Prayer is a difficult thing. We long to speak to God but become weary in the exercise. Often our prayers become rote and stagnate; repetitions of yesterday’s longings – the same day after day; week after week. It’s especially hard to pray when you are living in the valley and God seems so far away. Yet we try. And we wonder if God grows weary of our efforts even as we grow weary in our attempts.
For all that you think of the Puritans – some of them knew how to pray. From a collection of Puritan prayers comes this Morning prayer. Let it speak to your heart.
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.
(The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett)
There are several elements of this prayer worth pointing out:
1. It acknowledges God for who He is – both in His Deity and His humanity.
2. It is realistic about man’s situation – living in the depths & our sinfulness.
3. It contrasts man’s view of life with God’s desires for us.
4. It prays for God to do a spiritual work in us even when we are in the valley.
Read again the last sentence: Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.
It’s often in the valleys of life that we get the brightest glimpse of God’s glory and grace. We would not chose the valleys but it is possible to learn things about God and about ourselves in the valleys that we would never learn on the mountains.
If you are going through a valley, lift your eyes and look to the One who not only walked there before you but walks there with you now. To the One who said I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) – even in the valleys.
Remember that the valley is the place of vision.
Stay in the Word