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Howard Thurman: Prayers

I LAY BARE BEFORE YOU
The concern which I lay bare before You today is:
Whatever disaffection there is between me and those who are or have been very close to me—I would seek the root or cause of such disaffection, and with the illumination of Your mind, O God, to understand it.
I give myself to Your scrutiny that, whatever there may be in me that is responsible for what has happened, I will acknowledge.
Where I have wronged or given offense deliberately or without intention, I seek a face-to-face forgiveness.
What I can undo I am willing to try; what I cannot undo, with that I seek to make my peace.
How to do these things, what techniques to use, with what spirit—for these I need and seek Your wisdom and strength, O God.
Whatever disaffection there is between me and those who are or have been very close to me, I lay bare before You.

OUR LITTLE LIVES
Our little lives, our big problems—these we place upon Your altar!
The quietness in Your temple of silence again and again rebuffs us:
For some there is no discipline to hold them steady in the waiting,
And the minds reject the noiseless invasion of Your spirit.
For some there is no will to offer what is central in the thoughts—
The confusion is so manifest, there is no starting place to take hold.
For some the evils of the world tear down all concentrations
And scatter the focus of the high resolves.
The threat of war covers us with heavy shadows,
Making the days big with forebodings—
The nights crowded with frenzied dreams and restless churnings.
We do not know how to do what we know to do.
We do not know how to be what we know to be.
Our little lives, our big problems—these we place upon Your altar!
Brood over our spirits, Creator;
Blow upon whatever dream You have for us,
That there may glow once again upon our hearths
The light from Your altar.
Pour out upon us whatever our spirits need of shock, of life, of release
That we may find strength for these days—
Courage and hope for tomorrow.
In confidence we rest in Your sustaining grace
Which makes possible triumph in defeat, gain in loss, and love in hate.
We rejoice this day to say:
Our little lives, our big problems—these we place upon Your altar!

Howard Thurman (1900-1981) was a minister, writer, and theologian. His most famous work, Jesus and the Disinherited (1949), inspired Martin Luther King, Jr. and laid a theological foundation for the civil rights movement. Thurman co-founded a racially integrated church in San Francisco. He was the first African-American dean of the chapel at Boston University.

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