Johann Gerhard, “Prayer for the Denial of Self” – Meditations on Divine Mercy

A friend shared this prayer from Gerhard on Facebook, and it’s beautiful.  It is definitely appropriate given this season of Lent.

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The King of Nineveh sets aside his crown and takes up sackcloth and ashes (Jonah 3:4-8).

O JESUS CHRIST, Son of the living God, in Your Word You exclaim: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). I beg You through Your most holy death and crucifixion to perfect in me the denial of self that You require. I know it is easier to forsake all creationthan to deny self. I humbly beg You to accomplish in me that which of myself I do not know how to achieve. May the desires of my own will be stilled within me so I am able to hear Your divine admonition. May the weed of self-love be rooted out of my heart so the sweetest plants of divine love may grow within me. May I die totally to myself and my lusts so I may live totally for You and Your will. My will is changeable and erratic,fickle and unstable. Grant that I subject my will to Yours and that I cling unflinchingly to You, the only changeless and continuous good. Divine power increases in us only when natural powers fail. Only when our own will has been put to death are our works done in God (John 3:21). Only when we are brought to nothing and disappear do we truly exist in and live in God (Acts 17:28). O true Life, put to death my will so I may begin trulyto live in You. Anything in us that commends us to God and makes uspleasing to Him must descend from God Himself. Thus everything goodmust be ascribed to God alone, and that which is His must be left to Him.Whatever shines and gleams in us proceeds from God, who is the eternal and unchangeable light that lightens the inborn darkness of our minds. Thus may our light so shine before people, not that we are glorified butthat God is glorified (Matthew 5:16). Kindle in my heart, O Christ, the true light, the light of true understanding. Work in my heart, O Christ, the true glory of the Father, the denial of my own honor and glory. It is better for me to be nothing in You and receive Your everything than to be something in and of myself and have nothing. Where I am not, there I am happier. My weakness longs to be strengthened by Your might. My nothingness reaches for Your strength. May Your holy will be done on the earth of my flesh so Your heavenly kingdom may come in my soul(Matthew 6:10). Put to death in me the love and honor of self so thecoming of Your kingdom may not be hindered. If our consummate good is that we love God, then absolute evil must be for us to love ourselves. If the free giving of one’s self is a stipulation of true good, self-love is a great evil because it selfishly arrogates that which is its own and which belongs to others. If all glory is owed to God alone, then honoring one’s self is the greatest theft. Such an act ascribes to itself things that really belong to another. Extinguish my habitual desire for self-love and honor, O Christ,the one who is blessed for eternity.

AMEN.

from Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy. Translated by Matthew C. Harrison. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2003.

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