Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts

March 19, 2019

The Catholic Youth Prayer Book

This second edition of The Catholic Youth Prayer Book, which Saint Mary’s Press kindly sent me to review makes a highly appropriate gift for Easter or any time of the year – not only for Catholic teens and young people but Christians of all ages.

Divided into four sections, the book includes:

Part I Prayers for Daily Life
Part II Prayers from the Catholic tradition
Part III Methods for Personal Prayer
Part IV Liturgical Prayer

Throughout the book, Bible prayers appear, often from the Psalms but also Ezekiel, Matthew, Philippians, 1 Peter, and other books found in Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament. In addition, you’ll find creeds of faith and prayers from spiritual giants such as St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Jerome, Ignatius, and more.

As you might imagine, Part II, Chapter 5, “Prayers and Devotions to Mary,” is most apt to cause concern for non-Catholic Christians, who have assumed the honor given to her is a form of worship, rather than the devotion, respect, and just plain love rightfully due the young woman who humbly and willingly gave her consent to become the Mother of Jesus. Even an angel – a messenger of God – called her “Blessed!”

In those poetic words, which begin the Rosary, we learn to pray through stages of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (If you don’t have a string of beads to help you keep track of where you are in your prayers, you can always use your fingers!) Regardless, the chapter includes instructions and an illustrated “Guide to Saying the Rosary,” which, Catholic or not, has been known to move mountains and help people with insomnia sleep better at night!

“Chapter 6: Prayers about the Holy Spirit” includes an insert, “Scripture Tells Us about the Holy Spirit,” which encourages Bible readings in the epistles and the prophet Joel. For example

“You will do great things! ‘It shall come to pass/ I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh./ Your sons and daughters will prophesy,/ your old men will dream dreams, / your young men will see visions,” (Joel 3:1).

In Chapter 7, “Prayers from the Saints,” you’ll find prayers that speak to or for you so well, you might want to check out other works from those early Christians. For example:

“Take Me, Give Me

Lord, take me from myself and
give me to yourself.”

Saint Catherine of Seina

Or, for another example:

“In God’s Service

Lord God,
whose we are and whom we serve,
help us to glorify you this day,
in all the thoughts of our hearts,
in all the words of our lips,
and in all the works of our hands,
as becomes those who are your servants,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Saint Anselm

In the third section on personal prayer, the chapters and “methods” include:

Praying the Lord’s Prayer
Praying with Scripture: Lectio Divina
Praying with Guide Meditation
Prayer and Journaling

The final section gives liturgical prayers used in the church community and ones for a month of private devotions too. Typically those personal times of prayer begin with:

“Call to Prayer

God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.”

And end with a “Closing Prayer,” followed by:


May the Lord bless us
and protect us from evil
and bring us to the joy of Heaven.

Yes and amen.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, poet-writer and pray-er

Click to order: 

December 25, 2017

The Bible Prayer of Jesus

“Thou art my father, my God,” Psalm 89:26.
Our Father which art in heaven

“The Lord our God is holy,” Psalm 99:9.
Hallowed be Thy name.

“Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,” Psalm 145:13.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done

“I will be exalted in the earth,” Psalm 46:10.
in earth, as it is in heaven.

“And the Lord God humbled you, let you hunger, then fed you with manna….to make you know that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of the Lord,” Deuteronomy 8:3.
Give us this day our daily bread.

“Hear in heaven Your dwelling place and forgive! To those whose hearts You know, let it be according to their ways – for You, Lord, You alone, know the hearts of all,” 1 Kings 8:39.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

“Listen, O Shepherd of Israel, You Who lead us like a flock,” Psalm 80:1.
And lead us not into temptation,

“Fear the Lord your God, and God will deliver you from the hands of all your enemies,” 2 Kings 17:39.
But deliver us from evil

“Yours, O Lord is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty! All that is heaven and earth is Yours! Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted above all,” 1 Chronicles 29:11.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Bible verses were prayer-a-phrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, with scriptures found on Bible Gateway then interwoven with the Lord’s Prayer from the King James Version (KJV) of Matthew 6:9-13.

March 23, 2012

God calls Moses to answer the prayers of the people

Background: In Egypt the Hebrew people groaned to God, praying for a savior from slavery. They did not know that God had been preparing Moses for that job ever since his birth. But then, neither did Moses!

