Puritan Prayers: Desires
September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Today was a day of days in a week of weeks. I lost a lot of very beloved things. My dad quite abruptly moved to Saudi Arabia to teach English – I don’t recognize my family. I lost a trusted friend, mentor and boss to a change in professional direction – now I don’t recognize my job. To top it all off, some of my closest relationships changed today in ways that, if they don’t still hurt as much as they do right now when I wake up tomorrow, will certainly require faith to make sense of.
Today was, in short, a very hard day in a very difficult week.
Yet it is clear that God uses difficulty to teach us and to fashion us into who we ought to be. Difficulty, especially in achieving what we want to achieve, or in ‘getting what we want’, can do a lot to point us back to our first love.
I want my family to be ‘fixed.’ I want my job to continue including meaningful relationships. I also want flourishing friendships, an active social life, and someone to share life’s joys, struggles, and most of all God’s beauty with. Are those all good things? Sure. Does that mean though that right now is necessarily the time where I’ll see that happen? Perhaps an even more important question to ask: even if my desires are good, is my vision of these desires really the best that God has for me?
It is past 4:00am, and I’m afraid I’ve slipped into the common writing habit of being vague and telling versus showing. It is so often my inability to articulate myself, though, that gets me back to reading this little book of prayers: The Valley of Vision.
This author has some beautiful perspective on how to think about our desires. All I can say is in a tough day like today, this prayer was wonderful to have access to, and so I share it with you. God is good, even when we don’t get what we want or the carpet seems pulled out from under us. God give me faith to believe it and know it.
O THOU THAT HEAREST PRAYER,
Teach me to pray,
I confess that in religious exercises
the language of my lips and the feelings
of my heart have not always agreed,
that I have frequently taken carelessly upon
my tongue a name never pronounced above
without reverence and humility,
that I have often desired things which would
have injured me,
that I have depreciated some of my chief mercies,
that I have erred both on the side of my hopes
and also of my fears,
that I am unfit to choose for myself,
for it is not in me to direct my steps.
Let thy SPirit help my infirmities,
for I know not what to pray for as I thought.
Let him produce in me wise desires by which
I may ask right things,
then I shall know thou hearest me.
May I never be importunate for temporal blessings,
but always refer them to thy fatherly goodness,
for thou knowest what I need before I ask;
May I never think I prosper unless my soul prospers,
or that I am rich unless rich toward thee,
or that I am wise unless wise unto salvation.
May I seek first thy kingdom and its righteousness.
May I value things in relation to eternity,
May my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude.
May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have
rather than be successful in enterprise,
or have more than my heart can wish,
or be admired by my fellow-men,
if thereby these things make me forget thee.
May I regard the world as dreams, lies, vanities,
vexation of spirit,
and desire to depart from it.
And may I seek my happiness in thy favour,
image, presence, service.