a prayer for all who we remember

Holy God our Heavenly Father,

Bless our friends and our loved ones and keep them safe from harm and danger.
Bless our enemies and those who dislike us, and help us by caring for them to make them our friends.
Bless those who are in pain of body, anxiety of mind, or sorrow of heart.
Bless those who are lonely because death has taken from them a dear friend or loved one.
Bless those who are old and who now are left alone.
Bless those who’ve made a mess of life and who know all too well that they have no one but themselves to blame.
Bless those who have fallen into temptation and who are sorry now, and give them grace to begin again and this time not to fall.
Bless all who are in trouble and help them to wind their way through it.
Bless each one of us not as we think we need, but as you know we need.

Give us, O Lord, minds like yours, so that our delight is doing your will. May your word be written on our hearts. Give us courage and resolve to do our very best in living for your glory and your praise. As you give us each of the rest of the days of our lives, may we use them all for what they are, precious gifts from you. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Excerpted, and lightly edited from, A Barclay Prayer Book by William Barclay (Westminster John Knox Press, 1990), first published under the titles Epilogues and Prayers (1963) and Prayers for the Christian Year (1964)

american grace (6)

In 2004 and 2006 the General Social Survey asked Americans about fifteen possible good deeds they might have performed in the previous twelve months, ranging from helping someone find a job to donating blood to looking after neighbor’s plants or letting a stranger cut in line. Not all of these good deeds are associated with greater religiosity, but most are, even when we hold age, gender, race, and education constant. Frequent churchgoers are more likely to:

  • give money to charity
  • do volunteer work for charity
  • give money to a homeless person
  • give excess change back to the shop clerk
  • donate blood
  • help someone outside their own household with housework
  • spend time with someone who is “a bit down”
  • allow a stranger to cut in front of them
  • offer a seat to a stranger
  • help someone find a job

Five other types of good deeds are not correlated with religiosity, one way or the other:

  • look after plants or pets of others while away
  • carry a stranger’s belongings
  • give directions to stranger
  • let someone borrow an item of some value
  • lend money to another person

… not a single one of these fifteen types of good deeds is more common among secular Americans than among religious Americans. …

Does this generosity vary across different religious traditions? “Yes, but not much” is the answer.

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell (Simon & Schuster, 2010), pp.451-452