The Exchange

During last week’s Easter service, my church did a responsive reading based on excerpts from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. It gave a wonderful picture of how Christ took the consequences of our sin and gave us undeserved blessing in exchange. Here’s the original section that our responsive reading was based on, from a chapter called “Love Lustres at Calvary.”

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
  cast off that I might be brought in,
  trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend,
  surrendered to hell's worst that I might attain heaven's best,
  stripped that I might be clothed,
  wounded that I might be healed,
  athirst that I might drink,
  tormented that I might be comforted,
  made a shame that I might inherit glory,
  entered darkness that I might have eternal light.
My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
  groaned that I might have endless song,
  endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
  bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
  bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
  experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
  closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
  expired that I might for ever live.
O Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou mightest spare me,
All this transfer thy love designed and accomplished;
Help me to adore thee by lips and life.

– Puritan prayer, from The Valley of Vision

The Gift of Gifts

Merry Christmas! In honor of the birth of Jesus, here is a wonderful prayer from a book that has become one of my favorites, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett.

O source of all good,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
  thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
  my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
  his self-emptying incomprehensible,
  his infinity of love beyond the heart's grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders:
  he came below to raise me above,
  was born like me that I might become like him.
Herein is love;
 when I cannot rise to him he draws near on
  wings of grace,
 to raise me to himself.
Herein is power;
 when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
 he united them in indissoluble unity,
  the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
 when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
 and no intellect to devise recovery,
 he came, God-incarnate, to save me
  to the uttermost
 as man to die my death,
 to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
 to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
  and enlarge my mind;
 let me hear good tidings of great joy,
  and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
  my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
  my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
 place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
  to look with them upon my Redeemer's face,
  and in him account myself delivered from sin;
 let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
  to my heart,
 embrace him with undying faith,
 exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou hast given me so much
  that heaven can give no more.

– Puritan prayer, from The Valley of Vision

Praise and Thanksgiving

It has been too long since I posted an excerpt! In light of that, this week’s will be longer. This is another prayer from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. When I read this, I thought it would be particularly appropriate for the Thanksgiving season.

O my God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
   my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
   for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
   and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
      in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
   ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
   ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
   ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
   crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
   for adorning it, sanctifying it,
      though it is fixed in barren soil;
   for the body thou hast given me,
   for preserving its strength and vigor,
   for providing senses to enjoy delights,
   for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
   for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
   for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
   for a full table and overflowing cup,
   for appetite, taste, sweetness,
   for social joys of relatives and friends,
   for ability to serve others,
   for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
   for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
   for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
   for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
   for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language to express,
   for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.
   
- Puritan prayer, from The Valley of Vision.

Need of Jesus

I recently found a wonderful book called The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. I love the prayers in it because they express passionate devotion to God, honest confessions of failure and need, and deep dependence on God’s grace. Unfortunately, even though the editor lists sources (John Bunyan, David Brainerd, Charles Spurgeon, Isaac Watts, Richard Baxter, and others), he doesn’t note which prayer comes from which source, so the author of the following prayer will have to remain anonymous.

Lord Jesus,
I am blind, be thou my light,
    ignorant, be thou my wisdom
    self-willed, be thou my mind.
Open my ear to grasp quickly thy Spirit's voice,
    and delightfully run after is beckoning hand;
Melt my conscience that no hardness remain,
    make it alive to evil's slightest touch;
When Satan approaches may I flee to thy wounds,
    and there cease to tremble at all alarms.
Be my good shepherd to lead me into the green pastures of thy word,
    and cause me to lie down beside the rivers of its comforts.
Fill me with peace, that no disquieting worldly gales
    may ruffle the calm surface of my soul.
Thy cross was upraised to be my refuge,
Thy blood streamed forth to wash me clean,
Thy death occurred to give me a surety,
Thy name is my property to save me,
By thee all heaven is poured into my heart,
    but it is too narrow to comprehend thy love.
I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,
    but thy cross has brought me near,
        has softened my heart,
        has made me thy Father's child,
        has admitted me to thy family,
        has made me joint-heir with thyself.
O that I may love thee as thou lovest me,
    that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord,
    that I may reflect the image of heaven's first-born.
May I always see thy beauty with the clear eye of faith,
    and feel the power of thy Spirit in my heart,
    for unless he move mightily in me
    no inward fire will be kindled.

– Puritan prayer, from The Valley of Vision.

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