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Prayers

Prayer for the Diversity of Races and Cultures

The Book of Common Prayer

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.

 

The Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. Amen.


Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. 
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
 I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
 your rod and your staff, 
they comfort me. You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

A Litany of Confession

Cathedral Church of Saint George, Cape Town

Lord, we confess our day-to-day failure to be human.
Lord, we confess to you.
Lord, we confess that we often fail to love with all we have and are, often because we do not fully understand what loving means, often because we are afraid of risking ourselves.
Lord, we confess to you.
Lord, we cut ourselves off from each other and we erect barriers of division.
Lord, we confess to you.
Lord, we confess that by silence and ill-considered word
We have built up walls of prejudice
Lord, we confess that by selfishness and lack of sympathy
We have stifled generosity and left little time for others.
Holy Spirit, speak to us. Help us to listen to your word of forgiveness, for we are very deaf. Come fill us this moment and free us from our sin.

From "An African Prayer Book" by Desmond Tutu

 

The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I 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;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

 

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Prayer for Peace

O God, all holy one, you are our Mother and our Father and we are your children. Open our eyes and our hearts so that we may be able to discern your work in the universe. And be able to see Your features in every one of Your children. May we learn that there are many paths but all lead to You. Help us to know that you have created us for family, for togetherness, for peace, for gentleness, for compassion, for caring, for sharing.
“May we know that You want us to care for one another as those who know that they are sisters and brothers, members of the same family, Your family, the human family. Help us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, so that we may be able to live in peace and harmony, wiping away the tears from the eyes of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And may we know war no more, as we strive to be what You want us to be: Your children. Amen.

 

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Just Because You Are My God

Oh, my God, I want to love you
Not that I might gain eternal heaven
Nor escape eternal hell
But, Lord, to love you just because 
you are my God.
Grant me to give to you
And not to count the cost,
To fight for you
And not to mind the wounds,
To labor and to ask for no reward except the knowledge that I serve my God.

 

Prayer for the Beauty of Earth

The Book of Common Prayer

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.

 

Victory is Ours

Desmond Tutu

Goodness is stronger than evil;

Love is stronger than hate;

Light is stronger than darkness;

Life is stronger than death;

Victory is our through Him who loves us.

From "An African Prayer Book" by Desmond Tutu

 

François Fénelon, Archbishop of Cabrai (1651-1715)

Lord, I do not know what I ought to be asking of you. You are the only One who knows what I need. You love me better than I know how to love myself. O Father! – give your child what I do not know how to ask for myself. I do not dare ask for crosses or consolation. All I can do is present myself to you.

Lord, I open up my heart to you. Behold my needs – the ones that I am not even aware of. Look at them, and act according to your mercy. Bring suffering on me or heal me, cast me down or raise me up – I adore your will for me even when I do not know what it is.

I will remain silent, offering myself up and giving myself over completely to you. I no longer have any desire other than to accomplish your will.

Teach me to pray; may you yourself pray in me and through me.

 

Paul Laurence Dunbar

When Storms Arise (1895)

When storms arise
And dark’ning skies
About me threat’ning lower,
To Thee, O Lord, I raise mine eyes
For solace in that hour.
 
The mighty arm
Will let no harm
Come near me nor befall me;
Thy voice shall quiet my alarm,
When life’s great battle waxeth warm—
No foeman shall appall me.
 
Upon thy breast
Secure I rest,
From sorrow and vexation;
No more by sinful cares oppressed,
But in thy presence ever blest,
O God of my salvation.

From “Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers byAfrican Americans” by James Washington.

 

Saint Teresa of Avila

You Are Christ's Hands

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours, no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out.
Christ's compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

 

A Balm in Gilead

African-American Spiritual

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And I think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again.
If you can’t preach like Peter,
If you can’t pray like Paul,
Just tell the love of Jesus,
And say he died for all.

From "An African Prayer Book" by Desmond Tutu

 

John Wesley

Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

 

Prayer for the Unity of the Church

The Book of Common Prayer

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, and the Prince of Peace: Give us the 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 for 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 thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Charles Albert Tindley

Stand by Me (1905)

When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me;
When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me.
When the world is tossing me,
Like a ship upon the sea;
Thou who rulest wind and water,
Stand by me.

In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me;
In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me.
When the hosts of hell assail,
And my strength begins to fail,
Thou who never lost a battle,
Stand by me.

In the midst of faults and failures,
Stand by me;
In the midst of faults and failures,
Stand by me.
When I do the best I can,
And my friends misunderstand,
Thou who knowest all about me,
Stand by me.

In the midst of persecution,
Stand by me;
In the midst of persecution,
Stand by me.
When my foes in battle array
Undertake to stop my way,
Thou who saved Paul and Silas,
Stand by me.

When I’m growing old and feeble,
Stand by me;
When I’m growing old and feeble,
Stand by me.
When my life becomes a burden,
And I am nearing chilly Jordan,
O Thou “Lily of the Valley,”
Stand by me.

From “Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans
by James Washington.

