Various Prayers

A Prayer by Thomas Merton OCSO (Br Louis)

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

Thomas Merton, ‘Thoughts in Solitude’, Farrar Straus and Cudahy, 1958, p.83.

You may like to watch ‘Thomas Merton’s Prayer’ with James Finley’s commentary:

Short prayers in a busy world…

The following prayers, readings and meditations have been found helpful by Christians. Some of them were written thousands of years ago, yet they speak as meaningfully today as when they were first written. They express our feelings as we draw close to a God beyond time whose love never changes.

Seeking Peace

Come now, turn aside for a while from your daily employment, escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside your weighty cares, let your burdensome distractions wait, free yourself for a while for God and rest awhile in him. Enter the inner chamber of your soul, shut out everything except God and that which can help you in seeking him, and when you have shut the door, seek him. Now, my soul, say to God, ‘I seek your face; Lord it is your face that I seek.’ Amen.
Anselm (1033-1109)

Let the peace of this place surround you as you pray. Let the hurry and worry of life fall away from you. You are God’s child he loves you and cares for you. He is here with you now and always. Speak to him thoughtfully and allow him time to speak to you. Lord, thou knowest how busy I must be today. If I forget thee, do not Thou forget me Amen. Lord Astley at the Battle of Edgehill 

Prayers seeking God’s forgiveness 

A Prayer for forgiveness 

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast goodness; In your abundant mercy blot out my offences. Wash me thoroughly from my sin. For I acknowledge my rebelliousness, And my sin is always before me. Against you only have I sinned, And done what is evil in your eyes. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51 The Bible

Lord Jesus, you were called the friend of sinners, be my friend, for I acknowledge that I have sinned. Forgive the wrong that I have done and the right that I have failed to do; my secret and my more open sins; my sins of ignorance and my deliberate sins; sins to please myself and sins to please others; the sins which I remember, and the sins which I have forgotten; forgive all these, for it was for me also that you died. My Lord and Saviour. Amen. John Wesley (1703 – 1791)

Prayers of thanksgiving to God

I praise you O Lord for all that I see of you in the work of creation, the earth, the sea and sky and everything that has breath. You are worthy to be praised and I know that your promises are true that now I am only beginning to taste the glory that shall be revealed when you O God take power and reign. Lord God I am surrounded by blessings and my heart is full of thanksgiving for all that you have done for me. I know that I am not worthy to be called your child and yet I give you thanks that you love me and gave your only Son Jesus Christ who died for me. Lord God I thank you for all of your faithfulness to me and others who worship you in this place. I praise you that you are faithful good and true and that you hate nothing that you have made. For your love and kindness to me and to all your children I praise your name. Now may the offering of my life and the words of my mouth be acceptable acts of thanksgiving and praise to you. Lord Jesus Christ, fill me I pray with your light that I may reflect your wondrous glory

Prayers for Church Unity

Lord Jesus you prayed that your people would be one, forgive us Lord and take away the pride and arrogance which divides your church. Break down the walls which separate us; unite us with your bonds of love and accomplish your will. I pray that by the power of your Spirit your healing would work in the body of your church and through me, to bring about the purpose of your will

Prayers for when we are suffering or troubled

Lord, when I am feeling tired or strained, help me not to take it out on other people. Amen.

Father, make us more like Jesus. Help us to bear difficulty, pain, disappointment and sorrows, knowing that in your perfect working and design you can use such bitter experiences to shape our characters and make us more like our Lord. We look with hope for that day when we shall be wholly like Christ, because we shall see him as he is. Amen. 
St Ignatius, before his martyrdom in 107

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you 1 Peter 5:7 The Bible

What does the Lord require of you but to do justly To love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:2 The Bible

Hands who touched the leper, touch my wounded heart; 
Hands who healed the blind man, heal my aching soul; 
Hands who cured the lame, mend my disjointed life; 
Hands who embraced all life, enfold me in your peace. 
Lord, merely touch and heal, cure and forgive

This is my prayer to thee, my Lord; 
Give me strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows; 
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service; 
Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might. 
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles. 
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.  
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

God of goodness, give me yourself. For you are sufficient for me 
If I were to ask for anything less I should always be in want, 
for in you alone do I have all. Julian of Norwich (?1342 – after 1413)

O God, our true life, to know you is life, to serve you is perfect freedom, to enjoy you is a kingdom, to praise you is the joy and happiness of the soul. I praise and bless and adore you, I worship you, I glorify you. I give thanks to you for your great glory. I humbly beg you to live with me, to reign in me, to make this heart of mine a holy temple, a fit habitation for your divine majesty. 
St Augustine (354 -430)

Prayers about our relationship with God

Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labour and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do thy will, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. St. Ignatius (1491-1556)

Keep me O Lord, while I tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after you, and in an affectionate walking with you, every day of my life; that when you come, I may be found not hiding my talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with my lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for you. Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

