November 2009 - Vol. 34

The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer

Christian Prayers Ancient and New

III. A selection from the late 5th through 9th centuries

Prayer of the heart 
an ancient prayer, sometimes called the Jesus Prayer, taught by Diadochos of Photiki (400-486?)
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Prayer for pardon and protection
prayer attributed to the desert fathers of the East, 5th-6th centuries
Lord Jesus Christ, whose will all things obey: pardon what I have done and grant that I, a sinner, may sin no more. Lord, I believe that though I do not deserve it, you can cleanse me from all my sins. Lord, I know that man looks upon the face, but you see the heart. Send your spirit into my inmost being, to take possession of my soul and body. Without you I cannot be saved; with you to protect me, I long for your salvation. And now I ask you for your salvation. And now I ask you for wisdom, deign of your great goodness to help and defend me. Guide my heart, almighty God, that I may remember your presence day and night. Amen.

Prayer of St. Patrick 
by Patrick (387-493), apostle of Ireland
Christ be beside me,
Christ be before me,
Christ be behind me,
King of my heart.

Christ be within me,
Christ be below me,
Christ be above me,
never to part.

Christ on my right hand,
Christ on my left hand,
Christ all around me,
shield in the strife.

Christ in my sleeping,
Christ in my sitting,
Christ in my rising,
light of my life.

Christ be in all hearts thinking about me;
Christ be on all tongues telling of me;
Christ be the vision in eyes that see me;
in ears that hear me, Christ ever be.


Hope and glory in the Triune God
Byzantine Horologion Troparion at Nocturns, 6th century
Thy Father is my trust, the Son is my refuge, the Holy Spirit is my protection. O holy Trinity, glory to Thee.

Alone with God
by Columba (521-597), founder of churches and monasteries in Ireland and Scotland
Alone with none but you, my God,
I journey on my way.
What need I fear, when you are near O king of night and day?
More safe am I within your hand
Than if a host did round me stand.

Speaking with God from the depths of the heart
prayer 82 from the Armenian Prayer Book by Gregory of Narek (951-1003), monk from the Monastery of Narek
Lord God, doer of good, generous king,
refuge of life, form of light,
spacious place of repose,
who for the sake of sinners like me
came, took the form of man
accomplishing things beyond telling
and performed miracles,
even perfecting our humanity
with the fullness of your divinity.

Now for the holy apostles,
whom you ordained with your heavenly hand,
and anointed by your Holy Spirit,
whose deserving praises I have sung
as much as I could
for your glory, Lord of all, in another work.
Have mercy upon me in the memory of your chosen.

IV. A selection from the 2nd Millenium period

Make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge
prayer by Anselm, (1033-1109), archbishop of Canterbury and renowned theologian
Lord, because you have made me, I owe you the whole of my love; because you have redeemed me, I owe you the whole of myself; because you have promised so much, I owe you all my being.  Moreover, I owe you as much more love than myself as you are greater than I, for whom you gave yourself and to whom you promised yourself.  I pray you, Lord, make me taste by love what I taste by knowledge; let me know by love what I know by understanding.  I owe you more than my whole self, but I have no more, and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you.  Draw me to you, Lord, in the fullness of love.  I am wholly yours by creation; make me all yours, too, in love.

The Canticle of Brother Sun 
by Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), preacher and founder of the Fransciscans
Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor
And all blessing. 

To you alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy
To pronounce your name. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made, 
And first my lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day; and light you give to us   through him. 

How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you have made them, bright
And precious and fair. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather's moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So useful, lowly, precious, and pure. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful he is, how gayl Full of power and strength. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits and colored flowers and herbs. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
For love of you; through those who endure
Sickness and trial. 

Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those She finds doing your will!
The second death can do no harm to them. 

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.


Prayer for humble reliance upon God
by Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471), a German born monk who lived in Holland, author of the Imitation of Christ
Lord, if you withdraw your hand, there is no grace. If you cease to guide us, we have no wisdom. If you no longer defend us, we have no courage. If you do not strengthen us, our chastity is vulnerable. If you do not keep a holy watch over us, our watchfulness cannot protect us. By ourselves we sink, we perish; when you are with us, we are uplifted, we live. We are shaky, you make us firm.  We are lukewarm, you inflame us.

