Bread and Fish

Lord Jesus, you said, "Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11).

Lord, I confess that in my asking I don't often know whether I'm asking for bread or a fish. I lack the wisdom even to ask for good things, much less the best things.

So I ask for wisdom in praying, that I may ask well, and receive fully, amen.

A Personalized Lord's Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
my Abba so close,
your name is great; may it be kept holy in all I pray, all I say, and all I do.
Bring your kingdom to full fruition in my life and in this world;
have your way here and now, just as you do in heaven.

Give us the things we need today.

Forgive our sins,
as we forgive those who have hurt us.

And lead us—
not into temptation—
but deliver us from evil and from the Evil One, for you are our King,
and we welcome your reign,
and we exalt you forever and ever.

(this version of the Lord's Prayer appears in The Red Letter Life)

To Rejoice in Your Mysterious Companionship

O Holy Spirit of God, abide with me;
inspire all my thoughts;
pervade my imagination;
suggest all my decisions;
order all my doings.

Be with me in my silence and in my speech,
in my haste and in my leisure,
in company and in solitude,
in the freshness of the morning and
in the weariness of the evening;
and give me grace at all times humbly to rejoice
in your mysterious companionship,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(a Prayer of John Baillie, revised slightly from A Diary of Private Prayer)

Another Psalm 18

Let me just say: I love you, Lord, my strength.
You are my bedrock,
my castle wall,
my EMT.

You are my windbreak.
You shelter and shield me.
You are a safe place to hide.

I could praise you all day long
and not exaggerate.
I have cried out to you
more times than I can count,
and you have never failed me.
I have been physically sick with fear,
but you lifted me up, brushed me off, and helped me stand.
I let depression entangle me,
but you patiently showed me the way out.
I have sobbed in grief,
but you sat shiva with me.
You hear me.
You help me.

I have felt like the earth was giving way beneath my feet,
like you had abandoned me or become angry with me,
but you parted the clouds and showed yourself;
you rode the wings of the storm,
and instead of punishing me you routed my enemy.
You reached out and grabbed me
as you grabbed Peter that day on Kinnereth.
You lifted me out of the waves
and saved me from my own doubts and the plans of my enemies.
And then you brought me out into a sweet place,
a place of abundance and blessing and health and freedom.

I am highly favored, and I know it.
I know it well. I know it daily.
You have been more than faithful to me.
You have been merciful and gracious,
generous beyond reason.

That is your way.
You save the lowly,
and crush the proud.
You light my way.
If you lead, I will charge into battle.
In your strength, I can leap over a wall.

Your way is utterly beautiful to me.
Your word is straight and true.
You are armor and shield for all who take refuge in you.

You alone are Lord of all.
No one else compares.
You strengthen me,
you guide me,
you energize me,
you lift me up,
you equip me.

Mine: the shield of your salvation.
Mine: your strong hand supporting me.
Mine: your help, your smile, your advancement.
Mine: firm footing.
Mine: victory over my enemies.
Mine: strength far above my own.

You delivered me from many conflicts.
You gave me success I could not have planned,
or even handled without your grace.

Lord, you live. I bless you, my rock!
God of my salvation, I exalt you.
God my deliverer, God my advocate, God my vindicator,
I praise your name.


Lord God Adonai, lover of all humanity, hear my prayer for the people of Nepal who have been so tragically affected by last night's earthquake:

Have mercy, Lord,
on all the displaced,
the injured,
the bereaved.

Have mercy, Lord,
on all who lose homes
and farms
and businesses
and livelihoods.

Have mercy, Lord,
on all who join in relief and rescue efforts,
who risk their lives to save others,
who sacrifice for the sake of your children.

Have mercy, Lord,
on leaders and decision-makers
and grant them clarity
and decisiveness,
wisdom and effectiveness
in responding to this great need.

