The Puritans can get stick for being legalistic and judgemental killjoys. But they were deeply reverent, sincere in their spiritual piety and committed to biblical doctrine. They sound pretty intense and probably didn’t play quite enough football, but i’ve much respect for their commitment toward God.
Here’s a prayer from back in the day. More intense than we’re used to yes, but I love the sentiment behind it.
As I cross the threshold of this day
I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends to thy care;
Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me.
Incline my heart to thy ways;
Mould me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay;
May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound thy praise;
Let those around me see me living by thy Spirit,
trampling the world underfoot,
unconformed to lying vanities,
transformed by a renewed mind,
clad in the entire armour of God,
shining as a never-dimmed light,
showing holiness in all my doings.
Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands.
May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain.
In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven,
and my love soar upwards in flames of fire,
my gaze fixed on unseen things,
my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility,
mockery of earth and its vanities.
May I view all things through the mirror of eternity,
waiting for the coming of my Lord,
listening for the last trumpet call,
hastening unto the new heaven and earth.
Order this day all my communications according to thy wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good.
Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable.
May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one.
If my life should end today, let this be my best day.
(“Morning Dedication”, The Valley of Vision)
I skipped church last Sunday morning and went for a wander instead.
I read more of a book i’ve been reading, I thought and prayed, for a good while I simply sat there, not thinking, not waiting for anything particular, simply being, and losing track of time.
I believe prayer is everything, I need no convincing, but its tragic how easily I can get develop a bored and lazy attitude towards it, being subtly persuaded to believe that for the most part we can get by alright without it. Foolishness. A few paragraphs I read that morning (p71) brought back some perspective:
The feature that is supposed to distinguish Christian churches, Christian people, and Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer. It doesn’t matter what your tradition or my tradition is. The house is not ours anyway; it is the Father’s.
Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, “My house shall be a house of preaching”?
Does it ever say, “My house shall be called a house of music”?
Of course not.
The Bible does say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Preaching, music, the reading of the Word – these things are fine; I believe and practice all of them. But they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God’s dwelling. The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than on ten of my sermons.
Faithful Father, forgive me for my pride and the foolishness of my self-sufficient and independent spirit. Cure my blindness, open my eyes, convict me of my sin and of my need for you. I’m sorry I forget so easily Lord, teach me to fear you.
I do a lot of writing in notebooks. As a method of communing and enjoying intimacy with God i’ve found it invaluable and have been massively blessed by it over the last 4 or 5 years. I’ve learned much about who God is and who I am as i’ve spent time scribbling down all kinds of thoughts and prayers, growing comfortable in his presence. I’d recommend everyone do it.
Libby (aka my sister) marries Dave in a few weeks. Recently I found an entry I wrote the day they got engaged, now over a year ago. Its a tribute and a prayer which seems fitting to share. I’ve not edited its content at all. It wasn’t written for an audience so its quite likely some bits might not make sense. I don’t care :).
Lib got engaged today. They were both so happy it was beautiful. They’re both so right for each other and will be a mighty asset to the kingdom. I pray for your protection father, keep them strong, may they never loose heart, a lifetime of fixing their eyes on Jesus. Let them run that race together, doggedly, and with perseverance. May they know the sufficiency of your love and grace, may they find rest in your arms and peace in your presence.
If you kept a record of our transgressions who could stand father, but with you there is forgiveness and therefore you are feared. Oh Lord I praise you, I love you, for we are cleansed. You present us faultless to the father. Its only through your grace. I am simply blown away by your goodness, that you would do what you did to bring me to your side. Its outrageous, its madness, your love is a mystery and I will never understand why you love me as much as you do. I don’t get it but thats ok, you simply want me to accept it, to receive your embrace. You heal me Lord, you fulfill me, you complete me and in your sight my identity will never change. You elevate me to a place impossible for me to fall from. I am in awe of you Lord.
Unless I know your love for me, how can I reflect it to those in the world around me. Teach me more of your love father, Rest in your presence and fullness of joy. I’m enjoying your love right now, I thank you for moments like these, time just to be a son in the presence of his father. I love you. Amen.