A Puritan prayer for victory by looking to the cross

Great was your goodness
    in undertaking my redemption,
    in consenting to be made sin for me,
    in conquering all my foes;

Great was your strength
    in enduring the extremities of divine wrath,
    in taking away the load of my iniquities;

Great was your love
    in manifesting yourself alive,
    in showing your sacred wounds
    that every fear might vanish,
    and every doubt be removed.

Great was your mercy
    in ascending to heaven
    in being crowned and enthroned
        there to intercede for me
        there to assist me in temptation,
        there to open the eternal book
        there to receive me finally to yourself;

Great was your wisdom
    in devising this means of salvation;
Wash my soul in rich consolations
    of your resurrection life;

Great was your grace
    in commanding me to come hand in hand
        with you to the Father,
        to be united to him eternally,
        to discover in him my rest,
        to find in him my peace,
        to behold his glory,
        honour him who alone is worthy;
    in giving me the Spirit as teacher, guide, power,
        that I might live repenting of sin,
        conquer Satan,
        find victory in life.
When you are absent all sorrows are here,
When you are present all blessings are mine.

Taken from The Valley of Vision–A Puritan Book of Prayers

The Valley of Vision – A puritan prayer

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly.
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter the stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

Taken from The Valley of Vision, Puritan prayers and devotions

Thanksgiving and Suffering

I grew up in a church in rural Indiana. As a child I remember the uniqueness of the Sunday night before Thanksgiving. I remember that it was one of the few services that the pastor didn’t preach. Instead I vaguely remember two microphones down front, and that people would just get up and share what they were thankful for. I confess that as 7 year old I didn’t remember the content, but I did remember the experience.

A few years ago, prior to Thanksgiving, we placed two microphones down front and invited people to share what they were thankful for. I confess I was unprepared for the one element that so many of the testimonies had in common . . . suffering. Amazing isn’t it, that the people who have suffered the most seem to be the ones who are most thankful. In a country that seems to have a mission of removing all pain and suffering I found it remarkable that the people who had treaded some really dark times were the ones who were thankful.

The Puritans understood this best 400 years ago. Many of their prayers were recorded in a book entitled: The Valley of Vision.  They understood what many have failed to realize. That although most people thought that it was the mountain-top experiences that made life rewarding, for them it was the valleys. It was in the valleys of their life that they gave thanks.

 My only explanation for that from the Scriptures is that God wired us for dependence on Him. On the moutain-tops we fail to remember that vital lesson, and often we act independently. But in the valleys we say with the Apostle Paul, “we were burdened excessively beyond strength . . .in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (II Cor. 1:8-9). Perhaps that’s why those believers who have known great suffering are also those who are most apt to thank the Lord. It is in their darkest hour that Jesus shines most brightly.