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Walter Rauschenbusch: Prayers

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O God, we thank You for this universe, our great home; for the vastness and richness of our cosmic environment; for the manifoldness of life on the planet of which we are a part.

We are thankful for the morning sun and the clouds and the constellations of stars.

We rejoice in the salt sea and the deep waters and green leaves of grass.

We thank You for our sense by which we experience earth’s splendor.

We would have souls open to all this joy, souls saved from being so weighted with care that we pass unseeing when the thornbush by the wayside is aflame with beauty.

Enlarge within us a sense of fellowship with all that lives and moves and has being in space and time, especially with all who share this earth as their common home with us.

Remembering with shame that in the past, we human beings have all too often exercised high dominion with ruthless cruelty, we admit that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to You in song, has been a groan of travail.

May we so live that our world may not be ravished by our greed nor spoiled by our ignorance.

May we hand on earth’s common heritage of life, undiminished in joy when our bodies return in peace to You, our Great Mother who has nourished them.


O God, we praise You for the night and for sleep. Release our limbs of toil. Smooth our brow of care. Grant us a refreshing draught of forgetfulness. Comfort those who toss on a bed of pain, or whose nerves crave sleep and find it not. Save them from despondent thoughts in the darkness. May they learn to lean on Your all-pervading life and love so, their souls may grow tranquil and their bodies may rest.

Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) was a Baptist minister and leading theologian in the Social Gospel movement of the early twentieth century. He served congregations among impoverished workers in New York City and worked to improve social conditions and end child labor, inspiring leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.