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A Prayer for Sunday (St. Patrick)

st patrickIn the fifth century, St. Patrick established his reputation as one of the most famous missionaries in Christian history. According to tradition, he was just a teenager when he was taken as a slave to Ireland. He eventually escaped, became a priest, and returned to Ireland with the gospel. After years of faithful service, he has long been remembered as the “Apostle of Ireland” and one of the key figures in establishing Celtic Christianity.

In memory of Patrick’s amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

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A Prayer for Sunday (Thomas Aquinas)

St Thomas AquinasThomas Aquinas is one of those theologians who needs little introduction. One of the most influential theologians in the history of the church, Aquinas has shaped the way theologians in the west think about almost every theological issue. Best known for his massive Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles, Thomas also wrote extensive commentaries on Scripture and Aristotle, as well as various liturgical works.

Thomas Aquinas died on March 7, 1274. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, today’s prayer comes from him. And it’s an excellent prayer for students and learners everywhere.

Ineffable Creator,
Who, from the treasures of Your wisdom,
has established three hierarchies of angels,
has arrayed them in marvelous order above the fiery heavens,
and has marshaled the regions of the universe with such artful skill,
You are proclaimed the true font of light and wisdom,
and the primal origin raised high beyond all things.

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A Prayer for Sunday (George Herbert)

george herbertSeventeenth century Britain produced a number of impressive figures, but few as creative and provocative as the poet George Herbert. Though he died young (only 39), he still produced an amazing body of work, and is considered one of the most influential of the “metaphysical poets,” or people who used poetry to craft their ideas about the essential nature of the universe.  And Herbert’s poems continue to be widely read and studied today. In addition to his poetry, Herbert also served in Parliament for a couple of years and spent the last decade or so of his life as the rector of a small church near Salisbury.

George Herbert died on March 1, 1633. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him. It’s actually a sonnet that he wrote about prayer, filled with powerful and often conflicting images about what prayer is, ultimately concluding with the simple assertion that despite the mystery of prayer, it is “something understood.”

Prayer the Churches banquet, Angels age,
…..Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
…..The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’ Almightie, sinners towre,
…..Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
…..The six-daies world transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear;

Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
…..Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
…..Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The Milkie way, the bird of Paradise,

…..Church-bels beyond the starres heard, the souls bloud,
…..The land of spices; something understood.

A Prayer for Sunday (Martin Bucer)

bucerMartin Bucer may well be one of the most influential figures of the Protestant Reformation that people haven’t heard of. Working with a group of reformers in Strasbourg, Bucer played a mediating role between Luther and Zwingli, influenced a young John Calvin, led efforts to continue theological dialog with Catholic theologians, and eventually ended up in England where he helped shape the reformation efforts there as well. Bucer was, therefore, one of the few reformation figures who truly impacted the reformation throughout all of Europe.

Martin Bucer died on Februrary 28, 1551. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

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A Prayer for Sunday (Caedmon)

caedmonThe earliest anglo-saxon poet whose name we know, Caedmon was apparently famous for the vivid hymns he composed while living at a monastery in Whitby during the 7th century. Unfortunately, very few of his songs have survived, and we know about his life exclusively through a near contemporary, the English historian Venerable Bede.

Caedmon died in AD 680. Since we don’t know the precise date of his death, I thought we would just go ahead and recognize his life and ministry today. So here is Caedmon’s Hymn of Creation.

Now we must praise the ruler of heaven,
The might of the Lord and his purpose of mind,
The work of the glorious Father; for he,
God eternal, established each wonder,
He, holy creator, first fashioned the heavens
As a roof for the children of earth.
And then our guardian, the everlasting Lord,
Adorned this middle-earth for men.
Praise the almighty king of heaven.

A Prayer for Sunday (Miles Coverdale)

CoverdaleAn English reformer and Bible translator, Miles Coverdale was best known for producing the famous Coverdale Bible, first complete translation of the Bible into modern English. Although he lived on the continent for much of his life, Coverdale built off the work of earlier translators like William Tyndale and John Wycliffe, both of whom were condemned for their translation efforts, and produced a Bible translation that would have tremendous influence during the time of the English Reformation.

Miles Coverdale died on January 20, 1569. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, today’s prayer comes from him.

O Lord Jesus Christ, draw thou our hearts unto thee;
join them together in inseparable love,
that we may abide in thee and thou in us,
and that the everlasting covenant between us may stand sure for ever.

