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FRANCIS GREENWOOD PEABODY (1847-1936). When he taught the first Harvard College course on social ethics, the students fondly called it, “Peabo’s drainage, drunkenness and divorce.” This minister of the First Parish in Cambridge who was an international pioneer in teaching social ethics once sent to friends, as a Christmas gift, Prayers for Various Occasions. Read More…
FOR RELEASE FROM FEAR
Almighty God, whose laws are our guide and whose love brings us peace of mind, we turn to You from the perplexities and uncertainties which daily beset us, and pray for relief from disquieting fears. We are bewildered by the confusions of the world; despondency paralyzes our power; our decisions falter under the strain of self-distrust; and our hearts fail from fear.
Restore to our lives the sanity and courage they sorely need. Lead our anxious hearts to the deeper meaning of experience, so our trust in You expels our infidelity toward life, and tranquillity conquers our restlessness because You have given us the spirit not of disabling fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
FOR A SENSE OF PROPORTION
Amid the confusing multiplicity of our desires, we pray for a finer sense of proportion in the judgment of our problems and our plans. A multitude of details hide our view of the larger purposes of life; misunderstandings cloud the day with foolish animosity; we cherish our grievances and waste our friendships; we see things not as they are but as we wish them to be.
Deliver us from these ills of disproportion, that our small concerns may not hide from view the light of Your eternal power and that anxiety about trifles may be conquered by our commitment to the True and Beautiful and Good. Show us the excellence in others which we have failed to see. Turn us from our own needs to the larger world of public affairs. Save us from narrow and provincial views. Restore to us a fresh sense of proportion, so the incidental may not hide the eternal or the vexing problems of the day not destroy our own peace of mind.
As seekers after the truth, we confess the hesitancy and inconstancy which hinder us in our search. That which we find is often unwelcome and uncomfortable; we evade the truth and reassure ourselves by self-deception, clinging to old familiar errors or cherishing the lie in the soul. The problems of our time are bewildering; we take refuge in evasion and indifference. Speak then, O God, to our fugitive souls, to renew both our candor and our courage.
AN EVENING PRAYER
Abide with us, O searching and chastening Spirit of the living God, for it is evening, and the day is far spent. May the shadow of Your presence shelter us from the haste and fret of the day, and the sense of Your tranquilizing guidance give us peace and rest. From all the follies and blunders of the day; from its wandering desires and its unjust judgments; from any sense of grievance or any word of blame which blotted the fair hours, good God, deliver us. May the perplexing problems and petty cares of the day relax their grasp, and the meaning of life shine through the gathering dusk like the watching stars. Lift our minds to the vision of the permanent; rescue our will from the illusions of the day’s gain or loss; that the pressure of routine may not crush the life of the spirit; or the gain of the world become the loss of the soul. May we rest tonight in the protecting shadow of Your love, and wake with new courage and hope to fulfill the duties of another day.
TOWARD WORTHIER LIVES
Eternal God, our strength, we recall blunders which blot our past; our hasty judgments and foolish pride; and the low ambitions for ourselves or for the world which have misled us. We have done what we ought not to have done, and have left undone that which we ought to have done. We lay before You faults which haunt our memories: duties undone and opportunities missed; friendships neglected and passion unrestrained. May we leave these behind and press forward to the worthier life that lies ahead.
O God, we are grateful for the great adventure of living. We pray not for immunity from risks but for courage to face them. We pray not to be saved out of the world but to ally ourselves with the saviors of the world. Give us courage to face facts without evasion or self-deception. Give us strength, amidst the perplexities of life, that we may experience the exhilaration of constructive conflict and the joy of victory. Arm us for the campaign of life with unperturbed faith, unconquered hope, and the tranquil courage born of love.
FOR A QUIET MIND
Wearied by the haste and waste of the day, we turn to You, the Source of our peace and strength, and pray for the gift of a quiet mind. Transient troubles of the day crowd upon us; we are provoked to irritating words; petty decisions disquiet our temper and dissipate our strength. Lift us up from this slough of despond to firm ground, that duty may be rescued from perplexity and work be unsevered from tranquillity. We do not pray that life be less demanding but only that we may not lose poise, and that, in the events of each passing day, we may serve You with a quiet mind.
FOR THE GREAT ADVENTURE
We whose lives are burdened by indecision pray for courage to face life as a great adventure. We are tempted to be satisfied with a life sheltered from risks. We distrust our dreams lest they prove illusory; we yield ourselves to the prudential way of life. Waken us, O God, from this lethargy of the spirit, and give us the will to live dangerously.