On Sunday mornings, during the Eucharist, we pray a short prayer from The Book of Common Prayer known as the Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We don’t see ourselves as perfectly loving God, our neighbors, or even ourselves, but the time we set aside to begin each week to pray together is part of a larger practice of prayer. We come together to offer ourselves in Adoration for God’s presence in creation (which looks like awe, helping us keep perspective: God = so incredibly huge, me = not so much); in Thanksgiving for another day and the gifts that have been be and the needs of the hungry, sick, poor, hungry, those in prison, and the pain of the world; Confession for the times and places where we’ve fallen short and need to own up to our faults to facilitate our improvement; and Petition for our own needs. This can be as simple as Anne Lamott’s idea in her book, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.
Margaret Guenther writes: “True prayer, whatever outward form it might take, is first and foremost a condition of loving attentiveness to God in which we find ourselves open and receptive to who we are in our deepest selves” (from The Practice of Prayer). And as Ann and Barry Ulanov say in their book Primary Speech, “In prayer we say who in fact we are – not who we should be, nor who we wish we were, but who we are.”
St. John’s Prayer Chain
Our Prayer Chain is a group of committed people who keep prayers going when so many of us get distracted, keeping us all connected to one another through a belief in prayer as that connection. More than just knowing what’s going on with the people we care about, prayer is an active response to the life of the community. If you’d like to be a part of the prayer chain or if you’d like to have our prayer chain pray for you, contact our Prayer Chain Moderator at email@example.com.
There are so many ways to pray, and things to pray about. Here’s what the Right Reverend Steven Charleston, retired bishop of Alaska, has to say:
“It is harder than it looks, this idea of living a spiritual life. It is one thing to attend a worship service once a week, it is another to try to be spiritually aware on a daily basis. That means having something you pray for, something you study, and something you do every day. Setting aside a small amount of time for prayer at the same time each day is helpful. Then having something to study and reflect on keeps faith growing. And finally, being intentional about applying what you believe to what you do at least once a day makes faith come alive. If you want to change your life, these three small steps will take you a long way toward that goal.”
In addition to Sunday Eucharist at 10:00 am, St. John’s offers Compline (a short, sweet evening prayer service) online Mondays at 9:00 pm and Centering Prayer online every Wednesday at 5:30 pm, preceded by 15 minutes of contemplative music.
Here are some links to help you deepen your prayer life:
Prayers for Difficult Times
Many of these prayers come from the resources of the Episcopal Church, especially The Book of Common Prayer and Enriching our Worship 2. They are reproduced here in keeping with the copyright guidelines of the publisher. All rights are reserved to the Church Pension Group as publisher. Any of the following prayers may be adapted as needed.
A Prayer In Response to Gun Violence
Let us lament with all those who are touched by gun violence
Let us lament the shooter’s choice for violence
Let us lament laws that allow violent men easy access to guns
Let us lament our politicians’ unwillingness to work for change
Let us lament with the hearts broken by loss today
Let us lament all the lives cut short today
Let us lament, O God, and then let us rise from our knees to work for change
In the name of Christ, the prince of peace. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Ellen Clark-King, Executive Pastor and Canon for Social Justice
For Trust in God
O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, by your patience in suffering you hallowed earthly pain and gave us the example of obedience to your Father’ will: Be near me in my time of weakness and pain; sustain me by your grace, that my strength and courage may not fail; heal me according to you will; and help me always to believe that what happens to me here is of little account if you hold me in eternal life, my Lord and my God. Amen.
As Jesus cried out on the cross, I cry out to you in pain, O God my Creator. Do not forsake me. Grant me relief from this suffering and preserve me in peace; through Jesus Christ my Savior, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O heavenly Father, you give your children sleep for the refreshing of soul and body: Grant me this gift, I pray; keep me in that perfect peace which you have promised to those whose minds are fixed on you; and give me such a sense of your presence, that in the hours of silence I may enjoy the blessed assurance of your love; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
In the Morning
This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.
In the Evening
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’ sake. Amen.
A Child’s Prayer
Jesus, our Redeemer, Good Shepherd of the sheep, you carry the lambs in your arms. I place myself in your loving care. Stop my pain, give me help and strength, and raise me up to a life of joy. Hear me, I pray, for your dear Name’ sake. Amen.
Gentle Jesus, stay beside me through this day [night]. Take away my pain. Keep me safe. Help me in my fear. Make my body strong again and my heart glad. Thank you for your love which surrounds me always. Amen.
