Forgive My Prayers

Abba, Father,
forgive my prayers.
Forgive all the misguided prayers I have prayed.
All the selfish prayers.
All the self-righteous prayers.
All the stupid prayers.
All the small-faith prayers.

Forgive the prayers I have "preached"
instead of truly prayed.

Forgive the times I have only
or mostly
mouthed the words.

Forgive the countless times
I have prayed only what was on my heart,
not even bothering to seek what was on your heart.

Forgive the weak prayers.
The manipulative prayers.
The faithless prayers.
The feckless prayers.
The fraudulent prayers.

Forgive, Lord,
and thank you more than I can say
that you still listen...
after all that.

The Door of My Heart and Life

O God, make the door [of my heart and life]
wide enough to receive
all who need human love and fellowship;
narrow enough to shut out
all envy, pride, and strife.

(a prayer from St. Stephen's Walbrook in London)

A Prayer for Incarnation

Help me, O God,

To live the recipe
before I give the recipe.
Give me the kneading strength
to work the words into the doughy recesses of my life.
Help me to leave it alone a while
so it can rise.
Help me not to fear the oven
so it can bake.
And grant that in the baking
the world would be able to roll down its window
and savor the aroma of freshly baked bread...

(A prayer by Ken Gire from his book, Windows of the Soul, p. 59)

Autumn Praise

I praise you, Lord, for Autumn:
for falling temperatures and morning chill,
trees turned gold and red, brown and orange,
falling leaves and blowing leaves,
the smell of burning leaves,
the joy of leaf-pile jumping.

I praise you, Lord, for Autumn:
the interplay of outside temperatures
and inside warmth,
the promise of cider and pumpkin bread,
the blessing of blankets and sweaters.

I praise you, Lord, for Autumn:
what Archibald Macleish called
"the flower-barren fields, the clouds, the tall
Unanswering branches where the wind makes sullen noise."*

I praise you, Lord, for Autumn:
the beauty and hope in the change of season,
the promise that the coming of Autumn
heralds another ending,
a new beginning,
and the wonder of another Winter,
another Spring,
another Summer,
yet to come.

(*Archibald MacLeish, “Immortal Autumn” from Collected Poems 1917-1982. Copyright © 1985 by The Estate of Archibald MacLeish)

For Humility

Help me, O God,

To have the humility to sit at the feet of great art,
whether it is a painting or a person on the street,
a scene from a movie or a score from a musical,
a sunset or a psalm,
and to look and to listen and to receive
what is being offered me there.

Give me the grace to submit to its scrutiny,
seeking not to do something to it,
but that it might do something to me;
seeking not in some way to judge it,
but that it might in some way judge me...

(A prayer by Ken Gire from his book, Windows of the Soul, p. 94; the art is "In the Beginning," by internationally-renowned artist Makoto Fujimura)

A Kyrie Eleison for a Sick World

For the people of Nairobi, Kenya, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

For the Christians of Peshawar, Pakistan, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

For Guangdong Province and the city of Shanwei, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

For the bereaved of the Navy Yard shooting, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

For the victims of violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

For the people of Egypt--especially the Coptic community, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

For the victims of flooding in Colorado, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

For all who suffer in this sick world, I pray,
Lord, have mercy.

Workday Prayer

Fronting my task, these things I ask:
To be true, this whole day through;
To be content with honest work,
Fearing only lest I shirk;
To see, and know, and do what's right;
To come, unsullied, home at night.

(from Abundant Living, by E. Stanley Jones, p. 245)

Autumn Day

Lord, it is time. The summer was so great.
Impose upon the sundials now your shadows
and round the meadows let the winds rotate.
Command the last fruits to incarnadine;
vouchsafe, to urge them on into completeness,
yet two more south-like days; and that last sweetness,
inveigle it into the heavy vine.

(excerpt from "Autumn Day," by Rainer Maria Rilke; from The Book of Images)

Before I Speak

O Lord,
I place myself in Your hands.
I will be tempted,
on this day in which I am blessed to speak to others,
to do so in my own strength,
as though I have any word to say,
and wisdom to offer,
anything of my own.

Forgive me now, Lord,
and forgive me then,
and turn me quickly
to remember you and rely on you,
my only Source,
my only Word,
my only wisdom,
my all,
in Jesus' name, amen.

On This Day of Travel

Gracious Lord,
be with me as I travel today.
Make smooth paths for me.
Grant safe and timely travel
to the airport,
between airports,
and between gates.
Help me to make my flights
and safely reach my destination.
Guide my steps,
guard my thoughts,
and give me sweet communion with you
and pleasant interactions with others
everywhere I go,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Blessed Indeed

Lord God,
thank you
that neither my children
nor my grandchildren
have yet known
the horrors of war,
the deprivation of poverty,
or the ache of true hunger,
in Jesus' name,

A Prayer for Grace

Thank You, God,

For those moments in my life
when You opened a window
and offered a word
that nourished the hunger in my soul.

