PRAYER FOR GRACE

By Thomas a Kempis
(Imitation of Christ, Book II, Chapter 55)


1. O Lord my God, who created me in Your own image and likeness, grant me this great grace, so necessary for my salvation, so that I may overcome my fallen nature which drags me down to sin and the loss of my soul. I see in my fallen nature the law of sin opposing the law of my mind (Ro 7:23), leading me captive to sensuality. Without the assistance of your holy grace, infused copiously into my heart (Eph 1:7), I cannot resist these passions.

2. I need a great abundance of your grace to overcome my fallen nature, which has an inclination toward evil even from my youth (Gn 8:21). The sin of Adam, the first man, has tainted and weakened it; and so the consequences of his sin have come upon the whole human race. Nature itself, which You created good and upright, has become a symbol of sin and corruption, for when left to itself it is too easily drawn toward evil and base desires. Its little remaining strength is like a small spark buried under ashes. This is our natural reason, which, though surrounded by a thick mist, can still discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood. Yet it cannot perform everything it knows to be good, nor does it currently enjoy either the full light of truth or its former pure affections.

3. So, O Lord my God, within my soul I delight in Your law (Ro 7:22), and know that Your command is good, righteous and holy (vs 12), since it reproves all evil and teaches us to shun sin. Yet in my flesh I serve the law of sin (vs 25). obeying sensuality rather than reason. I will to do good, but am too weak to accomplish it (Ro 7:18). I make good resolutions but, because I lack grace to help in my weakness, the slightest resistance causes discouragement and failure. I know the way of perfection and see clearly what I should do, but my own corruption weighs down on me, so that I do not rise to greater perfection.

4. O Lord, how absolutely necessary Your grace is for me, both to begin a good work and to persevere until I accomplish it. Without grace I can do nothing (Jn 15:5), but I can do all things in You, when Your grace strengthens me (Ph 4:13).

O true and heavenly Grace, without you we cannot have merits of our own or value the gifts of nature. No art or beauty, no strength or riches, no genius or eloquence, are of any worth to you, O Lord, unless accompanied by Your grace. The gifts of nature are common to all people, both good and bad, but grace or divine love is given only to the elect, and those adorned with it are esteemed worthy of eternal life.) This grace is so excellent that neither the gift of prophecy, nor the working of miracles, nor even the most sublime speculation, is worth anything without it. Even faith, hope, and all the other virtues are unacceptable to You without charity and grace (I Co 13:1-3).

5. O most blessed Grace, that makes the poor in spirit rich in virtues, and makes the wealthy humble of heart! Come, descend upon me, fill me with your comfort, lest my soul faint from weariness and dryness of mind. I beseech You, O Lord, that I may find grace in your sight (Gn 18:3), for your grace is sufficient for me (2 Co 12:9) even if I never obtain anything which my nature desires. If I am tempted and tried I will fear no evil as long as Your grace is with me. Your grace is my strength, my counsel and my help. She is more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise. She is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline: the light of the heart, the comforter in affliction. She banishes sorrow, expels fears, nurses devotion, produces tears of repentance. What am I without her but a piece of dry timber or a withered stump, fit for nothing but to be cast into the fire (Jn 15:6).

Grant therefore, O Lord, that Your grace will always go before me and follow men, keeping me ever intent upon good works, through Jesus Christ Your Son. Amen.


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