From the Apple of Your Eye

Bob Hostetler

Abba, one prayer (among others) that I have prayed
roughly 365 times in 2006:

Keep me as the apple of your eye,
and hide me under the shadow of your wings.

Hallelujah, Lord! You have answered.
In spite of my frequent waywardness,
my stubbornness,
my habitual insensitivity to you,
you have answered;
you keep me as the apple of your eye,
you have hid me under the shadow of your wings.

Thank you, faithful God,
Abba Father,
thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.

Give Me Yourself

Bob Hostetler

God, give me yourself--nothing less
than your salvation,
your holiness,
your mercy,
your kindness,
your magnanimity,
your love,
your goodness,
your purity,
your integrity,
your grace,
your glory will do for me.

I confess, Lord, that I sin,
and in so doing
I say that you are not enough for me,
that you can't be trusted,
that I must have something other than you...
but that's a lie,
and I beg your forgiveness for how often I tell it,
in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 42

Like a deer panting for streams of water,
so my soul yearns for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for you, my God, living God, Abba Father.
I long to plunge into you,
to thrust my head into the cool waters of your presence.

Tears are my diet, Lord,
while those around me are ignoring you
and doubting you.

But I pour out my soul to you,
remembering better days,
chapels filled with your praises,
concert halls filled with shouts of joy and thanksgiving,
prayer meetings that touched angels' wings.

Why do I get so downcast?
Why am I so easily disturbed?
My hope is in you, God,
no less than ever.
You are my Savior and my God.

When my spirits spiral downward,
point my memory to your victories,
to the wonderful places you've taken me, Lord.

Let your "deep" reach into my depths,
thunder in my heart like a mighty waterfall,
sweep over me like waves and breakers of the sea.

By day, LORD, you send your love to me,
at night your song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

God my Rock, I know you have not forgotten me.
I know you will not let my enemies triumph over me.
Whatever momentary agony I suffer,
whatever taunts I endure,
whatever doubts surround me,
I put my hope in you, God,
and I will praise you,
with my shouts,
with my songs,
with my whispers,
with my silence,
my Savior and my God.

Praise and Petition

Bob Hostetler

To God be glory;
to the angels honor;
to Satan confusion;
to the cross reverence;
to the church exaltation;
to the departed quickening;
to the penitent acceptance;
to the sick and infirm recovery and healing;
and to the four quarters of the world great peace and tranquility;
and on us who are weak and sinful may the compassion and mercies of our God comes, and may they overshadow us continually, amen.

(Prayer from the Old Syriac, used by Christians in Turkey, Iran, and South India)

A Prayer of Ignatius

Bob Hostetler

Loving God, teach us to be generous
Teach us to serve You as You deserve.
To give, and not count the cost
To fight, and not heed the wounds,
To toil, and not look for rest,
To labor and not ask for reward,
Save that of knowing that we are following Your desires for us.

The Feast of Stephen

Bob Hostetler

Father, on this feast of Stephen,
the first martyr of your church,
I pray for all those
among my brothers and sisters
who today face persecution, even martyrdom.
Give them strength, Lord,
and stamina.
Lift their eyes to their Lord,
as you did for Stephen,
and give them love for their persecutors
and hope for themselves and their families,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Prayer for Christmas

Bob Hostetler

The day of joy returns,
Father in Heaven,
and crowns another year with peace and good will.

Help us rightly to remember
the birth of Jesus,
that we may share
in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wisemen.

Close the doors of hate and open the doors of love
all over the world.

Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil, by the blessing that Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clean hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy
to be thy children, and the Christmas evening
bring us to our bed with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake, amen.

(A prayer by Henry Van Dyke)

A Psalm for December 24

Bob Hostetler

Swing wide, O you gates;
be lifted up, you great doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The LORD small and helpless,
the LORD, lying in a manger.

Swing wide, O you gates;
be lifted up, you great doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
the babe of Bethlehem—
he is the King of glory.

(based on Psalm 24:7-10)

Nativity Approaches

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 approaching
and kneeling
at your manger, amen.

Prayer for a Grandchild

Abba, on this child growing inside my dear daughter-in-law, Lord, have mercy.
On this child, whom you are forming and fashioning as you formed and fashioned me, Lord, show your favor.
On this child, who existed only in your foreknowledge eleven weeks ago, Lord, grant health and healthy growth in every way.

On this child's parents, my precious boy and his lovely wife, Lord, have mercy.
On this child's parents, Lord, show your favor.
On this child's parents, Lord, grant health, and a healthy, comfortable, and successful pregnancy for Nina.

On this child's grandparents, Lord have mercy.
On me and my wife, and on Nina's parents, show your favor.
To us all, Lord, grant the wisdom and faith to bless Aaron, Nina, and the baby with how we wait, rejoice, worry (or not), and in the things we do and don't do for them in these coming seven months, in Jesus' name, amen.

Daily Discovery

Bob Hostetler

Give us this day our daily discovery, in Jesus' name, amen.

(Prayer often used by Dr. Rendell Harris)

A Poor Pastor's Prayer

Bob Hostetler

A prayer of a pastor, from the George McDonald book, The Curate's Awakening:

Yes, master, when you come you shall find
A little faith on earth, if I am here.
You know how often I turn to you in my mind,
How sad I wait until your face appear!

Have you not ploughed my thorny ground full sore,
And from it gathered many stones and sherds?
Plough, plough and harrow till it needs no more--
Then sow your mustard seed, and send your birds.

I love you, Lord: and if I yield to fears,
And cannot trust with triumph that doubt defies,
Remember, Lord, 'tis nearly two thousand years,
And I have never seen you with my eyes.

And when I lift them up from the wondrous tale,
See, all about me so strange, so beautiful a show!
Is that your river running down the vale?
Is that your wind that through the pines does blow?

Couldn't you appear again,
The same who walked the paths of Palestine;
And here in [this land] teach your trusting men,
In church and field and house, with word and sign?

Here are but lilies, sparrows, and the rest!
My hands on some dear proof would light and stay!
But my heart sees John leaning on your breast,
And sends them forth to do what you did say.

Kingdom Come

Bob Hostetler

Lord, help me to receive your kingdom--daily--as a little child.

Help me to trust you explicitly,
love you passionately and supremely,
and come to you simply, plainly, and intimately, every day,
helpless, dependent, wide-eyed for your wisdom, blessing, and presence.

In that, let me be satisfied, in Jesus' name, amen.

Prayer Suggested by Mary Oliver

Bob Hostetler

Lord of honeysuckle,
Lord of melons;
Lord of sweetness,
Lord of starfire,
Lord of wheatfield,
Lord of desert,
Lord of plenty,
Lord of want,
Lord of mystery,
Lord of me,
have mercy,
Lord, have mercy.

(Prayer suggested by Mary Oliver; the first two lines are phrases used in separate poems in her collection, Thirst).

Baruch atah Adonai

Bob Hostetler

Blessed art Thou, O Lord,
who didst create the firmament of heaven,
the heavens and the heaven of heavens,
the heavenly powers,
angels, archangels,
cherubim, seraphim;
the waters above the heavens,
mists and vapors,
for showers, dew, hail, snow as wool,
hoar frost as ashes, ice as morsels,
clouds from the ends of the earth;
lightnings, thunders,
winds out of thy treasuries, storms;
the waters beneath the heavens,
water to drink,
water to wash in.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord,

(from the prayers of Lancelot Andrewes)

Sleep and Surrender

Bob Hostetler

Abba, I lie down tonight.
As I surrender to sleep,
let me surrender to you,
Lord God almighty,
in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 41

Bob Hostetler

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.

Prayer for Concentration

Bob Hostetler

God help my thoughts! They stray from
me, setting off on the wildest journeys.

When I am in church, they run off like
naughty children, quarreling, making

When I read the Bible, they fly to a distant
city, filled with beautiful women.

My thoughts can cross an ocean with
a single leap; they can fly from earth to
heaven, and back again, in a single

They come to me for a fleeting moment, and
then away they flee.

No chains, no locks can hold them back; no
threats of punishment can restrain them,
no hiss of a lash can frighten them.

They slip from my grasp like tails of eels;
they sweep hither and thither like
swallows in flight.

