Morning Offering

I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

(by John O'Donohue, in To Bless the Space Between Us)

Saturday Psalm #41

Bless me, LORD, with regard for the weak,
so I may know your deliverance in times of trouble.

Protect me, LORD, and preserve my life;
bless me in the land
and do not surrender me to the desire of my foes.

Sustain me through times of sickness,
and restore me to health and vigor.

I have pleaded for your mercy;
I have begged for your healing, while confessing my sinfulness.

I know my enemy maliciously seeks my destruction,
my shame.
I know he whispers lies to me,
and spreads lies about me
like so many thistle seeds in a plowed field.
I know there are those who whisper together against me,
and imagine the worst for me.
I know even former friends, whom I trusted,
who shared my bread,
want to see me fail.

But you, O LORD, have mercy on me;
lift me up,
not that I may repay them,
but that everyone will know you are merciful and gracious.
Let me know that you are pleased with me,
and then whatever my enemy does will amount to nothing.
Uphold me, give me integrity,
and grant me your constant presence.

I praise you, LORD, the God of Israel,
who is from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

(photo via everystockphoto.com)

For Humility

My prayer today for my kids and my grandkids, from the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids" app for iPhone and iPad, available exclusively via iTunes.

To Believe

Lord, I'm aware the Scripture says, "Abraham believed God."
Not, "Abraham believed the text."
Not, "Abraham believed a set of precepts."
Not, "Abraham believed a list of propositions."
But "Abraham believed God."

I tend to be dangerously "nominal" in my faith, as A. W. Tozer puts it. But I want a faith like Abraham, your friend, whose faith rested on your personality and character. And I sense you drawing me into the reality of your presence.

Help me to be your man, and not my own;
to trust you, and not myself or my own strength;
to think your thoughts after you, not my own;
to accomplish your will, not my own.
Not my own--let that phrase characterize me and my all, in Jesus' name, amen.

Nothing Compares

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)

I Pretend to Nothing

My God,
I pretend to nothing upon this earth,
except to be so firmly united to you by prayer
that to be separated from you may be impossible;
let others desire riches and glory;
for my part,
I desire but one thing,
and that is to be inseparably united to you,
and to place in you alone
all my hopes
of happiness
and repose.

(a prayer of St. John Scholasticus)

Within These Bones

All that is here within these bones
All that is future and unknown
All that the world would sell--it pales compared to you.
All that is in us hears your call
Mountains of doubt before you fall
All that we could not give before--abandoned now.

(by Frederick Booth-Tucker;
photo via everystockphoto.com.
HT to Felix Padilla)

Saturday Psalm #40

I wait patiently for you, LORD;
turn to me and hear my cry.
You have lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
Now, set my feet on a rock again,
and give me a firm place to stand.

I pray for a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to my God.
I pray that many will hear and see my song,
and put their trust in you, LORD.

Bless me with the blessedness of the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

Many, O LORD my God,
many
many
many
are the wonders you have done.
I believe that the things you have planned for us
no one can recount to you;
if you would reveal them to me ahead of time,
I would quickly lose count.

I know, LORD, that you don't desire
stale offerings and old forms;
you want a living sacrifice,
my body,
my days,
my thoughts,
my efforts.

So, as your Son said,
the Supreme Sacrifice,
the Ultimate Offering,
I say, "Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."

Whatever comes, LORD,
I will proclaim your righteousness in the great assembly;
I will not seal my lips,
(as I'm sure you know, O LORD).

I will not hide your righteousness in my heart alone,
but will speak aloud of your faithfulness and salvation.
I will not conceal your love and your truth
from the assembly of your people.

Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.

You know how I so often feel surrounded by troubles,
and my sins, which are more than the hairs of my head,
make my heart fail within me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.

May my critics and castigators
be proven wrong,
not by my success,
but by your great mercy.

May those who cluck their tongues at me
come to say "Wow!" at your wonderful working.

May all who sincerely seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
"The LORD be exalted!"

Yet I am poor and needy;
so think of me, Lord.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.
Come.
Come now.
Come fully.
Come powerfully.
Come sweetly.
Come, in Jesus' name, amen.

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 and Yon blog)

Prone to Thorns and Brambles

Abba,
like Thomas Merton,
I confess that I am a sheep prone
to thorns and brambles.
Please don't tire of looking for me
and lifting me out of the messes
I get myself into,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Epiphany

Father,
you revealed your Son to the nations
by the guidance of a star.
Lead us to your glory in heaven
by the light of faith.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Liturgy of the Hours)

I Launch My Bark on the Unknown Waters of This Year

O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit,
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise,
testify thy love,
advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.

Give me grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to watch,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.

May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

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