Lord, do I have to keep doing this?
My burden weighs me down,
and the responsibility of my position
hems me in.
Where can I go?
What choice do I have?
Being a leader
a pastor
a friend
and a coworker
isn't feeling like a privilege
or a blessing right now.
It feels like a trap,
a weight too heavy for me.
How long can I keep doing this?
Nothing is too hard for you.
Can you deliver me?
Will you?


Lord, I'm tired.
I need sleep.
I need rest.
I need help.

A Man with Grit

(Modeled on lines by Charles Spurgeon)

I, pray, God, make me a man,
a pastor,
a leader,
with "grit" in me;
a man who, when he knows a thing to be right,
will not turn away, or turn aside, or stop;
a man who will persevere all the more
because there are difficulties to meet or foes to encounter;
who will stand all the more true to my Master
because I am opposed;
who, the more I am thrust into the fire,
the hotter I become;
who, just like the bow, the further the string is drawn
the more powerfully it sends forth its arrows,
and so the more I am trodden upon,
the more mighty I will become
in the cause of truth against error,
in Jesus' name, amen.

My Psalm 58

Lord, let me not be fooled by whisperers,
by workers of intrigue,
and people who smile to my face but talk behind my back,
by those who leave broken relationships in their wake,
and lie about me to others
and to me about others.

Let me not fall prey to their poison tongues,
let me not expect them to change their ways
if I find the right words and say the right things.

Break them yourself, O Lord.
Save me from taking your work
into my own hands.

Let them learn to avoid me
because they know they won’t get anywhere,
because they know their intrigues and gossip
will land on deaf ears if they speak them to me.

Let my conduct,
the righteousness of Christ in me,
be a discouragement to those who do and speak evil,
so that men will say,
“It’s worth it to act uprightly;
God is watching what happens on earth.”

A Variation on St. Teresa's Bookmark

Lord, with your help,
I will let nothing disturb me,
nothing frighten me.
I will remember that this too shall pass,
while you never change;
I will patiently endure,
waiting on your timing and your reward.
Because I have you,
I shall not want.
You alone are enough for me.

(A variation on the words of St. Teresa of Avila:
Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Whom God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth).

An Advent Prayer

(A prayer by Henri Nouwen, from A Cry for Mercy)

Dear Lord, help me keep my eyes on you.
You are the incarnation of Divine Love,
you are the expression of God's infinite compassion,
you are the visible manifestation of the Father's holiness.
You are beauty, goodness, gentless,
forgiveness, and mercy.
In you all can be found.
Outside of you nothing can be found.
Why should I look elsewhere or go elsewhere?
You have the words of eternal life,
you are food and drink,
you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
You are the light that shines in the darkness,
the lamp on the lamp stand,
the house on the hilltop.
You are the perfect Icon of God.
In and through you I can see the Heavenly Father,
and with you I can find my way to him.
O Holy One, Beautiful One, Glorious One,
be my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Guide,
my Consoler, my Comforter, my Hope, my Joy, and my Peace.
To you I want to give all that I am.
Let me be generous, not stingy or hesitant.
Let me give you all--
all I have, think, do and feel.
It is yours, O Lord.
Please accept it and make it fully your own.

With Empty Hands

(A prayer by Henri Nouwen, from With Open Hands)

Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love,
unconditional, everlasting love.

My Psalm 57

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me;
David had his cave to hide in.
I need a cave.
You are my cave.
You are my refuge.
I will hide in the shadow of your wings
until this current wave of trouble has passed.

I cry out to you, God Most High:
I beg you to fulfill your purpose for me,
sooner rather than later.
Send your hosts from heaven and save me,
scattering those who march against me.
Send your love and faithfulness,
breaking through the ring of beasts that surround me:
though they are human,
they snarl and claw like ravenous beasts—
and they can’t even see their own faces,
the contorted expressions they wear.

Just do your thing, God;
show your strength and glory.

It’s so much harder
when my friends are used by my enemies.
It’s easier to fight back
when an attack comes from evil people,
rather than well-meaning friends.

But my heart is steadfast, O God;
I’m not going anywhere.
I will sing and make music,
I will praise you so loud
and serve you so passionately
that I will keep the day awake
and prevent the night from getting any sleep.

I will praise you, O Lord, no matter what;
I will serve you to my last breath.
For your love stretches all the way to the heavens;
your faithfulness extends from where I am
to the outermost reaches of the universe.

