John Bunyan, Spiritual Writer, 1688
I cry aloud to the Lord;
to the Lord I make my supplication.
I pour out my complaint before him and tell him of my trouble.
When my spirit faints within me, you know my path;
in the way wherein I walk have they laid a snare for me.
I look to my right hand, and find no one who knows me;
I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for my soul.
I cry out to you, O Lord, and say:
‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.
‘Listen to my cry, for I am brought very low;
save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.
‘Bring my soul out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name;
when you have dealt bountifully with me,
then shall the righteous gather around me.’
Blessed be the Lord my rock,
who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle;
My steadfast help and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield in whom I trust,
who subdues the peoples under me.
O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them;
mere human beings, that you should take thought for them?
They are like a breath of wind;
their days pass away like a shadow.
Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down;
touch the mountains and they shall smoke.
Cast down your lightnings and scatter them;
shoot out your arrows and let thunder roar.
Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and take me out of the great waters,
from the hand of foreign enemies,
Whose mouth speaks wickedness and their right hand is the hand of falsehood.
O God, I will sing to you a new song;
I will play to you on a ten-stringed harp,
You that give salvation to kings and have delivered David your servant.
Save me from the peril of the sword and deliver me from the hand of foreign enemies,
Whose mouth speaks wickedness and whose right hand is the hand of falsehood;
So that our sons in their youth may be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters like pillars carved for the corners of the temple;
Our barns be filled with all manner of store;
our flocks bearing thousands, and ten thousands in our fields;
Our cattle be heavy with young:
may there be no miscarriage or untimely birth,
no cry of distress in our streets.
Happy are the people whose blessing this is.
Happy are the people who have the Lord for their God.
Proverbs 30.1-9, 24-31
The words of Agur son of Jakeh. An oracle.
Thus says the man: I am weary, O God,
I am weary, O God. How can I prevail?
Surely I am too stupid to be human;
I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the holy ones.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is the person’s name?
And what is the name of the person’s child?
Surely you know!
Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.
Two things I ask of you;
do not deny them to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that I need,
or I shall be full, and deny you,
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
or I shall be poor, and steal,
and profane the name of my God.
Four things on earth are small,
yet they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people without strength,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
the badgers are a people without power,
yet they make their homes in the rocks;
the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
the lizard can be grasped in the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.
Three things are stately in their stride;
four are stately in their gait:
the lion, which is mightiest among wild animals
and does not turn back before any;
the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king striding before his people.
When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ Someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.’ He answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’
God of peace,
who called your servant John Bunyan
to be valiant for truth:
grant that as strangers and pilgrims
we may at the last rejoice with all Christian people
in your heavenly city;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.