A Good Prayer


Empire Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI 

Let it not be, O God, that praise should rise to you from all places of your dominion while we hold our peace.  Charge our being with the currents of gratitude, that whatever be our momentary mood or fortune, we may find cause to bless your name.

We thank you for patience that helps us bridge desire and fulfillment; for unwise prayers that went unanswered, sparing us heavy pain; for the unwelcome new that led us to discover in ourselves capacities we never dreamed were there; for ancient words of Scripture that blaze with light and meaning as our circumstances change; for the winsomeness of Jesus that excites the trust of young and old in every generation; and for your mercy that holds us fast even when we are hardly worth the holding.

We pray today for those among us, and in the world around us, who are burdened not by too little but by too much: those who have so much power that they have grown indifferent to the rights and claims of others, and are fast becoming what they do not wish to be; those who have so much health that they cannot understand the sick or reckon adequately with their own mortality; those who have so much wealth that they prize possessions more than people, and worry into the night about losing what they have; those who have so much knowledge that they have grown proud and self-sufficient and lost the common touch; those who have so much virtue that they cannot see their sins or appreciate your grace; those who have so much leisure that they move like driftwood on the surface of existence, lacking any cause larger than themselves.

O God, you who are able to save us from abundance or privation, meet the strong in their strength.  Possess them in the fullness of their powers, that what they have and what they are may be conscripted for your service and they shall find peace.

Teach us what it means to live in you, to rest in you, to hope in you; let your presence fill those homes where death has come; let your wisdom fall like a gentle rain on the parched souls of all who are confused; let your warming, healing light kindle trust in those who are sick or in any way afflicted; let your joy overcome the dolefulness of those who have forgotten how to laugh.

Shape your grace around our inmost needs, O God.  Do not give us over to ourselves. Strive with us yet a little longer, for we love you and desire you fully.  Amen

[Written by Rev. Ernest T. Campbell, former pastor of The Riverside Church, NYC, who once said he spent as much time, proportionally, composing his Sunday prayers as he did his Sunday sermons.]

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