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Teach Us to Pray
Public Prayers for Services of Worship

Dennis Bratcher

Lord, teach us to pray.  Some of us are not skilled in the art of prayer.  As we draw near to you in thought, our spirits long for your Spirit, and reach out for you, longing to feel you near. We know not how to express the deepest emotions that lie hidden in our hearts.

In these moments, we have no polished phrases with which to impress one another, no finely molded, delicately turned clauses to present to you. Nor would we be confined to conventional petitions and repeat our prayers like the unwinding of a much-exposed film. We know, our Father, that we are closest to you when we have left behind the things that have held us captive so long

We would not be ignorant in prayer and, like children, make want lists for you.  Rather, we pray that you will give unto us only what we really need. We would not make our prayers the importuning of you, an omnipotent God, to do what we want you to do. Rather, give us the vision, the courage, that shall enlarge our horizons and stretch our faith to the adventure of seeking your loving will for our lives

We thank you that you are hearing us even now. We thank you for the grace of prayer. We thank you for yourself.  Amen.  -Peter Marshall

The Context of Communal Prayer

In most Protestant churches, especially those in the evangelical tradition, prayer is usually considered a private and individual matter between a person and God. Even public prayer has tended to have an individual dimension to it, usually offered extemporaneously from personal experience without much prior thought going into either the form or content of the prayer, and even less into the theology expressed in the prayer. Some of the most heretical beliefs I have ever heard expressed by Christians have been in public prayer.

The positive dimension of this individualized aspect of prayer is that prayer in those traditions has tended to have a deeply spiritual dimension, an expression of the vital and authentic piety that is so much a part of the evangelical Protestant tradition. Such prayer not only reflects a person’s journey of faith, it can often be reflective of a deeply embraced personal spirituality that breathes vitality and passion into prayer both public and private. Some traditions that have long used formal prayers have recognized this dimension and have deliberately set out to incorporate this dynamic quality of individualized and impromptu prayer into their own traditions.

The negative dimension of individualized prayer, especially when expressed as public prayer, lies in its limited range and scope. It is easy to allow prayer to center on a limited set of concerns that are of immediate personal interest. Since it usually takes deliberate thought and reflection to move beyond those personal concerns, much public impromptu prayer tends to be one-dimensional.

It is also easy for prayer, especially public prayer in worship, to degenerate into clichés. This is sometimes compounded by the fact that many people are self-conscious about praying in public, and so tend to repeat "safe" kinds of prayers rather than entering into prayer as a dimension of worship. And the sad fact is that many people simply do not know how to pray in public, a problem shared with Jesus’ disciples who came and asked him, "Master, Teach us to pray." (Luke 11:1). And even private prayer is difficult to express from the context of severe crisis, the times when prayer most often is needed.

Creativity and forethought are not usually things that most Protestant evangelicals associate with prayer. In some traditions there has been a dominant model for prayer inherited from certain historical patterns. The loud and sometimes raucous prayer that characterized frontier revivalism or the unique style of public prayer that arose in some Southern churches was part of a larger cultural context, and was learned as part of that culture (see Low Church and High Church).

Prayer public and private certainly has value as part of a cultural religious heritage. And within that context these prayers were powerful vehicles of spiritual expression.  Yet, outside of that particular cultural context, or in a later historical context, such prayers may have less meaning for a worshipping community, and are far more difficult to transmit as an expression of vital piety then they are in that earlier and different context.

As a result, many Protestant churches, especially those that are heirs of the revivalist or holiness movements of the 19th century, are increasingly finding "traditional" modes of public prayer inadequate for a more modern worshiping community. Especially younger people today find nineteenth and early twentieth century models of public prayer, or styles of prayer that arose from "Southern Gospel" roots, less meaningful forms of communion with God or expressions of public worship.

Discovering a New Vitality

Many Christians today remain torn between the inadequacy that they see in many of the prayers they hear offered in church and the deeply felt desire to be able to express both their commitment to God and the struggles of their own journey of Faith and life in prayer. So, for many today, young and old alike, the cry is still, "Teach us to pray!" And yet for the most part a simple "how to" book on prayer, like the many that line local Christian bookstores’ shelves, does not fill that need. Most of those books remain focused on personal growth and individualized piety apart from a worshipping community and prayer as a public expression from and for that community. So, the need remains for a new generation of Christians of all ages to learn to pray, especially as a part of a worshipping community of Faith.

For this reason, and others, many Protestant Evangelicals are rediscovering the value and power of written prayers. While some still view written prayer with suspicion, there is a growing tendency to incorporate written prayers into services of worship.

The Biblical Model

The fact that the Bible itself contains a book of worship with written prayers, the Book of Psalms, has reinforced and encouraged this rediscovery of the tradition of prayers written for the gathered community to pray together. A new awareness of the variety and diversity of biblical prayers in the Psalter, their creativity in forms of expression, and their poetic and musical aspects, as well as what they tell us about God and our relationship with God, has brought a new way of thinking about prayer as an act of worship (see Patterns for Life: Structure, Genre, and Theology in Psalms). And this is turn has led to a new understanding of the role and power of carefully and deliberately crafted prayer in the life of the community.

The most compelling biblical insight into prayer for most people is that biblical prayer is praise to God. But here we must abandon a common misconception that praise is only a happy, hand-clapping, feel-good approach to worship that is usually associated with music. In Scripture, especially in the prayers of the Psalms, praise expressed a faith in God from the whole range of human circumstances, from hurt to joy, from tragedy to happiness, from death to life, from pain to deliverance. Praise was simply a mode of coming to God from any human condition, and acknowledging God as God. Prayer was the vehicle of that praise, whether petition or thanksgiving, contrition for sin or celebration for deliverance, confession or doxology.

