For All the Beauty and Comfort I Enjoy

Bob Hostetler

For all the beauty and comfort I enjoy, I give you thanks, Lord God. For all the people in my life, for my bride, my children, my home, my friends, my possessions--spiritual, mental, emotional, material--for the years and days I have lived, for my victories and my disappointments, for all my worries that never happened and all my dreams that did, I give you thanks, in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 4

Bob Hostetler

Please answer me when I call out to you,
my righteous God, God my righteousness.
Send me relief from the distress I feel;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
How long will those around me find fault with me,
and use my willingness to give them grace and hear them out
to tell me stories of those who do not deserve grace?
How long will they trust in idols,
in their own wisdom (or in mine!),
in the belief that they can control outcomes
instead of entrusting the outcome to you?

Selah (because I need a break, Lord, even if you don’t)

I know, Lord, that you have set apart the godly for yourself;
I believe (most of the time) that you will hear when I call to you.

I am angry, Lord, I confess that. Help me in my anger not to sin;
when I am on my bed,
help me to humbly search my heart and be silent,
rather than striving and worrying.

Selah (because I need a breath, Lord, even if you don’t)

Abba, I long to offer right sacrifices,
to be right in all my actions and attitudes,
and trust in you.

But many around me are saying, “Oh my, oh my,”
and “You should [this]” and “You should [that].”
I'm sick of it.
Let the light of your face shine upon us all, O Lord;
lift up your countenance upon us all, and give us peace,
and unity, and grace for each other.
But you have filled my heart with greater joy
than when dancing and laughing abound!
I know I will again lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety. Amen.

Here and Now

copyright Bob Hostetler

Abba, my language isn't sufficient for you. I can't express your beauty, your majesty, not even your presence. I know that no matter where I go, you are there. You do not arrive after me, you do not even arrive before me. You are not even, to be accurate, already "there," for the "there" itself is not a place you occupy, any more than a moment is a moment to you...the "there" itself--like the "now" or the "then"--is found in you, not you in it, for everywhere and always is in you.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, but I praise you in my ignorance and littleness.

Let Tomorrow See

copyright Bob Hostetler

Lord God, let tomorrow see the fresh fulfillment of your Word:

"Then everyone will stand in awe, proclaiming the mighty acts of God, realizing all the amazing things he does" (Psalm 64:9).

Yes, let tomorrow see the fulfillment of your Word:

"Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe. And they praised God, saying over and over again, 'We have seen amazing things today'" (Luke 5:26),

in Jesus' name, amen.

The Thanks I Need to Give

copyright Bob Hostetler

I need to thank you, Lord,
not for your sake, but for mine.

I thank you.
Thank you for your constant and current mercy on me.
By your mercy alone do I live another day,
loved, forgiven, delivered, whole.
Thank you for sleep, and for waking from sleep.
Thank you for the rain today.
Thank you for freedom from pain and discomfort.
Thank you for the love of my life, my bride,
the sweetest and loveliest woman to walk the earth.
Thank you for my children, my daughter and my son;
thank you that they still love me despite my many mistakes,
both early in their lives and late.
Thank you for my friends--many, faithful, and strong.
Thank you for the community I live in,
so clean, convenient, comfortable.
Thank you for dry clothes, clean clothes.
Thank you for shelter, and not just any shelter,
but a clean, lovely, comfortable home.
Thank you that, though troubles come to me and mine
from time to time,
they come no worse than they do
and for no longer than they do.
Thank you for days off--far and few between,
but the more valuable because of that.
Thank you for music.
Thank you for coffee.
Thank you for books.
Thank you for my senses, every one still intact.
Thank you for prayer.
Thank you for hearing me.
Thank you for answering.
Thank you for building me up in my most holy faith,
gently at times and sternly at times. I know I need both.
For these and all your gifts,
I give you thanks, in Jesus' name, amen.

A Prayer for Presence....Mine

copyright Bob Hostetler

Abba, I know you are with me; I don't need to invite you, for you've given your word that you are with me always. But I do not always go with that's my prayer. Keep me, Lord, from straying, from turning aside, from slowing down and lagging behind, from failing to seek you and consult you in all I do, from beginning to end.

Let me be ever more present with you, in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 3

Bob Hostetler

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Discouragement. Self pity. Weariness.
Stress. Allergies. Struggles with my weight.
Perfectionism. Procrastination. The desire to please people.
They all rise up against me.
And make me believe
that you will not deliver me.

But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
Every single time I cry to you, Lord,
you answer me from your holy hill.

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because you sustain me...
And it's been this way for forty-seven years now!
So I will not fear, even if tens of thousands of troubles
draw up against me on every side.

Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people, amen.

