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Paradoxes

The following is a prayer taken from The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennett. I read this prayer yesterday and was gripped by the honesty and humility it displays. I was challenged to ask myself if I really believe all of this or if I feel I am something just a little bit better. By the end I realized that the author’s prayer had become my prayer. “Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.”

O Changeless God,
Under the conviction of the Spirit I learn that
The more I do, the worse I am,
The more I know, the less I know,
The more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,
The more I love, the more there is to love.
O wretched man that I am!

O Lord,
I have a wild heart
And cannot stand before thee;
I am like a bird before a man.
How little I love thy truth and ways!
I neglect prayer,
By thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,
By knowing thou hast saved my soul.
Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,
Who sins more safely because grace abounds,
Who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them,
Who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for his is saved,
Who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives
Unholily.
My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
With no spiritual understanding,
No desire for the Lord’s Day,
Ever learning but never reaching the truth,
Always at the gospel-well but never holding water.
My conscience is without conviction or contrition,
With nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution.
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention,
So I forget so easily the lessons learned,
And thy truths seep away.
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.