Saturday Psalm #79

O God, the world is too much with us.
The ways of the world defile your people,
and weaken your church.
We are prey for our enemies,
and we cooperate in our own destruction!
We turn on each other
and devour each other with our words,
our attitudes,
our sin.
We make our Enemy’s job easy!

How long, O LORD, will you let this continue?
How can you let your children,
your chosen ones,
live so deceitfully, so unfruitfully?

It would be different if it came from people who do not acknowledge you or call on your name;
but it is your own who devour and destroy your house.

Deliver us from the sins of the fathers;
may your mercy come quickly to meet us,

for we are in desperate need.
Help us, O God our Savior,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
for your name's sake.

Save us from making a mockery of you,
of your Gospel,
of all you have taught and commanded and done for us.

May the groans of the wounded come before you;
by the strength of your arm
preserve those who have been hurt by friendly fire.
Throw our Enemy’s attacks into his teeth,
even seven times over.
Then we your people,
the sheep of your pasture,
will praise you forever;
from generation to generation
we will recount your praise.

(based on Psalm 79; photo via pixabay.com)

This Day Is Past

My Lord God Adonai:
God of earth and sea and sky,
I lift my voice, I speak my prayer,
And cast on you my every care.

This day, Lord, now is past,
And I am much in need of rest.
I need your peace, I need your calm,
I beg your Spirit's healing balm.

(by Bob Hostetler; photo via pixabay.com)

Incline My Heart

O Thou whose eternal presence is hid behind the veil of nature, informs the mind of man, and was made flesh in Jesus Christ our Lord, I thank Thee that He has left me an example that I should follow in His steps.

Jesus Christ said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Do good and lend, hoping for nothing again. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Love your enemies. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Fear not, only believe. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Except ye turn again and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Amen.

(a prayer of John Baillie in A Diary of Private Prayer; photo via pixabay.com)

Bind


Today's prayer from the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids" app for iPhone and iPad...and my prayer today for my kids and my grandkids.

In the Process of Your Coming

I’ve begun to understand something I have known for a long time: You are still in the process of your coming. Your appearance in the form of a slave was only the beginning of your coming, a beginning in which you chose to redeem men by embracing the very slavery from which you were freeing them. And you can really achieve your purpose in this paradoxical way, because the paths that you tread have a real ending, the narrow passes which you enter soon open out into broad liberty, the cross that you carry inevitably becomes a brilliant banner of triumph.

It is said that you will come again, and this is true. But the word again is misleading. It won’t really be “another” coming, because you have never really gone away. In the human existence that you made your own for all eternity, you have never left us.

But still you will come again, because the fact that you have already come must continue to be revealed ever more clearly. It will become progressively more manifest to the world that the heart of all things is already transformed, because you have taken them all to your heart.

Behold, you come. And your coming is neither past nor future, but the present, which has only to reach its fulfillment. Now it is still the one single hour of your Advent, at the end of which we too shall have found out that you have really come.

O God who is to come, grant me the grace to live now, in the hour of your Advent, in such a way that I may merit to live in you forever, in the blissful hour of your eternity.

(from Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas)

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Saturday Psalm #78

O Lord, bless my teaching
in speaking and in writing;
grant me words worth listening to.
In parable,
in mystery,
new insights or old,
let me give a testimony that will make you glad.

Let my words be accessible to young and old;
let everyone grasp
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
your power, and the wonders you have done,
the statutes decreed to your people,
the law you established in Israel,
which you commanded them
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.

Let everyone put their trust in you
and not forget your deeds.

Let us not be like our predecessors,
and like so many these days,
a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts are not loyal to you,
whose spirits are not faithful to you.

Let us not
turn back on the day of battle;

Let us not
forsake our covenant with you
and refuse your guidance.

Let us not
forget what you have done,
the wonders you have shown us.

