If My Lips

If my lips
could sing as many songs as there are waves in the sea;
if my tongue
could sing as many hymns as there are ocean billows;
if my mouth
filled the whole firmament with praise;
if my face
shone like the sun and moon together;
if my hands
were to hover in the sky like powerful eagles
and my feet
ran across mountains as swiftly as the deer,
all that would not be enough
to pay you fitting tribute,
O Lord my God.

(Jewish prayer; photo by Andrew-Art via pixabay.com)

For Childlike Trust

Lord,
please make me
like a child
who launches out
from the top
of a corkscrew slide,
trusting his unseen father
to be there when needed
to safely catch him
and pick him up,
in Jesus' name, amen.

So Rich and Free

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul;
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

(a prayer by Seth and Bessie Sykes)

Day of War

Lord, my God,
My salvation,
cover my head in the day of war;
shield me in the heat of battle.
Amen.

(based on Psalm 140:7; photo by JackSellaire via pixabay.com)

I Confess My Desire to Acquire

God, I confess my desire to acquire and repent of my consumerism. I confess that I sometimes believe that having more things will make me happier, more important, or more secure. Please teach me to be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting something new or something more. Teach me to defy the myth of more and set my mind and heart on eternal things instead of material things. Teach me to keep my life free from the love of money and possessions and be content with what I have, in Jesus’ name, amen.

(the prayer that closes chapter two, "The eBay Attitude," in my book, American Idols)

Saturday Psalm #98

Here's a new song to you, Lord:

You have done marvelous things;
you have conquered
with your right hand and your holy arm!

You have trumpeted your salvation
and bannered your righteousness
for all to hear and see!

You have written your love
and faithfulness to your people
on my heart
and in my heritage.

I will shout for joy to you, LORD,
I will loudly sing your praises!
I will make music to you with my lips
and tongue
and hands
and feet
and eyes
and smiles
and laughter
and gifts,
for you are my King.

Let the waves of the sea crash with your praise,
let everything in the sea sing to you,
the world, and all who live in it,
the rivers
and peaks
and lakes
and streams.

But let me join the chorus,
let me always be among them,
let me not hold back,
for you are righteous and fair,
you are glorious and awesome,
amen.

(photo by dhester via everystockphoto.com)

A Certain Light That I Love

What is that love when I love you, my God?
It is a certain light that I love
and melody and fragrance and embrace
that I love when I love you--
a light, melody, fragrance, food,
embrace of the God-within,
where, for my soul,
that shines which space does not contain;
that sounds which time does not sweep away;
that is fragrant which the breeze does not dispel;
and that tastes sweet which, fed upon, is not diminished;
and that clings close which no satiety disparts--
that is what I love when I love you, my God.

(from The Confessions of St. Augustine, slightly reworded)

A Prayer for My Cluttered 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.

You Are God All-Sufficient

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)

For My Wife on Mother's Day

Abba, Father,
I don't have to tell you how blessed I am
by the wife you've given to me,
and the kind of mother she has been--
and is--
to our children.

She walks in beauty, like the night
of cloudless climes and starry skies
(to quote Byron).

She showers blessing, like August rain,
on every dry and needy place.

She denies herself, like the pelican of myth,
feeding her loved ones with her own lifeblood.

She fights with passion, like a badger,
to defend and protect her home and family.

What a gift she is to me and to this family.
Lift her up in our love,
encourage her with our gratitude,
and let her feel your favor
flowing through ours,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday Psalm #97

















LORD, you reign, and we should all be glad!
Even those who are far from earth should be grateful
for your sovereign and loving reign.

You could swarm us with darkness, but you don't;
your rule exudes righteousness and justice.

You could send down fire to earth
and consume your foes on every side.
You could light up the world with lightning
and throw one catastrophe after another at us.
You could make the mountains melt like wax
and cause us to tremble in fear
before your unlimited power.

Yet the heavens declare your righteousness,
and we breathe in your mercies like the atmosphere.

Those who worship idols should be ashamed,
for there is no God like you.
Even the gods of man's imagination
are pale imitations.

We should all rejoice constantly
that YOU are the one in charge;
there should be universal gratitude
because of your judgments, O LORD.

For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
Those who love you should say so,
and reject evil,
for you guard the lives of your faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

You shed light upon the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.

I rejoice in you, LORD,
you who make me righteous by the blood of the Lamb,
and praise your holy name.
Amen.

Moon and Shadow

Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing.

I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.

