Prayers for Private Worship
Joel Stephen Williams
© Copyright 1990
In our culture prayer is viewed as ineffective, unimportant, and boring inactivity. We have become so accustomed to the fast pace of life that waiting on God, meditation, and lengthy prayer all seem languid. We are so oriented toward outward action, production, quotas, deadlines, and a hustle bustle flurry of action that we often deem prayer to be dawdling with oneís time. Yet, it is impossible to find a more honorable duty which provides more blessings than prayer. Note the attitude the book of Psalms expresses toward prayer. "Therefore let every one who is godly offer prayer to thee" (Psalm 32:6). "I call upon God; and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice" (Psalm 55:16-17). "As for me, my prayer is to thee, O Lord. At an acceptable time, God, in the abundance of thy steadfast love answer me" (Psalm 69:13). "O Lord, my God, I call for help by day; I cry out in the night before thee. Let my prayer come before thee, incline thy ear to my cry!" (Psalm 88:1-2). "At midnight I rise to praise thee" (Psalm 119:62). "Every day I will bless thee, and praise thy name forever and ever" (Psalm 145:2).
In the New Testament prayer is given an exalted role in the spiritual life of a Christian. We "ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). "Be constant in prayer" (Romans 12:12). "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication" (Ephesians 6:18). "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6). "Continue steadfastly in prayer" (Colossians 4:2). "Pray constantly" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). "I urge that supplications, prayer, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands" (1 Timothy 2:1, 8).
Paul commands us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). A friendís five-year-old daughter memorized the verse in this way: "Pray without seasoning." Seriously, what does Paul mean when he tells us to "pray constantly"? This does not mean that we must be praying every moment, because that is impossible. To "pray without ceasing" means to be regular in our prayer habits. We expect God to be there every time we pray, so God has a right to expect regularity in prayer from his people.
God is always willing to listen to the prayer of a humble servant. God is a prayer-hearing God. He delights in those who lift up holy hands, bend their knees, bow their heads, and humble their hearts before him. As Matthew Henry once wrote, "What a shame...that God is more willing to be prayed to, and more ready to hear prayer than we are to pray." God himself has declared, "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Therefore, we should declare, with Samuel, "Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray" (1 Samual 12:23). Since prayer is an essential ingredient in the spiritual formation of a Christian, this booklet is offered to aid the reader in developing the habit of fervent prayer to God through the use of some of the prayers written by Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667). Many of Taylorís prayers from his works Rule and Exercises of Holy Living (1650) and Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying (1651) are modernized and reprinted here.1 There has been some adaptation of the content through this editing, no doubt, but the core of Taylorís thought is still present. The ornate, archaic, and formal language of Taylorís prayers has been personalized with more familiar words to conform to current tastes, but the resulting style of these edited prayers is not folksy.
Jeremy Taylor was born at Cambridge, England, and educated at Cambridge and Oxford. He was a preacher, theologian, devotional writer, divinity lecturer, chaplain, rector, bishop, and even a prisoner at different periods of his life. Taylor has been called the "Chrysostom of England" due to his great eloquence. Others referred to him as the "Homer of the divines" or the "Shakespeare of the Church." At his funeral sermon the eulogy declared that Taylor "had devotion enough for a cloister and learning enough for a university."
Taylor was a deeply spiritual person who urged his readers to be serious and sober in living the Christian life every day. He stressed that the best preparation for holy dying was a life of holy living, a life in which prayer played a prominent role. His theology has been criticized as a "monkish work-holiness."2 He went too far in what we today would call a salvation by works of merit. He was so filled with a desire to promote righteous living and holiness that his attacks on sin tended to leave people in despair of any hope of forgiveness from God if they sinned willfully. Taylor did overreact to the teaching of easy grace which was prevalent in his day, but we can learn much from him due to the similar excesses of a soft Christianity in our day. If I had to choose, I would prefer Taylorís rigidity in holiness to a more anemic Christianity which lacks vitality.
Any works-righteousness flaws in Taylorís thought are not found in his prayers. He was in favor of set forms of prayer instead of extemporaneous prayer, especially in corporate worship. This not only meant that he defended the use of The Book of Common Prayer in England, but also he wrote lengthy prayers for individual, private use. To him the question was whether or not one prayed to God "with consideration or without?" He argued that preparation, forethought, and study were important for good prayer. Also, set forms of prayer promoted unity through their common use, especially in corporate worship.3
As long as one does not kill spontaneity in private prayer by the overuse of written prayers, set forms of prayer may be very helpful in oneís devotional life. Many people find great benefit in using prayers worded by others in combination with unprepared prayer. Set forms of prayer can teach the one praying to be cautious and careful in choosing the words to be spoken to God (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2). Why not be very concerned about our words, since in prayer we are speaking to our Creator? It is my prayer that the prayers contained in this little booklet will be helpful to you.
1Use was made of the Bohnís Standard Library edition of Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living and Dying (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1850).
2C. FitzSimons Allison, "The Pastoral Cruelty of Jeremy Taylorís Theology," The Modern Churchman 15 (January 1972): 123-31.
3Raymond A. Peterson, "Jeremy Taylorís Theology of Worship," Anglican Theological Review 46 (April 1964): 204-8.