Let us not
forget your miracles,
both in ancient times
and the ones we have seen with our own eyes:

Seas divided,
walls of water,
a cloud by day
and fire by night.
Water from rocks in the desert
and manna every morning,
but they continued to sin against you,
rebelling against the Most High;
they willfully put you to the test
by demanding the food they craved;
they spoke against you, saying,
"Can God spread a table in the desert?

When water gushed from a rock,
and streams flowed abundantly,
they kept complaining,
demanding meat from your hand.

Save us from such complaining and faithlessness, Lord God.
Save us from your anger.

Bread of heaven, feed us till we want no more!

Let us never forget that you are our Rock,
that God Most High is our Redeemer.

Let our hearts remain loyal to you,
whatever our outward circumstances.
Teach us to measure our success
by your mercy,
your forgiveness,
your constant forbearance and goodness to us.

What you have done before,
do again, Adonai!

Lead us like sheep through a desert.
Guide us safely, and teach us to be unafraid.
Drive out our enemies before us,
and give us the fulfillment of your every good promise.

You are a sanctuary for your people,
like Zion, which you established long ago.

Make your people today like Israel of old,
and our leaders like David the shepherd king. Amen.

With Quiet Attention

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)

For a Tongue Fluent Only in Praise

Lord, I thank you for oysters and porpoises,
praise you for birdsong and sheet lightning,
see you reflected in pools of creekwater
and the eyes of stray cats.
Let me talk to yard dogs
as if they are my friends and fellow travelers
along the sun-tortured highways
intoxicated with the love of God.
Let me see the whole world
with eyes incapable of anything but wonder,
and a tongue fluent only in praise, amen.

(based on a passage from Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, pp. 277-278).

Saturday Psalm #77

I cried out to you for help, Lord;
My heart cried out for your attention.
I was in distress, I sought you; 

I reached out for you all day and night,
even waking from sleep to cry for your mercy,
and comfort would not come.
I called to you, O God, as you tell me to;
I asked,
I sought,
I knocked.

But no respite came,
the burden never lifted.
I sank lower and lower.
I longed for the old days,
that now seem so long ago,
when I felt your presence,
and slept in your warm embrace.

My heart asked, my spirit sought:
“Is this what it’s going to be like now?
Will you let the Enemy have the victory?
Has your unfailing love failed?
Have your promises expired?
Will you forget to be merciful?
Will you leave me this way?”

Then something happened.
I felt the cloud lift.
I know I didn’t cause it,
but at some point, a gentle wind
blew through my spirit.
I remembered your ways with me,
I gave up doubting and complaining,
and once again turned to focus on you
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

Your ways, O God, are holy.
They are past finding out, far beyond my ken.
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
You have done it before,
and you will do it again.

The storm clouds saw you, O God,
the thunderheads heard you coming
and fled before you.
You trod the crashing waves
and came to my side.

Lead me now
as you led Moses and your people.
Lead me.
Lead your people.
Lead.
Amen.

(based on Psalm 77; photo via pixabay.com)

Overflowing with Thankfulness


Today's prayer from the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids" app for iPhone and iPad...and my prayer today for my kids and my grandkids.

On Re-reading Jonah

Lord God Adonai,
incline my heart
to run to your will
and not from it...
when it pleases me,
and when it doesn't...
when I am at peace,
and when I am in turmoil...
when you call me to ease
and when you call me to sorrow,
for in your will
is your wisdom,
and in obedience
is my peace. Amen.

Saturday Psalm #76

In Judah you are known;
your name is great in Israel.
Pitch your tent in my heart,
as gloriously as your dwelling place in Zion,
where you broke the flashing arrows,
the shields and the swords, the weapons of war
of all your enemies.

Show your resplendence,
more majestic than mountains teeming with game.

Plunder the high and mighty,
lay low those who sneer at you and your people.

At a single word from you, O God of Jacob,
both horse and chariot lie still.

You alone are to be feared.
Who can stand before your righteous anger?

From heaven you pronounce judgment,
and the land feared and was quiet-
when you, O God, rose up to judge,
to save all the afflicted of the land.

