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Prayers of Power: Introduction

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Prayers of Power

This anthology of powerful prayers from many different sources and traditions was personally curated by Harvard Square Library’s Founding Director, Rev. Herb Vetter.


Here is is own introduction to the material:

Prayer is an act of making the world whole again. An anonymous person once put the issue in a single word:

Here is a prayer to be said:

when the world has gotten you down
and you feel rotten,
and you’ve got too much to do,
and you’re mad at everybody,
and you’re too tired to pray:

Our frailties amidst the perplexities of life encourage us to look beyond our little selves to the larger Life enfolding and sustaining us, thereby making the world whole again.

Humanity East and West, in quest of health and wholeness, has created a treasury of wisdom which needs to be prized and shared since it offers healing strength providing inspiration for creative action in times of stress.

Here in these pages we seek to share with you a portion of this ancient and modern wealth. You will find expressions of a love of life which stretches back more than five thousand years, but the spirit is contemporary.

These prayers of power are from Akhnaton as well as Maya Angelou, Chief Yellow Lark as well as T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost as well as Francis of Assisi, the Upanishads as well as the Psalms, Reinhold Niebuhr as well as May Sarton. Potent healing words flow from the spirit of Starhawk, Jane Austen and Sojourner Truth, Dorothy Sayers and the Medical Mission Sisters, Howard Thurman, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.

People’s creative responses to crises in their lives are what we editors have found precious for our own health and healing. Through many years while serving as chaplains and ministers—often focused on personal, national and international issues—we have found prayer both necessary and invaluable for maintaining our own buoyancy and balance. Each social problem requires both personal poise and the courage to act with wisdom.

Here we share with you a small group of the most helpful prayers which we have discovered and prized. The emphasis throughout is on world affirmation and reverence for life. Wherever necessary all these prayers of power have been degenderized. Archaic language is avoided.

While the accent falls on twentieth century works of North America, many centuries and many continents are represented in this search for inner ways of making the world whole again.

Herbert F. Vetter
Cambridge, Massachusetts 2008

Coedited by:
Arthur Foote II
John F. Hayward
Kenneth Read-Brown
Bruce Southworth

Herbert F. Vetter,
General Editor