For a Sick Person
God of all comfort, our very present help in trouble, be near to me. Look on me with the eyes of your mercy; comfort me with a sense of your presence; preserve me from the enemy; and give me patience in my affliction. Restore me to health, and lead me to your eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Christ, light of light, brightness indescribable, the Wisdom, power and glory of God, the Word made flesh: you overcame the forces of Satan, redeemed the world, then ascended again to the Father. Grant me, I pray, in this tarnished world, the shining of your splendor. Send your Archangel Michael to defend me, to guard my going out and coming in, and to bring me safely to your presence, where you reign in the one holy and undivided Trinity, to ages of ages. Amen.
For One Suffering from Mental Distress
Blessed Jesus, in the comfort of your love, I lay before you the memories that haunt me, the anxieties that perplex me, the despair that frightens me, and my frustration at my inability to think clearly. Help me to discover your forgiveness in my memories and know your peace in my distress. Touch me, O Lord, and fill me with your light and your hope. Amen.
For Recovery from Sickness
God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of those who suffer: Hear my prayers and grant me the power of your grace, that my sickness may be turned into health, and my sorrow into joy; for Jesus Christ’ sake. Amen.
Spirit of all healing, visit me, your child; in your power, renew health within me and raise me up in joy, according to your loving-kindness, for which I give thanks and praise; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
For Strength and Confidence
Gracious God, only source of life and health: Help, comfort, and relieve me, and give your power of healing to those who minister to my needs; that my weakness may be turned to strength and confidence in your loving care; for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
For the Sleepless
Holy and Blessed One: shine on me as I lie sleepless. Illumine my spirit and give me rest in you, so that I may recognize you as the true God who brings us out of darkness into our eternal light. Amen.
O God my refuge and strength: in this place of unrelenting light and noise, enfold me in your holy darkness and silence, that I may rest secure under the shadow of your wings. Amen.
For Sanctification of Illness
Sanctify, O Holy One, my sickness, that awareness of weakness may add strength to my faith and determination to my repentance; and grant that I may be made whole, according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Before an Operation
Loving God, I pray that you will comfort me in my suffering, lend skill to the hands of my healers, and bless the means used for my cure. Give me such confidence in the power of your grace, that even when I am afraid, I may put my whole trust in you; through our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Keep me, Holy One, as the apple of your eye. Though I fear anesthesia, help me rest myself in your watchful care, and awake in the firm hope of your healing. Amen.
For an Extended Course of Treatment
Strengthen me, O God, to go where I have to go and bear what I have to bear; that, accepting your healing gifts at the hands of surgeons, nurses, and technicians, I may be restored to wholeness with a thankful heart; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
For Survivors of Abuse and Violence
Holy One, you do not distance yourself from the pain of your people, but in Jesus bear that pain with us and bless all who suffer at others’ hands. Hallow my flesh and all creation; with your cleansing love bring me healing and strength; and by your justice, lift me up, that in the body you have given me, I may again rejoice. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
In Times of Personal Distress
Lord Christ, you came into the world as one of us, and suffered as we do. As I go through the trials of life, help me to realize that you are with me at all times and in all things; that I have no secrets from you; and that your loving grace enfolds me for eternity. In the security of your embrace I pray. Amen.
Thanksgiving for Recovery
God, your loving-kindness never fails and your mercies are new every morning. I thank you for giving me relief from pain and hope of health renewed. Continue the good work begun in me; that increasing daily in wholeness and strength, I may rejoice in your goodness and so order my life always to think and do that which pleases you; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.
For One Who Fears Losing Hope
Loving God, by your Holy Spirit inspire me, as I fear losing hope. Give me a fresh vision of your love, that I may find again what I fear I have lost. Grant me your powerful deliverance; through the One who makes all things new, Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.
Thank you, Holy and Mighty One, for the many gifts of your love, even for the painful gift of fear which reminds me that only you are God. Into the mystery of your love I entrust myself. Dress me in the armor of your light and keep me safe; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the midst of illness, God, I pause to give you thanks: for the glory of creation, which reveals in many forms your matchless beauty; for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior; for your gift of my life and the presence of the Holy Spirit; for loved ones who care for me; and for the companionship of the Church. I thank you, blessed Trinity, holy God, for the gifts which sustain me in my time of need. Amen.
Loss of Memory
Holy God, you have known me from my mother’ womb, and have been with me throughout my life. Protect me and keep me safe through all the changes that may come. Since I am sealed as Christ’ own, help me to trust that who I am will never be lost to you. Amen.
My Creator, you rolled out the heavens and spread the sky like a tent: bless to me the small confinement of this room, the long days, disturbances of night, immobility of body, and unease of soul, that this place of exile may become my holy ground, and Jesus my deliverer. Amen.