Israel's Prayer Book, the Book of Psalms, is titled "Praises" in Hebrew, even though almost half of the prayers are prayers offered from the negative circumstances of life. Many of the prayers in the Psalter begin or are primarily negative expressions of the realities of life (see Patterns for Life: Lament Psalms). Biblically, "praise" can be either positive or negative, depending on the life circumstances of the person, or community, praying. As such prayer it is the heart's cry to God that expresses a relationship, within which all the realities of life, both positive and negative, can be brought before God.

Certainly, public prayer should usually include both positive praise, thanksgiving, and doxology.  However, a major failure of much public prayer is that it provides little room for the negative dimensions of life. Most of the lament psalms/prayers in Scripture provide a movement within the prayer from expressing the circumstances and realities of life toward affirming faith in God from the midst of those circumstances. 

It is that movement, as one writer said "from hurt to joy," that is a crucial part of public worship. It is meeting people where they are in the struggle of life, acknowledging and expressing that struggle, and then moving to express a faith that transcends circumstances. Biblically, that suggests that public prayer, and therefore the Prayers of the People, might more honestly begin with petition and confession then end with positive praise, rather than beginning with it.

The prayers of the psalms were used by the Israelites in the context of worship to provide a structure in which they could bring their praises, thanks, hurts and grief honestly and openly before God.  They are the prayers and praises of God's people preserved by the community of faith. As such, they have become authoritative for us: a guide for worship, an example of honesty before God, and a demonstration of the importance of prayer and meditation.

Using Written Prayers Today

Following the biblical model, many church traditions have developed a book of worship that provides more modern examples and guides for communal and public prayer. Following the Reformation, many of the Protestants traditions tended to react against such "high church" practices as written prayers for use in services of worship. The idea was that written prayers inhibited the work of the Holy Spirit, reflected too much human manipulation of the experience of worship, or taught faulty theology. This misgiving still remains today in many areas. Yet, as noted above, many Protestant churches, following the biblical model, have begun to recover the practice of written prayers as authentic expression of communal worship.

Written prayers can allow focus on a wider range of topics and can bring a wider variety of language and manner of expression into worship. They have the advantage of allowing people to come together to focus on a common topic, as well as allowing a greater number of people to lead public prayer. Of course, written prayers in any context can become formalized. But if incorporated as part of a well-constructed and prayerful considered service of worship, they can also be powerful vehicles for encounter with the presence of God, a means of grace.

Here is collected a range of prayers used in public services of worship or for in other contexts such as special days or even private devotions.  The prayers offered here are not intended to be used in all of the suggested contexts just as they are written. They are offered as models of how prayers can be constructed as part of a service of worship and as a means of grace.

Most of these prayers come from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, as well as notable prayers from some of the Church Fathers, other books of worship, or from others who have written prayers for various occasions. They are organized by topic as outlined below.  The prayers basically follow the headings of the Book of Common Prayer, although obviously many can be used on a variety of occasions with only slight modifications. Some prayers may be listed in more than one place.

Unless otherwise attributed, prayers are from The Book of Common Prayer.

Prayers for the World General Thanksgivings
Prayers for the Church Thanksgivings for the Church
Prayers for National Life Thanksgivings for National Life
Prayers for the Social Order Thanksgivings for the Social Order
Prayers for the Natural Order Thanksgivings for the Natural Order
Prayers for Family and Personal Life Thanksgivings for Family/Personal Life
Other Prayers: Special Times/Days

Prayers for the World

For Joy in God’s Creation

O heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For All Sorts and Conditions of Men

O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech you for all sorts and conditions of men; that you would be pleased to make your ways known unto them, your saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for your holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by your good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers are desired]; that it may please you to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

For the Human Family

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Peace

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

For Peace Among the Nations

Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For World Peace

We pray for our troubled world, wandering in the excruciating twilight of an uncertain peace. In our hearts we know that this is no true peace – rather suspicion and fear, animosity and greed. We ask that Your Spirit will strive mightily with the leaders of the nations as they seek a formula by which the peoples of the earth can live at peace with one another.

Impress upon their minds and hearts

that until we are at peace with You, we can be at peace with no one else; that freedom can exist nowhere unless it exists everywhere;

that the strength of this nation does not lie in armies or navies, but in the integrity of her people;

that peace is born out of righteousness – and nothing else;

that the trouble with our world is still – people; that peace is not possible until people's hearts – our hearts – and the direction of our wills are changed.

Make us willing to be changed, whatever the cost to our self-sufficiency, whatever the price to our insistence on having our own way. Will You reveal Your will for [America], that she may now realize her destiny and place in Your plan for the world?

O Our Father, grant that the promised day may soon come when culture and learning, education and compassion, shall again light all lamps that wars have extinguished; when all wanderers can return to their homes and their little gardens; when "men to men the world o’er shall brothers be for a’ that"; when all of us may be united in the high adventure of building a better world. In Your name, who are the Father of us all, we make this prayer. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For our Enemies

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for the Church

For the Church

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

For the Mission of the Church

Ever-living God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

For Clergy and People

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of your grace; and , that they may truly please you, pour upon them the continual dew of your blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Pastors

O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant Pastor ___________, to be a pastor in your church and to feed your flock; Give abundantly to him/her and to all pastors the gifts of your Holy Spirit, that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. -Monte Nabors

For Missionaries/Special Ministries

Almighty God, we thank you for your servant _____________, whom you called to proclaim the Gospel to the people of ____________. Raise up in this and every land/place evangelists and leaders of your Kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. -Monte Nabors

