Prayer over the scriptures

O Lord my God, hear my prayer,
may your mercy hearken to my longing,
a longing on fire not for myself alone
but to serve the brethren I dearly love;
you see my heart and know this is true.
Let me offer in sacrifice to you the service of my heart and tongue,
but grant me first what I can offer you;
for I am needy and poor,
but you are rich unto all who call upon you,
and you care for us though no care troubles you.
Circumcise all that is within me from presumption
and my lips without from falsehood.
Let your scriptures be my chaste delight,
let me not be deceived in them
nor through them deceive others.
Hearken, O Lord, have mercy, my Lord and God,
O Light of the blind, Strength of the weak –
who yet are Light to those who see and Strength to the strong –
hearken to my soul,
hear me as I cry from the depths,
for unless your ears be present in our deepest places
where shall we go and whither cry?
Yours is the day, yours the night,
a sign from you sends minutes speeding by;
spare in their fleeting course a space for us
to ponder the hidden wonders of your law:
shut it not against us as we knock.
Not in vain have you willed so many pages to be written,
pages deep in shadow, obscure in their secrets;
not in vain do harts and hinds seek shelter in those woods,
to hide and venture forth,
roam and browse, lie down and ruminate.
Perfect me too, Lord, and reveal those woods to me.
Lo, your voice is joy to me,
your voice that rings out above a flood of joys.
Give me what I love;
for I love indeed, and this love you have given me.
Forsake not your gifts, disdain not your parched grass.
Let me confess to you all I have found in your books,
Let me hear the voice of praise,
and drink from you,
and contemplate the wonders of your law
from the beginning when you made heaven and earth
to that everlasting reign when we shall be with you in your holy city.

(Augustine, Confessions, Book XI, trans. Maria Boulding)

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