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The Rev. Benjamin Pratt The Rev. Benjamin Pratt
Dr. Pratt is a retired United Methodist pastor and pastoral counselor. He was the founding pastor of a congregation that remains, after 48 years, one of the most racially integrated of the Virginia Annual Conference. Then, for thirty years he was a pastoral counselor on Capitol Hill and in the City of Fairfax.

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Prayer for Light in Dark Times of Accidie

January 02, 2013


This prayer reflects the nature of one of the original 7 Deadly Sins, accidie, which was translated in the Middle Ages as sloth or torpor. This is a spiritual condition and is distinctly different from depression. In accidie, we loose our energy and passion for engaging the world. The needs, the goals and even the good and the evil around us do not matter enough to inspire any action.

In the Ian Fleming novels, James Bond, as well as his arch villains, often struggle with this sin.  It was the word accidie that first drew me to serious study of these novels and the life of their creator. The word accidie appears in eleven of the fourteen Bond tales and is central to understanding James Bond-as well as the dangerous powers of the most evil demons 007 pursues. When I first encountered accidie in the Bond tales, I did not know it was one of the original 7 Deadly Sins. I had not yet discovered Ian Fleming's long-time fascination with these themes as both a journalist and a novelist. I do know that accidie has been the most insidious sin in my own life and I agree with Fleming: Accidie is one of the most insidious sins in our world today.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I lament;
I resent;
I feel powerless now;
I can't see a point, a direction, a purpose in my life.
I've lost my passionate spirit.
I've lost my energy to struggle forward.
I'm living each day, but my heart is dry, tepid-
like a saucer of milk in the noonday sun.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I know what my life should feel like.
I've lived hard, worked hard, loved hard,
And I once believed hard, too. My faith was a rock.
I've thrown myself into my work, my relationships, my community.
Once, I knew I was making a difference in the world.
But, now I'm adrift without a compass.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I know there are countless issues crying for my energies.
I am surrounded by pressing needs, by loving people
But I've lost my heart for any of it.
I crawl out of bed each day and meet the day,
But my spirit, O God-my spirit feels broken.
I'm empty.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
I'm yearning for the light of a new day.
I long for the old courage, the old calling.
Now, I'm taking this step in prayer;
I'm calling out humbly for just a taste of purpose and passion-
a ray of light in these dark times.
Fill me, O Lord, with the hope of joy-the joy of hope.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.



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