Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Confession

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 

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