In honor of Thanksgiving, we pray this beautiful prayer from Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981), a theologian, mystic, philosopher, and civil rights leader.
In Your presence, O God, we make our Sacrament of Thanksgiving.
We begin with the simple things of our days:
Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.
For all these we make an act of Thanksgiving this day!
We bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that we have known:
Our mothers’ arms,
The strength of our fathers,
The playmates of our childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to us from the lives of many who
talked of days gone by when fairies and giants and diverse kinds
of magic held sway;
The tears we have shed, the tears we have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle in the eye with
its reminder that life is good.
For all these we make an act of Thanksgiving this day.
Today’s prayer comes from Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1207 – ca. 1282), a German mystic and a Beguine. She was one of the first mystics to write in German rather than Latin. Her feast day is November 19.
O burning Mountain,
O chosen Sun,
O perfect Moon,
O fathomless Well,
O unattainable Height,
O Clearness beyond measure,
O Wisdom without end,
O Mercy without limit,
O Strength beyond resistance,
O Crown beyond all majesty:
the humblest thing you created sings your praise.
St. Augustine (354-430) wrote this prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
That my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
To defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
That I always may be holy.
Yesterday, Nov. 1, was All Saints Day, when we commemorate all the saints of the church, those that are known and those that are unknown. In our prayer for the week, Martin Luther King, Jr. gives thanks for the saints and foreparents that have preceded us in the faith.
Oh God, our gracious, heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the creative insights in the universe. We thank Thee for the lives of great saints and prophets in the past, who have revealed to us that we can stand up amid the problems and difficulties and trials of life and not give in. We thank Thee for our foreparents, who’ve given us something in the midst of the darkness of exploitation and oppression to keep going. And grant that we will go on with the proper faith and the proper determination of will, so that we will be able to make a creative contribution to this world and in our lives. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.
This week’s prayer is from Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380-1471), a Dutch-German monastic, priest, and spiritual writer. He authored one of the most popular devotional treatises of all time, the Imitation of Christ.
O Lord my God, be not far from me; my God, have regard to help me; for my thoughts and fears have risen up against me and afflict my soul. How shall I pass through them unhurt? How shall I break them to pieces? My hope and my only consolation is to flee to you in every tribulation, to trust in you, to call upon you from my inmost heart and to wait patiently for your consolation. Amen.
W. E. B. Du Bois (1868 – 1963) was an American writer, historian, and civil rights activist. Today we are praying his prayer for grace and courage in the face of the work that cries out to be done in our lives and our society.
Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know
cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the
words of men’s mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are
calling us—the freeing of women, the training of children, the
putting down of hate and murder and poverty—all these and
more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifices
and death. Mercifully grant us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that
we say: I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish.
This week’s prayer is by Teresa of Avila, (1515-1582) a Spanish nun in the Carmelite order. Teresa was a mystic, a founder and reformer of monasteries, a spiritual director, and a writer. Although her most famous work is The Interior Castle, the prayer below comes from St. Teresa’s Autobiography.
O my Lord, how good You are! Blessed be You forever, O my God! Let all creatures praise You Who have so loved us that we can truly speak of this communication which You have with souls in this our exile! Yes, even if they be good souls, it is on Your part great munificence and kindness. In a word, it is Your loving-kindness, O my Lord.
This week’s prayer comes from St. Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226). Francis’s Feast Day was on October 4.
All Highest and Glorious God,
cast your light into the darkness of my heart.
Grant me right faith, firm hope, perfect charity,
with wisdom and perception, O Lord,
so that I may always and everywhere
seek to know and do what is truly your holy will,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today’s prayer is by Richard Rolle (ca. 1300–1349), an English mystic and writer of spiritual treatises. Rolle, along with Margery Kempe and Walter Hilton, is remembered in the Episcopal Church (USA) today, September 28. The prayer below comes from his best-known treatise, The Fire of Love.
I ask you, Lord Jesus,
to develop in me, your lover,
an immeasurable urge towards you,
an affection that is unbounded,
a longing that is unrestrained,
a fervor that throws discretion to the winds!
The more worthwhile our love for you,
all the more pressing does it become.
Reason cannot hold it in check,
fear does not make it tremble
wise judgment does not temper it.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, and mystic. Her Feast Day was on September 17. As she is sometimes called the “singing nun,” today we’ll pray one of her songs of praise.
Doctor of the desperate,
Healer of everyone broken past hope,
Medicine for all wounds,
Fire of love,
Joy of hearts,
in You we contemplate
how God goes looking for those who are lost
and reconciles those who are at odds with Him.
Break our chains!
You bring people together.
You curl clouds, whirl winds,
send rain on rocks, sing in creeks,
and turn the lush earth green.
You teach those who listen,
breathing joy and wisdom into them.
We praise You for these gifts.
Sound of joy,
Wonder of being alive,
Hope of every person,
and our strongest Good.