18. Prayer on a Birthday
My Lord and my God, in Thee I live, and move, and have my being, Thou art my stay in life and in death. I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb; my substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect, and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. To-day I will call to my mind the day of my birth which is the beginning both of my temporal and spiritual life, when I was brought unto Holy Baptism, and became reconciled unto my God, and was cleansed by the Water in connection with the Word, when my sins were taken away and the Holy Ghost bestowed upon me; for all which I thank and praise Thee. I praise Thee, O God, my Creator! that on this day Thou hast brought me forth from my mother’s womb, although in pain and sorrow. I thank Thee, that Thou hast brought me to a place where Thy name is rightfully known, Thy holy Word taught in all purity, and that I am thus enabled, under Thy guidance, to come unto the true and living faith. I thank Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ! for all the blessings, with which Thou in loving-kindness often hast remembered my body and soul, from the hour of my birth until the present time, inasmuch as Thou didst not only nourish and preserve my body, and in various ways protect my temporal life through Thy holy angels, who always behold the face of the Father in heaven, and daily provide me with abundant food and raiment, but, above all things, Thou hast bestowed upon me through Thy Word, spiritual and imperishable gifts, and hast assured me in Holy Baptism, the bath of Regeneration, that I have been made a new creature and have become the first-fruit of Christ Jesus; Thou hast pardoned all my sins, and hast blessed me with the gift of the Holy Ghost and made me heir of eternal Life; and though I have often, through the weakness of my flesh, or wantonly, forsaken my God and forgotten His commandments, and have even more than seventy times seven committed fearful sins against God in Heaven and my fellow-men on earth, yet didst Thou not, O Lord Jesus! enter into judgment with Thy servant, and visit him with immediate and well-deserved punishment. O God, Holy Spirit! what a shameful life have I thus far led! How often, and on how many occasions have I stumbled in my Christian walk, and have become guilty of great and atrocious sins! But Thou, O God, Holy Ghost! hast just as often sought the lost sheep, and hast brought me again upon the path of rectitude, and hast sanctified, comforted and guided me. Thou hast preserved me in my station, and hast restrained the devil and averted a host of bodily and spiritual dangers in which I should have perished long ago, if Thou hadst not stood by me. O blessed Trinity! There is a time to be born; do Thou graciously help all fruit of the womb and grant, a joyful birthday, forgiveness of sins and life eternal. Grant that I may to-day spend my birthday, as also all future days of my life, without committing mortal sins, and that I may become conscious of my humble birth and wretchedness by nature. Do Thou bestow upon me the blessings of health and life until the goal is reached. Grant me patience to endure all afflictions and sufferings. Comfort me in all misfortunes and distress. Forgive me daily my sins and grant that I may thus continue firm unto my soul’s salvation, and that I may, in the true and saving faith and with a good conscience, serve Thee even unto the end, through Jesus Christ. Amen.