From the start, Moses knew the love of godly parents in a godly home. In early childhood, he learned how to get around the palace of his adoptive grandfather, Pharaoh. He learned of the important political and cultural events in Egypt and experienced the academic excellence available to him as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Moses had surely seen how leaders lead, too, and, during his years of exile, he learned, as a shepherd, how to get wayward, frightened sheep to follow him through the desert terrain. What more could he possibly need?


Moses did not yet know that, but God did, and God took the responsibility of responding to Moses before Moses even knew to call on God. Amazing! But that’s how it often works.

So how did God get Moses’ attention? God set fire to a bush that kept on burning without burning up!

It worked. Moses turned to look – really look. And then God spoke.

“From the middle of the burning bush, God called, ‘Moses, Moses.’

“And Moses said, ‘Here am I’,” Exodus 3:4.

Questions: When God spoke to Moses, what were the very first words? Have you ever had the impression that God was calling you for a particular task? In what way does it matter that the Almighty God personally knows your name?

Prayer: LORD God, Heavenly Father of all and Creator of every good thing in me, thank You for knowing my name and everything else about me. Thank You for getting my attention and reminding me to talk with You throughout the day and during the night. Help me, Lord, to listen, hear, and obey You in carrying out the good work to which You have called me in Your Holy Name.

For more about this subject, see “God hears groans as prayers.”

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If your church or Bible study group wants to use these articles as a study guide, just let everyone know where to find the blog. For articles on a variety of Bible topics, see Blogs by Mary.


March 17, 2012

Lot prays for a place to run and hide

Background: The people of Sodom had become so ungodly that God did not find even ten upright citizens throughout the entire city! Although Abraham’s nephew and family lived there, Lot may have sensed that he did not belong, or maybe he hoped to change the current conditions. Regardless of his reasons, he was sitting at the main gate – the traditional hang-out for city leaders – when he saw the approach of two of the angels who had just visited Abraham and Sarah.

Immediately, Lot hopped up, eager to offer the visitors fresh water, food, and a place of rest as, unbeknown to him, his uncle Abraham had done earlier. The angelic beings agreed, but later that evening, all of the men in Sodom – young and old – gathered around Lot’s house and demanded that he send out the two visitors, but instead, Lot came out– one man against the whole crowd.

Trying to reason with the unreasonable mob, he begged, “Oh, please, brothers! Do not give my visitors such terrible treatment!”

“Man!” the angry crowd yelled at Lot. “You came to our town as an outsider, and now you’re acting like our judge! Enough! We’ll treat you worse than those visitors you’re hiding!”

Before the crowd could attack though, the two angels snatched Lot inside, bolted the door, and blinded everyone outside! The next morning, as soon as Lot and his family had enough light to travel, the angels seized them by the hand and rushed them outside the city, telling them to run for their lives without looking back.

The mountains looming ahead must have seemed scary, dark, and wild to Lot, and so he prayed:

“’Oh, please, no, my lords! You have been kind and gracious and saved my life, but if I go to those mountains, I’m doomed to die! See that village over there? It’s close enough for me to reach. Please, let me escape to that little place, and my life will be saved.’

“’All right,’ one of the angels said. ‘I will grant your prayer, and I will not destroy that little place, but you must hurry, for I cannot do anything until you safely arrive.’ And so the village was named Zoar (which means little place),”
Genesis 19:18-22.

Questions: How well can a person of principles fit into any place or among any group of people who do not know God?

Apparently, the people of Sodom thought Lot was judging them, which made them furious, but was he? Or was he standing up for the values in which he believed?

The people of Sodom showed no regard for human rights, which, in this case, ignored even the rights and treatment of angels! Does anything like that happen today? What problems, large or small, occur because one person or group does not respect the life of another? Could this be the cause of bullying, gangs, and wars?

The angels visited Sodom to put an end to the wickedness there, but they told Lot that they could do nothing until he’d gotten completely away from the destruction sure to follow. Wow! What power! What control!

Does protecting Lot show a lot about God?

Prayer: Dear Most High God, I praise You for your almighty power, mercy, and love. Thank You for protecting me, as You did Lot, even when I’m not aware of Your shield around me. Help me to stand up for my beliefs and Your values. Thank You for giving me what I need to obey You and go where I need to go.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.