 

St Augustine

Lord Jesus, our Saviour, let us come to you.
 
Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love.
 
Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood.

Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with our joyous Spirit.

Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence. 
Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.

 

Deliver Me

Bread For Tomorrow, Kenya

From the cowardice that dare not face new truths,
From the laziness that is contented with half truths,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord deliver me.

From "An African Prayer Book" by Desmond Tutu

 

A Prayer by Mother Teresa

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.

 

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

 

Prayer for our Enemies

From The Book of Common Prayer

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.

 

Saint Patrick

Christ Be With Me

May the strength of God pilot me, the power of God preserve me today.
May the wisdom of God instruct me, the eye of God watch over me,
the ear of God hear me, the word of God give me sweet talk,
the hand of God defend me, the way of God guide me.
Christ be with me.
Christ before me.
Christ after me.
Christ in me.
Christ under me.
Christ over me.
Christ on my right hand.
Christ on my left hand.
Christ on this side.
Christ on that side.
Christ at my back.
Christ in the head of everyone to whom I speak.
Christ in the mouth of every person who speaks to me.
Christ in the eye of every person who looks at me.
Christ in the ear of every person who hears me today.

 

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (adapted from an original prayer by Sir Francis Drake.)

Disturb us, O Lord

when we are too well-pleased with ourselves 
when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, 
because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord

when with the abundance of things we possess, 
we have lost our thirst for the water of life 
when, having fallen in love with time, 
we have ceased to dream of eternity 
and in our efforts to build a new earth, 
we have allowed our vision of Heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord

to dare more boldly, to venture into wider seas 
where storms show Thy mastery, 
where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes 
and invited the brave to follow.


St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. 
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

 

Martin Luther King Jr

Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 100

A psalm for Giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his we are his people, 
the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and 
praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through 
all generations.

 

You have prepared in peace the path

Galla, Ethiopia

O God, you have prepared in peace the path I must follow today. Help me to walk straight on that path. If I speak, remove lies from my lips. If I am hungry, take away from me all complaint. If I have plenty, destroy pride in me. May I go through the day calling on you, you, O Lord, who know no other Lord.

From "An African Prayer Book" by Desmond Tutu

 

Thomas Merton

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

 

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

 

Maya Angelou

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
 during the hard and mean days. 
For then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence 
during the bright and sunny days,
 for then we can share that which we have 
with those who have less.
 And thank you for your presence
 during the Holy Days, for then we are able 
to celebrate you and our families
 and our friends. 
For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
 For those who feel unworthy,
 we ask you to pour your love out 
in waterfalls of tenderness. 
For those who live in pain,
 we ask you to bathe them 
in the river of your healing.
 For those who are lonely, we ask
 you to keep them company.
 For those who are depressed,
 we ask you to shower upon them
 the light of hope.
 Dear Creator, You, the borderless
 sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
 world that which we need most—Peace.

 

Priscilla Jane Thompson

A Prayer (1907)

Oh, Lord! I lift my heart,
In gratitude, to Thee,
For blessings, manifold,
Thou has bestowed on me.

When conflicts raged within,
Too blinding to express,
Thou pitied my still tongue,
And soothed my heart to rest.

Keep me within thy care;
Compel me, to the right;
'Tis sweet to walk with Thee,
In darkness or in light.

From “Conversations with God: Two Centuries of Prayers byAfrican Americans” by James Washington.


St. Ignatius of Loyola

Prayer for Generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous.

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost,

to fight and not to heed the wounds,

to toil and not to seek for rest,

to labor and not to ask for reward,

save that of knowing that I do your will.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Morning Prayer

O God, early in the morning I cry to you. Help me to pray And to concentrate my thoughts on you: I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with you there is light; I am lonely, but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help; I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience; I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me… Restore me to liberty, and enable me to live now, that I may answer before you and before me. Lord, whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised.

 

Deliver us from fear of the Unknown

Akanu Ibaim, Nigeria

O Lord, we beseech thee to deliver us from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; and from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by thy grace to love and fear thee only, fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in thee; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

From "An African Prayer Book" by Desmond Tutu

 

Prayer for the Human Family

The Book of Common Prayer

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.

 

One Family

Bantu

We offer our thanks to thee
For sending thy only Son to die for us all.
In a world divided by color bars,
How sweet a thing it is to know
That in thee we all belong to one family.
 
There are times when we,
Unprivileged people,
Weep tears that are not loud but deep,
When we think of the suffering we experience.
When we come to thee, our only hope and refuge.
Help us, O God, to refuse to be embittered
Against those who handle us with harshness.
We are grateful to thee
For the gift of laughter at all times.
Save us from hatred of those who oppress us.
May we follow the spirit of thy Son Jesus Christ.

From "An African Prayer Book" by Desmond Tutu

 

St Therese of Lisieux

May today there be peace within. 
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. 
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. 
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. 
May you be content knowing you are a child of God. 
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. 
It is there for each and every one of us.

 

 

 
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