I've seen some quoted in part - a line here or there in a book, some phrases turned well-worn in the far spaces of my heart, memorized by accident: Lord, 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....
Finally, earlier this year I ordered a copy of The Valley of Vision and gave it a spot in my window seat, a place where (when I get up early enough) I can sip coffee and look at the sky and linger in the Word and gain a quiet heart before the hum of the day. Most mornings, I read a prayer from this book. The puritans knew well the sinful depths of the human soul, but, perhaps because of this, also knew well the overwhelming grace of God given in Christ. Their prayers reveal the (often) shallowness of my own prayers, they give words to what I feel but can't always express - they help me see.
I know that prayer does not have to be polished or rehearsed, but I think there is value in reading - and joining voice with - the genuine, heartfealt prayers of saints that have walked this journey before us.
Need of Jesus
I am blind, be thou my light,
ignorant, be thou my wisdom,
self-willed, be thou my mind.
Open my ear to grasp quickly the Spirit's voice,
and delightfully run after his beckoning hand;
Melt my conscience that no hardness remain,
make it alive to evil's slightest touch;
When Satan approaches may I flee to thy wounds,
and there cease to tremble at all alarms.
Be my good shepherd to lead me into
the green pastures of thy Word,
and cause me to lie down beside the rivers of its comforts.
Fill me with peace, that no disquieting worldly gales
may ruffle the calm surface of my soul.
Thy cross was upraised to be my refuge,
They blood streamed forth to wash me clean,
Thy death occurred to give me a surety,
Thy name is my property to save me,
By thee all heaven is poured into my heart,
but it is too narrow to comprehend thy love.
I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,
but thy cross has brought me near,
has softened my heart,
has made me thy Father's child,
has admitted me to thy family,
has made me joint-heir with thyself.
O that I may love thee as thou lovest me,
that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord,
that I may reflect the image of heaven's first-born.
May I always see thy beauty with the clear eye of faith,
and feel the power of the Spirit in my heart,
for unless he move mightily in me
no inward fire will be kindled.