This morning, as I often do, I read two of the prayers from The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett. I’ve found these prayers help focus my thoughts on the most important issues in life: the greatness of my sin, the sovereignty of God, the saving work of Christ, the needs of the world, and my eternal destination. The first prayer this morning was “The ‘Nevers’ of the Gospel.” The commitments the author expressed offered a wise perspective as we enter a new year.
For my own understanding, I’ve divided the prayer into three sections. I call the first, “Using Truth Rightly.” It has to do with never seeking to know God’s Word in a way that doesn’t affect my life. Biblical knowledge, doctrine, and theology are all vital to my life. But unless my heart changes as a result, I’m only becoming deceived. I’ve updated the language to make it easier to read.
O Lord, may I never fail to come to the knowledge of the truth,
never rest in a system of doctrine, however scriptural,
that does not bring or further salvation,
or teach me to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,
or help me to live soberly, righteously, godly;
The second section I call “Reliance on Grace.” It reminds me that I don’t depend on my will or commitments, but on the faithfulness of the God who has called me, the Savior who has redeemed me, and the Spirit who draws me.
[May I] never rely on my own convictions and resolutions,
but be strong in you and in your might;
never cease to find your grace sufficient
in all my duties, trials, and conflicts;
never forget to repair to you
in all my spiritual distresses and outward troubles,
in all the dissatisfactions experienced in creature comforts;
never fail to retreat to him who is full of grace and truth,
the friend that loves at all times,
who is touched with feelings of my infirmities,
and can do exceeding abundantly for me;
The final section addresses “Worship as Life.” I’m reminded that worship can never be confined to an occasion, an act, a meeting, or an event. Jesus didn’t save me simply so I could have profound experiences as I sang worship songs. He saved me to live for his glory in humble obedience.
[May I] never confine my religion to extraordinary occasion,
but acknowledge you in all my ways;
never limit my devotions to particular season
but fear you all the day long;
never be godly only on the sabbath or in your house,
but on every day abroad and at home;
never make piety a dress but a habit,
not only a habit but a nature,
not only a nature but a life.
The prayer ends with a final request for God to show us his goodness in any and all ways until we finally see him face to face.
Do good to me by all your dispensations,
by all means of grace,
by worship, prayers, praises,
And at last let me enter that world where is no temple,
but only your glory and the Lamb’s.
None of us know whether 2008 will bring blessing or hardship. But what we do know is that God sent his Son to receive the punishment for our sins, that he is sovereign, and that he will be working in our lives to make us like his Son. Don’t you want to be more like Jesus at the end of 2008?
I trust you do. So may we never settle for mere head knowledge divorced from a changed life, may we never fail to cast ourselves on the limitless resources of God in Christ, and may we never fail to view worship as a grace-enabled response of complete devotion to our Savior.
Looking forward to all God is going to do for his glory in 2008.
Thanks for sharing these prayers. I hope that 2008 will be full of God’s grace in my life, and that there can be an awakening here in Québec. Québec is 400 years old and it is a huge thing, I trust God will use this for his glory.
Bob, not sure what you thought about Blue Like Jazz, but I think you and your readers would enjoy the new book: Brown Like Coffee. I would love for you to read it and critique it for us.
Send me a copy and I’d be happy to check it out. You can send it to Sovereign Grace Ministries, 7505 Muncaster Mill Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20877.
Thanks for your constant ministry to me through your blog, it’s bearing fruit in my life and my congregation as the gospel take further root into my life and my leading of gathered worship.
I also look forward to your book!
Thanks for the “nevers”.