Christian sense of a steady and changeless adoption.[1] Only those who have received the spirit of adoption can recite the prayer rightly. Therefore, the entire life of a believer should consist in lifting up prayers that contain, “Our Father who art in heaven,” because the conduct of every believer should be heavenly, not worldly. Origen explained:

Let us not suppose that the Scriptures teach us to say “Our Father” at any appointed time of prayer. Rather, if we understand the earlier discussion of praying “constantly” (1 Thess 5:17), let our whole life be a constant prayer in which we say “Our Father in heaven” and let us keep our commonwealth (Phil 3:20) not in any way on earth, but in every way in heaven, the throne of God, because the kingdom of God is established in all those who bear the image of Man from heaven (1 Cor 15:49) and have thus become heavenly.[2]

Like Origen, Fuller began his exegesis of the Lord’s Prayer by establishing that prayer must be dependent upon the character of the one to whom we are allowed to draw near, namely, “Our Father.” The recognition of God as “Our Father” implies that sinners have become “adopted alien[s] put among the children.”[3] Those adopted into God’s family can therefore rightly approach God as their Father but it must, as Fuller clarifies, be through a Mediator. Fully consistent with the Messianic age, Christ set himself within the context of the prayer as the One through which the Christian must come if he or she is to approach God as “Father.” Fuller states, “The encouragement contained in this tender appellation is inexpressible. The love, the care, the pity, which it comprehends, and the filial confidence which it inspires, must, if we are not wanting to ourselves, render prayer as a most blessed exercise.”[4]

Origen and Fuller arrive at the same conclusion. They both see the phrase, “Our Father,” as the affirmation within the Lord’s Prayer that anchors the proceeding requests and brings great confidence within the one praying. Understanding God as “our Father” is the gift that causes the joy of prayer to be realized.

                [1] On Prayer (De Oratione) (Coptic Orthodox Church Network).

                [2] Origen, “On Prayer,” 125.

                [3] The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, 1:578.

                [4] The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, 1:578.


Dustin W. Benge (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Associate Pastor and Pastor for Family Ministries at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL. Dustin is a junior fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center and lives with his wife, Molli, in Mobile.

Two Recent Books by AFCBS Junior Fellow Dustin Benge

By Steve Weaver

Dustin Benge, one of the contributors to this blog (and Junior Fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center), has recently published two books featuring devotional selections from the writings of two of the greatest theologians in the history of the church. Benge's first book provided daily devotions from the sermons of Jonathan Edwards and was published by Reformation Heritage Books (sample pages here). Don Whitney (Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) has said the following about this volume.

"Few Christian writers could be mentioned in the same breath with Jonathan Edwards when it comes to heart-stirring devotional writing that is theologically rock-solid. Dustin Benge has done the church a great service by compiling these God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Gospel-centered, soul-enriching excerpts from some of Edwards’s magnificent, but lesser-known sermons. Read edifying passages from Edwards like this every day for awhile, and you’ll be the better for it."

A second work by Benge, which was also published by Reformation Heritage Books, provides a selection of 150 prayers by John Calvin (sample pages here). These prayers were previously only available in Calvin's voluminous Old Testament commentaries. Benge has now made these prayers accessible to a new generation through his diligent efforts. Steven J. Lawson, author of The Expository Genius of John Calvin, had this to say about the volume.

 “Dustin Benge has done the church a great service by compiling this generous selection of prayers by the great Genevan Reformer, John Calvin. Extracted from his luminous Old Testament Commentaries, these fervent intercessions reveal the warm piety that accompanied this theological genius. Calvin’s personal logo was an open hand, holding a heart, extended upward to God with the words, ‘My heart I offer to Thee, Lord, promptly and sincerely.’ This book clearly demonstrates such singular devotion to God. Here is Calvin’s high doxology, arising upward from his high theology. And here is his exaltation of God, ascending from sound exegesis and exposition. By reading these prayers, I have no doubt but that your own heart will be likewise inflamed.”

You can listen to an MP3 lecture by Benge on the prayers of John Calvin which was delivered at an AFCBS mini-conference a couple of years ago. You can read Benge's continuing reflections on biblical spirituality at the new blog "Tinkers & Saints" which he maintains along with fellow AFCBS contributor and Junior Fellow Dustin Bruce.

Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a junior fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 2 and 13.

Praying with Jown Owen for Ireland

I love this quote from John Owen--may God make me faithful in prayer for that land:

"How is it that Jesus Christ is in Ireland only as a lion staining all his garments with the blood of his enemies; and none to hold him out as a lamb sprinkled with his own blood to his friends? Is it the sovereignty and interest of England that is alone to be there transacted? For my part, I see no farther into the mystery of these things but that I could heartily rejoice, that...the Irish might enjoy Ireland so long as the moon endureth, so that Jesus Christ might possess the Irish. …If they were in the dark, and loved to have it so, it might something close a door upon the bowels of our compassion; but they cry out of their darkness, and are ready to follow every one whosoever, to have a candle. If their being gospelless move not our hearts, it is hoped their importunate cries will disquiet our rest, and wrest help as a beggar doth an alms."

The Steadfastness of the Promises, and the Sinfulness of Staggering (Works, 8:235-236).

Pray for Dr. Mohler

You who bow the knee and pray to the Living Christ, Lord of heaven and earth, our great High Priest, please remember our dear brother Dr Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who needs surgery to remove a pre-cancerous tumor in his colon. Dr Mohler has been a tremendous encouragement to God’s people as he has been at the forefront of a remarkable work of grace in our day. May we who have richly benefited from his ministry be an encouragement to him as we pray for restoration of health and strength.

Connecting Prayer and History

This past Sunday my pastor, Carl Muller, preached an excellent sermon on 2 Thessalonians 3:1, one of my favourite Pauline texts. He emphasized first that Paul was “passionate about seeing God glorified in the saving of many souls through the ministry of the Word.” This should be true of us as well. The text also sets forth, Pastor Muller asserted, a pattern for us—the pattern of being a person of prayer. I was struck by one point especially with regard to this second main point. We are to “pray,” he said, “with a sense of history.”

He drew this from the phrase “as happened among you” (ESV). The Thessalonians were being urged to remember how the Word of God had impacted their lives, and pray for the same results to happen in Corinth where the Apostle was labouring.

In other words, when we pray, we are to remember how the Lord has moved in the past and pray with a due sense of the greatness of his power and grace. A very helpful connect of history and prayer.