We Arrange Our Lives As Best We Can

We arrange our lives as best we can,
to keep your holiness at bay,
with our pieties,
our doctrines,
our liturgies,
our moralities,
our secret ideologies,
Safe, virtuous, settled.

And then you--
you and your dreams,
you and your visions,
you and your purposes,
you and your commands,
you and your neighbors.

We find your holiness not at bay,
but probing, pervading,
insisting, demanding.
And we yield, sometimes gladly,
sometimes resentfully,
sometimes late...or soon.
We yield because you, beyond us, are our God.
We are your creatures met by your holiness,
by your holiness made our true selves.

And we yield. Amen.

(from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann, by way of the Daily Prayer blog. The background of the photo is explained here, on the Hither & Yon blog)

Our True Home

God before and God behind,
God for us and God for your own self,
Maker of heaven and earth,
creator of sea and sky,
governor of day and night.
We give thanks for your ordered gift of life to us,
for the rhythms that reassure,
for the equilibriums that sustain,
for the reliabilities that curb our anxieties.
We treasure from you,
days to work and nights to rest.
We cherish from you,
days to control and nights to yield.
We savor from you,
days to plan and nights to dream.
Be our day and our night,
our heaven and our earth,
our sea and our sky,
and in the end our true home. Amen.

(from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann)

Though I May Stumble

As the rain hides the stars,
as the autumn mist hides the hills,
happenings of my lot
hide the shining of Thy face from me.

Yet, if I may hold Thy hand
in the darkness,
it is enough;
since I know that,
though I may stumble in my going,
Thou dost not fall.

(a prayer by Alistair Maclean, by way of the In-formatio blog)

A Prayer on Memorial Day

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on
the One whose power over us
is great and gentle,
firm and forgiving,
holy and healing…

You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer this day.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…

Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs…

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice…

Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace…

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts...

Hear our prayer this day
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.


(from the Concord Pastor blog)


At Thy feet I bow, adoring,
Bending lower, lower still;
Giving up my all to follow,
Just to do my Master's will.

Prayer Upon Leaving for Vacation

Gracious God,
thank you that our vacation is finally here!
Thank you for a week to spend with my wife
and children and grandchildren.

Give us all safe travel to and from Gatlinburg.
Steer us away from dangers, traffic jams, and speeding tickets.
Deliver us from car problems and health problems.
Give the grandkids grace to travel well,
sleep well,
and eat well.
Give their parents a respite from work and weariness.

May gas, grocery, and restaurant prices not be too high,
crowds not be too large,
temperatures not too oppressive,
and rain not too frequent.

Help us all to enjoy each other,
the lovely surroundings,
and the time to read, rest, and play.

Go with us.
Keep us aware of you,
and of your kindness and generosity,
in Jesus' name, amen.

I Have to Laugh

I have to laugh, Lord.

You know how I value security--especially the financial kind--
and must stretch to trust you (instead of myself)
to provide for my family's needs.

You know that I like predictability
and struggle to trust you when things change.

You know how personally I take rejection,
and must strive for your approval instead of man's.

So you made me a writer.
I have to laugh,
or I just might cry.

Ebb and Flow

As it was,
as it is,
and as it shall be evermore,
God of grace,
God in Trinity!
With the ebb,
with the flow,
ever it is so,
God of grace,
O Trinity,
with the ebb and flow.

(traditional Gaelic prayer learned from Alexander Macneill, fishsalter, Barra, from Northumbria Community; by way of the In-formatio blog)

A Prayer of Hilda of Whitby

May I be equal to Your hope of me.
If I am weak,
I ask that You send only what I can bear.
If I am strong,
may I shrink from no testing
that shall yield increase of strength
or win security for my spirit.
I trust in Thee, O Lord.
I say, ‘ Thou art my God.'
My times are in Thy hand,
my times are in Thy hand.

Take Me Often from the Tumult of Things

Take me often from the tumult of things
into Thy presence.
There show me what I am,
and what Thou hast purposed me to be.
Then hide me from Thy tears.
O King and Saviour,
what is Thy gift to me?
And do I use it to Thy pleasing?

