Category Archives: Prayers

Prayer for Healing in Depression



Holy One,

I offer you my sadness and lethargy,

the gray pain of a dull body averse to song,

affronted by color and flesh.

Like this, without feeling a thing,

I am yours.

Take my life and hold it in your hand

as one holds a small bird fallen from a nest,

wounded by wind;

and in your kindness, restore me

to the heaven of your abiding presence.

Awaken me again to the beauty of earth

and to thankfulness for my life upon it.

I ask through Christ, my Lord.


A Pastoral Prayer for A Cold Sunday in Advent

Let us pray…

God, have pity on our world

this cold and bitter day.

Remember all your creatures who need

a little warmth to make it through—

squirrels and possum and birds,

feral cats, old cars with dying batteries,

feet and hands scraping ice and shoveling snow,

the street folks who won’t or can’t come in.

Remember us too, holy One;

shelter us from winds of chance and change

that leave us blistered and raw.

Welcome us to the hearth of your care,

blanket us with mercy.

Enliven us with your kindness;

make us a church where the world takes heart,

the poor are seen and known and loved,

the sick are soothed and healed,

and people without homes can always find one.

Pour into our hearts this unceasing prayer:

that prophets of justice will be heard and heeded;

servants of the poor will be rewarded and vindicated;

healers and comforters will be blessed and blessed again;

and that God’s church will not be silent,

that we will never b e ashamed of the gospel,

that we will tell our children,

that we will picket and pray,

serve and praise, sing and do.

We pray for discernment and restraint

in our spending and giving this Christmas,

for the return of the holy to the center of our lives,

for the mystery of life to lodge in us anew,

and for God’s love to be, more than ever,

the best joy of our longing hearts.

We ask you to look with comforting relief

on everyone who finds this season hard and sad.

Renew hope in all hard-pressed, grieving,

discouraged, or despairing souls.

We pray too for people we love,

for people we worry about,

for sick and troubled members of this church,

for all our daily ministries,

for our enemies, although it is so hard;

and for all who have no one to pray for them.

Hear us, we ask you, in Jesus’ name;

for we are the kin of your child,

and he is the one who taught us

to be confident and pray:

Our Father…

Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Advent God,

you are always coming to us

To open our hearts,

To heal our lives,

To refresh our spirits,

And to make a glad way

Through valleys of sorrow.

You are always coming to us,

The delight and desire of your heart.

Allow us now to come to you

To savor your presence,

To know your safety,

To enjoy your love,

To receive your blessing,

And to say our prayer

That your kingdom come,

And your will be done on earth

As in heaven.

Receive us today at your refiner’s fire,

In its light, all hearts are open

And nothing is hidden from you.

Purify in its flames

our desires and our deeds.

Teach us not be afraid of your judgment,

For your judgment is mercy,

And your mercy never ends.

We give you thanks for all the signs

of the coming of your New Age

even in our own day:

every chain that is broken,

every belly that is filled,

every gun that is laid down,

every gulf that is bridged,

every beauty that is created,

every promise that is made and kept,

and every candle lit in hope

against the night.

You are always coming to us,

And so we come to you,

And ask you to bless and heal

All in our company who are sick and troubled,

All who struggle with the ordinary things of life,

And all who are searching for the joy you promise.

Give to us all a good word to say

About who you are and what you desire,

A testimony that rings true

In a world exhausted with empty words.

Make us bold to share with the neighbors we serve

The joy you are for us

And the mercy you have offered us

Through Jesus Christ, our brother and friend,

In whose name we pray:  Our Father….

ADVENT 2A Confession Prayer



God of the root and the trunk,

Lord of the young shoot and the green branch,

we cannot break our own hard shells.

We are buried too deep to be softened by rain.

We do not imagine the light above ground. 

We do not dream of fresh things;

we sigh and fret about the old.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of Advent.

Give us what we need to crack open with hope.


God of the holy mountain,

Lord of the house where righteousness dwells,

we are not like you who knows the heart,

who sees inside.

We judge by what our eyes see and our ears hear.

We do not consider the poor, nor decide for the meek.

We do not know who you are.

We do not inquire after you.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of Advent.

Give us what we need to be wise.


Lord of the lion, the wolf and the lamb,

God of the leopard, the kid, and the nursing child,

we cannot lie down together in peace.

We tread carefully near the serpent’s hole.

We are afraid of everyone.

We make them afraid of us.

We watch for each other with swords in our hands.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of Advent.

Give us what we need to make peace.


God of the threshing floor, the fork and the fire,

Lord of wild honey, of locusts and wild places,

God of the axe and the crowd, 

we do not line up at the river.

We do not wade in.

We do not bend our knee.

We untie no one’s sandal.

We are a crooked road, a stony path, a haughty crowd.

We level no mountains,

 raise no valleys.

We are unprepared.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of Advent.

Give us what we need to get ready.

