Prayers for 2019 brimming with life

As January 1 approached, I was talking with a man at a local coffee shop about setting goals for the new year. I told him I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions. When our faith came up, he told me he is a Catholic and asked, “What prayers will you pray in 2019?”

I don’t think I have been asked that before, but I answered, “Well, probably the same prayers I prayed last year.  I pretty-much pray the same prayers every day, every week, every month.”

“Oh, you’re Catholic.”

“Nope. Protestant.”

“Really? Tell me about your prayers.”

I told him every day at about 5am I sit at my desk and start with this prayer, “Heavenly Father, creator of heaven and earth, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God of Israel, God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, True and Living God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have mercy and hear my prayers.”

Every morning I pray the same confession of sin I learned as a boy, “Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbor as myself. (I add: “I have not genuinely loved myself.”) I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me, that I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.”

I then read selections of the Old and New Testament along with a Psalm and a Proverb, before praying the Apostles’ Creed (“I believe in God the Father Almighty creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord ….”). Following the creed, I pray the Jesus’ prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”  Praying Psalm 23 comes next, followed by these words from Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘You are my fortress and my refuge, my God in whom I trust.’”

Every day I pray the Lord’s prayer and before my first appointment of the day I pray the Serenity Prayer, “Grant me the peace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things new if I surrender to his will, that I may be reasonably happy in this world and eternally happy with him in the next world.”

Every morning I rest my hands on my thighs, turn my palms upward and pray “Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”  I confess the mystery of the faith, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”

At least once a week I pray the Prayer of St. Francis that starts, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” and ends, “For it is giving that we receive. It is in forgiving that we are forgiven, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

For 20 years the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90 has been part of my weekly repertoire of prayers. I center on the words: “Lord, you turn people back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, you mortals.’ A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death – they are like the new grass of the morning. In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. … Teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Every week for the last 10 years, I have prayed this prayer given to me by a long-time missionary friend: “O Lord, deliver me from the fear of the unknown future, from fear of failure, from fear of poverty, from fear of bereavement, from fear of loneliness, from fear of sickness and pain, from fear of age, and from fear of death. Help me, O Father, by your grace, to love and fear you only. Fill my heart with cheerful courage and loving trust in you, through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Finally, before turning to the news of the morning, I make the sign of the cross and pray, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever, world without end.”

Happily, I told the fellow I was talking with that those words and prayers usually feel like a liturgy brimming with life, full of God’s blessing.

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