Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

“Dispel from My Soul the Clouds of Darkness”: A Reformed Guide to Private Devotion (1)

A couple of days ago, I posted the Litany from Schaff, Nevin, et al.’s A Liturgy, or, Order of Christian Worship, a book that shows that Reformed Christians have, or at least could have, a rich liturgical and devotional tradition with real and practical, rather than simply rhetorical, connections to the ancient church and the church throughout the ages.

The book has many other treasures besides the Litany. One of these is a “Guide to Private Devotion,” which comes near the end, right before a section of Psalms and hymns, and which provides guidance for prayer and meditation throughout the day–from rising, to washing and dressing, to entering on the day’s duties, to eating, to retiring to rest, to midnight. Once again, I’m going to transcribe these in case they are useful to others to have in an easily copied form.

After an explanation of the section, included below, each portion begins with sentences from Scripture relevant to the time of day and is followed by one or more short prayers. This post includes the sentences and prayers for the beginning of the day.

Guide to Private Devotion. 

[Public worship and family devotions can never supersede the pious exercises of the closet, where we are alone with the omnipresent God, to lay before Him our inmost secrets, our particular sins, and individual wants. Hence, our Saviour says: “Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” The following passages of Scripture, and brief ejaculations, are intended simply to assist in these private devotions, and to suggest matter for meditation and prayer.]

On Waking from Sleep.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, Jesus went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.–Mark i. 35.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee.–Ps. lxiii. 1.

I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.–Ps. iii. 5.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.–Ps. cxxi. 1, 2.

 I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.–Ps. lix. 16.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High:To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.–Ps. xcii. 1, 2.

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.–Ps. v. 3.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, who didst in the beginning create the light, and who dost cause the sun to rise every morning; dispel from my soul the clouds of darkness by the light of Thy truth, that in Thy light I may see light, and that rising with Christ, who is the Resurrection and the Life, I may walk in newness of life, to the praise of Thy glorious name.

UNTO THEE, O Lord, my Maker and Redeemer, I humbly offer up myself, my body and soul, my health and strength, all that I am, and all that I have, as a living sacrifice and thanksgiving.

HEAVENLY FATHER, blessed be Thy holy name for Thy merciful protection during the past night. Grant that I may spend this day, and all the days of my life, in Thy holy service, and grow daily in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.