Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 22, 2015
Frail is My Vessel, and the Ocean is Wide
I live in the middle of North America, and far from either coast. Yet, I live near one of the largest inland lakes—Lake Michigan. Since I was a child, I have been intrigued by stories, poems and other writings about ships, boats and other vessels. Yes, I have been on smaller boats. Yet, not in a storm. I only vaguely understand how frightening that must be.
This prayer moved me deeply. It uses the continuing metaphor of the people of God traveling “the tempestuous sea of this mortal life.” I know a little about boats, and I would like to learn more. Yet, I can well understand feeling tempest-tossed in the middle of a rough storm.
Today’s prayer is about Protection. This prayer is attributed to St. Augustine (354-430). It comes under the section “Deliver Us from Evil.” (Prayer 413, page123)  What follows is a portion of this prayer:
“Watch over us who are still in our dangerous voyage; and remember such as lie exposed to the rough storms of trouble and temptations. Frail is our vessel, and the ocean is wide; but as in Thy mercy Thou hast set our course, so steer the vessel of our life toward the everlasting shore of peace, and bring us at length to the quiet haven of our heart’s desire, where Thou, O our God, are blessed, and livest and reignest for ever and ever.
Lord, I am in the middle of this dangerous voyage (or trip), as Augustine says. (Even though it is on land, in my case.) Oh, don’t I know about the various troubles and temptations that beset me! I know, full well, what a frail vessel—or casing—in which my soul is contained. Yes, Lord, the ocean—this world—is wide. Dangerous, full of rocks on which I might very well come to grief.
Dear God, thank You that You are steering me towards safe harbor and a quiet haven. I know I am not there yet. However, You have promised to remain at my side. With me, beside me on this dangerous voyage. Thank You for Your company, Your presence, Your protection. Thank You for Augustine and his promise that You will bring us to our heart’s desire. Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayer.
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 The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 123.