My Daily Confession

Almighty God, my Father, I confess that I have sinned against you through my own fault, in thought, word, and deed, in what I have done and in what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. I have not loved my neighbor as myself. For these and all my offenses I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. I thank you that in Christ Jesus you forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Grant that I may love you better tomorrow, walk before you in newness of life, and serve you in holiness ad righteousness all my days, in Jesus' name, amen.

Unfaltering Praise

Lord, be it thine,
Unfaltering praise of mine!
To thee my whole heart's love be given
Of earth and Heaven Thou King divine!

Lord, be it thine,
Unfaltering praise of mine!
And, I pure prince! make clear my way
To serve and pray at thy sole shrine!

Lord, be it thine,
Unfaltering praise of mine!
O father of souls that long,
Take this my song and make it thine!

(O'Laoghaire, The Celtic Monk at Prayer, p. 134).

Heighten My Powers

O Christ,
heighten my powers,
so I shall be
weakness made strong,
ignorance made wise,
evil made good.
I thank you.
Amen.

(from the July 16 reading of E. Stanley Jones's The Way)

In Your Hands

Jesus, I am yours.
I am in your hands.
I ask nothing today except what you have in mind,
in your limitless mind,
for me to enjoy,
suffer,
discover,
learn,
endure,
realize,
acquire,
or lose.

Be it unto me according to your will,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Give Them Faith

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, please give my children and grandchildren the kind of faith exhibited by men and women of God like Abel, who by faith offered an acceptable sacrifice and was commended as righteous.

Give them faith like that of Enoch, who walked with you and pleased you. Let them fully believe in you, and know you as a rewarder of them who diligently seek you.

Grant them faith like that of Noah, who obeyed your word and built the ark, even before there was any sign of rain in the sky.

Let them trust you like Abraham did, who obeyed you and stepped out in faith without even knowing where you were leading him; let them, like him, look for a city with firm foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Let them be as sold out to you as Abraham was when he offered up Isaac. Give them the ability to believe in your promises even—especially!—when it would take a miracle.

Give them the faith of Jacob, who blessed the sons of Joseph and worshipped you with his last ounce of strength, and of Joseph who believed you would deliver your people even when he knew his eyes would not see it.

Grant them Moses’ kind of faith, who chose suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasures of sin; let my children esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.

Give my children and grandchildren the kind of faith that sent the walls of Jericho crashing down, that delivered Rahab from destruction, that empowered and sustained Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, achieved righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched flames of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, in spite of fear were brave in battle, and though outnumbered put whole armies to flight.

Let faith in you make them like godly women who received their loved ones back from the dead. Make them like those who stood strong even when they were tortured, refusing release because they believed in resurrection to a better life. Make them like those who endured jeers and flogging, chains and imprisonment. Give them the unshakeable faith of those who were stoned, sawn in two, beheaded, exiled—who became destitute, afflicted, persecuted—of whom the world was not worthy. Give them a faith so strong that even though they may wander in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, they will nonetheless believe your Word and persevere until the day when you make them perfect, together with all the saints and heroes of the faith, in Jesus’ name, amen.

(based on Hebrews 11:1-40; the art piece, "Moses and the Burning Bush," is one of eleven panels by sculptor Alice Proctor, on display at Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, GA)

Your Kingdom Ways

O God,
when I follow my own way,
I am attempting the impossible.
I am trying to live against the laws of my being.
How can I do that?
Help me follow Your kingdom ways.
Amen.

(from the July 21 reading of E. Stanley Jones's The Way)

A Prayer for This Day

When the angel gives the record
Of my inmost soul today,
I want my thoughts and actions
With unbroken voice to say:
"The love Thy servant bears Thee
Will endure the hardest test,
And only be happy
In giving the best."

Let it be so,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(a prayer by Albert Orsborn)

Ephesians 2 Prayer

Thank you for your great love.
Thank you for the richness of your mercy.
Thank you for making me alive with Christ even when I was dead in transgressions.
Thank you that I am saved by grace.
Thank you that you raised me up with Christ and seated me with him in the heavenly realms.
Thank you for your plans in the coming ages to show the incomparable riches of your grace,
expressed in your kindness to me in Christ Jesus.
Thank you for the saving faith that comes not from myself but is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Thank you that I am your handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which you prepared in advance for me to do.
Amen.

(based on Ephesians 2:4-10, NIV)

A Prayer Before Worship

May the words of my mouth,
the meditation of my heart,
the song from my lips,
the attentiveness of my mind,
the expression on my face,
the prayer of my soul,
the lifting of my hands,
the dance of my feet,
and all the worship of my whole body,
mind, soul, and strength
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
Amen.

