I Light My Candle

I light my candle
at your flame, Holy Spirit.
Let me burn brightly,
and let my light so shine
that others may see
and glorify the Father.
Let my light not fade or fail
until my course is run
and the victory won,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All his wonderful passion and purity;
O thou Spirit Divine, all my nature refine,
'Til the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.


You will take care of me,
through every day, o’er all the way;
You will take care of me.
You will take care of me.

(a hymn by Civilla D. Martin, slightly revised; photo by pennywise via everystockphoto.com)

If I Die Tonight

Lord, if I die tonight,
or am diagnosed with a terminal
or debilitating disease tomorrow,
give me grace to thank you
and praise you nonetheless,
for 58+ years of life,
for longlonglong periods of health and well-being,
for giving me the love of my life
and my best friend in the lovely Robin,
for such pride-inspiring children,
such wonderful daughter- and son-in-law,
and my grandchildren, oh my my my my.

Give me grace to thank you
and praise you for 35+ years of ministry,
for the honor of writing and publishing,
for the enjoyment I've known in preaching,
for a myriad of friends,
for the nation I live in,
the home I grew up in,
the heritage I've been given.

Thank you for the years of work,
and income.
Thank you that I've never been in prison,
and stayed only twice in a hospital.
Thank you for a faith intact,
a heart that is full,
a mind that still works.

No matter what tonight may bring,
no matter what tomorrow holds,
how can I but praise you
for all you've done for me,
and in me,
and--against all contra-indications--through me?

Save me from second-guessing your wisdom
and timing
and grace
should the road ahead be hard,
in Jesus' name, amen.

Thorough Thanks

O Lord, my Lord, for my being, life, reason,
for nurture, protection, guidance,
for education, civil rights, religion,
for Thy gifts of grace, nature, worldly good,
for redemption, regeneration, instruction,
for my call, recall, yea, many calls besides;
for Thy forbearance, longsuffering,
long longsuffering toward me,
many seasons, many years, even until now;
for all good things received, successes granted me, good deeds done;
for the use of things present, for Thy promise, and my hope of the enjoyment of good things to come;
for my parents honest and good,
teachers kind,
benefactors never to be forgotten,
fellow-ministers who are of one mind,
hearers thoughtful,
friends sincere,
domestics faithful;
for all who have advantaged me by writings, sermons, conversations, prayers, examples, rebukes, injuries;
for all these, and all others which I know, which I know not,
open, hidden,
remembered, forgotten,
done when I wished, when I wished not,
I confess to Thee and will confess,
I bless Thee and will bless,
I give thanks to Thee and will give thanks,
all the days of my life.
Who am I, or what is my father's house,
that Thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?
What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?
for all things in which He hath spared and borne with me until now?

Holy, holy, holy,
Thou art worthy,
O Lord and our God, the Holy One,
to receive glory, honour, and power:
for Thou hast created all things,
and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.

(a prayer of Lancelot Andrewes, from Lancelot Andrewes and His Private Devotionsphoto of Southwark Cathedral by markhillary via everystockphoto.com)

Stealing a Blessing

I come to you
like Jacob in the garments of Esau--
that is, in the merits
and precious blood of Jesus Christ.

(a prayer by Thomas Merton, from his book, Dialogues With Silence, p. 113)

Shalom, Shalvah

Abba, please make of my life
shalom (peace)
and shalvah (prosperity),
in Jesus' name, amen.
(drawn from Psalm 122:6-9; photo via everystockphoto.com)

Saturday Psalm 12

Lord, is no one faithful anymore?
Is none loyal? Dependable? Faithful?

Or is it--as it seems--that all are liars
and flatterers
and deceitful, conniving people.

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

My tongue gets me into trouble.
My lips are far from pure.
I tell myself I'm better than many,
but since when is that the right measurement?
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.

Father Zosima’s Prayer

Lord, save those whom there is no one to pray for,
save also those who do not want to pray to You.
It is not in my pride that I pray for this, Lord,
for I myself am the greatest of sinners.