O sweet Saviour Christ, in your undeserved love for us you were prepared to suffer the painful death of the cross: 
let me not be cold or even lukewarm in my love for you. 
Lord help me to face the truth about myself. Help me to hear my words as others hear them,

To see my face as others see me; Let me be honest enough to recognise my impatience and conceit; 
Let me recognise my anger and selfishness; 
Give me sufficient humility to accept my own weakness for what they are. 
Give me the grace – at least in your presence – to say. ‘I was wrong – forgive me.’ 
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, increase in us faith and truth and gentleness and grant us part and lot among the saints. St. Polycarp 69-115

Glorious God, give me grace to amend my life and to have an eye to mine end without grudge of death, which to them that die in thee, good Lord, is the fate of a wealthy life. Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope and a fervent charity, a love to thee incomparable above the love to myself. Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with thee, not for the avoiding of the calamities of this world, nor so much for the attaining of the joys of heaven, as for the very love of thee. Thomas More (1478 – 1535) (from a prayer written a few days before his execution.)

O God our God, grant us grace to desire you with a whole heart, so that desiring you we may seek and find you; and so finding you, may love you; and loving you may hate those sins which separate us from you, for the sake of Jesus Christ. St Anselm 1033-1109

The Lord’s Prayer – a Meditation

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses 
As we forgive them who trespass against us. 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, 
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, 
For ever and ever. Amen 
Jesus – The Bible

Lord help me to recognise that.. The measure of a man is not determined by his show of outward strength, Or the volume of his voice, or the thunder of his action. It is to be seen, rather, in terms of the strength of his commitments, The genuineness of his friendships, the sincerity of his purpose, The quiet courage of his convictions, His capacity to suffer, and his willingness to continue ‘growing up’. Grady Poulard

I ask Lord for daily bread, but not for wealth, lest I forget the poor 
I ask for strength, but not for power, lest I despise the meek 
I ask for wisdom, but not for learning, lest I condemn the simple 
I ask for a clean name, but not for fame, lest I condemn the lowly. 
I ask for peace of mind, but not for idle hours, lest I fail to hearken to the call of duty. Inazo Nitobe

O Lord give me the sincerity to accept the things I cannot change The courage to change the things I can And the wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

O God who art the light of the minds that know thee, The life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee; Help us to know thee that we may truly love thee; so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Gelasian Sacramentary

Prayers for those who mourn

Jesus said ‘Come unto me all that are heavy laden and I will give you rest’

Lord Jesus help me as I mourn, comfort me with the knowledge of your love which is stronger than death. Enable me to trust you for the future of my loved ones and myself. Help me to cast all of my care on you, knowing that the grave holds no power over those who trust in you.

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them. Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Lord I know that, however fearful I may be, Nothing can separate me from your love: Neither death, nor life, Angels, nor principalities, things present, nor things to come, Evil powers, heights, depths, Nor anything else in all creation – nothing at all. Based on Romans 8:31-9 The Bible

I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’ May that almighty hand guide and uphold us all. Minnie Haskins (1875-1957)

Lord my body and soul are in pain at the loss which I feel. I have lost a dear friend and I feel desperate and alone. Give me the courage to know that there can be no better place for any one of us than to be beyond death, in the everlasting arms of the God who made us.

The souls of the just are in the hands of God, and no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they appear to be dead; their departure was reckoned as defeat, and their going from us as disaster. But they are at peace, for though in the sight of men they may be punished, they have a sure hope of immortality. Wisdom of Solomon

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23 The Bible

Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which to look at Christ’s compassion to the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.  St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

May the love of the Lord Jesus draw you to himself, 
May the power of the Lord Jesus strengthen you in his service, 
May the joy of the Lord Jesus fill your soul, 
May the blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit 
be with you and remain with you and those you love this day and evermore. Amen

Prayer – Meditation 

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The Scriptures say “Love is patient.” 
God, how can I be patient when I experience injustice? 
God, teach me to patient without being silent or inactive. 

The Scriptures say “Love is kind.” 
God, how can I be kind as I confront what is evil?” 
God, teach me to love my enemy. 

The Scriptures say “Love is not jealous.” 
God, how can I not be jealous 
of those who have so much wealth or power or control? 
God, teach me to keep my values straight. 

The Scriptures say “Love is not pompous.” 
God, how can I not be pompous when I am speaking truth 
to those who seem so wrong? 
God, teach me to know how to both speak and listen. 

The Scriptures say “Love is not inflated.” 
God, how can I not be inflated with righteousness in the cause of justice? 
God, teach me to know my limits, that I make mistakes 
and that I don’t always see clearly. 

The Scriptures say “Love is not rude.” 
God, how can I be gracious but also committed to what is right? 
God, teach me to respect all my sisters and brothers. 

The Scriptures say “Love does not seek its own interests.” 
God, how can I move beyond my own limits and desires and needs? 
God, teach me to understand the needs and perspectives of others, especially the poor. 

The Scriptures say “Love is not quick-tempered.” 
God, how can I learn from my anger? 
God, teach me to learn from my strongest emotions. 