Merciful Jesus, you are my guide, the joy of my heart, the author of my hope, and the object of my love. I come seeking refreshment and peace. Show me your mercy, relieve my fears and anxieties, and grant me a quiet mind and an expectant heart, that by the assurance of your presence I may learn to abide in you, who is my Lord and my God. Amen.
Jesus, let your mighty calmness lift me above my fears and frustrations. By your deep patience, give me tranquility and stillness of soul in you. Make me in this, and in all, more and more like you. Amen.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Caregivers
Merciful God, I thank you that since I have no strength to care for myself, you serve me through the hands and hearts of others. Bless these people that they may continue to serve you and please you all their days. Amen.
A Prayer of Comfort in God
God, you are my help and comfort; you shelter and surround me in love so tender that I may know your presence with me, now and always. Amen.
O God, why have you abandoned me? Though you have hidden your face from me, still from this dread and empty place, I cry to you, who have promised me that underneath are your everlasting arms. Amen.
After the Loss of a Pregnancy
O God, who gathered Rachel’s tears over her lost children, hear now my/our sorrow and distress at the death of my/our expected child; in the darkness of loss, stretch out to me/us the strength of your arm and renewed assurance of your love; through your own suffering and risen Child Jesus. Amen.
or when appropriate
Holy God, I lament I have not had strength to hold, bear, and nurture the new life you have sent. Lift me up from my distress. Fill my grieving heart. Renew my hope. Receive the child I return to you into the arms of your mercy, for which I also yearn. Amen.
For Diagnosis of Terminal Illness
O God, only you number my days. Help me to look bravely at the end of my life in this world, while trusting in my life in the next. Journey with me toward my unexplored horizon where Jesus my Savior has gone before. Amen.
For Difficult Treatment Choices
Jesus, at Gethsemane you toiled with terrifying choices. Be with me now as I struggle with a fearful choice of treatments which promise much discomfort and offer no guarantee of long-term good. Help me know that you will bless my choice to me, and, good Savior, be my companion on the way. Amen.
For Caregivers and Others in Support of the Sick
Lover of souls, we bless your Holy Name for all who are called to mediate your grace to those who are sick or infirm. Sustain them by your Holy Spirit, that they may bring your loving-kindness to those in pain, fear, and confusion; that in bearing one another’ burdens they may follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Compassionate God, support and strengthen all those who reach out in love, concern, and prayer for the sick and distressed. In their acts of compassion, may they know that they are your instruments. In their concerns and fears may they know your peace. In their prayer may they know your steadfast love. May they not grow weary or faint-hearted, for your mercy’ sake. Amen.
For Companions to Those Who Are Chronically Ill
O God, surround N. [and N.] with your compassion as she/he/they live[s] with N. in sickness. Help N. [and N.] to accept the limits of what she/he/they can do, that feelings of helplessness and frustration [and anger] may be transformed into serene acceptance and joyful hope in you. Let her/him/them remember the grief and love of Jesus over the afflictions of his friends, knowing that God too weeps. Bring her/him/them gladness and strengthened love in her/his/their service; through Christ our companion. Amen.
At the Limits of Our Power to Help
O Lord, we are at the limits of our power to help. For what we have left undone, forgive us. For what you have helped us to do, we thank you. For what must be done by others, lend your strength. Now shelter us in your peace which passes our understanding. Amen.
For Those Who Are Sick and Those Who Minister to Them
Gracious God, source of life and health: Jesus came to our disordered world to make your people whole. Send your Spirit on those who are sick and all who minister to them; that when the sick enter your peace, they may offer thanks to your Great Name; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
For Health Care Providers
Give your blessing, gracious God, to those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing, and the prevention of disease and pain. Give them the wisdom of your Holy Spirit, that through their work the health of our community may be advanced and your creation glorified; through your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
For Emergency Workers
God our strong deliverer: when those charged with the urgent mediation of your healing power feel overwhelmed by the numbers of the suffering, uphold them in their fatigue and banish their despair. Let them see with your eyes, so they may know all their patients as precious. Give comfort, and renew their energy and compassion, for the sake of Jesus in whom is our life and our hope. Amen.
Divine Physician, hear our prayers for those in emergency medicine. By your healing power, grant them quick minds and skillful hands. Strengthen them in times of trauma. In quiet times, give them rest and assurance of the value of their work. Keep them ever prepared for the work you have called them to do, for your mercy’ sake. Amen.
For Relatives of an Organ Donor
Blessed Jesus, who said “unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it shall not live,” help us to release N. to everlasting life, and N.’s body to give new life to others you also love, as you have given your body that we might have life abundant, for which we give great thanks. Amen.