Sunday, January 22, 2017
Almighty God, do thou send a plentiful rain upon thine inheritance, and make this people rejoice with great joy. Do thou nourish us and comfort us with the bread of heaven, and with all the tender solaces of thine heart. Our life is in thine hand and not in our own, our days thou dost number, and our appointments thou dost make, yea, the day of our birth and the day of our death are both set down in the book which is open before thee. Thou hast assured us of thy presence, if we cry for it mightily through Jesus Christ our Priest and Saviour; for thy presence we do now cry, yea, our whole heart gathers itself up into one vehement desire that we might know where to find thee, that we might come into thy presence, that thou mightest dwell with us, and abide with us, and bear dominion over our whole life. This is our prayer, and to it thou hast but one answer: thy reply is an answer of love, thou wilt not deny the request of the heart that begs thy presence, through all the wondrous ministry of the Cross.
Thou hast kept us and not we ourselves; thou hast lighted our lamp, and the strong wind has not blown it out; thou hast established us in sureness, and behold the storm has vanished and we are still alive. It is because the good hand of the Lord our God is upon us that we are continued unto this day with root unshaken and branch unbroken, and with all the spring light pouring its tender blessing upon us, every beam a prophecy and every ray a blessing. We are in thine house now to eat and to drink according to the abundance of thine own welcome; we bring our hunger and our thirst where they can alone be satisfied. In our Father’s house there is bread enough and to spare, and as for the river of God it is full of water, and if a man drink thereof he shall thirst no more. Whilst we are in thine house may the light fill our life, may the love of the cross burn in our hearts, may the infinite work of thy Son our Saviour disclose unto us all the beauteousness and all the sufficiency which he intended it to disclose. May our hearts glow with a new ardour, may our spirits rise with still higher and purer aspiration, may our heart go out after the Living One in cries of distress and yet of hope, until thou dost come to every heart amongst us, and make it thy chosen dwelling-place.
Few and evil have been the days of thy servants upon the earth, yea, though they be counted as many among men, yet has their number been few in thy sight and evil in our own. Behold we are of yesterday and know nothing, we are afraid of the dust, we tremble before the shadow, we turn away from the stroke of thy rod, and our hearts are melted with fear like water. Do thou therefore visit us in our weakness and come as the physician comes to men that die, and breathe upon us with all gentleness, subduing the wind of thine infinity, breathing upon us thy tender blessing. We are bruised reeds, unfit for music; do thou bind up our wounds and heal us and then breathe into us, and may our answer be one of gentle music. We are as smoking flax, we flicker before thee like a flame and die. O, that thou wouldst breathe upon it, and strengthen the fire by thy breathing, until our whole nature is aflame and aglow with thy presence; then would our life be always in the Sabbath, and our whole hope would be set upon things invisible.
Pity us in our sorrows and distresses, do not mock us in our miscalculations and follies, do not discourage us with bitter taunting from heaven when our own souls misgive us and we are afraid to try the good again; but with all gentleness and comfortableness do thou encourage us once more to do that which is right and to attempt that which is holy, and with every attempt do thou give increase of strength.
The Lord visit us according to the breadth and depth of our painful necessity. What every heart needs thou knowest: the prayer we dare not speak thou hearest; the gentlest knocking at thy door is heard as thunder in thine house. When we seek may we find. Thou knowest what we would be, what we would have, and what we would do, and we lay this before thee in uttered words or in silent desire, and we would desire to say at last, having completed the tale of our want and the prayer of our ignorance, “Nevertheless, not our will but thine be done.” Amen.