On the Last Day of 2020, Thank You God!

Good Lord,
it's the last day of 2020...

Only a few hours left in this old year
which seemed so new
oh, not-so-long ago...

Where has the old year gone, Lord?
And how did it go?

And how did I go with you,
make my way with you, Lord,
these past twelve months?

I remember the times
we walked and talked together,
side by side,
you and I...

And I remember the times
when I forgot, somehow,
that you were right there by my side,
and the times I tried to pretend
that you weren't there,
always within arm's reach...

I remember the times when you took delight
in my words and my work
and I remember the times I ignored and forgot you
- but still you loved me
and in your mercy, you forgave me...

Nothing I've done, Lord,
merits what you've given me:
all your love is grace,
an unearned gift
from your heart to mine...

In return I offer so little
and I have so little to offer...

But there comes now a new year, Lord,
and with it my prayer
to live a life more worthy
of all you so freely give me...

In this new year, Lord,
make strong my resolve to be faithful,
make deep my trust in your presence
and make sure my hope in your promise,
for without your help
I will fail...

Lord, you offer me only
what is true and pure,
good and just, strong and graced...

In this new year, help me recognize
what is false, cheap and sham...

Help me to settle for nothing less
than what comes from your heart and hand...

Nourish me, Lord:
give me a hunger for what is genuine,
a thirst for what is holy,
a wisdom for discerning your gifts...

It's the last day of the old year, Lord...

Shake from my heart what has no place there
and wake my heart
to the gift of your grace
and the dawn of a new beginning...

(from my online friend Austin Fleming's A Concord Pastor Comments blog, and updated to 2020)

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)

Poor and Needy

On Ryder's Birthday

Lord, I pray for this boy on his ninth birthday. 
Thank you for him and his ebullient spirit,
for his brilliant mind and tender heart, 
and for his blessedly good health. 
Please continue the good, good work you began in him, 
and for which I prayed at his dedication, 
making him like Enoch, who walked with God; 
like Gideon, who though the circumstances of his birth 
were far from perfect, 
who though his family was of no reputation, 
who though he had many disadvantages in life arrayed against him, 
learned that with God even the smallest can be great;
and making him like David, the man after God's own heart, 
who knew what it was not only to walk with you 
not only to fight and win great battles on your behalf, 
but who also knew how to dance before you. 
Make it so, in this boy's life, 
on today, his birthday, and every day to come. 

Give him and his parents and his sisters
every blessing and every advantage, 
in Jesus' name, amen. 

Shine Forth

Almighty God,
you have poured upon us
the new light
of your incarnate Word:
Grant that this light,
enkindled in our hearts,
may shine forth in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.

The Day of Joy Returns

The day of joy returns, Father in Heaven, and crowns another year with peace and good will. Help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wisemen. Close the doors of hate and open the doors of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil, by the blessing that Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our bed with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake, amen. 

(a prayer by Henry Van Dyke; photo by JillWellington via pixabay.com)

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).

My Soul's a Shepherd Too

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.

(a prayer by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

In the Process of Your Coming

I’ve begun to understand something I have known for a long time: You are still in the process of your coming. Your appearance in the form of a slave was only the beginning of your coming, a beginning in which you chose to redeem men by embracing the very slavery from which you were freeing them. And you can really achieve your purpose in this paradoxical way, because the paths that you tread have a real ending, the narrow passes which you enter soon open out into broad liberty, the cross that you carry inevitably becomes a brilliant banner of triumph.

It is said that you will come again, and this is true. But the word again is misleading. It won’t really be “another” coming, because you have never really gone away. In the human existence that you made your own for all eternity, you have never left us.

But still you will come again, because the fact that you have already come must continue to be revealed ever more clearly. It will become progressively more manifest to the world that the heart of all things is already transformed, because you have taken them all to your heart.

Behold, you come. And your coming is neither past nor future, but the present, which has only to reach its fulfillment. Now it is still the one single hour of your Advent, at the end of which we too shall have found out that you have really come.

O God who is to come, grant me the grace to live now, in the hour of your Advent, in such a way that I may merit to live in you forever, in the blissful hour of your eternity.

(from Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas; photo by Free-Photos via pixabay.com)

When Seeds are Hidden in the Soil

The feast day of your birth resembles You, Lord 
Because it brings joy to all humanity. 
Old people and infants alike enjoy Your day. 
Your day is celebrated from generation to generation.
Kings and emperors may pass away, 
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse. 
But Your festival will be remembered until the end of time. 
Your day is a means and a pledge of peace. 
At Your birth heaven and earth were reconciled, 
Since You came from heaven to earth on that day 
You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt. 
You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth: 
A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick; 
Spiritual light for the blind; 
The cup of salvation for the thirsty; 
The bread of life for the hungry. 
In the winter when trees are bare, 
You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit. 
In the frost when the earth is barren, 
You bring new hope to our souls. 
In December when seeds are hidden in the soil, 
The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb.

