A Prayer on December 31

Our great and Gracious God, as we come to the close of another year, we would indeed make it the prayer of our hearts that you would abide with us. We thank you that you have been with us through the days of this past year.

Perhaps many a day we have not felt you near,
Perhaps at times we have even felt that you have
forsaken us and forgotten us
but we thank you that it has never been so.
We thank you that you are constantly with your people,
and that you have enabled us to persevere in grace,

You have comforted our hearts,
You have heard our prayers,
You have come so often to our aid.
We pray that you will go with us into this new year.

There is none of us who knows what the new year will hold,
but we thank you that every moment of that year is in your hands,
and you will be with your people.
We thank you that with that promise girding us,
we can go forward with confidence and in your peace.
We pray that you will help us to walk with you in this new year better than we have ever done before.
Forgive us, Lord, for our sins and our backslidings of this past year.

Grant to us, as the days of the new year unfold, an ever closer walk with you.
Help us to put sin to death,
Help us gladly yield our lives unreservedly to Jesus Christ, our Savior, and God
that we may regard ourselves entirely at his disposal to be, to go, to do, as he would wish.
We pray that it may be our privilege to serve him,
to bring glory to him, to help others to know him better,
and to help some, indeed, to come to know him for the first time.
Have mercy, we pray, upon those connected with us who come to the end of this year
and their hearts are still closed against you, still hardening their hearts against you.

Spare them, O God, we pray; spare them!
Grant that this new year would mark the beginning of new life in Jesus Christ.
We are so thankful for the almighty Holy Sprit, for his limitless power
to bring conviction of sin,
to give new birth,
and to draw those who are away from you
to faith and to repentance.
We pray, Lord, that you would do that in the hearts and lives of all who are upon our hearts.
For Jesus’ sake,

(From the book Heart Cries to Heaven, by David Campbell)

To Search Ourselves

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are in this life subject to so many miseries and, in the meantime, grow insensible in our sins--O, grant that we may learn to search ourselves and consider our sins, that we may be really humbled before you, and ascribe to ourselves the blame of all our evils, that we may be thus led to a genuine feeling of repentance, and so strive to be reconciled to you in Christ, that we may wholly depend on your paternal love, and thus ever aspire to the fulness of eternal felicity, through your goodness and that immeasurable kindness which you testify is ready and offered to all those who with sincere heart worship you, call on you, and flee to you, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(a prayer of John Calvin, in his Commentary on Hosea, translated into English in 1846 and updated by me into modern English)


Lord Jesus, you said
that we ought always to pray
and not give up.

I am taking you at your word.
I will pray without ceasing
until Calleigh is healed.

I will pray without ceasing
until Ryder is healed.

I will pray without ceasing
until _________ and _________ repent.

I will pray without ceasing
until _________ comes to faith,
until _________ comes to faith,
until _________ comes to faith.

I will pray without ceasing
until _________, _________, and _________ find jobs.

I will pray without ceasing
until your will is done in me and mine
as it is in heaven,
in Jesus' name, amen.

The Beginning of Thanks

God, I thank you that I am not insane, that my poor mind is not torn by horrid nightmares and nameless terrors. I thank you for the light and blessings of civilization, past mercies, present comforts, and future prospects. I thank you for food, and the appetite to eat it, and the power to digest it. I thank you for clothes to wear and books to read. I thank you for the Church, the Bible, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, the glorious possibility of escape from the penalty and power and consequences and character of sin. I thank you for home and friends, and Heaven bending over all, in Jesus' name, amen.

(based on lines from Samuel Logan Brengle, in Heart Talks on Holiness, chapter 19)

Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise

When all Thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love and praise.

(from a hymn by Joseph Addison)

A Day-After-Christmas Prayer

Lord, if we were to sum it all up, we are filled with so many good things but today it's enough to appreciate the gift of life itself! And the gift of a morning so clean and crisp and beautiful that we can see blue sky everywhere! We offer our worship, our gifts, ourselves. You alone are God, you alone are the Lord. You alone are holy.

Forgive us for the words spoken in anger, for our actions that have hurt or harmed another. And we pray for those who hurt us, in the name of the one who said from the cross, "Forgive them- they don't know what they're doing." Free us, we pray, to make it easier for others to believe in you because they have known us. Help us to lighten the load that others are carrying, to cut some slack for others, knowing how we appreciate it when someone is patient and understanding with us.

We praise and glory and delight in your loving presence. The glow of that Holy Night still lingers...the simplicity and surrender of people giving themselves to each other and ultimately to you... Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, all making their unplanned journeys. So teach us to walk with you in the happenstance. That if you are anywhere, you are where we are afraid and uncertain. Teach us anew that courage is not the absence of fear, but the presence of love- your love and grace. Teach us what it means to be loved unconditionally, and to trust in you even though we don't know what tomorrow will bring.