Save Help Guide Speak

Bob Hostetler

Abba, I do not know where I am going. I do not know what I am doing. I am a day-old babe. I am mute and deaf and blind. People keep telling me to be bolder, feel freer, in leadership...and then come to me out of concern that I might lead poorly, or falsely, in the wrong way or down the wrong path. I value input and feedback, Lord, you know that. But I know I must stop pleasing people. And I also need far, far more wisdom and insight to see what it means to please you. What do I do, Abba? Which way do I choose? Save me from timidity and stupidity. Save me. Help me. Guide me. Speak. Please.

Divine Congruences

Bob Hostetler

Lord God, I don't often know why you do this, but thank you for divine congruences like those I experienced in prayer this morning when I chose John Michael Talbot's Psalm 62 ("Only in God is my soul at rest; in him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; my stronghold, my Savior, I shall not be afraid at all") to prepare my heart for prayer, and then The Request for Presence today in the Divine Hours was Psalm 31:3 ("Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, for you are my crag and my stronghold; for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me"). And then the Morning Psalm was Psalm 116:9-17....and, though I'm a few days ahead in my scheduled readings prescribed in The Prayer Journal I'm using this year, the psalm was Psalm 116.

So, Lord, what are you trying to say? Are these just taps on the shoulder, whispers in the ear, saying, "I'm here; I'm with you?" Or are you telling me to run to you, my Rock, my Crag, my Stronghold, for safety and shelter? Or reminding me to lift the cup of salvation and pay my vows to you (are there vows I'm not paying?)? Or something else? Is there some intersection between those passages you want to underline? Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I'm willing and waiting to hear whatever you're telling me.

You know, Lord, but I remind you: I'm slow to hear, and the walls of my house are pretty thick. So speak clearly. And, as I listen, I'll thank you for this latest divine congruence, because at the very least, I know you're right by my side, right here, right here. Thank you.

Risk and Criticism

copyright Bob Hostetler

Lord, you are teaching me that if I'm going to take risks for you--and for your lost sheep--I'm going to take criticism from your church, from within the sheepfold...and the greater the risk, the greater the criticism will be. Save me from fear and timidity. Make me strong and courageous. Give me holy boldness, but also please keep me accountable and faithful, in Jesus' name, amen.

My Soul Waits

copyright Bob Hostetler

My soul waits on you, Lord. I wait on you, as a servant waits to be called, as a dog looks to the master. I wait on you, to hear your voice, to be guided by your will even in what I pray, to follow in step with you. Please guide my praying, my thinking, my sleeping, my waking, my planning, my writing, my speaking, my reading, my eating and drinking, and direct me in all I do to the fulfilling of your purpose, for you are all and in all, in Jesus' name, amen.

Enclose My Children in Your Care

copyright Bob Hostetler

Enclose my children in your care, Lord, please. Keep them as the apple of your eye. Hide them in the shadow of your wings.

Mercy, Lord. Grace. Your abundance, I pray, for them. Your will. Your pleasure. Your laughter. Your glory, in Jesus' name, amen.

Cleanse Me of Arrogance

copyright Bob Hostetler

Lord, cleanse me of arrogance. Heal me of the desire to be seen by others, to be seen even performing my oblations, to have my piety be seen and remarked upon by others. Save me from such ugliness.

Make me content to sit at your feet, to gaze on your face, and be favored with no gaze, no smile, but yours, in Jesus' name, amen.


copyright Bob Hostetler

God, I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you.

Lord God, I need you. Lord Jesus, I need you. Holy Spirit, I need you. Three-in-One, I need you. I need you now, this moment, this breath, this thought, this prayer, this stroke of the pen. I need you absolutely, utterly. I need you tomorrow. I need you this day. I need you with each message I prepare. I need you with every word I write. I need you this week. I need you always. I need you.

For Watching Over My Son

Bob Hostetler

Abba, Father, thank you for watching over my son this night. Thank you for granting him the ability to swerve and miss the deer that entered his path. Thank you that his impact with the tree was not more forceful. Thank you that he only broke his wrist. Thank you that he wasn't cited. Thank you that he's safe in bed now. Thank you that I still have him.

Now, please heal him with your mighty power. Let his wrist, his knee, and his back--and his heart--heal quickly. Grant that he will see this accident not as a curse but as a chance, as an opportunity to renew his passion for you and redouble his efforts to show that he is worthy of Nina's love (and her parents' blessing).

And, Lord, Yahweh Yireh, Provider-God, please grant to me the ability to pay for it all, in Jesus' name, amen.

Only God Knows No Degrees

copyright Bob Hostetler

"Only God knows no degrees," wrote A. W. Tozer.

