Daily Prayers for December 31

Watch Night

Established in African-American communities on December 31, 1862, Watch Night is a gathering to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation becoming law. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 1863, all slaves in the Confederate States were proclaimed free. Since that date 146 years ago, African-Americans have celebrated the good news of freedom in local churches on New Year’s Eve. Like the slaves who first gathered while the Civil War raged on, we proclaim freedom for all captives in -Jesus’ name, knowing that for millions, freedom is not a reality. Our celebration is a commitment to join modern-day slaves and undocumented workers in their struggle for justice.

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord : let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Song “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah”

Shout the glad tidings o’er Egypt’s dark sea : Jehovah has triumphed; his -people are free!

Psalm 150

Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy temple : praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts : praise him for his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the blast of the ram’s horn : praise him with lyre and harp.

Praise him with timbrel and dance : praise him with strings and pipe.

Praise him with resounding cymbals : praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

Let everything that has breath : praise the Lord. Hallelujah!

Shout the glad tidings o’er Egypt’s dark sea : Jehovah has triumphed; his -people are free!

Isaiah 26:1 – 9 John 8:12 – 19

Shout the glad tidings o’er Egypt’s dark sea : Jehovah has triumphed; his -people are free!

Writing about the first Watch Night, Booker T. Washington said, “As the great day grew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. True, they had sung those same verses before, but they had been careful to explain that the ‘freedom’ in these songs referred to the next world, and had no connection with life in this world. Now they gradually threw off the mask; and were not afraid to let it be known that the ‘freedom’ in their songs meant freedom of the body in this world.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord, we know that freedom will prevail because you are already victorious. Help us never lose hope, never stop celebrating your victory, and never stop walking alongside those who struggle to see this freedom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 30

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord : let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Song “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

The Lord lifts up the lowly : but casts the wicked to the ground.

Psalm 147:1 5

Hallelujah! How good it is to sing praises to our God! : how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!

The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem : he gathers the exiles of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted : and binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars : and calls them all by their names.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power : there is no limit to his wisdom.

The Lord lifts up the lowly : but casts the wicked to the ground.

Isaiah 25:1 – 9 John 7:53 – 8:11

The Lord lifts up the lowly : but casts the wicked to the ground.

Fourth-century preacher John Chrysostom said, “This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good. For nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord, make us a refuge to the poor. Help us prepare a feast for the hungry. Teach us to wipe away the tears of those who mourn, even as you shelter us, feed us, and wipe away our tears. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 29

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us bow down and bend the knee : let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Song “O Lord, Hear My Prayer”

Listen, Lord; listen, Lord : not to our words but to our prayers.

Psalm 143:7 11

O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me : do not hide your face from me or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.

Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning, for I put my trust in you : show me the road that I must walk, for I lift up my soul to you.

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord : for I flee to you for refuge.

Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God : let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Revive me, O Lord, for your name’s sake : for your righteous-ness’ sake, bring me out of trouble.

Listen, Lord; listen, Lord : not to our words but to our prayers.

Isaiah 12:1 – 6 John 7:37 – 52

Listen, Lord; listen, Lord : not to our words but to our prayers.

Origen of Alexandria, a third-century Bible scholar, wrote that “as we — ​by our prayers — ​vanquish all the demons that stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this ser-vice are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them. None fight better for the king than we do. We do not indeed fight under him, although he demands it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army of piety by offering our prayers to God.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord, what you call compassion, others call weakness. What you call conviction, others call dissidence. What you call love, others call mixing with sinners. We pray that we too might be found weak, dissident, and in bad company, especially if it means we are closer to you. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 28

Holy Innocents

After -Jesus was born, Matthew’s gospel records that King Herod was so disturbed by the news of a potential contender for the throne that he ordered a preemptive strike, executing all boys in Bethlehem under two years of age. Since its earliest centuries, the church has remembered these “holy innocents” who died because -Jesus’ coming posed a threat to those in power. Today we remember all the little ones, born and unborn, who are sacrificed in a culture of death that has not yet welcomed the good news of -Jesus. And we recall that Herod’s kingdom is now long gone, but the kingdom of God goes on.