Dear, chaste, Christ, who can see into every
heart and read every mind, take hold of
my thoughts. Bring my thoughts back to
me, and clasp me to yourself.

(Thanks to Holly Davis, via Cindy Boyll, who recommended this anonymous Celtic prayer to me).


Bob Hostetler

Wow, Lord.
You are amazing.
You have done marvelous things.
You make pathways in the wilderness,
and lead your people from glory TO glory.

Thank you.

Teach Me to Care, and Not to Care

Bob Hostetler

Lord, Adonai, in Eugene Peterson's words,

"Teach us to care, teach us to use all these occasions of need that are the agenda of our work as access to God, as access to neighbor. Teach us to care by teaching us to pray, to pray so that human need becomes the occasion for entering into and embracing the presence and action of God in this life. Teach us to care by teaching us to pray so that those with whom we work are not less human through our caring but become more human. Teach us to care so that we do not become collaborators in self-centeredness, but rather companions in God-exploration. Teach us to use each act of caring as an act of praying so that this person in the act of being cared for experiences dignity instead of condescension, realizes the glory of being in on the salvation, and blessing and healing of God, and not driven further into neurosis and the wasteland of self.

"And, not to care. Teach us to be reverential in all these occasions of need that are the agenda of our work, aware that you were long beforehand with these people, creating and loving, saving and wooing them. Teach us the humility of not caring, so that we do not use anyone's need as a workshop to cobble together makeshift, messianic work that inflates our importance and indispensability. Teach us to be in wonder and adoration before the beauties of creation and the glories of salvation, especially as they come to us in these humans who have come to think of themselves as violated and degraded and rejected. Teach us the reticence and restraint of not caring, so that in our eagerness to do good, we not ignorantly interfere in your caring. Teach us not to care so that we have time and energy and space to realize that all our work is done on holy ground and in your holy name, that people and communities in need are not a wasteland where we feverishly and faithlessly set up shop, but a garden, a rose garden in which we work contemplatively.

Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood.

Teach us to care and not to care,"

in Jesus' name, amen.

(from Subversive Spirituality, by Eugene Peterson, pp. 167-168).


Bob Hostetler

Lord, you know the risk I take.
You know how risk-averse I am.
You know I come, trembling, to your altar,
and I give you more than I am capable of giving,
because it's little enough
compared to what you deserve,
and large enough
to force me to depend on you.

So here. I give. I risk. I jump.
Catch me.

My Psalm 40

Bob Hostetler

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,
are the wonders you have done.
I believe 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 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 not only my own sins,
which are more than the hairs of my head,
but my heart fails within me at the sins
and burdens of your people, my flock.

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

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

May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
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 now.
Come fully.
Come powerfully.
Come sweetly.
Come, in Jesus' name, amen.

While I Tarry on This Earth

A prayer by Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

Keep me O Lord, while I tarry on this earth,
in a serious seeking after you,
and in an affectionate walking with you,
every day of my life;
that when you come, I may be found
not hiding my talent,
nor serving the flesh,
nor yet asleep with my lamp unfurnished,
but waiting and longing for you.

A Psalm to the Master Musician

(A prayer of Liz Kimmel, from her book A Little Bit of Life; used with permission)

You sang the earth into being, Lord God.
You sang, and stars were lit
and set in place throughout the sky.
You sang so beautifully, and every creature
that You made received that song
and, by that act,
received Your life into themselves.

You are the Master Musician.
Each song you write is perfect.
Each one is complete
and You delight to hear Your works sung back to You.

So sing, every ocean--
that the Lord is vast and mighty,
sing, you trees and forests--
of His gentle movement in your midst,
sing, you creatures of the earth--
the song you've heard, that He provides for every need,
and sing, oh soul of mine!
Sing back the song He wrote for you.

With each new day another song is lifted up to You,
another child has heard his song and cannot keep it in.
And as You listen from your throne on high, Jehovah God,
this is the total of all songs that You will hear:
Praise and alleluia to Your name!


A prayer (hymn) by Herbert H. Booth

I bring to Thee my heart to fill;
I feel how weak I am, but still
To Thee for help I call.
In joy or grief, to live or die,
For earth or Heaven, this is my cry:
Be Thou my all in all.

I've little strength to call my own,
And what I've done, before Thy throne
I here confess, is small.
But on Thy strength, O God, I lean,
And through the Blood that makes me clean,
Thou art my all in all.

No tempest can my courage shake,
My love from Thee no pain can take,
No fear my heart appal;
And where I cannot see, I'll trust,
For then I know Thou surely must
Be still my all in all.

Christ is all, yes, all in all,
My Christ is all in all.

A Prayer of Dag Hammarskjold

A prayer of Dag Hammarskjold (1905 – 1961)

Have mercy
Upon us.
Have mercy
Upon our efforts,
That we
Before thee,
In love and in faith,
Righteousness and humility,
May follow thee,
With self-denial, steadfastness and courage,
And meet thee

In the silence.

Give us
A pure heart
That we may see thee,
A humble heart
That we may hear thee,
A heart of love
That we may serve thee,
A heart of faith
That we may love thee,

Whom I do not know
But whose I am.

Whom I do not comprehend
But who hast dedicated me
To my fate.
Thou -

My Psalm 39

Bob Hostetler

Lord God, Adonai, I said, "I will watch carefully what I do
and try not to sin with my tongue.
I will shut my mouth—muzzle myself—
while the wicked are around."
So I worked hard to be quiet,
and held my tongue even to my hurt.
And that didn’t work out so well.
Lord God, I’m nearly fifty,
and I still am not wise in knowing when to speak
and when to shut up.
My heart gets hot within me,
and all my intentions to be a man who holds his counsel
go up in flames.

So here I am again, jabbering—but at least it’s to you.
Lord, let me live always with the end of my life in sight,
as if I know how many days I have to live.
Let me live like a dying man (which I am),
urgently but not frantically.
My days so far have passed like the wave of a hand,
and the days I have left will be even shorter.
When I’m gone, my whole life’s span will have been only a breath.
I walk here and there like a shadow.
I make all sorts of sound and fury—which amounts to nothing.
I store up riches, not knowing who will gather them.

So, Lord, what am I waiting for? My hope is in You.
Save me from all my sins.
Never let me be ashamed for trusting you.
I feel like I’m running out of words;
I have nothing left to say, unless you speak to me and through me.
I’m tired of being beaten and battered
by my enemies and my friends!
Please do not test me any more.
Please give me a time of refreshment;
O Lord, hear my prayer, and listen to my cry.
Let my tears and my fasting move you to have compassion on me.
For I am a stranger here, in this world,
but you are my home.
Please visit my heart and my life with joy again,
with blessing and peace and confidence,
before I go to my grave,
before I go to my reward.

Draw Me Completely Into Yourself

A prayer by Johann Freylinghausen (1670 – 1739)

Draw me completely into yourself,
So that I might completely melt in your love.

Lay upon me, stamp upon me,
So that my stubborn pride might be destroyed.

Embrace me, kiss me,
So that my spiritual ugliness may turn to beauty.

Lock me into your chamber,
So that I might never stray from your presence.

Oh My

Bob Hostetler

Oh my, Lord.
Sometimes you just make me have to say, "Oh, my."
Your presence,
your blessing,
your power,
your kindness
makes me say "Oh, my."

Prince of Tides Prayer

Lord God, 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 Prince of Tides, pp. 277-278.

Constant Prayer

A prayer by Brother Lawrence (1611 – 1691)

My God, here I am,
my heart devoted to you.
Fashion me according to your heart.

Live, Die, Rest, Rise, Reign

A prayer by William Laud (1573-1645)

Grant, Lord, that we may live in your fear,
die in your favour,
rest in your peace,
rise in your power
and reign in your glory;
for your own beloved Son's sake,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Remind Me

Bob Hostetler

Adonai, please remind me today that I am yours.
Remind me that I am in your hand,
and all things are in your control.
Remind me that nothing that happens to me today
will surprise you or throw you off your game.
Remind me to keep my eyes on you,
whatever storms may come.
Remind me how spiritual reading
feeds my soul.
Remind me not to fear,
not to hurry,
and not to rely on my own strength and wisdom,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Julian's Prayer

A prayer by Julian of Norwich (?1342 - after 1413)

God of goodness, give me yourself.
For you are sufficient for me.
If I were to ask for anything less I should always be in want,
for in you alone do I have all.