Help us to hear in Jesus our invitation to live and to be fully alive! That surrendering to you is an invitation to know joy and peace and gentleness deep within and where we live. It's our gain and we're so grateful. Renew and restrain us and our world in your love. Renew our hope and adventure and willingness to risk and serve. Deliver those who are in pain or who suffer from the violence of others. Heal us and hold us all, Lord. And equip us not only to know what our ministry is, but to do it! In the name of the One who saves us and loves, Jesus. Amen.

(A prayer by Scott Endress at clergyspirit.org)

Christmas Prayer

Cone and Christmas Tree
You who were rich beyond all splendor,
Who for love's sake became poor;
Your throne for a manger surrendered,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
You who were rich beyond all splendor,
All for love's sake became poor.

You who are God beyond all praising,
Who for love's sake became man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by your eternal plan.
You who are God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake became man.

You who are love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, I worship you.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Cause us to do what you would do.
You who are love beyond all telling,
Savior and King, I worship you.

(a hymn by Frank Houghton, updated)

A Prayer on 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.


On Tiptoe

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 finding
and approaching
and kneeling at
your manger, amen.

Prayer from a Journal

God, this day I solemnly renew my covenant with you, and re-dedicate myself to you. I give myself and all that I am and have to you, so that I am not in any respect my own, and can claim no right to myself—to this understanding, to this will, these affections; and have no right to this body—to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses. I give every power to you, so that for the future I will claim no right to myself. Amen.

(based on a journal entry by a young Jonathan Edwards)

God, Give Us Men

God give us men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds
Their large professions and their little deeds.
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.

(a prayer by J. B. Holland)

Fountain and Fire

All bitterness is from ourselves,
All sweetness is from Thee;
Sweet God, forevermore be Thou
Fountain and fire in me.
(a prayer of Frederick William Faber)

A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

(a prayer of Phillips Brooks, in his hymn, "O Little Town of Bethlehem")

That We May Embrace the Grace

Grant, Almighty God, that as you have not only of late adopted us as your children, but before we were born, and as you have been pleased to sign us as soon as we came forth from our mother's wombs with the symbol of that holy redemption, which has been obtained for us by the blood of your only begotten Son, though we have by our ingratitude renounced so great a benefit--O, grant that, being mindful of our defection and unfaithfulness, of which we are all guilty, and for which you have justly rejected us, we may now with true humility and obedience of faith embrace the grace of your gospel now again offered to us, by which you reconcile yourself to us; and grant that we may steadfastly persevere in pure faith, so as never to turn aside from the true obedience of faith, but to advance more and more in the knowledge of your mercy, that having strong and deep roots, and being firmly grounded in the confidence of sure faith, we may never fall away from the true worship of you, until you at length receive us into that eternal kingdom, which has been procured for us by the blood of your only Son. Amen.

(a prayer of John Calvin, in his Commentary on Hosea, translated into English in 1846 and updated by me into modern English)

Blessing for Waiting

Who wait

for the night

to end

bless them.

Who wait

for the night

to begin

bless them.

Who wait

in the hospital room
who wait

in the cell

who wait

in prayer

bless them.

Who wait

for news

who wait
for the phone call
who wait

for a word

who wait

for a job

a house
a child

bless them.

Who wait

for one who

will come home
who wait

for one who

will not come home

bless them.

Who wait with fear
who wait with joy

who wait with peace

who wait with rage
who wait for the end

who wait for the beginning

who wait alone

who wait together

bless them.

Who wait

without knowing

what they wait for

or why

bless them.

Who wait

when they

should not wait

who wait

when they should be

in motion

who wait

when they need

to rise

who wait

when they need

to set out

bless them.

Who wait

for the end

of waiting

who wait

for the fullness

of time

who wait

emptied and

open and

who wait

for you

to bless

(a prayer of Jan Richardson, from her blog, The Painted Prayerbook. The art is Waiting for the Revealing ©Jan Richardson)


I have not achieved the man I am meant to be.
This, G-d of Old, is a blessing.
There is so much more I can become.

I have not achieved the heart I am meant to have.
There is so much more love to behold.

I have not achieved the sight I am meant to use.
There is so much more glory to perceive.

I have not achieved the strength I am meant to hold.
There is so much more work to complete.

I have not achieved the man I am meant to be.
Thank you, G-d of Old, for the challenge and the struggle,
For the will and the desire,
For the fortitude and the purpose.
There is so much more You want me to become.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Pupil's Prayer

I see your school is not an easy one, O Christ,
but I would learn from you.
Train me.
Teach me.

(a prayer of Samuel Logan Brengle, in his book, Ancient Prophets)

He Is Coming

Abba, he is coming.
My new grandson.
This season will be his advent, too.

On this child
growing inside my precious daughter, 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 just months ago, Lord, grant health and healthy growth in every way.

On this child's parents, my daughter and son-in-law, Lord, have mercy.
On this child's parents, Lord, show your favor.
On this child's parents, Lord, grant health, and a healthy, successful, blessed, and miraculous delivery.

