Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him?
Or the son of man that you should care for him?
For you have made him little less than the angels,
setting him over the wonders of Your creation,
to tend and to care for them,
to study them and to learn Your ways.
Lord, make me a worthy steward of Your creation,
guide me in the paths of Your righteousness,
and make me an overflowing vessel of your love.
I composed this prayer piecemeal six years ago as I was recovering from a broken ankle and a bleeding ulcer brought by taking too many aspirin (to deal with the pain from the broken ankle). It is a pastiche of various scriptural passages. I used to sit on the edge of the bed in the morning, or sit on the stairs at night (before I levered myself up step by step on my butt), praying pieces of it. I played with these pieces, and somehow it all came together. I prayed it for a while on a regular basis, but it slipped away. But just recently something brought it to mind again. It is a good prayer to say when I don’t know what else to pray.
A bit of exegesis on my own prayer: The praises in the first six lines came first. The first three lines are from Psalm 8:4; “angels” is an alternate reading that not all translations use. The fourth line is also reminiscent of Psalm 8:6, but then it goes in a different direction, replacing “dominion” with stewardship. Learning God’s ways from His creation also seems to come from the Psalms, though I am not sure which one led to this formulation. (But compare to Psalm 19:2 and 50:6.)
The petitions I think came about from trying to wrap up the prayer. Just repeating the praises seemed to be lacking. The first was an obvious corollary to the praise of being made a steward in the first place: God, if this is what you want me to do, help me to do it well. The idea of God’s righteousness appears regularly in the Psalms, but I am not sure why or how I came up with this. The last petition was modeled on Luke 6:38:
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.
Love is God’s gift to us, and it seemed worthwhile for a Franciscan to love others to the full measure that God loved me. What more is there to ask for if I am given all these things?