1571) Prayers of Jane Austen

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Jane Austen (1775-1817) was an English novelist, famous for six novels, especially Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.  The novels were published anonymously and brought her little attention during her lifetime; but they have rarely been out of print since, and are considered classics.  These prayers (slightly edited) were written by her for evening family devotions.  The sentences evoke the style of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.  The language may be difficult to read for those not used to the style, but whoever takes the time to read them slowly and thoughtfully will find in them an expression of deep and sincere faith and devotion.

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Give us grace, Almighty Father, to pray as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our Hearts, as with our lips.  Thou art everywhere present, from Thee no secret can be hid.  May this knowledge teach us to fix our Thoughts on Thee with Reverence and Devotion, so that we pray not in vain.  Look with Mercy on the Sins we have this day committed, and in Mercy make us feel them deeply, that our Repentance may be sincere, and our resolution steadfast to endeavor against the commission of such in future.  Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own Hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of Temper and every evil Habit in which we have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow-creatures and the danger of our own Souls.  May we now, and each night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing Thoughts, Words, and Actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of Evil.  Have we thought irreverently of Thee, have we disobeyed thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being?  Incline us to ask our Hearts these questions, and save us from deceiving ourselves by Pride or Vanity.  Give us a thankful sense of the Blessings in which we live, and of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by Discontent or Indifference.  Be gracious to our Necessities, and guard us and all we love from Evil this night.  May the sick and afflicted be now and ever in thy care; and heartily do we pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort and protection of the Orphan and Widow, and that thy pity may be shewn upon all Captives and Prisoners.  Above all other blessings O God, we implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not, by our own neglect, throw away the salvation Thou has given us…  Amen.

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Almighty God, look down with mercy on thy servants here assembled and accept the petitions now offered up unto thee.  Pardon, O God, the offences of the past day.  We are conscious of many frailties; we remember with shame and contrition our many evil thoughts and neglected duties.  We have perhaps sinned against thee and against our fellow-creatures in many instances of which we have no remembrance.  Pardon whatever thou has seen amiss in us, and give us a stronger desire of resisting every evil inclination and weakening every habit of sin.  Thou knowest the infirmity of our nature, and the temptations which surround us.  Be thou merciful.  We bless thee for every comfort of our past and present existence, for our health of body and of mind, and for every other source of happiness which thou hast bountifully bestowed on us…  May the comforts of every day be thankfully felt by us, and may they prompt a willing obedience of thy commandments and a benevolent spirit toward every fellow-creature.  Have mercy upon all that are now suffering or are in any circumstance of danger or distress.  Give them patience under every affliction; strengthen, comfort, and relieve them.  To thy goodness we commend ourselves this night, beseeching thy protection of us through its darkness and dangers.  We are helpless and dependent; graciously preserve us.  For all whom we love and value, for every friend and connection, we equally pray.  However divided and far asunder, we know that we are alike before thee, and under thine eye.  May we be equally united in thy faith and fear, and in fervent devotion towards thee.  Pardon the imperfections of these our prayers, and accept them in the name of our blessed Savior.

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Father of Heaven… another day is now gone and added to those for which we were before accountable.  Teach us to consider this solemn truth, that we may feel the importance of every day and every hour as it passes.  May we earnestly strive to make better use of what thy goodness may yet bestow on us than we have done of the time past.  Give us grace to attain that temper of forbearance and patience which, while it prepares us for the spiritual happiness of the life to come, will secure to us the best enjoyment of what this world can give.  Incline us to think humbly of ourselves, and to be severe in the examination of our own conduct; but may we consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity which we would desire from them ourselves.  We thank thee with all our hearts for all the blessings that have attended our lives, for every hour of safety, health, peace, domestic comfort, and innocent enjoyment.  We have been blessed far beyond anything that we have deserved; and though we cannot but pray for a continuance of all these mercies, we acknowledge our unworthiness of them and implore thee to pardon the presumption of our desires.  Keep us, O Lord, from evil this night…  May thy mercy be extended over all mankind, bringing the ignorant to the knowledge of thy truth, awakening the impenitent, and touching the hardened.  Look with compassion upon the afflicted of every condition and comfort the broken in spirit.  More particularly do we pray for the safety and welfare of our own family and friends, beseeching thee to avert from them all material and lasting evil of body or mind; and may we by the assistance of thy Holy Spirit so conduct ourselves on earth as to secure an eternity of happiness with each other in thy heavenly kingdom.  Grant this most merciful Father, for the sake of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