(a prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian; photo by Foundry via pixabay.com)


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.

One Short Hour in Thy Presence

Lord, what a change within us one short hour 
Spent in Thy presence will prevail to make; 
What heavy burdens from our bosoms take, 
What parched fields refresh as with a shower. 

We kneel, and all around us seems to lower; 
We rise, and all, the distant and the near, 
Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear;
We kneel how weak; we rise how full of power! 

Why should we ever weak or heartless be,
Why are we ever overborne with care,
Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer,
And joy, and strength, and courage are with Thee?

(a prayer of Richard Trent; image via pixabay.com)

I Have No Idea Where I am Going

(a prayer of Thomas Merton, read by Father Matt, who was a novice at the Abbey of Gethsemani when Merton was novice master)

My Hedge

Lord, you know I tend to want to “hedge my bets.” 
But you are my hedge. 
I trust in you.
On my best days, at least. 
Help me to trust in you every day. 

(photo by timajo via pixabay.com)

Into Your Chamber

Draw me completely into yourself,
So that I might completely melt in your love.

Lay upon me, stamp upon me,
So that my stubborn pride might be destroyed.

Embrace me, kiss me,
So that my spiritual ugliness may turn to beauty.

Lock me into your chamber,
So that I might never stray 
from your presence.

(a prayer by Johann Freylinghausen; photo by truk via pixabay.com)

For a Serious Seeking

Keep me O Lord, while I tarry on this earth, 
in a serious seeking after you, 
and in an affectionate walking with you, 
every day of my life; 
that when you come, I may be found 
not hiding my talent, 
nor serving the flesh, 
nor yet asleep with my lamp unfurnished, 
but waiting and longing for you.

 (a prayer by Richard Baxter; photo by Pexels via pixabay.com)

You Speak Words of Promise and We Answer

You speak words of promise, 
and we answer. 
A thousand times we answer, 
in a thousand tongues-- 
we answer in hymns of praise, 
we answer in songs of thanksgiving, 
we answer in lyrics of gladness, 
we answer in candor about hurt, 
we answer in abrasive anger, 
we answer in deep abandonment. 

We answer and draw close to you. 
And in answering we are changed: 
given freedom, 
come to truth, 
bound in obedience. 

We answer and are yours, all yours, 
not our own, 
yours, and 
glad that we belong to 
you our faithful savior. 

(a prayer by Walter Brueggemann, from his book, Prayers for a Privileged People, p. 169)

On Thanksgiving

Our Father in Heaven, 

If ever we had a cause to offer unto Thee our fervent thanks, surely it is now, on the Eve of our Thanksgiving Day, when we, the people of this Nation, are comfortable, well fed, well clad, and blessed with good things beyond our deserving. May gratitude, the rarest of all virtues, be the spirit of our observance. 

Let not feasting, football, and festivity end in forgetfulness of God. May the desperate need of the rest of the world, and our own glorious heritage, remind us of the God who led our Fathers every step of the way by which they advanced to the character of an independent nation.

May the faith and conviction of George Washington be renewed in us as we remember his words:

...there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exits in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained...

For if we do not have the grace to thank Thee for all that we have and enjoy, how can we have the effrontery to seek Thy further blessings? God, give us grateful hearts. 

For Jesus' sake.


(a prayer from the Senate of the United States, November 26, 1947, by Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain)

On Calleigh's Birthday

Abba, Father, Most Blessed, Most High, 
this girl. 

Isn't she precious? 
Thank you for giving to our family 
the gift of Calleigh,
this precious young woman, 
this beautiful granddaughter, 
this wonderful Calleigh. 

Thank you for preserving her 
through every trial and challenge.
Thank you for her health, 
and intricacy. 

Thank you for entrusting her to the care of such wonderful parents. 

Gentle Shepherd, 
continue as you've begun, 
adding more health, 
more strength, 
more happiness, 
more brilliance, 
more love, 
and delight
to her life and to our life through hers, 
in Jesus' name, amen. 

For Your Mercies on Me

O my God,
let me, with thanksgiving,
remember, and confess unto you
your mercies on me.

Let my bones be soaked with your love,
and let them say unto you,
Who is like you, O Lord?

