In recent years I have been really taken with the writing of Elizabeth Goudge. She lived from 1900 to 1984 and wrote both fiction (I highly recommend her stories!) and non-fiction and edited several anthologies. Most of her books are out of print now. It’s a shame!
For my last birthday, my friend and colleague at Food for the Hungry, Lisa, gave me an anthology by Goudge called A Diary of Prayer: A Treasury of the World’s Most Inspiring Prayers. I guess boasting that the book includes The World’s *Most* Inspiring Prayers could be a bit overdone, but I have thoroughly appreciated this book. Thanks, Lisa!
Its entries are dated, and this week I read the prayer for September 17. It was such a rich prayer. I felt it washing over various aspects of my life and giving me words to come to God for the work of Food the Hungry and many other aspects of life as well.
I hope you get a few moments to dwell on this prayer and perhaps return to it many times. There is much depth here that can orient us or re-orient us as we go through our days, trusting that the Lord can use brokenhearted sinners to banish darkness and bring new life.
O Savior of the world,
teach us how to pray for those who are lost in desolations of darkness without the knowledge of mercy that is yourself.
We remember the innocent victims of war and all the agony they suffer,
those who are sunk in the wretchedness of sin and can find no deliverance,
those in despair,
those beset by temptation,
those who are greatly afraid,
those who have been overwhelmed by torment of mind or body.
Save us from the cowardice that would turn away from the thought of these things, from the indifference that would pass them by.
Give us penitence for the evil in ourselves which has added to the darkness of the world,
and if there be any small thing we can do to lighten any misery, show us what it is and help us to do it.
Teach us how to pray with compassion which is not afraid to suffer with those who suffer and, if it need be, to enter into darkness with them.
O Everlasting Mercy, who once in time came from the height of heaven down to the depth of our need, come again in power to forgive us and renew us and set us on fire, that through the labors and prayers of brokenhearted sinners your mercy may banish the darkness and bring new life upon the earth.
–from A Diary of Prayer: A Treasury of the World’s Most Inspiring Prayers, by Elizabeth Goudge, Coward McCann, 1966.