Simple Intercession

Help for the sick and hungry,
home for the homeless folk,
peace in the world forever.
This is my prayer, O Lord. Amen.

(prayer of a Jewish mother, quoted in Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott; photo by pisti via

Come Summer With Me

I offer you these months, Lord,
my heart's July and August days...

Come summer with me, Lord;
summer deep down in my soul;
restore my faith in summer’s time,
in rest, in joy, in play, in you...

Summer in my heart, Lord,
and dwell there
as if time would never end,
as if all time were children's time, eternal time
when school is always out and joy is ever in…

And let others summer in my shade, Lord,
and share whatever summer’s peace is mine to give,
whatever summer’s light is mine to shed,
whatever summer's warmth is mine to share...

Good God of every season and every day this week,
come summer with me, Lord, and let the child in my heart
spend this summer in your love...


(excerpted from a prayer on the Concord Pastor Comments blog)

For the Joy That That Best of All Knowledge Brings

O Jesus, Savior,
how I bless You that You sought me
and revealed Yourself to me,
and made me to know You,
and ravished my heart
and humbled my pride
with the joy and love and glory
that that best of all knowledge brings!

(a prayer of Samuel Logan Brengle, as found in Take Time to Be Holy, the June 28 reading)


Gracious God,
thank you that our vacation is finally here!
Thank you for a week to spend with my wife
and some of my family.
Give us all safe travel to and from our destination.
Steer us away from dangers, traffic jams, and speeding tickets.
Deliver us from car problems and health problems.
Give the grandkids grace to travel well, sleep well, travel well.
Protect them from infections.
Give their parents a respite from work and weariness.
May gas, grocery, and restaurant prices not be too high,
crowds not be too large,
temperatures not too extreme,
and rain not too frequent.
Help us all to enjoy each other,
the lovely surroundings,
and the time to read, rest, and play.
Go with us.
Keep us aware of you,
and of your kindness and generosity,
in Jesus' name, amen. 
(photo by Grafixar, courtesy of

Thy Incomparable Offer

May it be given to us and to the world, to this world which is neither worse nor better than we are, in the midst of which we creatures have the advantage of knowing thee, of being called to thy service--may it be given to us to make use of thine incomparable offer; may it not be in vain that thou has spoken to us in thy Son; may thy church know how to put its existence to work; may it be liberated from all...impetuous Americanism, from fear and faintheartedness, from the spirit of pride, from flippancy. May we stop leafing through the Bible instead of reading it. May we moderate a little our habit of quoting the Bible instead of living with it and letting it speak. May we pray that the Bible will not cease holding our attention. May the Bible not begin to make us yawn, and thy word, in all its parts, not become a boring matter in our minds and in our mouths; may it not become a bad sermon, a bad catechism, a bad theology.

(from Karl Barth's Prayer)

Awaiting Healing

Lord God, thank you for this news of positive results for the Phase 3 studies of lumacaftor (VX-809) in combination with ivacaftor (Kalydeco) for people with two copies of the F508del mutation. Like my grandchildren, Calleigh and Ryder.

Please grant your guidance and blessing to those who are working on the testing, refinement, and approval of this treatment, and bring about approval and availability of it for Calleigh and Ryder and the many like them who cope daily with cystic fibrosis. If this is your chosen means of healing them, then make it happen soon, while I still await and pray for your miraculous healing to be fully revealed any day now, in Jesus' name, amen.

A Prayer of Anne Lamott

Hi, God.
I am just a mess.
It is all hopeless.
What else is new?
I would be sick of me, if I were You,
but miraculously You are not.
I know I have no control over other people’s lives,
and I hate this.
Yet I believe that if I accept this and surrender,
You will meet me wherever I am.
Wow. Can this be true?
If so, how is this afternoon--say, two-ish?

Thank You in advance for Your company
and blessings.

You have never once let me down.

(from Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott)

I Come Quietly to Your Door

Gracious One, I come quietly to your door needing to receive from your hands the nourishment that gives life.

