Joseph Alleine’s Pastoral Prayer

After he was ejected from his ministry in Taunton, Joseph Alleine continued to be deeply concerned for the welfare of the flock he was forced to leave. He wrote letters to them, urging them to find Christ and to pursue holiness. He exposed his heart to his people by including the words of his prayer for them. His words are very reminiscent of those spoken by our Lord Jesus just as He was about to leave His little flock. Here are his deeply moving words:

O Father of Spirits, that hath set me over Thy flock to watch for their souls as one that must give an account, I have long studied Thy will and taught in Thy name, and do unfeignedly bless Thee that any have believed my report. I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest me, and they have received them. I have manifested Thy name unto them, and they have kept Thy word. And now I am no more with them, but I come unto Thee. Holy Father, keep them through Thine own name, for they are Thine. As they have kept the word of Thy patience, so keep Thou them in the hour of temptation. They are but a flock, a little and a helpless flock; but Thou art their Shepherd, suffer them not to want. Do Thou feed them and fold them. Let Thy rod and Thy staff comfort them, and let not the beasts of prey fall upon them to the spoiling of their souls.
But what shall I do for them that will not be gathered? I have called after them, but they would not answer; I have charged them in Thy name, but they would not hear; I have studied to speak persuasively to them, but I cannot prevail. Then I said, “I have laboured in vain; I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain;” yet I cannot give them over, much less may I give Thee over. Lord, persuade Japhet to dwell in the tents of Shem. Lord, compel them to come in, and lay the hands of mercy upon them as Thou didst on lingering Lot, and bring them forth that they may escape for their lives, and not be consumed. Lord, I pray Thee, open their eyes that they may see, and lay hold upon their hearts by Thy omnipotent grace. Do Thou turn them, and they shall be turned. O bring back the miserable captives, and suffer not the enemy of mankind to drive away the most of the flock before mine eyes, and to deride the fruitless endeavours of Thy labourers, and boast over them that he can do more with them, though he seek to ruin them, than all the beseechings, counsels, and charges of Thy servants that seek to save them. Lord, if I could find out anything that would pierce them, that would make its way into their hearts, Thou knowest I would use it. But I have been many years pleading Thy cause in vain. O let not these endeavours also be lost! O God, find out every ignorant, every profane sinner, every prayerless soul, and every prayerless family, and convince them of their miserable condition while without Thee in the world. Set Thy image upon their souls, set up Thy worship in their families. Let not pride, ignorance, or slothfulness, keep them in neglect of the means of knowledge. Let Thine eyes be over the place of my desires for good, from one end of the year to the other end thereof. Let every house therein be a seminary of religion; and let those that cast their eyes upon these lines, find Thee sliding in, by the secret influence of Thy grace, into their hearts, and irresistibly engaging them to do Thy pleasure. Amen. Amen.