A Morning Prayer
Humbly and reverently compose yourself. Lift your heart up to God, bow your head, and meekly kneel upon your knees. Say the Lordís model prayer, after which use the following prayers, or as many of them as you choose.
A Prayer of Adoration
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Heaven and earth, angels and men, give glory, honor, and thanks to you as you sit on your throne, the one who lives forever and ever. All the blessed spirits and souls of the righteous cast their crowns before your throne and worship you, the one lives forever and ever. You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, honor, and power, for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are, and were created. Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the ages.
Your wisdom is infinite. Your mercies are glorious, and I am not worthy, O Lord, to appear in your presence. Even angels hide their faces before you. O holy and eternal Jesus, Lamb of God, who was slain from the beginning of the world, you have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every nation. You have made us kings and priests for our God, and we will reign with you forever. Blessing, honor, glory, and power be unto you who sits on the throne. Blessing, honor, glory, and power be unto the Lamb forever and ever. Amen.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
I sing praises unto you, O Lord, as one of your saints. I give thanks to you for your holiness. Your wrath endures only for the twinkling of an eye. I find life in your pleasure. Weariness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. You, Lord, have preserved me this night from violence from evil forces, from tragic accidents, and from your wrath for my sin, which I so abundantly deserve. You have brought my soul out from under the condemnation that would send it to hell. You have shown me great kindness. You have blessed me forever. The greatness of your glory reaches as high as the heavens, and your truth reaches as high as the clouds. Therefore, every good person should sing of your praise without ceasing. I do, O my God, and I will give thanks unto you forever. Hallelujah!
A Prayer of Dedication
My holy and eternal God, Lord and sovereign of all created beings, I humbly present to your divine majesty myself, my soul, my body, my thoughts, my words, my actions, my intentions, my desires, and my sufferings, to be used by you for your own glory, to be blessed by your providence, to be guided by your counsel, and to be sanctified by your Spirit. And when my earthly life is over, may by body and soul be received by you into glory. Lord I commit my all to you, for I know that nothing can perish which is under your custody.
I know that the Devil cannot control what is under your dominion or take it out of your hands. This day, O Lord, and all the days of my life, I dedicate to your honor all my actions. May all that I do as a Christian be united with the atoning work of my holy Savior Jesus, so that through his intercession I may be pardoned and accepted by you. Amen.
A Prayer of Repentance
I am not worthy to be called your servant, much less one of your children. I am a vile sinner, a lover of the things of the world, and a despiser of the things of God. I am proud, envious, lustful, and without self-control. I am greedy of sin, but not wanting to be rebuked for it. I desire to seem holy, but I am negligent of being so. I am selfish. I have improper motives. I do not always control my anger. I can be irritable. I lack humility and self-control. Sin often reigns in my soul. Lord, please pardon me of all of my sins for the sake of my sweet Savior. You, holy Jesus, who died for me, save me and deliver me. Please do not store up my sins for the day of judgment. Please do not punish me for them on that day of your wrath, but wash them away and blot them out of your memory. Purify my soul with the blood of the cross as I repent, so that my past sins will not be held against me. And in the future, may I never so rebel against you that I provoke your holy anger. O just and dear God, be merciful and gracious to your servant. Amen.
A Prayer of Petition
Bless me, gracious God, in all areas of service in which you have chosen for me to labor. When sadness comes my way, give me relief. Comfort me when I am sick. Give me patience to endure my sorrows. Give me confidence in you, and give me the grace to depend on you when I am faced with temptation. Be my guide in all of my actions, my protector in all my dangers. Give me a healthy body and a clear mind, a sanctified, just, loving, humble, religious, and contended spirit. I pray that my life will not be miserable or wretched. May my reputation not be ruined with sin and shame. May my temptations, especially from good fortune, not be beyond my abilities to withstand them. I pray that my life will be a blessing to my neighbors and, most of all, pleasing to you. When I finally lay down to rise never again, may my soul pass through the valley of darkness and into the regions of light to live with you forever. Through Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen.
A Prayer of Intercession
O God of infinite mercy who has compassion on all men and brings relief in necessity to all who call upon you for help, hear the prayer of your servant. I am unworthy to ask any petition for myself; yet, in humility and duty, I am bound to pray for others. I pray for the church. O let your mercy descend upon the whole church. Preserve her in truth and peace, in unity and safety, in all storms, and against all temptations and enemies. May she offer to your glory a never-ceasing sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving. May she advance the honor of her Lord, and be filled with his Spirit, and partake of his glory.
I pray for the government rulers. In mercy, remember them. Preserve their health and may they rule in honor. May their office bring peace and plenty to all. May religious freedom flourish under their protection. May they know the fear of you and your favor.
I pray for ministers of the gospel. Remember those who minister in relation to holy things. May they be clothed with righteousness and spread joy everywhere.
I pray for my mate. Please bless your servant (my wife or husband) with good health and a positive spirit. May your hand be upon his (her) head, night and day, in blessing, and support him (her) in every way necessary, strengthen him against all temptations, comfort him in every sorrow, and let him be your servant in all the ups and downs of life. May we both find favor in your eyes and dwell with you forever.
I pray for my children. Bless my children with good health and good minds. Give them your grace and gifts and abilities. May they have a sweet disposition and holy habits. Sanctify them completely, in body, soul, and spirit, and may they be without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus.
