It would be easy to make out a long list of particulars, which a believer would do if he could, but in which, from first to last, he finds a mortifying inability…
He would willingly enjoy God in prayer. He knows that prayer is his duty; but, in his judgment he considers it likewise as his greatest honor and privilege. In this light he can recommend it to others, and can tell them of the wonderful condescension of the great God, who humbles himself to behold the things that are in heaven, that He should stoop so much lower, to afford his gracious ear to the supplications of the sinful worms upon earth. He can bid them expect a pleasure in waiting upon the Lord, different in kind and greater in degree than all that the world can afford. By prayer he can say, You have liberty to cast all your cares upon him that careth for you. By one hour’s intimate access to the throne of grace, where the Lord causes his glory to pass before the soul that seeks him, you may acquire more true spiritual knowledge and comfort, than by a day or a week’s converse with the best of men, or the most studious perusal of many folios. And in this light he would consider it and improve it for himself. But, alas; how seldom can he do as he would! How often does he find this privilege a mere task, which he would be glad of a just excuse to omit! and the chief pleasure he derives from the performance, is to think that his task is finished: he has been drawing near to God with his lips, while his heart was far from him. Surely this is not doing as he would when (to borrow the expression of an old woman here,) he is dragged before God like a slave, and comes away like a thief.
The Letters of John Newton – To Lord Dartmouth (Edinburgh, Scotland; The Banner of Truth Trust; 2007) p. 89-90.