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.