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Philippians 4:6  —  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

1474) May God Bless You

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Gougane Barra Church, County Cork, Ireland; built in 1700.

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IRISH BLESSINGS

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm on your face,
The rain fall softly on your fields;
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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The Lord give us peace in our going out and our coming in, in our lying down and in our rising up, in our labor and in our leisure, in our laughter and in our tears; until we come to stand before him on that day to which there is no sunset and no dawn, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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The peace of God be with you;
The peace of Christ be with you;
The peace of the Spirit be with you;
And with your children;
From the day that we have here today,
Until the day of the end of your lives.

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Always remember to forget
The things that made you sad.
But never forget to remember
The things that made you glad.

Always remember to forget
The friends that proved untrue.
But never forget to remember
Those that have stuck by you.

Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day.

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May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

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Numbers 6:24-26  —  The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace.  

John 14:27  —  Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” 

Romans 15:13  —  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

II Corinthians 13:14  —  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.  Amen.  

II Thessalonians 2:16,17…3:16  —  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word…  And, may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way…  

I Peter 5:10,11…14b  —  The God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever…  Peace to all of you who are in Christ.  Amen.  

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May the eternal God bless us and keep us, guard our bodies, save our souls, direct our thoughts, and bring us safe to the heavenly country, our eternal home, where Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ever reign, one God for ever and ever.  Amen.   –Sarum Breviary

As you go on your way, may the Lord Jesus Christ go with you.  May he be near you to defend you; may he go before you to show you the way; behind you to encourage you; beside you to befriend you; above you to watch over you; and within you to give you peace.  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, God forevermore.  Amen.   –Based on 10th century blessing

1470) Prayers for the Evening of Life

     Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older and will someday be old.  Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something of every subject and on every occasion.  Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.  Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy.  With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all.  But thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.  Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.  Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing, and the love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the time goes by.  I dare not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of other’s pains, but help me to endure them with patience.  I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening certainty when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.  Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.  Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint– some of them are so hard to live with– but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.  Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.  And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.  Amen.

–Attributed to a 17th century Mother Superior

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     O God, our heavenly Father, whose gift is length of days, help us to make the noblest use of mind and body in our advancing years.  Apportion our work according to our strength.  As Thou hast pardoned our transgressions, sift the ingatherings of our memory that evil may grow dim and good may shine forth clearly.  We bless Thee for Thy gifts and especially for Thy presence and the love of friends in heaven and on earth.  Grant us new ties of friendship, new opportunities of service, joy in the growth and happiness of children, sympathy with those who bear the burdens of the world, clear thought and quiet faith.  Teach us to bear infirmities with cheerful patience.  Keep us from narrow pride in outgrown ways, blind eyes that will not see the good in change, and impatient judgments of the methods and experiments of others.  Let Thy peace rule our spirits through all the trial of our waning years.  Take from us all fear of death, and all despair or undue love of life; that with glad hearts at rest in Thee we may await Thy will concerning us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

–Author unknown; from Wings of Healing, ed. by John Doberstein

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Having passed over this day, Lord, I give thanks unto Thee.  The evening draweth nigh, make it comfortable.  As there is an evening of the day, so there is an evening of this life, the evening of old-age.  Old-age hath seized upon me; make that comfortable.

Cast me not away in the time of age;
Forsake me not when my strength fails me.  (Psalm 71:9)

Be thou with me in my old-age; even to gray hairs
wilt thou carry me.  (Isaiah 46:4)

Do thou forgive and receive and save me, O Lord.