(from A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor; photo by NASA via everystockphoto.com)

Your Temple

This is your Temple, Lord God.
This is your apse.
This is your transept.
This is your nave.
You have raised it.
You have furnished it.
You have lighted it.
I, your custodian, will sweep it
and do my best to keep it
so that it might bring glory to you,
this Temple, my body.

(photo via pixabay.com)

Shaper and Ruler of All

Lord God Almighty, shaper and ruler of all creatures, we pray for Your great mercy, that You guide us better than we have done, toward You, and guide us to Your will, to the need of our soul, better than we can ourselves. And steady our mind towards Your will and to our soul’s need. And strengthen us against the temptations of the devil, and put far from us all lust, and every unrighteousness, and shield us against our foes, seen and unseen. And teach us to do Your will, that we may inwardly love You before all things, with a pure mind. For You are our maker and our redeemer, our help, our comfort, our trust, our hope; praise and glory be to You now, ever and ever, world without end. Amen.

(a prayer of Alfred the Great)

Saturday Psalm #96

Lord, I sing to you.
I sing a new song to you this morning.
I sing praises to your beautiful name;
I proclaim your salvation and your mercies,
as new as the sunrise.

I declare your glory to those around me,
I marvel at your deeds to all who will listen.
For your are great, LORD,
and unspeakably worthy of praise;
you are to be honored above all gods.
For all the gods we humans turn to
are mere idols,
while you, LORD, made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are your servants,
strength and glory are your attendants.

I ascribe to you, LORD,
all the glory and strength
and honor and praise
my heart and mind and voice
can summon.

My offering I bring into your courts,
my sacrifice I make to you again today.

I worship you, LORD,
in all your splendor,
in all your holiness,
in all your fearsome, awesome majesty.

You reign.
This world you have made is firmly established,
it cannot be moved;
you will judge all its inhabitants justly.

The heavens sing to you,
the earth celebrates you;
the seas resound with your praise,
and should all their teeming multitudes
join the trees of the forest
and the flowers of the field
in song to you,
it would be inadequate.

Let me always be heard among them, though,
singing your worth to all who may hear,
my LORD,
my God,
my righteous judge.
Amen.

(photo via pixabay.com)

Star-Shepherd

Shepherd of the Stars,
Whole galaxies form your royal train.
The countless host of heaven,
blazing suns,
mighty planets,
dappled moons,
comets, asteroids, vapors, black holes,
all follow after you like so many ducks behind their mother.

And yet, Lord, my immmense, mind-boggling, Star-Shepherd,
you condescend to me,
to sit with me,
whisper to me,
commune with me.
Such thoughts are too marvelous for me,
I cannot attain unto them!
But I praise you and thank you,
in Jesus' name, amen. 

Spare Us

Save us from these comforts.
Break us of our need for the familiar.
Spare us any joy that’s not of you,
And we will worship you.

(a Puritan prayer;
photo illustration via pixabay.com)

Saturday Psalm #95

I sing for joy to you, LORD;
I shout aloud to you, the Rock of my salvation,
the foundation of all my joys,
the only source of any righteousness I have.

I come to you this morning with thanksgiving
and sing your praises from my heart.

For you, LORD, are the great God,
the great King above all gods.

You hold the Mariana Trench in your hand,
and balance the peak of Everest on your fingertip.

The whole sea is your plaything, for you made it,
just like you made the continents of the earth.

I bow before you;
I bend the knee,
I press my face to the ground in worship,
for you are the LORD my Maker;
you are my God
and I am your wayward lamb,
one of the flock under your care.

I hear you, Shepherd King.
I hear your voice.
Though I have strayed from you many times,
I am not straying now.
I crave your favor,
your touch,
your rest.

Come anew to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for Thee.

In Returning and Rest

You have taught us
that in returning and rest
we shall be saved,
in quietness and confidence
we shall be strengthened.
By your Spirit
lift us to your presence
where we may be still
and know that you are God.

(from the Book of Common Prayer)

Hör Mein Bitten

Hear my prayer, O God, incline Thine ear!
Thyself from my petition do not hide.
Take heed to me! Hear how in prayer I mourn to Thee,
Without Thee all is dark, I have no guide.

The enemy shouteth, The godless come fast!
Iniquity, hatred, up on me they cast!
The wicked oppress me, Ah where shall I fly?
Perplexed and bewildered, O God, hear my cry!

My heart is sorely pained, within my breast,
my soul with deathly terror is oppressed,
trembling and fearfulness up on me fall,
with horror overwhelmed, Lord, hear me call.

O for the wings, for the wings of a dove!
Far away, far away would I rove!
In the wilderness build me a nest,
and remain there forever at rest."

