Let’s pray the litany for Lent

LCMS president Matthew Harrison challenges everyone to join him in a Lenten project that is not giving something up, that is doing something very positive for others, and that will benefit your spiritual life:  Praying the Litany every day.

The Litany is an ancient structure for prayer that builds on Biblical texts and that covers EVERYTHING we are to pray for, in vivid and piercing language.   Yes, Catholics have a version, but it goes back before the rise of what we would recognize as Roman Catholicism, all the way to the early church of the 6th century.  The Reformation made good use of it.  (We Lutherans and hangers on at Patrick Henry College had been getting together to pray the Litany every week, though this semester we’ve been doing Vespers.)  Here are President Harrison’s comments on why the Litany is so helpful:

Left to ourselves, bereft of texts as the foundation of our prayers, we are often left praying “Dear God, give me a mini-bike,” as I was wont to pray as a 12 year old – and am prone to pray even today!!!!!! Texts of the scriptures Lords Prayer, Ten Commandments and scriptural texts Creed, Litany! lay down Gods thoughts as the foundation of prayer, the tarmac if you will, from which our meditations may gently or quickly rise, aided by the Holy Spirit. The fulsome petitions of the Litany take us out of ourselves, to pray for the church, pastors and teachers, our enemies, women with children, the poor, the imprisoned and much much more. And all for mercy, growing out of the great petitions of the blind, the lame and the ill who comes to Jesus in the New Testament, “Lord have mercy!” “Kyrie eleison!” The Lord loves to have mercy. The Lord came to have mercy. The Lord continues to have mercy.

You’ll find the litany in any standard Lutheran hymnal worth its salt. Pray it daily with me for Lent won’t you?

via Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison: Lets Pray the Litany Daily: Kyrie Eleison!.

Here it is.  (Other versions going around have what must be an accidental omission, the grounding of the prayer in Christ — “by the mystery of your holy incarnation. . . .by your agony and bloody sweat.”  The version in the Lutheran Service Book is even better to use because it adds the Lord’s Prayer and closes with a collect, which can be a time for individual petitions.  Also, the format is really good and easy to use,whether with a group, your family, or individually.)

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Christ,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Christ,
C: Hear us.

P: God the Father, in heaven,
C: have mercy.

P: God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
C: Have mercy.

P: God the Holy Spirit.
C: Have mercy.

P: Be gracious to us.
C: Spare us, good Lord.

P: Be gracious to us.
C: Help us, good Lord.

P: From all sin, from all error, from all evil; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death; from pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and from rebellion; from lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water; and from everlasting death;
C: Good Lord, deliver us.

P: By the mystery of Your holy incarnation; by Your holy nativity; by Your baptism, fasting, and temptation; by Your agony and bloody sweat; by Your cross and Passion; by Your precious death and burial; by Your glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter;
C: Help us, good Lord.

P: In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our prosperity, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,
C: Help us, good Lord.

P: We poor sinners implore You
C: To hear us, O Lord.

P: To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church, to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living, to put an end to all schisms and causes of offense, to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived, to bless the Church’s life-giving message that Jesus is Lord, to bring comfort to the sorrowing and hope to those living in fear, to beat down Satan under our feet, to send faithful laborers into Your harvest, and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit,
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: To raise those that fall and to strengthen those that stand, and to comfort and help the weakhearted and the distressed,
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: To give to all peoples concord and peace, to preserve our land from discord and strife, to give our country Your protection in every time of need, to direct and defend our president and all in authority, to bless and protect our magistrates and all our people, to keep in safety the members of our armed forces and to give wisdom to those in command,
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers and to turn their hearts; to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth; and graciously to hear our prayers;
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

P: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
C: We implore You to hear us.

P: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: Have mercy.

P: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: Have mercy.

P: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: Grant us Your peace.

P: O Christ,
C: Hear us.

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Christ,
C: Have mercy.