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us bow down and bend the knee : let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Song “O Mary, Don’t You Weep”

Remember the lives of your little ones, Lord : and break the sword of the oppressor.

Psalm 136:1 3, 23 25

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good : for his mercy endures for ever.

Give thanks to the God of gods : for his mercy endures for ever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords : for his mercy endures for ever.

Who remembered us in our low estate : for his mercy endures for ever;

and delivered us from our enemies : for his mercy endures for ever;

who gives food to all creatures : for his mercy endures for ever.

Remember the lives of your little ones, Lord : and break the sword of the oppressor.

Jeremiah 31:15 – 17 Matthew 2:13 – 18

Remember the lives of your little ones, Lord : and break the sword of the oppressor.

Francis Schaeffer, founder of L’Abri, wrote, “Our conscious relationship with God is enhanced if we treat all the things he has made in the same way as he treats them.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord, receive our prayer of tears and sorrow over those children consumed by a world that holds no regard for them. We pray for children left hungry and thirsty, left to fend for themselves on the streets, left to be abused by poor, twisted souls. Lord, in your mercy receive our prayers of intercession for children around the world. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 27

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord : let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Song “All Creatures of Our God and King”

Overwhelm us, Lord : with the weight of your glory.

Psalm 128

Happy are they all who fear the Lord : and who follow in his ways!

You shall eat the fruit of your labor : happiness and prosperity shall be yours.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house : your children like olive shoots round about your table.

The man who fears the Lord : shall thus indeed be blessed.

The Lord bless you from Zion : and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

May you live to see your children’s children : may peace be upon Israel.

Overwhelm us, Lord : with the weight of your glory.

Isaiah 65:15b – 25 Luke 4:14 – 21

Overwhelm us, Lord : with the weight of your glory.

Twentieth-century Quaker Thomas Kelly wrote, “Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. We have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center! If only we could find the Silence which is the source of sound!”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord, with your coming, our lives have a greater demand placed upon them. Help us learn the art of active, consistent ser-vice while maintaining enough silent spaces to hear your call. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 26

Stephen of Jerusalem (? – 35)

Stephen was the first in a long line of Christian martyrs. He looked on those who were about to kill him and asked the Lord to forgive them (Acts 7:60). His courageous nonviolence in the face of death resembled that of Christ. It is said that -Jesus sat at the Father’s side after his ascension into heaven, but rose to greet Stephen when he arrived.

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord : let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Song “Woke Up This Mornin’ ”

In the morning when we rise : may your image shine in us.

Psalm 119:164 68

Seven times a day do I praise you : because of your righteous judgments.

Great peace have they who love your law : for them there is no stumbling block.

I have hoped for your salvation, O Lord : and I have fulfilled your commandments.

I have kept your decrees : and I have loved them deeply.

I have kept your commandments and decrees : for all my ways are before you.

In the morning when we rise : may your image shine in us.

Isaiah 62:6 – 7, 10 – 12 John 3:31 – 36

In the morning when we rise : may your image shine in us.

Fourth-century church father Gregory of Nazianzus wrote, “God became human and poor for our sake, to raise up our flesh, to recover our divine image, to recreate humanity. We no longer observe distinctions arriving from the flesh, but are to bear within ourselves only the seal of God, by whom and for whom we were created. We are to be so formed and molded by -Jesus that we are recognized as belonging to his one family. If only we could be what we hope to be, by the great kindness of our generous God!”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord, your coming is still miraculous. Your joining the family of the poor and displaced still baffles and convicts us. Keep us by your manger until we learn the way of love. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 25

Christmas

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord : let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Song “Go, Tell It on the Mountain”

O Word, now wrapped in human skin : speak peace on earth through your children.