Yes, Lord. You never improve or worsen.
You never hurry or slow.
You neither expand nor shrink.
You're never early or late.
You never remember or forget.
You never learn, you're never stumped.
You neither stop nor start.
You are infinite in your constancy.

Lord, I praise you, for you are all, and through all, and in all, and before all, and beyond all, and above all, and under all--my all in all, I praise you and submit to you, amen.

My Psalm 2

Bob Hostetler

Father, today as of old, the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain;
the kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
as if they had no need of you, Lord,
or your Anointed One.

Great and small strive to break your "chains,"
the fetters of your law and your righteous demands.

But you, Lord, enthroned in heaven, laugh;
you scoff at them and rebuke them in your anger,
and terrify them in your wrath, saying,
"I have installed my kingdom on Zion, my holy hill."

I will proclaim your decree, Lord.
You said to me, "You are my son,
today I have become your Father."
Thank you for my adoption through your Son, Jesus.

You said, "Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession."
I pray, Lord, for a harvest of souls
among all who gather this weekend in Oxford.
Exert your rule, Lord;
break down strongholds like clay jars.

Therefore, you kings, be wise;
let even the highest and greatest on earth
bow before you, Lord.
Let them pay you honor with awe,
and rejoice with trembling.

Let many, Lord--according to your good will--
kiss the Son, and avert your righteous wrath.

Blessed are all who take refuge in you, Amen.

A Saturday Prayer for the Church

copyright Bob Hostetler

God of all creation, of heaven and earth, I pray for all the churches of Oxford where your children will be worshiping you truly tomorrow: for Cobblestone, my joy and crown, for OBF, Veritas, the United Methodist and Presbyterian churches, for Oxford Nazarene and Church of God, Oxford Pentecostal, Victory Christian, First Baptist, Talawanda Baptist, Living Faith, Pentecostal Bibleway, Bethel AME, St. Mary's, Holy Trinity, and the others I'm forgetting. Lord, pour out your Spirit on all your people! Send the fire! Strengthen the weak and faltering, draw the seeking, give joy to the downcast, and make tomorrow a day in which you are unmistakeably glorified in your church, in Jesus' name, amen.

For the Beauty of the Earth

When I was a teenager, it dawned on me that hymns could be not only sung but also spoken. So I began to employ the poetry of Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, and others as a sort of private diary of prayer. My well-worn hymnal has since bracketed and buttressed my prayers like no other book except the Bible (oddly, it was years later that I began praying the Bible in much the same way I had been using the hymnal). This hymn by Folliot S. Pierpoint is one I use frequently to express my praise and thanks to God:

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the martyrs’ crown of light,
For Thy prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold confessors’ might,
For the lips of infancy,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To the human race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For Steadfast Faith

copyright Bob Hostetler

Gracious Lord, I take refuge in you. Steel and strengthen my faith, Lord, that I will not be so easily elated or deflated by circumstances. Give me, please, the steadfastness of one who abides in you and trusts you completely, in Jesus' name, amen.

For the Absence of Things

copyright Bob Hostetler

Lord, I praise you for the absence of things:
for hunger, because by it I know the blessing of fulness;
for silence, for by it I know the blessing of sound;
for want, for it teaches me gratitude when wants are supplied;
for darkness, because by it I learn to love light;
for sickness,
for emptiness, idleness, helplessness,
for by all such things you teach me gratitude and remind me that all good and perfect gifts come down to me from your hand, by your grace, in Jesus' name, amen.

For the Sense of Smell

copyright Bob Hostetler

Gracious Lord, thank you for the smell of wood smoke.
Thank you for the fragrance of a new book,
the cornucopiaroma of a Sunday dinner,
the scent of a rose,
the bouquet of a fresh Spring day,
for lilac and lily,
fresh-fallen snow and summer showers on city sidewalks,
new-cut grass and old-growth forests,
chocolate, bubble gum,
and fresh-bathed babies.
Thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.

For Things I Can Enjoy Without Owning Them

copyright Bob Hostetler

Thank you, Lord, for the things I can enjoy without owning them:
sunsets, sunrises,
library books,
streets and highways,
the laughter of children,
rainstorms and snowstorms,
public statues,
striking architecture,
cool websites,
the sound of a distant train,
starlight and moonlight,
blue skies,
woodland paths,
the nods and smiles of strangers;
all these and more are mine without cost, without the need to possess or preserve. Make me appropriately grateful for these and all your blessings, in Jesus' name, amen.

Shepherd's Prayer

copyright Bob Hostetler

Father, I'm overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility you've placed on me as a shepherd of God's flock. Help, Lord. Save your people...from me. Save me...from your people. Save us all from each other, in Jesus' name, amen.

