“Need of Grace”

Here’s a wonderful excerpt from a prayer in The Valley of Vision, “Need of Grace.”  The weaving together of the dreadfulness of sin mingled with the believer’s longing for grace makes for a biblically rich aspiration and meditation.

Thou makest me possess the sins of my youth,
and the dreadful sin of my nature,
so that I feel all sin,
I cannot think or act but every motion is sin.

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 thee,
after growth in grace more abundantly every day.

O that all my distresses and apprehensions
might prove but Christ’s school
to make me fit for greater service
by teaching me the great lesson of humility.

(The entire prayer can be found in Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions [The Banner of Truth Trust: Carlise, PA, 2005], 99).

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The Awakened Sinner

This prayer is out of The Valley of Vision.  The beauty of this prayer is not its eloquence.  It’s very unlikely this would ever serve as a “sinner’s prayer.”  The magnificence of this prayer is the keen awareness that the sinner is distanced from God but is not seeking deliverance from the punishment that accompanies sin so much as he seeks to have God quench his soul’s spiritual thirst.  

The Awakened Sinner

O my forgetful soul,

Awake from the wandering dream;

                Turn from chasing vanities

                Look inward, forward, upward,

View thyself,

Reflect upon thyself,

                Who and what thou are, why here,

                What thou must soon be.

Thou art a creature of God,

                Formed and furnished by him,

                Lodged in a body like a shepherd in his tent;

                Dost thou not desire to know God’s ways?

O God,

Thou injured, neglected, provoked benefactor,

                When I think upon thy greatness and thy goodness

                                I am ashamed at my insensibility,

                                I blush to lift up my face,

                                For I have foolishly erred.

Shall I go on neglecting thee,

                When every one of thy rational creatures should love thee,

                And take every care to please thee?

I confess that thou hast not been in all my thoughts,

                That the knowledge of thyself as the end of my being

                                Has been strangely overlooked,

                That I have never seriously considered my heart-need.

But although my mind is perplexed and divided, my nature perverse,

                Yet my secret dispositions still desire thee.

Let me not delay to come to thee.

Break the fatal enchantment that binds my evil affections,

                And bring me to a happy mind that rests in thee,

                For thou hast made me and canst not forget me.

Let thy Spirit teach me the vital lesson of Christ,

                For I am slow to learn;

And hear thou my broken cries.

(The Valley of Vision)