The Puritans are often given a bad rap. If someone says you are “puritanical,” they are not giving you a compliment.
This is an unfortunate result of people not knowing what they’re talking about. The actual Puritans (and not the modern, dismissive caricature) were a group of Protestant Christians who primarily lived from the mid-1600’s to the mid-1700’s. Although it’s hard to summarize an entire movement, I’ll give it a try. They had a sincere and whole-hearted desire to cooperate with God in the renovation of their countries, governments, schools, churches, homes and souls according to the Scriptures. And they did it for God’s glory, and not their own.
They demonstrated a steadfast trust in the gracious and sovereign God of providence, even in the face of hardship, resistance and persecution. Clearly, I think highly of them.
Thomas Watson was popular amongst the Westminster Puritans. We are fortunate enough to have some of his prayers. Today, I simply commend it to you. It’s short enough to memorize, or at least to paraphrase for your own use.
“Perfume us with holiness and make our hearts a map of heaven.”*
What if we were perfumed with holiness? That would be a very good thing. “Holiness” isn’t about some sort of self-righteous holier-than-thouness. It’s being set apart for God’s purposes. It’s being more like Jesus.
And what if our hearts were a map of heaven? That too would be a very good thing. This isn’t to say we are perfect. We’re not. Far from it. It’s about reflecting God’s goodness and will in our own thoughts, actions and priorities.
John the apostle encourages us to pray with these words: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
Lord God the Almighty,
Perfume us with holiness
and make our hearts a map of heaven.
In Jesus’ name,
–*Tim Chester, ed., Into His Presence: Praying with the Puritans (The Good Book Company, 2022), 42.
–A good book which introduces the Puritans is: Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as they Really Were (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986).
–Bible quotes are from the NIV.