John Donne: Prayer


John Donne

O MOST gracious God, who pursuest and perfectest thine own purposes, and dost not only remember me, by the first accesses of this sickness, that I must die, but inform me, by this further proceeding therein, that I may die now; who hast not only waked me with the first, but called me up, by casting me further down, and clothed me with thyself, by stripping me of myself, and by dulling my bodily senses to the meats and eases of this world, hast whet and sharpened my spiritual senses to the apprehension of thee; by what steps and degrees soever it shall please thee to go, in the dissolution of this body, hasten, O Lord, that pace, and multiply, O my God, those degrees, in the exaltation of my soul toward thee now, and to thee then.

My taste is not gone away, but gone up to sit at David's table, “to taste, and see, that the Lord is good.” [Ps. 34:8] My stomach is not gone, but gone up, so far upwards toward the “supper of the Lamb,” with thy saints in heaven, as to the table, to the communion of thy saints here in earth. My knees are weak, but weak therefore that I should easily fall to and fix myself long upon my devotions to thee.

A sound heart is the life of the flesh”; [Prov. 14:30] and a heart visited by thee, and directed to thee, by that visitation is a sound heart.

There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger”. [Ps. 38:3] Interpret thine own work, and call this sickness correction, and not anger, and there is soundness in my flesh.

There is no rest in my bones, because of my sin”; [Ps. 38:3] transfer my sins, with which thou art so displeased, upon him with whom thou art so well pleased, Christ Jesus, and there will be rest in my bones.

And, O my God, who madest thyself a light in a bush, in the midst of these brambles and thorns of a sharp sickness, appear unto me so that I may see thee, and know thee to be my God, applying thyself to me, even in these sharp and thorny passages. Do this, O Lord, for his sake, who was not the less the King of heaven for thy suffering him to be crowned with thorns in this world.