You have broken my chains in pieces.
I will offer unto you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
And how you have broken them, I will declare;
and all who worship you, when they hear this, will say:
Blessed is the Lord in heaven and in earth!
Great and wonderful is his name!

(a prayer of St. Augustine; illustration by avi_acl via pixabay.com)

My Little Vessel is Full

O My God, 
Thou fairest, greatest, 
first of all objects, 
my heart admires, 
loves thee, 
for my little vessel 
is as full as it can be, 
and I would pour out 
all that fullness before thee 
in ceaseless flow. 

When I think upon and converse with thee 
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, 
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, 
ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, 
crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, 
for adorning it, for sanctifying it, 
though it is fixed in barren soil; 
for the body thou hast given me, 
for preserving its strength and vigour, 
for providing senses to enjoy delights, 
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, 
for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, 
through time and eternity. 

(from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett)

Flowers in the Desert

As flowers grow 
in the 
please bring fruit
of my heart. 

This Family

you have given me everything 
in giving me this wife, 
this daughter, 
this son, 
this son-in-law, 
this daughter-in-law, 
these grandkids. 
Thank you. 

Times and Seasons

Thank you, Lord, that the seasons of my life 
have included so many births, and so few deaths; 
more times to plant, than times of plucking up that which is planted; 
No times to kill, and many times to heal; 
infrequent times to break down, and frequent times to build up; 
Fewer times to weep than times to laugh; 
Fewer times to mourn than times to dance. 

Thank you for those times to cast away stones, and times of gathering stones together; 
thank you for times of embracing, and times to refrain from embracing; 
Thank you for so many times to get, and so few times to lose, 
so many times to keep, and so few times to cast away.

Make me wise to recognize times to rend, and times to sew; 
times to keep silence, and times to speak; 
times to love, and times to hate; 
times of war, and times of peace,
in Jesus' name, amen 

(based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV; photo via everystockphoto.com).

Just One Single Day

Thank you, Lord, 
for today, just one single day, 
you have given me grace to pray, 
coffee to drink, 
food to eat, 
clothes to wear. 

You allowed me 
to wake in my own bed, 
in health, 
and in (mostly) my right mind.

I have hope of meaningful work, 
innumerable comforts, 
and a happy conclusion to this day. 

By your grace, I can see, hear, touch, taste, feel.
By your grace, I know love and companionship. 
By your grace, I have the means to buy, and abundance to give. 
By your grace, I am forgiven and forgiving. 

For this and more, 
just one day's worth, 
I give you my most heartfelt thanks! 


(photo by RachelScottYoga via pixabay.com)

Unquestioning Acceptance

Gracious God, 
please make me more like the birds and the lilies, 
who (in Bonhoeffer's words) "glorify their Creator, 
not by their industry, toil or care, 
but by a daily 
acceptance of his gifts." 

(photo by Auzz33 via pixabay.com) 

I Claim an Entrance

O God, if still the holy place 
Is found of those in prayer, 
By all the promises of grace 
I claim an entrance there. 

Give me a self-denying soul, 
Enlarged and unconfined; 
Abide within me, and control 
The wanderings of the mind. 

Give me the strength of faith that dares 
To die to self each day, 
That bravely takes the cross, nor cares 
To find an easier way. 

Help me to make more sacrifice, 
To walk where Christ would lead, 
That in my life He may arise 
To hallow every deed. 


(a prayer of General Albert Orsborn of The Salvation Army)

That Hoping in Thee We May Do Good

O Lord, in Whom is our hope, 
remove far from us, 
we pray Thee, 
empty hopes and presumptuous confidence. 

Make our hearts so right 
with Thy most holy and loving heart, 
that hoping in Thee we may do good; 
until that day 
when faith and hope shall be abolished 
by sight and possession, 
and love shall be all in all.


(a prayer by Christina Rossetti; photo by Lars_Nissen via pixabay.com)


Lord, please grant me the desires 
of YOUR heart. 

(photo via pixabay.com)

Flower and Sun

We are the flower, Thou the sun! 
Forgive us if, as days decline, 
We nearer steal to Thee....

(lines 7-9 of Emile Dickinson's "The Daisy Follows Soft the Sun"; 
photo illustration by Kathas_Fotos via pixabay.com)

On Veterans' Day

God of peace,
we pray for those
who have served our nation
and who laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought, 
whose spirits and bodies 
are scarred by war, 
whose nights are haunted by memories  
too painful for the light of day. 

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm's way:
shield them from danger
and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!


