Visiting Peter May's home last month I stumbled across a copy of Edward Bickersteth (1786–1850) 'On Prayer' from the mid 1800s. It's brilliant. Chapter 10 is particularly good: On the Spirit of Prayer for the Enlargement of the Kingdom of Christ. It stood out because he's a forefather of the pastor of our old church back in Reading. Here's a taste:
Such passages as the following plainly point out an extension of the Gospel which has never yet tuken place.
Observe the fulness of each of these expressions.— Surely they foretel the universal spread of Christianity. To deny this, would, as Edwards has observed, be in effect to say, that it would have been impossible for God, if he had desired it, plainly to have foretold any thing that should absolutely have extended to all the nations of the earth. To suppose that these are merely highwrought figures, and that events answerable to them are not likely to take place, is little short of supposing an intention to mislead others. We may, then, rejoice in the delightful prospect which the Bible, thus opens before us. But these promises involve a, duty, as well as convey a cheering prospect; the duty of exerting ourselves to promote the coming of this kingdom. Among other means of doing so, the duty of prayer is of the first importance.
- ' All the ends of the earth shall remember, and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.'
- 'All kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.'
- 'All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thoe, :(Ud shall glorify thy name.'
- ' The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.'
- ' Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.'
- ' The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever.'
It pleases the Almighty generally to work through prayer, as it is prayer that gives God, who is jealous of his honour, All The Glory. When blessings come in answer to prayer, the praise is more generally ascribed to him... As a real Christian, you will be an immense gainer by the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, and the increase of the communion of saints... there seems a special efficacy in United Prayer. Much that has been said on social, family, and public worship, applies here. Let Christian assemblies, in every .part of our land, come frequently together to pray for the coming of Christ's Kingdom; and it would be one of the happiest signs of its approach. Let love to your Saviour, benevolence towards man, your own interest in this promised and happy era, the remarkable signs of the times and your plain and positive duty, all combine, and influence and excite you really and often to pray, thy kingdom come.