I have a tradition on Sunday mornings. As I arrive at the church and go into my study to pray, I begin by picking up The Valley of Vision and reading a prayer. The book is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. It has been a wonderful tradition that helps to set my heart on Christ and to prepare to proclaim the Gospel. This is a prayer I read a few weeks ago titled A Minister’s Evils that continued to stick with me.
BLESSED SPIRIT OF GOD,
Four evils attend my ministry —
The devil treads me down by
discouragement and shame
arising from coldness in private meditation.
Carelessness possesses me
from natural dullness and dimness of spirit;
because in the past I have met with success
and been highly regarded,
so that it does not matter if I have now failed.
Infirmities and weakness are mine
from want of spiritual light, life and power,
so that souls have not been helped,
and I have not felt thee to be near.
Lack of success has followed even when
I have done my best.
But thou hast shown me that the glory of everything
that is sanctified to do good
is not seen in itself,
but in the source of its sanctification.
Thus my end in preaching is to know Christ,
and impart his truth;
my principle in preaching is Christ himself,
whom I trust,
for in him is fullness of spirit and strength;
my comfort in preaching is to do all for him.
Help me in my work to grow more humble,
to pick something out of all providences
to that end,
to joy in thee and loathe myself,
to keep my life, being, soul, and body
only for thee,
to carry my heart to thee in love and delight,
to see all my grace in thee, coming from thee,
to walk with thee in endearment.
Then, whether I succeed or fail,
nought matters but thee alone.
From the Valley of Vision Pg. 185