A Prayer of Thomas à Kempis

O God my Truth,
make me one with You in eternal love.

Often I become weary with reading and hearing many things.
You are all I want and desire.

Let all teachers be mute and creation keep silence before You.
Speak to me, You, and You alone.


(a prayer of Thomas à Kempis, from The Imitation of Christ)

For Transcendence

Thank You, God,

For Your hand that reaches to me,
touching my arm, tapping my shoulder,
telling me to pause and to look and to listen
at all the windows of the soul.

Help me to see something in those windows,
something of heaven in every earthly event,
something of the divine spark in every human soul.

Please, dear God, give me grace to stand, shoes in hand,
before all that in some way bears Your glory,
for I don't want to spend my days
just sitting around
plucking blackberries...

(A prayer by Ken Gire from his book, Windows of the Soul, p. 45)

Wake Me Up

Lord, wake me up!
To the beating of wings and splashing of water,
the settling of fog at twilight—
the way the leaves and the childhood can slip away in the woods,
torched with the last of summer.

(based on the words of Ann Voskamp in Selections from One Thousand Gifts: Finding Joy in What Really Matters (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishers, 2012), p. 6).

Samuel Prayer

let my first words
in prayer
always be,
"Speak, Lord,
for your servant is listening."

(based on 1 Samuel 3:10)

First Speaker

First Speaker,
you whispered your love to me
in my mother's womb.

First Knower,
you knew me
long before I knew you.

First Finder,
you found me
before I looked for you.

First Lover,
you loved me
before I had the first chance to love you back.

And you are still speaking,
and loving me
every day,
every moment;
you are always
and loving
me first.

Thank you,
in Jesus' name, amen.

A Prayer Before Preaching

Lord God Adonai,
thank you
for once again bringing me to your day,
in your house,
among your people.
Thank you for the fearsome privilege
of breaking the bread of life
once more.

Please make your presence known to me,
and help me to make my presence known to you.

Let me please you in all I do,
and especially (because my need is so great)
in my preaching.

Please meet me,
break me,
mold me,
fill me,
change me,
use me.

Show up in beauty.
Show up in holiness,
and in life-changing power.

Help me to decrease
that you may increase,
in Jesus' name, amen.


I repent, Lord.
I repent.

I have been wrong in supposing that I could manage my own life 
and be my own god; 
I have been wrong in thinking I had, or could get, 
the strength, education and training to make it on my own; 
I trust that God in Jesus Christ is telling me the truth. 

I lean into the realization
that what you want from me 
and what I want from you 
are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, 
thinking the same old thoughts. 

I decide 
and still  
to follow you, 
my Lord Jesus Christ, 
and be your pilgrim in the path of peace.

(a prayer based on lines from Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 29-30).

I, a Pilgrim of Eternity

I, a pilgrim of eternity,
stand before Thee,
O eternal One.

Let me not seek to deaden or destroy
the desire for Thee that disturbs my heart.

Let me rather yield myself to its constraint
and go where it leads me.

Make me wise to see all things today
under the form of eternity,
and make me brave to face all the changes in my life
which such a vision may entail:
through the grace of Christ my Saviour. Amen.

(a prayer of John Baillie)

Hold Me Near

Hold me near, when I am restless.
Hold me near, when I am bitter.
Hold me near, when I'm rebellious.
Hold me near until the end.

Hold me near, when my heart is broken.
Hold me near, when I'm ignorant.
Hold me near, when I am jealous.
Hold me near until the end.

But as for me, my feet almost gave up;
I nearly sold my heart.
It's good to be held by my Father;
It's good to be where you are.

(from the album, "Enter the Worship Circle")

Another Psalm 7

Lord God, you are Refuge.
You are Rescuer.
You are Savior.

Without you, I would be overtaken,
overwhelmed and overcome.

In spite of all the wrongs I have done,
and all the sins I have committed,
you defend me
and preserve me.

Thank you that you are not complacent when I am attacked;
when my back is against the wall, you fight for me,
you rouse yourself,
you roar on my behalf.
You are always in the middle of your people,
you rule over us all.
You dispense justice;
defend and vindicate me,
not according to my righteousness (for I have none)
but according to my Righteousness.

