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.