Direct our hearts, O Lord, we beseech thee, by the operation of thy mercy, for without thee we are not able to please thee; through...
Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gelasius of Rome .
Dirigat corda nostra quaesumus Domine tuae miserationis operatio, quia tibi sine te placere non possumus. Per
O GOD, for asmuche as without thee, we are not able to please thee; Graunte that the workyng of thy mercie maye in all thynges directe and rule our heartes; Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.
Cranmer, in 1549, reversed the order of mercy and our inability.
One is reminded again of our Lord's promise send the Comforter to direct us, and of Isaiah 64:6 "we are all as an unclean thing... our righteousness is as a filthy rag...."
We, of and by ourselves, are not worthy to stand before God - not even to see him, until we are perfected by his grace. For he is "of purer eyes to behold iniquity" [Hab 1:13]
This prayer may have been a rebuke of the Pelagian heresy -- that is the doctrine that every man is good and does not need Christ; but rather just to do good. When our Lord was referred to as good, what did he say?
"Why call me good? none is good, except one, that is, God."
Of course he was good. The question to the lawyer was rhetorical. He was good because he and the Father are one. In the same way, when we are adopted by the Father and are marked as Christ's own, then we are born again with a new spirit and are made one with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only through God finishing the good work he has begun in us that we are perfected and pleasing to God--for he shall brook nothing less.
Paul wrote to the Philippians that he was "confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ"
May Almighty God "make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."