"The Prayer of the Penitent Puritan"

Matt Michalek
June 17, 2008

I ask thee to hear my petition O'Lord,
To make me an instrument in thine hands,
And still the darts of the adversary,
That punctures mine soul.

Entreat me not to laziness,
That mine hands will build,
Thine kingdom upon earth,
And persevere the hardships of this world.

O'God, hear the words of my mouth, The beating of my heart,
And the yearnings of my soul,
That thy glory will regenerate thine humble servant.

Make me thine elect O'Lord,
Accept mine covenant with thee,
To be honest, chaste, and pure in heart,
That I will find eternal peace in thee.

Author's Reflection

Puritan spiritual life was introspective and self disciplined and this poem is an introspective prayer, reflecting upon personal weaknesses and desires. The Puritan intense introspection was an attempt to understand ones own spiritual state. The poem I have written also reflects the Puritan efforts to organize their community life on the model of compacts or covenants with God. For Puritans, these covenants had spiritual dimensions. Their "Covenant Theology" is based on the concept that after the fall of man, God drew up a covenant with man in which he gave the terms and conditions of salvation. In the Atkins article [no longer available on-line], reference is made to the Mayflower Compact which is a community document but also a religious one.

In this poem, in the last verse, the prayer giver is making a personal covenant or compact with the Lord in seeking his peace on earth and in God. Verse one reflects the basic sinfulness of mankind to which the Puritans subscribed and is a refection of the fact that the prayer giver is tempted by the evil one, Satan. The Puritans believed in hard work and idleness was a sin. They believed they were engaged in God's work on earth, but as stated in the Atkins essay, the Puritans had experienced hardships and discouraging times in Holland and sought a better place in America. Verse two is a plea to be blessed to comply with the work ethic that was among the Puritans but to also find relief in the hardships experienced by them. Puritans believed in salvation and in being born again. Verse three is a plea for the soul to be regenerated or born again.

Photo Credit: navalatanjjnn