God and Abraham pray for Ishmael and Isaac

Background: Again and again, God promised Abram he would become the father of many nations, yet this usually strong man of faith and his wife, Sarai, made their own arrangements in order to make God’s promise come true! As Genesis 16 records the story, Sarai urged Abram to follow the custom of the day and have children with her maid Hagar so the couple would have an heir. When this had been accomplished and Hagar knew she had a child on the way, she began to look down on her mistress, which did not go over too well with Sarai.

In Genesis 17 God gave Abram a new name – Abraham, which means the father of many. God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, which, interestingly, means princess. With the blessing of God resting on Abraham, however, God could not and did not forget Hagar.

When Sarah mistreated the servant girl, Hagar ran away until an angel of the Lord came to her and told her to go home and submit to Sarah’s authority.

“And the angel said, ‘You will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Ishmael, meaning God hears, for the Lord has heard your cries. Your son will be as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. He will live in defiance of all his relatives’,” Genesis 16:11-12.

Hagar obeyed God and gave birth to Ishmael. Fourteen years later, God appeared to the 99-year-old Abraham, again promising to be with him and his descendants but with special favor over the child that his wife Sarah would have, despite the impossibility of her age! However…

“Abraham prayed to God, ‘Oh, if only Ishmael could live before You!’

“But God said, ‘No, your wife Sarah will bear a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with him and his descendants after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard your prayer. I will indeed bless him and make him fruitful, giving him many, many descendants. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation, but I will establish My covenant with Isaac to whom Sarah will give birth at this time next year’,”
Genesis 17:18-22.

Questions: Do people today ever hear God’s promises then run ahead or lag behind God’s timing? Did Abraham and Sarah’s decision to ensure an heir affect only their family, or did their actions have consequences and reverberations still felt today? Does Abraham’s prayer for Ishmael give a different slant to his motivations in the familiar Bible story in Genesis 22 where he offers up his son and heir, Isaac, as a sacrifice to the Lord?

Prayer: Dear LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and, yes, Ishmael, help me to hear You and be ready and willing to wait! Forgive me for the times I have fallen far behind or rushed before You. Thank You for giving me everything I need to obey You and follow Your will even when things look hopelessly impossible.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.

Melchizedek: A priest prays for Abraham

Background: When Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured by the joint forces of four kings, he rounded up 318 men from his servants and set out to rescue his brother’s son. Abram not only accomplished this military feat, he also freed the people and possessions taken from their homes in Sodom and Gomorrah. Afterward, the king of Sodom came out to greet the returning hero in the Kings’ Valley and told him to keep the things belonging to the people of his town, but Abram refused. As he explained, he did not want anyone thinking the king of Sodom had made him rich!

At some point during this conversation, the Bible reports that the priest-king of Salem also came out to meet Abram, bringing bread and wine. No one knows anything about the ancestry of this priest-king to whom the fifth chapter of Hebrews later refers as “a priest forever.” Regardless, the man came from an area whose name stems from the Hebrew word “Shalom,” meaning “peace.”

“Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of God Most High, brought bread and wine to Abram and said: ‘May you be blessed, Abram, by God Most High, who owns heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, Who has given your enemies into your hand.” And Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe of all he had,” Genesis 14:18-20.

After this prayer blessing, which also praised God, Abram gave the first biblically recorded tithe of ten percent to the Priest Melchizedek, who was also King of Salem – the place now known as Jerusalem.

What gift do you have for God? What blessing does God have for you?

Prayer: O, Most High God, I thank and praise You for the countless successes, triumphs, and blessings that You bring. Help me to use Your good gifts to Your great glory.

© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.
After Adam and Eve, after Cain and Abel, after the third generation of humankind began calling on the name of the Lord, many, many centuries passed. Heavenly beings did whatever they wanted, creating chaos and, quite possibly, mythological creatures (Genesis 6:1-4.) Human beings did whatever they wanted, and their relationships with God and one another deteriorated (Genesis 6:5.) The whole universe had gotten into an unbearable, terrible mess!