For Professors/Theologians Serving the Church

O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of Faith. We praise your name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant ________________ who teaches ministerial students at _________________. We pray that that he may instill into the minds and lives of students truths that will some day feed our souls and those of our children. May your church never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. -Monte Nabors

For Church School Teachers

Almighty God, you gave _____________ special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus; grant that by this teachings we may know you the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen. -Monte Nabors

For the District/Presbytery/Diocese

O God, by your grace you have called us in the [District] to a goodly fellowship of faith. Bless our [District Superintendent] and other clergy, and all our people. Grant that your Word may be truly preached and truly heard, your Sacraments faithfully administered and faithfully received. By your Spirit, fashion our lives according to the example of your Son, and grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Parish/Local Church

Almighty and ever-living God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish/church family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Church Convention or Meeting

Almighty and ever-living God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel [in _____________ ] for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Election of a Minister

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a shepherd for this church, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Unity of the Church Amid Conflicts

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those about to be Baptized or to renew their Baptismal Covenant

O God, you prepared your disciples for the coming of the Spirit through the teaching of your Son Jesus Christ: Make the hearts and minds of your servants ready to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit, that they may be filled with the strength of his presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for National Life

For our Country

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly entreat you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many kindred and tongues. Empower with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, do not allow our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for America

Our Father, we pray for this land. We need Your help in this time of testing and uncertainty, when men who could fight together on the field of battle seem strangely unable to work together around conference tables for peace.

May we begin to see that all true Americanism begins in being Christian; that it can have no other foundation, as it has no other roots. To Your glory was this Republic established. For the advancement of the Christian faith did the Founding Fathers give their life’s heritage, passed down to us.

We would pray that all over this land there may be a return to the faith of those men and women who trusted in God as they faced the perils and dangers of the frontier, not alone in crossing the continent, in building their cabins, in rearing their families, in eking out a livelihood, but in raising a standard of Faith to which men have been willing to repair down through the years.

You blessed their efforts. You blessed America. You made her rich. Will You also make her good? Make us, the citizens of this land, want to do the right things. Make us long to have right attitudes. Help us to be Christian in our attitudes. Let all that we do and say spring out of understanding hearts. Make us willing to seek moral objectives together, that in united action this nation may be as resolute for righteousness and peace as she has been for war.

Bless those who bear responsibility. May they be led by You to do that which is right rather than that which is expedient or politically wise. Save us from politicians who seek only their own selfish interests. Illumine the minds of management as well as labor, that there may be an end to selfishness and greed, to the stupidity of men who are unable to find in reasonable agreement solutions to the problems that plague us.

Bless this land that we love so much, our Father, and help her to deposit her trust, not in armies and navies, in wealth and material resources, or in achievements of the human mind, but in that righteousness which alone exalts any nation, and by which alone peace can finally come to us. This we ask in that name that is above every name, Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen. -Peter Marshall

Confession for America

Our Father, bring to the remembrance of Your people Your ancient and time-honored promise: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." We – this company of Your people assembled – would begin now to meet the conditions that will enable You to fulfill Your promise.

May all of America come to understand that right-living alone exalts a nation, that only in Your will can peace and joy be found. But, Lord, this land cannot be righteous unless her people are righteous, and we, here gathered, are part of America. We know that the world cannot be changed until the hearts of men are changed. Our hearts need to be changed.

We therefore confess to You that:

Wrong ideas and sinful living have cut us off from You.

We have been greedy.

We have sought to hide behind barricades of selfishness; shackles have imprisoned the great heart of America.

We have tried to isolate ourselves from the bleeding wounds of a blundering world.

In our self-sufficiency we have sought not Your help.

We have held conferences and ignored You completely.

We have disguised selfishness as patriotism; our arrogance has masqueraded as pride.

We have frittered away time and opportunities while the world bled.

Our ambitions have blinded us to opportunities.

We have bickered in factory and business, and sought to solve our differences only through self-interest.

Lord God of Hosts, forgive us! O God, by Your guidance and Your power may our beloved land once again become God’s own country, a nation contrite in heart, confessing her sins; a nation keenly sensitive to all the unresolved injustice and wrong still in our midst.

Hear this our prayer and grant that we may confidently expect to see it answered in our time, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For the President [of the United States] and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to [the President of the United States], the Governor of this State [or Commonwealth], and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

For the President of the United States

We pray, Lord Jesus, for our President. We are deeply concerned that he may know the will of God, and that he may have the spiritual courage and grace to follow it.

Deliver him, we pray, from all selfish considerations. Lift him above the claims of politics. Fill him with the Spirit of God that shall make him fearless to seek, to know, to do the right. Save him from the friends who, in the name of politics or even friendship, would persuade him from that holy path.

Strengthen and empower his advisers. Bring them, too, to their knees in prayer. May their example and their influence spread, that we, in these United States, may yet have a government of people who know You, the Almighty God, as their Friend, and who place Your will first in their lives as well as in their prayers.

Hear and answer, we pray You, forgiving us all our unworthiness; cleansing us from every ignoble thought and unworthy ambition that we may be renewed in spirit and mind and heart, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Congress or a State Legislature

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech you so to guide and bless our [Senators and Representatives in Congress] assembled [or in the Legislature of this State, or Commonwealth], that they may enact such laws as shall please you, to the glory of your Name and the welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Leaders of the Nation

Our Father, bless, we pray You, the leaders of this nation. Strengthen the courage of the representatives in Congress assembled – sincere men and women who want to do the right, if only they can be sure what is right. Make it plain to them, O Lord. And then will You start them out on the right way, for You know that we are hard to turn.