Rise up again, Lord God,
and save!

Hear the vows I have made,
help me to fulfill them all,
bringing my worshipful devotion to the One
who alone is to be feared.

You break the unbreakable,
you are king of all the kings of the earth.
Amen.

(photo via everystockphoto.com)

My Little Vessel is Full

O My God,
Thou fairest, greatest, first
of all objects,
my heart admires,
adores,
loves thee,
for my little vessel
is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out
all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, for sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God,
through time and eternity.

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett)

As If Thy Blessings Had Spare Days


Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more–-a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
(a prayer by George Herbert)

That Others May Be Fed

For you, who fed the hungry,
May we so break our bread
In constant, costly giving
That others may be fed. 
Amen.

(by Lillian Cox)

For Wisdom and Guidance

Lord God Adonai,
grant me and the lovely Robin
an abundance of wisdom
as we try to discern
and chart a path
that takes us and keeps us
closer to our loved ones,
in Jesus' name, amen.
(photo via pixabay.com)

I Claim an Entrance

O God, if still the holy place
Is found of those in prayer,
By all the promises of grace
I claim an entrance there.

Give me a self-denying soul,
Enlarged and unconfined;
Abide within me, and control
The wanderings of the mind.

Give me the strength of faith that dares
To die to self each day,
That bravely takes the cross, nor cares
To find an easier way.

Help me to make more sacrifice,
To walk where Christ would lead,
That in my life He may arise
To hallow every deed.
Amen.

(a prayer of General Albert Orsborn)

For Our Travel Today


Father God,
please grant me and the lovely Robin
safe and successful travel today.
Make smooth paths
(and flight schedules) for our feet.
Grant safe and timely travel to the airport.
Help us to make our flights
safely reach our destination.
Protect us from coach cabin infections.
Guide our steps,
guard our thoughts,
and give us sweet communion with you
pleasant interactions with others,
and a joyful reunion with our kids and grandkids.
Make us alert to any opportunity to be the means of blessing
to our fellow travelers,
or those who serve them,
in Jesus' name, amen.

My Only Happiness

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."

(a prayer by General Albert Orsborn)

Come, Living Water.

Come, Living Water.

Come into my weary soul.
Come in like a flood.
Come, shock my system.
Come, fill my empty places.
Come, deluge my dry places.
Come, Living Water.
Come and revive me.
Come refresh me.
Come renew me.
Come recreate me.
Come, Living Water.

Come, Living Water.

Come.

RSVP

Lord God Adonai,
I'm sorry that I have so often
approached your Word
and combed your Word
and misused your Word
as a repository of rules and formulas
for me--and others, especially others--to obey,
rather than as a means of relationship,
a love note,
a sometimes whispered,
sometimes shouted,
always gracious
invitation to enter into communion with you.
Amen.

On Veteran's Day

God of peace,
we pray for those
who have served our nation
and who laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies
are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm's way:
shield them from danger
and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!

Amen.

(from A Concord Pastor Comments blog)

Saturday Psalm #75

I give thanks to you, O God,
I give thanks, for your Name is near;
your wonderful deeds surround me.

You choose the appointed time;
you judge uprightly.

When the ground beneath me moves,
you hold the earth's pillars nonetheless.

Shut up the arrogant and their boasts;
tell the wicked, "Put down your weapons!
Abandon your plans!
Be still!"

No one, no matter how powerful,
can exalt a mere human.

You alone are Judge:
you bring one down, you exalt another.

A cup is in your hand.
It overflows with spiked wine.
You pour it out,
and all the wicked of the earth
lap it up.

As for me, I will declare this forever;
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.

I will resist the wicked,
and let you take care of the results.

(photo via pixabay.com)

With You I Can Live Without Other Things

With you
I can live
without other things,
for you
are God all-sufficient,
and the glory,
peace,
rest,
joy of the world
is a creaturely,
perishing thing
in comparison
with you.