(from A Concord Pastor Comments blog; photo by KaraSuva via pixabay.com)

Quietness and Confidence

Lord God Adonai, 
you said,
"In quietness and confidence 
is your strength" 
(Isaiah 30:15, NLT).
Make it so in me.
Help me to prove it, here and now, 
in Jesus' name, amen.


Lord, King and Father unbegotten, True Essence of the Godhead, 
have mercy on me. 
Lord, Fount of light and Creator of all things, 
have mercy on me. 
Lord, Thou who hast signed me with the seal of Thine image, 
have mercy on me. 
Christ, True God and True Man, 
have mercy on me. 
Christ, Rising Sun, through whom are all things, 
have mercy on me. 
Christ, Perfection of Wisdom, 
have mercy on me. 
Lord, vivifying Spirit and power of life, 
have mercy on me. 
Lord, Breath of the Father and the Son, in Whom are all things, 
have mercy on me. 
Lord, Purger of sin and Almoner of grace, 
I beseech Thee abandon me not because of my sins, 
O Consoler of the sorrowing soul, 
have mercy on me.

(photo by jplenio via pixabay.com)

Post-Election-Day Prayer

Praise be to your name, God, for ever and ever; 
    wisdom and power are yours. 
You change times and seasons; 
    you depose kings and raise up others.
You give wisdom to the wise 
    and knowledge to the discerning.
You reveal deep and hidden things;
    you know what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with you. 
Praise be to your name, God, for ever and ever.

(based on Daniel 2:20-22; photo via Pixabay.com)

Election Day Prayer

Sovereign and Most High God, your Word says that you control the course of world events; you remove and exalt rulers (Daniel 2:21). So I pray, exert your control over the events of this election; remove and install leaders according to your “good, perfect, and pleasing” plan (Romans 12:2, NIV).

I pray for every candidate for every office, and the people who love them: God, be merciful to them and bless them; look on them with kindness (Psalm 67:1), whether they win or lose, and accomplish what is best for them, their loved ones, and their constituents.

I pray Isaiah 11:2 for every voter: Holy Spirit, speak to every person who votes in this election. Send the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD on everyone who casts a ballot.

I pray for justice to roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream, through my neighborhood, city, state, and nation (Amos 5:24).

I pray for your people to participate in this election and respond to the results not in a spirit of fear and timidity, but in a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

As Jesus prayed, I ask for your will rather than mine (Matthew 26:39). Dispel suspicion and hatred, heal divisions, repair the damage to and by your church, and restore the unity of our nation. 

And, finally, Father, I ask for the faith to see your hand in the results of this election, even as I remember those people around the world who have no voice and no vote. Let my reaction to this election reveal my faith in You and my awareness of my privilege and responsibility as a citizen, in Jesus’ name, amen.

On All Saints' Day

Father, All-Powerful and ever-living God, 
you have knit together your elect 
in one communion and fellowship 
in the mystical body 
of Your Son, Christ our Lord, 
and kindled the flame of your love 
in the hearts of the saints. 
I praise you for the holy men and women 
you have raised up 
in every time and place. 
Give me grace so to follow their example
in devotion and godliness 
that I may come
to those ineffable joys
that you have prepared for those
who unfeignedly love you, 
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, 
one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. 

(updated and modernized from the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours, the Gothic Missal, and The Book of Common Prayer, 1979)

On All Hallows' Eve

From ghoulies and ghosties 
And long-leggedy beasties 
And things that go bump in the night, 
Good Lord, deliver us!

(Traditional Scottish prayer)

A Prayer of Columba of Iona

Be thou a bright flame before me, 
Be thou a guiding star above me, 
Be thou a smooth path below me, 
Be thou a kindly shepherd behind me, 
Today - tonight - and for ever.

(a prayer of Columba of Iona; 
illustration by Comfreak via pixabay.com)

Just Like Jeremiah

Lord God Adonai, by your great grace 
make me, like Jeremiah, 
"a fortified city, an iron pillar, bronze walls," 
in Jesus' name, amen.

(based on Jeremiah 1:18)

Pity My Unsettled Soul

Jesus, Shepherd of the sheep, 
Pity my unsettled soul; 
Guide and nourish me and keep, 
Till Thy love shall make me whole. 
Give me perfect soundness, give; 
Make me steadfastly believe. 

I am never at one stay, 
Changing every hour I am; 
But Thou art, as yesterday, 
Now and evermore the same. 
Constancy to me impart, 
Stablish with Thy Grace my heart. 

Give me faith to hold me up, 
Walking over life's rough sea; 
Holy, purifying hope, 
Still my soul's sure anchor be. 
That I may be always Thine, 
Perfect me in love divine. 

(a prayer of Charles Wesley)