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Friday, July 3, 2020

Prayers of Peter Marshall

Peter Marshall (1902 – 1949) was Chaplain of the United States Senate after World War II. He was considered “a calming, healing voice to the Nation.” Marshall's life and ministry is recounted in a biography A Man Called Peter (1951), written by his widow, Catherine Marshall, and the book's 1955 film adaptation, which was nominated for an Academy Award for its cinematography.

Peter Marshall's prayers are especially appropriate in this time of civil unrest, economic hardship, and pandemic.

On May 22, 1947, during the 80th Congress, U.S. Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall offered this prayer:

God of our fathers, give unto us, thy servants, a true appreciation of our heritage, of great men and great deeds in the past, but let us not be intimidated by feelings of our own inadequacies for this troubled hour. 
Remind us that the God they worshiped, and by whose help they laid the foundations of our Nation, is still able to help us uphold what they bequeathed and give it meaning.

Peace without Pain
God, have pity upon us.
We want peace without pain and security without sacrifice.
We want peace but not the perils of peacemaking.
O God, may we learn what love is.

God, give us the grace to take things as they are and to make them what they ought to be.

For World Neighborliness
O God, we pray for a broader vision of the needs of humanity, and a deeper compassion to fill those needs; for a planting of the seeds of concern for all humanity in our hearts; for a tapping of the wells of generosity. 
May we live together as people who have been forgiven a great debt. 
May we be gentle, walking softly with one another. 
May we be understanding, lest we shall add to the world’s sorrow or cause to flow needless tears. 
May we be as anxious for the rights of others as we are for our own. 
May we be as eager to forgive as we are to seek forgiveness. 
May we know no barriers of creed or race or sex, that our love may be like Yours---a love that sees all people as Your children and our kin. 
May we be ministers of humanity.

Personal Prayer of Humility
Lord, forgive me that when life’s circumstances lift me to the crest of the wave, I tend to ignore Thee. Yet, like an errant child I have blamed Thee with my every failure, even as I credit myself with every success.
When my fears evaporate like the morning mist, then vainly I imagine that I am sufficient unto myself, that material resources and human resources are enough.
I need Thee when the sun shines, lest I forget the storm and the dark. I need Thee when I am popular, when my friends and those who work beside me approve and compliment me.  I need Thee more then, lest my head begin to swell.
 O, God, forgive me for my stupidity, my blindness in success, my lack of trust in Thee.  Be Thou now my Savior in success. 
 Save me from conceit.  Save me from pettiness. Save me from myself! And take this success, I pray, and use it for Thy glory.  In Thy strength, I pray.  Amen.

Missed Opportunities
O Lord our God, even at this moment as we come blundering into Thy presence in prayer, we are haunted by memories of duties unperformed, promptings disobeyed, and beckonings ignored.

Opportunities to be kind knocked on the door of our hearts and went weeping away.

Related reading: A Man Called Peter

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