The English mystic Julian of Norwich (1342 – c. 1416) is remembered on May 8 (in the Anglican, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches). This week, let’s pray one of her beautiful prayers:
In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are our mother, brother, and Saviour.
In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace.
You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well. Amen
A prayer from St. Patrick (excerpted from St. Patrick’s Breastplate):
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
LORD GOD, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Preserve us with your mighty power that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity, and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer
Pilot of the soul,
Guide of the righteous,
and Glory of the saints:
grant us, O Lord, eyes of knowledge ever to see thee
and ears also to hearken unto thy word alone.
When our souls have been filled with thy grace,
create in us pure hearts, O Lord,
that we may ever understand thy greatness,
who art good and a lover of men.
O our God, be gracious to our souls,
and grant unto us thy humble servants
who have received thy body and blood,
a pure and steadfast mind,
for thine is the Kingdom, O Lord,
blessed and glorious, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
— an Ethiopian liturgical prayer (source)
A prayer from St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380):
O Holy Spirit, come into my heart;
by your power draw it to yourself, God,
and give me charity with fear.
Guard me, Christ, from every evil thought,
and so warm and enflame me again
with your most gentle love
that every suffering may seem light to me.
My holy Father and my gentle Lord,
help me in my every need.
Christ love! Christ love!
A prayer from Frederick Buechner:
O Thou who didst rise again,
Thou Holy Spirit of Christ, arise and live within us now, that we may be thy body, that we may be thy feet to walk into the world’s pain, thy hands to heal, thy heart to break, if need must be, for the love of the world.
Thou risen Christ, make Christs of us all. Amen.
A prayer for Holy Week from Henri Nouwen:
Dear Lord, your disciple Peter wanted to know who would betray you. You pointed to Judas but a little later also to him. Judas betrayed, Peter denied you. Judas hanged himself, Peter became the apostle whom you made the first among equals. Lord, give me faith, faith in your endless mercy, your boundless forgiveness, your unfathomable goodness. Let me not be tempted to think that my sins are too great to be forgiven, too abominable to be touched by your mercy. Let me never run away from you but return to you again and again, asking you to be my Lord, my Shepherd, my Stronghold, and my Refuge. Take me under your wing, O Lord, and let me know that you do not reject me as long as I keep asking you to forgive me. Perhaps my doubt in your forgiveness is a greater sin than the sins I consider too great to be forgiven. Perhaps I make myself too important, too great when I think that I cannot be embraced by you anymore. Lord, look at me, accept my prayer as you accepted Peter’s prayer, and let me not run away from you in the night as Judas did.
Bless me, Lord, in this Holy Week, and give me the grace to know your loving presence more intimately. Amen.
You who guided Noah over the flood waves:
You who with your word recalled Jonah from the deep:
You who stretched forth your hand to Peter as he sank:
Help us, O Christ.
Son of God, who did marvelous things of old:
Be favorable in our day also.
— a Scots Celtic prayer (source)
Heaven and earth and all that is in the universe cry out to me from all directions that I, O God, must love You, and they do not cease to cry out to all so that they have no excuse.
— St. Augustine (source)
A prayer for understanding from Evelyn Underhill:
O Lord Christ who, in this difficult world, was tempted in all things, as I am, yet fell into no sin, look pitifully, I pray you, upon me. Guide me with your adorable wisdom. Teach me in everything and in every hour what I ought to do. You alone know, both that I suffer, and what I need. To you that perfect path that I should walk is known. Show it to me and teach me how to walk it. Keep me, O Saviour, in body, mind and spirit, for into your strong and gentle hands I commit myself. Give me, O Lord, I beseech you, courage to pray for light and to endure the light here, where I am on this world of yours, which should reflect your beauty but which we have spoiled and exploited. Cast your radiance on the dark places; those crimes and stupidities I like to ignore and gloss over. Show up my pretensions, my poor little claims and achievements, my childish assumptions of importance, my mock heroism.
Take me out of the confused half-light in which I live. Enter and irradiate every situation and every relationship. Show me my opportunities; the raw material of love, of sacrifice, of holiness lying at my feet disguised under homely appearance; and only seen as it truly is…in your light.