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prayer

August 23, 2009

Once again this Sunday I turned to The Valley of Vision and found there a great prayer. This one is titled “A Disciple’s Renewal.”

*****

O My Saviour, help me.
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;

I am in the foothills when I should be in the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John on thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be;
more decision in my character,
more vigor in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervor in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world,
keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature what can be found only in the creator;
Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou King of kings and Lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.
 

August 16, 2009

This week a friend, a pastor, sent to me one of his favorite prayers from The Valley of Vision. Since it is a prayer by a minister for his preaching, it is one I had never paused over. But what a great prayer it is.

*****

My Master God,
I am desired to preach today,
but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth,
that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,
with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view things pertaining to my subject,
with fullness of matter and clarity of thought,
proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,
and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself,
and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,
and set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached.
and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
and help me to use the strongest arguments
drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
that men might be made holy.
I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,
that I might be a pure channel of thy grace,
and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people,
and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer,
or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,
from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

August 02, 2009

This is one of my favorites from The Valley of Vision as much for the concept of the prayer as its actual words. This is a prayer meant to follow prayer. Read it and I’m sure you’ll see, as I do, just how weak and listless my prayers actually are and how much even my best efforts in prayer and praise and petition are in need of God’s grace. Bewail your prayers and thank God that he hears them and answers them nonetheless.

*****

O God of grace,
I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers;
their poverty adds sin to my sin.
If my hope were in them I should be undone,
But the worth of Jesus perfumes my feeble breathings, and wins their acceptance.
Deepen my contrition of heart,
Confirm my faith in the blood that washes from all sin.
May I walk lovingly with my great Redeemer.
Flood my soul with true repentance that my heart may be broken for sin and unto sin.
Let me be as slow to forgive myself as thou art ready to forgive me.
Gazing on the glories of thy grace may I be cast into the lowest depths of shame.
and walk with downcast head now thou art pacified towards me.
O my great High Priest,
pour down upon me streams of needful grace,
bless me in all my undertakings,
in every thought of my mind,
every word of my lips,
every step of my feet,
every deed of my hands.
Thou didst live to bless,
die to bless,
rise to bless,
ascend to bless,
take thy throne to bless,
and now thou dost reign to bless.
O give sincerity to my desires,
earnestness to my supplications,
fervour to my love.

July 11, 2009

I often share Puritan prayers on Sundays. This week, though, it seemed appropriate to post a prayer for the Lord’s Day Eve—Saturday night. I often find myself telling young people that, if they wish to make Sunday a meaningful day of worship and fellowship, they need to plan ahead and not stay up until 3 in the morning. A prayer like this, I think, helps orient the heart toward the day to come.

*****

Another week has gone and I have been preserved
in my going out,
in my coming in.

Thine has been the vigilance that has turned threatened evils aside;
thine the supplies that have nourished me;
Thine the comforts that have indulged me;
Thine the relations and friends that have delighted me;
Thine the means of grace which have edified me;
Thine the Book, which, amidst all my enjoyments, has told me that this is not my rest,
that in all successes one thing alone is needful, to love my Saviour.
Nothing can equal the number of they mercies but my imperfections and sins.
These, O God, I will neither conceal nor palliate, but confess with a broken heart.

In what condition would secret reviews of my life leave me
were it not for the assurance that with thee there is plenteous redemption,
that thou art a forgiving God,
that thou mayest be feared!

While I hope for pardon through the blood of the cross,
I pray to be clothed with humility,
to be quickened in thy way,
to be more devoted to thee,
to keep the end of my life in view,
to be cured of the folly of delay and indecision,
to know how frail I am,
to number my days and apply my heart unto wisdom.

June 21, 2009

Here is another great Puritan prayer, this one beseeching God to allow the Christian to live a life filled with prayer, filled with grace, filled with the Spirit. What a perfect prayer to make your own on this Lord’s Day!

*****

Great God,
in public and private, in sanctuary and home,
may my life be steeped in prayer,
filled with the spirit of grace and supplication,
each prayer perfumed with the incense of atoning blood.
Help me, defend me, until from praying ground
I pass to the realm of unceasing praise.
Urged by my need, invited by Thy promises,
called by Thy Spirit,
I enter Thy presence, worshipping Thee with godly fear,
awed by Thy majesty, greatness, glory,
but encouraged by Thy love.