Amen and Amen.

(a prayer of Bernard of Clairvaux)

For Most This Amazing Day

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

(by e. e. cummings)

Let Nothing Darken the Brightness

O Lord and Maker of all things, from whose creative power the first light came forth, who didst look upon the world's first morning and see that it was good: I praise Thee for this light that now streams through my windows to rouse me to the life of another day.

I praise Thee for the life that stirs within me.
I praise Thee for the bright and beautiful world into which I go.
I praise Thee for the earth and sea, and sky, for scudding cloud and singing bird.
I praise Thee for work Thou hast given me to do.
I praise Thee for all that thou hast given me to fill my leisure hours.
I praise Thee for my friends.
I praise Thee for music and books and good company and all pure pleasures.

O Thou who Thyself art everlasting Mercy, give me a tender heart today towards all those to whom the morning light brings less joy than it brings to me.

Those in whom the pulse of life grows weak,
Those who must lie abed through all the sunny hours,
The blind, who are shut off from the light of day,
The overworked, who have no joy of leisure,
The unemployed, who have no joy of labour,
The bereaved, whose hearts and homes are desolate,
And grant Thy mercy on them all.

Let there be nothing within me to darken the brightness of the day. Let the Spirit of Him whose life was the light of men rule within my heart till eventide. Amen.

(a prayer of John Baillie, from the book, A Diary of Private Prayer, Seventh Day--Morning)

A Prayer for Guidance

God, you say in your Word,
if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask you.
So I ask.
Please grant wisdom.
Please give discernment.
Please help me to know what direction to take.

This opportunity--do I take it?
This expense--should I risk it?
This moment--shall I seize it?

You are a wise and generous Father,
and I know it pleases you to be asked.
So here I am.
I am listening.
I am waiting.

For Iraq's People

Sovereign Lord, I pray for the people of Iraq, so many of whom have suffered so much for so long, and are suffering now...again...still...

Please shield and shelter the innocent, and bring brutalizers and oppressors to justice. Please get our embassy personnel and American contractors out to safety. Deliver the church, along with all those who don't even know to call on you, in Jesus name, amen.

(photo by soldiersmediacenter, courtesy of

On Father's Day

Abba, Father,
thank you for being such a father to me:
patient, wise, loving, constant, and strong.

Thank you for my father,
for the many years you've given him on this earth,
for all he has given me
and the things he's taught me.

Thank you for the kind of father
my son and son-in-law are
to my grandchildren:
patient, wise, loving, constant, and strong.

Let this Father's Day be a blessing to you
and to the fathers in my life and family,
in Jesus' name, amen.

For the Grace to Adore You

Give me the grace, dear God, to adore You for even this I cannot do for myself. Give me the grace to adore You with the excitement of the old priests when they sacrificed a lamb to You. Give me the grace to adore You with the awe that fills Your priests when they sacrifice the lamb on our altars. Give me the grace to be impatient for the time when I shall see You face to face and need no stimulus than that to adore You. Give me the grace, dear God, to see the bareness and the misery of the places where You are not adored but desecrated.

(from A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor; photo by Martin Walls via

The Moon and the Shadow

Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing.

I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.

(from A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor; photo by NASA via

A Prayer of Bernard of Clairvaux

Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts,
Thou fount of life,
Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts W
e turn unfilled to Thee again.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

O Jesus, ever with us stay, Make all our moments calm and bright; Chase the dark night of sin away, Shed o’er the world Thy holy light.

On Miles's Seventh Birthday

Abba, Father, thank you for my grandson,
Miles Jacob Hostetler, who turns seven years old today.

Thank you for all you have made him to be:
healthy, strong, charming, sweet, sensitive, smart, wonderful.

Thank you for all you have given him:
caring, wise, attentive, loving parents,
a sister who loves him and will even say so,
a family that loves to be around him and spend time with him,
an active and brilliant mind,
a fascination with bugs and beasts and birds,
and even a new home and school and church in California.

