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Prayer 17

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Now, tormented by bitter grief I pray
to you, keeper of imperiled souls.
Do not add to the pain of my sighs.
Do not wound me. I am already injured.
Do not condemn me. I am already punished.
Do not torture me. I am already tormented.
Do not cudgel me. I am already beaten.
Do not push me. I have already fallen.
Do not destroy me. I am already discredited.
Do not reject me. I am already banished.
Do not exile me. I am already persecuted.
Do not embarrass me. I am already humbled.
Do not scold me. I am already cowering.
Do not crush me. I am already broken.
Do not upset me. I am already agitated.
Do not shake me. I am already quivering.
Do not confuse me. I am already bewildered.
Do not flay me. I am already picked over.
Do not pound me. I am already crushed.
Do not taint me. I am already debased.
Do not blind me. I am already in the dark.
Do not frighten me. I am already perplexed.
Do not roast me. I am already charred.
Do not kill me. I am already dying.
Do not overload me. I am already weakened.
Do not yoke me. I am already bent over.
Do not double my wailing. I am already weeping.
Do not till my soil too deeply.
Do not scatter my ashes too harshly.
Do not judge my works too roughly.
Do not blow my dust too meanly.

B

Do not measure your greatness against my smallness,
your light against my dimness,
your good nature against my native evil,
your cornucopia of blessing against my cursed fruit,
your genuine sweetness against my complete sourness,
your unchanging glory against my total debasement,
your shrine of life against my vessel of clay,
your lord of lords against my dust of the earth,
your undimishing fullness against my slavish poverty,
your unpillaged abundance against my
abandoned torment,
your unblemished goodness against my
most wretched squalor,
for who can reach morning and
at the light of daybreak expect dark,
or at the portal of life expect death,
or at liberation expect bondage,
or at grace expect condemnation,
or at salvation expect destruction,
or at renewal expect ruination,
or at blessing expect banishment,
or at cure expect injury,
or at fullness expect want,
or at abundance of bread expect famine,
or at the flow of rivers expect drought,
or at motherly compassion expect deception,
or at the care of God’s right hand expect persecution?

C

And now with my body shaken by disease
and my soul in peril I pray,
“Lord, if you want you can make me clean.”1
Like a groping blind man,
I cry with laments and call to you
not only the son of David,
but also profess your divine birth.
I not only call you, “Rabbi,”2
the name of honor given to teachers
who claim to know the truth, but I also
believe you to be the Lord of heaven and earth.
I not only expect to be cured when you are close,
O compassionate God, by the touch of your hand,
but also when we are separated by great distances
through the power of your words.
I do not draw a line between your will
and your compassion, a line of doubt,3
for I believe that you will, because
you are compassionate and you are able,
because you are our creator.
Say the word and I will be cured.4
Let me join the centurion in his faith.5
Let my faith be not just for the short
distances from altar to altar,
for I know you are able to raise
the dead and make them whole.
Even sitting in heaven you work miracles
over the whole world below.
And I have nothing to give in return.

D

Grant me forgiveness, with the word of your judgment,
even as you forgave the debt
of 500 dinars in the case of the prostitute,
God of goodness, Lord of bliss.
The more you bestow, the greater your glory.
The more you give, the more you are loved.
The more your mercy, the more your greatness.
For all your benevolence, you are rightly praised.
Though Lord of all, you came to us as our equal.
Though possessing everything, you weigh by
our measure.
Though you have gifts beyond telling,
you accept our skimpy payment.
And to the account of mortals, you grant
unlimited credit. Your generosity is sublime,
yet not too high to receive our meager praise.
Show the same compassion to me with my
countless debts so that I might
in expressing gratitude for your gifts
also commemorate your love.
To you glory in all things.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Mt. 8:2.

  2 ...... Mt. 20:31.

  3 ...... Mk. 9:21.

  4 ...... Mt. 8:8.

  5 ...... Mt. 8:5-10.