To Write Like Me

It's tempting, Lord,
to ask for the grace
of being able to write
like Annie Dillard
or Frederick Buechner
or Eugene Peterson.
Or even,
throwing caution to the wind,
like Paul
or John
or Isaiah
or David.
But I will ask instead,
humbly but wholeheartedly:
Please let me write
like Me,
the best Me of all possible Mes,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Prayer of Hope

O Lord, in Whom is our hope,
remove far from us,
we pray Thee,
empty hopes and presumptuous confidence.

Make our hearts so right
with Thy most holy and loving heart,
that hoping in Thee we may do good;
until that day
when faith and hope shall be abolished
by sight and possession,
and love shall be all in all.


(a prayer by Christina Rossetti)

A Prayer for the First Sunday in Advent

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

(a prayer of Charles Wesley)


Be our Joy and Hope, our Strength and Life,
our Shield and Shepherd, our Portion forever.

For happy are we
if we continue in the love in which you loved us;
holy are we when we love you unwaveringly.

Therefore, you whose name and essence is love,
enkindle our hearts,
enlighten our understandings,
sanctify our wills,
and fill all the thoughts of our hearts;
for Jesus Christ’s sake, amen.

(a prayer of Johann Arndt)

My Habakkuk 3 Prayer

If I see no blossoms,
and I find no fruit,
and the fuel runs out
and the work of my hands yields nothing,
and my assets dwindle
and my safety net fails,
I will still love you, Lord,
I will rejoice in you
and trust in you
and believe that you love me
and you know what you're doing,
for you are my strength;
you make me agile and sure-footed,
clear-headed and far-sighted
as if I stand
on the highest mountaintop.

Ten Thousand Thanks

O My God,
Thou fairest, greatest,
first of all objects,
my heart admires,
loves thee,
for my little vessel
is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out
all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, for sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God,
through time and eternity.

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett)


Heavenly Father,
not backward;
not inward;
not downward;
to Jesus,
in Jesus’ name,

Make Me Dangerous

Mighty God, save me from being ordinary and commonplace while professing to know a Power this nuclear century does not reckon with. Save me from being “harmless,” and therefore unharmed. Save me from being a spiritual pacifist, a non-militant, a conscientious objector in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Give me meekness in contact with men, but brash, outspoken boldness in the way of the Cross. Save me from being among the “sideliners” — coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. Save me from being one whom the world cannot hate, because I am too much like it. Oh, God, make me dangerous!

(based on words written by Jim Eliot)

I Rest, I Give, I Yield

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in you;
I give you back the life I owe,
That in those ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller grow.

O light that follows all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to you;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in your sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer glow.

(a hymn by George Matheson, updated and revised)

A Prayer for Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, Snookie, et al

Father God, for some reason, we who revere you and follow your Son seem to think that it's okay to belittle and laugh at celebrities whose decisions or struggles or lifestyles make the news. Forgive us, Lord. Forgive me for the way I've treated them in my own heart and mind, and talked about them to others.

How you must hurt when your children--even the most famous and privileged among them--stumble and suffer. Teach me to see with your eyes and to feel with your heart.

I pray for Lindsay Lohan. I ask you to bless her and aid her in every sincere effort to overcome the things she's up against in her life. Heal her, strengthen her, and make her future bright.

I pray for Kim Kardashian, Lord. Maybe she's having the time of her life. Maybe she's not. But I know, as do all your children, that appearances can be deceiving, and even the rich can feel poor, and the famous can be lonely. Bless her. Smile on her. Tune her ears to your voice, and let her feel your love.

I pray for Snookie. Meet her deepest needs, Lord. Truly fulfill her heart's true longings. Bless her. Be gracious to her, and draw her closer to you.

I pray for all those who are worshiped or mocked as celebrities. I pray for all who have become famous too soon, wealthy too fast, or successful too quickly. I pray for all who struggle with addictions, to drugs or alcohol, surgeries, money, or fame itself. I pray for all who have attracted sycophants like vultures. I pray for all who have come to be treated as commodities rather than priceless creations of a loving God, in Jesus' name, amen.

(photo credit: Ashley Cooper)

Who Is Like You, Jesus, Sweet Jesus?

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 paralyzed 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.

(a prayer by Johann Freylinghausen, 1670 – 1739)

Be Blessed Forever

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for not abandoning me when I abandoned You.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for offering Your hand of love
in my darkest, most lonely moment.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for putting up with such a stubborn soul as mine.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for loving me more than I love myself.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for continuing to pour out Your blessing upon me,
even though I respond so poorly.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for drawing out the goodness in all people,
even including me.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for repaying our sin with Your love.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for being constant and unchanging,
amidst all the changes of the world.

May You be blessed forever, LORD,
for Your countless blessings on me
and on all Your creatures.

