If I had a prayer that I were going to recite on a daily or weekly basis, what would it say?
The question came to me recently when I heard “A Prayer for Today,” written by Phillips Brooks. He was an Episcopalian theologian in the 19th century, best known for having written “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The prayer was sort of a riff on the Lord’s Prayer, and like the Lord’s Prayer, it gave a laundry list of a dozen or so of what the author felt are the most important things in life. There were parts of it I liked a great deal, other parts less so, and of course it had to conclude “in the name of…our only…” because Christians—even the most liberal of them—seem to feel they cannot honor that one manifestation of the Divine without putting down all the others.
But never mind that. Hearing it got me thinking, if I were to write my own ‘prayer for today’ to bring before the Gods or to hold in the Light, what would I ask?
Cat and I have had an occasional practice over the summer of Quaker worship on the front porch in the mornings. Often I will find myself writing out of the silence, and on one such morning I came up with this:
I ask STRENGTH to meet the tasks at hand,
REST, that I may come to each day’s tasks renewed,
DISCERNMENT to see where I am led,
PERSPECTIVE, to leave be the problems it is not given me to fix,
GROUNDEDNESS, to know and to own my wants and desires,
A SWEET TEMPER, to not mind small annoyances,
CONFIDENCE IN MY RESOURCEFULNESS, to not fear change and upheaval,
LOVE, that love may be the first motion in all of my actions and the first thought in all of my interactions,
BELIEF IN THE GOODNESS OF PEOPLE, and also…
HONESTY, to call them on their bullshit, to set appropriate limits, and to take wise precautions, and
CLEARNESS, to speak truths directly, with neither rancor nor hesitation.
ALL THIS I ASK of God, known by many names of old and by many names today, and known also in the places in which there are no names or words.
AND TO ALL OF THIS I PLEDGE MYSELF, steady as rock, lively as hope.