Give me the grace to realize that these are the words I live by,
not by bread alone,
whatever form that bread may take,
however satisfying it may seem at the time.

Give me the grace to live not just reflectively but receptively,
that I may not only notice when a window is opened
but also receive what is offered,
understanding that what is offered
is my soul's daily bread...

(A prayer by Ken Gire from his book, Windows of the Soul, p. 59)

For Colorado and New Mexico

Father, we pray for those affected by the flooding in Colorado and New Mexico. Comfort those who have lost loved ones, heal those who are injured, and provide for those who have lost homes and possessions. Please bring the rain to an end, that the land may dry out and the clean up begin. Amen.

(borrowed from the Daily Prayer website)

When I Behold the Problems of Our World

When I behold the problems of our world,
O Lord,
I pray not to be tempted to quick answers.

When every tongue declares a different Truth,
when every people praises its own righteousness,
let me pause before I speak or praise or hope.

Let me look inward
seeking to discover eternal truths
implanted there by Thee,
truths greater than those heard
in the outer multitude of voices and words.

And let me remember always that to be loud is not to be right,
to be strange is not to be forbidden,
to be new is not to be frightful,
to be black is not to be ugly.

Thus let me find truths true to Thee,
that I may live with them,
and Thee,
and myself,
in peace.

(a prayerfrom the 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary, the second oldest extant liturgical book in the West, by way of Leonard Sweet's Facebook page)

To Be a Pure Channel of Thy Grace

My Master God,
I am desired to preach today,
but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people
might be edified with divine truth,
that an honest testimony
might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,
with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view
things pertaining to my subject,
with fullness of matter and clarity of thought,
proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,
and let me not gloat in pride
over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself,
and to leave sinners inexcusable
in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,
and set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached.
and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
and help me to use the strongest arguments
drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
that men might be made holy.

I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,
that I might be a pure channel of thy grace,
and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people,
and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer,
or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,
from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett; photo is of the pulpit in Worms Cathedral, Worms, Germany)

Prayer From an Upcoming Book

Help me to acknowledge
what is real in me
and submit it to
the ultimate, infinite reality that is in you.

(excerpted from a prayer
in the upcoming book,
Life Stinks...and Then You Die (Living Well in a Sick World), p. 35)

A Prayer on Yom Kippur

On this day our Christian thoughts are turned
to Jewish possibilities of forgiveness and reconciliation.
On this day we stand with them in covenant,
before you,
before your Torah,
amid a world torn asunder.

Our thoughts are of death and destruction,
of fragility and life under threat.
We ponder cities mired in mud and
mountains wrecked in quake;
we notice melting ice and rising water;
we name places of violence
far away and close to home.

We tremble in our insecurity,
afraid to be victim,
but now and then noticing that we are perpetrators;
we finance and applaud faraway violence,
usually not naming the torn bodies or
raped mothers or forgotten children.
We feel uneasy but not frontally guilty,
not until we face your thoughts
that are remote from our thoughts;
we imagine that you think in grief and disappointment
over the mess we have made;
we imagine that you shudder in dismay and anger
over the violation of your good dream;
we imagine that you are ready to abandon us.

But we also imagine that your thoughts are interrupted
by your own poets and prophets,
who line out newness...
new exodus,
new covenant,
new forgiveness,
new life.

While we watch in our dis-ease,
we hear Easter news again,
and your resolve of new beginning.

And so we begin to move
from sadness to joy,
from hurt to dance,
from enslavement to freedom.

And then we wait again for your wonder to become visible
in the world of empires and colonies,
of mudslides and torrents.

We wait. Come fully, come soon.

(a prayer by Walter Brueggemann, from his book, Prayers for a Privileged People)

My Oliver Twist Prayer

Please, sir,
I want some more.

More of you,
more of life,
more of love,
more beauty,
more blessing,
more books,
more days and weeks and months and years
of this delicious kindness
called life.

To My Lowest Depths of Need

grant that I may rest
in the goodness of God,
knowing that
that goodness
can reach down
to my lowest depths
of need.

(based on a quote by Julian of Norwich)

A 9/11 Prayer

We remember the first time we heard the news.
We recall the first time we saw those images.
We remember the way our thoughts and prayers were with those families who lost loved ones.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them again today.

O God of comfort - twelve years have passed.

Yesterday, today and forever;
let your love and peace endure.

We remember those who survived.
We recall their heart-breaking stories.
We remember that their lives are forever scarred by those moments.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them again today.

O God of healing - twelve years have passed. 
Yesterday, today and forever;
let your love and peace endure.

We remember the pain we felt.
We recall the bereavement and bitterness of the aftermath.
We remember that you are a God of redemption and restoration.
Help us forgive those who caused so much trauma, and that we may find release in that forgiveness.

O God of forgiveness - twelve years have passed.

Yesterday, today and forever;
let your love and peace endure.

We remember that you love the world.
We recall you sent your Son to bring reconciliation and salvation.
We remember your Spirit inhabits your Church.
Help us bring your comfort and peace to all.

O God of hope - twelve years have passed.