(from The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky; photo by tedkerwin via everystockphoto.com)

Prayer on the Trail

The trail always looks different going back
than it did coming on,
and I am on the homeward trail.
No matter how long my trek may take,
let me walk it well,
without losing my way,
without going astray,
and let others who cross my path
be better in some way,
however small,
for having done so, in Jesus' name, amen.


Like summer snow
floating from a sun-filled sky,
draping airy-white on flowered fields,
Your love astonished me.

No frilly show,
no assorted-chocolate pledge,
no candy hearts or silver kisses
disclosed your care for me;

But unsparing,
cross-bearing love,
that opened hands and feet and side
to spill your heart for me,

To recreate,
inundate my longing soul
with giving, holding, accepting,
enfolding love for me.

An Honest, Hopeful Hymn

I do not ask Thee, Lord,
That all my life may be
An easy, smooth and pleasant path;
'twould not be good for me.
(Easy, smooth and pleasant would be nice
ONCE in a while, though)
But O I ask today
That grace and strength be given
To keep me fighting all the way
That leads to God and Heaven!
(And an occasional break from the fighting
would be welcome from time to time, too)
I do not ask Thee, Lord,
That tears may never flow,
Or that the world may always smile
Upon me as I go.
(But "sometimes smile" would be okay,
if it's all the same to you)
From Thee fell drops of blood;
A thorn-crown pressed Thy brow;
Thy suffering brought Thee victory then,
And thou canst help me now.
(I'm willing to suffer for you,
it's suffering fools I don't like to do)
And what if strength should fail,
And heart more deeply bleed?
Or what if dark and lonely days
Draw forth the cry of need?
(I really hope I never find out,
to tell you the truth)
That cry will bring Thee down
My needy soul to fill,
And Thou wilt teach my yearning heart
To know and do Thy will
(But "easy, smooth and pleasant"
still suits me better, if you please).

(a hymn by Ad­e­laide A. Proc­ter, interspersed with sincere responses by Bob Hostetler)

Saturday Psalm 11

Lord, I take refuge in you;
Though sometimes I feel like flying off to the mountains—
when critics and cynics and skeptics and peptics
seem to be aiming for me,
notching arrows on their bowstring
to shoot at me,
and the ground seems to give way under my feet,
leaving me nowhere to stand.

But, Lord, you are still in your holy temple;
you are still on the throne.
Your eyes see everything, your insight still pierces the darkness.
You see my plight no less than their intentions,
And I know you have no desire to see their hateful, violent intentions come to pass.
Remind me, Lord, that sooner or later, you will trip them up;
and they’ll learn the hard way.
Lord, you are righteous; I know that. You love righteousness.
Help me to remain upright, even in times of trial, that I may behold your face.

(based on Psalm 11; photo by David Hepworth via everystockphoto.com)

To Lay Aside Every Weight

Give grace and strength to lay aside every weight, 
and the sin which doth so easily beset us; 
all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, 
the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, 
every motion of flesh and spirit alienated from the will of Thy holiness, 
to be poor in spirit, 
that I have a portion in the kingdom of heaven; 
to mourn, that I be comforted; 
to be meek, that I inherit the earth; 
to hunger and thirst after righteousness, that I be filled; 
to be merciful, that I obtain mercy; 
to be pure in heart, that I see God; 
to be a peacemaker, that I be called the son of God; 
to be prepared for persecutions and revilings for righteousness' sake, 
that my reward be in heaven.

(a prayer of Lancelot Andrewes, from Lancelot Andrewes and His Private Devotions; photo by liguitar via everystockphoto.com)


Abba, thank you so much
that the glory of the Lord
is risen on me and mine.

(based on Isaiah 60:1)

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.

(photo by graber via everystockphoto.com)

That They May Be Just

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

Generous Mystery

Most glorious, Triune God, I'm finally at home in my finiteness. Mystery is now a good friend, not an intruder to figure out. It's no longer about explaining you as Trinity. It's about worshiping with wonder and surrendering with gratitude.