(Anthem for soprano solo, chorus and organ or orchestra written by Felix Mendelssohn in Germany in 1844. The text, originally in English, written by William Bartholomew, is derived from Psalm 55)

All the Better Part of Me


O how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
And what is but mine own when I praise thee?

(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 39, lines 1-4)

My Choice

I choose to be Your failure
before anyone else's success.
Keep me from reneging
on my choice.

Amen.

(excerpted from "A Psalm Requesting Faith," in Psalms of My Life by Joseph Bayly)

Easter Prayer

It is only right,
with all the powers of our heart and mind,
to praise You Father
and Your Only-begotten Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ:
Dear Father, by Your wondrous
condescension of loving-kindness toward us,
Your servants, You gave up Your Son.
Dear Jesus You paid the debt of Adam
for us to the Eternal Father by
Your Blood poured
fourth in loving-kindness.
You cleared away the darkness of sin
By Your magnificent and radiant Resurrection.
You broke the bonds of death
and rose from the grave as a Conqueror.
You reconciled heaven and earth.
Our life had no hope of eternal happiness
before You redeemed us.
Your Resurrection has washed away our sins,
restored our innocence and brought us joy.
How inestimable is the tenderness
of Your love!

(Saint Gregory the Great's Easter Prayer)

On Silent Saturday


Rest you well, beloved Jesus,  
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,  
In the brooding of the Spirit,  
In the darkness of the spring. 

On Good Friday


Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

(by Christina Rosetti)

On Maundy Thursday

Lord,
wash,
not my feet only,
but also
my hands
and
my head.
And
my heart.
And
my mind.
And
my life.
Amen.

(based on John 13:9).

On Holy Wednesday

Lord Jesus, gracious Savior, I come to you in this sacred week to ponder your great and wondrous love; love that led you to the cross that my sin might be blotted out and that I might be reconciled to my heavenly Father. O Christ, give me strength and grace to crucify my sinful desires and dedicate myself anew to you, who has loved me with an everlasting love and brought to me eternal salvation.

I confess to You my sins. They are many, and You know them all. For each and every one of them you suffered the agony of the cross and shed your precious blood that I may be cleansed and made acceptable in your sight. Thank you for the forgiveness and cleansing that is mine. Thank you that none of the sins of yesterday cling to me. Humbly I come, grateful for your mercy. Daily let me fulfill the tasks and duties to which You have called me with joy, confessing you as my Lord and Savior, and being of service to my neighbor.

Grant that your suffering and death, proclaimed for the salvation of mankind, may by the power of the Holy Spirit awaken in many a deeper love to You. O Lord, have mercy upon me and all sinful mankind, and create in me and all that seek you a clean heart, holy desires, and an undying love. Hear my prayer, gracious Redeemer. Amen.

(borrowed and revised from http://scotkinnaman.com)

To Do What Leads to Peace


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

On Tax Day

On this day of internal revenue
some of us are paid up,
some of us owe,
some of us await a refund,
some of us have no income to tax.

But all of us are taxed,
by war,
by violence,
by anxiety,
by deathliness.

And Caesar never gives any deep tax relief.

We render to Caesar . . .
to some it feels like a grab,
to some it is clearly a war tax,
to some – some few –
it is a way to contribute to the common good.

In any case we are haunted
by what we render to Caesar,
by what we might render to you,
by the way we invest our wealth and our lives,
when what you ask is an “easy yoke”:
to do justice
to love mercy
to walk humbly with you.

Give us courage for your easy burden, so to live untaxed lives. Amen.

(a prayer by Walter Brueggemann, from his book, Prayers for a Privileged People, Abingdon, 2008; photo via everystockphoto.com)

Ride On in Majesty



Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Hear all the tribes hosanna cry;
O Savior meek, pursue Your road
with palms and scattered garments stroked.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, Your triumphs now begin
o’er captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
The hosts of angels in the sky
look down with sad and wond'ring eyes
to see th' approaching Sacrifice.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Your last and fiercest strife is nigh.
The Father on His sapphire throne
awaits His own anointed Son.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die,
bow Your meek head to mortal pain,
then take, O Christ, Your pow'r and reign.

Saturday Psalm #94

O LORD, my God,
God who avenges,
shine your light.

Stand up, Judge of all the earth;
and give the proud
what they deserve.

I'm so tired of seeing the wicked
have their fun
and wreak their havoc
while so many good people
suffer at their hands.

They make evil assumptions,
spread rumors,
tell lies,
and never once reflect on their own arrogance
and spitefulness.

