As I have been praying through the hours each day with A Manual of the Hours of the Orthodox Church, I find my mind and heart drawn to the Sixth Hour. During that hour, a prayer of St. Basil the Great is used. Here’s a portion of that prayer that I really like:
“Nail our flesh to the fear of You, and do not
incline our hearts to words or thoughts of
guile. But wound our souls with Your
love, that ever looking to You, and guided
by You in the light, and beholding You, the
Light ineffable and everlasting, we may offer
ceaseless praise and thanksgiving to You.”
This portion of St. Basil’s prayer reminds me of some thoughts I heard from Frederica Mathews-Green in an interview she gave. She describes God’s love as healing, much like surgery is healing. When we are left to ourselves, what we want is comfort. In our loneliness and pain, we think that we need more stuff to consume, believing that somehow our indulgences will bring the comfort we need. But God’s love, experienced by following Christ on the path of self-death and new life, delivers us from our selfish and self-destructive habits and the pain that generates them. God’s love doesn’t merely pay the penalty for our sins, but rescues us in the most practical way from Sin.
That’s why I love the lines “Nail our flesh to the fear of You,” and “Wound our souls with your love.” These lines express the desire for and trust in God’s healing and rescuing love and not my selfish desire for comfort. We need God to not simply give us a comforting blanket, but to go deep into our brokenness and shine his light and love.
Lord, have mercy on us.