Forgive them for the blunders they have committed, the compromises they have made. Give to them the courage to admit mistakes. Take away from us as a nation and as individuals that stubborn pride which, followed by conceit, imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism.

Save our leaders, O God, from themselves and from their friends – even as You have saved them from their enemies. Let no personal ambition blind them to their opportunities. Help them to give battle to hypocrisy wherever they find it. Give them divine common sense and a selflessness that shall make them think of service and not of gain.

May they have the courage to lead the people of this Republic, considering unworthy the expediency of following the people. Save them from the folly of man-made schemes and plans. Give to them the faith and the courage together to seek God’s inspired plan and, finding it, to propose it, knowing that when it is God-inspired, You will open the way for it through all obstacles.

As You have made and preserved us a nation, so now mold us into a people more worthy of a great heritage. In Your strong name we make these prayers. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Courts of Justice

Almighty God, who sits in the throne judging right: We humbly beseech you to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of you alone; through him who shall come to be our Judge, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Sound Government

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.

Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in exercise of their duties.

Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.

Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.

Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.

For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen.

For Local Government

Almighty God our heavenly Father, send upon those who hold office in this State (Commonwealth, City, County, Town, __________ ) the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For an Election

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of [the United States] (or of this community) in the election of officials and representatives; that by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those in the Armed Forces of our Country

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which face them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those who suffer for the sake of Conscience

O God our Father, whose son forgave his enemies while he was suffering shame and death: Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience; when they are accused, save them from speaking in hate; when they are rejected, save them from bitterness; when they are imprisoned, save them from despair; and to us your servants, give grace to respect their witness and to discern the truth, that our society may be cleansed and strengthened. This we ask for the sake of Jesus Christ, our merciful and righteous Judge. Amen.

Prayers for the Social Order

For Social Justice

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart, and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers that divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In Times of Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Agriculture

Almighty God, we thank you for making the earth fruitful, so that it might produce what is needed for life: Bless those who work in the fields; give us seasonable weather; and grant that we may all share the fruits of the earth, rejoicing in your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Unemployed

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Schools and Colleges

O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities [and especially __________ ], that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For our Vocation in Daily Work

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and shoe forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth: deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen. -Monte Nabors

For the Good Use of Leisure

O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Cities

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Towns and Rural Areas

Lord Christ, when you came among us, you proclaimed the kingdom of God in villages, towns, and lonely places: Grant that your presence and power may be known throughout this land. Have mercy upon all of us who live and work in rural areas [especially __________ ]; and grant that all the people of our nation may give thanks to you for food and drink and all other bodily necessities of life, respect those who labor to produce them, and honor the land and the water from which these good things come. All this we ask in your holy Name. Amen.

For the Poor and the Neglected

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Oppressed

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Victims of Addiction

O blessed Lord, you ministered to all who came to you: Look with compassion upon all who through addiction have lost their health and freedom. Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy; remove from them the fears that beset them; strengthen them in the work of their recovery; and to those who care for them, give patient understanding and persevering love. Amen.

For Prisons and Correctional Institutions

Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal: Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment. Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance and amendment of life according to your will, and give them hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison, O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All this we ask for your mercy’s sake. Amen.

For the Right Use of God’s Gifts

Almighty God, whose loving hand has given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor you with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those who Influence Public Opinion

Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for the Natural Order

For Knowledge of God’s Creation

Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Conservation of Natural Resources

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Harvest of Lands and Waters

O gracious Father, who opens his hand and fills all things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world; let your Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show your loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and save us from selfish use of what you give, that men and women everywhere may give you thanks; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Rain

O God, heavenly Father, who by your Son Jesus Christ has promised to all those who seek your kingdom and its righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send us, we entreat you, in this time of need, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to our comfort and to your honor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Future of the Human Race

O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give is new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for Family and Personal Life

For Families

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who sets the solitary in families: We commend to your continual care the homes in which your people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech you, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Our Family

Lord Jesus, we would thank you that you have blessed our home with the gift of young life, for we know that through our children you will remind us of God.

We do resolve, by your help, to honor you in all our relationships – in our home, so that it may be your temple; in our hearts, where you do love to swell; in our place of business, that it may become an adventure in living our faith.

And now, Lord, we place every member of our family in your care and keeping. We think of ____________ and __________________ and _____________________. Bless them every one. Be with us this day – in our work and in our play. In Jesus’ name. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For the Care of Children

Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Young Persons

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Our Young People

Lord Jesus, we pray for youth in careless abandon, in love of liberty, and in joy of life, especially those particular young people whom we name now before you: [_____________]. Help them to find that discipline by which life can alone be successfully lived, and character achieved. May they learn that just as steam is effective when contained in the walls of a cylinder, so will youthful energies be effective when controlled.

We ask you to: 

Protect them physically; throw around them the golden aura of your protecting presence;

Be their Teacher; be their Guide;

Send into their lives the specially chosen companions and friends you want them to have;

Save them from any costly blunders that would haunt them down the years.

