“Empty the bucket before you go to the fountain.”

Wise advice. If the pail be full of the best and cleanest water it is idle to carry it to the well, for its fulness disqualifies it for being a receiver. Those who think themselves full of grace are not likely to pray aright, for prayer is a beggar’s trade, and supposes the existence of need. What does a full bucket want with the well? Let it stay where it is. Fitness for mercy is not found in self-sufficiency, but in emptiness and want.

He can and will receive most of the Lord who has least of his own.

If the bucket is full of foul water, it is wise to throw it away as we go to the crystal spring. We must not come to the Lord with our minds full of vanity, lust, covetousness, and pride. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” He will not make his grace the medium of floating our unclean desires. Grace will cleanse out sin, but it will not mix with it, neither may we desire such a dishonorable compromising of the holy name of the Lord our God. Let the bucket of the heart be turned upside down and drained of the love of sin, and then prayer will be heard, and Jesus will come in and fill it.

Lord, empty me of self, of pride, of worldliness, of unbelief, and then fill me with all the fulness of God.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (Passmore & Alabaster, 1883).