Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bill's Prayer From 3/25/12

Last Sunday, Bill Hughes used a portion from The Valley of Vision (p 286) and prayers found in John Piper's books Pierced by the Word and Life as a Vapor to lead us in prayer. I was very encouraged, longing for God to answer these prayers in my life and in all of us. You may have felt the same.

I asked Bill if he would send me what he prayed. He did, and here it is. May God answer these prayers, for the glory of his Name and the good of all peoples!

Holy Trinity,

Author of all blessings we enjoy, of all we hope for, You have taught us that neither the experience of present evils, nor the remembrance of former sins, nor the imploring of friends, will affect the sinner’s heart, except You grant to reveal Your grace and quicken the dead in sin.

You have shown us that the outpourings of divine love in the soul are superior to and distinct from bodily health, and that often spiritual comforts are at the highest when physical well-being is at its lowest.

You have given us the ordinance of song as a means of grace; equip us to carry our part in that music ever new, which elect angels and saints made perfect now sing before Your throne and before the Lamb.

We bless You for tempering every distress with joy; too much of the former may weigh us down, too much of the latter may puff us up; You are wise to give us a taste of both.

We bless you for giving us clusters of grapes in the wilderness, drops of heavenly wine that set us longing to have our fill. Apart from you we would quickly die, deprived of you we starve, far from you we thirst and droop; You are all we need.

(the following Adapted from Pierced by the Word and Life as a Vapor by John Piper)

O Father, we fear the wasting of our years! Forgive us for our love affair with empty things and our little love for you. Make us feel the suicidal faith in “innocent” idols. We repent of our sinful preoccupation with visible things. Give us fresh freedom from all hollow gems. Give us eyes to see your worth. Heal our blindness. Save us from the deadly disease of seeing the world as worth more than its Maker.

Open our eyes that we may behold you in and around us. Restore the capacity of our hearts to cherish infinite beauty and savor infinite sweetness.  Help us to set our faces like flint against the desire for anything above Christ. Grant that we would love and treasure Him above all things. And may we spend out pilgrim life learning to love this world less and heaven more. Put us out of taste with the delicacies of the devil, and give us a liking for the solid joys of Christ. Guard us from the allurements of the lodgings on the journey, and fix our eyes on the end.

We confess that there is a war within us. We pray that you will work in us the will to fight the sin that our will desires. We grieve over the remnants of our corruption.

O Father, as much as it lies within us, we humble ourselves under your mighty hand. Have mercy on us as we battle our pride, and help us put to death all that is arrogant and self-exalting in our lives. Show us our utter helplessness without you, and the sweetness of your undeserved mercy.

O Father, teach us to number our days and get a heart of wisdom. Forbid that we join the world in forgetting the certainty of death. Don't let us play with the preciousness of life. Deliver us from the deadly effects of thinking this short life is the main thing. Make us ready to die well by helping us live well. Don't let us be surprised in our suffering. Don't let us be surprised by being cut off early from this life. Help us to embrace our lot and count it all joy, and say with Paul, " to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Incline our hearts to see the beauty of Christ and to embrace it with joy. Grant that we would behold and believe - that we would see and savor. May our minds lay hold on the content of faith, and our hearts receive it with the affirmation of faith. Cause your love to flow like a river through our souls. May we not just know about it, but experience the reality of it to the glory of Christ.

All this we confidently believe you will grant us through the merits of Jesus Christ your Son. Amen

B.O.M. for March/April: The Valley of Vision

If you haven't yet picked up a copy of the book of the month, I strongly encourage you to do so. It will kindle and fuel your prayer life. It will help teach you how to pray. It will help you know what to pray.

One prayer that recently resonated deeply with me is called "The Spirit's Work." Here's a large portion of it (with some editing to update archaic language):

O God the Holy Spirit,

You who proceed from the Father and the Son,
     have mercy on me.
When you did first hover over chaos,
     order came to birth,
     beauty robed the world,
     fruitfulness sprang forth.
Move, I pray, upon my disordered heart;
Take away the infirmities of unruly desires and hateful lusts;
Lift the mists and darkness of unbelief;
Brighten my soul with the pure light of truth,
Make it fragrant as the garden of paradise,
     rich with every goodly fruit,
     beautiful with heavenly grace,
     radiant with rays of divine light.
Take of the things of Christ and show them to my soul;
Through you may I daily learn more of his love, grace, compassion, faithfulness, beauty;
Lead me to the cross and show me his wounds, the hateful nature of evil, the power of Satan;
May I see there my sins as
     the nails that transfixed him,
     the cords that bound him,
     the thorns that tore him,
     the sword that pierced him.
Help me to find in his death the reality and immensity of his love.
Open for me the wondrous volumes of truth in his, 'It is finished'.

Increase my faith in the clear knowledge of atonement achieved, expiation completed, satisfaction made, guilt done away, my debt paid, my sins forgiven, my person redeemed, my soul saved, hell vanquished, heaven opened, eternity made mine.

O Holy Spirit, deepen in me these saving lessons.
Write them upon my heart, that my walk be sin-loathing, sin-fleeing, Christ-loving;
And suffer no devil's device to beguile or deceive me.

If your heart doesn't say "Amen" to that prayer, you may want to check your pulse. Oh that the same Spirit who hovered over the primordial formlessness and void, would hover over our often disintegrated and empty hearts! If God can order and fill a universe, he certainly is able to do the same for us.