End violence and wickedness.
Spread righteousness over all the earth,
you, righteous God,
who sees into every heart and mind.

You are my shield;
you save me and give me an upright heart.
You are my judge,
and also my advocate.

Make me always quick to repent,
so quick that you need not chide me
or discipline me.

Let me not for one moment
be like those who propagate evil,
and multiply gossip and lies.
Save me always from the stupidity
of those who fall prey to their own devices.
Instead let me be constantly thanking you
for your kindness and holiness;
fill my heart and mind and mouth
with praises to your name, Lord Most High.

Prayer While Scrubbing a Floor

Thank you for the privilege of scrubbing this floor.
Thank you for the health and the strength to do it.
That my back is straight and my hands are whole.

I can push the mop.
I can feel the hard surface under my knees when I kneel.
I can grasp the brush and let my energy flow down into it as I erase the dirt and make this floor bright and clean.

If I were blind I couldn't see the soil or the patterns of the tile or the slippery circles shining.
If I were deaf I couldn't hear the homely cheerful sounds of suds in the bucket, the crisp little whisper of brush or mop.
I would miss the music of doors banging and children shouting and the steps of people coming to walk across this bright expanse of floor.

Lord, thank you for everything that has to do with scrubbing this floor.

Bless the soap and the bucket and the brush and the hands that do it. Bless the feet that are running in now to track it. This I accept, and thank you for.

Those feet are the reason I do it.
They are the living reasons for my kneeling here---
half to do a job, half in prayer.

A floor is a foundation. A family is a foundation. You are our foundation.

Bless us all, and our newly scrubbed floor.

(a prayer by Marjorie Holmes, from I've Got to Talk to Somebody, God)

But Thou

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds but Thou alone.

(Edward Shillito, from "Jesus of the Scars")

Bid Me

Lord, bid me.
Bid me come to you,
Walking on water,
Treading on lion and cobra,
Trampling serpents and scorpions,
Scaling the heights,
Riding on the highlands,
Wherever you call,
Wherever you send,
If only it is your bidding
And brings me step by step
Closer to you.

(based on Peter's words in Matthew 14:28, as well as Psalm 91:13, Luke 10:19, Habakkuk 3:19, Deuteronomy 32:13)

A Prayer for Solitude

Help me, O God,
To be a still axis in the wheel of activities that revolves around my life.
Deliver me from my distractions, which are many,
and lead me to a quiet place of devotion at your feet.

Teach me there how to pause at more windows.

I know I won't see everything,
but help me see something.

So much passes me by
without attention, let alone, appreciation;
without reflection, let alone, reverence;
without thought, let alone, thankfulness.

Slow me down, Lord, so I may see the windows in roller rinks
and the overarching grandeur of Your image
in the Sistine Chapel of the soul. . .

(A prayer by Ken Gire from his book, Windows of the Soul, p. 37)

For Egypt

Lord, have mercy on the people of Egypt. Save them from violence and hatred. Save them from injustice and oppression. Save them, Lord, and restore peace and prosperity where now there is so much unrest, disorder, and need. 

Please let the voices of calm and reason be heard above the din of division and ugliness. Please let cooler heads prevail. Let wisdom arise. Bring about hope and healing at all levels of that society. 

Please take special care for the Coptic Christians. Save them from the targeting and persecution under which they've suffered so much. Preserve them. Restore all that hatred has taken from them; heal all they have suffered.  

Lord of all the earth, have mercy on Egypt. 
Miraculously intervene.
Arrest evil. 
Restore peace and freedom. 

A Prayer from Matthew 5

God, our Creator, thank you for the gift of Jesus. He walked among us embodying your creative and life-giving Word in his body, his life, his words, his deeds, his sufferings, his death, and his resurrection. When we see him loving the outcast, forgiving the sinner, confronting the hypocrite, and teaching the crowds a new way of life, we see your heart, your compassion, your mercy, your character. To know Jesus is to love him, and to love him is to know him, and to know and love him is to know and love you.

So help me, Lord, to be among your disciples who come to you to be taught.

