By Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Almighty and most merciful God, who hast not yet suffered me to fall into the Grave, grant that I may remember my past life, as to repent of the days and years which I have spent in forgetfulness of thy mercy, and neglect of my own salvation, and so use the time which thou shalt yet allow me, (to) become every day more diligent in the duties which in thy Providence shall be assigned me, and that when at last I shall be called to Judgment I may be received as a good and faithful servant unto everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ… Amen. (1747/8)
Almighty and everlasting God, in whose hands are life and death, by whose will all things were created, and by whose providence they are sustained; I return thee thanks that thou hast given me life, and that thou hast continued it to this time, that thou hast hitherto forborne to snatch me away in the midst of Sin and Folly, and hast permitted me still to enjoy the means of Grace and (time) to Repent. Grant, O merciful Lord, that thy Call may not be in vain, that my life may not be continued to the increase of my Guilt, and that thy Gracious Forbearance may not harden my heart in wickedness. Let me remember, O my God, that as Days and Years pass over me I approach nearer to the Grave, where there is no repentance, and grant, that by the assistance of thy Holy Spirit, I may so pass through this Life, that I may obtain Life everlasting… Amen. (1744/5)
Almighty God, by whose will I was created, and by whose Providence I have been sustained, and by whose mercy I have been called to the knowledge of my Redeemer,… grant, O Lord, that in reviewing my past life, I may recollect thy mercies to my preservation… In affliction may I remember how often I have been (assisted), and in Prosperity may I know and confess from whose hand the blessing is received. Let me, O Lord, so remember my sins, that I may abolish them by true repentance, and so improve the year to which thou hast graciously extended my life, and all the years which thou shalt yet allow me, that I may hourly become purer in thy sight; so that I may live in thy fear, and die in thy favor, and find mercy at the last day, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen. (1749/50)
Almighty God, by whose mercy my life has been yet prolonged to another year, grant that thy mercy may not be in vain. Let not my years be multiplied to increase my guilt, but as (I grow older), let me become more pure in my thoughts, less desirous of sinful pleasures, more obedient to thy laws, and more careful of eternal happiness. Let not the cares of the world distract me, nor the evils of age overwhelm me. Enable me to use all enjoyments with due temperance, and run with diligence the race that is set before me. Let not sin prevail on the remaining part of my life, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me, but as every day brings me nearer to my end, let every day contribute to make my end holy and happy. As age comes upon me, let my mind be more withdrawn from vanity and folly, more enlightened with the knowledge of thy will, and more invigorated with resolution to obey it. O Lord, calm my thoughts, direct my desires, and fortify my purposes. Continue and increase thy lovingkindness to me, and, if it shall please thee, give quiet to my latter days. And then, after the troubles of this life, when thou shalt call me hence, may I die in thy favor, for the sake of Jesus Christ… Amen. (A combination of phrases from the prayers of 1767, 1769, and 1773)
Psalm 90:10, 12 — The length of our days is seventy years, or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
James 4:13-15 — Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
Philippians 3:13-14 — Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Almighty God, by whose mercy I am permitted to behold the beginning of another year, bless me with thy help and favor. Mitigate, if it shall seem best unto thee, the diseases of my body, and (calm) the disorders of my mind. Dispel my terrors, and grant that the time which thou shalt yet allow me, may not pass unprofitably away. Let not pleasure seduce me, idleness lull me, or misery depress me. Let me perform to thy glory, and the good of my fellow creatures, the work which thou shalt yet appoint me. And grant that as I draw nearer to my dissolution, I may, by the help of thy Holy Spirit, feel my knowledge of thee increased, my hope exalted, and my faith strengthened, that, when the hour which is coming shall come, I may pass by a holy death to everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (1770)