Thank you that he's so great as to make missing him so hard.
Thank you that he's growing so fast and learning so much
as to make me insanely jealous of those who now get to watch it happen day by day and week by week.
Thank you that for the first seven years of his life I got to see him so often, almost daily at times.
Thank you that we got to have an early birthday celebration before he and his family left for California.
And thank you that even with two thousand miles of distance between us now, we have things like FaceTime and airplanes to make the distance disappear sometimes.

Please bless him mightily on his birthday, and on every day that follows it.
Please shine on him, smile on him, and slather him with your favor.
Please preserve his sweetness even as he grows up.
Please continue healing his eyes and eyesight.
Please give him a great start in his new home, neighborhood, church, and school.
Please grant that he may grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Please draw him and keep him close to you,
and grant his every need
and make his dreams come true,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Healer of My Soul

Healer of my soul,
Keep me at even,
Keep me at morning,
Keep me at noon,
Healer of my soul.

Keeper of my soul,
On rough course faring,
Help and safeguard my means this night,
Keeper of my soul.

I am tired, astray, and stumbling,
Shield my soul from the snare of sin.

Healer of my soul,
Keep me at even,
Keep me at morning,
Keep me at noon,
Healer of my soul.

A Pentecost Sunday Prayer

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

(a hymn by George Croly)

Against Harsh Judgments

O God! whose thoughts are brightest light,
Whose love always runs clear,
To whose kind wisdom sinning souls
Amidst their sins are dear!

Sweeten my bitter-thoughted heart
With charity like Thine,
Till self shall be the only spot
On earth which does not shine.

Hardheartedness dwells not with souls
Round whom Thine arms are drawn;
And dark thoughts fade away in grace,
Like cloud-spots in the dawn.

I often see in my own thoughts,
When they lie nearest Thee,
That the worst men I ever knew
Were better men than me,

And of all truths no other truth
So true as this one seems;
While others’ faults, that plainest were,
Grow indistinct as dreams.

All men look good except ourselves,
All but ourselves are great:
The rays, that make our sins so clear,
Their faults obliterate.

Things, that appear undoubted sins,
Wear little crowns of light;
Their dark, remaining darkness still.
Shames and outshines our bright.

Time was, when I believed that wrong
In others to detect,
Was part of genius, and a gift
To cherish, not reject.

Now better taught by Thee, O Lord
This truth dawns on my mind—
The best effect of heavenly light
Is earth’s false eyes to blind.

Thou art the Unapproached, whose height
Enables Thee to stoop,
Whose holiness bends undefiled
To handle hearts that droop.

He, whom no praise can reach, is aye
Men’s least attempts approving;
Whom justice makes all-merciful,
Omniscience makes all-loving.

How Thou canst think so well of us,
Yet be the God Thou art,
Is darkness to my intellect,
But sunshine to my heart.

Yet habits linger in the soul;
More grace, O Lord! more grace!
More sweetness from Thy loving Heart,
More sunshine from Thy Face!

When we ourselves least kindly are,
We deem the world unkind;
Dark hearts, in flowers where honey lies,
Only the poison find.

We paint from self the evil things
We think that others are;
While to the self-despising soul
All things but self are fair.

Yes, they have caught the way of God,
To whom self lies displayed
In such clear vision as to cast
O’er others’ faults a shade.

A bright horizon out at sea
Obscures the distant ships;
Rough hearts look smooth and beautiful
In charity’s eclipse.

Love’s changeful mood our neighbour’s faults
O’erwhelms with burning ray,
And in excess of splendour hides
What is not burned away.

Again, with truth like God’s, it shades
Harsh things with untrue light,
Like moons that make a fairy-land
Of fallow fields at night.

Then mercy, Lord! more mercy still!
Make me all light within,
Self-hating and compassionate,
And blind to others’ sin.

I need Thy mercy for my sin;
But more than this I need,—
Thy mercy’s likeness in my soul
For others’ sin to bleed.

