For the Last Day of An Old Year

Good Lord,
it's the last day of 2015...

Only a few hours left in this old year
which seemed so new
oh, not-so-long ago...

Where has the old year gone, Lord?
And how did it go?

And how did I go with you,
make my way with you, Lord,
these past twelve months?

I remember the times
we walked and talked together,
side by side,
you and I...

And I remember the times
when I forgot, somehow,
that you were right there by my side,
and the times I tried to pretend
that you weren't there,
always within arm's reach...

I remember the times when you took delight
in my words and my work
and I remember the times I ignored and forgot you
- but still you loved me
and in your mercy, you forgave me...

Nothing I've done, Lord,
merits what you've given me:
all your love is grace,
an unearned gift
from your heart to mine...

In return I offer so little
and I have so little to offer...

But there comes now a new year, Lord,
and with it my prayer
to live a life more worthy
of all you so freely give me...

In this new year, Lord,
make strong my resolve to be faithful,
make deep my trust in your presence
and make sure my hope in your promise,
for without your help
I will fail...

Lord, you offer me only
what is true and pure,
good and just, strong and graced...

In this new year, help me recognize
what is false, cheap and sham...

Help me to settle for nothing less
than what comes from your heart and hand...

Nourish me, Lord:
give me a hunger for what is genuine,
a thirst for what is holy,
a wisdom for discerning your gifts...

It's the last day of the old year, Lord...

Shake from my heart what has no place there
and wake my heart
to the gift of your grace
and the dawn of a new beginning...

(from my friend Austin Fleming's A Concord Pastor Comments blog)

Looking Back

Father, thank you for your blessings to us this past year. Thank you for the grace shown to us and for your faithfulness. Some of us have traveled a hard road this year. We thank you for the things we have learned. As we look back, show us how you were with us through the year. Amen.

(from the Daily Prayer blog)

My Soul's Horizons

O Lord, you are the God of the early mornings,
the God of the late nights,
the God of the mountain peaks,
and the God of the sea.
But, my God, my soul has horizons further away than those of early mornings,
deeper darkness than the nights of earth,
higher peaks than any mountain peaks,
greater depths than any sea in nature.
You who are the God of all these,
be my God.
I cannot reach to the heights or to the depths;
there are motives I cannot discover,
dreams I cannot realize.
My God, search me.

(a prayer of Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest (updated edition), January 9 selection).

A Prayer on the Sunday After Christmas

Almighty God,
you have poured upon us
the new light
of your incarnate Word:
Grant that this light,
enkindled in our hearts,
may shine forth in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.

Filled With So Many Good Things

Lord, if we were to sum it all up, we are filled with so many good things but today it's enough to appreciate the gift of life itself! And the gift of a morning so clean and crisp and beautiful that we can see blue sky everywhere! We offer our worship, our gifts, ourselves. You alone are God, you alone are the Lord. You alone are holy.

Forgive us for the words spoken in anger, for our actions that have hurt or harmed another. And we pray for those who hurt us, in the name of the one who said from the cross, "Forgive them- they don't know what they're doing." Free us, we pray, to make it easier for others to believe in you because they have known us. Help us to lighten the load that others are carrying, to cut some slack for others, knowing how we appreciate it when someone is patient and understanding with us.

We praise and glory and delight in your loving presence. The glow of that Holy Night still lingers...the simplicity and surrender of people giving themselves to each other and ultimately to you... Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, all making their unplanned journeys. So teach us to walk with you in the happenstance. That if you are anywhere, you are where we are afraid and uncertain. Teach us anew that courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of love- your love and grace. Teach us what it means to be loved unconditionally, and to trust in you even though we don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Help us to hear in Jesus our invitation to live and to be fully alive! That surrendering to you is an invitation to know joy and peace and gentleness deep within and where we live. It's our gain and we're so grateful. Renew and restrain us and our world in your love. Renew our hope and adventure and willingness to risk and serve. Deliver those who are in pain or who suffer from the violence of others. Heal us and hold us all, Lord. And equip us not only to know what our ministry is, but to do it! In the name of the One who saves us and loves, Jesus. Amen.

(a prayer by Scott Endress at

Cradle Song

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep;
I, too, must sing with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradle song.

Glory to God in highest Heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth,
A glad new year to all the earth.

(a prayer of Martin Luther, from the new book We Hear the Angels, by JoAnn Streeter Shade)

I Await You

Night has fallen; the clear, bright stars are sparkling in the cold air; noisy, strident voices rise to my ear from the city, voices of the revelers of this world who celebrate with merrymaking the poverty of their Saviour. Around me in their rooms my companions are asleep, and I am still wakeful, thinking of the mystery of Bethlehem.

Come, come, Jesus, I await you. . . .

