The Valley of Vision
On occasion, I've deeply enjoyed a little book called, The Valley of Vision – A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (edited by Arthur Bennett, 1975, Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, UK). I recommend it, finding words written almost 400 years ago that capture a heart given over to Christ.
With that in mind, one particular prayer has become a recent favorite ... and I decided to update it in my own words, for 21st century ears and hearts. It is below.
A Minister's Confession
I know I often do your work without your power,
and I sin by my heartless, blind, dull service,
my lack of inward light, love and delight in you,
while my mind, heart, and tongue move without your animation.
I see sin in the deep crevices of my heart,
as I seek the approval of others above you;
my gunked-up heart making the opinion of others my highest concern and rule.
I should see my feeble efforts as powerless
— unless empowered by You alone —
then give you the credit and the glory.
Frankly, my first concern should be to mourn the sin of my wandering heart.
It is a secret lie when I preach or pray to stir up the affections of others,
that I might receive their commendations;
to desire the applause of my fellow man,
while ignoring your gaze.
My daily rule should be to consider myself the most broken creature I know,
to rediscover your power is best put on display in my frailty,
so that the more feeble I am,
the more fit to be used —
for it’s when I’m weakest that your grace flows to your people.
So, help me rejoice in my infirmities,
keeping focus on you,
acknowledging my deficiencies before others,
being transparent about my weaknesses
— though not discouraged by them —
that others would see Christ, front and center.
Teach me that, in my condition,
I can walk in a power supernatural,
attempt things above my strength but well below yours,
and bear whatever difficulties you assign to my curriculum.
Let me learn from the example of the Apostle Paul,
who was said to be unimpressive in person,
living out of observable weakness,
speaking with a halting tongue,
yet daily declared faithful and blessed.
Lord, help me lean on you as my brother Paul did,
finding my efforts to be yours,
my exertions animated by you,
with a trail of your fingerprints left behind at each endeavor.
For you and your glory,