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Prayers for Today: James Martineau

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James Martineau

James Martineau

JAMES MARTINEAU (1805-1900). This English philosopher and Unitarian minister exercised extraordinary influence as a preacher, writer, and educator whose works included not only The Seat of Authority in Religion but Home Prayers.


In the quiet of this hour, I bring an offering of penitence, if not of purity; of teachableness, if not of wisdom; of hope for the time to come, if not ample fruits of well-doing in the time that is past. And so may I find strength and courage for every time of need.


Come, Holy Spirit! Take from us the tediousness and anxiety of a selfish mind, the untrustfulness of cold affections, the weakness of an inconstant will. With the simplicity of a great purpose and the power of a well-ordered soul, may we pass through the toils and watches of our pilgrimage; grateful for all that may render the burdens of duty light; and even in strong trouble, rejoicing to be deemed worthy of severer service.


Infinite One who fills the universe with Your unsearchable presence, and has a dwelling-place in every heart that trusts in You: I come now in a spirit of thanksgiving, and I would commune with You in prayer that I may learn to live in Your constant presence. Indeed, may I learn to pray as I ought in spirit and in truth.


Dear God, we are as strangers in Your wondrous universe, yet as children at home within Your shelter. You inspire joyful confidence in You. Enlightener of true seers and prophets, You are our Strength. May their faith and spirit rest upon all our life, refreshing the weariest task. In life and in death, You are the steadfast light of our hearts; You are our portion forever.


Eternal and infinite One, our hours of faithful duty follow us from the past and do not perish. Stir within us that we may redeem the time. Great Giver of the task, we live day and night beneath Your constant eyes. May we be steadfast through all faintness of soul and not rest by the roadside while Your errand waits. Daily may we drive out our selfishness and delight to bear one another’s burden and uphold each other’s faith and hope and love. May our minds be wholly turned to finish, without undue disquiet or contention, the work we strive to do for You. O Watcher of our days and nights, we would commit them all to You.


Eternal God, who commits to us the swift and solemn trust of life: since we know not what a day may bring forth, but only that the hour for serving You is always present, may we wake to Your instant claims, not waiting for tomorrow, but yielding today. Lay to rest the resistance of our passion, indolence, or fear. Consecrate the way our feet may go, and the humblest work will shine, and the roughest places be made plain. Lift us above unrighteous anger and mistrust into faith and hope and charity, through steady reliance on You. So may we be modest in our time of wealth, patient under disappointment, ready for danger, serene in death. In all things, draw us to Yourself that Your lost image may be traced again, and we may be at one with You.


God of our secret life, weary of ourselves, we come to Your shelter. Our span of troubled days we bring within Your calm eternity. Over our path of pilgrimage, we feel the spaces of Your immensity. In the strife of life and the sadness of mortality, we find a spirit of power and of hope in Your providence.

Infinite Ruler of creation, whose spirit dwells in every world: we look not to the heavens for You, though You are there; we search not in the oceans for Your presence, though it murmurs with Your voice; we wait not for the wings of the wind to bring You near, though they are Your messengers; for You are in our hearts, O God. You make Your abode in the deep places of our thought and love. In each gentle affection, each contrite sorrow, each noble aspiration, we would worship You.


Source of all good! Day by day are Your blessings renewed to us, and again we come with thankful hearts to seek the sense of Your presence. O that we could be reborn like the morning. For even as we seek to commune with You, shadows from our past dim the joy of our aspiration. We remember our thoughtless lives, our impatient tempers, our selfish aims; and yet we know that You have neither made us blind nor left us without the guidance of Your still, small voice speaking in our inmost conscience, and Your open word, appealing to us to choose the better part. Take us now to serve You in newness of spirit, and sweep away every dust of care, every trace of unjustified fear, and every trace of an uncharitable mind.


The day is Yours, O God, and the night also. In the morning, You renew my strength; in the evening, I find the shelter of Your wing. You are my Sun, and apart from You, my toil is weary and blind, and there is no glory in my joy. You are my Shade, for in You, my restless soul finds rest. Abiding God, enter fully into my life.

Long have I thirsted after You, the Spring of everlasting life. You are the Treasure of generation after generation. Eternal God! the stars without number proclaim Your power, and the prayers of the human heart never cease to speak. Shame my prejudice, melt down my pride, quiet my fears, and lift me above fretfulness to repose. I would give myself to You, not by inward vision only, but by faithful service. May I never grow weary of well-doing; and may I never look for peace without suffering.


God of all, whose balance tries the nations, to lift up or to cast down; You have laid upon the people of the planet a mighty trust. Never through vain conceit may we be blind to the unchanging conditions of Your blessing. The world and its fullness are Yours; our portion, therefore, may we hold with reverence and not in wanton self-will. May we be a refuge of the oppressed and a moderator of lawless ambition. Grant true wisdom and understanding to the leaders of the nations and to all others entrusted with international authority. May we acknowledge You as our supreme Lawgiver and Judge. May all of us, leaders and people, buyers and sellers, know You as weighing the path of the just, as well as being the deathless source of power for peace.