Instead of the Man It's Easy to Be

Father, wean me from sin, my pet sins, my most grievous sins. I know that in me dwells no good thing, but I also know that you are able to keep me from falling. I know that when I sin, not only that moment is defiled, but my hunger for sin and its empty promises is fed, and my strength to resist and please you more is doubly diminished like an athlete who not only skips a workout but spends the workout hour in strength-sapping activity. So, Lord, please change me, strengthen me, wean me from pride, lust, greed, self-centeredness, faithlessness, laziness, and all such things, that I may build up the muscles of my character and be the man I want to be instead of the man it's easy to be, in Jesus' name, amen.

(photo by Zach Dischner)

Sunrise Prayer

O greater Maker of this Thy great sun,
Give me the strength this one day's race to run,
Fill me with light, fill me with sun-like strength,
Fill me with joy to rob the day its length.
Light from within, light that will outward shine,
Strength to make strong some weaker heart than mine,
Joy to make glad each soul that feels its touch;
Great Father of the sun, I ask this much.

(a prayer by James Weldon Johnson)


Lord, your light has shined
into my life,
by grace through faith.

Let light shine out
of my life,
by grace through faith.

In Jesus' name, amen.

So Much Madness Everywhere Prevailing

Grant, Almighty God, that since the rule of your true and lawful worship is sufficiently known to us, and you continue to exhort us to persevere in our course and abide in that pure and simple worship which you have fully approved--O, grant that we may, in true obedience of faith, respond to you. And, though we now see the whole world carried here and there, and all places full of the awful examples of apostasy, and so much madness everywhere prevailing, that men become more and more hardened daily--O, grant that, being fortified by invincible faith against these many temptations, we may persevere in true religion, and never at any time turn aside form the teaching of your Word, until we be at length gathered to Christ our King, under whom, as our head, you have promised that we shall ever be safe, and until we attain that happy life which is laid up for us in heaven, through the same Jesus 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)

Give Us a Steadfast, Living Faith

We give you praise and thanks, holy Father, for you have created everything: heaven and earth, the sea and everything that is upon and within it. You are forever faithful; you give justice to those suffering injustice. You have saved all who have believed and trusted in you since the dawn of time, all who fear you. We ask you to give us a steadfast, living faith, a firm trust, a holy hope and a perfect love so that we may serve you wholeheartedly, with all our life and strength until our very end. Amen.

(from the book Amish Prayers, compiled by Beverly Lewis)

Evening Prayer

If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive!

If I have uttered idle words or vain,
If I have turned aside from want or pain,
Lest I myself shall suffer through the strain,
Dear Lord, forgive!

If I have been perverse or hard, or cold,
If I have longed for shelter in Thy fold,
When Thou hast given me some fort to hold,
Dear Lord, forgive!

Forgive the sins I have confessed to Thee;
Forgive the secret sins I do not see;
O guide me, love me and my keeper be,
Dear Lord, Amen.

I Will Arise

Weary and weak,--accept my weariness;
Weary and weak and downcast in my soul,
With hope growing less and less,
And with the goal
Distant and dim,--accept my sore distress.
I thought to reach the goal so long ago,
At outset of the race I dreamed of rest,
Not knowing what now I know
Of breathless haste,
Of long-drawn straining effort across the waste.

One only thing I knew, Thy love of me;
One only thing I know, Thy sacred same
Love of me full and free,
A craving flame
Of selfless love of me which burns in Thee.
How can I think of thee, and yet grow chill;
Of Thee, and yet grow cold and nigh to death?
Re-energize my will,
Rebuild my faith;
I will arise and run, Thou giving me breath.

I will arise, repenting and in pain;
I will arise, and smite upon my breast
And turn to Thee again;
Thou choosest best,
Lead me along the road Thou makest plain.
Lead me a little way, and carry me
A little way, and listen to my sighs,
And store my tears with Thee,
And deign replies
To feeble prayers;--O Lord, I will arise.

(a prayer by Christina Rossetti)

Request for Success

Lord God Adonai, you have been so good to bless me and the lovely Robin with the children and grandchildren we have. My cup runneth over.

And though the two youngest face the daily challenge presented by Cystic Fibrosis, I pray that it will not be a lifelong challenge, but that our efforts and the efforts of many others, including the CF Foundation, will result in eradication of this disease very soon.

To that end, Lord, I beseech your help in my family's GREAT STRIDES efforts this year. Please guide me in my efforts to get the word out. Please bring to me five or more team members to work with and walk with. Please stir up the hearts of those I'm contacting to participate, donate, and otherwise support this effort. Please make this year's GREAT STRIDES efforts a success from YOUR perspective, and use our efforts--and every donation--to bring about a cure, in Jesus' name, amen.

