Peter Marshall's soulful Senate prayers resonate with me, like this confession
Peter Marshall was best known as a longtime Chaplain of the United States Senate, a tenure that began in 1947. This prayer is from the collection edited by his wife, Catherine, titled The Prayers of Peter Marshall (McGraw Hill, 1954). I found it in one of many used book sales I have frequented. I appreciate the frankness, honesty, and hope for a new personal and community trajectory that resounds in Marshall's prayers. Like this one:
Hear me, Father, as I make my confessions. I thank You that You receive me as I am, not as I pretend to be. I am so tired of pretending.
Forgive me for the times I have succeeded in deceiving my friends and loved ones, for I knew I did not deceive You. In sinning against others, I know that I have sinned against You. For have You not said plainly that whoever claims to love God and yet hates his or her brother or sister is a liar?
I have thought often of myself and my own needs, seldom of my fellow human beings and of their needs. O God, give me selflessness.
I have been unwilling to forgive others, yet have had the audacity to ask You to forgive me. I ask You for an understanding heart.
I have criticized other people in order to inflate my own importance. I ask You, O God, for a generous heart.
I have tried by reason and twisting of my conscience to rationalize wrong into right.
There have been times when I told the truth only because I believed it was expedient to do so. O God, help me to love truth and honesty for their own sakes, so that I may do right simply because I know it is right to do right.
I have sought the spotlight, yet I am not big enough to stand in it. I want to be renowned for great deeds, and all the while am notorious for small performances.
I know that love for others is a gift from You. How much I desire it! Yet I cannot manufacture it. Increase, I pray, Your giving to me, that I may have more love toward other people.
So may I go from this place to live my Christianity every day, in the things I shall say to others, in the things I shall do for others, in the way I shall live with others, that my own witness may be made to the love of Christ Jesus, my Lord.
John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA