Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.
Frank Borman, member of the first crew to successfully orbit the Moon and return to Earth.
American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the famous Serenity Prayer in 1932-33. People immediately loved it. Niebuhr used it in at least two sermons around 1943 and included in a 1951 magazine column. Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs adopted it and gave it the title “Serenity Prayer” in 1955.
The prayer for the 1930s and 1940s seems to have included its initial … and most famous … verses. The request for “courage” did come before the request for “serenity” in the early versions.
By 1951, the prayer had two verses, which are both beautiful to pray:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Take some time today to sit with this prayer as we seek wisdom in the pandemic.
God of Light, you sent your Son into the darkness of our night, and raised him to your glory; not to abandon us to grief, but to teach us to prepare in joy for his return.
We pray for all who have no hope, that they may find it in the lights of your Spirit, according to the promise of Jesus, our Lord.
Come, Holy Spirit, send forth the heavenly radiance of your light. Cleanse that which is unclean, water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded.
Today on the National Day of Prayer, let’s meditate on Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee. This great idea came from an online retreat I attended last week with Jan Johnson through Renovare.
Jesus is the passenger with a beard and some light around his head sitting to the right side of the painting. Who are you in this picture? Are you the disciples working the sails to try to keep the ship afloat? The disciple getting sick over the side? The disciple in brown crouched low at Jesus’ feet? Or the ones talking to him about the situation?
And what do you want to say to Jesus about the storm today?
Developing the daily habit of offering up a sentence-long prayer at specific times is a common suggestion. Kenneth Boa and Jenny Abel, authors of the free-pdf “A Guide to Practicing God’s Presence,” call these “flash prayers” or “arrow prayers.”
Use your own Jesus prayer or one of these suggestions:
- Come, Lord Jesus.
- Holy Spirit, act through me.
- I thank you in all things.
- This is the day that you have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.
- May I love and serve you and others today.
- I love you, Lord.
Of course, you can also write your own prayer. Just make it easy to memorize.
You can use this prayer at various times through the day. One way to remind yourself is to set a subtle alarm for times. Other times to use flash prayers include:
- When you walk up
- When you are about to eat
- Before a meeting
- Before making a call
- Before sending or responding to a text
- While waiting in line
- At bedtime
The breath prayer is a common practice in Christian mindfulness or contemplation. A variation that helps during a pandemic or just daily life is to ask for the grace, knowledge or virtue you need at this moment in the prayer.
When you feel frightened, overwhelmed or unsure, sit or stand quietly for a few seconds. Then start your breath prayer. “Come, Lord Jesus” or “Come, Holy Spirit” work well if you want to create a prayer.
Inhale saying your breath prayer. Then exhale naming what you need, such as:
Come, Lord Jesus. Bring me patience.
Come, Holy Spirit. Grant me the wisdom to deal with this.
Come, Lord Jesus. Let me feel your peace.
Come, Holy Spirit. Speak through me.