They enrage me
and they crush your people, LORD,
and hamstring the church.

They don't stop to think that you see--
and why should they,
for it looks for all the world
like you intend to let them get away with it all.

Give me patience
to wait for you
and trust your justice
and your timing.

You formed the ear; you hear everything.
You fashioned the eye; you see all.
You discipline whole nations,
and you are adequate to teach puny haters
a lesson.

You know the thoughts of man, LORD.
You know that they are futile.

Let me be the man you discipline, O LORD,
let me be the man you teach from your law;
grant me relief from the machinations of petty people,
and surround your people with protection.

I know you will not reject your people;
you will not forsake the flock
nor let them be ravaged by wolves in sheeps' clothing.

You yourself will rise up against the wicked.
You yourself will stand against evildoers.

How many times would I have been lost
if you, LORD, had not given me help?
How many times, when my foot was slipping,
did your loving hand reach out to me and find me
and lift me to safety?

When depression dragged me down,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.

I entrust to you
all those who band together against the righteous
and condemn your redeemed.

You are my fortress,
and the rock that shelters me from harm.
I trust you to save me
and your flock
from all who seek our destruction,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(photo via pixabay.com)

To Our Blessed Landlord

That we have meat and can eat, we thank thee, God.

And, O blessed Landlord, we who are let to work this bit of holy earth, do pray thee to walk beside us as we sow.

Watch over us, our Father, to be good tenants, and worthy of this partnership which we seal with our toil.

We thank thee, Lord, for all these flowers; all this green stuff for the silo too.

Bless the shearing, Good Shepherd; and as we tie the fleece, strain the milk, and replenish the self-feeder, help us to remember the least of these, thy brethren.

Amen. 
(from the book, The Farmer Gives Thanks; photo by MonikaP via pixabay.com)

To Joyfully Set Out

Almighty God,
creator of a good and beautiful world,
may we joyfully set out on this day
in your name,
and fill it with acts of love
for you and our brethren.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Amen.

Saturday Psalm #93

You reign, LORD!
Your very robes are majesty,
lined with power and might!

You laid the foundations of the world
and it cannot be moved.

Your throne is ancient,
and you are everlasting.

The seas roar with your praise,
their mighty waves thunder applause.
But you, LORD, are mightier still,
mightier than their crashing waves.

Your statutes are like pillars,
your holiness like a beautifully decorated frieze
adorning your house
forever.

Amen.

(photo by Roger Mosley, via pixabay.com)

Long (A Birthday Prayer)

Long have I loved you,
But not nearly as much
As your great love deserves.
Each day I have left
Let me love and serve you
With more passion and zeal
Than the 22,000-plus
that have gone before.
Amen.

To Yahweh Yireh

Abba, Father, Yahweh Yireh,
you sent manna in the wilderness,
dispatched ravens to feed Elijah,
replenished the widow's flour and oil,
fed bread and water to Elijah at Horeb,
and multiplied the loaves and fishes by the lake.
You have done as much for me, time after time.
Do it again, Lord, please, in Jesus' name, amen.

When All Is Darkness

O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.

Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose,
Your will through all things.

(a prayer of Ignatius of Loyola; photo via everystockphoto.com)

A Prayer on April 1

O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

No pity, Lord,
could change the heart
From red with wrong
to white as wool;
The rod must heal
the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
‘Tis by our follies that so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.

These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.

The ill-timed truth we might have kept–
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say–
Who knows how grandly it had rung!

Our faults no tenderness should ask.
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders — oh, in shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!

(from a poem by Edward Rowland Sill)

Saturday Psalm #92

It is good to praise you, LORD,
and sing songs to you, O Most High,
to start out my day with praise
and end it with thanks,
to sing songs that remind me of your
great love and faithfulness.

For praising you
is the best mood-lifter in the world,
and worship always screws my head back on right.

I will focus on your works, O LORD,
and try to think your thoughts after you!

I will not be distracted by the works of senseless men,
and fools who lack understanding,
for though their words and deeds may frustrate me,
they flourish only for a time,
and don't even know how soon their lives will end.

But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.
Your enemies will be scattered.
You have entrusted great things to me,
and have blessed me far, far beyond what I deserve.
My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes,
time and time again, by your great mercy.

You will make me flourish like a palm tree,
you will cause me to grow like a cedar of Lebanon,
watered by worship,
sustained by fountains of blessing in the house of the LORD,
the courts of our God.

By your grace, I will still bear fruit in old age,
I will stay fresh and green,
always proclaiming, "The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and he has been nothing but good to me."

Amen.