I am all poverty as well as all guilt,
having nothing of my own with which to repay Thee,
but I bring Jesus to Thee in the arms of faith,
pleading His righteousness to offset my iniquities,
rejoicing that He will weigh down the scales for me,
and satisfy thy justice.
I bless Thee that great sin draws out great grace,
that, although the lest sin deserves infinite punishment
because done against an infinite God,
yet there is mercy for me, for where guilt is most terrible,
there Thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep.
Bless me by revealing to me more of His saving merits,
by causing Thy goodness to pass before me,
by speaking peace to my contrite heart;
strengthen me to give Thee no rest
untiI Christ shall reign supreme within me
in every thought, word, and deed,
in a faith that purifies the heart, overcomes the world,
works by love, fastens me to Thee, and ever clings to the cross.

June 07, 2009

I mentioned a week ago that last week had been a long and difficult struggle to find joy. W week later I feel that God has really brought me through a tough time, but a time that was not in any way useless or wasted. This morning, when I sat down with The Valley of Vision, I came to the prayer titled “Contentment.” It ministered to me this morning. Isn’t it funny how a prayer can be such a great opportunity to learn? The author of this prayer writes about deliverance from trials, the fight against sin and the joy to come. Read it! Pray it!

*****

Heavenly Father,
If I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty,
make my heart prize thy love,
know it, be constrained by it,
though I be denied all blessings.
It is thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants,
for by these trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them.
Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations,
if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil,
and be delivered from it with gratitude to thee,
acknowledging this as the highest testimony of thy love.

When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul instead of sin
he became more dear to me than sin had formerly been;
his kindly rule replaced sin’s tyranny.
Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued
I must not only labour to overcome it,
but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it,
and he must become to me more than vile lust had been;
that his sweetness, power, life may be there.
Thus I must seek a grace from him contrary to sin,
but must not claim it apart from himself.

When I am afraid of evils to come,
comfort me by showing me that in myself
I am a dying, condemned wretch,
but in Christ I am reconciled and live;
that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest,
but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace;
that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good,
but in Christ I have ability to do all things.
Though now I have his graces in part,
I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state
where thou wilt show thyself fully reconciled,
and alone sufficient, efficient,
loving me completely, with sin abolished.
O Lord, hasten that day.

May 31, 2009

Through the past couple of weeks I have been fighting for joy, fighting to find joy in the journey. It has been one of those times that I’ve been longing for God but have seemingly found so little of him. And so this morning, when I opened up The Valley of Vision, as I so often do on a Sunday morning, I was encouraged by this prayer titled “Longings After God.”


My dear Lord,
I can but tell thee that thou knowest
I long for nothing but thyself,
nothing but holiness,
nothing but union with thy will.
Thou hast given me these desires,
and thou alone canst give me the thing desired.
My soul longs for communion with thee,
for mortification of indwelling corruption,
especially spiritual pride.
How precious it is to have a tender sense
and clear apprehension of the mystery
of godliness,
of true holiness!
What a blessedness to be like thee
as much as it is possible for a creature
to be like its Creator!
Lord, give me more of thy likeness;
enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness;
engage me to live more for thee.
Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences,
and when I feel at ease after sweet communings,
teach me it is far too little I know and do.
Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to thee,
and love, and long, and plead,
and wrestle with thee,
and pant for deliverance from the body of sin,
for my heart is wandering and lifeless,
and my soul mourns to think it should ever
lose sight of its Beloved.
Wrap my life in divine love,
and keep me ever desiring thee,
always humble and resigned to thy will,
more fixed on thyself,
that I may be more fitted for doing and suffering.

May 17, 2009

Here is another selection from Arthur Bennett’s The Valley of Vision. This old prayer confesses to God a reliance on self, and as it does so, it teaches both the folly of such reliance and the joy of relying fully on God. “When thou art angry towards me for my wrongs I try to pacify thee by abstaining from future sin.” Who can say that he has not, at one time or another, done this same thing? For those who stumble this way, read the prayer and make it your own.