Help me, Lord, to be among the poor in spirit, to see and know that your kingdom is my homeland even now ...

Help me, Lord, to be among those who mourn, to join you in your sadness for all that's wrong and broken in this world, and in joining you, to find true comfort.

Help me, Lord, to be among the meek, those who find strength in weakness and power in vulnerability, to never fear lack or want, because when I have your love, I have all the world.

Help me, Lord, to desire justice, rightness, goodness, fairness, cleanness, clearness, and integrity more than I hunger for food or thirst for water ... and so let me find the truest fulfillment and satisfaction.

Help me, Lord, to be among the merciful. Help me to be a true friend to those who are hated, misunderstood, rejected, excluded, disregarded ... just as you, God of Mercy, are. When others fail - when they fail me - help me show the same mercy you show to those who fail you ... including me.

Help me, Lord, to be among the pure in heart. May your pure light shine in my heart and dispel every shadow, every layer and fold that conceals or pretends. Since it is only the heart that sees you, remove from my heart everything that keeps me from seeing you.

Help me, Lord, to be among the makers of peace. Many build walls. Many sow fear and distrust. Many spread rumors. Many inflame conflict and profit from it. Help me to be even among them an agent and messenger of your peace and reconciliation, and so bear your family likeness, God of peace.

Help me, Lord, not to fear being among the persecuted, but rather, to rejoice in having the honor of standing for your restorative justice and rightness, so I will see that your kingdom is my homeland, even now.

Help me, Lord, to be among those who suffer wrong well and with grace. Help me not to resent it, not to fear it, not to seek to escape it. Instead, help me to find joy in it ... when others insult me, make my life more difficult, or falsely malign me because of you. Help me to see through the momentary, light trouble to the lasting and weighty reward, even now, for your kingdom comes by suffering rather than by making others suffer.

So help me, Lord, to be among your disciples who come to you to be taught. I am a limping, broken sinner and beginner, far from these realities, but this is where I want to go. In your mercy, lead me in this path. Amen.

(a meditation on Matthew 5:1-12 by Brian McLaren)


Dear Lord,
Help me to wait patiently. Open my eyes to the little blessing You pour into each and every day of my life, the little things that are so easy to overlook; raucous laughter of children, the buzz of "my" hummingbirds, and surprise pumpkins in what is supposed to be my flower garden. Thank you for walks in the woods, dragonflies hovering, and sunshine over all of it. Thank you for clay on my hands, water to wash, and eyes to see not only they physical, but the spiritual as well. Help me, Lord, to enjoy the wait and count the blessings.

(from the Daily Prayer blog)

The Trustee's Prayer

God, help me handle possessions with a light touch.

(a prayer from Leonard Sweet's Soul Salsa, p. 58)

Another Psalm 6

Lord, thank you that,
for all my waywardness,
you don’t punish me
or discipline me in anger.

I'm feeling frail right now;
have mercy on me, Lord.
Send healing to my hurting heart
and strength to my knocking knees.

My body tells the story of my stress;
my neck and shoulders tense.

Visit me, Lord! Overcome me.
Break through for me yet again,
because of your faithful love.

I will praise you better from the heights
than I do in the depths...
though I will do both.

I’m worn out.
I'm cried out.

Restore my vision, Lord God.
Repel all attacks.
Answer my prayers.

Scatter and shame my Enemy.
Vindicate your Name
and use me once more.

A Prayer of Maya Angelou

I want to thank you, Lord,
For life and all that's in it.
Thank you for the day
And for the hour, and for the minute.

(a prayer of Maya Angelou)

The Torrent of Pleasure

O most Sweet Lord Jesus, pierce my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of your love, with true, serene, and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with love and longing for you, that it may yearn for you and faint for your courts, and long to be dissolved and to be with you.

Grant that my soul may hunger after you, the bread of angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delight of taste; let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon you, upon whom the angels desire to look, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of your savor; may it ever thirst after you, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the richness of the house of God.

May it ever compass you, seek you, find you, run to you, attain you, meditate upon you, speak of you, and do all things to the praise and glory of your name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, and with perseverance unto the end.

