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Prayer 24

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

What am I worthy to ask of you in prayer?

May I pray for
paradise,1 from which I have strayed?
your magnificent glory, which I am denied?
your everlasting life, from which I was rejected?
the society of angels, from which I was expelled?
the company of the just, from which I am banished?
the living vine, from which I have been
       ripped away?2
the shoot of the plant of bliss, from which I have
       dried up?
the grace of the flower of glory, from which
       I have fallen?
the legacy of praise, from which I was disinherited?
the devoted fatherly embrace, from which
       I have pulled away?

B

Or may I pray
that I might be honored with clothing of light,
              from which I have been stripped?
that I might hope for return to my creator,
              from whom I have been estranged?3
that I might turn my desires to the light,
              from which I have strayed?
that I might join the body of Christ,
              from which I was rejected?4
that I might touch the hand of him,
              from whom I am separated?
that I might seek refuge in the sanctuary,
              from which I was spurned?
Or might I pray for
the renewal of salvation, from which I fell?
the reawakening of joy, from which
       I was abandoned?
the rule of monastic life, from which
       I have been diverted?
the edge of steadfastness, from which
       I have slipped?
the bulwark of the immovable rock,
              from which I have been shaken?
the procession of the faithful, from which I strayed?
Or may I pray that I might
prosper in the city of firstborn,
              from which I was taken captive? 5
receive my daily bread, for which
       I have not worked?
be compensated for labor, for which
       I have not sweat?
be showered with rewards, which
       I have not earned? 6
be recorded in the book of life,
              from which I have been erased? 7
remember the bounty of blessings, which
       I always forget?

C

And now the thread of the hope of life has snapped.
I am dominated by a plague of leprosy, diseased all over.
My body has been eaten away by corruption.
Besieged, I have been made dead to God.
A small, shiny, ugly, white scar8
is all that remains of my earlier ambiguous symptoms,9
leaving no doubt of my uncleanness.
All vestiges of pride have been snuffed.
Salvation is forsaken; the good darkened by shadows.
Access to life is completely closed;10 comfort removed.
The tribunal of judgment approaches.
The poisons of death quicken within me.
The malignancies reawaken.
The harbor is shut by reefs.
The path of hope is blocked.
The cloak of grace has been stripped away.
The splendor of majesty is eclipsed.
The sense of direction has been confused.
The stabs of reprimand have multiplied.
The horns of iniquity have sprouted.
The flames of hell have singed me.
The yoke of servitude weighs heavily.
The chains of slavery are strengthened.
The supporting structure has collapsed.11
The base of the summit has disintegrated.
The unity of the family has fallen into the abyss.
The Spirit of God which loves holiness is dejected.12

D

I have embraced the bitter dregs
of torment, anguish, sorrow, spiritual distress,
pains beyond treatment,
doubt beyond steadying, shame beyond measure,
scandal beyond concealment,
humiliation beyond brazenness,
       fleeing beyond return,
persecution beyond human decency,
       a long, barren pilgrimage.13
Whereas you are salvation, strength, and relief,
mercy, enlightenment, atonement and life eternal,
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God,14
creator of heaven and earth,
who offers water to those parched from
thirst in the desert.15
Blessed, kind, mighty, loving,
forbearing, caring, ingenious, visitor,
defender without sparing, protector victorious,
life indestructible, intercessor to heaven,
undiminishing fullness, bliss celebrated,
lovingly extend your right hand of mercy.
Accept and present me, a manifold sinner,
       my sins forgiven and cleansed,
to your Holy Spirit, equal to you in honor,
O living Word,
so that reconciled through you the Holy Spirit might return to me.
Through you, may the almighty Holy Spirit
cleanse me with pure will and present me to your Father
so that I may with him and through him
always be bound with grace to you
through the breath of salutation
inseparably united with you.
And for these gifts, to you, the Father and
the Holy Spirit,
three persons, one nature and one godhead,
glory and thanksgiving from your created beings,
forever and ever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Gen. 3:23-24.

  2 ...... Jn. 15:2.

  3 ...... Lk. 15:11-20.

  4 ...... Eph. 5:30.

  5 ...... Heb. 12:23, Ex. 13:14-15, Num. 18:15-16, Lk. 2:22-23.

  6 ...... 1 Cor. 9:24-27.

  7 ...... Ex. 32:33.

  8 ...... Lev. 13:2; Lev. 13:19

  9 ...... Lev. 13:5.

  10 ...... Mt. 25:10.

  11 ...... Sir. 27:3.

  12 ...... Eph. 4:30.

  13 ...... Lk. 19:12.

  14 ...... Mt. 16:16.

  15 ...... Num. 20:1-11.