Yesterday, today and forever;
let your love and peace endure.

© Jimmy Orr/

Prayer for a Workday

Now I get me up to work,
I pray the Lord I will not shirk.
If I should die before the night,
I pray the Lord my work's all right.

(from Abundant Living, by E. Stanley Jones, p. 245)

A Prayer for Christians in the Middle East

God, Our Father,
have mercy on the Middle East.
Your faithful servants – young and old alike –
are called to witness to Christ.
May they be strengthened during this time of turmoil
as they seek to follow your beloved Son,
who Himself walked their ancient homelands.

In union with Pope Francis,
and our Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, and Coptic brothers and sisters
along with all Christians in the Middle East,
we pray that they may be enabled to live their faith in full freedom.
Embolden them to act as instruments
of peace and reconciliation,
united with all the citizens of their countries.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord,


(based on a Prayer for Aid to the Church in Need by Coptic Catholic Patriarch Emeritus Cardinal Antonios Naguib of Alexandria, Egypt, found here; illustration is an icon in the Catechetical Institute, Assiut, Upper Egypt)

Another Psalm 8

O Lord my God,
my God,
my Great God,
your awesome majesty
and the glory of your name
is so great
it overwhelms and overflows
the earth and sky and limitless space.

Yet little children can know you.
Babes can praise you.
Simple faith like theirs
triumphs over all the arguments
and posturings of your enemies.

When I see the night sky
I see your work.
Your hands made the moon and stars,
your fingers hung them in place,
a fact amazing enough on its own,
but even more so compared to the truth
that you condescend to me,
to my little world,
to my puny mind
and poor heart.

And yet you honor me
with such precision in creating me
and such blessing in attending to me.
You speak to me and call me and give me work to do;
you smile on me as on the sheep and oxen,
the birds and fish,
the teeming multitudes of the ocean deep.

O Lord, my God and King,
your awesome majesty
and the glory of your name
overwhelms and overflows
the earth and sky and limitless space.


Lord God, Yahweh-Shalom,
please save this country from attacking Syria,
and save Syria not only from our weapons
but also from each other’s.

Please send comfort to those who are bereaved,
healing to the wounded,
and sanity to the leaders on all sides.
Change the hearts of those who have taken up arms
and those who plan to take up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.
Please bring about an end to the conflict,
and please do so soon
and in a way that brings
freedom to the oppressed,
justice to all,
and hope for the future.

Please help Syria’s neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.

God of hope and Father of mercy,
inspire leaders on all sides to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies.

Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
and make us faithful in praying for them
and caring for them and for all who suffer around the world.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

(based in parts on a prayer of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

An Old One

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul;
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole;
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me
Thy great salvation so rich and free.

(a prayer by Seth and Bessie Sykes)

A Rosh Hashanah Prayer

L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem!

(translation: A good and sweet year to you,
may you be written and sealed for a good year)

A Prayer for Nourishment

How inarticulate are the longings of my soul, O God,
yet how acute are its pangs.

How incapable am I in understanding those longings,
let alone, in tending them.

Feed me with food, O God,
that will best nourish my soul,
food that will intensify rather than satisfy
my love for You
and my longing to be with You.

Awaken every eternal seed You have planted in my soul
so while I am yet rooted in this earth
something of heaven might blossom in my life...

(A prayer by Ken Gire from his book, Windows of the Soul, p. 52)

For Joints

Abba, Father,
thank you for elbows that bend,
shoulders that swivel,
knees that work,
knuckles that move,
wrists and ankles that turn,
neck and vertebrae and hips that function
just as they are supposed to,
without thought
and without pain.

It is no small thing
for which I give thanks.


Labor Day Prayer

O God, creator of the world,
of sun and moon and stars,
you chose to fashion us, your own,
your handiwork of love.

Indeed, we are your hands’ own work
and yet into our hands
you give the care
of every living thing.

In more ways than we can count
our work builds up
or tears apart what came
as gift from you.

Keep us faithful in preserving
all you’ve given
lest we harm the smallest part
of all you’ve made.

Give us good and honest work to do
and rest at each day’s end.
Let a fair and good day’s wage be paid
for a good day’s work well done.

Give us work that nurtures and sustains
the ones who serve and those they serve.
Let those who labor work in peace,
in freedom, without fear.

Give those in need a job to do
and to the tired well earned rest.
Let all our work and toil, Lord,
give glory to your name.


(from A Concord Pastor Comments)

Sunday Morning

Good morning, Abba!

Thank you for another day,
another Sunday,
another resurrection morning,
another day of worship,
another opportunity to assemble
with your people in worship.

Please, make this a sacred day,
a day in which your Name is magnified,
your praise multiplied,
your glory manifested,
your heart made glad.

Meet your gathering servants.
Condescend to every waiting heart.
Make our hearts beat with devotion
that we may worship You in spirit and in truth.

Unite your people in heart and soul.
Be with us so we may receive the blessing
promised to all who sincerely pray to You and faithfully hear Your Word,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.