’Tis not enough to weep my sins;
’Tis but one step to heaven:
When I am kind to others, then
I know myself forgiven.

Would that my soul might be a world
Of golden ether bright,
A heaven where other souls might float,
Like all Thy worlds, in light.

All bitterness is from ourselves,
All sweetness is from Thee;
Sweet God! for evermore be Thou
Fountain and fire in me!

(a prayer by Frederick William Faber; photo by Doug Webb)

Make Me a Blessing

Make me a blessing,
Make me a blessing;
Out of my life, may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing,
O Savior, I pray;
Make me a blessing to someone today.

(chorus of a hymn by Ira B. Wilson)

Prayer for A New Book

Lord, I thank you for the release of this book, The Red Letter Prayer Life. I thank you for the way you to spoke to me as I wrote it, and nourished and changed me as you did.

Now, Lord, I pray: please bless it. Please bring it to people's attention. Please get it into the hands of people who will read it, tweet it, share it, tell others about it, and give it away. Please prompt insightful and influential people to see it, review it, and mention it on television and radio programs. Please move groups and churches to study it, and preachers to quote from it and even fashion sermon series after it. Make it an award-winner. Make it a sales leader. Make it a life-changer.

Yes, Lord, most of all, I pray, please use it to inspire simple, practical, and purposeful living, as the subtitle says. Please use it to change lives, to deepen people's experience of you and your words, to bring about revival in the hearts, minds, and souls of people around the world. Use it, even, to change the world, to change churches, pastors, leaders, governments, communities, cities, and nations, in Jesus' name, amen.

A Prayer on My Thirty-Seventh Wedding Anniversary

O Lord my God,
how can I possibly thank you
for my bride,
my wife,
and these thirty-seven years of marriage,
and forty years of love
with the lovely Robin?

Thank you for yet another year of life together.
Thank you for her faithful,
constant heart.

Thank you for all
the happiness we have known together;
the sorrows we have faced together;
the children we have raised
and the grandchildren we have been given.

Thank you for our home,
our health,
our laughter,
our hopes and dreams,
our unfinished plans,
and our small accomplishments.

Thank you that she still laughs at (some of) my jokes.
Thank you that she grows more beautiful every day.
Thank you for all her perfections,
and all my improvements.

Spare us another year to walk together,
and grant that for us it may be true
that the best is yet to be,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sixfold Praise

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

(from the apocryphal Song of the Three Young Men, vv. 29-34)

For Lavish Summer

Thank you, God, that
"There is no price set on the lavish summer,
And June may be had by the poorest comer."

(from "The Vision of Sir Launfal" by James Russell Lowell)

Keep Us From Safe Lives

At the end of the day, Lord--
Cause us to see how You moved today.
Set everything inside of us at peace now.
We trust You're doing what's best--
when we can't see Your hand,
we'll trust Your heart.
Keep us alive with what we need
& let us give away the rest
because this is what makes us *fully alive.*
Keep us in close company with You
& keep us in forgiving company of others
because we *are* in close company with You.
Keep us bold enough to keep taking leaps of faith.
Keep us from safe lives--
they are the most dangerous to our souls.
You're in control & we take our hands off our lives!
And as the world spins in Your hands tonight,
we look up at stars & know you're always all our Beautiful Light--
Yes. Yes. Yes.
In the name of Jesus, who loved us to death,

(a prayer of Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts; photo by njck via

Prayer for Ascension Sunday

O God, whose blessed Son,
our great high priest,
has entered once for all into the Holy Place
and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf:
grant that we,
sanctified by the offering of his body
may draw near with full assurance of faith
by the way which he has dedicated for us
and evermore serve thee, the living God;
through the same thy Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
O Father, and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end. Amen.

(Anglican Collect for Ascension Day, Church of South India; photo taken in 2010 of the chapel atop the Mount of Olives, marking the spot from which Jesus ascended to heaven)