P: O Lord,
C: Have mercy. Amen

Praying the Litany would be a good activity for our blog community.  Do it every day, but if you forget or miss a day, don’t worry.  We aren’t being legalistic about this.  Just start again when you can.  The point is, it will benefit us all and those we pray for.  Knowing that we are joining in prayer with other people, who perhaps we know only as commenters on this blog, will be especially meaningful.  So I’m going to do this.  Who’s with me?
About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    I’m in.

  • Pete

    I’m in.

  • Sandra Rhein

    I’m in.

  • Sandra Rhein

    I’m in.

  • Pingback: Lent 2011: Are you ready for it? « An American Point of View

  • Pingback: Lent 2011: Are you ready for it? « An American Point of View

  • Mary Jack

    I’m with you. I loved Harrison’s post when I read it.

  • Mary Jack

    I’m with you. I loved Harrison’s post when I read it.

  • Joe

    in

  • Joe

    in

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I’m encouraging the little Lutheran congregation in Salt Lake City to join you all too. Also me.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I’m encouraging the little Lutheran congregation in Salt Lake City to join you all too. Also me.

  • Bob Myers

    In.

  • Bob Myers

    In.

  • Kimberly

    I’m in; what a way to connect with the whole communion of saints.

  • Kimberly

    I’m in; what a way to connect with the whole communion of saints.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    I’ll use this tonight in our Ash Wednesday service, and encourage the congregation. I’m still sermonizing, I’m thinking in terms of praying as a response to God’s absolution.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    I’ll use this tonight in our Ash Wednesday service, and encourage the congregation. I’m still sermonizing, I’m thinking in terms of praying as a response to God’s absolution.

  • Darren

    Sounds good to me. I’m in.

  • Darren

    Sounds good to me. I’m in.

  • Pingback: On Ash Wednesday | Counterpoint Cafe

  • Pingback: On Ash Wednesday | Counterpoint Cafe

  • Rob

    Had already started yesterday. So powerful.

  • Rob

    Had already started yesterday. So powerful.

  • WebMonk

    I have a question, possibly only answerable by Dr. Veith.

    Yes, Catholics have a version, but it goes back to the early church of the 6th century and the Reformation made good use of it.

    The phrasing on that (Yes … but …) makes it sound like the Catholic version is inferior in some regard because “it goes back to the early church of the 6th century and the Reformation made good use of it.”

    I can see several different reasons why this Litany might be preferable to one of the Catholic Litanies, but that the Catholic Litany (which one?) harkens back to the 6th century or that the Reformation “made use of it” doesn’t seem like a reason I would have expected.

    Curiosity, only.

  • WebMonk

    I have a question, possibly only answerable by Dr. Veith.

    Yes, Catholics have a version, but it goes back to the early church of the 6th century and the Reformation made good use of it.

    The phrasing on that (Yes … but …) makes it sound like the Catholic version is inferior in some regard because “it goes back to the early church of the 6th century and the Reformation made good use of it.”

    I can see several different reasons why this Litany might be preferable to one of the Catholic Litanies, but that the Catholic Litany (which one?) harkens back to the 6th century or that the Reformation “made use of it” doesn’t seem like a reason I would have expected.

    Curiosity, only.

  • wrigley peterborough

    Lord Have Mercy Upon Us, as the TLH rendered the litany. Any idea why the “upon us” was stripped out?

  • wrigley peterborough

    Lord Have Mercy Upon Us, as the TLH rendered the litany. Any idea why the “upon us” was stripped out?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    No, no, no, Webmonk, that was not what I was trying to say. I’ll rewrite the post. What I was trying to say is that the Litany goes back to the 6th century is a good thing! That was before a lot of the doctrines and practices were added that define the specifically “Roman Catholicism.” But I see that the wording is ambiguous. I’ll try again.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    No, no, no, Webmonk, that was not what I was trying to say. I’ll rewrite the post. What I was trying to say is that the Litany goes back to the 6th century is a good thing! That was before a lot of the doctrines and practices were added that define the specifically “Roman Catholicism.” But I see that the wording is ambiguous. I’ll try again.

  • WebMonk

    Ahh, that answers my question. I was a bit puzzled. :-)

  • WebMonk

    Ahh, that answers my question. I was a bit puzzled. :-)


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