Tarry thou with me, O Lord, for it is toward evening with
me, and the day is far spent, (Luke 24:29)

of this my toilsome life.

Let thy strength be made perfect in my weakness.
(II Corinthians 12:9)

–Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) alt.

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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.

Book of Common Prayer

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Satchel Paige said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”  This guy doesn’t seem to know, or care, how old he is…

1443) Prayers at the Twilight of Life

Arthur O. Roberts

From Prayers at Twilight, by Arthur O. Roberts, (1923-2016), 2003, Barclay Press.  Roberts wrote a book Exploring Heaven to describe what the Bible and great Christian thinkers have said about heaven.  As he was writing that, he was also writing prayers about the end of this life and the anticipation of the life to come in heaven.  Here are some of the poems/prayers from the collection of them published in Prayers at Twilight.

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A REASONABLE REQUIREMENT

My friend says one should be content

with this life, make the most of it,

and not whine for second chances.

I pondered this, and then I thought

about this guy wrongly imprisoned, 

locked up twenty years, on death row

part of the time.  I think of children

blown to bits by terrorists, people 

starved in gulags, gassed by Nazis,

people gunned down by drug dealers,

innocent and helpless civilians sacrificed

as ‘collateral damage’ in political wars,

and it struck me that hope for heaven

is a reasonable requirement for justice,

as well as a gift of your love, Lord.

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THROUGH THIS TUNNEL

Lord, I’ve got Alzheimer’s

I don’t know my own family

sometimes, and can’t tell the nurse

who our president is.  But I know you!

Lead me through this tunnel, Lord,

and in heaven make me whole again.

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WHO’S RIGHT, LORD

Lord, yesterday my neighbor and I discussed death.

A heart attack put him in a serious mood.

He’s a retired professor and legislator.

His affluent children support art museums,

his grandkids trek the globe for green causes.

Mac says he’s ready to bow out gracefully, 

content to let his influence live on.

Claims it’s the noble thing to do.

I don’t buy this.

From what I learned in Sunday school

I figured on a more personal afterlife.

Besides, I don’t have kids, bright or otherwise.

Who’s right, Lord?

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OOPS, GOD!

In my alumni magazine letters writers

argue about religion.  Recently one alumna

claimed human thought has evolved

in every area but religion.  We must not,

said she, let the Bible, or even Jesus,

hinder evolutionary progress

that brings better religious ideas.

Lord, I’m weary of these attacks

on Christian beliefs and believers.

Who does this gal think she is, telling me

in effect, sorry old timer, but we now know

these Bible stories aren’t true.  Well, when

twenty/thirty years later she faces death

as I do now, will she believe the same thing?

Or will she say, oops, God, I guess

my ideas weren’t so good after all.

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I’D LIKE THAT!

Lord, I don’t travel much anymore.

Went to the Columbia ice fields last year.

But most of the scenes I view now

are inside my head.  Some are vivid,

like seeing that dirty trench near St. Lo,

the red blood spurting from my leg.

and that German boy’s face–

before I blew it away.  I never talk

to anyone about this, except you, Lord.

Maybe I’ll meet that boy in heaven.

That would be okay.  We’ll recognize 

and forgive each other, and maybe you

will give us constructive work to do 

together, somewhere in the cosmos.

Yeah, I’d like that…

***

I WISH THEY WOULD LEARN

When I was young we kids were afraid of hell.

Now, it seems, young folks are afraid of heaven.

They can’t imagine anything more exciting

than their affluent lifestyle.  Skiing every Sunday.

Shopping at the mall.  TV celebrity shows.

Making scads of money, getting stock options.

They don’t fear you, Lord, they ignore you.

Maybe a depression would do them good.

Or a service stint in Somalia.  I know, Lord,

when you’re young  heaven talk is taboo, 

too gloomy, too threatening.  Was for me once.

