Create in me a clean heart

image / pixabay 

 
I thank you, my dear God,
    that I have learned not to begin faith by my own efforts, 
    nor attempt to destroy my sin with my own repentance.
I might do this before other people
    and be acceptable to the world and its judges.
But with you, O God, there is an eternal wrath 
    which I cannot satisfy,
    and before it I would despair.
Therefore I thank you that Another 
    has seized and carried my sins 
    and has made atonement for them.
 
With joy I wish to believe this.
It seems so very right and comforting to me.
But I cannot believe it by myself,
    and I find no power in me to convince myself.
I cannot comprehend it as I ought.
 
Lord, lead me, help me.
Give me the power and the gift to believe.
I plead, as did David:
    “Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and put a new and right spirit within me.”
I am unable to create a new and clean heart: it is your work and creation.
I cannot create the sun and moon
    and make them rise and shine brightly in the heavens
    any more than I can make the heart clean and give myself a right spirit,
    a strong and firm frame of mind that is unbending and unwavering
    and that will not doubt or mistrust your Word.
 
Help us daily to increase in faith.
Though the world should topple and all conspire against us,
    and though the devil were to destroy every creature,
    grant that I may not fall.
By your divine help let me remain in the Gospel.
Amen.
 
Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546, German Reformer
 
______________________________
 
 
Create in me a clean heart, O God,

    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

the unity of your Church

image / Psalm 133 by Kyle Ragsdale / Bellwether Arts
 
O God, 
    whose will it is that all your children should be one in Christ;
    we pray for the unity of your Church.
Pardon all our pride and our lack 
    of faith, of understanding, and of charity,
    which are the causes of our divisions.
Deliver us from narrow-mindedness,
    from our bitterness, from our prejudices.
Save us from considering as normal
    that which is a scandal to the world
    and an offense to your love.
Teach us to recognize the gifts of grace 
    among all those who call upon you 
    and confess the faith of Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
French Reformed Church
 
_____________________________
 
 
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
    life forevermore.
 

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May we encounter You today

image / Harold Copping / Wikimedia Commons
 
Loving God, our faithful father, you who created us in your image and likeness, and are willing to meet with us here, as market vendors, barbers, mothers and fathers.
 
We confess that in our sweat and toil, we often forget your presence.  In our struggles and weariness and frustration we are often lukewarm.  Forgive us.
 
Tabernacle with us.
We need you now more than ever.  Drained of strength and energy we come, that we might be re-energized and filled.
 
So come Lord. Come as the wind, blow your breath gently over us, blow the dust off our lives. Come as the fire, burn out all the hate and anger we feel towards those who oppress us and treat us unfairly.  Come as the water, wash the dirt of poverty off our stalls, the marketplace, and our lives.
 
Come as the dove – settle all matters concerning us.  Let peace reign.
 
May we encounter you today.  Ignite our hearts to worship and serve you.  Take your place and rule and reign in Jesus’s name as we leave our struggle at the foot of the cross and liberate us to worship you. Amen.
 
complied by Claudio Carvalhaes, professor of worship in New York City
 
_________________________
 
 
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
    “Your face, Lord, do I seek.

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Let hope be my hunch, Lord

 Rubem Alves
Lord, I’m so easily weighed down
by my struggles, my burdens
and the harsh realities of daily life…

Sometimes, I think I’ll lose hope in you
    in tomorrow,
    in others,
    and in myself
so I need you to help me trust,
to help me hope
that the peace I imagine,
the peace I pray for,
the peace you promise
is stronger and greater
than any of my problems…
 
Let hope be my hunch, Lord:
    that my future’s not limited
        by my present trials;
    that the troubles of the moment
        won’t have the last word;
    that my burdens are truly
        a prelude to joy…
 
Give me hope
    in the midst of suffering, Lord:
I know that’s the path of your love,
    I know it’s the way to peace…

Help me see, Lord,
how my troubles prepare me today
    for your coming, the advent of peace,
for the gift of your presence,
    the harvest of hope,
        my hunch proved right by your grace…
 
Protect me, Lord, while I’m awake
and watch over me while I asleep
that awake, I might keep watch with you
and asleep, rest in your peace…
Amen.
 
Fr. Austin Fleming, Roman Catholic Priest serving near Boston, MA  
Concord Pastor
 
______________________________
 
 
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.

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I want to stop running

image / pxfuel
 
Eternal God, you are a song amid silence,
    a voice out of quietness,
    a light out of darkness,
    a Presence in the emptiness,
    a coming out of the void.
You are all of these things and more.
You are mystery that encompasses meaning,
    meaning that penetrates mystery.
You are God,
    I am man.
I strut and brag.
I put down my fellows
    and bluster out assortments of my achievements.
And then something happens:
    I wonder who I am,
        and if I matter.
Night falls,
    I am alone in the dark and afraid.
Someone dies,
    I feel so powerless.
A child is born,
    I feel touched by the miracle of new life.
At such moments I pause . . .
    to listen for a song amid the silence,
    a voice out of stillness,
    to look for a light out of darkness.
I want to feel a Presence in the emptiness.
I find myself reaching for a hand. 
 
Oftentimes, the feeling passes quickly,
    and I am on the run again:
        success to achieve,
        money to make.
O Lord, you have to catch me on the run
    most of the time.
I am too busy to stop,
    too important to pause for contemplation.
I hold up too big a section of the sky
    to sit down and meditate.
But even on the run,
    an occasional flicker of doubt assails me,
And I suspect I may not be as important 
        to the world
     as I think I am.
Jesus said each of us is important to you.
It is as if every hair of our heads were numbered.
How can that be?
But in the hope that is is so,
I would stop running,
        stop shouting,
    and be myself.
 
