Heads bowed, and eyes closed the ups and downs of life weighing heavy on your heart and mind. Knowing you should pray to seek the Lord's will, guidance and way but haven't a clue where to start or what to say. Words fail and soon you muddle through the same repetitive prayer you pray each day.
Praying God's word can be extremely helpful in breaking up the malaise of your common prayers, and give you the words to express your deepest longings, greatest sources of anxiety and petition for God's miraculous grace to invade every corner of your world.
Over the last several months, my wife and I have enjoyed reading through The Valley of Vision, a collection of puritan prayers and devotionals. The puritans, while just as flawed and broken as the rest of us, are a great source of joy and encouragement to this pilgrim's weary soul.
Oh how I long to study, think and pray as they did. They swam deep in the waters of God's word and it shows in every line they penned and in every prayer they wrote. God's word drips from their pen and leaves you wanting to know the Lord as intimately as these men from years long past.
Modern man can easily fall prey to believing he is more enlightened than men from ages long ago, but the eloquent writing found within the pages of these prayers displays and intellect well worth pursuing and emulating. Sentences carefully crafted, ideas grounded in both God's word and human experience, and a knowledge of the wickedness of their own hearts yields insights that transcend time.
Not knowing what or how to pray is a conundrum each of us faces in the course of life. Thankfully God has given us both His word and the words of men carried along by His grace to provide a help to us. Below is one such prayer my wife and I read not too long ago. Notice the rhythm, rhyme, and grace of their words, but more than that notice the biblical truth that informed such a prayer.
The Divine Will
I hang on thee; I see, believe, live,
when thy will, not mine, is done;
I can plead nothing in myself
in regard of any worthiness and grace,
in regard of thy providence and promises,
but only thy good pleasure.
If thy mercy make me poor and vile, blessed be thou!
Prayers arising from my needs are preparations for future mercies;
Help me to honour thee by believing before I feel,
for great is the sin if I make feeling a cause of faith.
Show me what sins hide thee from me
and eclipse thy love;
Help me to humble myself for past evils,
to be resolved to walk with more care,
For if I do not walk holily before thee,
how can I be assured of my salvation?
It is the meek and humble who are shown thy covenant,
know thy will, are pardoned and healed,
who by faith depend and rest upon grace,
who are sanctified and quickened,
who evidence thy love.
Help me to pray in faith and so find thy will,
by leaning hard on thy rich free mercy,
by believing thou wilt give what thou hast promised;
Strengthen me to pray with the conviction
that whatever I receive is thy gift,
so that I may pray until prayer be granted;
Teach me to believe that all degrees of mercy arise
from several degrees of prayer;
that when faith is begun it is imperfect and must grow,
as chapped ground opens wider and wider until rain comes.
So shall I wait thy will, pray for it to be done,
and by thy grace become fully obedient.