Give what we need to begin.


God of Mary, whom you disturbed,

God of her life upturned,

God of the fruit of her womb, Jesus,

who mothered our lives with his mercy,

we are not startled by angels;

we guard against interruptions.

We do not turn and turn again the prism of our hearts,

pondering the whys.

We do not open our hands: we expect so little.

You say, I am coming.

Change your hearts. Turn around.

We say, Help us, O God,

to bear the fruits of repentance.

Give us what we need to desire.

Give us what we need to dare.


God of the One who comes again,

who is always coming,

who is coming soon,

help us to watch for his coming,

help us to know when he’s near,

help us to pray in his spirit,

help us to pray as he taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven…

Blessing and Sending

May the God of all hope

who sends justice down like rain

and summons joy from the depths of the heart;

who keeps promises

and satisfies the desire of every living thing,

be for you courage and grace,

anchor and horizon,

this day and forevermore.




Go in peace, to wait and watch, to serve and work.

Go in peace, to dream and hope, to reach and desire.

Go in peace to sing Good News to all the weary world.


Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness


A reasonable caution about the potential for infection in church is not to be mocked, but now that the use of hand sanitizers has become a quasi-sacramental rite in many congregations, the ancient sign of peace is omitted for fear of passing more than peace, and some people refuse to take communion from the hand of another (not to mention from a common cup or even by intinction), my inner mocker can no longer be constrained. People, people, really! Germs are not the enemy, antiseptic obsession is! (See The New York Times Magazine, May 19, 2013, “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs.”) Sigh. Knowing that I will convince no one who is otherwise persuaded on this matter, I share with you a Blessing and a Communion Prayer that you may freely make use of to ensure a sanitary worship experience for your congregations (originally written for a community service at Andover Newton during flu season).


Blessing of the Holy Hand Sanitizers

 Holy One,

Thou art godliness indeed,

and cleanliness is next to Thee.

To Thee the ancient psalmist prayed

Wash me, Lord!

Sprinkle me with hyssop,

and I shall be cleansed of every stain.

We too come to Thee,

confident in Thy promise

to create in us pure hearts,

to keep us squeaky clean,

and to free us

from all who seek to do us harm,

bad microbes great and small.

Bless then, O Antiseptic One,

this your servant, Purell,

fruit of the Dow Chemical Company

and gift of germophobe deacons

whose concern for us

is second only to your own

and even more irrational.

As we share its sanitizing power,

grant that we may be

not only a clean people,

but also a more cautious people,

more vigilant,

more on guard against germs,

and the contamination of bodies,

more afraid of the Other

and of one another,

now and forever. Amen.



Communion Prayer, with Words of Institution

O God, dear Lord,

Jesus is Thy gift to us,

and we thank Thee for him

with all our hearts.

He said a lot of nice things about Thee,

and he told some terrific stories

about soft lambs and small children.

We like soft lambs and small children.

We are, however, a little disappointed in him.

Well, very disappointed,

if Thou must know the truth.

 We know it was not his fault

that when he was born

his parents showed poor judgment

by allowing dirty cows to breathe on him

and dirty shepherds to kiss him.

But when he grew up and became an adult,

he made some poor choices of his own.

 He was not careful about whom he ate with.

He did not wash his hands

or make anyone else wash theirs.

And he even put bread

in the smelly hand of his own betrayer.

What was that about?

That night before he died?

When he took bread and thanked Thee

and called the bread his body?

We do not like to talk about bodies

or acknowledge in church that we have one—

for bodies are kind of icky

when you get right down to it.

(By the way, did you notice?

He handled that bread,

without tongs or gloves.)

 And what was that about,

when he took the cup and called it his blood—

which is a yucky thing to say under any circumstances—

and had them drink it,

from the same cup,

without a napkin?

(He even said,

Do this in memory of me!

And so we were stuck with it.)

Anyway, dear Lord,

we want Thee to know,

as we gather around this table,

leaving ample personal space,

that we don’t hold it against him;

but, no offense and with all due respect,

we really couldn’t let it go.

Thou wouldst not expect us to,

wouldst Thou?

No, of course not;

so we have taken care of it.

We have corrected his deficiencies.

We have tightened up.

We wash our hands.

And just to be doubly sure

that no one worries about germs,

distracting them from the pure worship of Thee,

we have decided that it isn’t really food we’re sharing

but a holy token

that vaguely reminds us of food

come down out of a gleaming stainless steel kitchen

in heaven from you.

And we barely touch it,

let alone slurp or chew.

It will do Thy heart good, we are sure,

that as meals go,

this one is teensy,

and it does not often make us glad.

And we offer it only to our own,

to those we have vetted,

who are wearing ties,

who never clear their throats,

who have showered,

and who manage to look good in the artificial light

of most of our sanctuaries.