Traveling Prayer

Bob Hostetler

Father, grant me safe and successful travel today.
Make smooth paths (and flight schedules) for my feet.
Protect me from coach cabin infections.
Grant that my luggage may arrive where I do, when I do.
Protect and bless my lovely Robin while I am away.
And please give me your hand of blessing,
your anointing,
your empowerment,
in my speaking ministry tonight and tomorrow,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Praise of My Lips

Bob Hostetler

Adonai, I praise you with my lips
and with my mind,
and ask that you bring my heart along,
so that I can praise you with my whole self.

I praise you for your majesty,
evident in the skies;
your artistry
evident in the clouds;
your power
evident in the storm;
your gentleness
evident in the breeze;
your beauty
evident in the trees;
your grace
evident in the fawn that feeds by the treeline;
your strength
evident in the firmness of the earth beneath it all.

I praise you Lord, Adonai,
for your greatness and your goodness,
for all splendor and majesty,
glory and power belongs to you,
and you are the sum
and the source
of all that is good, amen.


Dear Lord, Help me to live this day,
quietly, easily,
To lean upon thy great strength-
trust fully, restfully
To wait for the unfolding of thy will,
patiently, serenely.
To meet others-
peacefully, joyously;
To face tomorrow-
confidently, courageously
With Jesus help, amen.

Author Unknown

Who Is Like You?

A prayer by Johann Freylinghausen (1670 – 1739)

Who is like you,
Jesus, sweet Jesus?

You are the light of those who are spiritually lost.
You are the life of those who are spiritually dead.
You are the liberation of those who are imprisoned by guilt.

You are the glory of those who hate themselves.
You are the guardian of those who are paralysed by fear.
You are the guide of those who are bewildered by falsehood.

You are the peace of those who are in turmoil.
You are the prince of those who yearn to be led.
You are the priest of those who seek the truth.

Monday Prayer

O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Abba Father, feed me like Elijah,
raise me up like Lazarus,
restore my soul like David,
in Jesus' name, amen.

On Going to Bed

by Johann Freylinghausen (1670-1739)
(Excerpted from Bedside Prayers by June Cotner, ©1997, HarperSanFrancisco).

As my head rests on my pillow
Let my soul rest in your mercy

As my limbs relax on my mattress
Let my soul relax in your peace.

As my body finds warmth beneath the blankets
Let my soul find warmth in your love.

As my mind is filled with dreams,
Let my soul be filled with visions of heaven.

Be My Help

Bob Hostetler

Abba, I am helpless. Be my help.
I am weak. Be my strength.
I am faithless. Be my inspiration.
I am overwhelmed. Be my peace.
I am desperate and needy. Be my Dread Warrior,
my Captain, Provider, Shield and Bucker, in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Father, increase my faith.
Increase my giving.
Increase my dependence on you.
Increase my insight and discernment.
Increase my obedience.
Increase my diligence.
Increase my effectiveness.
Increase my witness.
Increase my purity, and all for your name's sake, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Abba, thank you so much for the caliber of people you've given me to love and lead and serve with at Cobblestone. How kind you are to me!

For Holding Me

Bob Hostetler

Thank you, Lord, for loving me and keeping me and holding me together--even in those times (especially in those times) when I don't feel held together.

Lord, I trust your sovereign wisdom and love. I know that you alone are God, and there is none like you. There is none who holds me as you hold me.

Hold me now, Lord, in these changeful days. Keep me together, Lord, in your hand, and in your will, in Jesus' name, amen.

A Preacher's Prayer

Bob Hostetler

Lord God, please help me to preach better than I can preach, in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Lord, I praise you for your immutability.
You never lose anything of who you are.
You never suffer a diminution of yourself,
your abilities,
or your plans.
You are never caught off guard,
you never have to reassess
or revise
or retreat from
your good plans.

Help me, Lord, to rest in your awesome serenity,
in your ability to bring good--even best--out of evil,
and in your ability to keep that which I have committed to you
against that day when Jesus returns, in Jesus' name, amen.

Professional Spirituality

Bob Hostetler

Lord God, save me from "professional spirituality."
Purge me of "ideas" about you,
about prayer,
about anything.
Cure me of the poison
of the ministry,
of approaching you
or preaching you
as if I were an expert.

Wisdom, Understanding, Insight, and Experience

Bob Hostetler

Lord, since you surely seem to be granting signs and wonders and dreams and visions to your church, please grant me wisdom (and the other leaders in your church) and even, Lord, give me some deeper understanding or insight or experience into such things so that I may be able to lead your people well and discern the right way from the wrong, and the best from the merely good, in Jesus' name, amen.

A Leader's Prayer

Bob Hostetler

Abba, Father, please help me to lead better than I can lead, in Jesus' name, amen.

Monday Prayer

Bob Hostetler

I have suffered much, Lord;
renew my life,
according to your Word (Psalm 119:107),
in Jesus' name, amen.

Abraham Believed God

Bob Hostetler

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.

Shepherd of the Stars

Bob Hostetler

You are mind-boggling, God.
You are 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.

My Psalm 38

Bob Hostetler

O Lord, please don’t rebuke me; go easy on me.
Don’t I have enough people taking shots at me? Aren’t there enough knives sticking out of my back?
How will I bear it if you turn your face from me, or punish me for my sins.
I acknowledge my sins; they add up like a college student’s credit card balance.
They threaten to destroy me like a skyscraper being demolished.
I can’t stand my own smell; I’m sick of my own foolishness and stubbornness.
I hate my sin; I bow in repentance and press my face to the ground in mourning.
I am corrupt from the inside out, and there is nothing good in me.
I am weak and pathetic; I cry out because of my filthiness.

But Lord, you know my heart’s longing; you hear my soul’s cry.
Bend your ear to my cries; look upon my trembling form.
My loved ones don’t even know how I’m feeling;
my family all have their own things going, they can’t identify with what I’m going through.
My enemies lay snares for me; my detractors continue to accuse me,
and use their imaginations to suspect me of all sorts of things.

Even if I heard their suspicions, I have nothing to say to them.
As innocent as I am of their accusations, I’m guilty of a lot worse.
But I put my hope in you, Lord; I will let you answer for me.
Save me from making my enemies into prophets;
deliver me from fulfilling their evil expectations.
Apart from you, I am desolate.

I confess my sin and my sinfulness; I repent of all my wrongdoing.
My enemies—natural and supernatural—go on multiplying.
I can’t make everyone like me, much less agree with me.
I can only try, by your grace, to make sure they oppose me wrongfully, because I do what is good.
So please don’t abandon me, Lord.
Don’t be distant.
Come quickly to help me, my Savior, Adonai.


Bob Hostetler

Lord, your immensity reminds me that your resources are not vast,
they are limitless,
because you are limitless.
You may call on any number--
an infinite number--
of resources to accomplish your will,
because you lack nothing,
and all you possess
you possess in infinite number!

So, are you telling me about something you want to accomplish in me?
Through me?
I know that nothing is too hard for you.
I open my heart and will....
pour into them whatever you choose, in Jesus' name, amen.

All My Work is For You, Master

Bob Hostetler

A hymn of Albert Orsborn, revised

Lord, how often my feet falter
on the pathway of the cross,
and my purposes get altered,
and my gold gets mixed with dross.
Still, forbid me not your service,
keep my yet in your employ.
Pass me through a sterner cleansing,
if I may but bring you joy.

All my work is for you, Master,
you are all my heart's desire.
O, that you will count me faithful
in the day that tries by fire.

I have not worked for hireling wages,
but as one with vows to keep,
with a heart whose love engages
life or death to save the sheep.
All is known to you, my Master,
all is known, and that is why
I can work and wait the verdict
of your kind but searching eye.

Let me love you, let love rule me,
springing up and flowing forth
from a childlike heart within me
or my work is nothing worth.
Give me passion, give me patience,
give me principle and fire,
that with heart and mind and utterance
serving you my one desire,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Prayer for the Church

Bob Hostetler

Mighty God, rip the harness of the evil plowman to shreds.
Let all those who hate you and your church be made to grovel in humiliation.
Let them be like grass in shallow ground that withers before the harvest.
Make your church effective and triumphant despite all the enemy's attacks, in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Thank you for this, Lord:
for my daughter,
my Blossom,
the apple of my eye,
my pride,
my joy,
who turns twenty-five today.

