I lied. I don’t always memorize poetry during my commute to work. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I read prayers. After our freshman year together, my college roommate (of all four years!) gifted to me one of my most treasured possessions: a leather-bound copy of The Valley of Vision. Like most people, I was unaware of such a collection of Puritan prayers and unfamiliar with its refreshing beauty that uplifts one’s whole being. After all, Puritans were just those early Americans known for their strong work ethic and strict tendency to be devoid of any emotion. They wore those funny hats with belts on them too. (Or were those the Pilgrims?)
At any rate, the poor perception of these Puritan prayers by the Christian public is a pitiable problem that has left us profoundly deprived. Perhaps, we ought to be more mindful of what has been thoughtfully done in the past (particularly in the history of the church). I think we will find that, though still imperfect, there is probably more prudence than we presumed.
Prayer is important and it matters less the form in which it is done than the fact that it is done. I realize that. After all, whether I am more or less eloquent does not negate the reality that my speech is still dependent upon “this poor lisping, stammering tongue“. However, as I learn to pray, prudence becomes important as well. We must pursue wisdom and knowledge alongside obedience.
The following prayer is on pages 284-285 of The Valley of Vision, and is entitled “Privileges”. I hope you are blessed by it as much as I have been.
O LORD GOD, Teach me to know that grace precedes, accompanies, and follows my salvation,
that it sustains the redeemed soul, that not one link of its chain can ever break. From Calvary’s cross wave upon wave of grace reaches me, deals with my sin, washes me clean, renews my heart, strengthens my will, draws out my affection, kindles a flame in my soul, rules throughout my inner man, consecrates my every thought, word, work, teaches me thy immeasurable love. How great are my privileges in Christ Jesus! Without him I stand far off, a stranger, an outcast; in him I draw near and touch his kingly sceptre. Without him I dare not lift up my guilty eyes; in him I gaze upon my Father-God and Friend. Without him I hide my lips in trembling shame; in him I open my mouth in petition and praise. Without him all is wrath and consuming fire; in him is all love, and the repose of my soul. Without him is gaping hell below me, and eternal anguish; in him its gates are barred to me by his precious blood. Without him darkness spreads its horrors in front; in him an eternity of glory is my boundless horizon. Without him all within me is terror and dismay, in him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace. Without him all things external call for my condemnation; in him they minister to my comfort, and are to be enjoyed with thanksgiving. Praise be to thee for grace, and for the unspeakable gift of Jesus.