Say grace


Bless these thy gifts, most gracious God,
From whom all goodness springs;
Make clean our hearts and feed our souls
With good and joyful things.

~ Source unknown
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #686

More grace
Theme for January 2019: Grace
Theme: Still small voice [prayer sheet]
God of grace
Go. Speak. Love. Forgive. Receive.
Continue by grace
For courage and grace
Within the ranks of caring angels
Slow time
A holy space
Balm to heal the world

3 Prayers for Christian unity

IK IK (ME ME) Reflect


3 prayers on the theme of Christian unity to coincide with the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual prayer initiative that usually takes place from 18 to 25 January.

Let us pray …


Lord, we pray for the unity of your Church.
Help us to see ourselves as rays from the one sun,
branches of a single tree,
and streams flowing from one river.
May we remain united to you and to each other,
because you are our common source of life;
and may we send out your light
and pour forth your flowing streams over all the earth,
drawing our inspiration and joy from you.

~ after St Cyprian of Carthage (c.200-258),
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #527


Lord Jesus Christ,
who prayed for your disciples that they might be one,
even as you are one with the Father;
draw us to yourself,
that in common love and obedience to you
we may be united to one another,
in the fellowship of the one Spirit,
that the world may believe that you are Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

~ written by William Temple (1881-1944), from re:worship


You made us, God,
in Your own image,
and then became one of us,
proud of those you have made.

Make us proud of being part of that worldwide family,
and eager to discover and celebrate Your image
in every person, every culture, every nation,
that we are privileged to encounter.

~ from the booklet for the 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Racial justice at forefront of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Church of Scotland website).


Our theme for January is HELP.

By way of introduction, a brief comment on the gutsy word “help” in the English language.

English has a rich vocabulary, due – in part – to the so-called Latin borrowings, introducing Latin-based alternatives for common English words. “Aid” as a posh alternative for the Old English word, “help”, for example.

In a real-life crisis all that posh language goes out the window, though. “Aid! Aid me!” somehow doesn’t have the same sense of urgency as “Help! Help me!”.

Fortunately God hears and understands us, however we express our distress.


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.


A prayer

I call upon your Name,
      for You are with me.
I am never alone,
      never without help,
      never without a friend,
      for I dwell in You and You in me!
‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
      I will fear no evil;
      for You are with me.’

by David Adam
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #122

King of saints

“Light in the darkness” Advent 2022 banner, Scots International Church Rotterdam, designed and made by members of the congregation


Great and marvelous are your deeds,
      Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
      King of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
      and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
      and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.

I was working on some lyrics based on this passage from Revelation 15:3-4 when I discovered something curious.

The phrase “King of the nations” in verse 3 is sometimes translated as “King of the ages” or alternatively as “King of saints”.

As we cross the threshold of another year, what a comfort to know God is King – of the nations, of the ages, of the saints.


A prayer

Lift up our hearts, O Christ,
above the false shows of things,
above laziness and fear,
above selfishness and covetousness,
above whim and fashion,
up to the everlasting Truth that you are;
that we may life joyfully and freely,
in the faith that you are our King and our Saviour,
our Example and our Judge,
and so long as we are loyal to you,
all will ultimately be well.

by Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #136

From the blog
3 Prayers for endings and beginnings
On the threshold of tomorrow
On writing prayer poems

King of hearts


A prayer

High King of Heaven,
You stretch out the skies like a curtain
And lower the canopy of gentle night
To cool the heat of the day.
May your peace, dark, velvety and starlit,
To calm the wild beating of my heart,
That I may be still.

~ by Pat Robson, from A Celtic Liturgy, p. 1-2

Podcast tip
If you like listening to podcasts, here’s one with a Christmas theme, entitled God is not nowhere in the world, featuring Jason Micheli, posted on the Mockingbird website.

The other talks from this year’s Mockingbird Tyler Conference are good too (see uploads dated 11.4.2022).

Another tip
Sing “Be thou my vision” reflectively, paying attention to the references to heart and “High King of Heaven”.

And enjoy this acoustic version of Jon and Valerie Guerra’s Christmas themed song, “Lord, remind me”.


In the school of prayer with the Seven Great ‘O’s of Advent

The Great 'O' Antiphons

My local church – Scots International Church Rotterdam – organised a series of evening services during the season of Advent this year to further explore our theme of “Light in the Darkness” through music, prayer and candle light.

On 11 December I incorporated a special focus on a liturgical treasure – the Advent Antiphons known as the Great Antiphons or ‘O’ Antiphons. It’s my privilege and delight to now share this liturgical treasure with you also.

‘O’ Antiphons: A brief introduction

This collection of prayers was in use in Rome by the 8th century. In seven various, but interrelated ways they voice the ultimate petition of Scripture — “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).

Seven was symbolic in ancient near eastern and Israelite culture and literature. It communicated a sense of “fullness” or “completeness”.

In the original Latin version the seven titles attributed to Jesus are: Sapientia, Adonai, Radix Jesse, Clavis David, Oriens, Rex Gentium, and Emmanuel. In reverse order they form an acrostic ERO CRAS which means “I am coming soon.”

Traditionally, one of these antiphons is said or chanted before and after the Magnificat (Mary’s Song, Luke 1:46-55) during the services of evening prayer on December 17 through 23, allowing each antiphon to cast its distinctive light on Mary’s rejoicing over the gracious acts of God to Israel that are being fulfilled through her.

Each antiphon has the same simple form:

  1. starts with the word ‘O’
  2. uses a striking Messianic title drawn from Israel’s prophetic writings to address God in Christ
  3. describes a gracious act of God
  4. offers a petition that flows from the description of Christ used

The great Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel” (Latin: Veni, veni, Emmanuel) is a metrical paraphrase of the ‘O’ Antiphons.