But I wish they would learn soon that fear

of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

***

WHILE MY LIFE LINGERS

Lord, the last enemy is death, 

that’s for sure.  Well, it’s combat time

for me.  Fight with me.  Oh, crucified Jesus

help me bear the penetrating pain

and this slow, sad phase of parting

from dear ones whom I love.

Share with me, Lord, your triumph

over sin and death while my life lingers,

then walk me through the heavenly door.

***

MOSTLY ABOUT JESUS

Lord, scenarios about heaven make no sense to me.

How can predators live harmoniously with prey?

How can dead bodies, or their ashes, reassemble?

How can there be cycles of life without death?

How can there be both time and eternity?

But then I gaze at the Milky Way on a warm night.

I hear waves crashing rhythmically against the shore,

I ponder the incredible spread of intelligent life

across planet earth, even if not always used wisely.

But mostly I think about Jesus, heaven’s great sign,

about his redeeming death, and his resurrection.

I hear him say: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

Mind then yields to spirit, and my spirit yields to you.

“Yes, Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”

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John 14:1-6  —  (Jesus said), “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”

Mark 9:24b  —  “I believe; help my unbelief!”

1367) Sunday Morning Prayers

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African-American Prayer Meeting after the end of the U. S. Civil War

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SUNDAY MORNING PRAYERS FROM THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHURCH

From Conversations With God: Two Centuries of African-American Prayers,

ed. James Melvin Washington, pp. 56, 145; © 1994, HarperCollins.

     Almighty and all wise God our heavenly Father! ’tis once more and again that a few of your beloved children are gathered together to call upon your holy name.  We bow at your foot-stool of mercy, Master, to thank you for our spared lives.  We thank you that we were able to get up this morning clothed in our right mind, for Master, since we last met here, many have been snatched out of the land of the living and hurled into eternity.  But through your goodness and mercy we have been spared to assemble ourselves here once more to call upon a Captain who never lost a battle.  

     Oh, throw round us your strong arms of protection.  Bind us together in love and union.  Build us up where we are torn down and strengthen us where we are weak.  Oh Lord! take the lead of our minds, place them on heaven and on heavenly divine things.  Oh God, our Captain and King! search our hearts and if you find anything there contrary to your divine will, just move it from us Master, as far as the east is from the west.  

     Now Lord, you know our hearts, you know our heart’s desire.  You know our down-setting and our up-rising.  Lord you know all about us because you made us.  Lord! Lord! One more kind favor I ask of you.  Remember the man that is to stand in the gateway and proclaim your Holy Word this morning.  Oh, stand by him.  Strengthen him where he is weak and build him up where he is torn down.  Oh, let him down into the deep treasures of your Word.  

     And now, Oh Lord; when this your humble servant is done down here in this low land of sorrow; done sitting down and getting up; done being called everything but a child of God; oh; when I am done, done, done, and this old world can afford me a home no longer, right soon in the morning, Lord, right soon in the morning, meet me down at the River Jordan, bid the waters to be still, tuck my little soul away in that snow-white chariot, and bear it away over yonder in the third heaven where every day will be Sunday and my sorrows of this old world will have an end.  This is my prayer for Christ’s my Redeemer’s sake and amen and thank God.    

–Classic African-American Folk Prayer

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Exodus 20:8  —  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 

Luke 4:16  —  (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.

Hebrews 10:25  —  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 

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O Lord, we come this morning knee bowed and body bent before thy throne of grace.  We come this morning Lord, like empty pitchers before a full fountain, realizing that many who are better by nature than we are by practice have passed into that great beyond; and yet you have allowed us your humble servants to plod along just a few days longer here in this howling wilderness.  We thank thee Lord that we arose this morning, and that our bed was not a cooling board, and our sheet was not a winding shroud.  We are not gathered here for form or fashion, but we come in our humble way to serve thee.  We thank thee Lord that we are clothed in our right mind– bless the sick and afflicted– those who are absent through no fault of their own.  And when I have done prayed my last prayer and sung my last song, and when I’m done climbing the rough side of the mountain, when I come down to tread the steep and prickly banks of Jordan, meet me with thy rod and staff and bear me safely over.  All these things I ask in Jesus’ name, world without end.  Amen.

