Saturday night, I was sitting around trying to think of something “profound” to write. There were no words, of course. That’s usually what happens when I go out of my way to try to do so. So, instead of sitting around and twiddling my thumbs, hoping inspiration would strike, I turned to my bookshelf. Soon, my eyes (and hands) soon fell upon The Valley of Vision.
I don’t read The Valley of Vision on a daily basis; for me, it’s an as-needed book. Sometimes when I’m not sure what to pray, or when my words fail me, I turn to this book. Last night was one where I needed the words of these prayers.
I read one prayer (and only one). It began this way:
O Fountain of all good,
Destroy in me every lofty thought,
Break pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds,
Annihilate each clinging shred of self-righteousness,
Implant in me true lowliness of spirit,
Abase me to self-loathing and self-abhorrence,
Open in me a found of penitential tears,
Break me, then bring me up;
Thus will my heart be a prepared dwelling for my God…1
These are difficult words to read. And let’s be honest, how many of us would pray something like this? “Abase me to self-loathing”?2 This not the stuff your typical devotional is made of.
But there’s something powerful here, too. Something beautiful, even. The author doesn’t pray this to indulge some perverse form of asceticism. It’s a desire to see himself in proper perspective. To be broken by God—and to be brought up again by him.
To have a have a heart that is a fitting dwelling for his God.
That’s something I don’t often pray. And I think I need to more often. Not because I don’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, but because I already do. And because he dwells there, I want my heart to be a place suitable for him—and he is the only one who can make it so. I can’t do it, but he will. And because I know he will, I can pray alongside the anonymous author of this prayer:
“Break pride to pieces and scatter it to the winds… Implant in me true lowliness of spirit… Break me, then bring me up.”