John Donne: Prayer


John Donne

O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who hast made little things to signify great, and conveyed the infinite merits of thy Son in the water of baptism, and in the bread and wine of thy other sacrament, unto us, receive the sacrifice of my humble thanks, that thou hast not only afforded me the ability to rise out of this bed of weariness and discomfort, but hast also made this bodily rising, by thy grace, an earnest of a second resurrection from sin, and of a third, to everlasting glory.

Thy Son himself, always infinite in himself, and incapable of addition, was yet pleased to grow in the Virgin's womb, and to grow in stature in the sight of men. Thy good purposes upon me, I know, have their determination and perfection in thy holy will upon me, there thy grace is, and there I am altogether; but manifest them so unto me, in thy seasons, and in thy measures and degrees, that I may not only have that comfort of knowing thee to be infinitely good, but that also of finding thee to be every day better and better to me, and that as thou gavest Saint Paul the messenger of Satan, to humble him so for my humiliation, thou mayst give me thyself in this knowledge, that what grace soever thou afford me to-day, yet I should perish to-morrow if I had not had to-morrow's grace too. Therefore I beg of thee my daily bread; and as thou gavest me the bread of sorrow for many days, and since the bread of hope for some, and this day the bread of possessing, in rising by that strength, which thou the God of all strength hast infused into me, so, O Lord, continue to me the bread of life: the spiritual bread of life, in a faithful assurance in thee; the sacramental bread of life, in a worthy receiving of thee; and the more real bread of life in an everlasting union to thee.

I know, O Lord, that when thou hast created angels, and they saw thee produce fowl, and fish, and beasts, and worms, they did not importune thee, and say, Shall we have no better creatures than these, no better companions than these? but stayed thy leisure, and then had man delivered over to them, not much inferior in nature to themselves. No more do I, O God, now that by thy first mercy I am able to rise, importune thee for present confirmation of health; nor now, that by thy mercy I am brought to see that thy correction hath wrought medicinally upon me, presume I upon that spiritual strength I have; but as I acknowledge that my bodily strength is subject to every puff of wind, so is my spiritual strength to every blast of vanity. Keep me therefore still, O my gracious God, in such a proportion of both strengths, as I may still have something to thank thee for, which I have received, and still something to pray for and ask at thy hand.

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