 –An Old Prayer from the African-American Church

1360) Prayers at the End of Another Year

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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)

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     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)

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     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)

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     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)

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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.

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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)

1333) Morning and Evening Prayer (jb15)

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From A Diary of Private Prayer, 1949, by John Baillie, Church of Scotland pastor and theologian, (1886-1960); containing a morning and evening prayer for thirty-one days (adapted)

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MORNING PRAYER  (Twentieth and Twenty-second day):

Almighty God, who in infinite wisdom determined that I should live my life within these narrow bounds of time and circumstance, let me go forth into the world with a brave and trusting heart.  It is your will to withhold from me a perfect knowledge; therefore deny me not the grace of faith by which I may lay hold of things unseen.  You have given me little power to mold things to my own desire; therefore use your own power to bring your desires to pass within me.  You have willed it that through labor and pain I should walk the upward way; be then my fellow traveler as I go.
Let me face whatever you send with the strength you supply.
When you prosper my undertakings, let me give heed so that your word may prosper in my heart.
When you call me to go through the dark valley, let me not persuade myself that I know a way around.
Let me not refuse any opportunity of service which may offer itself today, nor fall prey to any temptation that may lie in wait for me.
Let not the sins of yesterday be repeated in the life of today, nor the life of today set any evil example for the life of tomorrow…
O Lord Jesus Christ, who bids your disciples to shine as lights in a dark world, in shame and contrition of heart do I acknowledge before you the many faults and weaknesses of which we in the church today are guilty; and especially do I acknowledge my own part in the same.  Forgive me for the feebleness of my witness, the smallness of my charity, and the slackness of my zeal.  Make me to be a more worthy follower of Him who cared for the poor and the oppressed, and who could never see any kind of human need without turning aside to help.
Let your power, O Lord, be in us all, as we seek to serve you in this suffering world.  Amen.

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EVENING PRAYER:  (Tenth and Twelfth day)

O Lord, grant that through fellowship with you the true graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within my soul:

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart;

The grace of courage, whether in suffering or in danger;

The grace to endure difficulties with patience as a good soldier of Jesus Christ;

The grace of boldness in standing for what is right;

The grace of preparedness and discipline, lest I enter into temptation;

The grace of strict truthfulness;

The grace to treat others as I would have others treat me;

The grace of love, that I may refrain from hasty judgement;

The grace of silence, that I may refrain from hasty speech;

The grace of forgiveness towards all who have wronged me;

The grace of tenderness towards all who are weaker than myself;

The grace of steadfastness in continuing to desire that you will do as now I pray.

And now, O God, give me a quiet mind as I lie down to rest.  Dwell in my thoughts until sleep overtakes me.  Let me rejoice in the knowledge that, whether awake or asleep, I am still with you.  Let me not be fretted by any anxiety over the lesser interests of life.  Let no troubled dreams disturb me, so that I may awake refreshed and ready for the tasks of another day…

Dear Father of all, make me the human channel, so far as in me lies, through which your divine love and pity may reach the hearts and lives of those who are nearest to me.  Amen.

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John 14 :1  —  (Jesus said), “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.”

Galatians 6:16a…22-23  —  Walk by the Spirit… (and) the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Psalm 4:8  —  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lordmake me dwell in safety.

1326) Morning and Evening Prayer (jb14)

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From A Diary of Private Prayer, 1949, by John Baillie, Church of Scotland pastor and theologian, (1886-1960); containing a morning and evening prayer for thirty-one days (adapted)

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MORNING PRAYER  (Twenty-seventh day):

Grant, O most gracious God, that I may carry through this day the remembrance of the sufferings of Jesus Christ my Lord:

For the love that filled his heart;

For his readiness to suffer for my sake;

For the power of his cross and the promise of the resurrection;

I praise and bless your holy name.