Have mercy, Lord,
on the souls of those who are swept up
and away
in this great tragedy,
and grant remission of sins and your merciful pardon,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Have mercy, Lord,
and move your church,
the Body of Christ,
to compassion
and service
for the victims of this tragedy,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(photo via

Prayer for a Sponsored Child

Lord God, thank you for Juan Manuel,
and for his health and growth
through these past six years since Robin and I first met him
and she held him on her lap.

Give him daily bread for his growing body.
Grant him a sharp mind and a ready intellect.
Make him an obedient child and a faithful friend.
Let salvation spring up in him.
Let his roots go down deep into the soil of your love for him.
Supply his needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.
Hold him close to you and teach him to pray.
Give to him and his family and his community
more resources,
a better future,
and a vibrant witness
to the grace that is in our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whose name I pray, amen.

For Servant Hearts

My prayer today for my kids and my grandkids, from the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids" app for iPhone and iPad:

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the martyrs’ crown of light,
For Thy prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold confessors’ might,
For the lips of infancy,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For each perfect gift of Thine,
To the human race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven,
Father, unto Thee I raise,
This my hymn of grateful praise.

(a prayer by Folliot S. Pierpoint)

To Keep Company With You

Lord Jesus, thank you for your insistent knock at the door of my heart…the door of my life.

Show me how to keep company with you. Teach me how to include you in the rhythms and responsibilities of my day. Help me, like Zacchaeus, to jump at the chance to eat with you, and spend time with you. Enable me to share my life with you, to learn to chat with you, to tell you what I’m thinking, to listen as you tell me what you’re thinking, and even haggle, complain, consult, and wrestle with you as I go through my day.

I open to you. I will save a chair for you. Come in, Lord. Amen.

(a prayer from my book, Quit Going to Church)

Wanderer's Prayer

Lord God, Lover of my soul, you have done so much for me. You have made known to me the path of life and filled me with joy in your presence (Psalm 16:11). Yet, I confess that I am prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. Please have mercy on my feeble and fickle heart, and help me to be properly warned by your Word. Help me not to tolerate even the slightest distance from you and, if I do wander, to turn quickly back to you, the source of all my blessing and joy. Make me and keep me wholly and always devoted to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

(from Falling in Love with God, by Bob Hostetler, pp. 95-96)

To the Lord of Childhood

Lord of childhood
make me childlike
not childish
not scared
not devious.

When you plow a field
I know you plan
a crop
when you harrow
breaking up plowed clods of dirt
to fine earth.

(from Joseph Bayly's Psalms of My Life)


My prayer today for my kids and my grandkids, from the "31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids" app for iPhone and iPad.


Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past.

(from "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," a hymn by Charles Wesley)

To Live Untaxed Lives

On this day of internal revenue
some of us are paid up,
some of us owe,
some of us await a refund,
some of us have no income to tax.

But all of us are taxed,
by war,
by violence,
by anxiety,
by deathliness.

And Caesar never gives any deep tax relief.

We render to Caesar . . .
to some it feels like a grab,
to some it is clearly a war tax,
to some – some few –
it is a way to contribute to the common good.

In any case we are haunted
by what we render to Caesar,
by what we might render to you,
by the way we invest our wealth and our lives,
when what you ask is an “easy yoke”:
to do justice
to love mercy
to walk humbly with you.

Give us courage for your easy burden, so to live untaxed lives. Amen.

(a prayer by Walter Brueggemann, from his book, Prayers for a Privileged People, Abingdon, 2008)

Rising Up and Rushing Forth

Abba, Father, Lord God Almighty,
make me a spring of living water (John 7:38),
rising up and rushing forth
in rivers of hope, and love, and blessing.

Let my ministry,
my life,
my every word and deed,
be an outflow of your gracious work in me,
in Jesus' name, amen.

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.

Fresh Flowers in My Garden

Come, O Lord my God;
my soul invites thee earnestly,
and waits for thee eagerly.

Come to me, O Jesus, my well beloved,
and plant fresh flowers in my garden,
such as I see blooming
in such perfection
in thy matchless character!

Come, O my Father,
who art the Husbandman,
and deal with me in thy tenderness and prudence!