Give to them that joy and happiness that shall enable them to go out and meet life, bearing with them those lasting satisfactions which only you can bestow. We thank you, Lord. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Those Who Live Alone

Almighty God, whose Son had nowhere to lay his head: Grant that those who live alone may not be lonely in their solitude, but that, following in his steps, they may find fulfillment in loving you and their neighbors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Aged

Look with mercy, O God our Father, on all whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress, or isolation. Provide for them homes of dignity and peace; give them understanding helpers, and the willingness to accept help; and, as their strength diminishes, increase their faith and their assurance of your love. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Sick

Heavenly father, giver of life and health; comfort and relieve you servants who are ill, and give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, that those for whom our prayers are offered may be strengthened in their weakness and have confidence in your loving care. [I pray this for _________________,] in Jesus’ name. Amen. -Monte Nabors

For a Birthday

O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on your servant __________ as he begins another year. Grant that he may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen his trust in your goodness all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Birthday

Watch over your child, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be. Strengthen him when he stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he falls; and in his heart may your peace which passes understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Absent

O God, whose fatherly care reaches to the uttermost parts of the earth: We humbly beseech you graciously to behold and bless those whom we love, now absent from us. Defend them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both they and we, drawing nearer to you, may be bound together by your love in the communion of your Holy Spirit, and in the fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Travelers

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel [in particular ______________ ]; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those we Love

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come, knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Person in Trouble or Grief

O merciful Father, who has taught us in your holy Word that you do not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of your servant for whom our prayers are offered. Remember him, O Lord, in mercy, nourish his soul with patience, comfort him with a sense of your goodness, lift up your countenance upon him, and give him peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Comfort in Grief

Father, eyes blinded by the symbols of sorrow cannot see the stars. Even so, I at this moment, can see nothing beyond my own grief.

I have been face to face with misery and loneliness in these days; with the strangeness of life and death that takes away a loved one and gives no explanation; with the mystery of a Providence I have tried to understand and cannot understand.

You, O Holy Spirit, You visitor in sorrow, You who are acquainted with human tears and broken hearts, sorely I need your help now.

Because my heart is sore, I have shut the door of my heart to my fellows, even to You. But I sense that withdrawal and the effort to dull my feelings is not the way toward healing. Help me now to dare to open my being wise to the balm of Your loving Spirit, unafraid of any depth or height or intensity of overflowing emotion.

You have promised to wipe away all tears from our eyes. I ask You to fulfill that promise now.

You have promised to bind up our wounded spirits. I ask You to fulfill that promise now.

You have promised to give us peace, not as the world gives but in the midst of our trouble. I ask You to fulfill that promise now.

You have promised to be with us always. I therefore thank You that You are walking beside me every step of the way.

I put my hand in Yours, and walk on into the future, knowing that it will be a good future because You are in it. Amen. -Peter Marshall

The Estrangement of a Friend

Father, you know the misunderstanding that has arisen between my friend and me. Harsh and thoughtless words have been spoken. I know that this rift grieves you, that you would be far more impressed with a sacrifice of reconciliation on my part than with any vows of loyalty or material gift I could make you.

I dare not make this a prayer for you to change ___________________ ; my friend is your responsibility. I know that always I must begin with my responsibility, myself and my own shortcomings.

In subtle ways I confess to you that I have used friendship to cushion and make comfortable my own ego. All too often I have sought my friend for my own pleasure and convenience; all to seldom have I thought of what pleasure I could give.

You have asked me to love my neighbors and friends to the extent that I love myself. That, Lord, would be a lot of loving!

Enable me to let all false pride go. Give me the grace of the outstretched hand and the open heart. Give me the courage that will enable me to go to ______________________ and be the first to say, "I have been wrong here and here. I am sorry. Forgive me."

Help me not to take myself too seriously. Grant to me objectivity and a quiet mind and a sense of humor. Go ahead of me to fling out a bridge of good will, to cast down all roadblocks of misunderstanding. And bless to your glory and the happiness of all concerned this gesture of good will undertaken in your name. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Release from Resentment

Lord Jesus, you know me altogether. You know that I have steadily refused to forgive this one who has wronged me, yet have had the audacity often to seek you forgiveness for my own wrongdoing.

The acids of bitterness and a vengeful spirit have threatened to eat away my peace. Yet I have stubbornly rationalized every unlovely motive. I have said, "I am clearly in the right. It is only human to dislike a few people. This one deserves no forgiveness." How well I know that neither have I ever deserved the forgiveness which you have always freely granted me.

So, Lord Jesus, I ask you now for the grace to forgive this hurt. Even now, I am divided about it, only partially willing to release it. But you can manage even my reluctance, my loitering feet. Take now my divided will and make it of one piece, wholly your will.

And Lord, I give to you this emotion of resentment which clings as if glued to my heart. Wrest it from me. Cleanse every petty thought. Make me sweet again.

I dare to ask that you will not only forgive me to the extent that I have forgiven ___________, but that you will bless _____________________ to the degree that you have blessed me. For these great mercies I thank you, in your name, who gave me the supreme example in forgiving even those who slew you. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Guidance

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Guidance

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Quiet Confidence

O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray of you, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Humility in Success

Lord, forgive me that when life’s circumstances lift me to the crest of the wave, I tend to forget you. Yet, like an errant child, I have blamed you with my every failure, even as I credit myself with every success.

When my fears evaporate like the morning mist, then vainly I imagine that I am sufficient unto myself, that material sources and human resources are enough.

I need you when the sun shines, lest I forget the storm and the dark. I need you when I am popular, when my friends and those who work beside me approve and compliment me. I need you more then, lest my head begin to swell.

O God, forgive me for my stupidity, my blindness in success, my lack of trust in you. Be now my savior in success. Save me from conceit. Save me from pettiness. Save me from myself! And take this success, I pray, and use it for your glory. In your strength, I pray. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Liberation from Materialism

Forbid it, Lord, that our roots become too firmly attached to this earth, that we should fall in love with things. Help us to understand that the pilgrimage of this life is but an introduction, a preface, a training school for what is to come.

