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Prayer 59

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

A

I believe and bear witness in sound mind,
through the insights of my soul and
the visions of my conscience inspired by you,
that for you, doer of good, the prayers of a sinner are
more desirable than the petitions of the just.
For the first, baring the defeated soul, awaits your grace
and being well acquainted with the limits of
human nature,
rises up like a stern accuser,
a combatant bent on self-mortification,
a bitter critic and prosecutor who sees secrets.1
Whereas the second, looking upon his good works,
places the hand of confidence on his soul,
forgets the limitations of his nature
and awaits rewards, rather than mercy.2
For that reason, the first is the subject of
innumerable accounts trumpeting your mercy,
and the second has been passed over in silence,
O inscrutable, awesome, and all-caring Lord!
I shudder at the thought that my accounts,
the accounts of a mere mortal go too far.3
So come Lord, do not let the gestures of a human hand
seem grander than yours.
Do not let your mercies be meted out in mortal measure.

B

But those who have healthy organs are not in need of
a physician’s care,4
and those who with good vision have no need of a guide,
and those who are well off do not beg at
the doors of the wealthy,
and those who are well fed do not wait for crumbs of bread from the table,5
and those who lead a saintly life are not needy of mercy,
so heavenly Lord almighty on high, take mercy on me,
a tormented wretch,
for if I were like Job,
I would say my soul was upright and pure like his.6
And if I were like Moses,
I would confidently say with him,
“The Lord recognizes his own.” 7
And if I were like David, I would say,
“I have done judgment and justice.” 8
And again in words that exceed our physical nature:
“If I see sin in my heart, may the Lord not hear me.” 9
If I were like Elijah, I would call myself a man of God.10
If I were like Jeremiah, I would emulate your truth
in my soul.11 If I were like Hezekiah, I would proudly
say, with justification, “I walked before you
with righteousness.”12
Or if I were like Paul, I would call myself
the dwelling place, oracle and receiver of God’s word.13

C

But I, lawless despite knowing the law,
not only cannot present my soul to you,
with respectful words like them, I cannot even
mention myself, who am totally corrupt,
to you in the same breath as these good souls,
for my impious tongue is not worthy to utter your name
praised by all creation.
But you, who are capable of everything,
grant me the spirit of salvation,
the sheltering right arm,
the helping hand,
the command of goodness,
the light of mercy,
the word of renewal,
the cause of pardon,
and help of the staff of life.
For you are the hope of refuge, Lord Jesus Christ,
blessed with the Father and Holy Spirit,
forever and ever.
Amen.
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Notes
  1 ...... Lk. 18:13.

  2 ...... Lk. 18:9, 11.

  3 ...... Lk. 18:12.

  4 ...... Mk. 2:17.

  5 ...... Mt. 15:27.

  6 ...... Job 33:9.

  7 ...... Num. 16:5.

  8 ...... Ps. 119 (Arm 118):121.

  9 ...... Ps. 66 (Arm 65):18.

  10 ...... 2 Kg. 1:9-10.

  11 ...... Jer. 11:19 (Jeremiah is depicted as a lamb led to slaughter, in the manner of Christ).

  12 ...... 2 Kg. 20:3, Is. 38:3.

  13 ...... Gal. 2:20.