Grant all her requests, Lord,
and make her dreams come true--
no, more than that, make all your dreams for her
come true, in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

God, I praise you for your immanence.
I praise you because you are above all;
you see and know and control all things,
including all the influences and instances of my life.
I praise you because you are beneath all things;
your presence and control extends
to the depths of the lakes and seas,
the innermost parts of the earth,
including the "hidden" reaches of my heart and soul.
I praise you because you dwell outside and beyond all;
you are not confined or hemmed in by space or time,
by this universe, nor even by my circumstances or shortcomings.
I praise you because you are in all,
filling all,
yet distinct from all created things,
and you are the source and supply of all I am and have, amen.

For My Staff

Bob Hostetler

Abba, Lord God, Adonai,
I pray for my fellow Cobblestone staff members,
for Sharla and John.
Give them rest, Lord,
and re-creation.
Restore them like Elijah by the Brook Cherith.
Send your angels to minister to them as to Jesus in Gethsemane.
Revive them as you revived Lazarus and Eutychus.
Restore to them the joy and energy to minister your grace to your people,
and look on them, their families, and their work with favor, in Jesus' name, amen.

Prayer for Peace

Bob Hostetler

Thank You, Master and Lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. Please awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hatred for their neighbors, especially those at war or preparing for war.

Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of You and confirm in them love one for another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For You are our peace and to You we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

I pray for peace to triumph over provocation in North Korea, and for wisdom to triumph over deception and naivete in the world's response.

I pray, Lord our God, for all those who suffer from acts of war, especially for the victims and all those in the struggles in Afghanistan, Burundi, Chechnya, Colombia, Congo, India and Pakistan, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Uganda.

I pray for your peace and mercy in the midst of the great suffering that people are now inflicting on each other. Accept the prayers of your Church, so that by your goodness peace may return to all peoples.

Lord God Adonai, remember and have mercy on my brothers and sisters around the world who are involved in every civil conflict. Remove from their midst all hostility, confusion, and hatred. Lead everyone along the path of reconciliation and peace.

Let all believers turn aside from violence and do what makes for peace. By the strength of your mighty arm save your people and your Church from all evil oppression; hear the supplications of all who call to You in sorrow and affliction, day and night, and let not their lives be lost.

Grant peace, love, and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true love and harmony, may praise your all holy Name.

Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy,

in Jesus' name, amen.

Hiding Place

Bob Hostetler

Adonai, you are my hiding place.
I hide in you right now;
cover me with your hand.
Help me to hide in you throughout this day,
that even when I am out and about among my fellow men,
I remain hidden in you,
in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Abba, I am in your care.
Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.
Holy Spirit, I rest in you, Amen.

Thanks Today

Bob Hostetler

I give you thanks today, Lord God, Adonai;
I give you thanks for the day,
for the gift of waking,
for the grace of breathing,
for the bounty of breaths I will draw
and thoughts I will think,
words I will exchange,
and work I will do.
Thank you for every moment of safety I will enjoy,
for every bite of nourishment,
every taste of pleasure.
Thank you for every moment of sight,
for the grace of seeing,
the privilege of gazing on my wife, my children,
my friends, and the thousands of objects and images my eyes will see today.
Thank you for the sounds I will hear,
the grace of hearing,
the blessing of lover's voice and music and speech
and even the cacophony of traffic and machinery.
Thank you, Father, for all your kindnesses to me,
which daily go unmarked,
Make me more mindful of the thousands of graces
you bestow on me today,
and make me glad to be alive, and sensate,
and able to enjoy so much.
Grant me to enjoy even the least enjoyable,
remembering that the sense to taste bitter
as well as sweet
is a grace as well,
in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

I don't want my life, Lord, to be a meandering stream,
its course altered by every stone
and diverted by each depression,
following the path of least resistance.
I want it to be a direct, undiverted flow
through the wide, inviting gates
that lead to your will in Jesus Christ. Amen.

(from the Sept. 25 reading in Eugene Peterson's Praying With The Psalms).

Teach Me to Pray

Bob Hostetler

Abba, teach me to pray.
Save me from "making" prayers.
Help me to know how to pray,
what to pray,
for whom to pray.
Prompt my praying.
Guide my praying.
Be the author of my prayers, from beginning to end,
even as you are the author of my life
and my salvation,
in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 37

Bob Hostetler

Adonai, help me not to be bothered by the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
I know they come and go like grass,
like the fickle flowers of the field.

I put my trust in you, Lord God;
grant me the grace to do right,
to live a quiet and secure life.
You are my delight;
grant me my heart's desires:
fresh energy,
stable finances,
effective ministry,
and to see my wife and children be happy.

I commit my future to you,
I am confident that you will act when I most need you,
defend me against my Enemy
and lift up my efforts like the sun at noonday.

I quiet myself before you, and wait with longing for you.
Save me from being sidetracked by critics
or spending my mental and spiritual energy on the stubborn and clueless.

Save me from anger and bitterness.
Help me keep my cool, knowing it can do no good
to cater to those who will never be satisfied.
My hope is in you, Lord, not in the approval of man.

Soon the wicked will be no more,
and searching will do no good;
but the humble will be blessed
and live in peace.

I know my Enemy plots against me
and lately has landed more than a few blows,
but you are not surprised by his attacks,
and I know that.

Let him draw his sword
and bend his bow;
let everything he tries
turn back on himself;
let his every weapon be shattered.

Though my reserves run low,
I have more wealth than the wicked;
for you are my strength and my supply.

My life is in Yahweh's care,
and you yourself guard my birthright for ever;
I will not be put to shame when bad times come;
even in famine I will be filled.

Your enemies, Lord, will be destroyed;
they will vanish like fog at noon
and a match flame in a strong wind.

The wicked takes and never gives,
but you, Lord, make me generous in giving;
you have blessed me with land of my own
and granted me victory in battle.

You are even now guiding my steps and keeping them firm;
you take pleasure in me.
I may trip, but you will catch me before I’m sent sprawling,
and lift me up again on your strong arm.

I am getting old, but from my youth
I have seen your faithfulness and generosity to the righteous,
and your kindness to their children.
Let me see your compassion and generosity be multiplied
in my own children’s lives.

I turn my back on evil again tonight; I pledge to do good.
Be my home for ever,
and shower me with blessing.

Save those who do evil,
or if they will not be saved, annihilate them.
But give me a permanent place
where I can live for ever in your presence.

Let wisdom flow from my lips.
Let my tongue speak what is right;
Place your law in my heart,
and keep my foot from slipping.

Let those who watch me
with a critical eye
be frustrated and disappointed.
You will not abandon me him to the clutches of the wicked,
nor let me be condemned if I am tried.

I put my hope in you, Yahweh;
I keep to your path.
Raise me up.
Please lift me up from my weariness and struggle.

I have seen the wicked riding high
towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
But I would not trade my fleeting trials
for their passing prosperity.

I want to be like the innocent, the honest,
the serene, the plentiful,
instead of the wicked who will all be destroyed together,
and their children pay the price.

I know I often feel like giving up,
like cashing in;
it would be so much easier
not to be a pastor,
not to work so stinking hard,
not to share the burdens of so many
and be the one who always has to show up,
and give give give.
But I have you for my Savior;
you are my refuge in times of trouble;
You help me and rescue me,
and you will rescue me again
and save me because I take refuge in you. Amen.


Bob Hostetler

Lord Jesus, I claim your word that the kingdom of God is like yeast that "a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was all leavened all through" (Luke 13:21).

Let the kingdom spread and grow in my community.
Let your kingdom come in and through Cobblestone.
Let it grow and multiply steadily like yeast in dough.
Let us see it rise and expand and spread the warmth of your love and grace throughout our land, in Jesus' name, amen.

Come, Living Water

Bob Hostetler

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

Steer the Ship of My Life

Bob Hostetler

A prayer of Basil of Caesarea (c. 330-379)

Steer the ship of my life, good Lord,
to your quiet harbor,
where I can be safe
from the storms of sin and conflict.
Show me the course I should take.
Renew in me the gift of discernment,
so that I can always see
the right direction in which I should go.
And give me the strength and the courage
to choose the right course,
even when the sea is rough and the waves are high,
knowing that through enduring hardship and danger,
in your name we shall find comfort and peace. Amen.

