Praying Church

Almighty God, how I thank you for a praying church. Thank you so much for the people who are praying for me. Thank you for all those who prayed in December for my granddaughter Calleigh (above), and for all those who continue to pray for her. Thank you for our prayer warriors in the church, for our prayer counselors, for Wednesday night prayers, for the prayer that happens in our Journey Groups, for the powerful prayer on Friday nights in Oxford House of Prayer gatherings at The Loft. Thank you for the many folks who are praying for all our pastors and leaders. Thank you for those who intercede daily for the church. Thank you for the many answers to prayer we've seen. And thank you for making your house, the people of God, a house of prayer. Please make us more so, in Jesus' name, amen.

A Prayer for Calleigh

I lift up my help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Calleigh, he will not let your foot slip.
He who watches over you will not even sleep.

As he watches Israel,
he will watch you, alertly, constantly.

The LORD watches over you.
He is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you,
the darkness has no power over you (Psalm 121:1-6).

Your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will soon--and quickly--appear;
your testimony will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will follow you (Isaiah 58:8).

The LORD will keep you from all harm--
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going,
both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:1-7-8).

Amen. Let it be so, LORD. It IS so.

Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen


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

Find You Waiting

I've heard the angels and I've seen the devil,
Fought with the lion, sent through the fire,
I've been in the valley when it was dry,
Walked through the desert to the other side.

I'm just a preacher and I'm not a hero,
My life has never been that kind,
But there is one thing that I hold onto:
I am yours, and Lord you are mine.

And through all these years You have been there,
Dried all my tears and answered my prayers,
I just want to feel your presence again,
I'm down on my knees in need of a friend,
And I find you waiting there for me....

(Lyrics excerpted--and ever so slightly revised--from Find You Waiting by DecembeRadio)

God All-Sufficient

With you
I can live
without other things,
for you
are God all-sufficient,
and the glory,
joy of the world
is a creaturely,
perishing thing
in comparison
with you.

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers)

A Christmas Prayer by Peter Marshall

We yearn, our Father, for the simple beauty of Christmas -- for all the old famliar melodies and words that remind us of that great miracle when He who had made all things was one night to come as a babe, to lie in the crook of a woman's arm.

Before such mystery we kneel, as we follow the shepherds and Wise Men to bring Thee the gift of our love -- a love we confess has not always been as warm or sincere or real as it should have been. But now, on this Christmas Day, that love would find its Beloved, and from Thee receive the grace to make it pure again, warm and real.

We bring Thee our gratitude for every token of Thy love, for all the ways Thou hast heaped blessings upon us during the years that have gone.

And we do pray, Lord Jesus, that as we celebrate Thy birthday, we may do it in a manner well pleasing to Thee. May all we do and say, every tribute of our hearts, bring honor to Thy name, that we, Thy people, may remember Thy birth and feel Thy presence among us even yet.

May the loving kindness of Christmas not only creep into our hearts, but there abide, so that not even the return to earthly cares and responsibilities, not all the festivities of our own devising may cause it to creep away weeping. May the joy and spirit of Christmas stay with us now and forever.

In the name of Jesus, who came to save His people from their sins, even in that lovely name we pray. Amen.

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

(This prayer, written by a young Italian seminarian named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in 1902 who would later become Pope John XXIII, has become a Christmas Eve tradition for me).

Night has fallen; the clear, bright stars are sparkling in the cold air; noisy, strident voices rise to my ear from the city, voices of the revelers of this world who celebrate with merrymaking the poverty of their Saviour. Around me in their rooms my companions are asleep, and I am still wakeful, thinking of the mystery of Bethlehem.

Come, come, Jesus, I await you. . . .

I am a poor shepherd; I have only a wretched stable, a small manger, some wisps of straw. I offer all these to you, be pleased to come into my poor hovel. I offer you my heart; my soul is poor and bare of virtues, the straws of so many imperfections will prick you and make you weep--but oh, my Lord, what can you expect? This little is all I have. . . . I have nothing better to offer you, Jesus, honour my soul with your presence, adorn it with your graces. Burn this straw and change it into a soft couch for your most holy body.

Jesus, I am here waiting for your coming. Wicked men have driven you out, and the wind is like ice. I am a poor man, but I will warm you as well as I can. At least be pleased that I wish to welcome you warmly, to love you and sacrifice myself for you.


O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

O Rex Gentium

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

O Oriens

O Rising Sun,
splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.


O sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Amen.

(HT: The Anchoress)

A Prayer of Augustus Toplady, Revised for This Moment

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

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace....

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


Lord, oil the hinges of our hearts' doors
that they may swing
gently and easily
to welcome your coming.

(anonymous prayer from New Guinea)

Enkindle Us

Lead us, O Lord,
and work within us:
arouse us,
and call us back;
enkindle us,
and draw us to you;
grow fragrant
and sweet to us.
Let us love you,
and let us run to you.

(A prayer by St. Augustine, The Confessions, p. 187)

Enlarge My Heart

Lord, "I will run in the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart" (Psalm 119:32, KJV).

Oh, enlarge my heart, please. Increase my capacity for you. Flood every valve and ventricle, every corner and cubbyhole of my heart and spirit with your gracious presence and sovereign control. I need you, I want you, I will not let go unless you bless me with more, more, more of yourself.

