November 2009 - Vol. 34

The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer

Christian Prayers Ancient and New

from the New Testament and early church sources

I. A selection from the New Testament writings

Mary's Canticle
(from the Gospel of Luke 1:46-55)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

Honor to the King of Kings
(from Paul the Apostle's First Letter to Timothy 6:15-16)
God the blessed and only sovereign, King of Kings and Lord of lords, dwells in majesty immortal and in light unapproachable. Him no eye has seen, and no one can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion, honor and dominion forever! Amen! (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

Petition to the God of peace
(from the Letter to the Hebrews 13:20-21)
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Praise to the King of the ages
(from the Book of Revelations 15:3-4)
Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! 
Just and true are your ways, O King of the ages!
Who shall not fear and glorify your name, O Lord?
All nations shall come and worship you, for your judgments have been revealed. (Revelations 15:3-4)

II. A selection from early church sources

Prayer for Christian unity
from the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache), an early church manual written around 90 AD 
Think of your church, O Lord. Free it from all evil and perfect it in your love. Assemble it from the four winds and having sanctified it, lead it to the kingdom which you have prepared for it. For yours is the power and the glory for all eternity.

Prayer for unity in the bond of peace and love
Liturgy of St Mark, used in Alexandria, dating from the 2nd century
O Soverign and almighty Lord, bless all your people, and all your flock. Give your peace, your help, your love to us your servants, the sheep of  your fold, that we may be united in the bond of peace and love, one body and one spirit, in one hope of our calling, in your divine and boundless love.

Prayer to gaze on God in the Spirit
by Origen of Alexandria, (185-254), bible scholar and theologian
May the Lord Jesus put his hands on our eyes also, for then we too shall begin to look not at what is seen but at what is not seen. May he open the eyes that are concerned not with the present but with what is yet to come, may he unseal the heart’s vision, that we may gaze on God in the Spirit, through the same Lord, Jesus Christ, whose glory and power will endure throughout the unending succession of ages.

Prayer for the grace of repentance 
by Ephraim the Syrian (306-373), prolific writer of biblical commentaries, homilies, and hymns
Lord and Master of my life, deliver me from the spirit of laziness, meddling, ambition and gossip. Give me, your servant, the spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love. Lord and King, grant that I may see my sins and faults and not judge my brother, for you are blessed forever and ever. Amen. 

Prayer to follow God's Word
by Jerome, (342 - 420), bible scholar and translator, educated at Rome, settled in Bethlehem
Lord, you have given us your Word for a light to shine upon our path;
grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching,
that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer for understanding
by John Chrysostom, (347 - 407), great preacher and partriarch of Constantinople
O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart, that I may hear your word and understand and do your will, for I am a sojourner upon the earth. Hide not your commandments from me, but open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of your law. Speak to me the hidden and secret things of your wisdom. On you do I set my hope, O my God, that you shall enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of your knowledge, not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them; that in reading the lives and sayings of the saints I may not sin, but that such may serve for my restoration, enlightenment and sanctification, for the salvation of my soul, and the inheritance of life everlasting. For you are the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from you comes every good deed and every gift. Amen.

Prayer on finding God after a long search
by Augustine (354-430), great teacher of biblical theology and bishop of Hippo, North Africa 
Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you!  You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you – the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.

> Go to Next Section: late 5th through 9th centuries

> Introduction to Christian Prayers Ancient and New
> Prayers from the New Testament and early church sources
> Prayers from late 5th through 9th centuries
> Prayers from the 2nd Millenium period

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