(based on Psalm 19:14)

Since You See Us to Be So Prone to All the Allurements of Satan

Grant, Almighty God, that since you see us to be so prone to all the allurements of Satan and the world, and at the same time so devoid of judgment and carried away by mere levity, O, grant that by your Spirit leading us, we may proceed in the right course--on which we have already entered under your guidance and directing hand, so that we may never go astray from your Word, nor by any means turn aside from pursuing toward the mark which you have set before us; and though Satan may attempt to draw us aside, may we yet continue steadfast in your service, and thus proceed, until we arrive at that blessed rest which, after the warfare of the present life, you have promised to us in Christ Jesus 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)

For Those Affected by Tragedy

Gracious and loving God,
You watch the ways of all of us
and the utter destruction of which our hands are capable.
We implore you to weave goodness and grace
in the lives of those destroyed by senseless violence.
Surround those whose lives are shattered
with a sense of your present love.
Wrap them in the worn quilt of your compassion.
Though they are lost in grief,
May they find you and be comforted.

Amen

(a prayer by Kimberly Knight, based loosely on a prayer in the UCC book of worship; by way of Rachel Held Evans. Photo copyright Merete Veian)

A Prayer Before Reading

Father God, as I sit down to read this book,
I ask you for help.
By your grace,
overcome my weariness,
dullness,
lack of focus,
and anything else that would hinder my understanding.
Help me to grasp what the author is saying,
weigh it wisely,
and by it come to a new place of understanding and experience--one that meets your approval and increases my usefulness as your servant, in Jesus' name, amen.

Someday

Someday, Lord,
I know I will go the way of all flesh.
I will leave this life, this earth.

When that day comes,
oh, let me be ready.
Let me greet with joy
and anticipation
the day that will fulfill all my soul's longings.

Let my loved ones be ready, too.
Let them be firm in their faith
and strong even while they grieve.
Let them be well provided for,
financially and relationally.
Let them be wise enough to ask, "What now?" rather than "Why?"

And then, as always,
keep them as the apple of your eye and hide them under the shadow of your wing, in Jesus' name, amen.

I Speak to the Mountain

Jesus, you said if I have faith as small as a mustard seed, I could say to a mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move (Matthew 17:20).

So I will.
I speak to the mountain of tasks that await me this day; let it be accomplished.
I speak to the mountain of self-doubt that tells me I can’t write; let it be gone.
I speak to the mountain of weariness that tempts me to loaf; let it be removed.
I speak to the mountain of distractions that allure me away from my desk; let it be still.
I speak to the mountain of confusion that keeps me from seeing things clearly; be dispelled.
I speak to the mountain of panic that makes me despair of meeting my deadline; be gone.
I speak to the mountain of words I have yet to write; be written.
I speak to the mountain of things I have yet to learn; be done.
I speak to the mountain of weakness that tempts me to settle for less than the best I have to give; be vanquished,
in Jesus’ name, amen.

Double Portion Prayer

Gracious God, who inspired faulty and feeble men in times past to write for the purpose of changing lives, please let some of that spirit--a double portion, even, as I am more faulty and feeble than they--rest on me as a writer.

Grant me the productivity of Moses, who though he lived in an age before paper or press is credited with "the books of Moses," revered as Torah by one generation after another.

Grant me David's lyricism and imagery evident in line after line of psalm after psalm, from "The Lord is my shepherd" to "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

Grant me Isaiah's facility with word and phrase, he who wrote "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace," and "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint."

Grant me Solomon's wisdom, Ezekiel's vision, Jeremiah's compulsion, and Daniel's spine.

Grant me Hosea's courage in telling my story, and in obeying and reflecting you in its every twist and turn.

Grant me the Gospel writers' recall. Luke's accuracy. Paul's intensity. James's practicality.

And grant, please, whenever my end approaches, whatever my final book or sentence may be, a finish like that of your servant John.

All this I am so bold to ask only through the merit of my Savior, Lord, and King, in whose name I ask it, amen.

It's Summer, Lord

Good morning, good God!

It’s summer, Lord:
the days are warm and the nights, too...

It’s a time to be grateful for the AC
everywhere, cooling to comfort
the places where we live and work
and play and rest and pray…

But some days, some nights,
I run from the heat,
from how the sun soaks in
and seeps its way through my pores,
through muscle to bone,
through bone to the marrow of my soul,
warming me through and through
until, from the inside out,
I’m baked in a light from light years away…

Draw me out from the shade and shadows
and warm me with your love
as with your summer sun...

Blaze a path into my soul:
pass through all that shields me
from the brilliance of your light,
the heat of your presence,
the burn of your desire…

Bake me in your love
until I sweat from every pore
the moist anointing of your presence…

Bathe me in the warmth of your grace
‘til I am burnished within and without
by your light touch…

Warm my heart’s desire for you, Lord,
and let no cool shade keep me from the peace
your heart burns to give…

I offer you my praise for summer days
when all creation warms to know
the light no darkness can extinguish...

And in the heat of the noonday sun
keep me mindful, Lord, of others
whose thirst I might quench,
whose shade I might provide...

So comes my prayer this morning, Lord,
as the sun rises to its noon day height
until it sets at this day's end, until tomorrow
when your sun will rise again,
upon a brand new day...

Amen.

(from A Concord Pastor Comments)

For Their Future Memories

Lord,
I know my grandchildren
when they are grown
will have many memories,
some good, some bad.
Please let the good ones
far and always
outnumber the bad,
and grant that among those good ones
are fond memories
of reading with their Crappaw,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Bless My Family

O Loving God,
bless my family with your love.
Guard us from all danger and harm;
deliver us from anger that leads to division;
empower us to forgive as we have been forgiven;
and send us into the world
to witness to your love and grace;
in the name of Jesus Christ we pray.
Amen.