Let me be satisfied in you today, as with the richest of foods, in Jesus' name, amen.

(illustration "My heart," Acrylic on canvas - 36" x 36" -by Anne Laures,

Give Us This Day (7)

Give us this day
our daily heartbeats,
all 100,000 of them,

Give Us This Day (4)

Give us this day our daily bread,
the bread of the presence,
which in the tabernacle in the wilderness
was new every morning,
and in these tents in which we live,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Give Us This Day (3)

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

(Prayer often used by Dr. Rendell Harris)

Give Us This Day (2)

Bread of Heaven,
who was broken for us,
give us this day
our daily Bread.
Give us yourself.
We want you,
for having you
we have all things.

Give Us This Day

Lord, give us this day
the eyes to see
our daily bread
as you provide it.

Communion of Saints

Thank you, Lord, for the prayers of the saints.
Thank you for the encouragement of the Church,
for the communion of saints,
and the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Kyrie for Calleigh

Lord, have mercy on this little one.
Christ, have mercy on tiny Calleigh.
Lord, have mercy on my precious granddaughter.

An Advent Prayer by Henri Nouwen

We welcome you, small child of Bethlehem, whose coming we await with quiet attention. Shield us from the shouts, the screams, the empty promises of the season, and encourage us to turn our hope to your coming. We know that the promise is hidden in the stable in Bethlehem and rooted in the offspring of Jesse; let us look for our salvation there. Amen.

(from Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen: Daily Scripture and Prayers together with Nouwen's Own Words)

My Psalm 106

I praise you, Lord.
I give you thanks,
for your unending goodness,
your unceasing love.

Your works are beyond words, Lord.
No language on earth is adequate
to declare all the praise you deserve.

You give joy and satisfaction to those who do justice,
those who walk in righteousness.

Remember me, Abba, when you're in the mood
to show favor to your children;
help me when you're in a helping state of mind.
Prosper me and mine
when you're handing out your good gifts,
and send us joy unspeakable
any time you want.

I know I'm just a lowly sinner,
like my ancestors before me,
my spiritual and physical antecedents.
Like Israel in Egypt,
we have been blind to your wonderful works;
we easily forget the abundance of your steadfast love,
as they did at the Red Sea.
But you still saved them, didn't you?
You showed your power for the sake of your name.
You rebuked the Red Sea, and it rolled back, became dry;
you led them through the deep as through a desert.
You saved them from their foe,
and delivered them from their enemy,
and they responded with praise.
Do as much for me,
that I might do as much for you.
Let me not forget your works,
or fail to wait for your counsel.
Let me not put you to the test,
and invite disaster with selfish prayers.

Save me from jealousy,
like those who complained against Moses and Aaron.
Save me from factionism,
like that of Abiram.
Save me from idolatry,
like those who made a calf at Horeb
and worshipped a cast image.
They exchanged your glory
for the image of an ox that eats grass.
But I more readily forget you, my Savior,
when I put my faith in the approval of man,
the techniques of others,
in financial security,
and other such things.

Save me, Lord,
from despising your good land,
your faithfulness to fulfill your promise.

Save me from foolish idolatry like theirs,
and empty sacrifices.
Save me from going through the motions,
save me from grieving or quenching your Holy Spirit.

Teach me to stand up like Phinehas,
and root out all sin and temptation from my life
as you intended--and commanded--Israel to do.

Save me from the snares that surround me,
and from compromising with evil.

You are my deliverer,
as you were theirs.
You have never forgotten your promises to me,
and never wavered in your love.

Save me, O LORD my God;
bring me into my inheritance,
that I may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.

I praise you, LORD, God of Israel,
God of me,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Praise the Lord.

I Choose to Be Your Failure

I choose to be Your failure
before anyone else's success.
Keep me from reneging
on my choice.


(excerpted from "A Psalm Requesting Faith," in Psalms of My Life by Joseph Bayly)

An Advent Prayer by Karl Rahner

I’ve begun to understand something I have known for a long time: You are still in the process of your coming. Your appearance in the form of a slave was only the beginning of your coming, a beginning in which you chose to redeem men by embracing the very slavery from which you were freeing them. And you can really achieve your purpose in this paradoxical way, because the paths that you tread have a real ending, the narrow passes which you enter soon open out into broad liberty, the cross that you carry inevitably becomes a brilliant banner of triumph.

It is said that you will come again, and this is true. But the word again is misleading. It won’t really be “another” coming, because you have never really gone away. In the human existence that you made your own for all eternity, you have never left us.

But still you will come again, because the fact that you have already come must continue to be revealed ever more clearly. It will become progressively more manifest to the world that the heart of all things is already transformed, because you have taken them all to your heart.

Behold, you come. And your coming is neither past nor future, but the present, which has only to reach its fulfillment. Now it is still the one single hour of your Advent, at the end of which we too shall have found out that you have really come.

O God who is to come, grant me the grace to live now, in the hour of your Advent, in such a way that I may merit to live in you forever, in the blissful hour of your eternity.

(from Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas)

Replace the Lamp

O Lord, please light the fire
That once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love,
That burns with holy fear.

(from O Lord, You're Beautiful, by Keith Green)