Just do your thing, God;
show your strength and glory.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

(A prayer by hymnwriter Anne Steele, slightly updated)

My Maker and my King,
To you my all I owe;
Your sovereign bounty
is the spring
Whence all my blessings flow.

The creature of your hand,
On you alone I live;
My God, your benefits demand
More praise than I can give.

Lord, what can I impart
When all is yours before?
Your love demands a thankful heart;
My gift, alas! how poor.

O! let your grace inspire,
My heartfelt thanks outpour;
Let every word and each desire
And all my days be yours.

A Little Dying

(A prayer by Henri Nouwen, from A Cry for Mercy)

Dear Lord, in the midst of much inner turmoil and restlessness, there is a consoling thought: maybe you are working in me in a way I cannot yet feel, experience, or understand. My mind is not able to concentrate on you, my heart is not able to remain centered, and it seems as if you are absent and have left me alone. But in faith I cling to you. I believe that your Spirit reaches deeper and further than my mind or heart, and that profound movements are not the first to be noticed.

Therefore, Lord, I promise I will not run away, not give up, not stop praying, even when it all seems useless, pointless, and a waste of time and effort. I want to let you know that I love you even though I do not feel loved by you, and that I hope in you even though I often experience despair. Let this be a little dying I can do with you and for you as a way of experiencing some solidarity with the millions in this world who suffer far more than I do. Amen.

Quietness and Confidence

Lord God Adonai,
you said,

"In quietness and confidence
is your strength"
(Isaiah 30:15, NLT).

Make it so in me.
Help me to prove it to be true,
in Jesus' name,

Want to Control

(A prayer of Henri Nouwen, from With Open Hands)

Dear God,
I so much want to be in control.
I want to be the master of my own destiny.
Still I know that you are saying:
"Let me take you by the hand and lead you.
Accept my love
and trust that where I will bring you,
the deepest desires of your heart will be fulfilled."
Lord, open my hands to receive your gift of love.

Compline Prayer

Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.

From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thought may know.

O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.

My Times Are in Your Hands

My times are in your hands (Psalm 30:15).
My times are in your hands.
They are not in my hands.
My times are in your hands.

Needing Faith

Oh, Lord God, I am always in need of more faith,
but today I feel that need in a new way,
to a new depth,
with a new desperation.
I believe;
help my unbelief.
Enlarge my faith.
Deepen it.
Strengthen it.
Multiply it,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Actiones Nostras

Actiones nostras, quaesumus, Domine,
aspirando praeveni et adiuvando prosequere,
ut cuncta nostra operatio a te semper incipiat,
et per te coepta finiatur.

[We beg You, O Lord, to initiate and anticipate our actions,
and help us in them and follow up on them,
so that our every service always flows from You,
and all we begin is brought to conclusion through You.]


(From the Gregorian Sacramentary)

Embarrass the Angels

Lord God Adonai,
let me not
embarrass the angels
in what I do today,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Wooden Thanks

Thank you, Lord, for wood fires
and wood smoke
and wood warmth. Amen.


I need Thee,
O, I need Thee,
Every hour I need Thee,
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

Thanks for Grief, Rejection, Disappointments and Derailments

Abba, Father,
before this day was three hours old
you twice reminded me
of tragedy and disappointment in my life
for which I have cause to be deeply thankful.
Thank you for my mother's death
when I was fourteen,
because by it you taught me to depend on you
and live to please you;
without it, I have no trouble believing
I would have clung to her desperately
and foolishly
and to my harm.
Thank you, too, for rejection by the first four publishers
I submitted my Don't Check Your Brains proposal to,
for by those rejections you steered me to Word,
and Joey,
and Josh.
Thank you for all the griefs and rejections
and disappointments and derailments
I have suffered in my life
that have not yet been shown, as these have,
to be just as gracious and kind and merciful
as every ray of sun you've shined on my path.
Your mercies are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

A Pre-election Prayer

I believe the words you spoke through Paul in Romans 13:1, that "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established."

For seven years you've granted us favor with our local school board, making it possible for us to hold our worship celebrations each and every Sunday in public school spaces. Grant us favor again, Lord, by showing us -- your church called Cobblestone -- how to be good neighbors, good citizens, and good servants alongside the members of the Talawanda School Board, present and upcoming. Grant it, please God, in Jesus' name. Amen.