Almighty God, we cannot mistake thy word. It is as fire and it is as music, it is as the sound of a mighty wind from heaven—there is none like it; our hearts know thy voice, and when we follow thy word thy blessing upon us is like a great wave. Thou hast written for us thy book. Thou hast given unto us thy Holy Spirit for its interpretation and for the enlightenment of our mind; enable us to receive thy book, not as the word of man, but as the express deliverance and message of heaven. Save us from all the reading of the letter, that does not see into the meaning of the infinite Spirit, bring us into sympathy with thine own purpose whilst we read thy wondrous words. We long to hear thy voice; it will soothe us, it will give us courage, it will answer every rising inquiry and repel every urgent temptation. Let thy voice fill the hearing of our soul to-day and make us glad with the music of heaven.
Give us release from the anxieties and torments of a worldly life; lift us above the cares and distresses incident to an earthly pilgrimage, and bring us into thine inner chamber, where our hearts shall see the radiance of thy face, and our life shall be lifted up into a new and immortal hope. Thou hast been with us in the valley of the weak, and even in the darkness we have seen where the flowers were, and our hands have been filled with their beauty. Thou hast caused us to pass over stony places, yet even in the rock hast thou found a river of water, so that we have not died in the wilderness by reason of thirst. Where the water has been bitter thou hast given us a plant to heal its bitterness; thou hast turned upon us an eye brighter than the morning, and upon our enemies thou hast turned a cloud darker than the night. Because of thy great goodness we are here this day, living, with hearts uplifted heavenward, with a great desire going out after thyself that our souls may be completed in perfection and soothed with peace.
Hear us whilst we confess our sin, and whilst we mourn our iniquity. Let thy forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our one Priest and only Saviour, be greater than all our guilt. When we sin most we most need him, for he is the Saviour of the world and the Redeemer of those that are in bondage. Bring us all round his cross, and high above all the writing of those who slew him may we see the superscription traced by thine own hand, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
We put ourselves into thine hands for guidance, direction, sustenance, and all things needful. We shall die tomorrow, but to die is to live, if so we die unto the Lord. Our days are thinning down, so much so that we see through the remainder of them and behold the tomb at the other end. Yet, though our days be few, we would live them as industrious servants, being found diligent and faithful, stooping down to our work with a hearty good will, and doing it in all the strength and fear and hope of God.
We commend one another with mutual love to thy gentle care. Carry our sick ones in thy great arms, press our little ones to thine infinite heart, kiss the tears of our sorrow from our reddened cheek, and give us a time of sunshine, when the storm has spent itself upon our poor life. Help every man who wishes to do better to realize this solemn hope; to every man who would lift himself up by thy grace and strength so as to catch the full shining of thy light, give grace, strength, comfort, and renewal of confidence every day. If any heart be set upon evil and any hand be trying to find what mischief it can work, the Lord confound the counsel of those who are wrong and overturn the purpose of those who know not and fear not thy name.
Thy word awaits us, may we await its deliverance, may it come to us with great power and breadth, great simplicity and unction—may every heart throw open its gates to give right loving welcome to the kingdom of Christ. The Lord direct us in everything, individually, congregationally, socially, and nationally. Give righteousness and a spirit of mercy and judgment to all who are in high places. God save the Queen, and add many unto the days of her life; the Lord himself rule the nation and make us glad under his sovereignty. Send light and truth, purity and peace all over the world, and make the whole earth thy sanctuary, thou who didst redeem it with blood.
Hear us in these our uttered prayers, and as for the desires we may not and cannot speak, read them every one, as they lie unuttered in the heart. Wherein they point towards truth and better life and penitence and nobler purpose, thou wilt give them infinite answers of satisfaction and peace. Amen.