Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Prayer and Half A Prayer For Sanctification

Augustine, Confessions 8.7.17:

But now, the more ardently I loved those whose healthful affections I heard of, that they had resigned themselves wholly to Thee to be cured, the more did I abhor myself, when compared with them. For many of my years (some twelve) had now run out with me since my nineteenth, when, upon the reading of Cicero's Hortensius, I was stirred to an earnest love of wisdom; and still I was deferring to reject mere earthly felicity, and give myself to search out that, whereof not the finding only, but the very search, was to be preferred to the treasures and kingdoms of the world, though already found, and to the pleasures of the body, though spread around me at my will. But I wretched, most wretched, in the very commencement of my early youth, had begged chastity of Thee, and said, "Give me chastity and continency, only not yet." For I feared lest Thou shouldest hear me soon, and soon cure me of the disease of concupiscence, which I wished to have satisfied, rather than extinguished. And I had wandered through crooked ways in a sacrilegious superstition, not indeed assured thereof, but as preferring it to the others which I did not seek religiously, but opposed maliciously.

Elizabeth S. RoweDevout Exercises of the Heart, in Meditation and Soliloquy, Prayer and Praise XXV:

A Prayer for Speedy Sanctification
O Lord God, great and holy, all-sufficient and full of grace if thou shouldst bid me form a wish, and take whatsoever in heaven or in earth I had to ask it should not be the kingdoms of this world, nor the crowns of princes; no nor should it be the wreaths of martyrs nor the thrones of archangels; my request is to be made holy: this is my highest concern. Rectify the disorder sin has made in my soul, and renew thy image there; let me be satisfied with thy likeness. Thou hast encompassed my path with mercy in all other respects, and I am discontented with nothing but my own heart, because it is so unlike the image of thy holiness, and so unfit for thy immediate presence. 
Permit me to be importunate here, O blessed God, and grant me the importunity of my wishes; let me be favoured with a gracious and speedy answer, for I am dying while I am speaking; the very breath with which I am calling upon thee is carrying away part of my life! this tongue that is now invoking thee, must shortly be silent in the grave; these knees, that are bent to pay thee homage, and these hands that are now lifted to the most high God for mercy, must shortly be mouldering to their original dust: these eyes will soon be closed in death, which are now looking up to thy throne for a blessing. O prevent the flying hours with thy mercy, and let thy favour outstrip the hasty moments.
Thou art unchanged, while rolling ages pass along; but I am decaying with every breath I draw; my whole allotted time to prepare for heaven, is but a point compared with thy infinite duration. The shortness and vanity of my present being, and the importance of my eternal concerns, join together to demand my utmost solicitude, and give wings to my warmest wishes. -- Before I can utter all my present desires, the hasty opportunity perhaps is gone, the golden minute vanished, and the season of mercy has taken its everlasting flight.
O God of ages! hear me speedily and grant my request while I am yet speaking; my frail existence will admit of no delay; answer me according to the shortness of my duration, and the exigence of my circumstances. -- My business, of high importance as it is, yet is limited to the present now, the passing moment; for all the powers on earth cannot promise me the next. 
Let not my pressing importunity, therefore, offend thee; my happiness, my everlasting happiness, my whole being is concerned in my success: as much as the enjoyment of God himself is worth, is at stake.
Thou knowest, O Lord, what qualifications will fit me to behold thee; thou knowest in what I am defective; thou canst prepare my soul in an instant to enter into thy holy habitation. I breathe now, but the next moment may be death, let not that fatal moment come before I am prepared. -- The same creating voice that said, "Let there be light, and there was light," can in the same manner, purify and adorn my soul, and make me fit for thy own presence; and my soul longs to be thus purified and adorned. O Lord, delay not, for every moment's interval is a loss to me, and may be a loss unspeakable and irreparable. -- Thy delay cannot be the least advantage to thee; thy power and thy clemency are as full at this present instant as they will be the next, and my time as fleeting, and my wants as pressing.
Remember, O eternal God, my lost time is forever lost, and my wasted hours will never return, my neglected opportunities can never be recalled; to me they are gone forever, and cannot be improved; but thou canst change my sinful soul into holiness by a word, and set me now in the way to everlasting improvement.
O let not the Spirit of God restrain itself, but bless me according to the fulness of thy own being, according to the riches of thy grace in CHRIST JESUS, according to thy infinite, inconceivable love, manifested in that glorious gift of thy beloved Son, wherein the fulness of thy Godhead was contained; it is through his merit and mediation I humbly wait for all the unbounded blessings I want or ask for.

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