(a prayer of Hild of Whitby, 614 – 680)

For Ryder

Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under my roof,
nor for any kindness you might show me,
but just say the word,
and my grandson WILL be healed.

(based on Matthew 8:8)

Keep Me Burning

Lord of the starfields,
Ancient of Days,
Universe Maker,
Here's a song in your praise.

Wings of the storm cloud,
Beginning and end,
You make my heart leap
Like a banner in the wind.

O love that fires the sun,
Keep me burning.
Lord of the starfields,
Sower of life,
Heaven and earth are
Full of your light.

Voice of the nova,
Smile of the dew,
All of our yearning
Only comes home to you.

O love that fires the sun,
keep me burning.

(a prayer by Bruce Cockburn)

You Turn Tables

Our mothers and fathers
have long spoken of you.
And we have their spokenness in our hands,
in these old texts.
We propose now to study you,
to weigh and test,
to examine and assess,
to make you our "object"
and so to get a grade.
In your strangeness,
you are studied only temporarily
object only penultimately,
weighed and tested only at the outset.
But then - as always -
You turn tables,
You become subject who addresses,
sovereign who commands,
mother who loves,
warrior who defends,
And we find ourselves turned in our study to praise and adoration.
So we ask for freedom to love you with our minds,
that we may know a little as we are known,
and in knowing may love and adore,
and in loving and adoring, may obey...
to your praise,
and our joy, Amen.

(from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann, by way of the Daily Prayer blog. The background of the photo is explained here, on the Hither & Yon blog)

My Need This Day

I am your servant
And I am listening;
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.
I need your wisdom
And truth and comfort;
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.

Speak to me,
Speak to me,
Through your word,
Through your Spirit,
Speak your words of life.
Speak to me,
Speak to me,
I am listening,
I am waiting,
Speak to me.

I am your servant
And I am listening;
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.
My heart is silent,
My soul is longing,
Speak to me Lord, speak to me.

(a prayer of Tommy Walker)

Power and Weakness

Lord, your gracious favor is all I need.
Your power works best in my weakness.
Let the power of Christ work in me
through weakness
by your gracious favor.

(based on 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)

That We May Not Proceed In Our Wickedness

Grant, Almighty God, that, since you have hitherto so kindly invited us to yourself, and daily invite us, and often interpose your threatening to rouse our inattention, and since we have been inattentive to your reproofs, as well as to your paternal kindness--O, grant that we may not, to the last, proceed in our wickedness, and thus provoke the vengeance you denounce on men past recovery; but that we may anticipate your wrath by true repentance, and be humbled under your hand, that you may receive us into favor, and nourish us in your paternal bosom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(a prayer of John Calvin, in his Commentary on Hosea, translated into English in 1846 and updated by me into modern English)

A Colossians 1:22 Prayer

Thank you, God, that you reconcile me by Christ's physical body through death to present me--of all people, me!--holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

For My Mother

thank you for my mother,
for the forty-nine years of life you gave her,
and the fourteen years you gave me
with her.

Thank you for the heritage of love,
and submission
you gave me through her.

Thank you for the ways she yet speaks,
and for the unseen ways
she is still a part of my life.

Thank you also
for the mother of my children,
my sweet, beautiful wife.
Thank you for my daughter and daughter-in-law,
the fine mothers you have kindly given
to my grandchildren.

Have mercy, Lord, on all those
in this great, wide world
who are missing their mothers,
grieving them,
or needing them,
in Jesus' name, amen.

A Poet's Perfectly Apropos Prayer

I do nothing, I give you
nothing. Yet you hold me

minute by minute
from falling.
Lord, You provide.

(excerpt from "Psalm Fragments (Schnittke String Trio)," by Denise Levertov, The Stream and the Sapphire, p. 23).

A Friend's Prayer for My Writing

I often ask a handful of good, praying friends to support me in my writing ministry with daily prayer throughout a specific writing assignment. One of my current prayer team members left the following prayer on my voicemail yesterday (thanks, Doug!):

Lord, give him the words
from his soul
to his heart
to his mind
to his pen,
in Jesus' name, amen.