*****

My Father,
When thou art angry towards me for my wrongs
I try to pacify thee by abstaining from future sin;
But teach me that I cannot satisfy thy law,
that this effort is a resting in my righteousness,
that only Christ’s righteousness, ready made,
already finished, is fit for that purpose;
that thy chastising me for my sin is not
that I should try to reform, but only
that I may be more humbled, afflicted, and separated from sin,
by being reconciled, and made righteous in Christ by faith;
that a sense of my sufficiency and ability in him
is one means of my being immovable;
that I can never be so by resting on my own faith,
but by trusting in thee as my only support, by faith;
that if I cast away my faith I cast away thee,
for by faith I apprehend thee,
and as thou art very precious,
so is my faith very precious to me;
that I fall short of the purity thou requirest,
because in thinking I am holy I do not
seek holiness, or, believing I am impotent, I do no more.
Humble me for not being as holy as I should be,
or as holy as I might be through Christ,
for thou art all, and to possess thee is to possess all.
But to make the creature something
is to make it stand between thee and me,
so that I do not walk humbly and holily.
Lord, forgive me for this.”

May 03, 2009

Here is another prayer from Arthur Bennett’s The Valley of Vision. This is a prayer titled simply “Happiness.” As I read the prayer I was particularly drawn to these words: “How precious is time, and how painful to see it fly with little done to good purpose! I need thy help.” How much time I waste and how painful it is to me to see if fly on by, wasted, unused, with little done to good purpose.

*****

O Lord,
Help me never to expect any happiness
from the world, but only in thee.

Let me not think that I shall be more happy
by living to myself,
for I can only be happy if employed for thee,
and if I desire to live in this world
only to do and suffer what thou dost allot me.

Teach me
that if I do not live a life that satisfies thee,
I shall not live a life that will satisfy myself.

Help me to desire the spirit and temper of angels
who willingly come down to this lower world
to perform thy will,
though their desires are heavenly,
and not set in the least upon earthy things;
then I shall be of that temper I ought to have.

Help me not to think of living to thee
in my own strength,
but always to look to and rely on thee
for assistance.

Teach me that there is no greater truth than this,
that I can do nothing of myself.

Lord, this is the life that no unconverted man
can live,
yet it is an end that every godly soul
presses after;

Let it be then my concern to devote myself
and all to thee.

Make me more fruitful and more spiritual,
for barrenness is my daily affliction and load.

How precious is time, and how painful to see it fly
with little done to good purpose!
I need thy help:

O may my soul sensibly depend upon thee
for all sanctification,
and every accomplishment of thy purposes
for me, for the world,
and for thy kingdom.

April 19, 2009

It has been too long, I think, since I’ve posted a prayer from The Valley of Vision. This one, titled “Humility in Service,” seems appropriate for a Sunday morning as the day will undoubtedly bring us many opportunities to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ and many opportunities to share the Good News with those who do not yet know the Lord.

Mighty God,

I humble myself for faculties misused,
opportunities neglected,
words ill-advised,
I repent of my folly and inconsiderate ways,
my broken resolutions, untrue service,
my backsliding steps,
my vain thoughts.

O bury my sins in the ocean of Jesus’ blood
and let no evil result from my fretful temper,
unseemly behaviour, provoking pettiness.

If by unkindness I have wounded or hurt another,
do thou pour in the balm of heavenly consolation;
If I have turned coldly from need, misery, grief,
do not in just anger forsake me:
If I have withheld relief from penury and pain,
do not withhold thy gracious bounty from me.

If I have shunned those who have offended me,
keep open the door of thy heart to my need.

Fill me with an over-flowing ocean of compassion,
the reign of love my motive,
the law of love my rule.

O thou God of all grace, make me more thankful, more humble;
Inspire me with a deep sense of my unworthiness arising from
the depravity of my nature, my omitted duties,
my unimproved advantages, thy commands violated by me.

With all my calls to gratitude and joy may I remember
that I have reason for sorrow and humiliation;

O give me repentance unto life;

Cement my oneness with my blessed Lord,
that faith may adhere to him more immovably,
that love may entwine itself round him more tightly,
that his Spirit may pervade every fibre of my being.

Then send me out to make him known to my fellow-men.

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