Steve Macchia

Heartfelt Prayers: Beech Grove Benedictine Community

Praying

Vocation Prayer

O Lord,
     you know me.
You know when I sit
     and when I stand.
You have me always present
     in your mind.
For this, Lord, I thank you.
You know the path for my life
     and what is best for me.
Lord, reveal to me the path
     I am to walk.
Bless me and guide me
     and be Lord to me
so that whichever road I take
     I may do all for your glory.
     In Jesus’ name. Amen.

— “Vocation Prayer” from the Beech Grove Benedictine Community

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?        

Heartfelt Prayers: Thomas à Kempis

Praying

A Prayer of Thomas à Kempis

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,
to love what I ought to love,
to praise what delights thee most,
to value what is precious in thy sight,
to hate what is offensive to thee.
Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight
      of my eyes,
nor to pass sentence according to the hearing
      of the ears of ignorant men;
but to discern with a true judgment between things
      visible and spiritual,
and above all, always to inquire what is the good
      pleasure of thy will.

— Thomas à Kempis

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Heartfelt Prayers: St. Francis of Assisi

Praying

A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an
instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred,
let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood
as to understand;
to be loved
as to love;
for it is in giving
that we receive;
it is in pardoning
that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying
that we are born to Eternal Life.

— St. Francis of Assisi

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Heartfelt Prayers: John Baillie

Praying

A Prayer of John Baillie

O God, immortal, eternal, invisible, I remember with gladness and thanksgiving all that thou hast been to this world of men:

      Companion of the brave:
      Upholder of the loyal:
      Light of the wanderer:
      Joy of the pilgrim:
      Guide of the pioneer:
      Helper of labouring men:
      Refuge of the broken-hearted:
      Deliverer of the oppressed:
      Succour of the tempted:
      Strength of the victorious:
      Ruler of rulers:
      Friend of the poor:
      Rescuer of the perishing:
      Hope of the dying.

Give me faith now to believe that thou canst be all in all to me, according to my need, if only I renounce all proud self-dependence and put my trust in thee.

Forbid it, O Father, that the difficulty of living well should ever tempt me to fall into any kind of heedlessness or despair. May I keep it ever in mind that this human life was once divinely lived and this world once nobly overcome and this body of flesh, that now so sorely tries me, once made into thy perfect dwelling-place.

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

— From A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Heartfelt Prayers: Catherine Marshall

Praying

A Prayer of Catherine Marshall

I do need thee, Lord. I need thee now. I know that I can do without many of the things that once I thought were necessities, but without thee I cannot live, and I dare not die.

I needed thee when sorrow came, when shadows were thrown across the threshold of my life, and thou didst not fail me then. I needed thee when sickness laid a clammy hand upon my family, and I cried to thee, and thou didst hear. I needed thee when perplexity brought me to a parting of the ways, and I knew not how to turn. Thou didst not fail me then, but in many ways, big and little, didst indicate the better way. And though the sun is shining around me today, I know that I need thee even in the sunshine, and shall still need thee tomorrow.

I give thee my gratitude for that constant sense of need that keeps me close to thy side. Help me to keep my hand in thine and my ears open to the wisdom of thy voice.

Speak to me, that I may hear thee giving me courage for hard times and strength for difficult places; giving me determination for challenging tasks. I ask of thee no easy way, but just thy grace that is sufficient for every need, so that no matter how hard the way, how challenging the hour, how dark the sky, I may be enabled to overcome.

In thy strength, who hast overcome the world, I make this prayer. Amen.

— From the Prayers of Peter Marshall edited by Catherine Marshall

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Heartfelt Prayers: Hannah Whitall Smith

Praying

A Prayer of Hannah Whitall Smith

Lord Jesus, I believe that thou art able and willing to deliver me from all the care and unrest and bondage of my Christian life. I believe thou didst die to set me free, not only in the future, but now and here. I believe thou art stronger than sin, and that thou canst keep me, even me, in my extreme of weakness, from falling in its snares or yielding obedience to its commands. And Lord, I am going to trust thee to keep me. I have tried keeping myself, and have failed, and failed, most grievously. I am absolutely helpless. So now I will trust thee. I give myself to thee. I keep back no reserves. Body, soul and spirit, I present myself to thee as a piece of clay, to be fashioned into anything thy love and thy wisdom shall choose. And now I am thine. I believe thou dost accept that which is present to thee; I believe that this poor, weak, foolish heart has been taken possession of by thee, and that thou hast even at this very moment begun to work in me to will and to do of thy good pleasure. I trust thee utterly, and I trust thee now. Amen.

— From The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Heartfelt Prayers: St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Praying

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on the cross for my salvation.
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
His riding up the heav’nly way;
His coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet “Well done” in judgment hour;
The service of the seraphim:
Confessors’ faith, apostles’ word,
The patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heav’n,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

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 heav’nly host to be my guard.

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 that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation;
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Amen. 

— St. Patrick
 

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Heartfelt Prayers: Henri J. M. Nouwen

Praying

A Prayer of Henri J.M. Nouwen:

Listen, O Lord, to my prayers. Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house, and to let my whole being be filled with your presence. But none of this is possible without you. When you are not the one who fills me, I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns that divide me and tear me away from you. Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts, can be little more than distractions when you are not their author.

O Lord, thinking about you, being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions, being excited about histories of Christian spirituality and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation, all of this can be as much an expression of greed as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.

Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray, only you can set my heart at rest, only you can let me dwell in your presence. No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments become the way to you.

But Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative; let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour when you will come and break through all the walls I have erected. Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen.
 
— From A Cry for Mercy, by Henri J. M. Nouwen
 

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

Heartfelt Prayers: Prayer of Saint Benedict

Praying

Prayer of Saint Benedict:

Almighty God,
give us wisdom to perceive you,
intelligence to understand you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
vision to behold you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
a life to proclaim you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives with you and the Holy spirit,
one God now and for ever.
 
Lord, be with us to guide us,
within us to strengthen us,
without us to protect us,
above us to raise us,
beneath us to uphold us,
before us to lead us,
behind us to guard us,
ever about us,
this day and evermore;
this day and evermore.
 
Amen.
 

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer

Heartfelt Prayers: A Disciple’s Renewal

Praying

A Disciple’s Renewal:

O MY SAVIOUR,
                            help me.
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
                            my prayerless days,
                            my poverty of love,
                            my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience,
                            my wasted hours,
                            my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
            take the scales from my eyes,
            grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
                                              meditate on thee,
                                              gaze on thee,
                                              sit like Mary at thy feet,
                                              lean like John on thy breast,
                                              appeal like Peter to thy love,
                                              count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be

                            more decision in my character,
                            more vigor in my purposes,
                            more elevation in my life,
                            more fervour in my devotion,
                            more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world,
            keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature
            what can be found only in the creator;
Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou king of kings and lord of lords,
            that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

— From The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers

Reflection:

Behold — Where are the eyes of your heart drawn into this prayer?
Believe — How is your faith strengthened in this prayer?
Belong — Who are you recalling as you pray this prayer?
Become — What is God inviting you to receive and thereby become as you pray this prayer?

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