For the First 150,000 Miles

Father, thank you for my little car, that has lasted for 150,000 miles. Thank you for Robin's car that now exceeds 150,000 miles on the odometer.

Thank you for the faithful service both vehicles have provided, for the relative freedom from trouble, and for the many months we've enjoyed without a car payment.

It's a small matter in the overall scheme of things, and utterly trivial compared to many of the requests I bring before you. But in the spirit of James 4:2 ("You have not because you ask not"), I ask you to give us many more miles on both vehicles, and many more months of faithful and economical service. Please bless us financially by keeping these vehicles (how blessed we are to have two!) in service for many more miles, in Jesus' name, amen.

That We May Walk Circumspectly

Grant, Almighty God, that as we have not only been redeemed from Babylonian exile, but have also emerged from hell itself; for when we were the children of wrath you freely adopted us, and when we were aliens, you in your infinite goodness opened to us the gate of your kingdom, that we might be made your heirs through your Son--O, grant that we may walk circumspectly before you, and submit ourselves wholly to you and to your Christ, and not feign to be his members, but really prove ourselves to be his body, and to be so governed by his Spirit, that you may at last gather us together into your celestial kingdom, to which you daily invite us by the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

(a prayer of John Calvin, in his Commentary on Hosea, translated into English in 1846 and updated by me into modern English)


Abba, save me from "saying" prayers.
Help me to pray.
Teach me to pray.
Prompt my praying.
Guide my praying.
Be the author of my prayers,
from beginning to end,
in Jesus' name, amen.


Jesus, my Savior, you are the Sovereign Good;
here is my life and my will.
Dispose of me according to your good pleasure.
I acknowledge, Lord, that of myself I can do nothing;
but, provided that after having given me the grace of drawing me to you
and having given me the knowledge of the truth,
you do not withdraw from me,
nothing will be impossible to me.


(from the Daily Prayer blog)

As We Are So Miserable

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are so miserable as soon as you withdraw your favor from us--O, grant that we may deeply feel this conviction, and thus learn to be humble before you, and to hate our selves, and that we may not in the mean time deceive ourselves by such allurements as commonly prevail, to put our hope in creatures or in this world, but raise our minds upwards to you, and fix our hearts on you, and never doubt that when you embrace us with your paternal love, nothing shall be wanting to us. And in the meantime, may we suppliantly flee to your mercy, and with true and genuine confession, acknowledge this to be our only protection--that you deign to receive us into favor, and to abolish our sins, into which we not only daily fall, but by which we also deserve eternal death, so that we may daily rise through your free pardon, till at length our Redeemer, Christ your Son, shall appear to us from heaven. Amen.

(a prayer of John Calvin, in his Commentary on Hosea, translated into English in 1846 and updated by me into modern English)

Savior, Like a Shepherd

Savior, like a shepherd lead me, much much much I need your tender care;
In your pleasant pastures feed me, for my use your folds prepare.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! You have bought me, I am yours.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! You have bought me, I am yours.

I am yours, my Friend and Helper, be the Guardian of my way;
Keep me safely in your favor, seek me when I go astray.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Hear, O hear me when we pray.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! Hear, O hear me when we pray.

You have been so gracious, Gentle Shepherd, saved my soul and set me free;
You have led me into spacious pasture, daily shown your face to me.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! I will serve you all my days.
Blessèd Jesus, blessèd Jesus! I will serve you all my days.

(from the hymn, Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us, revised and updated)

Say But the Word

Say but the word, thy servant shall be healed,
I shall be loosed from my infirmity;
And, once again, the fount of life unsealed
Shall upward spring and flow eternally.

Vainly I seek a cure for my soul's ailing,
Vainly aspire to reach the life divine;
Slave of myself, myself for ever failing,
Helpless am I until thy grace be mine.

I dare not ask as though by right of pleading;
Only my need lays hold upon thy name;
Yet none can cry and find thy love unheeding,
And none need fail thy saving grace to claim.

Thine is the name whereon I cry, believing;
Thine is the love that sees and pities me;
Thine is the power and mine the faith receiving
Cleansing and healing, life and liberty.

(a prayer of General Albert Orsborn)