During this time of sickness and extreme fatigue there have been so many doubts in my mind, so many worries and cares. So many muscle twitchings and random spasms (oops… that’s not the story here.) So many wonderings.  So many questions for doctors and for my God.  And so many false gods. Being sure of my problem, whatever it is in the end, can easily become something that I obsess about and so in essence worship, among other things. Lately I have begun going to bed after reading God’s truth and praying through some of these most spiritually insightful prayers written by the Puritans and compiled in the book The Valley of Vision.  I highly recommend it as a personal devotional prayer guide.  The Hot Pastor has occasionally taken to using passages from it during worship as responsive corporate prayers in times past.

Many people simply think of the Puritans as a strange, backwards sect that dressed oddly (buckles on hats?? Who thought of that and decided it was holy garb?!) but despite some of the differences we have, these people knew their scripture and generally speaking (there are bad eggs in every community or movement of course) they had their fingers on the pulse of God’s desire for us. Trust. Obedience. Inevitable failure. Repentance. And unfathomable grace.

These prayers have convicted me over and over again and regularly remind me of yet how much grace and mercy and love are waiting for me when I return in repentance to the arms of my saviour. I will share my reading from tonight which is entitled, The Dark Guest. In another post hopefully tomorrow I will let you know how my sleep clinic went which was last night.

Bend my hands and cut them off,
for I have often struck thee with a wayward will,
when these fingers should embrace thee by faith.
I am not yet weaned from all created glory,
honour, wisdom and esteem of others,
for I have a secret motive to eye my name in all I do.
Let me not only speak the word sin, but see the thing itself.
Give me a view to a discovered sinfulness,
to know that though my sins are crucified
they are never wholly mortified.
Hatred, malice, ill-will,
vain-glory that hungers for and hunts after
man’s approval and applause,
all are crucified, forgiven,
but they rise again in my sinful heart.
O my crucified but never wholly mortified sinfulness!
O my life-long damage and daily shame!
O my indwelling and besetting sins!
O the tormenting slavery of a sinful heart!
Destroy, O God, the dark guest within
whose hidden presence makes my life a hell.
Yet thou hast not left me here without grace;
the cross still stands and meets my needs
in the deepest straits of the soul.
I thank thee that my remembrance of it
is like David’s sight of Goliath’s sword
which preached deliverance.
The memory of my great sins, my many temptations, my falls,
bring afresh into my mind the remembrance
of thy great help, of thy support from heaven,
of the great grace that saved such a wretch as I am.
There is no treasure so wonderful
as the continuous experience of thy grace toward me
which alone can subdue the risings of sin within; Give me more of it.

I am thinking of translating these into modern wording perhaps as a prayer guide for those of my generation and younger. Many of us can perhaps get lost in the thees and thous. (though I personally like them as linguistic expressions like that even in a prayer like this reminds me of the history and the commonality of the battle we daily fight in our hearts.)

3 thoughts on “The Dark Guest

  1. Wonderful! I love the puritans, and those who are critical of them should really READ what they wrote, it is so amazing! I am sorry for your trial, but thankful for all God is doing through it.

  2. Our pastor here…. has been reading those same prayers to us before starting Sunday School Class. He read them to the youth while they were on a wilderness trip… My son remarked, ” WOW! i wish i could pray like that”

    I to would love to translate them into “updated” english. it would be a great study tool for those who get lost in the lyrical language of the past… ( we like the old way cuz we are well, addicted to words )

    I think that they had such an great understanding of who they were in realation to a Holy God, and the power of His redemptive work in their lives. Their ponderings and prayers are so insightful because they didn’t have so many things to be idols in their lives, no soccer, no tv, no computer, no million errands to run, no church programs to run 4 nights a week…. just much quiet time understanding their God…. how cool!

  3. “…vain-glory that hungers for and hunts after
    man’s approval and applause…”
    Those words could so easily come from my mouth. I was just thinking about this about a week ago. I want so much for people to look at what I do and think it’s valuable, but the things I want them to think are valuable aren’t even the important things. That doesn’t make a ton of sense out of context and without all of the thoughts surrounding my conversation with myself…but anyway. This resonates. Will it transform?
    Their writing was so beautiful and powerful.

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