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Prayer 23

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

Lord God of all, able to do anything,
all-encompassing space, unbounded, unlimited,
close to all with your very essence,
nowhere, yet without you there are no bounds,
invisible, yet without the light of your dawn
nothing is visible,
awesome glory, incomprehensible name,
voice of majesty, sound of the infinite,
essence beyond analysis,
unreachable distance, immediate closeness,
who notes gentleness and sees distress,
stands by grief and can cure all hopeless cases,
Father of compassion who spreads mercy,
God of comfort.

B

Look with mercy, O Lord, on my anguish,
on the many symptoms of dread afflictions
I set out before you.
Treat me like a physician, rather than examining
me like a judge.
Indeed I am overwhelmed by anxieties
caused by vacillation and doubt.
When the body is weakened by malady,
when the soul is not fortified against evil,
when the senses are paralyzed by passion,
the members of the body wallow in desire,
the heart’s wisdom is wounded by remorse,
the expectation of good is abandoned,
and despite the ability to think,
man sinks to the level of beasts.1
His existence becomes enmeshed with disgust
even while appearing outwardly whole,
his intellect frays within.
Remembering the graveness of his mistakes,
he falls into despair
tormented by past deeds and constantly worried.
The clarity of prayer becomes clouded
as he smolders in the fires of conscience.
At work, although his hand stays on the plough,
his mind keeps turning over the past.2
Walking forward, his feet drag back.
Knowing the essential, he is consumed by irrelevancies.
In battles of the mind, he is always defeated by details.
And the door of his voice box is charred by the burning of his heart.
Everywhere sunless fog rises from damp whims
enshrouding everything and blocking the grasp of hope.
His senses are branded with unbearable pain.
His mind is obsessed by the misfortune of perdition
and retribution occupies the tribunal of his thought.
His tender eye fills with anger.
Bright spirits disfavor my earthen vessel
and I am worthy of being stoned to death with
stones of justice.
With terror my meager nature collides with yours
as your thundering words scatter my
thought-bearing ashes.
Like a prodigal son I have wasted the talent given me,3
and like the useless servant I buried the
honorable gifts received.4
The fruits of my labor are covered with the
darkness of sloth,
and fade like the afterglow of a candle when
it is taken away.
My tongue, having lost the right to respond, is dumb.
My twisted lips have been justly silenced.
My mind whirls with anxiety
unable to concentrate
too stupefied to weigh and choose what is right.
The path of deliverance is blocked
by the wreckage of evil,
and the lamp of my soul5 is filled only with ash.
The letters of my name have been scratched from the book of life,6
and blame is written in the place of blessing.

C

If I see a soldier, I expect death,
a messenger, punishment,
a clerk, foreclosure,
a jurist, condemnation,
an evangelist, the shaking of the dust off his feet,7
a pious person, reprimand,
a snob, sarcasm,
If I am put to trial by water, I will drown.8
If I take a remedy for my condemnation, I will die.
At the mere sight of the harvest of goodness, I recoil remembering my evil.
If a hand is raised, I take cover.
At the least trifle, I tremble.
At the slightest sound, I flinch.
If I am invited to join in a toast, I quiver.
If I am scolded, I cower.
If I am called for questioning, I mumble.
If I am interrogated, I become dumb.

D

Now, all these pitiful doubts, heaped upon each another,
in the unconscious depths and inner chambers of my heart’s being,
stifle me, piercing my heart with invisible arrows,
unextractable, permanently lodged in my soul,
filling it with pus forewarning
a dreadful death.
With each breath I draw,
the ulcers and rust from these buried secrets,
locked away in iron, cause pain.
The cry of my voice strangled by these torments,
I offer to heaven, mixed with tears and the sobbing grief of my soul,
O doer of good, for whom everything is possible,
along with the prayers of other earth-bound sufferers.
With them I offer up my last sigh
and tears here on earth,
so that you will grant a calm peace to me,
a pitiful laborer engaged in vain earthly pursuits.
Eternal glory to you,
who are all in all through all.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Ps. 48:13, 21.

  2 ...... Lk. 9:62.

  3 ...... Lk. 15:11.

  4 ...... Lk. 19:20.

  5 ...... Lk. 11:36.

  6 ...... Ex. 32:33.

  7 ...... Mt. 10:14.

  8 ...... Num. 5:16-22.