At the Close of Another Year

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, Amen.

(from Heart Cries to Heaven by David Campbell)

Another Psalm 13

O Lord, sometimes it feels as though you've forgotten me.
I know you haven't. Have you?
I know you never let me out of your sight. Right?

I just have these times.
Moments of anguish in my heart and mind.
Times when I let myself dwell on those who've wronged me.
Sometimes I even go there willingly,
as if it will do me any good to argue my case again,
though it is only inside my own head,
and mainly a futile attempt to answer my Accuser.

Turn to me, O Lord my God!
Help me!
Remove the weight from my mind
and the film from my eyes.

Evict those unhealthy and unwelcome voices from my mind.
Teach me not to give place to them.
Focus my mind, heart, and attention on your unfailing love for me,
on the joy that is mine because you are mine.

Give me a song,
and let me sing of your goodness all day long.

A Prayer to Our Great Protector

Great Protector,
shelter us from the storms of life,
give us refuge in times of trial,
and fill us with the peace
which surpasses all understanding.

‪(a Moravian prayer‬; photo by nick_russill, via

O Deus, Ego Amo Te

I love thee, God, I love thee—
Not out of hope for heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesu so much in love with me?
Not for heaven’s sake, not to be
Out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and will love thee.
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God. Amen.

(a translation of St. Francis Xavier's O Deus, Ego Amo Te by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

On the Feast of Stephen

Father, on this feast of Stephen,
the first martyr of your church,
I pray for all those
among my brothers and sisters
who today face persecution, even martyrdom.
Give them strength, Lord,
and stamina.
Lift their eyes to their Lord,
as you did for Stephen,
and give them love for their persecutors
and hope for themselves and their families,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Breath of Heaven

Breath of Heaven,
hold me together;
Be forever near me,
Breath of Heaven.

Breath of Heaven,
lighten my darkness;
Pour over me Your holiness,
for You are holy,
Breath of Heaven.

(excerpt from "Mary's Song," a prayer by Amy Grant and Chris Eaton)

Come, Come, Jesus, I Await You

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.


(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, and for this blog).

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

O King of the Gentiles

O King of the gentiles and their desired One,
the cornerstone that makes both one:
Come, and deliver man,
whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

O Rising Sun

O Rising Sun,
splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

O Key of David

O Key of David,
O royal power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.

O Root of Jesse

O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up
as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

O Adonai

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Amen.

O Wisdom

O Wisdom,
coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

To Approach That Day 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.

A Prayer for Any Day, Any Time

O Father, let Thy love remain;
O Son, may I Thy likeness gain;
O Spirit, stay to strengthen me;
O Triune God, praise be to Thee.

Incline My Heart to Follow In This Way

O Thou whose eternal presence is hid behind the veil of nature, informs the mind of man, and was made flesh in Jesus Christ our Lord, I thank Thee that He has left me an example that I should follow in His steps.

Jesus Christ said, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Do good and lend, hoping for nothing again. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Love your enemies. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Fear not, only believe. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Except ye turn again and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.

Jesus Christ said, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. O God, incline my heart to follow in this way.


(a prayer of John Baillie in A Diary of Private Prayer)

Clement's Praise

You, Lord,
through your works have revealed the everlasting structure of the world.
You, Lord, created the earth.
You are faithful throughout all generations,
righteous in your judgments,
marvelous in strength and majesty,
wise in creating and prudent in establishing what exists,
good in all that is observed
and faithful to those who trust in you,
merciful and compassionate.

(excerpted from a prayer of St. Clement of Rome)

Merton Prayer

Let Me Walk With You

O Master, let me walk with you
in lowly paths of service true;
Tell me your secret; help me bear
the strain of toil, the fret of care,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(a hymn by Washington Gladden, slightly revised)

Where the Night Is Wonderful

O God, my God, the night has values that day has never dreamed of. All things stir by night, waking or sleeping, conscious of the nearness of their ruin. Only man makes himself illuminations he conceives to be solid and eternal. But while we ask our questions and come to our decisions, God blows our decisions out, the roofs of our houses cave in upon us, the tall towers are undermined by ants, the walls crack and cave in, and the holiest buildings burn to ashes while the watchman is composing a theory of duration.

Now is the time to get up and go to the tower. Now is the time to meet You, God, where the night is wonderful.

(a prayer of Thomas Merton, from A Thomas Merton Reader, p. 216; photo is of the Abbey of Gethsemani, where Merton lived as Father Louis)

Another Psalm 12

Lord, is it just me or is no one faithful anymore?
Are there any loyal, dependable people around these days?

So many liars
and flatterers
and deceitful, conniving people.

I would pray for you to silence all the above,
if I wasn't sometimes guilty, too.

My tongue too often gets me into trouble.
My lips are far from pure.
I tell myself I'm better than many,
but since when is that a righteous measure?
When have I ever profited from defending myself
instead of relying on you to be my righteousness?

Your words, Lord, are flawless,
like silver poured from a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.

You alone can keep me safe
and make me right.
You alone can save me
from the deceit of my own heart.