I pray for my friends and for all who have helped me. Be pleased, O Lord, to remember my friends, all who have prayed for me, and all that have done me good. [Here name those whom you would especially recommend.] Do good to them and return all their kindness two hundred percent. Reward them with blessings, sanctify them with your grace, and bring them to glory.
I pray for my family. May all my family and relatives, my neighbors and acquaintances [here name other people important to you], receive the benefit of my prayers and your blessings. May they receive the comfort and support of your providence and the sanctification of your Spirit.
I pray for all who are in misery. Relieve and comfort all the persecuted and afflicted. Speak peace to those with a troubled conscience; strengthen the weak; confirm the strong; instruct the ignorant; deliver the oppressed from those who are taking advantage of them, and relieve the needy who have no one to help them. Lead us all by the still waters, the waters of comfort, and lead us in the paths of righteousness to the kingdom of rest and glory.
To God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the eternal Son, who was incarnate and born of a virgin, to the Spirit of the Father and the Son, be all honor and glory, worship and thanksgiving, now and forever. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.
A Prayer to be Said Anytime
O eternal God, merciful and gracious, please grant your favor and blessings to me, your servant. May the love of your mercy, and a dread and fear of your majesty, make me careful and desirous to discern your will. May I be diligent to perform your will. May I persevere in all that characterizes a holy life throughout the rest of my life.
Keep me, O Lord, for I am yours by creation. Guide me, for I am yours by purchase. You have redeemed me by the blood of your Son. You have loved me with the love of a father, and I am your child by adoption and grace. May your mercy pardon my sins, may your providence protect me from the punishment I so richly deserve, and may your care watch over me, so that I may never offend you again. Make me, in malice, to be a child, but in understanding, piety, and the fear of God, may I be a mature person in Christ, innocent and prudent, always able to perform every good work.
Keep me, O Lord, from evil and from sin. May I never again cause your anger to rise against me. May your shepherdís rod gently correct my errors and guide me in the right way. May your staff support me in all the problems and vicissitudes of life. Please preserve me from accidents, sickness, and disease. May I be allowed to keep all of my faculties until the day of my death. May my death be neither sudden nor untimely. May my house be set in order when death comes. I pray that I may be allowed to die a typical death of an aged person, with nothing associated with it being unusual or out of the ordinary, except I pray that I may have an unusual degree of piety, according to your great mercy.
Let no wealth cause me to ever forget myself, and may no poverty ever cause me to forget you. May no hope or fear, no pleasure or pain, no accident without, no weakness within, hinder or disturb me in the performance of my duty or turn me from the ways of your commandments. Let your Spirit dwell with me forever, and make my soul just and loving, full of honesty, full of religion, determined and constant in following through with holy intentions, but uncompromising toward evil. Make me humble and obedient, peaceable and pious. May I never envy any manís good, or act in such a way that I deserve the scorn of others. If I do deserve scorn, teach me to bear it with meekness and love.
Give me a tender conscience. May my speech be discreet and polite, modest and patient, liberal and obliging. May my body be chaste and healthy, and able to perform my tasks in life. May I have a will that is submissive to your will and desires that are under control. May I be the kind of person you would have me to be, and may my portion be with the righteous. May I receive your approval and the glories of eternity. Holy is our God. Holy is the Almighty. Holy is the Immortal. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, have mercy on me.
Another Morning Prayer
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I offer this prayer unto you, my Lord and my God, the Almighty.
Most glorious and eternal God, Father of mercy, and God of all comfort, I worship and adore you with the lowest humility of my soul and body. I give you all thanks and praise for your infinite glory and perfection and for your continual demonstration of your mercy upon me, upon my family, and upon your holy church.
I acknowledge, dear God, that I deserve all of your wrath and indignation; and that, if you had dealt with me according to what I deserve, at this very moment I would be desperately lamenting my misery in the sorrows and horrors of a sad eternity. But your mercy triumped over my sins. You have granted me life and further opportunity of repentance. You have opened to me the gates of grace and mercy. You constantly call upon me to enter in and to walk in the paths of a holy life, that I might glorify you and be glorified by you eternally.
O God, I thank you for your great and unspeakable goodness, for the preservation of my life unto this moment, and for all blessings of your grace. I offer to you my soul and body, all that I am, and all that I have, as a sacrifice to you and for your service. I humbly beg you to pardon all my sins, to defend me from all evil, and to lead me into all good. May my destiny be with the redeemed ones in the gathering together of the saints in the kingdom of grace and glory.
Guide me, O Lord, in all the ups and downs of life, so that whatever happens to me, I may have a calm and tranquil spirit. May my soul be wholly resigned to your divine will and pleasure, never mourning any gentle chastisement or fatherly correction. May I never become proud and insolent, even when I am comfortable, secure, prosperous, and successful.
Fix my thoughts, my hopes, and my desires upon heaven and heavenly things. Teach me to despise the world, to repent deeply for my sins. Give me proper intentions to improve my life and assistance to perform faithfully whatever I properly intend and purpose in my heart. Enrich my understanding with an eternal treasure of divine truths, so that I may know your will. Lord, you work in us to will and to do your good pleasure.