Let me be still now.
Let me be calm.
Let me rest upon the faith that you are, God,
    and I need not be afraid. Amen.
 
Kenneth G. Phifer, Presbyterian minister and author
 
__________________________________
 
 
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

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You, Who Are

Transfiguration / Giovanni Bellini / Wikimedia Commons
 
You, who are over us,
You, who are one of us,
You, who are –
Also within us,
May all see You – in me also,
May I prepare the way for You,
May I thank You for all that shall fall to my lot,
May I also not forget the needs of others,
Keep me in Your love
As You desire that all should be kept in mine.
May everything in this, my being, be directed to Your glory
And may I never despair.
For I am under Your hand,
And in You is all power and goodness.
 
Give me a pure heart – that I may see You,
A humble heart – that I may hear You,
A heart of love – that I may serve You,
A heart of faith – that I may abide in You.
 
Dag Hammarskjöld, 1905 – 1961, Swedish diplomat, UN Secretary General
Markings freely modified
 
___________________
 
 
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
  for he founded it on the seas
     established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob

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God of the high and holy places

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
 
God of the high and holy places
where I catch a glimpse of your glory,
above the low levels of life,
above the evil and emptiness which drags me down,
beyond the limits of my senses and imagination,
you lift me up.

In the splendour of a sunset,
in the silence of the stars,
in the grandeur of the mountains,
in the vastness of the sea,
you lift me up.

In the majesty of music,
in the mystery of art,
in the freshness of morning,
in the fragrance of a single flower,
you lift me up.

Awe-inspiring God,
when I am lost in wonder
and lost for words,
receive the homage of my silent worship
but do not let me be content to bear your beauty and be still.
Go with me to the places where I live and work.
Lift the veil of reticence behind which I hide.
Give me the courage to speak of the things which move me,
with simple and unselfconscious delight.
Help me to share my glimpses of glory
until others are drawn to your light.

Rev. Jean Mortimer, Minister in the United Reformed Church, UK
 
______________________________
 
 
The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

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I weave a silence . . .

Sunrise behind Lindisfarne Castle / © Ian Capper / cc-by-sa/2.0
I weave a silence on my lips
I weave a silence into my mind
I weave a silence within my heart
I close my ears to distractions
I close my eyes to attractions
I close my heart to temptations

Calm me O Lord as you stilled the storm
Still me O Lord, keep me from harm
Let all the tumult within me cease
Enfold me Lord in your peace.
 
David Adam, 1936-2020, English priest, rector of Lindisfarne
The Book of a Thousand Prayers
 
_____________________________
 
 
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
 

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to you I commit my trust

image / Duccio di Buoninsegna / Public domain / Wikimedia Commons
 
Loving and tender providence of my God,
    into your hands I commend my spirit;
 to you I abandon my hopes and fears,
    my desires and repugnancies,
    my temporal and eternal prospects.
To you I commit the wants of my perishable body;
 to you I commit the more precious interests
    of my immortal soul
    for whose lot I have nothing to fear
    as long as I do not leave your care.
Though my faults are many, 
    my misery great,
    my spiritual poverty extreme,
        my hope in you surpasses all.
It is superior to my weakness,
    greater than my difficulties
    stronger than death.
Though temptations should assail me,
    I will hope in you;
 though I break my resolutions,
    I will look to you confidently
        for grace to keep them at last.
Though you should ask me to die,
    even then I will trust in you,
    for you are my Father, my God,
    the support of my salvation.
You are my kind, compassionate and indulgent parent,
    and I am your devoted son,
    who casts myself into your arms and begs your blessing.
I put my trust in you,
    and so trusting, shall not be confounded. Amen.
 
St. Claude de la Colombière, 1641-1682, French Jesuit priest and ascetic
_________________________
 
 
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

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a Deacon’s prayer

image / youtube
 
I thank Thee, Lord, for sparing me to see this morning, the blood running warm in my veins, the activity of my limbs and the use of my tongue.  I thank Thee, Lord, for clothing and for food, and above all, I thank Thee for the gift of your darling Son Jesus, who came all the way from heaven down to this low ground of sorrow, who died upon the cross, that “whosoever believeth upon Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
 
Our Lord, our heavenly Master, we ask Thee to teach us.  Guide us in the way we know not.  Give us more faith and a better understanding and a closer walk to your bleeding side.
 
I have faith to believe you are the same God that was in the days that are past and gone.  You heard Elijah praying in the cleft of the mountain.  You heard Paul and Silas in jail.  You heard the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace.  I have faith to believe that you have once heard me pray, when I was laying and lugging ’round the gates of hell, no eye to pity me, no arm to save me.  You reached down your long arm of protection, snatched my soul from the midst of eternal burning.  You placed me in the rock and placed a new song in my mouth.  You told me to go, and you would go with me; open my mouth, and you would speak for me.
 
For this cause we call upon you at this hour.  And while we call upon you, we ask you please don’t go back to Glory, neither turn a deaf ear to our call.  But turn down the kindness of a listening ear, catch our moans and our groans, and take them home to the High Heavens.  We please boldly one thing more, if it is your glorious will, I pray Thee.
 
Deacon Washington Banks, Gethsemane Baptist Church, 1973
 
_____________________
 
 
To you, O Lord, I cry,
    and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

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