Less of a Sham

Bob Hostetler

Father, I confess: sometimes I make up stuff. I do stuff for show. I pretend to know stuff. I act like I'm made of stuff that I'm not. But I thank you that by your grace I am becoming less of a sham and more of a man.

A Prayer from Fanny Crosby

Bob Hostetler

A wonderful Savior are you, my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
You hide my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

You hide my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land...
And cover me there with your hand.

A wonderful Savior are you, my Lord,
You take my burden away;
You hold me up and I shall not be moved,
You give me new strength with each day.

With numberless blessings each moment you crown
And, filled with your goodness divine,
I sing in my rapture: "O glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!"

(From the hymn by Fanny Crosby)


Bob Hostetler

Lord, I long for a simpler life, a life of just simply following you and pleasing you. I get too wrapped up in demands and responsibilities and expectations and so on--and on. Bills and expenses. Timing and deadlines. Help me, Lord. Help me to simplify, to focus on you and seek you alone.

Summer's End

Abba, August is past, the summer is gone. By your grace, my son will be married in 7 days, and my daughter will own a house in 23. And I, if I survive, will look back on September with gratitude. Save me, Lord, from stress and exhaustion. Save me from financial ruin. Help me give both of my precious children a start--a great start--on their adult lives, in Jesus' name, amen.

Prayer from Ecclesiastes 3

Bob Hostetler

Thank you, Lord, that the seasons of my life
have included so many births, and so few deaths;
more times to plant, than times of plucking up that which is planted;
No times to kill, and many times to heal;
infrequent times to break down, and frequent times to build up;
Fewer times to weep than times to laugh;
Fewer times to mourn than times to dance.

Thank you for those times to cast away stones, and times of gathering stones together;
thank you for times of embracing, and times to refrain from embracing;
Thank you for so many times to get, and so few times to lose,
so many times to keep, and so few times to cast away.

Make me wise to recognize times to rend, and times to sew;
times to keep silence, and times to speak;
times to love, and times to hate;
times of war, and times of peace,
in Jesus' name, amen

(based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV).


Bob Hostetler

I need to learn, Lord, that life is not a business that I arrange and control, but a pilgrimage in which you give protection and provide guidance. Help me to learn that through Jesus Christ, my Lord, amen.

(from Eugene Peterson's Praying with the Psalms, Aug. 30).

A Prayer for God's Mercy

A prayer of Thomas Merton (from his journals)

Lord, have mercy.

Have mercy on my darkness, my weakness, my confusion. Have mercy on my infidelity, my cowardice, my turning about in circles, my wandering, my evasions.

I do not ask for anything but such mercy, always, in everything, mercy....

Almost everything is ashes. What I have prized most is ashes. What I have attended to least is, perhaps, a little solid.

Lord, have mercy. Guide me, make me want again to be holy, to be a man of God, even though in desperateness and confusion.

I do not necessarily ask for clarity, a plain way, but only to go according to your love, to follow your mercy, to trust in your mercy.

Lucky Man

Bob Hostetler

Lord, I know "lucky" isn't the theologically correct term to describe what I feel, but I know you know what is in my heart.

I am a lucky man. I am blessed.
What a wife I have.
What children.
What a (soon-to-be) daughter-in-law.
What friends.
What a lovely home.
What a privilege to study your Word and preach from it.
What a great church family you've given me.
What marvelous people I get to rub shoulders with.
What a fine, fine leadership team I serve with.
What giving, serving, loving people I labor with at Cobblestone.
What health you've given me.
What music in my life.
What abundance of food.
What conveniences.
What a fun dog.

What a lucky man.

Jesus, I Fain Would Find

Bob Hostetler

Jesus, I fain would find,
Your zeal for God in me,
Your yearning pity for mankind,
Your burning charity.

In me your Spirit dwell,
In me your mercies move,
So shall the fervor of my zeal
Be the pure flame of love.

My Psalm 36

Bob Hostetler

Lord, I know sin persuades the wicked
deep in their hearts;
there is no fear of God
before their eyes.

Let me not be like them, who flatter themselves
and are too blind to recognize their sinfulness.
All they say is malicious and deceitful,
and they turn his from wisdom.

Let me not be like them, who devise wicked schemes
even in their sleep;
and whose evil snowballs,
increasing in volume and velocity.

Yahweh, your faithful love stretches from earth to sky,
your constancy reaches to the clouds,
your saving justice towers like mighty mountain peaks,
your judgments are deep as the ocean’s trenches.

Yahweh, you look on humans and animals;
how precious is your faithful love, Lord.
With all the children of Adam,
I find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

I feast on the bounty of your house,
I drink from your sparkling streams;
you are my source of life,
my light.

Maintain your faithful love to me, Lord, for I acknowledge you;
preserve your saving justice to me, for I am sincere.
Do not let the arrogant gain on me, much less overtake me,
nor let the wicked succeed against me.

Bring down the evil-doers, Lord God, Adonai,
fling them down, never to rise again, amen.

Please Help Me Wash My Days

(A prayer of Yaakov David Shulman, found in the book Bedside Prayers by June Cotner)

O God, please help me wash my days
And hang them on the line to dry.
Please help me scrub my months
And shake them out,
Soak my years,
And dry them in the summer sun.
Please help me wear a suit
Of honest fabric, clean and plain.


Bob Hostetler

Father, how grateful I am for all the "nevertheless" you've shown me.

I was born in sin, steeped in sin, even reveled in sin;
you had mercy on me and saved me.

I am stubborn and willful;
you are patient and persevering with me.

I am slow of heart to believe you;
you believe in me.

I am faithless, disappointing you over and over again;
you remain faithful, for you cannot deny yourself.

Thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Lord God, Abba Father, make me generous, I pray.
Freely I have received, help me to freely give.
Teach me to give cheerfully and generously.
Make me wise in giving, but unreserved.
Increase my generosity to the point that
I will be like the widow in the Temple,
giving all that I have,
in Jesus' name, amen.

The Now and the Not-Yet

Bob Hostetler

Lord God, please teach me contentment. Teach me to be satisfied in the now, and grant me the grace to anticipate the not-yet without pining or worrying, in Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday Prayer

Father, we rejoice that you have given us Sunday;
the day when we remember that you created the world
and all that is within it,
the day when Jesus was raised from the dead
and death and hell laid waste,
the day in which all things were made and remade.

Father, may we approach Sunday with longing and expectation;
as the hungry seek for bread,
so may we yearn for word and sacrament;
save our worship from all that is trivial;
rooted in the reality of the world in which we live,
may it yet glimspe the glory of your presence,
and stand in awe at the light of your holiness;
may we sense the presence of all who have gone before us,
hearing in our own songs the echo of unseen heaven's praise,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(From More Everyday Prayers)


Bob Hostetler

Lord of the harvest,
I pray for laborers to harvest souls for you,
to carry sheaves,
to do the heavy lifting
the work of the kingdom requires,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Give Me Success

(Based on words of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Lord, grant that I may laugh often and much;
let me win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
help me to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and to endure the betrayal of false friends.

Teach me to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
by the children I leave behind,
the lives I affect,
the work I do,
and the things I change.

And let me not only know
that others have breathed easier because I have lived,
but let me live--and die--knowing
that others will join me in heaven because I have lived.

So give me success, in Jesus' name, amen.

Big Needs

Bob Hostetler

I need faith, Lord, faith, greater faith, and stronger.
I ask wisdom from you.
Resolution, Lord,
and the ability to say no
and to make good decisions,
in Jesus' name, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Lord, your people Cobblestone are on the move!

Yet I know that attack and oppression awaits us,
that our enemy prowls like a roaring lion
and he will not let us move forward without resistance.

So I pray, Lord, not for lifejackets,
but for surfboards,
that we might ride above every wave,
atop every swell,
and not only survive every storm but thrive throught it,
in Jesus' name, amen.

You See, I Want a Lot

A prayer by Rainer Maria Rilke

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.

So many are alive who don't seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it's not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.