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers; photo via pixabay.com)

Oh, the Places I've Gone

(with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Oh, the places I've gone!
The places I've seen!
I thank you for all
The Great Places I've been!

The Grand Canyon,
the Golden Gate,
Niagara Falls,
the painted desert
and petrified forest,
the New England coast,
the Grand Cayman coral,
Mayan ruins
and Incan heights,
English hedgerows,
German castles,
French cafes,
Egyptian monuments,
Jordanian antiquities,
Southwestern deserts,
Northwestern cascades,
Smoky Mountain trails,
Manhattan streets,
Carolina beaches,
and Bahamian breezes.
And oh, the Galilean sunsets,
the Jerusalem moments,
Mediterranean winds,
and cathedral songs.

Oh, the places I've gone!
The places I've seen!
I thank you for all
The Great Places I've been!

A Voter's Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity
to listen to your voice amid the din of all other voices,
the courage
to see and seize my privilege and responsibility as a citizen,
and the wisdom
to see clearly,
decide rightly,
and vote responsibly.
Amen.

(photo via pixabay.com)

Saturday Psalm #74

I know you have not rejected us, O God,
though at times it seems your anger does smolder
against the sheep of your pasture.

Remember the people you purchased years ago,
the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed—
your flock, your dwelling.

Turn your steps toward our winding way,
and save us from wandering.

Our enemy prowls about like a roaring lion,
so adept at picking us off one by one and two by two,
setting us against each other
and pointing our attention at everything but you!

We can be so good at messing things up,
so destructive when we get suspicious
and seek our own way
and step across healthy boundaries.

Yet you have done miracles;
you have spoken through your prophets,
you have shown yourself to your people.

How long will the enemy mock you, O God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?

Do not hold back your hand, your right hand;
Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy the works of the Enemy!

You, O God, are my king from of old;
you bring salvation upon the earth.

You cleaved the oceans by your great power;
you broke the heads of the sea-monsters.

You crushed Leviathan
and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.

You opened up springs and streams;
you dried up the thundering rivers.

The day belongs to you, and yours also is the night;
you established the sun and moon.

You set all the boundaries of the earth;
you made both summer and winter.

Remember how the enemy has mocked you, O LORD,
how foolish people have reviled your name.

Do not hand over your flock to wild beasts;
do not forget your faithful servants.

Have regard for your great plans for our future,
and save us from foes within and foes without.

Let us not retreat in disgrace;
but save the poorest and neediest among us,
and bring about praise for your name.

Rise up, O God, and defend your cause,
we who bear your name.

Silence the clamor of your adversaries,
hush the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

Amen.

(photo via everystockphoto.com)

On All Saints' Day


Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body
of Your Son, Christ our Lord,
and kindled the flame of your love
in the hearts of the saints.
I praise you for the holy men and women
you have raised up
in every time and place.
Give me grace so to follow their example
in devotion and godliness
that I may come
to those ineffable joys
that you have prepared for those
who unfeignedly love you,
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

(updated and modernized from the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, the Gothic Missal, and The Book of Common Prayer, 1979)

From Ghoulies and Ghosties

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

(traditional Scottish prayer;
photo via publicdomainpictures.net)

Keep Me Reasonably Sweet

Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something
on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all;
but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;
give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains;
they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson
that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet,
for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places
and talents in unexpected people;
and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.

Amen.

(author unknown; photo via pixabay.com)

Throw Open the Windows of My Soul

Father, my soul gets so cluttered:
old hopes,
broken dreams,
dusty determinations,
stored-up hurts and resentments,
good intentions waiting to be pulled out
at just the right time,
undone tasks,
unkempt thoughts,
unrepented sins.

Come to my heart, Lord God,
throw open the windows of my soul,
sweep through its dusty confines,
clean out its musty places,
go through, blow through, flow through,
clear it,
clean it,
rearrange it,
and make it your own,
like a bride moving into a bachelor pad,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday Psalm #73

Surely, God, you are good to your people,
to those who are pure in heart,
and even to me, though my feet are prone to slip,
and I am frequently on the edge.