Within this scene of deterioration and depravity, Noah stood out like a bright light of righteousness. God noticed, of course, and came to Noah with a plan and a promise. As Genesis 7-8 recorded, God used a flood to wipe out everything and start over with Noah, his family, and every animal on earth.

After the floodwaters had dried, Noah built an altar and offered a sacrifice to God (Genesis 8:20.) If he prayed to God or praised and thanked God for protecting and saving him and his family, the Bible did not say. Instead Genesis 9 goes on to tell us how Noah planted a vineyard, made wine, and got drunk!

When Noah awoke after an embarrassing evening, he realized that one of his three sons had stood around, staring at the inebriated, naked father until the other two walked backwards to cover him up! If Noah felt foolish or ashamed or sorry or got mad at himself for his own behavior, the Bible made no mention. Instead Genesis 9:25-27 recorded this prayer:

“And Noah said,
‘Cursed be Canaan!
May he be the very lowest servant –
a servant of servants to his brothers.‘

“And Noah said,
‘Blessed be the LORD God of Shem.
Canaan shall be his servant.
God shall extend the borders of Japheth,
and Japheth shall live in the tents of Shem,
and Canaan shall be his servant’.”

In what ways did the blessings and cursings of Noah affect human history? Do they affect peoples and nations today? Do I take my own words seriously? Do I bless or curse my family, my community, myself, and the world?

Dear LORD God, I praise and thank You for all of my blessings! Help me to become a blessing to others and myself.

© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.

First Bible prayer or first complaint?

Background: In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had communion and fellowship with God similar to conversational prayer. Since they had everything they could possibly need and more, they did not ask for anything, but when they disobeyed God, everything changed. Even then, however, the Bible does not mention their asking God for forgiveness, maybe because they did not!

Regardless, the couple left the Garden as God commanded, and, outside of Eden, they eventually had a family. The Bible does not say what Adam and Eve told their children about God as they were growing up, but for some reason, both sons thought they needed to give God a gift, perhaps to get back into the Garden or into God’s good graces.

At any rate, Cain offered some of the produce from his garden, while Abel gave the very best of his flock. God accepted Abel’s gift, but not Cain’s off-hand offering, which infuriated the man so much that he killed his younger brother. God then confronted Cain, who responded with the resounding question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

“And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries from the ground! Now you are cursed from the earth that swallowed your brother’s blood. When you till the ground, it will not yield good crops. From now on you will be a fugitive and a homeless wanderer on the earth.’

“And (in what may be the first biblically recorded prayer from a person) Cain cried out to the Lord, ‘My punishment is too great to bear! You have banished me from the face of the earth and also from Your presence. You have made me a fugitive and homeless wanderer, so whoever finds me will kill me!’

“But the Lord said, ‘I will punish sevenfold anyone who kills you.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. And Cain left the Lord’s presence, settling in the land of Nod, east of Eden,” Genesis 4:10-16.

Questions: How far from Eden am I? What kind of prayer life do I have? Do I talk with God in conversational prayer as I read the Bible and listen to the inner voice of the Holy Spirit? Do I frequently praise God, or like Cain, do I mainly protest and complain? Do I ask God for forgiveness, or do I think I have to earn forgiveness and love from The Most Holy, Loving, and Forgiving God?

Prayer: Dear LORD God, I praise You for Your goodness, mercy, forgiving grace, and love. Help me to offer my best to You as a pleasing gift, just because I love You. Thank You for freely loving, forgiving, and protecting me. Thank You for responding to my prayers even when I complain.

© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved. ~~

Calling on the Name of the Lord

“Adam and his wife had another son, whom they named him Seth (i.e., given) because, as they said, `God has given us a son to take the place of Abel, whom his brother Cain has killed.’

Then, when Seth had a son, he named him Enosh. And at that time people began to call on the Name of the LORD,” Genesis 4:25-26.

After the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden…

After disobedience, blame, and denial ruined a perfect world…

After the first jealous rage led to murder…

After one brother killed another…

After a new start and a new family began in the God-given son of Seth...

People began to call on the Name of the Lord.

Question: Do I sometimes take a while to call on God? Why?

Prayer: Dear LORD God, Who Gives and Restores, help me to call on You before I fall. If I forget, please remind me. Help me to stay attuned to You and readily hear and respond as You call my name.

© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.