For the light of his life in the history of the world;

For all who have taken up their cross and followed him;

For the noble army of martyrs, and for all who are willing to die to this life so that others may live eternally;

For all suffering freely chosen for noble ends, for pain bravely endured, and for temporary sorrows that have been used for the building up of eternal joys;

I praise and bless  your holy name.

O Lord my God, you dwell in pure serenity beyond the reach of mortal pain, yet you look down in love and tenderness upon the sorrows of this earth.  Give me grace, I pray, to understand the meanings of the afflictions and disappointments that I am called upon to endure, and grant me the wisdom to learn from them what you have to teach me.  

Deliver me from all fretfulness.  

Give me a stout heart to bear my burdens.   Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others.  Give me a believing heart to cast all my burdens upon you.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

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EVENING PRAYER (Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth day)

O Perfect Light, how can I fold these guilty hands before you?  How can I pray to you with lips that have spoken false and rude words?  

I confess to you, O Lord;

A heart hardened with vindictive feelings;

An unruly tongue;

A fretful disposition;

An unwillingness to bear the burdens of others;

An undue willingness to let others bear my burdens;

High professions but low attainments;

Fine words hiding shabby thoughts;

A friendly face masking a cold heart;

Many neglected opportunities and many uncultivated talents;

Much love and beauty unappreciated and many blessings unacknowledged.

Forgive me, Lord.

I give you thanks that in the Gospel of Jesus Christ you have given me grace, for I have no other reason to plead for mercy.  Let me now find peace of heart by fleeing from myself and taking refuge in Jesus.  Let my despair over my miserable sins give way to the joy found in your goodness.  So let me lie down tonight thinking not of my own self and my own affairs, or of my own hopes and fears, or even of my own sins in your sight; but only of how I might serve you.

Show your lovingkindness tonight, O Lord, to all who stand in need of your help.  Be with the weak to make them strong and with the strong to make them gentle.  Cheer the lonely with your company and the distracted with your solitude.  Prosper your Church in the fulfillment of her mighty task, and grant your blessing to all who have toiled this day in Christ’s name.  Amen.

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II Corinthians 5:18a…19a…20b  —  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…  God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them...  We implore you on Christ’s behalf:  Be reconciled to God.

I Peter 5:6-7  —  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Luke 9:23  —  (Jesus said), “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

1319) Morning and Evening Prayer (jb13)

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From A Diary of Private Prayer, 1949, by John Baillie, Church of Scotland pastor and theologian, (1886-1960); containing a morning and evening prayer for thirty-one days (adapted)

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MORNING PRAYER  (Second day):

O God, my Creator and Redeemer, I am not able to go forth today except that you accompany me with your blessing.  Let not the freshness of the morning, or the vigor of good health, or the prosperity of my undertakings, deceive me into a false reliance upon my own strength.  All these good gifts have come to me from you.  They were yours to give and they are yours also to take away.  They are not mine to keep; I do but hold them in trust; and only in continued dependence upon you, the Giver, can they be worthily enjoyed.

Let me then put back into your hand all that you have given me, rededicating to your service all the powers of my mind and body, all my worldly goods, and all my influence with others.  All these, O Lord, are yours to use as you will.  Speak your words through me today, guide my thoughts, and work in all my deeds.  It is your gracious will to make use even of such small and weak humans as myself, so let my life be the channel through which some little portion of your divine love and pity may reach the lives of those that are nearest to my own.

I remember before you, O God, my family and all my friends and neighbors, those with whom I work, and especially the poor in our midst, asking that you would give me the grace to serve them in your name.

O blessed Jesus, who used your own most precious life for the redemption of your human family, giving no thought to ease or pleasure or worldly enrichment, but filling all your hours and days with deeds of self-denying love; give me grace to follow you in such a life of service to others.  To your name be all glory and praise, now and forever.  Amen.