Teach me to obey all your commandments, to believe all of your word, and make me a partaker of all of your gracious promises. Teach me to watch over all my ways, so that I may never be surprised by temptations or a careless spirit. May I never return to the folly and vanity of my former lifestyle. Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips, so that I will not sin with my tongue. May I never say impure things or unloving things. Teach me to think of nothing but you and whatever is best for your glory and service. May I speak of nothing but you and your glory. May I do nothing but what is appropriate for your servant to do. I am your servant, Lord, because of your infinite mercy and grace by the Holy Spirit which has sealed me for the day of redemption.
Let all my passions and desires be so mortified and brought under the control of your grace, that I may never deliberately and purposely offend your divine majesty. May I never offend you due to a rash and reckless disposition. Please make me into the kind of person you would have me to be. Strengthen my faith, confirm my hope, and give me a daily increase of love. May I this day, and every day forever, serve you with every opportunity and to the best of my capacities and abilities. May I grow in holiness from grace to grace; until, in the end, I shall receive the consummation and perfection of grace, in accordance with your mercy. May I be allowed to enter and share in the glories of your kingdom. May I be allowed to see you face to face and come to a full realization of your absolute perfection as God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, to whom be glory and praise, honor and adoration, from all angels, all men, and all creatures, both now, and for all eternity. Amen.
An Evening Prayer
O eternal God, the great Father of men and angels, who has established the heavens and the earth, so that they operate with a wonderful order, making day and night to follow one another, I make my humble prayer to your Divine Majesty, begging of you mercy and protection for this night and forever. O Lord, pardon all of my sins, my light and rash words, my vain and impure thoughts, my unjust and unloving actions, and whatever I have done to sin against you this day, or at any time before. Notice, O God, that my soul is troubled when I remember my sins. I am frail and sinful and must face all kinds of temptation. Alone I do very poorly in resisting sin. Lord God of mercy, I earnestly beg of you to give me a great measure of your grace, enough to help me gain control over my sinful tendencies and weaknesses. As I have formerly served my own lust and unworthy desires, may I now give myself wholly to your service and everything associated with a holy life.
Blessed Lord, teach me often, and with tears of sadness, to remember my sins. Be pleased to remember my sins no more, let me never forget your mercies, and please remember to do good to me. Teach me to walk always as if I were in your presence. Lift up my soul to higher degrees of love of you. Give my spirit great fear, reverence, and veneration of your holy name and your laws. May the overwhelming preoccupation of my whole life be to serve you, to advance your glory, and to root out all accursed habits of sin in my life. In holiness of life, in humility, in love, in moral purity, and with all the ornaments of grace, may I wait patiently for the coming of our Lord Jesus.
Teach me, O Lord, to number my days, so that I may apply my heart to wisdom. May I remember the end of man, so that I may not dare to sin against you. Let your holy angels be ever present with me to protect me from a life of malice and violence, from a life of spiritual darkness, from evil companions, from tempting situations, from poor judgment, from the shame of sin, from the hands of my enemies, from a sinful lifestyle, and from despair in the day of my death. Then, O brightest Jesus, shine gloriously upon me and let your mercies and the light of your countenance sustain me in all of my agonies, weaknesses, and temptations. May your loving Spirit so guide me in the ways of peace and safety that my conscience will be clear. May I feel a sense of your refreshing mercy, so that I may leave this life in the unity and fellowship of the church, in the love of God, and with a certain hope of salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord and most blessed Savior. Amen.
Another Evening Prayer
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Visit, I beseech you, O Lord, my house with your mercy, and visit me with your grace and salvation. Let your holy angels pitch their tents around me and dwell here. May I not have any bad dreams or other difficulties this night. May your eternal Spirit dwell in my soul and body, filling every corner of my heart with light and grace. In the darkness may I not be overtaken by any sin, and may your blessing, most blessed God, be upon me forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Into your hands most blessed Jesus, I commend my soul and body, for you have redeemed me with your precious blood. Please bless and sanctify my sleep, so that my rest may be holy and safe. May my rest this evening be a refreshment to my weary body. May my rest enable me to serve you with an unfailing duty. Let me never go to sleep guilty of sin or eternal death. Help me to have a watchful spirit, so that I will not omit any opportunity of serving you. Whether I sleep or am awake, live or die, may I be your servant and your child. When the work of my life is done, may I rest in the bosom of my Lord until by the voice of the archangel, the trumpet of God, I will be awakened and called to sit down and feast in the eternal supper of the Lamb. Grant this, O Lamb of God, because of your mercy and to the glory of your name, O most merciful Savior and Redeemer Jesus. Amen.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who has sent his angels and kept me this day from serious accidents, and who has given me his Spirit to restrain me from evil to which my own weaknesses and my evil habits so easily betray me. Blessed and forever hallowed be your name for your never ceasing shower of blessings by which I live and am content and blessed. You provide for all of my necessities, especially what I need in my duty to you and to help me on my way to heaven. Blessing, honor, glory, and power be unto God who sits on his throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever. Amen.
Holy is our God. Holy is the Almighty. Holy is the Immortal. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, have mercy on me.