Come, O Holy Spirit,
and bedew my whole nature,
as the herbs are now moistened with the evening dews.

Oh, that you would speak to me!
Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.
Oh, that you would walk with me;
I am ready to give up my whole heart and mind to you.

I am only asking what you delight to give.

(a prayer of Charles H. Spurgeon, slightly revised)

At Compline

Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.

From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thought may know.

O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.

Thee Will I Love

Thee will I love, my strength, my tower,
Thee will I love, my joy, my crown;
Thee will I love with all my power,
In all thy works, and thee alone;
Thee will I love, till the pure fire
Fill my whole soul with chaste desire.

I thank thee, uncreated Sun,
That thy bright beams on me have shined;
I thank thee, who hast overthrown My foes,
and healed my wounded mind;
I thank thee, whose enlivening voice
Bids my freed heart in thee rejoice.

Uphold me in the doubtful race,
Nor suffer me again to stray;
Strengthen my feet with steady pace
Still to press forward in thy way;
My soul and flesh, O Lord of might,
Fill, satiate, with thy heavenly light.

Give to mine eyes refreshing tears,
Give to my heart chaste, hallowed fires,
Give to my soul, with filial fears,
The love that all heaven's host inspires;
That all my powers, with all their might,
In thy sole glory may unite.

Thee will I love, my joy, my crown,
Thee will I love, my Lord, my God;
Thee will I love, beneath thy frown,
Or smile, thy sceptre, or thy rod;
What though my flesh and heart decay?
Thee shall I love in endless day!

(from a hymn by Johann Scheffler, translated by John Wesley)


Your grace is sufficient, O Christ.
It is enough to satisfy our restless hearts and anxious fears.
It is enough to push through all the remnants of shame and self-hate.
It is enough to break down the walls of unforgiveness and prejudice.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

(a prayer of the Moravian Church)

We Ask the Risen Jesus

We ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace....

Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?

Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.

Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.

Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century. Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! Made the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation.


(excerpt from the Easter greeting of Pope Francis, April 5, 2015)

For Baseball

Thank you, God, for baseball:
for outfields of green
and the crack of the ball on a wooden bat.
For pitchers with eccentric windups,
for stolen bases
and diving catches.
For double plays
and double steals,
bunts and brushbacks,
squeeze plays and home runs.
For "cold beer here!" and ballpark franks.
For the seventh inning stretch.
For day games and night games.
For OBPs and ERAs,
pickoff plays and headfirst slides,
for opening days and hope springing eternal.

Easter Prayer

It is only right,
with all the powers of our heart and mind,
to praise You Father
and Your Only-begotten Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ:
Dear Father, by Your wondrous
condescension of loving-kindness toward us,
Your servants, You gave up Your Son.
Dear Jesus You paid the debt of Adam
for us to the Eternal Father by
Your Blood poured
fourth in loving-kindness.
You cleared away the darkness of sin
By Your magnificent and radiant Resurrection.
You broke the bonds of death
and rose from the grave as a Conqueror.
You reconciled heaven and earth.
Our life had no hope of eternal happiness
before You redeemed us.
Your Resurrection has washed away our sins,
restored our innocence and brought us joy.
How inestimable is the tenderness
of Your love!

(Saint Gregory the Great's Easter Prayer)

A Prayer on Silent Saturday

Rest you well, beloved Jesus,  
Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King,  
In the brooding of the Spirit,  
In the darkness of the spring. 

Good Friday Prayer

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

(by Christina Rosetti)

Maundy Thursday Prayer

not my feet only,
but also
my hands
my head.
my heart.
my mind.
my life.

(based on John 13:9).

April 1 Prayer

A fool though I am, Lord,
let me not be like the fool
whose thoughts are wicked,
who flirts with temptation,
who "goes along to get along."
Make me instead a man
who loves your Word
and dwells in your presence.
Make me like a tree,
planted by a flowing stream,
bearing fruit season after season,
never withering, always prospering,
in Jesus' name, amen.

(based on Psalm 1:1-3)