Almighty Father, help us duly to prize, and devoutly to use, our privilege of access to You. Aid us not only in our united worship—but also in our closet duties. Here we confess common sins, and implore family blessings. There may we diligently try our spirits, and minutely examine our thoughts and lives. Give us faithful boldness carefully to sift our motives, and accurately to ascertain our progress in the life of godliness.
The knowledge of ourselves sinks us in the deepest abasement. How far are we from what we should be! How distant are we from the state of holiness, to which Your Spirit unresisted, would have raised us! But by Your grace—we are what we are. By Your long-suffering mercy—we are here this morning bewailing our miserable shortcomings, and washing in the blood which cleanses from all sin.
We confess, with contrite shame, that our thoughts are quick to wander from You, and to intermingle with the polluting pleasures of the world. Times without number we desert our first love. We forsake You to whom our hearts are pledged. We drink the poison of the sorcerer’s cup.
We have not kept jealous watch over traitorous senses. We have left them unguarded, and almost inviting the admission of trains of unholy lusts. The door of our lips has opened readily to send forth words unfaithful to You our God, injurious to our fellow-men, empty of grace, full of folly, dishonoring to our heavenly calling. We turn with downcast eyes, from the contemplation of our walk before men. It has not been high, and holy, and harmless, and without rebuke. It has not been in accordance with the gospel principles of uprightness, justice, purity, and truth. Our light, instead of shining, has been dim. Our salt, instead of being purifying, has been unsavory. Our examples have not allured to Christian sanctity. Our progress has not always been onward, upward, heavenward, straightforward.
Sometimes we have been backsliders. Sometimes we have turned aside into bypaths. Instead of running with patience our appointed race—we have been loiterers, lingerers, taking ease on forbidden ground, looking back to once-loved scenes.
We mourn, too, that Your blessed Book, which You have given as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path—has been neglected and postponed for the frothy childishness of man’s conceits. Too often it has been read with lack of reverence. We have not duly heeded Your own voice speaking from Your holy place. The treasure of treasures has been undervalued. We have trodden holy ground with careless feet.
Pity us, good Lord. Pardon us, O our God. We flee unto You, the Lord merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. You will not always chide, neither will You keep Your anger forever. We have full faith that through the precious and all atoning blood of Jesus, You will turn again and have compassion upon us, that You will subdue our iniquities, and cast all our sins into the depths of everlasting forgetfulness!
We now go forth to the duties of our vocation, zealous to amend our lives according to Your holy Word. Animate us to quicken our pilgrim-steps, to fight more manfully the fight of faith, and to adorn more faithfully Your heavenly doctrine.
Replenish with Your richest blessings all Your faithful servants. Strengthen them with might by Your Spirit in the inner man. May their godly walk bring glory to Your name. May this day witness mighty triumphs to the cross of Jesus. May Satan be compelled to release many captives. May many liberated feet tread down his deadly yoke.
Bless our beloved country. We commend to Your especial favor our Queen and all her house. May they be as high in heavenly pre-eminence as they are in earthly rank. May Christian virtue be the luster of the crown. Bless all who exercise authority. May they rule in You and for You. Bless our schools. May Your Spirit ever be the teacher in them. When we lie down in the grave, may our children arise to outshine us in far better service. May they make this land a name and a praise unto You throughout the world. We pray, we praise, pleading the love of Jesus, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
Heavenly Lord God, encouraged by the multitude of Your tender mercies, emboldened by experience of Your unfailing goodness, we hasten to Your throne of grace. When we look back, we see streams upon streams of Your love overflowing our past path. Out of nothing You have made us living souls. We adore You as the God of our creation. When, through our first parents’ fall, we were afar from You—You sent Your only begotten Son to bring us back. We thank You for redeeming blood. When we were content to live and perish in the wilderness of the world—You by Your Spirit translated us from ignorance—to knowledge, from darkness—to marvelous light, from the abyss of misery—to the kingdom of righteousness and peace. Thanks be unto You, for our high and holy calling!
When we lacked wisdom—You have supplied it from the fountain of light. When we have erred and gone astray like lost sheep—You have recalled our wandering feet. If we have stood firm in the hour of temptation, it was Your arm which sustained us. If after grievous falls, we have arisen again in penitence and prayer—we owe it to Your restoring grace.
We thank You for the ministry of angels, not less real because unseen. We thank You for the precious comfort of Your holy Word. We thank You for the bright cluster of Your cheering promises. We thank You for the ordinances of Your service. We thank You for the teaching of Your Spirit. We thank You for the dear fellowship of Christian friends. We thank You for the recorded annals of holy lives. We thank You for examples sweet to allure—and for beacons sad to deter.
In all these provisions, we see Your gracious will that we should grow in grace, and fit for Your eternal presence. Your preserving mercy gives assurance that it will follow us to the end. The gracious beginning is a pledge of glorious conclusion. Our heaven-born faith—gives promise that it will lead to heavenly sight. Our new birth of incorruptible seed—is pledge of never-ending life.
We thus draw near unto You—believing that You will draw near to us. When we asked not, You have given heaven’s best gift, even Your only begotten Son. We doubt not that with Him, in answer to our cries, You will also freely give us all things.
In the comfort of these thoughts, in the joy of these hopes, in the strength of this gladness, we bless and adore You, O eternal God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Now we entrust ourselves to You for the hours of this night. May we prolong our days, if it be Your gracious will. But if our earthly service is now ended, receive us to a heavenly home. We know that Your wise orderings are our best welfare. We would have nothing but in accordance with the counsels of Your grace. May our being now and ever be in You, and for You, and with You.
Blessed Jesus, You who have loved us, and given Yourself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor; perfume our humble breathings. Present them worthy in Your prevailing worthiness.
Heavenly Father, Your tender mercies are over all Your works. Is it not well-pleasing to You, that we should name others at Your throne? Hear us then in behalf of all who are now draining the cup of sorrow. Many widows now feel their loneliness. So fill their hearts that no aching void may crave. May they feel that, with You for their God, they have more than all. Orphan children are without the parental shield. Under the shadow of Your wings may they find safety. Be their portion for time and for eternity.
Visit this night the many hospitals in which pain and disease keep watch. Wipe weeping eyes. Assuage the sufferings of afflicted bodies. Reveal to the anguish-stricken, the blessed Jesus, who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Give them, without one repining thought, to leave themselves in Your blessed and blessing hands.
Be with those who are traveling by land and by water. Teach them that there is no peril when You are near, and that there is no place which Your presence fills not.
Especially be gracious to the beloved friends who are one with us in kindred and affection. May grace cement all our hearts to You, and in You to each other. May we be one now and one forever. Make us fellow-helpers to each other’s faith, and partners of each other’s holy joys. Pardon all our sins. And save us with Your everlasting salvation, according to Your covenant of grace in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.