Prayer for God's mercy
by Martin Luther (1483-1546), German theologian and scripture scholar, and founder of Lutheranism
Out of the depths we cry to thee.
Lord, hear us, we implore thee.
Bend down thy gracious ear to us.
Let our prayer come before thee!
On our misdeeds in mercy look.
O deign to blot them from thy book,
And let us come before thee. 

So let thy people hope in thee,
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous. 

Thy sov'reign grace and boundless love
Show thee, O lord forgiving.
Our purest thoughts and deeds but prove
Sin in our heart is living.
None guiltless in thy sight appear.
All who approach thy throne must fear,
And humbly trust thy mercy. 

So let thy people hope in thee,
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous. 

Thou canst be merciful while just.
This is our hope's foundation.
In thy redeeming grace we trust.
O grant us thy salvation.
Upheld by thee we stand secure.
Thy word is firm, thy promise sure,
And we rely upon thee. 

So let thy people hope in thee,
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous. 

Like those who watch for midnight's hour
To hail the dawning morrow,
We wait for thee, we trust thy pow'r,
Unmoved by doubt or sorrow.
So let thy people hope in thee, 
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous. 

So let thy people hope in thee,
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous. 

Prayer for generosity
by Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), church reformer from Spain and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
O my God, teach me to be generous: 
to serve you as you deserve to be served; 
to give without counting the cost; 
to fight without fear of being wounded; 
to work without seeking rest; 
and to spend myself without expecting any reward, 
but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will. 

Prayer for soldiers of Christ
by Theresa of Avila (1515-1582), a Spanish mystic and reformer of the Carmelite Order 
You who are soldiers under Christ's standard, 
    sleep not, sleep not, for there is no peace on earth.
Christ himself dies gloriously like a brave captain.
    Let us follow him, for we are guilty of his death.

What good fortune to fight in this conflict!
    Sleep not, sleep not!
God will have no coward among you.
    We risk life; for he will best preserve his life,
    Who best loses it.

Christ is our commander and the reward for this conflict.
    Sleep not, sleep not, for there is no peace on earth. 

A bitter-sweet prayer
poem by George Herbert (1593-1633), Welsh poet, orator, and Anglican priest
Ah, my dear angry Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve;
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament and love.

Prayer in suffering
poem by Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), French religious philosopher
Grant, O Lord, that I may join myself to your will; that though I am sick, I may glorify you in my sickness. Without suffering, I cannot enter into glory; nor did you, my redeemer, attain glory without suffering.

And, since nothing is pleasing to God the Father unless it is offered through you, I unite my will with yours, my pain with the pain you suffered. Let my suffering become your suffering; unite me with yourself, fill me with your grace, and with your Holy Spirit.

Enter into my heart, into my soul, into my suffering. Even though I have had so small a share in your suffering, fill me entirely with the glory which you have won. Finally, let me enter into the glory in which you live with the Father and the Holy Spirit for all eternity.

Covenant prayer
by John Wesley (1703-1791), an Anglican minister who founded the Methodist movement in England
I am no longer my own but yours. 
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will,
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you.
Exalted for you or brought low by you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
Let this covenant made on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Prayer for holiness
by John Henry Newman (1801-1890), a leader of the Oxford Movement, writer, established Birmingham Oratory
Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may be only a radiance of yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every person I come in contact with may feel your Presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.

Prayer for humility
by William Barclay (1907-1978), Church of Scotland minister, Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow
O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for thy name’s sake. 

Prayer for Christ's light to shine through us
by Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), foundress of the Missionaries of Charity
Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go. 
Flood our souls with your spirit and life. 
Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly, 
That our lives may only be a radiance of yours. 
Shine through us, and be so in us, 
That every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul. 
Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus! 
Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as you shine; 
So to shine as to be a light to others. 
The light O Jesus will be all from you, none of it will be ours; 
It will be you, shining on others through us. 
Let us thus praise you without preaching, not by words but by our example, 
By the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, 
The evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you.  Amen.

> 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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