Let the fiery darts of thy love pierce through
all our slothful members and inward powers,
that we, being happily wounded,
may so become whole and sound.

Let us have no lover but thyself alone;
let us seek no joy nor comfort except in thee.

A Prayer for Sunday (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

lloyd-jones_martyn The famous welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones was an influential British pastor through most of the twentieth century. One of the leading evangelical voices of his day, Jones was famous for his expository sermons and his resistance to liberal aspects of the British church. Although Jones ministered mostly in England, Jones’ influence has been felt through the English-speaking world.

Martyn Lloyd Jones died on March 1, 1981. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

“Oh Lord our God we thank thee more than ever that thou has been pleased to give us thy Holy Word. We realise what frail, fallible creatures we are, and how prone we are to go off on tangents and to trust to our own understanding only. We thank thee that thou has given us thy Spirit and thou has given us thy Word.

Oh God we cry out to thee, as a company of thy people, to have mercy upon us. God of our fathers, let it be known that thou art still God in Israel. Let it be known in this arrogant 20th Century, that thou art the same God who has acted and operated throughout the running centuries.

Honour thine own Word, oh Lord. Honour thine own dear Son. Exalt his precious name, and bring many to a knowledge of him as their only Saviour and their Lord.

Lord have pity upon us. In the midst of wrath remember mercy. Revive thy work, oh Lord, thy mighty arm made bare. Speak with a voice that wakes the dead, and make the people hear.”

A Prayer for Sunday (Samuel Johnson)

Samuel JohnsonA famous English writer, Samuel Johnson is considered by many to have been one of the most influential literary figures in history. The amazing breadth of his literary production includes a whole range of essays, poems, books, and sermons. But among his most lasting contributions was his famous Dictionary of the English Languagea worked that shaped modern English in many ways.

Samuel Johnson died on December 13, 1784. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

O God, who hast ordained that
…..whatever is to be desired should be sought by labor,
and Who, by Thy blessing,
…..bringest honest labor to good effect,
look with mercy upon my studies and endeavors.

Grant me, O Lord, to design only what is lawful and right;
and afford me calmness of mind, and steadiness of purpose,
that I may so do Thy will in this short life
as to obtain happiness in the world to come,
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord–Amen.

A Prayer for Sunday (John of Damascus)

john-of-damascusOne of the greatest theologians of the early church, John of Damascus is viewed by many as the last of the church fathers. (This of course depends greatly on how you define the “church fathers.”) He was born in Syria as Yuhanna ibn Mansur ibn Sargun and was one of the earliest and most influential theologians to live and write entirely under Muslim rule. His writings on theology, law, and philosophy influenced thinkers in both the east and the west, and he is particularly famous for his defense of religious icons against those who wanted to remove all images from Christian churches (i.e. the iconoclasts).

The details of John’s life are somewhat uncertain, and we don’t even know the date of his death for sure. But the traditional date of his passing is December 4, 749. So in honor of his amazing life and ministry, today’s prayer comes from him.

O Lord and Master Jesus Christ, our God,
who alone hath power to forgive the sins of men,
do thou, O Good One who lovest mankind,
forgive all the sins that I have committed
…….in knowledge or in ignorance,
and make me worthy to receive without condemnation
…….thy divine, glorious, immaculate and life-giving Mysteries;
not unto punishment or unto increase of sin;
but unto purification, and sanctification
…….and a promise of thy Kingdom and the Life to come;
as a protection and a help to overthrow the adversaries,
…….and to blot out my many sins.
For thou art a God of Mercy and compassion
…….and love toward mankind,
and unto Thee we ascribe glory
…….together with the Father and the Holy Spirit;
now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

A Prayer for Sunday (Jakob Boehme)

jakob boehmeA German mystic and theologian, Jakob Boehme was famous throughout Europe for his creative, and often speculative, theology and his mystical writings. But he is probably best known for his influence on later movements like Pietism and German Romanticism, both of which looked to Boehme as an early exponent of their ideas.

Jakob Boehme died on November 17, 1624. In honor of his life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

Bless me, O God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, thou only true God.  I thank thee through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, for thy preservation of me, and for all other benifits.

I now commend myself, both soul and body, and all that thou hast me to do in my employment or calling, into thy protection.

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