Thoughts on Religious Experience

Archibald Alexander, 1844

A prayer for one who feels that he is
approaching the borders of another world
 

Most merciful God, I rejoice that You reign over the universe with a sovereign sway, so that You do according to Your will, in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. You are the Maker of my body, and Father of my spirit, and You have a perfect right to dispose of me in that manner which will most effectually promote Your glory: and I know that whatever You do is right and wise and just and good. And whatever may be my eternal destiny, I rejoice in the assurance that Your great name will be glorified in me. But as You have been pleased to reveal Your mercy and Your grace to our fallen miserable world; and as the word of this salvation has been preached unto me, inviting me to accept of eternal life upon the gracious terms of the Gospel, I do cordially receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and only Redeemer, believing sincerely the whole testimony which You have given respecting His divine character, His real incarnation, His unspotted and holy life, His numerous and beneficent miracles, His expiatory and meritorious death, and His glorious resurrection and ascension. I believe, also, in His supreme exaltation, in His prevalent intercession for His chosen people, in His affectionate care and aid afforded to His suffering members here below, and in His second coming to receive His humble followers to dwell with Himself in heaven; and to take vengeance on His obstinate enemies.

My only hope and confidence of being saved rests simply on the mediatorial work and prevailing intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ; in consequence of which the Holy Spirit is graciously sent to make application of Christ's redemption, by working faith in us, and repentance unto life; and rendering us fit for the heavenly inheritance, by sanctifying us in the whole man, soul, body, and spirit.

Grant, gracious God, that the rich blessings of the new covenant may be freely bestowed on Your unworthy servant. I acknowledge that I have no claim to Your favor on account of any goodness in me by nature; for alas! there dwells in me, that is, in my flesh, no good thing! nor on account of any works of righteousness done by me; for all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Neither am I able to make atonement for any one of my innumerable transgressions which, I confess before You, are not only many in numberóbut heinous in their nature, justly deserving Your displeasure and wrath; so that if I were immediately sent to hell, You would be altogether just in my condemnation. Although I trust that I have endeavored to serve You with some degree of sincerity; yet whatever good thing I have ever done, or even thought, I ascribe entirely to Your grace, without which I can do nothing acceptable in Your sight. And I am deeply convinced that my best duties have fallen far short of the perfection of Your law, and have been so mingled with sin in the performance, that I might justly be condemned for the most fervent prayer I ever made. And I would confess with shame and contrition, that I am not only chargeable with sin in the actóbut that there is a law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, aiming to bring me into captivity to the law of sin and death. This corrupt nature is the source of innumerable evil thoughts and desires, and damps the exercise of faith and love, and stands in the way of well-doing, so that when I would do good, evil is present with me. And so deep and powerful is this remaining depravity, that all efforts to eradicate or subdue it are vain, without the aid of Your grace. And when at any time I obtain a glimpse of the depth and turpitude of the sin of my nature, I am overwhelmed, and constrained to exclaim with Job, "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:6)

And now, Righteous Lord God Almighty, I would not attempt to conceal any of my actual transgressions, however vile and shameful they areóbut would penitently confess them before You; and would plead in my defense, nothing but the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died, the just for the unjust, to bring us near to God. For His sake alone do I ask or expect the rich blessings necessary to my salvation. For although I am unworthy, He is most worthy; though I have no righteousness, He has provided by His expiatory death, and by His holy life, a complete justifying righteousness, in which spotless robe I pray that I may be clothed; so that You my righteous Judge, will see no sin in meóbut will acquit me from every accusation, and justify me freely by Your grace, through the righteousness of my Lord and Savior, with whom You are ever well pleased.

My earnest prayer is, that Jesus may save me from my sins, as well as from their punishment; that I may be redeemed from all iniquity, as well as from the condemnation of the law; that the work of sanctification may be carried on in my soul by Your Word and Spirit, until it be perfected at Your appointed time. And grant, O Lord, that as long as I am in the body, I may make it my constant study and chief aim to glorify Your name, both with soul and body, which are no longer mineóbut Yours; for I am "bought with a price" (1 Cor 6:20; 1 Cor 7:23)ónot with silver and goldóbut with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Enable me to let my light so shine, that others, seeing my good works, may be led to glorify Your name. Make use of me as an humble instrument of advancing Your kingdom on earth, and promoting the salvation of immortal souls. If You have appointed sufferings for me here below, I beseech You to consider my weakness, and let Your chastisements be those of a loving father, that I may be made partaker of Your holiness. And let me not be tempted above what I am able to bearóbut with the temptation make a way of escape.

O most merciful God, cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength declines. Now, when I am old and grey-headed, forsake me not; but let Your grace be sufficient for me; and enable me to bring forth fruit, even in old age. May my hoary head be found in the ways of righteousness! Preserve my mind from senility and imbecility, and my body from protracted disease and excruciating pain. Deliver me from despondency and discouragement in my declining years, and enable me to bear affliction with patience, fortitude, and perfect submission to Your holy will. Lift upon me perpetually the light of Your reconciled countenance, and cause me to rejoice in Your salvation, and in the hope of Your glory. May the peace that passes all understanding be constantly diffused through my soul, so that my mind may remain calm through all the storms and vicissitudes of life.

As, in the course of nature, I must be drawing near to my end, and as I know I must soon put off this tabernacle, I do humbly and earnestly beseech You, O Father of mercies, to prepare me for this inevitable and solemn event. Fortify my mind against the terrors of death. Give me, if it pleases You, an easy passage through the gate of death. Dissipate the dark clouds and mists which naturally hang over the grave, and lead me gently down into the gloomy valley. O my kind Shepherd, who has tasted the bitterness of death for me, and who knows how to sympathize with and support the sheep of Your pasture, be present to guide, to support, and to comfort me. Illumine with beams of heavenly light the valley and shadow of death, so that I may fear no evil. When heart and flesh fail, be the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Let not my courage fail in the trying hour. Permit not the great adversary to harass my soul in the last struggleóbut make me a conqueror and more than a conqueror in this fearful conflict. I humbly ask that my reason may be continued to the last, and if it be Your will, that I may be so comforted and supported, that I may leave a testimony in favor of the reality of religion, and Your faithfulness in fulfilling Your gracious promises; and that others of Your servants who may follow after may be encouraged by my example to commit themselves boldly to the guidance and keeping of the Shepherd of Israel.

And when my spirit leaves this clay tenement, Lord Jesus, receive it. Send some of the blessed angels to convoy my inexperienced soul to the mansion which Your love has prepared. And O! let me be so situated, though in the lowest rank, that I may behold Your glory. May I have an abundant entrance administered unto me into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christófor whose sake, and in whose name, I ask all these things. Amen.




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