In my journey with grief, I have been grateful for the Scripture I committed to memory through the years. Over and over, it has come back to offer me comfort, encouragement and strength as I walked this difficult road. Many times, when I couldn’t muster my own prayers, Scripture has spoken for me.
I have also found comfort in praying ancient prayers. Their carefully chosen words and their timeless nature make them the perfect fit for a grieving person who can’t often hold her own train of thought, let alone articulate clearly.
Here are four prayers I have found particularly helpful as I pray my way through bereavement. I’d love to know — what Scriptures or prayers offer you words in a time of wordlessness?
4 Ancient Prayers for When Life Leaves You Speechless
Steer the ship of my life, good Lord, to your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict. Show me the course I should take. Renew in me the gift of discernment, so that I can always see the right direction in which I should go. And give me the strength and the courage to choose the right course, even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger in your name we shall find comfort and peace.
Basil of Caesarea, 329-379
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”
Desert Fathers, 5th century Egypt
I pray, O God, that I may know you and love you,
so that I may rejoice in you.
And if I cannot do so fully in this life
may I progress gradually until it comes to fullness.
Let the knowledge of you grow in me here,
and there be made complete;
Let your love grow in me here
and there be made complete,
so that here my joy may be great in hope,
and there be complete in reality.
Lord, by your Son, you command, or rather, counsel us to ask
and you promise that we shall receive
so that our joy may be complete.
I ask, Lord, as you counsel through our admirable Counselor.
May I receive what you promise through your truth so that my joy may be complete.
Until then let my mind meditate on it,
let my tongue speak of it,
let my heart love it,
let my mouth preach it.
Let my soul hunger for it,
let my flesh thirst for it,
my whole being desire it,
until I enter into the joy of the Lord,
who is God, Three in One, blessed forever. Amen.
Anselm of Canterbury, c. 1033-1109
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer