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"Thou Art Near, O Lord"
A Prayer from the Third Sunday in Lent 2021
Almighty God, whose name is Holy, we bless Thee for the gift of Thy law. For it is health to our bellies and strength to our bones. Help us to enter into that blessedness that comes from delighting in Thy precepts and meditating, day and night, on Thy perfections which are revealed through them.
Though we dwell in the midst of thick darkness, Thou are near, O Lord, and all Thy commandments are truth. Thy judgments illumine our steps. For they are a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. By them Thou hast made known the Way of Holiness that we wayfaring men, though fools, should not err therein.
By Thy law is the knowledge of sin. We would not have known lust hadst Thou not said, “Thou shalt not covet.” The law came, sin revived, and we died that we may be made alive unto Thee. In grace, Thou hast made known unto us the depth of our iniquity and the breadth of our neediness. Thy statutes have exposed our secret faults before Thee. Through them we are laid naked and bare in Thy sight. The fig leaves of our pretended innocence wilt under the radiance of Thy law. Our own righteousness is shown to be filthy rags when compared to the purity of Thine own. In mercy, Thou dost teach us to hate the garments spotted by the flesh, and to hide beneath the blood-stained robes of Thy Son.
Thy law is perfect, converting the soul; Thy testimonies are sure, making wise the simple; Thy statutes are right, rejoicing the heart; Thy commandments are pure, enlightening the eyes; Thy fear is clean, enduring forever; Thy judgments are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. So teach us, O Lord, to delight in Thy law after the inward man.
We delight in Thy law, not because we have kept it, but because Thy Son hast kept for us. In keeping it, He hath redeemed us from its curse and hast written its blessings upon the tables of our hearts. For it is in Thy Son, our Strength and our Redeemer, that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts are made acceptable in Thy sight.
Thy law is good, just, and holy, and we are not apart from Thee. As a schoolmaster instructs a pupil to know first his own ignorance and then to seek for wisdom, even so have Thy commandments revealed our own impotence, and hast driven us to Christ who is both the Wisdom and Power of God. Thy law hath said, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” But that same law hath taken us by the hand and led us to Him who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. And there Thou hast concluded the whole matter.
All this we pray to the honor and glory of God, who livest and reigneth together as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; One God, world without end. Amen
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