Listen, O Lord, to my prayers.
Listen to my desire to be with you, to dwell in your house,
and to let my whole being be filled with your presence.
But none of this is possible without you.
When you are not the one who fills me,
I am soon filled with endless thoughts and concerns
that divide me and tear me away from you.
Even thoughts about you, good spiritual thoughts,
can be little more than distractions,
when you are not their author.
O Lord, thinking about you,
being fascinated with theological ideas and discussions,
being excited about histories of Christian spirituality
and stimulated by thoughts and ideas about prayer and meditation,
all of this can be as much an expression of greed
as the unruly desire for food, possessions, or power.
Every day I see again that only you can teach me to pray,
only you can set my heart at rest,
only you can let me dwell in your presence.
No book, no idea, no concept or theory will ever bring me close to you
unless you yourself are the one who lets these instruments
become the way to you.
But, Lord, let me at least remain open to your initiative;
let me wait patiently and attentively for that hour
when you will come and break through
all the walls I have erected.
Teach me, O Lord, to pray. Amen.
Henri J.M. Nouwen, 1932 – 1996, Dutch-born Catholic priest and author
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark,
he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
O God of peace, unite our hearts by your bond of peace,
that we may live with one another in gentleness and humility,
in peace and unity.
O God of patience, give us patience in times of trial
and steadfastness to endure to the end.
O Spirit of prayer, awaken our hearts,
that we may lift up holy hands to God
and cry unto him in all our distresses.
Be our defence and shade in time of need, our help in trial,
our consolation when all things are against us.
Come, eternal light, salvation and comfort,
be our light in darkness, salvation in life, comfort in death,
and lead us in the straight way to everlasting life,
that we may praise you forever, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Bernard Albrecht, 1569-1636
The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, slightly modified
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.