(From Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God)


Bob Hostetler

Abba, help me to rejoice in your gracious gifts to me,
and the wonderful privilege you give to me
of breaking the bread of life to your people,
without falling into pride
or lapsing into self-reliance, in Jesus' name, amen.

O Burning Mountain

(A prayer of Mechtid of Magdeburg)

O burning mountain,
O chosen sun,
O perfect moon,
O fathomless well,
O unattainable height,
O clearness beyond measure,
O wisdom without end,
O mercy without limit,
O strength beyond resistance,
O crown of all majesty,
the humblest you created sings your praise,

My Psalm 35

Bob Hostetler

Lord, battle those who oppose me.
Fight those who fight me.
Pick up your shield and armor.
Rise up and help me.
Lift up your spears, your holy arsenal,
against those who would hurt me.
Say to me, "I’ve got this.”

Whatever forces array against me,
disgrace them.
Whatever powers seek my harm,
turn them to retreat.
With your mighty breath,
blow them away.
Scatter them so completely
that they will never threaten me again.
Discover and destroy ever booby trap
they set for me.
Ruin them utterly,
cut off their retreat,
let them not survive to fight another day.
And I will rejoice in you, Lord;
I will dance with joy because of your salvation.
My heart and soul will cry out,
"Lord, who is like you?
You save the weak from the strong,
the small from the powerful."

I know there are still those who say unkind things about me.
I know there are those who think they know what I am like.
They believe what others say without giving me a chance at defending myself.
I know, and it makes me sad.
I can’t control them, Lord, but by your grace, I can be who you call me to be;
when they are in trouble, I will help however I can;
when they call, I will answer.
I will pray for them to be blessed,
and will seek their good as if they were my own flesh.
Sure, I would like it if they would stop talking about me,
judging me,
insulting me.
I would like it if they stopped avoiding me
and treating me like a leper.

But, Lord, I long ago abandoned my cause to you.
I still trust you to save me,
and leave my reputation in your sovereign hand.
Whatever others may do,
I will praise you in public,
I will speak your praise among crowds of people.
If others laugh at me,
or hate me for no reason,
or judge me unfairly
or repeat gossip about me,
and assume they know me,
and think, "We know all about what you did!"
I know you are watching,
and you will not leave me defenseless.

Arise, Lord, and be my champion.
My Lord and my God, do all my fighting for me!
Defend me with your justice.
Protect me with your righteousness.
Don’t let your blessings on me
or your victory on my behalf
ever be defamed or diminished.
Let them be ashamed and embarrassed,
who would be happy to see me hurt.
Show them the shame and disgrace
of their own imaginations.
But let my faithful friends sing and shout for joy.
Let them praise your greatness,
you who love to see your servants do well.
By your grace, in your strength,
I will tell of your goodness
and will praise you every day, in Jesus’ name, amen.

In the Light

Bob Hostetler

Abba, thank you for your grace,
that wiped clean the record of my sins.
Let me walk in the light as you are in the light,
that the blood of Jesus may cleanse me from all my sin,
its power,
its influence,
and its detritus, in Jesus' name, amen.

Draw my children, Lord;
let them walk in the light.
It gives me great joy to see my children walk in the light;
increase my joy!
Make straight paths for their feet,
and lead them on level ground, in Jesus' name, amen.

Shalom and Shalvah

Bob Hostetler

Abba, please make of my life
shalom (peace)
and shalvah (prosperity),
in Jesus' name, amen.

(Psalm 122:6-9)

For the Dying and the Grieving

Bob Hostetler

Father God, be near to those who are dying.
Make yourself known to them.
Give them your peace and take away their fears.

Be near to those who are grieving,
especially Craig and Nancy Hunter, and Mark and Deb Fitzgerald's family.
God of all comfort, comfort these, your people.
Help them to grieve well, and healthily, and fully.
Give them support and stamina from your mighty hand.

Be near to those who minister to the dying,
who seek to relieve their pain and loneliness,
for chaplains in hospitals,
for pastors performing funerals,
for your servants who do the good work of Job's friends
and sit silently with the suffering,
and all this I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

If My Lips

Bob Hostetler

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)

Bread and Fish

Bob Hostetler

Lord Jesus, you said, "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11).

Lord, I confess that in my asking I don't often know whether I'm asking for bread or a fish. I lack the wisdom even to ask for good things, much less the best things.

So I ask for wisdom in praying, that I may ask well, and receive fully, amen.


Bob Hostetler

Lord, I have the hiccups.
For eight hours now,
I have had the hiccups.
I have tried everything I know to get rid of them,
except prayer.



Make My Life a Prayer

Lord God, make my life a prayer to you.
Make my words a hymn.
Make my actions and attitudes a carillon
that calls those around me to worship you,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Vacatio Gloria

Bob Hostetler

Thank you, Lord, for vacation.

Thank you for generous friends,
for woodland cottages,
for lakeshore hammocks,
small-town bookstores,
and long lazy days.

Thank you for mornings spent
sipping coffee
and reading day-old newspapers.

Thank you for Annie Dillard
and Bruce MacLaren
and Tracy Groot
and Louis L'Amour.

Thank you for movie matinees,
newly discovered places,
and a comfortable bed.

Thank you for seeing my lovely wife's face relax,
and hearing her laugh.

Thank you for reminding me that
the church
and the family
and the world
can actually go on existing,
and thriving,
without me.

Thank you for vacations, in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 34

Bob Hostetler

Adonai, I will bless you at all times;
your praise will flow unceasingly from my mouth.

Bless the Lord, says my heart, my soul;
let the least and lowest hear my praises and be glad.

Glorify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name in unison.

Desperately I seek you, Lord, and you heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.

Help me to fix my eyes on you, that my countenance will be lightened
and my face not ashamed.

Out of my poverty, I cried to you,
and you heard me, Lord, and saved me out of all my troubles.

Surround me and mine with your angel host,
and let them protect and deliver us.

I have tasted, Lord, and I know that you are good;
feed me again with your wonderful presence, renew my trust in you.

I bless you, Lord, with all your saints;
let neither me nor mine, my staff nor my church suffer want.
Prove your goodness and generosity;
though the young lions go hungry, let us who seek you enjoy your abundance.

Empower me to teach your children the fear of the Lord.
Enable me to impart to all who desire real life and true prosperity
the good you have stored up for your children.

Keep my tongue from evil, and my lips from deceit.
Deliver me from evil, and let me do good;
help me seek peace, and pursue it.

Let your eyes be on me, Lord, and open your ears to my cry.
Turn your face against those who do evil,
who spread discord,
who lash out and falsely accuse your servants.
Frustrate them, Lord.

Hear the cries of the righteous, and deliver us out of all our troubles.
Be close to me, Lord, in my weariness;
save, for I am running on empty.

However many troubles lie ahead, deliver me from them all.
Let none of them even “break the skin.”
Let the evil of the wicked be their own undoing;
totally thwart those who frustrate your righteous servants.

Redeem my soul, Lord, moment by moment.
I trust in you. Let me not be disappointed. Amen.

Fountain of all Wisdom

Bob Hostetler

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom,
you know my necessities before I ask
and my ignorance in asking:
Have compassion on my weakness,
and mercifully give me those things which
for my unworthiness I dare not,
and for my blindness I cannot ask;
through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ my Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.


Bob Hostetler

Woodworker, builder, craftsman in stone,
in your shop by the smith’s,
in the door of your home,
with plumbline to measure, plane to make smooth,
midst curlings and shavings of sweet-scented wood,
knotted and grained, olivewood, oak,
with bow-drill and bit, wood mallet, awl,
mold table and chair, threshing-board, yoke,
winnowing fork, plow, a child’s handhewn toy.

Sweat-streamed, leather-wrapped,
with ax and adz in hand,
you chisel and chip,
cut, hammer, scrape, grind,
file and sand, polish, and buff,
till your craftsmanship shines
in the figure you form.

Carpenter, Artist, sharpen your tools,
Carve your signature in me.

(copyright Bob Hostetler; no unauthorized reproduction)

A Prayer by Ausonius

(shortened and updated slightly)

Omnipotent God, whom through the worship of my heart alone I know, to the wicked unknown, yet known to every devout soul, you are without beginning and without end, more ancient than time past and time to come; your fashion and extent no mind can ever grasp, no tongue express....

