This week's 'thought' comes to you from one of the best selling books on prayer in recent years, entitled: "Valley of Vision - A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions." It is a collection of actual Puritan prayers, and was compiled by Arthur Bennett, who served at various churches in England and taught Biblical Theology and Christian Doctrine at All Nations Christian College.
Though some might think written prayers aren't really "prayerful," or that to be true prayer it must be spontaneous, he rightly notes: "Prayer is vocal, and may therefore on occasions be written... Too often ex tempore prayer lacks variety, order and definiteness. The reason lies partly in a neglect of due preparation. It is here that the care and scriptural thoroughness which others found necessary in their approach to God may be of help."
Today I include two prayers. The first is a prayer for grace which I photocopied and now have taped on the inside cover of my Bible. Scribbled on it are the words: "The Eve before my trip to Bolivia. My prayer for 8/27/06." I was about to leave for a few days to speak to a group of missionaries in Santa Cruz, even though I myself was struggling through a spiritually dry and difficult time of readjustment to stateside living after 11 years in Honduras. If you have not gone through a spiritually dark time of struggle yourself, you may not understand this one.
The second prayer is a prayer for renewal which I also photocopied and dated -- July 30, 2000. It was the cry of my heart at that time, though it summarizes my ongoing desire on a regular basis. Either way, I hope something in them may resonate with the state of your soul and your personal needs at this very time. (*I have taken the liberty to update some of the language.) Enjoy.
Need of Grace
"O LORD, you know my great unfitness for service, my present deadness, my inability to do anything for your glory, my distressing coldness of heart.
I am weak, ignorant, unprofitable, and loathe and abhor my sin.
I am at a loss to know what you would have me to do, for I feel amazingly deserted by you, and sense your presence so little...
Return again with showers of converting grace to a poor gospel-abusing sinner.
Help my soul to breathe after holiness, after a constant devotedness to you, after growth in grace more abundantly every day.
O Lord, I am lost in the pursuit of this blessedness, And am ready to sink because I fall short of my desire.
Help me hold out a little longer, until the happy hour of deliverance comes, for I cannot lift my soul to you, if you of your great goodness bring me not near.
Help me to be diffident, watchful, tender, lest I offend my blessed Friend in thought and behavior.
I confide in you and lean upon you, and need you at all times to assist and lead me.
O that all my distresses and apprehensions might prove to be but Christ's school to make me fit for greater service by teaching me the great lesson of humility.
Prayer for Renewal
"O Savior, help me.
I am slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb; I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights.
I am pained by my graceless heart, my prayer less days, my poverty of love, my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience, my wasted hours, my unspent opportunities...
Make it my chiefest joy to study you, meditate upon you, gaze upon you, sit like Mary at your feet, lean like John upon your breast, appeal like Peter to your love, and count like Paul all things as dung [in comparison to you].
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be more decision in my character, more vigor in my purposes, more elevation in my life, more fervor in my devotion, more consistency in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world, keep me from making the world my position.
May I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the Creator.
Let not faith cease from seeking you until it vanishes into sight in your presence.
Ride forth in me, O King of kings and Lord of lords, that I may live victoriously,
and in victory attain my end, the endless bliss of entering into the Temple who is God;
and basking in the light of the glory that shines forth from the face of Christ;
worship Him whose beauty will enthrall the hearts of the redeemed for all eternity."
May our faithful God stir the embers in your soul, and fan them into greater flame by the breath of His Holy Spirit's renewed presence and activity, Pastor Jeff