Be Lord of our desires

Jul 1, 2022 | LISTEN, Soundcloud Prayers

The French poet Arthur Rimbaud wrote that you do not necessarily ever really finish a poem; you simply reaches a point at which you are happy to leave it. That would certainly be true of this offering, which seeks to express thoughts that are specific enough for the Lord to home in on in specific ways for us, whilst at the same time being universal enough to be relevant for us all.

Many of us appreciate the words of the Anglican collect:

“Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Even the best of us need the Lord to cleanse the thoughts and desires of their hearts, and that is what this prayer poem reflects.

Just as the words of this prayer have been a long time in the writing, so too has some of the music that accompanies it. The opening piece is a version of a hymn that many of you will remember from school assembly days: ‘Let us with a gladsome mind praise the Lord for He is kind.’ The words were written by the great 17th century poet John Milton, and the melody is equally old, but was arranged for us rather more recently by Justin Coldstream!

We conclude the prayer poem with a joyous improvisation based on that melody, but in between these two, we have included a lovely piece for oboe by the baroque composer Telemann that Thomas Herzog plays for us. We do hope you will be blessed by music and words alike – Elizabeth Hume reads the words with me.

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and He in them. (1 Jn. 3: 20-23)

Lord, such strong desires surge through my whole being,
holy aspirations aplenty, and longings that yearn to honour You –
but also a rippling raft of far too hasty hankerings
which cause the good things that I desire to say and do to elude me,
so that I end up failing to show the kindness I had intended.

Desired of all nations, keep me from losing my way in a mithering maze of pointless recriminations. (Rom. 7:17-19)
Let me rather be silent before You, O Lord of eternal ages,
For morning by morning, and day by every new day, You dispense Your justice. (Zeph. 3:5)
In the fire of Your jealousy shine forth Your search light,
Exposing everything, both good and bad, to the Heavenly light. (Zeph. 1:7,12,18; Eph. 5:13)
And in my own heart I pray in the words of a young African woman, “O Great Chief, light a candle in my heart, that I may see what is in there, and sweep the rubbish from Your dwelling place.”

Thank You that You do not consider my badness to be greater than Your capacity to forgive,
You do not want me to hide away in fear of my own failings
or of the destruction that overtakes the guilty,
for You who are my hope and confidence keep me safe from each snare. (Based on Proverbs 3:21-26)
Guard sound wisdom and discretion in my heart,
and keep me from being preoccupied with people and causes that are lacking in Your heart and perspective;
so let the underlying direction of my heart be such that You can honour.

Not in vain have You placed these longings deep within my heart;
It is the meek and humble that You seek,
and You will purify the heart and lips of many,
so that we may call together on Your name and serve You shoulder to shoulder.

For You LORD our God are with us,
the Mighty Warrior who saves,
You delight in us,
and rejoice over us with singing.”
Therefore I will not let my hands hang limp
but will take great delight in You, O Lord,
for you are Emmanuel, the God who walks with us;
the mighty warrior who saves, in whom we take such great delight.
(Zeph. 3:2,5,8-9,12; 16-17)

Photo by Philippe D. on Unsplash

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