Make Me Like You

copyright Bob Hostetler

Make me more and more like you, Lord. Make me a servant, like you. Make me a lover of souls, like you. Make me a shepherd, like you. Make me a rod in your hand, a cedar of Lebanon, a man of integrity. Make me a mighty man of valor. Make me a healer of hurts, a dispenser of grace, a fount of compassion, like you.

A Prayer of Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Copyright Abbey of Gethsemani.

Gracious God, I Exalt You

copyright Bob Hostetler

Gracious God, I exalt you. You are almighty; I am weak. You know all things; I am still an infant in understanding, a babe in wisdom. You created all things; I can only mimic your creativity. You are self-giving, self-sacrificing in your love; I am self-centered in my love. You are omnipresent; I am finite, and often unaware and oblivious. You are eternal; I am mortal. You are gracious and merciful; I am judgmental. You are holy; I am sinful, steeped in sin from my birth. You are my God, worthy of only praise, great in power and glory, and I praise you, in Jesus' name, amen.

A Prayer Against One Embodiment of Evil

Bob Hostetler

Father, save me from the tyranny of the telephone. Deliver me from letting "others fill my day with imperious demands" (quote from Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor).

Praising the God of the Bible (Pt. 2)

copyright Bob Hostetler

God of Matthew, you are my King;
God of Mark, you are the Supreme Servant, the example of true humility;
God of Luke, you are Lord of all;
God of John, you are the Living Word, the great I am;
God of the Acts, you are the author of the Church, the Pioneer of the faith;
God of Romans, you are the salvation-worker;
God of 1st and 2nd Corinthians, you are a God of order and righteousness, who established both in your church;
God of Galatians, you are the great Liberator, a God of freedom and grace;
God of Ephesians, you are a God of light and unity, and unfathomable riches;
God of Philippians, God of joy!
God of Colossians, you are pre-eminent, a God of glory;
God of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, you are a God of hope;
God of Timothy, you are the great Shepherd;
God of Titus, you are always working, always doing good;
God of Philemon, you make brothers of all men;
God of Hebrews, you have made Jesus greater than all things, all priests, all covenants, all;
God of James, you are a practical God;
God of Peter and his letters, you are true, and victorious in all things;
God of John and his letters, you are love and truth;
God of Jude, you are able to keep me from falling;
God of the Revelation, you hold the future--and all my times--in your hand!

I praise you, God of the Bible, God of all, for all you are: unsearchable, inexhaustible, Amen.

Praising the God of the Bible (Pt. 1)

copyright Bob Hostetler

God of Genesis, you created the world, and made it teem with life;
God of Exodus, you led your people out of bondage and made them a nation;
God of Leviticus, you established your worship in Israel and now throughout the whole earth;
God of Numbers, you are Lord of all, of the many and of the few (and of the alone);
God of Deuteronomy, you are the great Lawgiver;
God of Joshua, you lead your people to victory;
God of Judges, you always return your people’s heart to you;
God of Ruth, you care for all, and establish your work through widows, the poor, and foreigners;
God of Samuel, you raise up priests and prophets to do your bidding;
God of Kings, you establish and depose the rulers of men;
God of the Chronicles, you do not leave yourself without a testimony of your mighty works;
God of Ezra, you always show up when your Word is exalted;
God of Nehemiah, you rebuild and restore your people time and time again;
God of Esther, all nations, peoples, and times are in your hands;
God of Job, you are sovereign over all and no one can accuse you of wrong;
God of the Psalms, you fill my heart with song, my mouth with praises, and my feet with dancing;
God of Proverbs, you are God only wise, and in your hand is all knowledge;
God of Ecclesiastes, you bring all our vanity to the dust;
God of Solomon’s Song, you are my beloved, and I am yours;
God of Isaiah, you are exalted, a God who fulfills his promises;
God of Jeremiah, you are a God of great and mysterious ways;
God of Lamentations, you are a God who weeps for his people;
God of Ezekiel, you are a God of signs and wonders;
God of Daniel, you are a God who honors faithfulness and brings low the proud;
God of Hosea, you are faithful, even when I am faithless;
God of Joel, you restore all that your righteous wrath destroys;
God of Amos, you warn your people again and again of the dangers and deceits of sin;
God of Obadiah, you will establish your kingdom, God of all nations;
God of Jonah, you show mercy to all who repent;
God of Micah, you repeatedly show compassion to your wayward children;
God of Nahum, you judge the nations in righteousness;
God of Habakkuk, you alone are the Strength of your people;
God of Zephaniah, you turn back our enemies and make us glad;
God of Haggai, you are worthy to be honored among men, among all nations;
God of Zechariah, God of visions, you show yourself, you are a God of revelation;
God of Malachi, you are constant and pure, desiring a religion of the heart and not an outward show, and I praise you, Lord, with my whole heart.