A Prayer on Wise Use of Oneís Time
O eternal God, who from all eternity has beheld all things including your own glory and infinite perfection, you have created me to do your work and to serve you in this generation, according to my capacities. Give me your grace that I may spend my time prudently and wisely. May I avoid temptation and, when it comes my way, may I be able to resist it. May I use my time wisely for the best benefit to other Christians and the cause of Christ. By discharging all of my duties, may I glorify your name.
Please take from me all laziness and give me a diligent and active spirit. May I be wise in my choice of how I spend my time and in the way I choose to spend my time. I pray that I may be able to accomplish works in proportion to my abilities, and that my works will be in accordance with the dignity of my Christian calling. I pray that my time will be full of acts of religion and charity, and that when the devil assaults me, he will never find me idle. I pray that when my dearest Lord suddenly returns at his second coming that he will find me busy in lawful, necessary, and pious actions. Lord, may I improve the talent which has been entrusted to me by you. In the end may I enter into your joy and partake of eternal happiness, according to your mercy and because of my dearest Savior. Amen.
A Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Love
O Lord God of infinite mercy, of infinite excellency, who has sent your holy Son into the world to redeem us from an intolerable misery, to teach us a holy religion, and to forgive us an infinite debt, please give me your Holy Spirit, so that my understanding and all of my being may be in submission to the discipline and doctrine of my Lord. May I be willing even to die for the testimony of Jesus. May I be willing to suffer any affliction or loss rather than be hindered in my duty to you or fall victim to sin or shame. May my faith lead to a pure life. May my faith be a strong shield to repel the fiery darts of the devil. May my faith lead to a holy hope based upon my confidence in you.
May I have an unfailing love of you, my God, and a love of all the world. I pray that I will never be an unbeliever or an unloving person. Instead, may I always be supported by my faith in the face of temptation. May I be refreshed with the comfort of a holy hope in the midst of all my sorrows. May I help bear my neighborís burdens through the support of Christian love. I pray that the yoke of Jesus will become easy to me. May your grace work upon my soul through love so that I am changed from one degree of glory to another. May I learn to look not to earth but to heaven. May my incomplete and imperfect virtue grow in love until I become a whole person in eternity with an unfailing love. I pray this through Jesus Christ, the Son of your love, the anchor of our hope, the author and finisher of our faith, to whom, with you, O Lord, God, Father of heaven and earth, and with the Holy Spirit, be all glory, love, obedience, and dominion, now and forever. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession and Repentance
[At a time of humiliation or possibly in coordination with a fast.]
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great goodness. According to the multitude of your mercies, do away with my sins. I will confess my wickedness and be sorry for my sin. O my dearest Lord, I am not worthy to be counted among the least of your servants, not worthy to be sustained by the smallest fragments of your mercy. I am only worthy to be shut out of your presence forever. Yet because of your nameís sake, O Lord, be merciful on my sin, for it is great.
I am a vile sinner and have sinned as have the worst of men. I am proud and vain. I am impatient when corrected by others for my faults. I cannot endure to be slighted, even though I may richly deserve it. I have deceived myself with a false humility. When I have truly called myself a sinner, I could not stand it if any one else said the same or thought the same. I have been disobedient to my superiors, unbecoming in my behavior, and unchristian. If it were not for your nameís sake, where would I be?
O just and dear God, how can I expect pity or pardon. I am easily angered by others and am impatient with them, with and without cause. I am envious of the good that comes to others. I rejoice in the evil that comes upon my neighbors. I am negligent of my duties, idle, worldly, stubborn, and jealous. I am hardhearted, but I am soft and undisciplined in my life. I am without devotion and perseverance in my prayers, but at the same time zealous and curious in pleasing my appetite for food and drink and for pleasure. I have reaped the fruit of such sins and entertained indecent and impure thoughts. Not only have I thought of sin, I have changed my thoughts into indecent and impure actions. The spirit of uncleanness has entered into and unhallowed the temple of my body which you consecrated as a dwelling place for your Spirit of love and holiness. Yet for your nameís sake, O Lord, be merciful on my sin, for it is great.
You have given me a whole life to serve you in, and to advance my hopes of heaven. That precious time I have thrown away on my sins and vanities. I have been wasteful with my time, my talents, your grace, and my opportunities. I have resisted your Spirit and quenched him. I have been a great lover of myself; yet, I have tried to destroy myself with sin. I have pursued materialistic ends with greediness and by improper means. I seek revenge on others. I am ungrateful and forgetful of my blessings, but I do not easily forget wrongs I have suffered. I break promises that I have made. I have not sought my neighborís benefit. I have not advanced in spiritual virtue as I should have. I have been unlike you, ungodly, in everything. I am unmerciful and unjust. I eagerly admire worldly things, but I am careless concerning spiritual and heavenly things. Yet for your nameís sake, O Lord, be merciful on my sin, for it is great.
All my senses have been windows to let sin in, and death by sin. My eyes have been adulterous and covetous. My ears have been open to slander and gossip. My tongue has been without control in intemperate and foul language, in lying, in rash, malicious, false, flattering, irreligious, and irreverent speech. My hands have been injurious to others and are unclean. My passions have been violent and rebellious. I have been impatient and unreasonable. All of my members and all of my faculties have been servants of sin. My very best actions are imperfect. Yet for your nameís sake, O Lord, be merciful on my sin, for it is great.
