My favourite prayers

When I retired I began to worship at Chelmsford Cathedral and as a result in the nine or so years I have come to appreciate the beauty of Anglican liturgy. It is, however, all very different from what I have been used to. As a child, apart from the Lord’s Prayer, I was never taught any set prayers. Instead prayer was always spontaneous and extempore. However in later years as a Baptist minister my prayers at the Lord’s Table would often include one of the great prayers of the church. To encourage familiarity, instead of drawing upon a wide selection of prayers, I would limit the prayers I chose and would repeat them regularly.

This is the context in which I am writing this week. Instead of looking at prayers in general, I am limiting myself to communion prayers in which we praise God for his sending of his Son and then go on to ask him to help us live for him in the coming days. Clearly there are many prayers which I could have chosen, but the following are among my favourites. They are listed not in order of date, but alphabetically in terms of name or place.

David Adam, a former vicar of Iona (1936-2020): “Peace, Lord, peace. Help me, be your peace, to give peace, to radiate peace, to receive peace, to achieve peace. Teach me, by your peace, when to forego peace, when to disturb peace, when to distil peace, always to be at peace, O Lord God of peace.”

St Anselm, a former Archbishop of Canterbury (1033/34-1109): “O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire you with our whole heart; that so desiring, we make seek and find you; and so finding may love you; and so loving, may have those sins from which you have delivered us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

St Augustine of Hippo (354-430) who lived in modern Algeria: “O God, you are the light of the minds that know you; the life of the souls that love you; and the strength of the wills that serve you. Help us so to know you, that we many truly love you; and so to love you that we may fully serve you, who to serve is perfect freedom, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

St Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226): “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; whether there is doubt, faith; and 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; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuits: “Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and not to ask for any reward – except our knowing that we do your will, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), an American Reformed theologian: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

St Patrick (387-461), a Scotsman who became the Apostle to the Irish, is famed for his ‘Breastplate’: “Christ be with me, Christ within me; Christ behind me, Christ before me; Christ beside me; Christ to win me; Christ to comfort and restore me; Christ beneath me, Christ above me; Christ in quiet, Christ in danger; Christ in hearts of all that love me; Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

Richard of Chichester (1197-1253): “Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for all the benefits you have won for us, for all the pains and insults you have borne for us.  Most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.”

The Sarum Psalter (1892) was compiled by a woman: “God be in my head and in my understanding; God be in my eyes and in my looking; God be in my mouth and in my speaking; God be in my heart, and in my thinking; God be at mine end and my departing.”

Finally John Wesley (1703-1791) wrote this for his New Year ‘covenant’ service: “I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to you.”

Whatever our churchmanship I think there is a lot to be for ministers familiarising the members of their congregation with these beautiful prayers.


  1. An inspiring selection of prayers, all but two of which I am very familiar with !- I must have often heard them said by ministers in church or come across them frequently in my reading. I did not know the peace prayer by David Adam, but found it very moving.

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