(a prayer of Teresa Of Avila, 1515-1582)


Abba, Father God,
thank you that my worst addiction
is Diet Mountain Dew.
Thank you that the lovely Robin
is addicted to nothing worse
than chocolate and sweet tea.
Thank you that Aaron and Kevin
are no more seriously addicted than
to technology and media,
and Nina to shoes,
and Aubrey to planning.
How much worse could things be
if the addictions of me and mine
were less benign?
So I thank you,
even as I beg your mercy
for those whose addictions
are much more serious
and much more injurious,
in Jesus' name,

For the Cleansing Effect of Laughter

Thank you, God, for the interruption to a hectic day, and the cleansing effect of a laugh. Thank you God that I can hear and see this, in order to so fully enjoy it. Thank you that my lungs work, so I can bark out “HA! That’s funny!” and it heals me more effectively than a thousand sighs. Thank you for the Holy Spirit, who moves on the air I breath, and therefore on all of my tears and laughter and carries them where you will....Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for my life, I do not appreciate enough.

Thank you, God, that a few minutes spent in frivolity only [lead] me back to you, who—being all good—can only be my joy.

(a prayer of The Anchoress, which she posted after a friend sent her a funny video. The photo is of my grandson Miles)

Lizard Prayer

London Zoo: Spiny-tailed Lizard
God, make me
so persevering in prayer
as to be like the spiny-tailed lizard
that will not release its bite
until its head is cut off.

I Repent

(a prayer of Derek Webb, from the album, I See Things Upside Down)

A Prayer for Veterans' Day 2011

God of peace,
we pray for those who have served our nation
and who laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted
by memories too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm's way:
shield them from danger
and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!


(borrowed from A Concord Pastor Comments blog)

A Writer's Fears

Save me from fear, Lord.
Give me courage to write;
make me “bold in our God” (1 Thessalonians 2:2) to write for you,
whatever obstacles or blockages the Enemy may throw in my way.

Save me from the fear of rejection;
let me write today for your approval first and foremost,
and if I receive it, let me be satisfied with it.

Save me from the fear of inadequacy;
remind me that “all my springs are in you” (Psalm 87:7),
and that you are wholly sufficient no matter how inadequate I may be...or feel.

Save me from the fear of failure.
I know, as Samuel Logan Brengle said, “Fear is a fruit of selfishness.”
I confess my selfishness, my desire to amount to something.
Destroy that desire in me, and replace it with boldness and bravery.

Save me from the fear of success,
from all the “what ifs?” the future may hold.
As long as you are with me, I will not fear (Isaiah 41:10).

Save me also from the fear of criticism and ridicule.
Grant me willingness and boldness to think and work under your mighty hand,
and to do it “as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23),
in Jesus’ name, amen.


Enclose my children in your care, Lord, please. Keep them as the apple of your eye. Hide them in the shadow of your wings.

Mercy, Lord. Grace. Your abundance, I pray, for them. Your will. Your pleasure. Your laughter. Your glory, in Jesus' name, amen.

Remove Far From Me

My Lord and my God,
remove far from me
whatever keeps me
from You.

My Lord and my God,
confer upon me
whatever enables me
to reach You.

My Lord and my God,
free me from self
and make me
wholly Yours.

(a prayer of Nicholas of Flue (1447-1487))

Be For Me the Way

Lord Jesus,
be for me the way to Abba, Father.
Be for me all my truth
and all my life.
Lead me into the crucified life,
which is the real life, the eternal.
Lead me away
from every lesser thing.
By Your love, renew my inner being
so that I can receive Your love,
and know it truly,
and be Your love to others.

(a prayer of Brennan Manning, from The Ragamuffin Gospel)

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Dear God, I want to quit being “nice." I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not, or to feel something I don’t. I don’t want to play a role. No charades. No facade. No mask. I want to be honest about who I am, and even honest about the progress I have yet to make. I want to learn to be real. I want to go through life loving others from the center of who I am, not faking it.

You know my fears. You know my hesitations. You know my need. Please help me to live in the light of your love. Help me to become a more open, loving and authentic person, as I make you Lord of my life, day by day, Amen.

(from the upcoming book, Quit Going to Church, by Bob Hostetler (Leafwood Publishers))


God, help me to live
more like I pray,
to pray
more like I preach,
to preach
more like I desire,
and to desire
more like you require,
in Jesus' name,

A Writer's Thanks

Gracious Lord,
thank you for the joy of writing.
For the honor of being published.
For the blessing of being used.
The miracle of being paid.
The wonder of being read.
The blessing of my words being translated
and traveling around the world.

A Prayer of Samuel Logan Brengle

O Jesus, Savior, how I bless Thee that Thou didst seek me when lost and far from Thee and altogether unlike Thee, and didst woo me, and win me, and lead me to Thyself, and reveal Thyself to me, and make me to know Thee, and ravish my heart, and humble my pride with the joy and love and glory that that best of all knowledge brings! Still reveal Thyself, O Lord, to Thy people, that they may know Thee, and glorify Thee and be satisfied with Thy lovingkindness, and fill the earth with Thy fame!

(a prayer of Samuel Logan Brengle, from chapter 10 of Heart Talks on Holiness)

A Prayer for All Saints Day

Father, All-Powerful and ever-living God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body
of Your Son, Christ our Lord,
and kindled the flame of your love
in the hearts of the saints.
I praise you for the holy men and women
you have raised up
in every time and place.
Give me grace so to follow their example
in devotion and godliness
that I may come
to those ineffable joys
that you have prepared for those
who unfeignedly love you,
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

(updated and modernized from the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, the Gothic Missal, and The Book of Common Prayer, 1979)