Psalm 119:89 93

O Lord, your word is everlasting : it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness remains from one generation to another : you established the earth, and it abides.

By your decree these continue to this day : for all things are your servants.

If my delight had not been in your law : I should have perished in my affliction.

I will never forget your commandments : because by them you give me life.

O Word, now wrapped in human skin : speak peace on earth through your children.

Zechariah 2:10 – 13 Luke 2:1 – 14

O Word, now wrapped in human skin : speak peace on earth through your children.

Leo the Great preached, “Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the incarnation. From the time when Christ came, the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, and the speech of kindliness diffused. A heavenly way of life has been implanted on the earth.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord God, we adore you as the infant Christ. Teach us how to tend to you in your self-imposed vulnerability with us. Prepare us in these tender moments to see what incarnation means in our world. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 24

Christmas Eve

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us bow down and bend the knee : let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Song “Amazing Grace”

O Light that shines in our darkness : come and free us from our sin.

Psalm 118:19 24

Open for me the gates of righteous-ness : I will enter them; I will offer thanks to the Lord.

“This is the gate of the Lord : he who is righteous may enter.”

I will give thanks to you, for you answered me : and have become my salvation.

The same stone which the builders rejected : has become the chief cornerstone.

This is the Lord’s doing : and it is marvelous in our eyes.

On this day the Lord has acted : we will rejoice and be glad in it.

O Light that shines in our darkness : come and free us from our sin.

Isaiah 59:15b – 21 Philippians 2:5 – 11

O Light that shines in our darkness : come and free us from our sin.

Early church father Epiphanius wrote, “The righteous person will shine a hundred times more brightly than the sun, and once saved, even the smallest among you will shine a hundred times more brightly than the moon.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

We await your coming, Lord, with eagerness and thanksgiving and a fair amount of fear. Shine your true light in the corners of our hearts and in the vast wastelands of our society that we might see more clearly the glory of the creation you have come to redeem. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 23

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord : let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Song “Solid Rock”

Come now, bless the Lord : he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 115:9 13

O Israel, trust in the Lord : he is your help and your shield.

O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord : he is your help and your shield.

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord : he is your help and your shield.

The Lord has been mindful of us, and he will bless us : he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron;

he will bless those who fear the Lord : both small and great together.

Come now, bless the Lord : he is our help and our shield.

Isaiah 28:9 – 22 Luke 1:67 – 80

Come now, bless the Lord : he is our help and our shield.

Church father Augustine of Hippo wrote, “No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget in his own ease the ser-vice due his neighbor; nor has any man a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

O Lord whose patience is beyond comprehension, we pray that you may never tire of helping us grow in faithfulness. Though we fail more than we succeed, raise us up each morning to follow after you again. Guide us today for your glory’s sake. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Daily Prayers for December 22

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us bow down and bend the knee : let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

Song “Lamb of God”

In your mercy, help us, Lord : to prepare the way for your coming.

Psalm 109:20 25

But you, O Lord my God, oh, deal with me according to your name : for your tender mercy’s sake, deliver me.

For I am poor and needy : and my heart is wounded within me.

I have faded away like a shadow when it lengthens : I am shaken off like a locust.

My knees are weak through fasting : and my flesh is wasted and gaunt.

I have become a reproach to them : they see and shake their heads.

Help me, O Lord my God : save me for your mercy’s sake.

In your mercy, help us, Lord : to prepare the way for your coming.

Isaiah 11:10 – 16 Luke 1:57 – 66

In your mercy, help us, Lord : to prepare the way for your coming.

It is written in the Didache, “There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. The way of life, then, is this: first, you shall love God who made you; second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

Lord, it sounds so easy to follow you because you only call us to love. But love is too much for us! Overwhelm us with your love so that our song of praise might continue in patient kindness and generous support of our neighbors throughout the day. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

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