Walter I. Fishbaugh was God’s beautiful child whose gifts of perception, articulation, and love remain with us although his physical presence has been gone more than twenty years. His eyes saw realities in his fellow humans that escaped their own and those of their sojourners. His heart felt more deeply than almost anyone I knew. His commitment to his Creator infused every part of his life and work. And, to the wondering amazement of those of us who listened, his words, even in what might otherwise pass for daily conversation, flowed like poetry whose right hand was love and whose left was grace.
Before his death he left a large collection of prayers to the care of his friend, William Belli. Bill in turn has put Walt’s 100 Prayers for Hard Times and Hard Hearts and a bonus of benedictions into a simple notebook and distributed it to some of us who knew and admired Walt.
I, in my turn, have “borrowed” a few of these prayers for this book. As I tried to mark those “twenty-five or so” prayers that were most meaningful to me and include them in an artistic presentation to share with friends who “pray professionally”, I soon found I had exhausted my supply of markers and was headed into simply copying the entire book. It was with struggle that I brought myself back to my original intent, thus presenting what is on these pages. The words are Walt’s originals. I lay claim only to their presentation on the page.
Let me repeat here the encouragement Walt wrote in his introduction:
I hope that many of these 100 prayers will be heartily and thoughtfully prayed by many other congregations. I hope that they will be freely adapted to the personality and situation of other clusters of the faithful…. Let us keep in mind that prayer doesn’t really come from us. It is His Spirit thrusting and probing within us Who breaks out in our praying, giving evidence of God’s continuing enticement of our spirits out toward Him. Let us pray!
L. Wayne Bryan, May 2008
O Lord God, out of a dense inertness
You have spoken
the universe into
And in the midst of the whirling spheres you have given us a world – a place to be – a speck of blue and green on which to live and for which to care.
And you have caused to be upon this earth nations and races and all sorts and conditions of people, that we might find you and love you – and find one another and love one another.
Finding you, O God, and finding one another have proven to be:
one thing –
one search –
one indivisible enterprise of the spirit.
We are ashamed, O God, that after countless generations there is still so much of it left to be done.
We and our earth are in peril because we have not fully found you, nor loved you deeply enough. We know this because, as persons and nations and peoples, we are still estranged from one another.
In Jesus Christ, your son our Lord, help us so to find you and so to love you that we shall link our lives with all those who share His and our humanity.
Save us in him, O God, until we shall be bound up together in the bundle of life and love that we call your kingdom.
Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days. Amen.
O good and blessed God,
Father and Friend, Creator, Sustainer,
Center and Circumference,
Source and Destination
– be all and in all to us, we pray.
Help us to know that no matter how occupied or pre-occupied we are, we deal with you. Behind every appearance and every circumstance there is the Divine Presence.
Remind us that we cannot distance ourselves too far away as to be beyond your care or outside your eager concern.
And when we feel alone, or adrift
or estranged, or forgotten,
remind us that these feelings are not reality,
but reflections of our own dimness of faith.
If we have come to this holy time and place in depression of spirit or coldness of heart,
restore a right spirit within us and rekindle such an affection for one another and for you that we shall be reborn – renewed
in body, mind and inner-ness, so that the week we now begin may carry through each day some of the energy and glory of this encounter.
For it is in the name and Spirit of Jesus, our Lord, we pray. Amen.
Thrust us out, O God, into the lively stream
of your concern for this world !
Let the beat of your Father-heart give a singing and marching cadence to us as your people.
May we hear its rhythm within our worship, drawing us into step with each other and into harmony with you.
For too long, O Lord, we have had to occupy ourselves with our own affairs.
We are weary of expending energies tinkering with our documents and our real estate.
Our uneasiness makes us irritable and petulant.
These are important things, deserving of our best thought.
But they channel our concerns narrowly.
They shrink our horizons.
They so magnify secondary things that we are in peril of losing our calling in the distortion.
There are so many things to decide that we stagger under the burden.
Refresh us and renew us, O God, for our mission.
Rouse us from our weariness.
Call us to greatness of spirit.
Help us to find ourselves as a people, O Lord.
Stamp us by Your Spirit, as a church whose program and purpose intersect in the passion of Jesus, our Lord, for this lost and undone world.
In His name. Amen.