Ulrich Zwingli was a first-generation Reformer and is regarded as the founder of Swiss Protestantism. Zwingli was born in 1484, less than 2 months after Martin Luther. Zwingli and Luther would independently come to almost identical theologies simply by reading and studying the Bible. Here is the prayer from Ulrich Zwingli that I used to open yesterday morning’s adult Bible study at our church:
Almighty, eternal and merciful God, whose Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path, open and illuminate our minds, that we may purely and perfectly understand thy Word and that our lives may be conformed to what we have rightly understood, that in nothing we may be displeasing unto thy majesty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Yesterday, in honor of Reformation Sunday, I began our Bible study with the following prayer from Philipp Melanchthon, a close associate of Martin Luther. Melanchthon was the primary author of the Augsburg Confession which is one of the foundational confessional documents of Lutheran Churches to this day. Here is Melanchthon’s prayer:
Almighty, eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Creator of heaven and earth, and man,
together with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, your word and image,
and with your Holy Spirit, have mercy upon us,
and forgive us our sins for your Son’s sake,
whom you have made our Mediator according to your wonderful counsels,
and guide and sanctify us by your Holy Spirit,
which was poured out upon the Apostles.
Grant that we may truly know and praise you throughout all eternity! Amen.
John Chrysostom lived from 347-407 and was known for his great preaching. Chrysostom was not actually his name, but was a title applied to him after his death meaning “golden mouthed” because of his great preaching skills. This is a prayer of his to be used before reading or hearing the Word of God. I used it yesterday as the opening prayer of our Bible study.
O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart,
that I may hear Your word and understand and do Your will,
for I am a sojourner upon the earth.
Hide not Your commandments from me,
but open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of Your law.
Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of Your wisdom.
On You do I set my hope, O my God,
that You shall enlighten my mind and understanding
with the light of Your knowledge,
not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them;
that in reading the lives and sayings of the saints I may not sin,
but that such may serve for my restoration, enlightenment and sanctification,
for the salvation of my soul,and the inheritance of life everlasting.
For You are the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness,
and from You comes every good deed and every gift. Amen.
The following is the second half of a prayer from the Scottish Reformer, John Knox (first half is here). I used this as the opening prayer yesterday for our Bible study at church.
O Lord, strengthen our faith;
kindle it more in zeal and love towards you, and our neighbors, for your sake.
Suffer us not, most dear Father, to receive your word any more in vain;
but grant us always the assistance of your grace and Holy Spirit,
that in heart, word, and deed, we may sanctify and do worship to your name.
Help to amplify and increase your kingdom;
that whatsoever you send, we will be heartily content with your good pleasure and will.
O Father, let us not lack anything we need to serve you;
but bless all the works of our hands, that we may have sufficient for our needs,
and let us not be a liability, but rather let us be helpful to others.
Be merciful, O Lord, to our offenses;
and seeing that our debt is great, which you have forgiven us in Jesus Christ,
make us to love you and our neighbors so much the more.
Be our Father, our Captain and Defender in all temptations;
hold by your merciful hand; that we may be delivered from all hardships,
and end our lives in the sanctifying and honoring of your holy name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord and only Savior.
Let your mighty hand and outstretched arm, O Lord, be still our defense;
your mercy and loving-kindness in Jesus Christ, your dear Son, our salvation;
your true and holy word our instruction;
your grace and Holy Spirit our comfort and consolation, unto the end and in the end.
O Lord, increase our faith. Amen.
Please note that I modified this prayer slightly for modern English.
The following is the first half of a prayer from the great Reformer, John Knox. I used this prayer in our Bible study yesterday at church. I especially love how he covers the work of the Triune God in salvation in the second paragraph.
Honor and praise be given to you, O Lord God Almighty, most dear Father of heaven, for all your mercies and loving-kindness showed unto us, in that it has pleased your gracious goodness freely and of your own accord to elect and choose us to salvation before the beginning of the world.
And may continual thanks be given to you for creating us after your own image; for redeeming us with the precious blood of your dear Son, when we were utterly lost; for sanctifying us with your Holy Spirit in the revelation and knowledge of your holy word; for helping us in all our needs and necessities; for saving us from all dangers of body and soul; for comforting us so fatherly in all our tribulations and persecutions; for sparing us so long, and giving us so large a time of repentance.
These benefits, O most merciful Father, we acknowledge to have received only because of your goodness, even so we ask you, for your dear Son Jesus Chris’s sake, to grant us always your Holy Spirit, whereby we may continually grow in thankfulness towards you, and be led into all truth, and comforted in all our adversities.
Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for You and not for self, to copy Your words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Your likeness, to be consecrated wholly to You, to live entirely to Your glory.
Deliver me from attachment to things unclean, from wrong associations, from the predominance of evil passions, from the sugar of sin as well as its gap; that with self-loathing, deep contrition, earnest heart searching I may come to You, cast myself on You, trust in You, cry to You, be delivered by You.
O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that all things are shadows, but You are substance, all things are quicksands, but You are mountain, all things are shifting, but You are anchor, all things are ignorance, but You are wisdom.
If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat, so be it, but You sit at the furnace mouth to watch the ore that nothing be lost. If I sin willfully, grievously, tormentedly, in grace take away my mourning and give me music; remove my sackcloth and clothe me with beauty; still my sighs and fill my mouth with song, then give me summer weather as a Christian. Amen.
Taken from A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.
A few nights ago, our not-so-little 2-year old, Grace, volunteered to pray for us before dinner. Most of the prayer was pretty standard fare for a 2-year old, but she finished by praying:
Thank you Jesus for letting us love you.
What a beautiful reminder of the privilege it is to not only be loved by God, but that he makes himself available for us to love him in return. It is only because God has torn apart the veil that separated sinful man from himself, that we are able to approach him without fear. It is only because God abides in us that we are capable of true love. And, it is only because God first loved us that we can love him or each other:
We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
So, we Christians can all pray along with Grace and say:
Thank you Jesus for letting us love you.