Then shall we see all of life in its true perspective. Then shall we not fall in love with the things of time, but come to love the things that endure. Then shall we be saved from the tyranny of possessions which we have no leisure to enjoy, of property whose care becomes a burden. Give us, we pray, the courage to simplify our lives.

So may we be mature in our faith, childlike but never childish, humble but never cringing, understanding but never conceited.

So help us, O God, to live and not merely to exist, that we may have joy in our work. In your name, who alone can give us moderation and balance and zest for living, we pray. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For More Faith

Forgive us, O God, for our small concept of the heart of the Eternal, for the doubting suspicion with which we regard the heart of God.

Give to us more faith.  We have so little…we say.  Yet we have faith in each other-in checks and banks, in trains and airplanes, in cooks, and in strangers who drive us in cabs.  Forgive us for our stupidity, that we have faith in people whom we do not know, and are so reluctant to have faith in you who knows us altogether

We are always striving to find a complicated way through life when you have a plan, and we refuse to walk in it.  So many of our troubles we bring on ourselves.  How silly we are…

Will you give to us that faith that we can deposit in the bank of your love, so that we may receive the dividends and interest that you are so willing to give us.  We ask it all in the lovely name of Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Childlikeness

Forgive us, Lord, that as we grow to maturity, our faith is blighted with doubts, withered with worry, tainted with sophistication. We pray that you will make us like children again in faith, not childish, but childlike in the simplicity of a faith that is willing to trust you even though we cannot see what tomorrow will bring.

We ask you to give each of us that childlike faith, that simplicity of mind which is willing to lay aside all egotism and conceit that recognizes vanity for what it is, an empty show, which knows that we are incapable of thinking the thoughts of God, and that is willing to be humble again.

Then may we feel once more as do our children who whisper their love to you, who trace with chubby little fingers the pictures of Jesus in a picture book, those pictures that portray you, Lord Jesus, with a hurt lamb in your arms or a child on your knee. Help us, even now, to feel again like that, that we may be as loving, as trusting, as innocent, as grateful, as affectionate.

And as we are willing to kneel again as children, then shall we discover for ourselves the glory you have revealed, and find the wonder of it gripping our hearts and preparing them for your peace. So shall we, along with our children, enter into the Kingdom of God, and know it, and feel it, and rejoice in it. In your name, who dared to come to earth as a little child, we pray. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Protection

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To Face the Future Without Fear

You know, Father, the things of which we are afraid, the terror by night, the arrow by day that takes us unawares and often finds us without a vital, ready faith.

We know that you have not promised to surround us with immunity from all the ills to which flesh is heir. We only pray that when they come, if come they must, they shall find us unafraid and with adequate resources to meet them. Give us a constant faith and a steady courage, that we may neither whimper nor in peevish petulance complain before you.

We thank you that you still rule over the world that you have made. Kings and emperors come and depart. All the shouting and the tumult, the screaming hurricanes of time have not deviated you from your path.

Help us to remember, O Christ, that you are victorious-Christus Victor-reigning over all; that in due time, in your own good time, you will work all things together for good to them that love you, who are called according to your purpose.

May we find our refuge in that regnant faith, and so face the future without fear. Give to us your peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. -Peter Marshall

With Sorrow and True Repentance

Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for the things I have done that make me feel uncomfortable in your presence.  All the front that I polish so carefully for men to see, does not deceive you.

For you know every thought that has left its shadow on my memory. You have marked every motive that curdled something sweet within me.

I acknowledge, with sorrow and true repentance, that

I have desired that which I should not have;
I have toyed with what I knew was not for me;
I have been preoccupied with self-interest;
I have invited unclean thoughts into my mind and entertained them as honored guests.
My ears have often been deaf to your whisper;
My eyes have been often blind to the signs of your guidance.

Make me willing to be changed, even though it requires surgery of the soul and the therapy of discipline. Make my heart warm and soft, that I may receive and accept now the blessing of your forgiveness, the benediction of your “Depart in peace … and sin no more.” In Jesus’ name. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Trust in God

We confess, our Father, that we know in our hearts how much we need You, yet our swelled heads and our stubborn wills keep us trying to do without You.

Forgive us for making so many mountains out of molehills and for exaggerating both our own importance and the problems that confront us.

Make us willing to let You show us what a difference You could make in our work, increasing our success and diminishing our failures. Give us the faith to believe that as we give You a hearing You will give us the answers we cannot find by ourselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Sins Against Others

Hear me, Father, as I make my confessions. I thank you that you receive me as I am, not as I pretend to be. I am so tired of pretending.

Forgive me for the times I have succeeded in deceiving my friends and loved ones, for I knew I did not deceive you. In sinning against others, I know that I have sinned against you. For have you not said plainly that he who claims to love God, and yet hates his brother, is a liar?

Father, I know that in my ignorance I have cast a shadow upon many. I have stood in the way of their discovery of your way and your presence. O God, forgive me.

I have thought often of myself and my own needs, seldom of my fellow human beings and of their needs. O God, give me selflessness. I have been unwilling to forgive others, yet have had the audacity to ask your forgiveness for me. I ask you for an understanding heart.

I have criticized other people in order to inflate my own importance. I ask you, O God, for a generous heart. I have tried by reason and the twisting of my conscience to rationalize wrong into right. There have been times when I told the truth only because I believed it was expedient to do so. O God, help me to love truth and honesty for their own sakes, that I may do right simply because I know it is right to do right.

I have sought the spotlight, yet am not big enough to stand in it. I want to be renowned for great deeds, and all the while am notorious for small performances. I know that love for others is a gift of yours. How much I desire it! Yet I cannot manufacture it. Increase, I pray, your giving to me, that I may have more love toward other people.