Son of the All-highest, bringer of salvation to the human race, you to whom your Begetter has committed all the powers of his Fatherhood, keeping none back in envy, but giving freely, open a way for my prayers and safely convey them to your Father's ears.

Grant me a heart, O Father, to hold out against all deeds of wrong, and deliver me from the serpent's deadly venom, sin....

Prepare a road that I, being freed from the fetters of this frail body, may be led up on high, where in the clear heaven the Milky Way stretches above the wandering clouds of the wind-vexed moon--that road by which the holy men of old departed from the earth; by which Elias, being caught up in the chariot, once made his ways alive above our lower air; and Enoch, too, who went before his end without change of body.

Grant me, O Father, the effluence of everlasting light for which I yearn, and bring to your altar the offering of a stainless life.

Grant me your pardon, Father, and relieve my anguished breast...and when the hour of my last day shall come, grant that the conscience of a life well spent cause me not to fear death, nor yet long for it. When, through your mercy, I appear cleansed from my secret faults, let me despise all else, and let my one delight be to await in hope your judgment. And if that day delays, keep me far from that fierce tempter, the serpent, with his false allurements.

Claim these prayers as your own before the eternal Father, Son of God to whom I pray, Savior, God and Lord, Mind, Glory, Word and Son, very God of very God, Light of Light, who remains with the eternal Father, reigning throughout all ages, whose praise the harmonious songs of tuneful David echo forth, until respondent voices rend the air with "Amen."

Sabbath Prayer

by Wendell Berry

The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.

Teach Me to Use Life's Circumstances

Teach me, O God, to use all the circumstances of my life today that they may bring forth in me the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin.
Let me use disappointment as material for patience:
Let me use success as material for thankfulness:
Let me use suspense as material for perseverance:
Let me use danger as material for courage:
Let me use reproach as material for longsuffering:
Let me use praise as material for humility:
Let me use pleasures as material for temperance:
Let me use pains as material for endurance.

(a prayer of John Baillie in A Diary of Private Prayer)

When I Feel Like It, When I Don't

Bob Hostetler

Father God, I want to believe in you when I feel like it and when I don’t. I want to triumph in you when the fig tree buds and when there is no fruit at all on the vine. I want to love you when times are good and when times are bad. I want to rejoice in you even when the crop fails and there are no sheep in the pen, no cattle in the stall, and no money in the bank. I want to worship you not primarily to bring pleasure to me, but to give pleasure to you, and to give the glory that is due your name (Psalm 29:2).

Deliver me from the cult of personal experience, and help me to learn anew how to worship you and enjoy you forever, in Jesus’ name, amen.

(the prayer that closes chapter eight, "The Cult of Personal Experience," in American Idols)

My Psalm 33

Bob Hostetler

Lord, I rejoice in you with all your righteous ones,
those whom your praise adorns.
How I wish I could praise you on a harp,
and accompany your praise with a guitar.
But even so, I will sing songs to you, new songs;
I will sing loud and long, with laughter in my heart,
for your word, Lord, is wonderful,
and everything you do is excellent.

You love righteousness and justice;
the earth abounds with your goodness.

Your word painted the canvas of heaven,
and your breath spoke galaxies into existence.
You herd the waves of the sea like a shepherd,
and tell the mighty oceans to “Stay!”—and they do!

The whole earth should worship you,
and everyone with half a brain should revere you,
for you speak and it happens;
you say so and it is so.

You trip up the mightiest generals on earth,
and throw armies into chaos.
But your plans cannot be thwarted,
and when you design something, it will be done.

Blessed is the nation that acknowledges you, Lord.
Blessed are the people who are called by your Name.

You look down from your heavenly throne
and see every soul on earth—all six billion of them!
Nothing escapes your gaze
as you sit on your throne.
You know every heart, and you know mine;
you oversee every deed, and you see mine.
No king is protected by his great army.
No soldier is saved by his own strength.
No amount of air power or ground strength
is sufficient to save.
You alone, Lord, are the hope of the wise,
the banner of victory for all who trust in your love for them.
You alone can deliver me today.
You alone can spare me from defeat and discouragement.
I wait for your deliverance, Lord.
You are my help and shield.
My heart will rejoice in you,
and call my victory what it is—your victory—
because I trust in your holy name.

Lord, please show us your kindness,
because you are our only hope.
You are all we seek.


Bob Hostetler

Based on the lyrics of "O Beautiful, for Spacious Skies" (by Katherine Bates)

Thank you, Lord, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain;
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

Thank you, Lord, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!

Rock of Ages

Bob Hostetler

A prayer of Augustus Toplady, slightly revised.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Cleanse my heart and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
I hide myself in Thee. Amen.

Part of Always

Bob Hostetler

Lord Jesus, today is one of those days
you promised to be with me
when you said, "I will be with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Do, Lord.
Be with me.
Let me feel you near,
and rely on your presence. Amen.

Meister Eckhart's Beatitude

Bob Hostetler

Meister Eckhart said, "Blessed are the pure in heart who leave everything to God now as they did before they ever existed."

Lord, before ever I was conceived,
you set the stars in the sky,
and the planets in their orbits.

Before ever I was born,
you kept this earth spinning through eons of time,
and never forgot or skipped a single season.

Before ever I opened my eyes,
your eyes were on your servants.
Before ever I could speak,
you spoke.
Before ever I could walk,
you walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the Garden.
Before ever I had accomplished a thing,
you accomplished the "impossible."

So, Lord, I leave it all to you.
I surrender my stupid sense that I am in control,
that I need to make things happen,
that "if it's going to be, it's up to me."

I pray, "Thy will be done."
I pray, "Be it unto me according to Thy word."
I pray, "have Thine own way,"
in me and mine,
in this day and the next,
in what I succeed in accomplishing
and in what I fail to accomplish.

I leave everything to you, Sovereign King,
as I did before I ever existed,
in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 32

Bob Hostetler

How blessed I am, Lord, that my sins are forgiven,
my wrongs blotted out.
How blessed I am that you charge no sin to my account,
that I can be honest and exposed before you.
When I am not faithful in prayer to you, I can feel my frame weaken,
every day, all day, is just a groan;
day and night
I feel a heaviness,
and my heart shrivels up
like daylilies in a heat wave.

I acknowledge my waywardness to you;
I can’t hide the fact that I’ve neglected my prayer chair.
I admit, 'I confess
my sinful neglect to you.’
And you, gracious as always, forgive me
and wipe the slate clean.

That is why it is such a delight to pray to you
at all times of the day and night—
when the waters rise,
they will not overwhelm your faithful ones.
You are my refuge,
my sentinel,
my singer and my song.

Instruct me, Lord, and teach me the way to go;
let me not take my eyes off you.

Let me not be like a horse or a mule;
that resists the bridle and bit;
but let me submit readily and willingly
to the slightest gesture or movement of my Master.

The wicked endure countless troubles,
but your unfailing love surrounds me as I trust in you, moment by moment.

I rejoice in you, Yahweh,
I exult in you;
I shout for joy with an open and upright heart.

Prayer Before a Speaking Engagement

Bob Hostetler

No speaker is saved by the quality of his material;
no preacher succeeds by the multitude of his gifts.
Relying on man's approval is a vain hope, a stupid goal;
despite all its allure it cannot save.
My hope is on your unfailing love, Lord;
I hope for your deliverance.

I Enter

Bob Hostetler

(a prayer of Eugene Peterson, in his book, Praying with the Psalms, June 19)

I enter the place of prayer, dear God,
to listen to what you have to say.
I have been shouted at, accused, and threatened
from the newspaper, radio, and television.
Now I want to hear the syllables of hope
that come in the still small voice of your Spirit
and establish you as Lord in my heart
as well as "Most High over all the earth" (Psalm 83:18). Amen.

Summer is Nigh

Bob Hostetler

This year, Lord, is flying by. Summer is nigh. I renew my prayer that you will make this yet--even more--a year of breaking through for Cobblestone. Bring yet more members, greater stewardship, deeper worship, more fruitful children's ministry, greater community and outreach, and even, Lord, a victorious year-of-all-years in our Walk This Way campaign and movement toward a permanent home on our South Farm campus, in Jesus' name, amen.