In addition to all of these sins, there is a far bigger heap of sin in my bad example toward others. I have not opposed sin in others as I should. Instead I have encouraged sin in others. I have hardened their consciences, tempted them directly, and allayed their fears against sin. I have encouraged the ruin of others in sin and my own complete destruction were it not for your glorious and unspeakable mercy which prevented this.
Lord, I have abused your mercy, despised your judgments, and turned your grace into license. I have been ungrateful for your infinite lovingkindness. I have sinned and repented, and then sinned again and resolved against it, and soon broke my resolve. I have made promise after promise, but I yielded to temptation little by little until my promises were all broken again. Wretched one that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
And still, O Lord, I have another heap of sins to be confessed. My secret sins, O Lord, are innumerable. There are sins of which I have been unaware. There are sins which I have forgotten. There are sins which a watchful and diligent spirit might have avoided, but I did not. Lord, I am confounded with the multitude of my sins and the horror of their remembrance. They are a sight too ugly; they are an impossible load and burden on my soul.
In spite of my sins, you have spared me all of this time. You have not cast me into hell, where I deserve to have been long ago. If you had punished me according to what I deserve, even now I would be shut up for an eternity of torment in fear of your judgment. Wretched one that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
You will answer for me, O Lord my God. You who pray for me will be my judge.
O Lord, give me a deep contrition for my sins, a hearty loathing of them, hating them more than death. Give me sufficient grace to forsake my sins, completely, at once, and forever. Give me grace to walk with care, caution, fear, and watchfulness all of my life. May I do my duty with diligence and love, with zeal and an untiring spirit. May I redeem the time, trusting in your mercies. May I depend on your grace and work out my salvation with fear and trembling. May you, O God, have the glory of pardoning all of my sins, and may I reap the fruit of all of your mercies and all of your grace, of your patience and longsuffering. May I live a holy life here in this world and reign with you forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for Patience During Illness
Most merciful and gracious Father, I bless and magnify your name, because you have adopted me into the inheritance of sons, and have given me a portion with my elder Brother. You have redeemed lost mankind by the death and suffering of your most holy Son. You have shown us that suffering can be redemptive and have a holy purpose. Yet, Lord, my illness falls heavy and sits uneasy on my shoulders like a cross. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. I humbly beg of you that I may learn to rejoice in whatever you allow to come my way through your providence. I know and am persuaded that you are equally as gracious when you discipline us or allow trials to come our way as when you bring relief to us in consideration of our weaknesses. I rejoice, O Lord, in your mysterious mercy which can bring something profitable out of suffering. I am amazed that you can use human misery to create spiritual benefits. In suffering we are allowed to be like your Son, thus receiving a gift that even angels have never been given. Angels cannot die as our Lord has died, or share in his sufferings as we can. Blessed are you, dearest Lord, that we can. Amen.
God, you are the God of patience and consolation. Strengthen me in my inner being, so that I may bear the yoke and burden of my illness without any useless complaining. Lord I am unable to stand under my trials alone. You, O holy Jesus, felt the burden of a cross. You sank under that load and allowed a man to bear part of the load. Then you suffered pain and death on the cross for him. Please ease my burden by strengthening my spirit. May I be strongest when I am weak. May I be able to endure every trial through Christ who strengthens me. Lord, if you will it, support me. I will forever praise you. If it is your will that my burdens and pain only increase, I will cry to you and complain to my God. Eventually I know I must lay down and die, but then I shall enter into those mansions where holy souls rest and weep no more, because of the mercy and intercession of the holy Jesus and the work of your blessed Spirit.
Lord, pity me. Lord, sanctify this my sickness. Lord, strengthen me. Holy Jesus, save me and deliver me. Lord, you know how I have failed you when I was in good health facing no trials. Lord, in your mercy and by your pity, do not allow me to fail you now that I am in pain. Never let me accuse you foolishly. May I never offend you by being impatient or weak in faith. May my disposition not be an obstacle to the hands and hearts of those who lovingly minister to my needs in my illness. May I pass through this valley of tears and the valley of the shadow of death into safety and peace with a meek spirit and a sense of your divine mercy. Even if you broke me into pieces, my hope is that you will rescue me in eternity. Please grant this my prayer, eternal God, gracious Father, for the merits and intercession of my merciful High Priest, who once suffered for me, and who forever intercedes for me, my most gracious and ever-blessed Savior Jesus.
[After medicine or other treatment.] O most blessed and eternal Jesus, you are the great physician of our souls. You are the sun of righteousness who arises with healing on your wings. To you has been given by the heavenly Father the government of all the world. You have authority over all things to the honor of God the Father, and to the good and comfort of those who love and serve you. Be pleased to bless the labors of my medical doctors (nurses, pharmacists, etc.) that they may ease my pain and improve my health. Direct their judgment, and may the medicine (medical treatment) I have received improve my condition. May I feel your blessing and your lovingkindness in the easing of my pain and in the restoration of my good health, so that I may be returned to my usual station in life and in worship, where I may praise you and your goodness in private and in the congregation of the redeemed ones, in this life and forever in heaven. Amen.