So may I go from this place to live my Christianity every day, in the things I shall say to others, in the things I shall do for others, in the way I shall live with others, that my own witness may be made to the love of Christ Jesus, my Lord. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For the Grace of Brotherhood

We pray that You will teach us all how to live, that we may provide an example to all the world. Yet we confess before You the bigotry and the intolerance that plague us. We confess to You our disinclination to enjoy brotherhood, for we have withheld the spirit of it from many around us. O God, forgive us.

We remember that You did bid us "to do good, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God."

Give us such a vision of ministry that we can select for our philanthropy, for the expression of our love, these who cannot possibly recompense us at all.

Then only shall we discover what love really is, what brotherhood actually means. Show us what You would have us do today to make that discovery, we ask in the name of the Author of Love, even Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen. -Peter Marshall

A Prayer of Self-Dedication

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so full our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray of you, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Prayer of Submission

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.  -St. Francis of Assisi

Other Prayers: Special Times and Days

For Christmas

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the illumination of the true Light. You have given us your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon Him to reveal to us your glory and grace. As you have given this gift in love, may we receive it with joy. Grant that we, being regenerate and made your children by adoption and grace may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit. Grant us, we pray, that as we have known the mystery of that Light upon earth, so may we also reflect that light to a darkened world; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. -Dennis Bratcher

For Christmas

We yearn, our Father, for the simple beauty of Christmas – for all the old familiar melodies and words that remind us of that great miracle when He who had made all things was one night to come as a babe, to lie in the crook of a woman’s arm.

Before such mystery we kneel, as we follow the shepherds and Wise Men to bring You the gift of our love – a love we confess has not always been as warm or sincere or real as it should have been. But now, on this Christmas Day, we pray that love would find its Beloved, and from You receive the grace to make it pure again, warm and real.

We bring You our gratitude for every token of Your love, for all the ways You have heaped blessings upon us during the years that have gone.

And we do pray, Lord Jesus, that as we celebrate Your birthday, we may do it in a manner well pleasing to You. May all we do and say, every tribute of our hearts, bring honor to Your name, that we, Your people, may remember Your birth and feel Your presence among us even yet.

May the loving kindness of Christmas not only creep into our hearts, but there abide, so that not even the return to earthly cares and responsibilities, not all the festivities of our own devising may cause it to creep away weeping. May the joy and spirit of Christmas stay with us now and forever.

In the name of Jesus, who came to save His people from their sins, even in that lovely name we pray. Amen. -Peter Marshall

For Epiphany

Father, we thank you for revealing yourself to us in Jesus the Christ, we who once were not your people but whom you chose to adopt as your people. As ancient Israel confessed long ago, we realize that it was not because of our own righteousness, or our own superior wisdom, or strength, or power, or numbers. It was simply because you loved us, and chose to show us that love in Jesus.

As you have accepted us when we did not deserve your love, will you help us to accept those whom we find it hard to love? Forgive us, O Lord, for any attitude that we harbor that on any level sees ourselves as better or more righteous than others.  Will you help us to remove the barriers of prejudice and to tear down the walls of bigotry, religious or social?  O Lord, help us realize that the walls that we erect for others only form our own prisons!

Will you fill us so full of your love that there is no more room for intolerance and hate? As you have forgiven us much, will you enable us with your strength to forgive others even more? Will you enable us through your abiding Presence among us, communally and individually, to live our lives in a manner worthy of the Name we bear? 

May we, through your guidance and our faithful obedience, find new avenues in ways that we have not imagined of holding the Light of your love so that it may be a Light of revelation for all people. O Father, would you through your strength help us not to lose the wonder of this season?  Help us live expectantly in the world as your people, so that everything we do may be done in your name.

Lord, we again confess that you are our God and that we are your people.  We thank you for your love, praise you for your Gift that we have so recently celebrated, ask for your continued Presence with us, and bring these petitions in the name of your Son, who has truly revealed your heart. Amen  -Dennis Bratcher

Confession for the New Year

Our Father, grant that in the days of this new year we may feel Your love, the love that surrounds us, the love that will not let us go but will ever bring us back – back to Your side, back to Your will, back to Your way.

In that way we would walk, O Lord. For though all we like sheep have gone astray, like sheep, we are tired – tired of missing Your path and stumbling along paths of our own choosing. Like sheep, we would return to the fold.

We would come back to You, confessing that we are not proud of the mistakes we have made, not too proud of our record as we look back over the last year. We are conscious not of our triumphs and successes but of our failures. We are in no boastful mood, O Lord, as we look into a new year. We seek now Your forgiveness for our stupidity and our obstinacy, for the blindness of our hearts, for the wrong choices that grieved You and subtracted from our own happiness. Will You forgive us, Father?

Humbly and gratefully we open our hearts to receive that great miracle of grace. We thank You for the fresh, strong wind of Your Spirit which comes to bring us refreshment, cleansing, and perfect peace. Amen. -Peter Marshall

Good Friday

As we look upon your Cross, O Christ, filled with wonder and with awe at the love that brought You to it, humbly we confess that we have no offering meet for such love, no gift fit for such a sacrifice.

You were willing to go to the Cross so that humanity might forever be haunted by its sign, might return to the foot of that Cross to be melted and broken down in the knowledge of Your love for us and all people everywhere.

When we see a love like that – the love of God yearning for the hearts of His children, we know that only love can respond.

We acknowledge, O Lord, that there is so little in us that is lovable. So often we are not lovely in our thoughts, in our words, or in our deeds. And yet You love us still, with a love that neither ebbs nor flows, a love that does not grow weary, but is constant – year after year, age after age.

