Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Diary of Private Prayer

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

God bless Mummy.
I know that's right.
Wasn't it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold's so cold and the hot's so hot.
God bless Daddy--I quite forgot.


Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said "Bless Daddy," so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.

One way I've found of avoiding falling into Christopher Robin's (albeit very endearing) pitfall is to use John Baillie's A Diary of Private Prayer each evening as part of 'saying my prayers'. I recently came across an updated version, A Diary of Daily Prayer (2002) by J. Barrie Shepherd whose aim in producing the new text was to supplement the earlier work.

I came across a copy of the 1956 edition in a box of books in the parish church in Walsingham last year and it turned out to be a very worthwhile purchase. The book offers prayers for morning and evening to take the reader through thirty-one days, as well as two separate prayers for use on Sundays. Each prayer is printed on the right-hand side of the book, with the left-hand page left blank for writing thoughts, notes or prayer requests. The prayers are, according to the author, intended as aids and are elegantly written and beautifully sincere.

I've reproduced the evening prayer I've come to today as an illustration:

'Let me now rejoice, O most gracious God, in the love Thou hast shown to our poor human race, opening up to us a way whereby we might be delivered from our sin and foolishness.

O God the Father, I praise the great and holy love whereby, when we had utterly gone astray, Thou didst diligently seek us out and save us, sending Thy well-beloved Son to suffer and to die that we might be restored to the fellowship of Thy children.

O God the Son, I praise the great and holy love whereby Thou didst humble Thyself for my sake and for the sake of my brethren, consenting to share our common life, to dwell in the midst of all our sin and shame, to endure all the bitterness of Thy most blessed Passion, and at the last to die upon the Cross, that we might be released from our bondage and enter with Thee into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

O God the Holy Spirit, I praise the great and holy love whereby Thou dost daily shed abroad in my unworthy heart the peace and joy of sin forgiven, making me a partaker with all the saints in the blessings of my Lord's Incarnation, of His Passion and Crucifixion, and of His Resurrection and Ascension to the Father's right hand on high.

O holy and blessed Trinity, let me now so dwell in the mystery of this heavenly love that all hatred and malice may be rooted out from the heart and life. Let me love Thee, as Thou didst first love me; and in loving Thee and my neighbour in Thee let me be saved from all false love of myself; and to Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be all glory and praise for ever. Amen.'

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