May you alone be ever my hope, my entire assurance, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my fragrance, my sweet savor, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession and my treasure, in whom may my mind and my heart be fixed and firmly rooted immovably henceforth and for ever. Amen.

(a prayer of St. Bonaventure)

A Prayer for Vocation

Help me, O God,
to listen to what it is that makes my heart glad
and to follow where it leads.

May joy, not guilt,
Your voice, not the voices of others,
Your will, not my willfulness,
be the guides that lead me to my vocation.

Help me to unearth the passions of my heart
that lay buried in my youth.

And help me to go over that ground again and again
until I can hold in my hands,
hold and treasure,
Your calling on my life.

(A prayer by Ken Gire from his book, Windows of the Soul)

I Give You This Day

My God, I give you this day.

I offer you, now,
all of the good that I shall do
and I promise to accept, for love of you,
all of the difficulty that I shall meet.

Help me to conduct myself during this day
in a manner pleasing to you.

(a prayer of St. Francis de Sales)

That We Live Our Lives On Fire

Teach us hope.
Sing over us Your heart,
and let Your love to us become life through us,
that we live our lives on fire.

Hold us like a mother,
guard us like a lion,
be jealous for us like a lover,
let Your love control us.

(a prayer by Rodney Ridley, one of my youngest students at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, August 1, 2013; used with permission. Photo, "In the Beginning" by artist Makoto Fujimura, taken at Cairn University the day Rodney Ridley wrote the prayer above)

A 1,600-Year-Old Prayer

O Lord and Master of my life, do not give me the spirit of
Laziness, meddling, self-importance and idle talk.

Instead, grace me, Your servant, with the spirit of modesty,
Humility, patience, and love.

Indeed, my Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults,
And not condemn my brothers and sisters, for You are blessed unto
ages of ages. Amen.

(a prayer of Ephraim of Edessa, translation by Fr James Silver, Drew University)

At Least a Little Like Light

God grant that we may each of us cast off our own works of darkness, whatever they are, however we can, and put upon ourselves the armor of something at least a little like light as we wait for the truth of Christ to come finally and fully true at last.

(a prayer of Frederick Buechner in Secrets in the Dark, p. 285; based on an ancient Advent prayer)

Speaker's Prayer

Father, let my speaking today
be like apples of gold 
in settings of silver, 
in Jesus' name, 

A Prayer of Ephraim of Edessa

Lord, you have had it written:
'Open your mouth and I will fill it'
See, Lord, your servant's mouth and his mind are open to you!
Fill it, O Lord, with your gift,
That I may sing your praise according to your will.

Make me worthy to approach your Gift with awe!

Though your nature is one, its expressions are many;
They find three levels, high, middle, and lowly.
Make me worthy of the lowly part,
Of picking up crumbs from the table of your wisdom.

Make me worthy to approach your Gift with awe!

Your highest expression is hidden with your Father,
Your middle riches are the wonder of the Watchers [i.e. angels]
A tiny stream from your teaching, Lord,
For us below makes a flood of interpretations.

Make me worthy to approach your Gift with awe!

In your Bread is hidden a Spirit not to be eaten,
In your Wine dwells a Fire not to be drunk.
Spirit in your Bread, Fire in your Wine,
A wonder set apart, [yet] received by our lips!

Make me worthy to approach your Gift with awe!

See, Fire and Spirit in the womb that bore you!
See, Fire and Spirit in the river where you were baptized!
Fire and Spirit in our Baptism;
In the Bread and the Cup, Fire and Holy Spirit!

Make me worthy to approach your Gift with awe!

Your Bread kills the Devourer [death] who had made us his bread,
Your Cup destroys death which was swallowing us up.
We have eaten you, Lord, we have drunk you,
Not to exhaust you, but to live by you.

Make me worthy to approach your Gift with awe!

See, Lord, my arms are filled with the crumbs from your table;
There is not room left in my lap.
As I kneel before you, hold back your Gift;
Keep it in your storehouse to give us again!

(a prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns on the Faith 10 To Christ on the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, and the Sacraments, translation by R Murray, Eastern Churches Review 3 (1970), copied from T.M.Finn, "Early Christian Baptism and the Catechumenate: West and East Syria", The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1992)