Four Daily Prayers from John Calvin

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In 1542, John Calvin published Catéchisme de l’Eglise de Genève (Catechism of the Church of Geneva). In an appendix entitled “Several Godly Prayers,” he included prayers that could be prayed through the day. The following were translated by Henry Beveridge and can be found electronically in John Calvin and Henry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009). I have lightly updated updated the spelling and punctuation.


Prayer before the Day

My God—my Father and Preserver—who of your goodness has watched over me during the past night, and brought me to this day, grant also that I may spend it wholly in the worship and service of your most holy deity.

Let me not think, or say, or do a single thing which tends not to your service and submission to your will, that thus all my actions may aim at your glory and the salvation of my brethren, while they are taught by my example to serve you.

And as you are giving light to this world for the purposes of external life by the rays of the sun, so enlighten my mind by the effulgence of your Spirit, that he may guide me in the way of your righteousness.

To whatever purpose I apply my mind, may the end which I ever propose to myself be your honor and service.

May I expect all happiness from your grace and goodness only.

Let me not attempt anything whatever that is not pleasing to you.

Grant also, that while I labor for the maintenance of this life, and care for the things which pertain to food and raiment, I may raise my mind above them to the blessed and heavenly life which you have promised to your children.

Be pleased also, in manifesting yourself to me as the protector of my soul as well as my body, to strengthen and fortify me against all the assaults of the devil, and deliver me from all the dangers which continually beset us in this life.

But seeing it is a small thing to have begun, unless I also persevere, I therefore entreat of you, O Lord, not only to be my guide and director for this day, but to keep me under your protection to the very end of life, that thus my whole course may be performed under your superintendence.

As I ought to make progress, do you add daily more and more to the gifts of your grace until I wholly adhere to your Son Jesus Christ, whom we justly regard as the true Sun, shining constantly in our minds.

In order to my obtaining of you these great and manifold blessings, forget, and out of your infinite mercy, forgive my offenses, as you have promised that you will do to those who call upon you in sincerity.

Grant that I may hear your voice in the morning since I have hoped in you.

Show me the way in which I should walk, since I have lifted up my soul unto you.

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, I have fled unto you.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.

Let your good Spirit conduct me to the land of uprightness.


Prayer before Going to School

O Lord, who is the fountain of all wisdom and learning, since you of your special goodness has granted that my youth is instructed in good arts which may assist me to honest and holy living, grant also, by enlightening my mind, which otherwise labors under blindness, that I may be fit to acquire knowledge; strengthen my memory faithfully to retain what I may have learned: and govern my heart, that I may be willing and even eager to profit, lest the opportunity which you now give me be lost through my sluggishness.

Be pleased therefore to infuse your Spirit into me, the Spirit of understanding, of truth, judgment, and prudence, lest my study be without success, and the labor of my teacher be in vain.

In whatever kind of study I engage, enable me to remember to keep its proper end in view, namely, to know you in Christ Jesus your Son; and may everything that I learn assist me to observe the right rule of godliness.

And seeing your promises that you will bestow wisdom on babes, and such as are humble, and the knowledge of yourself on the upright in heart, while you declare that you will cast down the wicked and the proud, so that they will fade away in their ways, I entreat that you would be pleased to turn me to true humility, that thus I may show myself teachable and obedient first of all to yourself, and then to those also who by thy authority are placed over me.

Be pleased at the same time to root out all vicious desires from my heart, and inspire it with an earnest desire of seeking you.

Finally, let the only end at which I aim be so to qualify myself in early life, that when I grow up I may serve you in whatever station you maye assign me.

Amen.


Prayer before a Meal

All look unto you, O Lord; and you give them their meat in due season; that you give them they gather: you open your hand, and they are filled with all things in abundance (Ps. 104:27.)

O Lord, in whom is the source and inexhaustible fountain of all good things, pour out your blessing upon us, and sanctify to our use the meat and drink which are the gifts of your kindness toward us, that we, using them soberly and frugally as you enjoin, may eat with a pure conscience.

Grant, also, that we may always both with true heartfelt gratitude acknowledge, and with our lips proclaim, you our Father and the giver of all good, and, while enjoying bodily nourishment, aspire with special longing of heart after the bread of your doctrine, by which our souls may be nourished in the hope of eternal life, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen..


Prayer before Bed

O Lord God—who has given man the night for rest, as you have created the day in which he may employ himself in labor—grant, I pray, that my body may so rest during this night that my mind cease not to be awake to you, nor my heart faint or be overcome with torpor, preventing it from adhering steadfastly to the love of you.

While laying aside my cares to relax and relieve my mind, may I not, in the meanwhile, forget you, nor may the remembrance of your goodness and grace, which ought always to be deeply engraven on my mind, escape my memory.

In like manner, also, as the body rests may my conscience enjoy rest.

Grant, moreover, that in taking sleep I may not give indulgence to the flesh, but only allow myself as much as the weakness of this natural state requires, to my being enabled thereafter to be more alert in your service.

Be pleased to keep me so chaste and unpolluted, not less in mind than in body, and safe from all dangers, that my sleep itself may turn to the glory of your name.

But since this day has not passed away without my having in many ways offended you through my proneness to evil, in like manner as all things are now covered by the darkness of the night, so let everything that is sinful in me lie buried in your mercy.

Hear me, O God, Father and Preserver, through Jesus Christ your Son.

Amen.

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