I admit my envy of the arrogant
and my frustration at the easy lives of the wicked.

They seem to have no struggles;
they sow bitterness and reap sweetness.

They seem free from the burdens I bear;
they don't have to put up with the crap I do.

They adorn themselves with pride
and clothe themselves with discord.

They expect perfection from others
while they are blind to the darkness of their own hearts.

They treat others with ungrace and unforgiveness,
while they condemn the best intentions of others.

They talk as if they are wise
and everyone else is stupid.

And of course people listen to them,
lapping up their lies and distortions like thirsty dogs.

Do they really believe you don't see,
that you, the Most High, lack knowledge?

They must: and not without reason, apparently,
for you seem happy to let them prosper.

It all makes me feel at times like I have kept my heart pure for no good reason,
like I have devoted myself to your will and work in vain.

I am besieged by complainers and critics.
Every morning someone says "we need to meet."

I can't even be honest with them, Lord,
for that would simply add offense to offense
and cause them to call me defensive or recalcitrant.

No matter how hard I try to get a godly perspective on all this,
it oppresses me,
until I turn my eyes on you
and focus on "this one thing I do."

I'm not here for the approval of others, Lord,
and I know enough to assume there will be opposition and misunderstanding.

As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise in my heart and mind, O Lord.

You alone can assuage my loneliness;
your presence is a balm to my hurting heart.

Therefore I turn to you once more;
hold me by my right hand.

Guide me with your counsel,
and show me your glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And I desire nothing on earth besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but you are the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you
are your problem, not mine.
Those who taunt and attack your servants
will be called before your court.

But as for me, I will focus on staying near you, God.
I will make the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will boast only in you.
Amen.

(photo via pixabay.com)

Fly to You

Jesus, lover of my soul,
I fly to you,
I receive from you,
my Friend,
my Provider,
my Savior,
my Protector,
my Lord and my God,
Amen.

(photo via everystockphoto.com)

Spirit of God, Descend

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are,
And make me love you as I ought to love. 
Teach me to feel that you are always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer. 
Teach me to love you as your angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The baptism of the Heaven-descended Dove,
My heart an altar and your love the flame. 
(from a hymn of George Croly, slightly revised; photo via pixabay.com)

Saturday Psalm #72

Endow this writer with your wisdom, O God,
your servant and son with your guidance.
Help me to conduct my daily affairs in righteousness,
and write and speak with compassion.

Bring prosperity to my little tribe;
let our lives reflect your nature
as surely as the earth and sky around us.

Defend the afflicted among us and save the poor and needy; crush those who try to oppose and oppress us.

Grant that I may live and serve you as long as I am useful,
and then anoint those who carry on after me.
Let your hand be upon me like rain falling on a field of fresh-mown hay,
like showers refreshing the soil.
Make the righteous flourish, O Lord;
send prosperity that lasts until the moon disappears.
Exert your rule from throughout our diaspora,
and show yourself strong on our behalf.

Let your foes fall down before you;
press your Enemy’s face into the dust.
Let the powers of this earth,
the mighty and the moneyed,
bring you tribute and present you gifts.
Let the best and brightest bow down to you,
and all nations and tongues serve you,
because you rescue the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no help.
You take pity on the weak and the poor
and save the destitute.
You rescue them from oppression and violence,
for you watch over them with care and concern.

Lord, strengthen this poor writer and speaker,
your servant and son.
Keep me faithful in praying for my tribe,
and them for me.
Protect, preserve, and prosper us;
cause us to flourish like Lebanon;
cause us to thrive like the Shephelah.

May our efforts for you endure forever;
may they continue as long as the sun.
May all nations be blessed through us,
and may the names of your saints live on.

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
for you alone do marvelous deeds.
Praise be to your glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with your glory.
Amen and Amen.