A Prayer For Oneís Children
O almighty and most merciful Father, who has given us children, they are a testimony of your mercy. I know their care is my duty. Be pleased to be a Father to my children. May they have healthy bodies, understanding souls, and sanctified spirits. May they be your servants and your children all of their lives. Let your mercy and providence lead them through the dangers, temptations, and ignorances of youth. May they never live in the foolishness and evil of an unbridled lifestyle. Please arrange the circumstances of their lives that by a good education, careful teachers, holy examples, innocent company, wise counselors, and your restraining grace, they may remain obedient to you in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation. If it seems good in your eyes, let me be able to support them comfortably. And after my death, may they never be in poverty. When I am called to leave this earth, please watch over their bodies and souls with your care, mercy, and providence. May they never live prodigal lives or face violent or untimely deaths. May they glorify you with a free obedience, giving their whole lives to your service. When they have served you well and their lives are over, when they have been of benefit to the church and to society, may they be co-heirs with Jesus in the glories of your eternal kingdom. Through the same, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
A Prayer for Purity
O eternal Father, you sit in heaven possessing all glory and divine perfection. Father, fill my soul with such a deep sense of the excellence of spiritual and heavenly things that my desires may be drawn away from the pleasures of this world and the false allurements of sin. May I be able to live a life that is concerned with heaven and heavenly things. May my life be lived with great commitment, holy discipline, and self-control, and may my motives and my conscience remain clear. Lord, help me to remember that I am a pilgrim and a stranger here in this world. May I covet after and labor for that eternal city. In the end may I enter into and dwell forever in the celestial Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for Mercy
O eternal God, Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, please look down with much mercy upon the sadness and sorrow of your servant. My sins lie heavy upon me, and I am very weary in my soul. My problems are overwhelming me like a flood, and I am stuck in a deep mire of gloom. I find no comfort in my misery, and I know I am a sinner. I am evil and unworthy enough so that, although I have good intentions, I do not fulfill them in such a way that I deserve any comfort from you. My sins have caused me sorrow, but even though I am sorry for my sins, I am still unable to stop sinning. I call upon you for your own nameís sake, and because you are good, to pity me and relieve me, or else I will be without any comfort.
Lord, have mercy on me. Lord, let your grace refresh my spirit. Let your comforts support me, your mercy pardon me, and never let my portion be with those who have no hope. God, you are good and gracious, so I throw myself upon your mercy. May I never let my hold go, and do to me whatever seems good in your eyes. I realize that I will not suffer anything that I do not deserve, but I appeal to your mercy rather than what I deserve. Your mercy is infinite and can cover my misery. Your mercy is far greater than my sin. Dearest Jesus, let me trust in you forever, and never let me be lost. Amen.
A Prayer for Humility
Lord, I know that I am very feeble in your eyes. I am consistent in folly and inconsistent in holiness. My efforts are vain and weak. My life is displeasing to you. I am imperfect. My "wisdom" is foolishness. I do not even understand my own self or my own emotions and desires. What am I before you, O Lord, but a miserable person, owing a terrible debt which I am unable to pay?
Lord, I am nothing, and I have nothing of my own power. I am less than the least of all your mercies. What was I before birth? Nothing! What was I during my childhood? Weak and foolish! What was I in my youth? Foolish still, and full of passion, lust, and rebellion! What am I in my whole life? A great sinner, self-deceived! Lord, pity me. Considering my misery and shame, it is only by your goodness that I have avoided complete ruin.
Lord, what am I? By contrast, what are you? "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care far him?" (Psalm 8:4). How then can man be righteous before God? How can he who is born of woman be clean? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clean in your sight; how much less man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm! (Job 25:4-6).
O holy and most gracious Master and Savior Jesus, who by your perfect example and by your teachings did command us to be meek and humble in imitation of your incomparable sweetness and humility, be pleased to give me this grace, as you have given me the commandment. Enable me to do whatever you command, and command whatever you desire, Lord. Destroy in me all proud thoughts and vain opinions of myself. I acknowledge to you that any worthwhile fruit in me, any good thing in me, I am wholly in debt to you for it. I cannot boast for what I have received from you as a gift. Teach me to be ashamed and humbled for anything that is due to my own effort, since my life is so full of sin, misery, weakness, and uncleanness. In relation to my fellowman, may I strive to honor others while giving you the glory. May I never seek my own praise, and may I never become puffed up when praise is offered to me. Despising myself, may I be accepted by you. May I receive the honor with which you will crown your humble servants, for Jesusí sake, in the kingdom of eternal glory. Amen.
A Prayer Concerning Our Occupation
O eternal God, you are the fountain of justice, mercy, and blessings. Through my education and by other providential means you have called me to my profession (job, business, work), so that by my work I might, even though in a small way, contribute to the well being of society. I humbly beg your grace in guiding my motives and my actions. May I be diligent, just, and faithful. May my labor be accepted by you as a portion of my obligation to you as God. I pray for your blessing to assist me in my occupation that I might do well. May your Holy Spirit always be present with me. May I never give in to covetousness or selfishness, to lying or falsehood, or to any other improper conduct. Instead, give me prudence, honesty, and Christian sincerity, so that my occupation may be sanctified by my religion, and my labor by my intentions. When I have done my portion of work which you have willed for me to do, when I have improved the talents with which you have entrusted me, and when I have served the community to the best of my ability, may I be rewarded by you in proportion to the nobility of my calling, for I am called to serve the living God. May I be rewarded by sharing in the inheritance of my blessed Savior and Redeemer, Jesus. Amen.
