This is a prayer I wrote a little while back. It was at a time when I was becoming very aware of my inner condition. I was wrestling with the psalms which are pleas for God to smite our enemies. As I was trying my best to be rid of resentment and a need for vengeance, I found myself reading scriptures which appeared to be leading me in the opposite direction. With some prayer I began to see how these psalms could be profoundly truthful for me if I turned them inward – into the battlefield within my soul. This prayer blends several of those psalms and speaks of the origin of the soul, its struggles on the Earth, and the fate we all share.
Be merciful to me, my God,
For my soul is a house divided against itself
I oppose myself at every turn
My adversary pursues me.
All day long he twists my heart;
His schemes are my ruin.
He conspires against me
He lurks at the door hoping to take my life;
Do not let him overcome me;
In your anger, God, bring my pride to ruin
What can my enemy do to me?
He trembles in fear of the Lord
Whose eternal word I praise
So when my heart overflows with terror
And floods my soul with useless worries
And causes me to doubt what is eternal
And beckons me to have faith in what is fleeting
And I find myself worshiping idols
And putting my trust in the works of human hands
And human honours
And human victories
I cry out to you:
Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not written in your book?
Do you not know the anguish I bring upon myself?
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
you are familiar with all my ways.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
My heart was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your love knew my undivided soul;
Each moment of my life was written in your book
before this battle began.
Where can I escape from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I could go up into the stars, you would meet me there;
if I swam to the bottom of the sea, there you would be waiting also
There is no shadow which can hide me from you
For even the darkness of night shines like the morning sun in your eyes
Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
The enemy pursues me,
he makes me live in darkness
like those long dead
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
In your unfailing love, silence my enemy
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we must not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
For, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains only a single seed.
But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolation he has caused in my heart
He makes wars cease
And unites divided houses
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he beats swords into plowshares
And throws the weapons of war into the fires of Hell
The Lord says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
Why are you crying out to me?
Do not be afraid.
Stand firm and you will know deliverance from your suffering
Praise my name in your heart
And I will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
He prepares a table for us in his house
Where enemies dine together
and their cups overflow with goodness and mercy
There is a river which sings for joy in the house of the Lord,
This river brings life to the tree in the garden
Which heals your soul and lifts the curse
Taste of this tree and your heart will be unbroken
And your mind will be made quiet
And your house will be made whole
So I make this vow to you, O God;
With an undivided will –
To bring you offerings of thanks,
Love for all creation,
And compassion for my enemy.
There is only one thing I ask from you, O Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in your house
all the days of my life,
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk beside you
in the light of life.
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