Perfect Icon of God

Dear Lord, help me keep my eyes on you.
You are the incarnation of Divine Love,
you are the expression of God's infinite compassion,
you are the visible manifestation of the Father's holiness.
You are beauty, goodness, gentless,
forgiveness, and mercy.
In you all can be found.
Outside of you nothing can be found.

Why should I look elsewhere or go elsewhere?
You have the words of eternal life,
you are food and drink,
you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
You are the light that shines in the darkness,
the lamp on the lamp stand,
the house on the hilltop.
You are the perfect Icon of God.
In and through you I can see the Heavenly Father,
and with you I can find my way to him.

O Holy One, Beautiful One, Glorious One,
be my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Guide,
my Consoler, my Comforter, my Hope, my Joy, and my Peace.
To you I want to give all that I am.
Let me be generous, not stingy or hesitant.
Let me give you all--
all I have, think, do and feel.
It is yours, O Lord.
Please accept it and make it fully your own.

(a prayer of Henri Nouwen, from A Cry for Mercy)

Kindle and Seize Us

Come, Lord,
stir us up
and call us back.
Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire
and our sweetness.
Let us love.
Let us run.

(a prayer from the Confessions of St. Augustine; photo via

A Prayer for St. Nicholas Day

while shopping for presents for family and friends,
getting ready to give them more than they need;
while trimming my tree and going to parties,
writing out cards and wrapping up gifts;
while speeding to spend more than I can afford,
on things that will break and soon be forgotten:
keep me mindful, Lord Jesus, of your humble birth
and the claim of the poor on the bounty that's mine...


(from A Concord Pastor Comments)

For Blessings My Forebears Would Have Considered Unimaginable

Lord God, thank you for so many blessings my forebears would have considered unimaginable, even miraculous: My fresh-ground coffee was ready when I got out of bed. I'll have cold and hot water any time I want it today. I won’t have to leave this warm house to use the toilet, pay my bills, or do my work. I can get ice at the touch of a button. I can choose from a wide variety of things to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can keep abreast of the news without buying or picking up a newspaper, will have ample light in every room this evening, and a nearly unlimited choice of books to read.

Excerpts from An Artist's Prayer

Excerpts from a prayer offered by Makoto Fujimura upon accepting the 2014 American Academy of Religion Award in Religion and the Arts:
I pray that some day, in the near future, our children and our grandchildren will see an age when faith and life, art and scholarship, the rational and the intuitive will be so integrated that there will no longer be a need for this award....

I pray that artists will no longer have to be on the defensive as was Mary in that aroma-filled room while disciples grumbled that her perfume could have been sold to feed the poor. “What a waste,” they said. What a waste. Is our art wasteful, too?

Art is gratuitous. Art is extravagant. But so is our God. God does not need us; yet he created us out of his gratuitous love. Jesus astonished the disciples by giving Mary the highest commendation anyone receives in the pages of the Gospels:

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6 -9)

I pray that in the days to come, this aroma will fill the air whenever the words of Gospel are spoken, that outsiders to faith will sense this extravagant air and feel it, particularly for them. I pray that when our children speak of faith, this gratuitous, intuitive aroma of the love of Christ will be made manifest in their lives....

I pray this sweet aroma of Christ will envelop us, hold us; that even in the darkest hours, this aroma will remind us why it is that we are here, why it is that we can lose everything and yet gain so much....

Ultimately, all I have said is a prayer and invitation to encounter the mystery of the Gospel, one which is still filled with the aroma of Mary of Bethany. I pray that this aroma will invade us too with love and hope. If my work has witnessed in some way to this extravagance of the Gospel, if it has refused these reductions or separations of art and religion, if I have brought my whole self to this work, filled with a great desire, then I have been one steward of this great garden. Without reduction, in the grace of this encounter, let us continue our work in the extravagance of the flower, in a tune that somehow keeps propelling us without words.

(Read the entire speech--and prayer--here)

The Mysteries of Old Age

O Lord, as I grow old, help me to understand Thy mind for me and Thy will. I realize that each stage of life--youth, manhood, old age--has its own problems. Help me to understand the mysteries of old age. I have not passed this way before. Help me to be wise, to make no mistakes, to be serene, patient, hopeful and unafraid.

(a prayer of Samuel Logan Brengle, recorded in Portrait of a Prophet by Clarence Hall; photo via Please feel free to share this prayer with others using the Twitter, Facebook, and other buttons below. You can also subscribe to this blog in your blog reader or enter your email address at top right to receive posts via email)

Another Psalm 11

Lord, I take refuge in you.

It doesn't matter what others say to me,
whether they tell me to flee like a bird seeking shelter
or point out that the wicked are aiming, like expert archers nocking an arrow, to shoot through the dark at me,
or throwing up their hands, saying, "the very foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

It doesn't matter.
You are in your holy temple;
you are seated on your cosmic throne;
your eyes see it all, you miss nothing.

If I'm being tested, you're still in charge;
you still hate wickedness and oppose violence.
You will punish the wicked
and send calamity on them.

I will rest in your righteousness,
and do my best to reflect it with my behavior,
as I look to you,
as I seek your face.