I am a poor shepherd; I have only a wretched stable, a small manger, some wisps of straw. I offer all these to you, be pleased to come into my poor hovel. I offer you my heart; my soul is poor and bare of virtues, the straws of so many imperfections will prick you and make you weep--but oh, my Lord, what can you expect? This little is all I have. . . . I have nothing better to offer you, Jesus, honour my soul with your presence, adorn it with your graces. Burn this straw and change it into a soft couch for your most holy body.

Jesus, I am here waiting for your coming. Wicked men have driven you out, and the wind is like ice. I am a poor man, but I will warm you as well as I can. At least be pleased that I wish to welcome you warmly, to love you and sacrifice myself for you.


(This prayer, written by a young Italian seminarian named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in 1902 who would later become Pope John XXIII, has become a Christmas Eve tradition for me, and for this blog).

Hidden In the Stable

We welcome you, small child of Bethlehem, whose coming we await with quiet attention. Shield us from the shouts, the screams, the empty promises of the season, and encourage us to turn our hope to your coming. We know that the promise is hidden in the stable in Bethlehem and rooted in the offspring of Jesse; let us look for our salvation there. Amen.

(from Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen: Daily Scripture and Prayers together with Nouwen's Own Words)

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

O King of the Gentiles

O King of the Gentiles and their desired One,
the cornerstone that makes both one:
Come, and deliver man,
whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

O Rising Sun

O Rising Sun,
splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

O Key of David

O Key of David,
O royal power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.

O Root of Jesse

O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up
as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

O Adonai

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Amen.

O Wisdom

O Wisdom,
coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.


Lord, how am I supposed to do this?
How live so far away?
How see them so seldom?
How hold them so fleetingly?


My prayer today (a great prayer for Advent) for my kids and my grandkids, from the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids" app for iPhone and iPad:


Come, Father,
come to me, a poor sinner.

Come, Lord Jesus,
come anew to my heart.

Come, Holy Spirit,
fall afresh on me.

Can I?

Can I have the things I pray for?
God, you know best;
You are wiser than your children,
Therefore, I can rest.

O Come

(from the annual Christmas extravaganza, Awaited, created and hosted by Crossroads Community Church)

For a Godly Self-Esteem

My prayer today for my kids and my grandkids, from the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids" app for iPhone and iPad:


Lord Jesus,
the day of your nativity approaches,
the day on which we commemorate
your birth,
your condescension,
your humble incarnation.

Please help me and mine
to approach that day on tiptoe,
with reverence and awe,
mindful of your holiness and beauty,
and grateful for the privilege
of finding
and approaching
and kneeling at
your manger, amen.

O Come

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Ese Oluwa

Eshe Oluwa, Eshe Baba o (We thank you Lord, we thank you Father)
Eshe Oluwa, Awadupe baba (We thank you Lord, we are thankful Father)

You gave me shelter when I have no other
You made a way when there’as no way
You turn my darkness into light
Awadupe Baba (We are thankful Father)

You put food on my table Daddy
You comfort me when I was lost
Who can be compared unto you
Awadupe Baba (We are thankful Father)

Awadupe baba o, Awadupe baba  (We are thankful Father)
Awadupe eledumare, Awadupe baba (We are thankful Father)
Eshe Oluwa, Eshe Baba o (We thank you Lord, we thank you Father)
Eshe Oluwa, Awadupe baba (We thank you Lord, we are thankful Father)

(In Pidgin)
Baba way, Baba way dey for heaven now oh (Father, you are the Heavenly Father)
We go praise you now Eee (We will praise you)
We go praise you papa ( We will praise you Father)

Nativity Prayer

The feast day of your birth resembles You, Lord
Because it brings joy to all humanity.
Old people and infants alike enjoy Your day.
Your day is celebrated from generation to generation.
Kings and emperors may pass away,
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.
But Your festival will be remembered until the end of time.
Your day is a means and a pledge of peace.
At Your birth heaven and earth were reconciled,
Since You came from heaven to earth on that day
You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt.
You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth:
A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick;
Spiritual light for the blind;
The cup of salvation for the thirsty;
The bread of life for the hungry.
In the winter when trees are bare,
You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit.
In the frost when the earth is barren,
You bring new hope to our souls.
In December when seeds are hidden in the soil,
The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb.

(a prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, from the new book We Hear the Angels, by JoAnn Streeter Shade; illustration is from the facing page in the book)

The Refreshment of Prayer

Lord, what a change within us one short hour
Spent in Thy presence will prevail to make;
What heavy burdens from our bosoms take,
What parched fields refresh as with a shower.

We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;
We rise, and all, the distant and the near,
Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear;
We kneel how weak; we rise how full of power!

Why should we ever weak or heartless be,
Why are we ever overborne with care,
Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer,
And joy, and strength, and courage are with Thee?

(a prayer of Richard Trent, by way of Leonard Sweet's Facebook page; image via