Dear Lord Jesus, what more could we possibly want or need than for your grace to be with us today? It was by your grace we received eternal life. It is by your grace we are being transformed to be like you. And by your grace one day we will enjoy the perfections of life in the new heaven and new earth. We praise you for your saving, sustaining, and sufficient grace.

Dear heavenly Father, what more could we possibly need today than the assurance and supply of your love? You've promised we will never be separated from your great love for us in Jesus. Because of what Jesus has accomplished, you will never love us more than you do today and you will never love us less.

Dear Holy Spirit, what more could we possibly long for today than fellowship with you? To fellowship with you is to enjoy the doxology and delights of the whole Godhead. I no more presume on such a privilege than I presume I have the ability to create a whole new universe.

Indeed, may your grace, Jesus; your love, Father; and your fellowship, Holy Spirit, be with us all day long. I pray in Jesus' trustworthy and triumphant name. Amen.

(a prayer of Scotty Smith, from his book, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith).

Saturday Psalm 10

Sometimes, Lord, you do seem far away, as if
you are hiding yourself in these troubling times.
Such ugliness,
so many conflicts,
so much suffering.
It sure would be nice
if you would intervene, visibly and decisively.
It would be great
if you would stop the wicked in their tracks.
Do you see what's going on in Syria and Iraq,
where the works of your hands are being oppressed and brutalized?
Will you not hold the wicked accountable?
Will you let them continue to spread evil,
speaking and acting as if you don't exist?

And what of those who enrich themselves
on the misfortune of others,
the corrupt, the swindlers, the abusers?
They seem to do whatever they want, without resistance.

They spew blasphemy, curses, lies, and hatred.
They deceive well-meaning and gullible people.
They take advantage of others,
preying on the hopeful,
devouring the conscientious,
and exploiting the weak and poor,
as though you are missing in action,
even blind.

Arise, Lord!
Act, please!

Show yourself.
Show your concern.
Show the world that you are alive, awake, and in control.

Show up for the helpless.
Show up for the orphan.
Show up for the beaten, suffering, despairing ones.

Strike down the wicked.
Beat back their poisonous ways.
Obliterate their progress and profits.

Assert yourself.
Establish justice.
Restore peace.


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I Do Need Thee

I do need thee, Lord. I need thee now. I know that I can do without many of the things that once I thought were necessities, but without thee I cannot live, and I dare not die.

I needed thee when sorrow came, when shadows were thrown across the threshold of my life, and thou didst not fail me then. I needed thee when sickness laid a clammy hand upon my family, and I cried to thee, and thou didst hear. I needed thee when perplexity brought me to a parting of the ways, and I knew not how to turn. Thou didst not fail me then, but in many ways, big and little, didst indicate the better way. And though the sun is shining around me today, I know that I need thee even in the sunshine, and shall still need thee tomorrow.

I give thee my gratitude for that constant sense of need that keeps me close to thy side. Help me to keep my hand in thine and my ears open to the wisdom of thy voice.

Speak to me, that I may hear thee giving me courage for hard times and strength for difficult places; giving me determination for challenging tasks. I ask of thee no easy way, but just thy grace that is sufficient for every need, so that no matter how hard the way, how challenging the hour, how dark the sky, I may be enabled to overcome.

In thy strength, who hast overcome the world, I make this prayer. Amen.

(from The Prayers of Peter Marshall)

For My Life

Lord God, deliver me please
from the evil of the unexamined life...
the unworshipful life...
the unfocused life...
the self-centered life...
the self-absorbed life...
the self-satisfied life...
the frantic life...
the marginal life...
the care-filled life...
the accidental life...
the self-reliant life...
the arrogant life...
the inconsequential life...
the shallow life...
the appetite-driven life...
the reactive life...
the fruitless life...
the material life...
the thoughtless life...
the prayerless life...
the small life...
in Jesus' name, amen.

(photo by Rob Chivers via freeimages.com)