(Visit my GREAT STRIDES homepage here)

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Grant, Lord, that during this season of Lent, I may
fast from discontent and feast on gratitude;
fast from anger and feast on patience;
fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness;
fast from self-concern and feast on compassion;
fast from discouragement and feast on hope;
fast from laziness and feast on commitment;
fast from complaining and feast on acceptance;
fast from lust and feast on respect;
fast from prejudice and feast on understanding;
fast from resentment and feast on reconciliation;
fast from lies and feast on the truth;
fast from wasted time and feast on honest work;
fast from grimness and feast on joy;
fast from suspicion and feast on trust;
fast from idle talk and feast on prayer and silence;
fast from guilt and feast on the mercy of God.

(based on lines attributed to William Arthur Ward)

Prayer for Watchfulness

Oil lamp @ Nazareth Village_0696

Keep us, O Lord,
while we tarry on this earth,
in a serious seeking after you,
and in an affectionate walking with you,
every day of our lives;
that when you come,
we may be found not hiding our talent,
nor serving the flesh,
nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished,
but waiting and longing for our Lord,
our glorious God forever,

(a prayer of Richard Baxter)


Thank you for my freedom
To love anyone and everyone,
To show grace
And have mercy
And give hospitality
And extend blessing
To one and all,
In Jesus' name, amen.

My Prayer Before Worship

Lord, let me worship you truly today.

Quicken my conscience with your holiness.
Purge our imagination with your beauty.
Open my heart to your love.
And help me to fully devote my will to your purpose, in Jesus' name, amen.

(Based on a stanza by Dr. William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury).

A Simple Prayer of Praise and Thanks

We give you praise and thanks, glory and honor, and eternal blessing, O holy Father in heaven, that you have had mercy on us. You have given us food and drink, clothing and shelter, sanctuary and sustenance for body and soul. All good things come from you alone, O Lord. Give them to us to use according to your holy will.

We ask you all this, O holy Father, in the name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ, along with the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit. May you be highly praised, glorified, and blessed now and forever. Amen, amen.

(from the book Amish Prayers, compiled by Beverly Lewis)

The Lowest Place

Give me the lowest place: not that I dare
Ask for that lowest place, but Thou hast died
That I might live and share
Thy glory by Thy side.

Give me the lowest place: or if for me
That lowest place too high, make one more low
Where I may sit and see
My God and love Thee so.

(a prayer by Christina Rossetti)

Zarephath Prayer 7

Lord God Adonai, you have been to me
as you were to the widow of Zarephath.

You have supplied
and sustained
and showered
your blessing on me,
my home,
my work,
my life.

Please let your faithfulness to me
through these scary times
of need
and adjustment
and faith
be remembered in the future
whenever I am tempted
to doubt your provision,
In Jesus' name, amen.

(Based on 1 Kings 17:14)

Long Barren

Thou who didst hang upon a barren tree,
My God, for me;
Though I till now be barren, now at length,
Lord, give me strength
To bring forth fruit to Thee.

Thou who didst bear for me the crown of thorn,
Spitting and scorn;
Though I till now have put forth thorns, yet now
Strengthen me Thou
That better fruit be borne.

Thou Rose of Sharon, Cedar of broad roots
Vine of sweet fruits,
Thou Lily of the vale with fadeless leaf,
Of thousands Chief,
Feed Thou My feeble shoots.

(a prayer of Christina Rossetti; photo by Yogendra174)


Like summer snow
floating from a sun-filled sky,
draping airy-white on flowered fields,
Your love astonished me.

No frilly show,
no assorted-chocolate pledge,
no candy hearts or silver kisses
disclosed your care for me;

But unsparing,
cross-bearing love,
that opened hands and feet and side
to spill your heart for me,

To recreate,
inundate my longing soul
with giving, holding, accepting,
enfolding love for me.

A Prayer at the End of Sunday


at the close of this day
I thank you
for truths expounded from your word
for tasks accomplished in your name
for time well spent with your children

in the hours of sleep
I trust you
for the certainty of your presence
for the safety of your protection
for the tranquillity of your peace

and at the start of a new day
I ask you
for intimacy as I walk with you
for energy as I work for you
for authority as I witness for you

in Jesus' name

(a prayer of Chick Yuill)

Fairest Lord Jesus, Slightly Adapted

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair is the snowfall, fairer still the snowmelt,
That heralds all the joys of spring;
Jesus, you're fairer, Jesus, you're purer,
You make the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
You, Lord, shine brighter, you shine far purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than you, my Savior, are to me.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

Who Shall Deliver Me?

God, strengthen me to bear myself,
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out,
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease, and rest, and joys;

Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me,
Break off the yoke and set me free.

(a prayer of Christina Rossetti)

Give Us Your Grace to Pray

Almighty, kind, merciful, heavenly God and Father, Lord of heaven and earth: We come again to you as your children, and we ask you, holy Father, to give us your grace from on high, that we may call on you and pray to you in spirit and in truth, in faith and in the right, pure love of God, with wisdom and with awe, in humility and in submission. Amen.