On this child's grandparents, Lord have mercy.
On me and my wife, and on Kevin's parents, show your favor.
To us all, Lord, grant the wisdom and faith to bless Kevin, Aubrey, Calleigh, 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 final days of waiting, in Jesus' name, amen.

May Grace Come

We give you thanks, Holy Father, for your holy name which you have caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which you have made known to us through Jesus your servant; to you be the glory forever.

You, almighty Master, created all things for your name's sake, and gave food and drink to men to enjoy, that they might give you thanks; but to us you have graciously given spiritual food and drink, and eternal life through your servant [Jesus]. Above all we give thanks because you are mighty; to you be the glory forever.

Remember your church, Lord, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in your love; and gather it, the one that has been sanctified, from the four winds into your kingdom, which you have prepared for it; for yours is the glory forever.

May grace come, and may this world pass away.

(from the Didache)

A Prayer for the Third Sunday in Advent

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)

Headlong Prayer

Grant, Almighty God, that as we were from our beginning lost, when you were pleased to extend to us your hand, and to restore us to salvation for the sake of your Son; and that as we continue even daily to run headlong to our own ruin--O, grant that we may not, by sinning so often, so provoke at length your displeasure as to cause you to take away from us the mercy you have hitherto exercised towards us, and through which you have adopted us. But, by your Spirit destroy the wickedness of our hearts, and restore us to sound minds, that we may ever cleave to you with true and sincere hearts, that being fortified by your defense, we may continue safe even amidst all kinds of danger, until at length you gather us into that blessed rest which has been prepared for us in heaven by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

(a prayer of John Calvin, in his Commentary on Hosea, translated into English in 1846 and updated by me into modern English)

To the Most High Among the Highest

We pray to you, Creator of all things, and beg you to preserve the number of your elect throughout the whole world, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and not let a single one of them fall away. Through him you called us from darkness into light and gave us the knowledge of the glory of your name.

He taught us to hope in you, from whom all creation has its being. He opened our eyes so that we would recognize you, Most High among the highest, holy and surrounded by holiness. You put an end to the pride of the arrogant, you frustrate the plans of the Gentiles, you raise up the lowly and bring down those who are exalted. You give riches and give poverty, you dispense both death and life. You succor every spirit, you are the God of all flesh. You behold what is hidden in the depths, you see all that men do. You give help to those in peril and rescue to those without hope. You create all that has breath and watch over it; you multiply the peoples of the earth, and from among them you choose those who love you through Jesus Christ your beloved Son, through whom you give us wisdom, holiness, and honor.

We beg you, Lord, to be our help and our support. Free us from our troubles; take pity on the lowly; raise up those who have fallen; give help to the poor, health to the sick, and bring home those who have wandered away. Feed the hungry, ransom captives, give strength to the weak and courage to the faint-hearted. Let all peoples come to know that you alone are God, that Jesus Christ is your son, and that we are your people and the sheep of your flock.

(a prayer of Clement of Rome, from his First Letter to the Corinthians)

For the Gift of Music

G-d, we give thanks for the gift of music,
For horn and flute,
For strings and drums,
For crescendo and staccato,
For the gift that gives our spirits a divine voice.

Hear this prayer for those who write music, arranging sound, seeking beauty.
Hear this prayer for those who play music, creating sound, releasing beauty.
Make their music Your vessel.
Let heaven pour joy and sorrow,
love and loss through them
So that they overflow with Your most secret prayers for Your people,
Drawing others to Your blessings.
So that when we hear their music
Our souls turn back to You for shelter.
Together, we offer our voices back to heaven,
And rejoice.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

That We May Not Continue Untameable and Obstinate

Grant, Almighty God, that as you have once adopted us, and continue to confirm your favor by calling us unceasingly to yourself, and not only severely chastise us, but also gently and paternally invite us to yourself and exhort us at the same time to repentance--O, grant that we may not be so hardened as to resist your goodness, nor abuse your incredible forbearance, but submit ourselves in obedience to you; that whenever you may severely chastise us, we may bear your corrections with genuine submission of faith, and not continue untameable and obstinate to the last, but return to you, the only fountain of life and salvation, that as you have once begun in us a good work, so you may perfect it until the day of our Lord, amen.

(a prayer of John Calvin, in his Commentary on Hosea, translated into English in 1846 and updated by me into modern English)

Against Untimely Judgments

Abba, Father,
help me to do as your Word says,
and not make judgments about anyone
ahead of time,
but to wait
until the day of the Lord's return
when he will bring our darkest secrets to light,
reveal our private motives,
and give to each of us whatever is due,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(based on 1 Corinthians 4:4-5)

Give Me a Heart like Thine

Give me a heart like Thine;
By Thy wonderful power,
By Thy grace every hour,
Give me a heart like Thine.

A Prayer for the Second Sunday in Advent

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


God, thank you for water.
and clean.
and ready.
to the point
I seldom
give it a thought.
But I'm giving it thought now.
Thank you,
in Jesus' name, amen.

I Thirst