a prayer for guidance

God of heaven, always speak to us the word we need, for Father, how we need it.

Speak to us:

The word of encouragement when we are discouraged and depressed.
The word of warning when we are likely to go astray.
The word of comfort when life has hurt us.
The word of guidance when we do not know what to do and where to go.
The Lord of strength to enable us to resist our temptations.
The word of power to make us able for work and ready for any burden.
Whatever word we need, Father, speak it to us now.

Take from us:

Everything which would keep us from hearing your voice.
Any and all lack of attention in our minds and our wandering thoughts.
The coldness in our hearts and weakness of our wills.
Our self-will which disregards your truth.
The prejudice we cannot hear or see, but which is always with us and sees only what it wants to see.
The desire not to be disturbed, and our misplaced fear of being confronted by your truth.

Help us in this place to hear your word, and in the deepest place of all, our hearts, so that we might always obey it.

Lord God, teach us we beg you, to ask right and for the right blessings. Guide our hearts and lives toward you in every way and through all of life’s storms. Show us the way that we should go. Renew a willing spirit within us. Lead us and enable us into all that is your true good. For yours is the glory and praise throughout all that is heaven and earth. 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 (3)

While most of us still tend to follow our parents’ religious commitments, at least if their commitments were clear and consistent, a substantial number of Americans now choose their religious affiliations and beliefs, rather than inheriting them. Roughly half of white Americans have departed from their parents’ religious stance, either though switching to a different religious tradition or through lapsing into religious indifference. Both intermarriage and defection from family religious tradition are lower among ethnic minorities, as well as among the most devoutly religious families. For most of the twentieth century that latter group was disproportionately drawn from evangelical Protestants, although the evangelical edge has diminished and virtually vanished in recent cohorts. Meanwhile, religious intermarriage rose steadily through the twentieth century to the point that today roughly half of all married Americans chose a partner from a different religious tradition. …

One result in all these changes is that individual choice has become virtually as important as inheritance in explaining Americans’ religious affiliations, raising the stakes for religious marketing and innovation … A second implication, perhaps less obvious, but more important, is that Americans now live in a more religiously integrated society …

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell (Simon & Schuster, 2010), pp.159-160