It is a truly privilege for me to visit members of the parish who are in their later years, perhaps who are ill or homebound, and to offer to pray with or for them. I always receive more spiritually from these visits than I think I offered them. Please don’t ever think the clergy are “too busy” for you to request a visit. When visiting, after hearing about their current situation, I often ask if they have a particular prayer or Psalm that they would like me to say for them. The responses can be a window into their spiritual history and spiritual needs, and range from, “Not anything in particular, you choose” to “Please read Psalm 23, 103 or 121”, or they recall a prayer they said as a child. We begin saying the Lord’s Prayer together, and then I add the prayer or psalm they wish to hear. Tears come to the eyes and lips move that may not have spoken in many days or months. Memories are recalled. It seems that prayers learned in childhood remain in our memories and bring us comfort in our later years. These experiences always further convince me of the importance of teaching prayers to children, who will need to hold onto them at times in their lives. It is important for us to know a prayer we can say whenever we are ill, lonely, grieving, scared, in pain, or needing to pray with someone else who is ill, lonely, grieving, scared or in pain. To be prayed for and to pray with another are often the unspoken desires of those in need, and we shouldn’t hesitate to offer to pray with someone, or to ask someone to pray for us.
What resources do we have? We can create our own prayers, using the words that come from our hearts, and not worry about form or vocabulary. God hears all prayers, no matter how muddled our words may seem to us. But Episcopalians have the gift of the Book of Common Prayer, which in addition to providing direction for worship, includes many, many prayers for all sorts of situations. Keep one in your home for your personal or family’s use and give it as a gift to a friend or family member. Here are some favorite prayers that have been requested or I have used with parishioners.
From the service of Compline
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake
we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace. Amen
For the Aging
Look with mercy, O God our Father, on all whose increasing
years bring them weakness, distress, or isolation. Provide for
them homes of dignity and peace; give them understanding
helpers, and the willingness to accept help; and, as their
strength diminishes, increase their faith and their assurance
of your love. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our
For Those Suffering or Grieving
O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that
thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men:
Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom
our prayers are offered. Remember him, O Lord, in mercy,
nourish his soul with patience, comfort him with a sense of
thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon him, and give
him peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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.
A Collect for the Renewal of Life
O God, the King eternal, who dividest the day from the
night and turnest the shadow of death into the morning:
Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep
thy law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that,
having done thy will with cheerfulness while it was day, we
may, when night cometh, rejoice to give thee thanks;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to
have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.
Thank you so much for these wonderful prayers and for your thoughts!
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) has been helpful to me when I attend memorial visitations. The burial service prayers and bible selections offer ways to make the chronos time become cairos time when the family needs a shoulder to cry on. Another good book that’s out of print is called “The Prayer Manual.” a small paperback collection of prayers, some from the BCP.