Wake Me Up Inside

This collection of prayers sits on the bedside table, words penned almost four hundred years ago by men and women who were willing to leave everything behind for the sake of their faith, sail across oceans and build homes on raw, uncultivated land. No guarantees of success or survival. But they had a dream to build a community on godly principles that would be a shining light to the rest of the world. I pore over their prayers at the end of the day and see their hearts burning bright with devotion, the power of God’s Spirit still evident in their words.

I am struggling to get back to normal, in the aftermath of the holidays, to find a quiet rhythm in ordinary days again. It always seems to take awhile to get used to the house stripped of its Christmas glory and rattling empty. Cooking is difficult without the extra mouths to feed, and I end up giving away the leftovers to anyone who will take them. All the little projects and plans I set aside during the busy rush of Christmas are still in piles,waiting to be picked up and smoothed into order, and I feel January slipping away already without much progress. My head says this is temporary and not the first time, counsels to wait it out till this feels normal again, do the everyday things that I know are productive and good. Everything seems unstable inside. And at night I read the extraordinary prayers of the Puritans, now faceless, nameless– their ordinary days swallowed up in the past– and long to live up to the legacy they have left behind for us.

What stands out the most is the sheer content: guess I would have thought their everyday physical needs would be more pressing and necessary. But these prayers read like poetry; they are psalms of adoration and worship. I am surprised at their deep knowledge of God’s nature, of His Word, of the finer points of theology. Clearly these were no uneducated servants and peasants, but literate men and women who had more lofty goals than raising enough food to eat and building houses, however difficult it was to survive in those early years of settlement. It reminds me of Jesus’ words to the crowds following Him around: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31, 33) These people understood His priorities, were looking at God through a magnifying glass, so that everyday life flowed along underneath that exalted vision.

Just as remarkable is their view of Self. Written long before ideas of independence or equal rights or personal potential, these prayers show a deep recognition of their own sinfulness and utter dependence on His grace, without even a hint of low self esteem; perhaps the clarity of seeing God in His glory and oneself forgiven does that for a person. They were certainly better off without the clouding factor of a narcissistic culture. And throughout runs an earnest desire to know God more fully, to serve Him faithfully, and surrender completely to His will. I mouth the centuries-old words deliberately, each night, often seeing how far short I fall of their intent– but you have to start somewhere,. And I find myself drawing near to the Throne of God in new ways. It is humbling, strips away the pride of a modern education, the assumption that our sophisticated technological world has made us better and stronger somehow. These writers knew God, desired Him to a depth that makes me wonder when half-asleep became the new normal. Prayer orients us as creatures around our Source and Center, and the whole of our ordinary little worlds can settle and turn, with that alignment.

As I wobble here, finding a way to live the ordinary days well, the Spirit whispers quietly, “…call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you…I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:11, 13) And I do know this to be true (though it seems I have to re-learn it again and again), that focusing the eyes of your heart on God is the best way to live the ordinary days; that praise and adoration of Who He Is gives me a better view of who I am; that the daily rhythms fall into place when my spirit walks closely with His. These very old prayers of saints long gone serve as both guidebook and reminder of how an extraordinary God fully intends to make my heart His home.  Prayer is the door opening, between my heart and His, my reaching out to the One who loves me with His life. And He is always standing there, knocking, ready to come in.


“Thou hast loved me everlastingly, unchangeably,
may I love thee as I am loved;
Thou hast given thyself for me,
may I give myself to thee;
Thou hast died for me,
may I live to thee,
in every moment of my time,
in every movement of my mind,
in every pulse of my heart…”
(Christ Is All, in The Valley of Vision)


 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with Me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from Me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with Me and My words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how My Father shows who He is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as My disciples.” (John 15:7, The Message)