(from the book Amish Prayers, compiled by Beverly Lewis)

Let Your Precious Life

My only confidence, my love and my hope, my honor, my adornment! Your life has been nothing other than love, meekness, and humility. Let your precious life be in me; let your virtuous life be my life. Let me be one spirit, body, and soul with you so that I may live in you and you in me; rather than I myself, may you live in me. Let me acknowledge you and love you so that I may walk as you have walked. As you are my light, so shine in me; as you are my life, so live in me; as you are my faith, so adorn me; as you are my joy, so be pleased with me; as I am your dwelling, so dwell in me. Let me be your instrument so that my body, soul, and mind are holy. Amen.

(from the book Amish Prayers, compiled by Beverly Lewis)

A Writer's Breastplate

(based on the Breastplate of St. Patrick)

I bind to myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
Invoking the same,
The Three in One
and One in Three.

I plead for my thinking and writing today
The power of love, the power of faith,
Christ’s incarnate immanence,
The passion of his holy death,
Awareness of His imminence,
His power bursting from the spiced tomb,
His exaltation up the heavenly way,
His princely coming at the day of doom
I plead for them all today.

I invoke for my words the power
Of angels' shout,
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The voice of the seraphim,
The certainty of the Apostles,
The backbone of Patriarchs,
the certainty of prophets,
And all good work done
as to the Lord and not for men.

I ask for my work today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s lifegiving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I beseech for my sentences, paragraphs, and pages,
My grammar, style, usage, and punctuation,
My concepts and conceits, advances and retreats,
The power of God to inspire and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give them speech,
His heavenly host to be their guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The lie of judgment, lack of grace,
The haunting doubts that war within,
The lazy word, the easy phrase,
Such fatal flaws as these in me,
In every place and in all hours,
Against all unChristlike tendencies
I ask, in Jesus’ name, these powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the world's deceitful thrills,
Against the lure of pleasing men,
Against dependence on my own skills,
Protect me, Christ, as you alone can.

Christ be with me, be all to me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ flow through me,
Christ to empty and restore me.
Christ my waking, Christ my sleeping,
Christ my thinking, Christ my feeling,
Christ my laughing, Christ my weeping,
Christ concealing and revealing.

I ask all this in the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.


Lord my God,
Ancient of Days,
I thank you for the gift of memory.

Thank you for the faculty of remembering:
names and faces,
locations and directions,
letters and numbers,
good times and not-so-good times,
songs and Scripture,
and sometimes even where I put my glasses.

Thank you for the sweet memory of childhood play,
falling in love,
my wedding day,
my children's lives,
my grandchildren's births.

I thank you that,
while the years have dulled memory's edge,
they have not yet stolen it.

Thank you for the memories that yet remain in my mind,
and for those that yet remain in my future,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Why You Bestow Another Day Upon Us

Dear Lord, please teach us to consider why you bestow yet another day upon us; so that we may spend the rest of our days in a sober, just, and godly way; so that your holy name is honored and praised; and so that we may forever remain in your grace and become holy.

From now on, may your Spirit lead us, and may your angels bless our path. O God, we ask this in the name of your beloved son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(from the book Amish Prayers, compiled by Beverly Lewis)

A Prayer of Hildegarde of Bingen, slightly revised

Fire of the Spirit,
Life of the lives of creatures,
Spiral of sanctity,
Bond of all natures,
Glow of charity,
Lights of clarity,
Taste of sweetness to the fallen,
be with me and hear me,
in Jesus' name, amen

(Hildegarde of Bingen, twelfth century).

Inadequate But Sincere

Abba, Father,
Mighty God,
I praise you:
for the grace
to praise you.

I praise you:
for the symphony of seasons,
four movements,

I praise you:
for the marvelous variety of tastes
you've placed in this world,
grapes, apples,
bread, potato,
cheese, milk,
asparagus, peas,
egg yolk and white,
chocolate, coffee,
salt and pepper,
beef and chicken, pork and fish,
and so much more.

I praise you:
for your endless creativity,
your awesome majesty,
your thundering power,
your gentle caresses,
your incredible patience,
your immeasurable condescension
to listen to me
praise you.

Guard, Save, Open, Close

Lord, in this time of new rhythms,
in these days of different pursuits,
when my life and service has changed
from preaching and leading
to writing and speaking,
please guard the gifts you have given me,
and save me from neglecting
or missing any service to which you call me.
I love where you've placed me,
and it would be so easy
to be not only content but complacent.
Help me, Lord, not to do that.
Open doors for me to preach
if that's what you want.
Keep them shut
if that's what you want.
I want
what you want,
when you want,
where you want,
in Jesus' name, amen.