For this satisfying solution,

and for all your blessings,

we who stand before you

with clean hands and antiseptic hearts,

offer thanks and praise to Thee,

to whose godliness our cleanliness is next,

now and forever. Amen.


Prayer of Praise C3 Easter [John 21:1-19]


–Miniature from Ludolf of Saxony’s Vita Christi attributed to Jacques de Besançon, 15 c.

We go fishing without you,

angling for hope

in the deep lake of dismay,

but we

who know so much about fishing

catch nothing.

Then you come,

indistinct at first light,

and hail our hearts

across the morning lake.

You name our ineffectual striving.

At your command,

we let down useless nets again.

Our hearts know what’s next.

This time they come up tensing

with riches from the sea,

while on the shore you wait,

tending mercy’s fire,

preparing to speak of love.

Praise, honor and glory to you,

O Living Christ,

now and forever!


Prayer for Lent IV Luke 15:1-32]


Light a lamp to find me,

housekeeper, wife of hope.

Sweep the corners,

peer under beds;

for I have been mislaid,

I’ve rolled away,

and I am worth a fortune.


Brave the wolf to find me,

head counter, minder of lambs.

Beat the bushes,

shout down canyons;

for I am easy prey

out here alone,

and I am worth a flock.


Watch at your window,

maker of our homeward way.

Kiss my photo,

cross off the days;

for I remember you,

sick in my sty,

and I am worth the wait.

Image: Retour de l’Enfant Prodigue, by Michel Ciry

Prayer of Praise Lent III


O Gardener of Life,

your mercy is steadfast, sure.

With care you plant us.

You turn the earth around us

and water our roots with love.

Even when we bear no fruit,

year after struggling year,

you are patient.

Your hope for us leafs out and flowers.

From the sweet fruits of your labor

you make a feast—

a banquet for all the famished,

free and fine.

At the table we tell the story:

God alone is good!

Together we sing your praise:

Honor and glory, gladness and thanks,

now and forever. Amen.


A Communion Liturgy for Lent



Dear friends, we are going to Jerusalem with Jesus.

He is our pardon, our healing, and our peace!

We will suffer the trial with him, resisting evil.

With him, we will walk the path to life.

But come first to the table where there is food for the journey.

With hearts full of joy we come,

giving thanks to God, our maker,

and offering our praise!


We are right to praise you, faithful God!

You answer sin with grace;

you guide our wayward steps toward home.

You are mending for the broken,

safety for the poor, belonging for the outcast,

strength for the weak, and pardon for the sinner.

You reveal your kindness in every sorrow,

your mercy even in death.

All your creatures see your works;

they sing your steadfast love.

We too declare your wonder and grace

as with angels and saints we sing:

*Holy, holy, holy…

Remembering and Giving Thanks

Now, O God, we remember Jesus.


He fasted and prayed; he was tempted and tried.

He relied on you for everything.

He was obedient to you and scorned by the powers of this world.

He confounded the haughty and gave hope to the humble.

He was betrayed and deserted. He died between thieves and was buried in a borrowed grave.

You gave him new life. He lives even now, our healer and friend.

He loved us well, loved us to the end, and loves us still.

Even on the night of betrayal, he ate supper with his friends.

Words of Institution…

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, come! Make all things new.

Bless this bread which you have given

and human hands have made.

Let it become for us the bread of life.

Bless also this cup, fruit of the vine

and work of human hands.

Let it become for us the cup of salvation.

Bless us also who eat and drink,

that in this sharing we may know the living Christ

who is with us now, and to the end of the age.

Nourish us by these gifts to be willing servants of your world

until the new age [or, kingdom] comes, and every creature beholds it.

We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught us to say:

Our Father….

Breaking Bread

Sharing Bread and Cup…


Let us give thanks!

Thank you, merciful God,

for gladness in this bread and cup,

for love that cannot die,

for peace the world cannot give,

for joy in the company of friends,

for the splendors of creation,

and for the mission of justice

you have made our own.

Give us the gifts of this holy communion —

oneness of heart, love for neighbors,

forgiveness of enemies,

the will to serve you every day,

and life that never ends.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Praise Lent I

The Third Temptation by William Blake

–The Third Temptation of Christ, William Blake

You call us to the desert to sojourn for a while

with wild creatures, to leave the land of markers;

but your eye does not close, you know where we are.

In restive night, you are near.

In dreams disturbed by demons, you are near.

In the heart’s decisive turning, through testing, you abide.

And when it is over (until another time), the angels come from you,

oil in their flasks, food in their baskets, bandages in hand.

Then let the fast begin, this journey alone and never alone.

Let it begin, this time of refusal, this time of embrace;

this winnowing of wheat, this clearing of the eye.

And all the while, let grateful praise arise

from breadstone and pinnacle, city and treasure,

companion beasts and ministering angels—

even from tempters who play their part.

Throughout these forty days, your praise be sung,

and in the endless age to come. Amen.