The Scriptures say “Love does not brood over injury.” 
God, how can I not get discouraged by all the hurts and injuries in our world? 
God, teach me to move forward and get into action for what is right. 

The Scriptures say “Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing 
but rejoices with the truth.” 
God, how can I stop thinking of what helps my side to win 
and the other side to lose? 
God, teach me to practice a love that wants the truth to win for all people. 

The Scriptures say “Love bears all things.” 
God, how can I bear the stress of trying so hard to do what is right? 
God, teach me to let go and to trust in your wisdom. 

The Scriptures say “Love believes all things, 
hopes all things, endures all things.” 
God, how can I possibly love? 
God, teach me that I don’t love alone, 
But rather in community with you and with all my sisters and brothers. 

The Scriptures say “love never fails.” 
God, how is it that I sometimes feel failure? How can I believe? 
God, teach me to love with a heart as big as the world 
And to receive love and help with a big a heart. 

Prayers of entrusting and commending

Eternal light, shine into our hearts, 
Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil, 
Eternal Power, be our support, 
Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance, 
Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us; 
that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength 
we may seek thy face 
and be brought by thy infinite mercy to thy holy presence; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  Alcuin of York (735-804)

Into thy hands, O Father and Lord, 
we commend our souls and bodies, 
our parents and our homes, friends, neighbours and kindred, 
our benefactors and brethren departed, 
all folk rightly believing 
and all who need thy pity and protection. 
Light us with thy holy grace 
and suffer us never to be separated from thee, 
O Lord in Trinity, God everlasting.
  St. Edmund of Abingdon (1170-1240)

Prayers of trusting and self-offering
I bind unto myself today 
The power of God to hold and lead, 
His eye to watch, his might to stay, 
His ear to hearken to my need. 
The wisdom of my God to teach, 
His hand to guide, his shield to ward; 
The word of God to give me speech, 
His heavenly host to be my guard.
  from St Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ be with me, Christ within me, 
Christ behind me, Christ before me, 
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, 
Christ to comfort and restore me. 
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, 
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, 
Christ in hearts of all who love me, 
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
  from St Patrick’s Breastplate

Alone with none but thee, my God 
I journey on my way. 
What need I fear, when thou art near 
O king of night and day? 
More safe am I within thy hand 
Than if an host didst round me stand.
  St Columba (c.521-597)

Well-known prayers

Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, 
for all the benefits which thou hast won for us, 
for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for us. 
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, 
may I know thee more clearly, 
love thee more dearly 
and follow thee more nearly 
day by day.
  attributed to St Richard of Chichester (1253)

O Lord our heavenly Father, 
almighty and everlasting God, 
who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day; 
defend us in the same with thy mighty power; 
and grant that this day we fall into no sin, 
neither run into any kind of danger, 
but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, 
to do always that is righteous in thy sight; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  The Third Collect at Morning Prayer – The Book of Common Prayer

Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening 
into the house and gate of heaven, 
to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, 
where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; 
no noise nor silence, but one equal music; 
no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; 
no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity; 
in the habitations of thy glory and dominion, 
world without end.
  after John Donne (1571-1631)

Grant, Lord, that we may live in your fear, 
die in your favour, rest in your peace, 
rise in your power and reign in your glory; 
for your own beloved Son’s sake, 
Jesus Christ our Lord.
  William Laud (1573-1645)

Remember, O Lord, what thou hast wrought in us 
and not what we deserve; 
and as thou hast called us to thy service, 
make us worthy of our calling; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  The Prayer Book as proposed in 1928

Dialogued Prayer on the Beatitudes

Based on Matthew’s version, Mt. 5:1-12

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” 
Keep us from being preoccupied with money and worldly goods, and with trying to increase them at the expense of justice. 

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” 
Help us not to be ruthless with one another, and to eliminate the discord and violence that exists in the world around us. 

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” 
Let us not be impatient under our own burdens and unconcerned about the burdens of others. 

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled.” 
Make us thirst for you, the fountain of all holiness, and actively spread your influence in our private lives and in society. 

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” 
Grant that we may be quick to forgive and slow to condemn. 

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.” 
Free us from our senses and our evil desires, and help us to fix our eyes on you. 

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” 
Aid us to make peace in our families, in our country, and in the world. 

Lord Jesus, you said, 
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, 
for the kingdom of heaven in theirs.” 
Make us willing to suffer for the sake of right rather than to practice injustice; and do not let us discriminate against our neighbours and oppress and persecute them. AMEN

A Prayer for Vocations to the Religious Life

Lord Jesus Christ, in your great love you draw all people to yourself: and in your wisdom you call us to your service. We pray at this time you will kindle in the hearts of men and women the desire to follow you in the Religious Life. Give to those whom you call, grace to accept their vocation readily and thankfully to make the whole-hearted surrender which you ask of them. And for the love of you, to persevere to the end. This we ask in your name. Amen.