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Leslie T. Pennington: Prayers

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Almighty God, to whom people in all varieties of living faiths lift up their hearts, from the depths of our need and in the greatness of hope, we lift up our hearts.

We would see beyond the differences, the unity of Your all-pervad ing light. We would be humble before those differences which divide us from the seamless mantle of Your united power. We would be patient with the impatient and gentle with the pride of the humiliated and the arrogance of those who are afraid, knowing that gentleness and patience are made possible by the certainty of a triumphant faith.

Through all the perils of our times, we would not be content to hold the spiritual citadels of yesterday. We would dare to move forward with searching minds and probing hearts, knowing that life will ever answer our highest endeavor and will reveal to us the duties which arise from new occasions, the opportunities which lie hidden in new relationships, the joys of fresh creative labors, and the peace of spirits which dare to rise in living trust to You. In the hour of failure sustain, us with the vi sion of what yet may be; and in the hour of triumph, chasten us with the consciousness of unfinished work.


For persons with clear and steady minds, for valiant spirits untouched by pretense, jealousy of rancor, we lift our hearts in joy to You, O God. In them we know the certain touch and freshness of Your creation.

Amid the drift of blind confusion, we would be qui et, sure and true. Amid the whispering winds of fear, the gathering tides of mistrust, the storms of hysteria, the undertows of doubt, we seek the steady poise of Your perspective. When darkness settles over the earth, we seek Your inner light. Before blank walls of impotence, we seek the hidden pass which opens widening vistas of Your new creation. Amid the lonely crowd, we dare the way of simple friendliness, of clear-felt truth and clear- spoken word until the minds and hearts of folk in everycircumstance and place shall know the quiet strength and peace and joy of souls full-wakened to Your beauty, majesty and power.


God of Tranquility at the heart of endless agitation, dynamic Power in perfect repose: we turn to You knowing that You will ever meet those who truly seek You with their whole heart, giving them light in their darkness, strength and skill and fortitude in their labor, patience in ad versity, and Your deep peace in their hearts.

We now yield our spirits to Your spirit, that we may quietly release ourselves from anxiety, that we may honestly and resolutely face the weakness and mistakes of our lives, that we may relax our troubled souls in the certainty of Your perpetual presence and peace.

May the fullness of Your spirit fill our lives, as the incoming tide fills every inlet of the shore, as the rising sun floods the earth with light, as the freshening wind stirs the leaves of the forest.


God of our fathers and mothers, may we be worthy of the heritage which is upon us. Confirm within us the memories and influences of our growing years: the light which shines in our darkness, the insights which stirred and awakened our hearts, the sowing of winged seedswhich bear within us the flower and fruit of the future.

Enable us to find, amid the beauty and terror of exis tence, the paths which lead to Your everlasting light and strength, grace and peace. Open our eyes to the vision of Your measureless resource. Open our minds to the creative order of Your law. Open our hearts to the silent beauty of Your grace. Nerve our wills with the quiet majesty of Your power.

May we remember always that we are not alone, that Your spirit moves within our minds purifying, strength ening, exalting, and uniting our lives through Your pow er, which no division can sunder and no evil resist. Make us worthy to share in some small measure this movement of Your light upon the darkness, Your love upon hate, and the order of Your life upon the forces of evil, chaos, death.


In the felt sense of Your presence, O God, we know that we are not alone; that when we are seeking truth most bravely, we are least alone. A mighty gathering of witnesses is about us: the remembered spirits of our beloved and honored dead; the hosts of our living companions upon the way; the host of each new generation — the unborn children of tomor row and tomorrow and tomorrow, bearing with them the fresh promise of Your ever-new creation to the last syllable of unrecorded time.

Within the life of this great company, grant us some vision, O God; even some momentary vision of a life of possibilities which make our ordinary life seem but a foretaste of what may be. Grant us the quiet pa tience and endurance to follow on through hours of darkness as through hours of light, guided by that vision of what we have seen, until more and more our whole world is transfigured in Your Light.


Mysterious Power in which our lives are set and of which our world is made: in wonder, gratitude and awe, we turn to You. We confess that no human mind can fully comprehend You, and that no human heart can fully sound the creative depths of Your creative power. We confess that we are restless parts of Your embracing wholeness — fragments of Your eternal mind, Your eternal spirit— forever restless until we lose ourselves and find ourselves in You. Within the eternal freshness of Your creation, we seek fulfillment of more abundant life — not for ourselves alone but for one another, for all Your children of every nation, race and creed. As stars upon their trackless way, as homing birds upon their certain flight — in storm and in sunshine, in darkness as in light — so we would set our course by You. We would find in You: the life and motion of our souls, our freedom, our everlasting home and our enduring peace.


O God, we ask not that our way shall be easy, but that we shall have strength of heart to walk its uttermost mile.

We ask not that our burden shall be light, but that we shall bear it with gallant and undaunted spirits.

We ask not that we, or those we love, shall be spared the suffering and loss of all who bear the brunt of life’s battle, but that we and they shall win — even through strife — a nobler fellowship, a sounder sense of right, a more august and creative sense of living in which even our dead shall be fulfilled, even this suffering and sorrow be gathered into greater beauty, life and peace.


Source of Life implanted in each one of us, true Master of destiny, Guardian of the unknown, the unexplored, the unfulfilled: we turn to You as mariners upon the unknown deep, trusting alike the inner powers of life and the elements in which we live and move and have our being.

We thank You for the gift of life itself, its mystery and unfolding power:

for gifts of mind to trace the hidden order of Your law, for gifts of heart to find the beauty of Your grace in nature, for gifts of skill to know, in our creative work, Your joy in all creation.

We would be humble before the wonder of Your unfolding creation: of life, of healing, of life’s transfigurations; of time and time’s fulfillment; of that imperishable beauty which outlasts time.

We would deal tenderly with the divine potentialities of every living thing, of Your life within ourselves, as in all those we meet upon life’s way.

Make us divinely sensitive to our finest hidden potentialities that in their fulfillment we may share in Your creative work of healing and love.

May Yours be the glory forever.


We lift our eyes to the everlasting hills of light; We drink from the everlasting springs of life; We know once more the freshness of the morning; We find You in the life and motion of our souls.

Leslie T. Pennington (1899-1974) came to Unitarian ministry from a Quaker background. During his 18 years in Chicago, he led church and community efforts that became national models of racial integration.