A Prayer for the Love of Christ
O holy and purest Jesus, who was pleased to unite yourself with every holy soul in a holy union, fill my soul with devotion. May I have desires that are as holy as those of angels. May I have a love of you that is stronger than any human love. May I love you as much as any creature ever loved you, with all of my soul and every fiber of my being. Let me know no love except those of duty and charity, obedience and devotion. May I always run after you, the King of kings, with whom whole kingdoms are in love, and for whose sake queens have died, and at whose feet kings with joy have laid their crowns and scepters. My soul is yours, O dearest Jesus. You are my Lord. All of my affections are yours. Give me purity and humility, modesty and devotion, love and patience, and in the end bring me into the bridal chamber to partake of the happiness of lying at your bosom, you who are the Bridegroom of eternity, O holy and sweetest Savior Jesus. Amen.
Another Prayer of Repentance
O Almighty God, you are the judge of all the world, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the Father of men and angels. You do not love to see a sinner perish. You delight in our conversion and salvation, and you have, in our Lord Jesus Christ, established the opportunities of repentance. You have promised pardon to all who confess their sins and forsake them. O my God, be pleased to work in me what you have commanded should be in me. Lord, I am a dry tree who has not brought forth fruit for you or holiness. I have not truly wept tears of repentance over my sin. Instead, I have behaved as if I was unconcerned, even though my soul was in ruin. O God, you are my God, and I will seek you. My soul thirsts for you, as in a dry and weary land where no water is (Psalm 63:1). Lord, give me the grace of tears and a true sorrow for my sin. Let my heart be as a land with much water, and my head a fountain of tears. Turn my sin into repentance, and let my repentance lead to pardon and refreshment.
Support me with your grace and strengthen me with your Spirit. Soften my heart with the fire of your love and the dew of heaven. May I have a wise, sober, and careful attitude for the rest of my life. As a watchman in the night, may I live each day with caution, observing your will. May I be strong and determined, patient and committed. I remember, O Lord, that I did sin out of greed and passion. I sinned with excess and of my own free will. Let me be as consecrated in my repentance as I was in my sin and shame. Let my hatred of sin be as great as my love of you, and may both be as immeasurable as is possible for me.
O Lord, I renounce all affection for sin. I would rather die than to offend you or do anything against your laws. O dearest Savior, have pity upon me your servant. Let me truly know sorrow and repentance in this life for my sin. May I return to my normal activities of life pardoned of my sin. May I worship and partake of the Lordís Supper, remembering the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was from the beginning of the world slain for the sins of every sorrowful sinner who will return to you. Father, grant me sorrow for my sins now, but the joy of salvation and forgiveness afterward. Through Jesus Christ, who is our hope, the resurrection of the dead, the justifier of a sinner, and the glory of all faithful souls. Amen.
A Prayer for Oneís Mate
O eternal and gracious Father, who has consecrated the holy estate of marriage which represents the union of Christ and his church, let your Holy Spirit so guide me in fulfilling the obligations of matrimony that I may not be led into sin or away from you. May the rights and privileges of marriage, which were hallowed by the holy Jesus, never become an occasion of wrongdoing due to my weakness or sensuality. If I have conducted myself in any way that is unchristian, forgive me. Let me, in every way, be devoted in my duty towards you my God and may I be affectionate and dear to my wife (husband). May I be a guide and a good example to my family. In all quietness, soberness, cautiousness, and peace, may I be able to follow the godly example of holy pairs who have served you in the past. May the blessings of the eternal God be upon the body and soul of your servant my wife (husband). May your favor remain with her (him) until the end of a holy and happy life. Grant that both of us may live together forever in the embraces of the holy and eternal Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Another Prayer of Love for God and Christ
O God, you are my God. I will seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you (Psalm 63:1, 3). How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise (Psalm 84:1-2, 4).
O blessed Jesus, you are worthy of all adoration, and all honor, and all love. You are the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of your government and peace there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7). You reflect the glory of God. You bear the very stamp of his nature. You are the heir of all things. You uphold the universe by your word of power. You made purification for our sins. You sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. You are made better than the angels. You have by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they (Hebrews 1:2-4). You, O dearest Jesus, are the head of the church, the beginning and the first-born from the dead. In all things you have the pre-eminence, and in you all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:18). Kingdoms are in love with you. Kings lay their crowns and scepters at your feet. Queens are your handmaids and wash the feet of your servants. Through Jesus Christ unto the Father, I offer my praise. Amen.
A Prayer Before Communion
O most gracious and eternal God, the helper of the helpless, the comforter of the comfortless, the hope of the afflicted, the bread of the hungry, the drink of the thirsty, and the Savior of all those who wait on you, I bless and glorify your name, adore your goodness, and delight in your love. Once more you have given me the opportunity of receiving as great a favor as I can receive in this world, the privilege of partaking of the Lordís Supper. Take away from me any love for sin or the vanities of this world. May my love not dwell on this world, but soar upwards to your throne, to the regions of heavenly glory, and to the inheritance I have in Jesus. May I hunger and thirst for the bread of life and the fruit of the Vine, Jesus Christ my Lord. May I know no love except the love of God and the most merciful Jesus. Through my Lord and Savior. Amen.