Haven't Asked Enough

Bob Hostetler

Father, I confess that I haven't asked enough of you.
You have said, "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."
You have said, "Ask, and it shall be given."
You have said, "You have not because you ask not."

So, Abba, I ask:
More faith, please. Give me walk-on-water faith.
More wisdom, the kind that sees your fingerprints on events and circumstances, and also sees clearly the things you are not involved in.
I pray for more income for my family,
more resources to pay off all those student loans.
I pray for more stewardship in my church,
I pray for $2 million for our first building,
I pray for more commitment, more members, more volunteers,
more passion, deeper worship, stronger marriages.
I pray for a recording studio job for my son,
and for you open the door to home ownership for my daughter.
Help me to lose weight,
to become a better husband,
to improve in my leadership and speaking.
I pray for the sale of Northkill and The Caiaphas Scroll.
I pray for the ministry and financial success of American Idols.
I pray for your hand of blessing on my wife in her studies...a paid internship...and speed her graduation and the onset of a wildly effective counseling ministry for her, in Jesus' name, amen.

Refiner's Fire

Bob Hostetler

Abba, Father, some of my friends and coworkers are in the furnace right now,
walking through the flames, not of idolatry but of trial.
Please save them. Keep even their clothes from being singed,
and keep the flames from touching them and their families.
Grant for this period to be a refining fire,
showing them your presence in the furnace,
demonstrating your awesome deliverance (as you did for the three Hebrews),
and bringing them through it all with more faith,
more strength,
and smokin' only with the smell of your touch on them, in Jesus' name, amen.

Spiritual Amnesia

Bob Hostetler

Save me, God, from spiritual amnesia,
from forgetting--like your people Israel did long ago, and repeatedly (Ps. 78)--
all the mighty works I have seen you do.
Save me from forgetting how you carried me through deep waters,
how you called me and anointed me and constantly, flawlessly enabled me;
save me from forgetting how you brought me through Red Seas
and sent water and manna,
and led me into your promise.
Save me from forgetting your miraculous work in
Bill Dobias and Cheryl Johnson,
Bob Holzworth and Greg Farthing,
John Johnson and Sharla Racioppa.
Save me from forgetting Walk This Way and South Farm.
Save me from forgetting The Prayer Bible and American Idols.
Save me from forgetting, even last Sunday, your most marvelous working.
Save me from spiritual amnesia,
but give me the memory of faith,
faith as big as your track record deserves,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Arrows, Dove, Bones, and Stones

Bob Hostetler

Abba, Father, thank you for the arrows in my quiver,
my children, who make me so proud.
Thank you for my dove, my darling,
my rose of Sharon, my bride,
whose love refreshes and sustains me.
Thank you for the bones and organs in the body,
the church, who complement me
and make up for my deficiencies,
making me whole.
Thank you for the smooth stones in my sling,
my co-leaders in the church,
with whom I know you will slay giants,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Thanks for Small Homely Things

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of small, homely things:

Sunlight through a jar of beach-plum jelly...
A rainbow in soapsuds in dishwater...
An eggyolk in a blue bowl...
White ruffled curtains sifting moonlight...
The color of cranberry glass...
A little cottage with blue shutters...
Crimson roses in an old stone crock...
The smell of newly baked bread...
Candlelight on old brass...
The soft brown of a cocker's eyes,

in Jesus' name, amen.

(based on lines from Peter Marshall)

Like An Empty Cup

Bob Hostetler

I come to this day, Lord,
and lift my empty cup
to the overflowing fountain
of your strength and sufficiency.

You are more than enough
for all I need this day.

My Psalm 31

Bob Hostetler

In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge;
Let me not be ashamed;
deliver me because you (certainly not me!) are righteous.
Please listen carefully to me, speed to my defense.
Be my rock of strength once again,
A fortress of safety.
I know you are my rock and my fortress;
I know you will lead me and guide me,
for that will glorify your name.
You will pull me from every trap that has secretly been laid for me,
for you are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit,
for you have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth.

I detest the worship of idols—vain, all of them—
for I trust in you, Lord.
I sing and dance with joy because of your lovingkindness,
because you see all my problems,
and know all my troubles,
and you have not let me get backed into a corner,
but have set me in a spacious, luxurious space.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, in times of stress,
when my spirits are low,
and my energy fades.
Ministry is filled with daily griefs,
and relief from sadness is only temporary.
The misery of others drains my strength,
and I tend to escape by eating everything in sight.
The Enemy of your people never sleeps,
and his pawns are always on the job,
working even through your servants, it seems.
Some of them see me on the street,
and turn the other way.
Some ignore me at public events as if I were dead,
as if I were a piece of furniture.
They believe—and spread—rumors about me,
and I often meet people who say they have heard of me,
and then seem to size me up,
as though wondering if I’m really
as bad as all that.

Even so, I trust in you, O Lord,
I say, "You are my God."
My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my Enemy
and from those who hate me.
Smile on your servant;
show me favor.
Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon you;
instead, let the unrepentant be put to shame,
and shut the mouths of those who spread lies.

How great is your generosity, Lord,
which you show to those who revere you,
those who find shelter in you
in the sight of a watching world.
You hide me in the secret place of your presence
where I am safe from all the lying conspiracies of men;
you cover me with your wings
and mute the sound of their lies.
I bless you, Lord,
for you have blessed me in spite of every attack.
Though at times, I admit,
I have felt abandoned by you,
I know you’ve always listened to my cries,
and heard every prayer I’ve prayed.

I love you, Lord,
when I am alone and when I am gathered with the faithful.
I know you preserve the faithful
and allow the arrogant to suffer what they deserve.
With your help, I will be strong and bold,
and hope in you, Lord.

For Benefit of Counsel

Bob Hostetler

Lord, your Word says, "a wise man listens to advice" (Proverbs 12:15).

You have reminded me several times recently
how you have blessed me
through the counsel of others,
through willingness to seek counsel,
and through willingness to heed counsel.

How many weaknesses have I overcome
due to the counsel of others?
How many griefs have I avoided
due to the counsel of others?
How many blessings do I enjoy
due to the counsel of others?

Thank you for the truth of your Word,
the wisdom of your counsel,
the ways you have blessed me
and made me wise to listen to wise counsel,
to your glory,
to your praise,
to your credit,
and not mine,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Prayer for My Eating Habits

Bob Hostetler

Abba, you know I don't treat my body like a temple of your Holy Spirit. I ask you for help in discerning and addressing why I eat the way I do; why I so often eat as though it's the last food I'll ever have; why I perceive food as an entitlement and reward; why I eat uncontrollably when I'm stressed or depressed.

Lord, you are my refuge and strength.
Forgive me for turning to food instead of to you.
Strengthen me and sustain me to choose health instead of eating,
to eat to live and not live to eat,
to control my hunger and urges instead of letting them control me,
in Jesus' name, amen.

No Confidence in the Flesh

Bob Hostetler

Lord God, Abba, in Jesus' name I pray:
Grant me to worship you in the Spirit,
rejoice in Christ Jesus,
and put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3).
Please, Abba: no confidence in the flesh.
for I know this is your will concerning me,

Your Timing

Bob Hostetler

Lord, you mystify me with your timing.
You are all-knowing,
and past, present, and future are all the same to you.
Still, I don't know why your timing is so inscrutable and unpredictable...and often maddening!
It's not easy to learn your ways when you never explain yourself!
And it gets pretty frustrating, if you don't mind me saying.
But my times are in your hand...and not the other way around,
so teach me faith,
teach me patience,
and teach me not to expect your gracious working
to follow my timetables,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Lord of My Life, Whose Tender Care

Bob Hostetler

(A prayer by an anonymous hymnwriter, slightly updated and revised)

Lord of my life, whose tender care
Has led me on till now,
Here lowly at the hour of prayer
Before your throne I bow;
I bless your gracious hand, and pray
Forgiveness for another day.

Oh, may I daily, hourly, strive
In heavenly grace to grow;
To you and to your glory live,
Dead to all else below;
Tread in the path my Savior trod,
Though thorny, yet the path to God.

With prayer my humble praise I bring
For mercies day by day;
Lord! teach my heart your love to sing,
Lord! teach me how to pray;
And all I am, and all I own,
Entrust to you alone.