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EVENING PRAYER  (Twenty-second and Twenty-seventh day):

Now, O Lord, when the day’s work is done, I turn once more to you.  From you all comes, in you all lives, and in you all ends.  In the morning I set out with your blessing, all day you upheld me with your grace, and now I pray that you would grant me rest and peace.  I cast all my cares on you, and leave to you the results of my labor.  Prosper, I pray, all that I have done this day according to your will, and forgive all that I have done wrong.  

Grant me, O Lord, a clearer vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power, and a more confident assurance of your love:

When the way seems dark before me, give me grace to walk trustingly;

When much is obscure to me, let me be all the more faithful to the little that I can clearly see;

When the distant scene is clouded, let me be glad that at least I can see the next step;

While there is much that is hidden from my eyes, let me still hold fast to those things you have clearly commanded;

When insight falters, let obedience stand firm;

And what I lack in faith, let me fulfill in love.

O infinite God, who is beyond all understanding, I thank you that you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be my light in a dark world.  And if I still cannot find you, then let me search my heart and be aware not only of your obscurity, but also of my willful blindness; and know that you have promised that you will never leave me, but that I often flee from you.  Let me confess my sins before your and seek your pardon in Jesus Christ my Lord.  Amen.

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James 1:17  —  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Psalm 145:18  —  The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Psalm 145:14  —  The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

Deuteronomy 31:16  —  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

John 9:5b  —  (Jesus said), “I am the light of the world.”

1318) A Post-Election Prayer

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By Pastor Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA), East Lansing, Michigan; prayed in the November 13, 2016 worship service (adapted).

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Our good and gracious heavenly Father, we praise you for your almighty and ever present power, by which you create and sustain all things.

When we don’t know what will happen with our health, we trust you.  When we don’t know what we will happen with those we love, we rest in you.  And when we don’t know what will happen with our nation, we turn to you.

In the midst of a world filled with disagreements and disappointments and discouragement; in a world where we tend to assume the worst of those who are not like us, help the church show a more excellent way.  May the world look in at our counter-culture communities and say with astonishment, “See how they love one another.”  Give us the empathy to listen to one another and the wisdom to learn from what we hear.

May the church show forth the kind of diversity worth pursuing—the diversity of every nationality, and every race, and every class, and every color confessing sins together and together worshiping the risen Christ.

As we are commanded in I Timothy 2, we pray for Donald Trump, the next President of the United States.

Grant him wisdom, courage, and integrity, as a man and as a leader.  Keep him faithful, kind, and loving as a husband and father.

Give him a heart for the poor, concern for the powerless, and compassion for the weak.  May he resist the temptation to settle scores and tear others down.  Give him a heart, a disposition, and a commitment to honor women, protect the vulnerable, and reject all racial animosity.

Put before him the best information and the most intelligent counselors so he can make good decisions about economic and foreign policy, and guide him to choose capable men and women for a vast array of judicial, cabinet-level, and bureaucratic appointments.

May the President be guided by both courage and restraint as the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces.  Make him a defender of the unborn and a champion for religious liberty.

Make him a man of prayer and a daily student of the Scriptures.  Give him the humility to see his sins, the honesty to admit his faults, the grace to forgive his enemies, and the strength of character to change his mind when necessary.

Lead him to a firmer understanding of the truth of the gospel, a resolute commitment to obey the Word of God, and a passion to promote what accords with your truth.

By your grace, heavenly Father, may President Trump be a better man than many expect; and may he also be a better man than we deserve, for we have forsaken you in so many ways.

And no matter the smiles or frowns of providence, keep your people faithful to the things we know we must do:  to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Make us quick to serve and eager to speak the truth in love.  Grant us the privilege to bear witness to the only King who keeps all his promises and the only One whose kingdom knows no end.

In the name of Christ— the only name given among men whereby we must be saved— we pray.  Amen.

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I Timothy 2:1-4  —  I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

II Chronicles 7:14  —  If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Psalm 22:27-28  —  All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lordand all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.