O God, may our hearts be opened to that love today. With bright skies above us, the fields and woods and gardens bursting with new life and beauty, how can we fail to respond? With the clear notes of bird songs challenging us to praise, with every lowly shrub and blooming tree catching new life and beauty, our hearts indeed would proclaim You Lord, and we would invite You to reign over us and make us truly Your own. May Your healing love invade our inmost hearts, healing sorrow, pain, frustration, defeat, and despair.

May this day create within us a love for You of stronger stuff than vague sentimentality – a love which seeks to know Your will and do it. So grant that this day of hallowed remembrance may be the beginning of a new way of life for each of us, a new kind of living that shall be the best answer to the confusion and to the challenge of evil in our day. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen. -Peter Marshall

In the Evening

O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.

Evening Prayer

Lord Jesus, we come to You for an evening blessing, to seal within our hearts the inspirations and memories of this day. We ask You for the blessing of

Quietness for every troubled heart,
Rest for every weary soul,
New faith and courage for all who have faced exhausting tasks this day.

We would rest now in You and find in this evening hour Your stillness and Your peace to bring us into quiet harmony with Your will. We give You thanks for

Every challenge that this day has brought,
Every new vision of God that winged its way across our skies,
Every whisper of God that we have sensed in the beauty of Your world,
Every thought of God that came in quiet moments,
Every need of you that brought us back again to You in prayer.

And now, our Father, grant us Your benediction. Watch over us through the hours of darkness. Refresh us in spirit as well as in body as we sleep. Help us to face the tasks of tomorrow with steady faith and without fear, conscious of Your presence and Your guidance, knowing that we are Yours, as we have placed all our trust in You. We know that You are still able to keep that which we have committed to You.

And now may the love of God the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon us all and abide with us now and forevermore. Amen. -Peter Marshall

Before Worship

O Almighty God, who pours out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and of supplication: Deliver us, when we draw near to you, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Answering of Prayer

Almighty God, who has promised to hear the petitions of those who ask in your Son’s Name: We beseech you mercifully to incline your ear to us who have now made our prayers and supplications unto you; and grant that those things which we have faithfully asked according to your will, may effectually be obtained, to the relief of our necessity, and to the setting forth of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Before Receiving Communion

Be present, be present, O Jesus, our great High Priest, as you were present with your disciples, and be known to us in the breaking of bread; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

After Receiving Communion

O Lord Jesus Christ, who in a wonderful Sacrament has left unto us a memorial of your passion: Grant us, we beseech you, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of your redemption; who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

After Worship

Grant, we beseech you, Almighty God, that the words which we have heard this day with our outward ears, may, through your grace, be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honor and praise of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On Sunday

O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Grace at Meals

Give us grateful hearts, our Father, for all your mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bless, O Lord, your gifts to our use and us to your service; for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For these and all his mercies, God’s holy Name be blessed and praised; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

General Thanksgivings

A General Thanksgiving

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gist of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

A Litany of Thanksgiving

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea,

People: We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,

People: We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,

People: We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,

People: We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,

People: We thank you, Lord.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,

People: We thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,

People: We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,

People: We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

All: Amen.

Thanksgivings for the Church

For the Mission of the Church

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to yourself: We praise and bless you for those whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the Gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place your servants call upon your Name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever. Amen.

For the Saints and Faithful Departed

We give thanks to you, O Lord our God, for all your servants and witnesses of time past: for Abraham, the father of believers, and Sarah his wife; for Moses, the lawgiver, and Aaron, the priest; for Miriam and Joshua, Deborah and Gideon, and Samuel with Hannah his mother; for Isaiah and all the prophets; for Mary, the mother of our Lord; for Peter and Paul and all the apostles; for Mary and Martha, and Mary Magdalene; for Stephen, the first martyr, and all the martyrs and saints in every age and in every land. In your mercy, O Lord our God, give us, as you gave to them, the hope of salvation and the promise of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the first-born of many from the dead. Amen.

Thanksgivings for National Life

For the Nation

Almighty God, giver of all good things: We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land. They restore us, though we often destroy them.

People: Heal us.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They make us rich, though we often exploit them.

People: Forgive us.

We thank you for the men and women who  have made this country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall short of them..

People: Inspire us.

We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we have often hidden from its light.

People: Enlighten us.

We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless again and again.

People: Renew us.

Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun. Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice, and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will glorify your holy Name. Amen.

For Heroic Service

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Thanksgivings for the Social Order

For the Diversity of Races and Cultures

O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thanksgivings for the Natural Order

For the Beauty of the Earth

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers. We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.

For the Harvest

Most gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up and the clouds drop down the dew: We yield you hearty thanks and praise for the return of seedtime and harvest, for the increase of the ground and the gathering in of its fruits, and for all the other blessings of your merciful providence bestowed upon this nation and people. And, we beseech you, give us a just sense of these great mercies, such as may appear in our lives by a humble, holy, and obedient walking before you all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the holy Spirit be all glory and honor, world without end. Amen.

Thanksgivings for Family and Personal Life

For the Gift of a Child

Heavenly Father, you sent your own Son into this world. We thank you for the life of this child, _________, entrusted to our care. Help us to remember that we are all your children, and so to love and nurture him, that he may attain to that full stature intended for him in your eternal kingdom; for the sake of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Restoration of Health

Almighty God and heavenly Father, we give you humble thanks because you have been graciously pleased to deliver from his sickness your servant ___________, in whose behalf we bless and praise your Name. Grant, O gracious Father, that he, through your help, may live in this world according to your will, and also be partaker of everlasting glory in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2018, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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