For more on the history and significance of these ancient prayers go to (my primary source). Also check out the ‘O’ Antiphons Advent Liturgy held at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle each year.

Now let us pray


The Seven Great O’s of Advent

O Wisdom, mysterious Word of God, coming forth from the Father and filling all creation with your life-giving power: Come and show us the way of truth.

O Lord of Israel, ruler of your ancient people, you appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave the law on Mount Sinai: Come, and reach out your hand to save us.

Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, Son of David, you have been lifted up as a sign of peace, drawing all kings and people to stand silent in your presence: Come quickly and help us, we beseech you.

Clavis David
O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel, you have opened to us the way of hope, and shut the door on the powers of evil: Come and free us from our prisons of darkness.

O Morning Star, radiance of the Father’s love, you are the brightness that disperses the shadows of our hearts: Come, cleanse and renew us in your glory.

Rex Gentium
O King of the Nations, you alone bring joy when you reign in our hearts, and you are the cornerstone of our lives: Come and strengthen us, who were formed by you.

O Emmanuel, God with us, hope of the world, and Saviour of all, come and live in us, now and for ever.
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #717

From the blog
Check out the Index for more posts in the “School of prayer” series.

God’s glory revealed


And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
      and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.



My local congregation in Rotterdam has adopted the theme, “Light in the darkness”, for Advent 2022. In addition to Sunday morning services, there are Bible study materials, a team working on a cloth banner in stages with the design fully realized by week 4, and evening services where we can further explore the theme, also with candles.

A busy season for me, no doubt for you too. Hopefully, through it all, we will grow closer to God and to one another, as we look forward to celebrating the birth of “the true light that gives light to everyone” (John 1:9) and seek to live more faithfully in the light of his coming again.


Advent Prayer: Maranatha

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon.

The glory of God shall be revealed
and all flesh shall see it together

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon!

Sing aloud, waste places of Jerusalem!
Sing to the God who gives courage and strength.

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon!

You who are unsure of what you believe,
or whether you believe at all: listen!

You who are weighed down by thoughts of failure,
or feelings of grief: listen!

You whose hearts are heavy,
whose problems seem insurmountable: listen!

Soon God’s salvation will come;
God’s deliverance will be revealed.

For a woman shall conceive and bear a son
and shall call his name Emmanuel: God with us

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon!

From re:worship

From the blog
3 Prayers for Advent
In the darkness
On the threshold of tomorrow

3 Prayers to our Father

Golden hour

Our Father … yours is the …. glory …
Yes. Yes. Yes.


This is Eugene Peterson’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, from The Message:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
      as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.


Here are three more prayers to “Our Father”, directly inspired by the prayer Jesus taught his disciples.



Father in heaven,
in your goodness
you pour out on your people all that they need,
and satisfy those who persist in prayer.
Make us bold in asking,
thankful in receiving,
tireless in seeking,
and joyful in finding,
that we may always proclaim your coming kingdom
and do your will on earth as in heaven.

~ from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers


Our father who dwells in the heavens and on the earth, you are holy.

May heaven be a greater present reality here on earth, and may we choose to join you in making that happen.

Provide us today with the things that you think we need, and may we not take for granted that which you have already provided.

Forgive us when we don’t live as you intend, and may we be ready to forgive others when they don’t live as we intend.

Guide us in your wisdom away from the things that would distort us, and restore the parts in us that are already distorted.

You are goodness, beauty and truth.
May your love always rule. 

~ written by Rebekah Long, sourced from re:worship


Abba, our God, whom the heavens disclose,
may your name be held holy,
your authority come.
May your longing be fulfilled as in heaven,
so on earth.
Give us today the bread of tomorrow,
and cancel our debts
as we have already forgiven our debtors.
Do not draw us in to sinful enticement,
but set us free from the grip of evil;
for authority and power and glory
are yours alone, forever.

~ from the Alternative Service Book (1980), Church of England,
sourced from re:worship.


From the blog
Check the index for more prayers in the “3 Prayers” series, and much more besides.

Time together

Swans foraging for their evening meal

Opening Prayer

(based on Psalm 145:15-16, Isaiah 55:1-3, John 6:35)

the eyes of all look to You in hope;
and You give them what they need.
You open Your hand
and satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

We, too, turn to You again, longing to be filled —
to eat of the Bread of Life,
to drink from Your life-giving streams,
to taste Your goodness and live.

May the time we spend together in Your presence
nourish our hearts and minds;
may it strengthen our relationship with You,
and renew our commitment to live in this world
      as Your faithful disciples.

For You alone are God,
the Source and Sustainer of life.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

~ written by Christine Longhurst, re:worship

Pilgrims together

Members of Pilgrims rehearsing a dance to “Jehovah Jireh” in the late 1990s.

I am a founding member of Pilgrims, a mid-week Bible Study group connected to the Scots International Church Rotterdam, on and off, since the mid-1990s.

The latest hiatus was due to Covid, but we’re starting up again. I’m so looking forward to spending time as pilgrims together, studying the Bible and deepening our relationships with one another and with the Living God.

May you too find joy and encouragement in the company of pilgrims where you are.

It appears I’ve chosen “Together” as theme of the month before – in October 2017, exactly five years ago. Well, why not? It’s a good theme, worth a revisit.

A prayer

Lord God, we thank you
for calling us into the company
of those who trust in Christ
and seek to obey his will.
May your Spirit guide and strengthen us
in mission and service to your world,
for we are strangers no longer
but pilgrims together on the way to your Kingdom.

Prayer of the Inter-Church Process (The Swanwick Declaration)
from The Book of a Thousand Prayers by Angela Ashwin, #529

From the blog
Grow to maturity
History matters
How good, how pleasant