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Prayer 18

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

I was born in sin, the child of mortal labor.
Now, in one day, a penalty of countless thousands
       has come due.
I turn to you for forgiveness not on the meager human
scale, but with the full undiminishing measure
of lovingkindness shown toward us
by our Savior Jesus Christ:
Before I was, you created me.
Before I could wish, you shaped me.
Before I glimpsed the world’s light, you saw me.
Before I emerged, you took pity on me.
Before I called, you heard me.
Before I raised a hand, you looked over me.
Before I asked, you dispensed mercy on me.
Before I uttered a sound, you turned your ear to me.
Before I sighed, you attended me.
Knowing in advance my current trials,
you did not thrust me from your
sight. No, even foreseeing my misdeeds,
you fashioned me.

B

And now, do not let me
whom you made, saved and took into
your care, be lost to sin and
the Troublemaker’s deceptions.
Do not let the fog of my willfulness prevail
over the light of your forgiveness,
nor the hardness of my heart
over your long-suffering goodness,
nor my mortal flaws
over your perfect wholeness,
nor my weak flesh
over your invincible strength.

C

In your name, Almighty,
I extend the shriveled arm of my soul
so you will make it whole as before,1
as in the garden of Eden,
when it reached to pick fruit of the tree of life.
The misery of my incorrigible soul,2
bound up, infirm, bent over,
is like the stricken woman in the Gospel,
bowed by sin, her gaze on the ground
in Satan’s tyrannical chains,
kept from your heavenly blessing.

Turn your ear toward me, last hope of mercy
and raise this humbled, fallen, dried up,
thinking piece of wood,
to make it blossom in piety,
as foretold in the words of the holy prophet.3

D

Like one without light, blind from birth,
I do not have vision to look upon your face, O creator,
almighty and compassionate, my only protector.
If you turn the caring gaze of your immeasurable love
upon my breathing speaking vessel,
you could rekindle, out of nothing,
the light of being within me.

Like the wretched woman in the Gospels,
afflicted by evils for twelve years,4
I bleed with rivers of infirmity.
Look down upon me from on high
cloaked in blinding light,
where sewn clothing does not exist,
but everything is covered in mighty miracles.

E

Condemned as I am, I do not approach
the soles of your life-giving feet
to anoint them with oil 5
or offer to wash them with my
tear-drenched hair. But rather, a true believer,
I kiss the earth, with pure faith,
hands reaching up, sighing with streaming tears,
begging for the healing of my soul,
a soul wasted by shortcomings,
dissipated by weakness.

F

And these two feet, means of motion,
foundation of my body’s structure,
now lame and unsteady,
vanquished by evil,
impede my ascent to the tree of life-giving fruit.
May you again inhabit them, my only hope of cure.
And the organ of glorification with which you endowed
me, whose voice when moved by the magnanimity of
your mercy used to turn back the breath of the
Troublemaker, silencing him,
may you miraculously restore your living word to me,
so I might speak again without faltering,6
like the one you healed in the Gospel.

G

I lie here on a cot struck down by evil,
sinking in disease and torment,
like the living dead yet able to speak.
O kind Son of God,
have compassion upon my misery.
Hear the sobbing of my agitated voice.
Bring me back to life
with the dew of your blessed eyes
as you brought back your friend from breathless death.7
In a dungeon of infirmities, I am captive, bitter and
in doubt.
Give me your hand, sun that casts no shadows, Son on
       high, and lift me into your radiant light.

H

Like the pitiful, wailing voice of the widow Nain,
mourning her only son,
fingers trembling, chest heaving,8
tears streaming down her face paralyzed with grief,
I beg with my last sighing breath: Grant me,
who has lost hope, your comfort and pity.
Teach me not to moan and protest like a prisoner,
kind and praiseworthy creator of the universe,
but rather, like the young man you brought back to life,
who comforted his grieving mother,
may I too receive from you
a second chance for my condemned soul.

I

You took pity, O Savior of all,
even on demon-possessed brutes,9
and those unfortunates, stoned, beaten, and deformed,
with their unkempt, knotted hair
and their wild faces, raving in delirium.
Like them, I petition you,
turn back the legions of evil defiling
your sanctuary within me
so that when your Spirit arrives
your goodness might dwell here
and fill my body with your cleansing breath,
bringing lucidity to my reeling mind.

J

Like souls banished to hell,
I am held captive by illness.
Let your light dawn in radiant rays of mercy
upon my torture to rescue me
from the clutches of the sickness
tearing me apart.

The infirmities that cause disease
traveling invisible paths, secretly lying in wait,
straying from the ordained ways with
malicious purposes –
all torment my soul.10
Hidden from examination, the
malignant growth proceeds
with the poisonous work of the Evil-doer.
With your strength which knows no equal,
Son of God, heal me so that I might live.

With your almighty hand pluck out
the harvest of destruction
that the various mortal illnesses,
each dressed in its own way, produce.
Pluck out the evil roots
sprouted upon the field of my unruly body
with your mighty hand
that plows and cultivates the plots of our souls
so they may bear the fruit of the gospel of life.

K

And because the torments of my infirmities
surpass even these examples,
which like a spreading cancer,
have touched all the parts of my body,
there is no salve as there was none for Israel,11
for my innumerable sores.
Every part of my body from head to toe12
is unhealthy and beyond the help of physicians.
But you, merciful, beneficent, blessed,
long-suffering, immortal king,
hear the prayers of my embattled heart for mercy,
when I cry to you, “Lord,”
in my time of need.13
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Notes
  1 ...... Mt. 12:10-13.

  2 ...... Lk. 13:11-13.

  3 ...... Ezek. 17:24.

  4 ...... Mt. 9:20-21, Mk. 5:25-29.

  5 ...... Lk. 7:37-38.

  6 ...... Mk. 7:35.

  7 ...... Jn. 11:3.

  8 ...... Lk. 7:11-15.

  9 ...... Mk. 5:5.

  10 ...... Lk. 14:2.

  11 ...... Wis. 16:12, Is. 1:6.

  12 ...... Is. 1:6.

  13 ...... Jon. 2:3.