(a prayer by Vienna Cobb Anderson, adapted from "Prayers of Our Hearts" © 1991 Vienna Cobb Anderson)

Only Speak the Word

“Only speak the word,” the centurion said to you, Jesus.
It is my prayer, too.

Only speak the word: and I will write what you say to write.
Only speak the word: and I will wait.
Only speak the word: and I will stop.
Only speak the word: and I will start again.
Only speak the word: and I will bow in prayer.
Only speak the word: and I will whisper.
Only speak the word: and I will shout.
Only speak the word: and I will tell a story.
Only speak the word: and I will shut my mouth.
Only speak the word: and I will search the Scriptures.
Only speak the word: and I will take a walk.
Only speak the word: and I will throw caution to the wind.
Only speak the word: and I will answer.
Amen.

Prayer for Syria

G-d of All,
Protector and Redeemer,
Watch over the people of Syria
As they face war, revolt, violence and unrest.
Grant physical and emotional safety to
Citizens and residents,
And all who dwell there,
During this time of struggle and strife.
May a world of justice, righteousness and mercy
Come swiftly to their aid.
Grant wisdom and courage to its leaders
So that they end their campaign of terror
And begin the journey toward a peaceful and prosperous future.
Lead them on the path of justice.
Direct them on the road to freedom.
Make them a shining light of peace.

Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony resound
From the four corners of the earth.
May this time of struggle and challenge for Syria
Become a blessing for its inhabitants
And for the world.

Blessed are You, G-d of All,
Forging nations and peoples
In the crucible of change
Throughout history.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

A Writer's Senryu

Here I am alone
But not alone; you are here.
Speak in the silence.

Unto Thy Rest

O Lord,
who art as the shadow
of a great rock
in a weary land,
who beholdest thy weak creatures,
weary of labor,
weary of pleasure,
weary of hope deferred,
weary of self:
In thine abundant compassion
and unutterable tenderness,
bring us, we pray thee, unto thy rest. Amen.

(a prayer of Christina Rossetti)

Far From Done

Father God, thank you for giving me some of the skills and traits a writer needs, though I know you’re far from done with me.

Please make me more observant, both in the moment of an experience and as I reflect back on such moments. Cause me to see more than is my wont, to mark details, patterns, and anomalies. Expand and intensify my vision and augment it with a sharp and enduring recall.

Please make me more insightful. Help me to see not merely with, but through, the eye.
Inspire me not only to see but to interpret, unravel, understand. Prompt me to recognize the important, the good, the bad, and the ugly in all I observe. Help me, as so many fine writers do, to make electrifying connections between seemingly unrelated things for myself and for my readers.

Please make me more expressive in thought and in word. Grant me virtuosity in conveying thoughts and ideas. Make me the Miles Davis of the written word. The Vincent Van Gogh. The Nadia Com─âneci.

Please make me more articulate. Fluent. Clear. Precise. Teach me to use the right word, just so. Help me to not only say something worth saying, but to say it with such clarity that there can be no misunderstanding.

All this I ask, in Jesus' name, amen.

Living Flame of Love

O Living Flame of Love....
How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart
with love.

(a prayer of St. John of the Cross)

An Independence Day Prayer

Lord my God,
I worship you today,
on this 236th birthday of this nation,
these wonderful United States of America
in which I live.

I thank you for the freedom
to worship you publicly...
even as I ask you to show kindness and mercy
to those who lack that freedom
because they live elsewhere.

Thank you for all those
who have sacrificed for my freedom,
for those who risked
(and some who gave) their lives
to make this a free and independent nation,
for those in my nation's armed services, past and present,
and for all who have served the cause of liberty in other ways...
even as I pray for those who even now
are in harm's way,
far from home,
in this nation's service.
Please meet their needs,
watch over them and their loved ones,
and grant them your favor in every way.

And, Father, on this Independence Day 2012,
I pray for the people in this land
and every land
who have not yet discovered the freedom
that is offered to them in your Son, Jesus Christ.
Draw them to you,
set them free
from sin and sadness and strife,
and grant them the eternal freedom
that is found only in trusting you,
in Jesus' name, amen.

That We May Prostrate Ourselves

Grant, Almighty God, that since we are at this day as guilty before you as were the Israelites of old, who were so rebellious against your prophets, and that as you have often tried sweetly to allure us to yourself without any success, and as we have not hitherto ceased, by our continual obstinacy, to provoke your wrath--O, grant that, being moved at least by the warnings you give us, we may prostrate ourselves before your face, and not wait until you put forth your hand to destroy us, but, on the contrary, strive to anticipate your judgment; and that being at the same time surely convinced that you are ready to be reconciled to us in Christ, we may flee to Him as our Mediator; and that relying on his intercession, we may not doubt but that you are ready to give us pardon, until having at length put away all sins, we come to that blessed state of glory which has been obtained for us by the blood of your Son. Amen.

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