In the first two posts of this series, we explored some short prayers as well as some ideas about how and where to pray. Now, we’ll look at some longer prayers that you can incorporate into a daily prayer rule.
Shorter prayers are a great blessing throughout the day. They are even enough to sustain a life of prayer. It isn’t hard to find accounts of Christians of deep faith who focused their entire lives on short prayers.
If we are going to create a daily prayer rule, however, we should include the use of longer prayers also. This will allow us to be more intentional and thoughtful when we approach God. Let’s look at some longer written prayers that you might want to consider using.
From the Desert Fathers to Martin Luther, the Psalms have been the prayer book of Christianity from the beginning. Early Christians, lacking the New Testament canon, often prayed from the Psalms.
The Psalms are well-known as Scripture, but can be prayed as well. They give us a down-to-earth approach to God that reflects both our deepest desires and our greatest anguish. In the Psalmists, we see ourselves.
What follows is a list of Psalms that are excellent for use in a daily prayer rule, but keep in mind, you can’t go wrong with any others:
- Psalm 3
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 27
- Psalm 34
- Psalm 38
- Psalm 42
- Psalm 46
- Psalm 51
- Psalm 63
- Psalm 67
- Psalm 84
- Psalm 88
- Psalm 91
- Psalm 100
- Psalm 103
- Psalm 134
- Psalm 138
- Psalm 143
- Psalm 148
If you had to pick just one, Psalm 51 is a timeless choice used by Christians from the beginning. Here is the text of Psalm 51, in the timeless beauty of the King James Version:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
The Prayer of Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi is one of the most famous preachers in history, known for his simple lifestyle and love of nature. His best-known prayer, often called the Peace Prayer, is a wonderful reminder of what is essential in the Christian life, and a wonderful prayer to consider including in your daily prayer rule.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Lenten Prayer of Ephrem the Syrian
Ephrem the Syrian was a 4th century Christian hymnographer whose writings have enjoyed popularity in the Christian East for 1,700 years. His Lenten Prayer is best known, but it need not be confined only to Lent.
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.
A Few Prayers From the Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer was first published in 1549 by the Church of England. Since that time, its influence on Western Christian culture has been immense. Many Protestant denominations have been influenced by it, and adapted versions exist for Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Along with the King James Version of the Bible, it also had enormous influence upon classical English literature.
Here are a few gems from the Book of Common Prayer.
For Our Enemies: O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Guidance: O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the Evening: O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.
Prayer is an expansive topic, which is why there are thousands upon thousands of books on it. For all that has been written on it, there is one simple point that cannot be repeated enough.
However you pray, pray.
Pray as often as you can.
Pray without ceasing. (1 Thess 5:17)
Question: What longer prayers do you like to use?