Charles Edwards Park
Charles Park could speak to people and for people because he was transparent to them and they to him. His secret was limpidness. When he prayed, he prayed with the openness of a child, and yet he prayed also with the eloquence of a man. When he thanks God for his “excellent jealousy” or for “sleepless love,” when he begins the day by renewing his “sacred covenant” with God and when he prays “Save me from myself, 0 God,” as man and child he draws us into the circle of his prayers and helps us to pray for ourselves. This, as he said, is all he wished to do.
O GOD in Heaven, the duties of the day press upon me, urging me to haste; and my spirit in the freshness of its morning powers stands eager and ready to greet them. Yet I would give the first freshness of my attention to you, and the first few moments of my time to the prayer which, under your mercy, shall bless unto me all the opportunities of this day.
Let me not begin my work without first returning unto you my heartfelt thanks for your guardianship throughout the night, and for the brightness and hope of the morning. Let my strength last through all the day, enabling me to do all with care and thoroughness. Let these first impulses of vigor and good cheer survive each exaction, each trial, each demand, that words of irritation may not disfigure my speech and that moments of indolence may not impair the excellence of this day’s achievement.
Your love is the fountain of my strength; and your peace is the guarantee of my efficiency. May I not neglect these ever-available resources at any moment of need, but may my joyful heart turn to you at every chance opportunity, as readily as I turn to smile upon a human friend, and find in the cleansing strength of your presence, patience for every occasion, comfort for each little failure, and a guiding wisdom for all perplexity.
No care of mine is too small to lay before you. No need of mine is too slight or fleeting to be heard by you. Let me, in utter reverence and simplicity, take my place beside you, in every moment of the day, and prove unto myself the infinite blessedness of your companionship.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, help me to begin my work this day with the thought of your loving care brightening my heart. As hour follows hour, and as duties and temporal interests press ever more thickly into my mind, it must be that my attention will become more and more absorbed; that the rise and fall of the day’s fortunes will ever assume greater importance; that the spirit of the work will tempt me ever more strongly to narrow my outlook down to the present exigency, and to engross the value of the immediate moment, and to lose sight of its true relation to the weightier matters of my living.
Let the remembrance of this first prayer of mine come to my aid all through the day, to keep my sight clear and my judgment true, to shield me from gusts of sudden passion, and lend steadiness and poise and quiet strength to all I say and think and do. So if success attends my day’s labor, let it not bring vainglory with it; or if failure awaits me, let it not bring despair; and as weariness creeps over my little powers, let it not bring discouragement or irritability with it; but let this thought of your calm and loving care, with which I have begun the day, find its secure lodgment in my heart, to guide and support me through the hours of labor, and to bless me, when labor ceases, with its word of unutterable sweetness, — “my child, in whom I am well pleased.”
Beginning the Day
O GOD, the day is not well begun until my thoughts, heavy with earthly plans and interests, have for a moment laid aside the weight that so readily engrosses them, to pay their homage unto you; to acknowledge with poor, inadequate thanks the constancy of your loving protection, which so often goes unrecognized by me; and to prevent, by the cleansing influences of their little worship, the intrusion of unworthy passion and cowardly weakness amidst the hopes and motives that shall control me this day.
I thank you for that excellent jealousy of yours which will not suffer any other idol of the mind, however fair, to share with you the homage which I render, but which demands that while I think of you every other thought and ambition shall be put aside, and that my heart shall bring you its unrestricted offering of attentiveness, of praise, of self-consecration. Let it be in this frame of single mindedness that my prayer is made to you now.
Accept my gratefulness for countless blessings and safeguards that surround me, so familiar that I habitually ignore them, so unfailing that I have come to consider them my right, when in truth they are but the free-will bounties of your love.
Hear my petition for strength and peace, for gentleness and patience in all my dealings, for gracious thoughts and kindly instincts, for purity of heart and firmness of trust, to be mine all through this day.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, Creator of us all, back of the clouds which overcast my morning sky shines the brightness of your glory. My thoughts rise to you as the sparks fly upward, and, piercing this canopy of earthly darkness, which tries to imprison them, they seek their true resting-place in the undimmed radiance of your being.
Help me as easily to pierce the fogs and vapors that becloud my spirit, and that involve in gloom the inner morning of my soul. Help me to remember how local and temporary are the depressions and discouragements that darken my skies, and that back of them shines ever the full radiance of your love and power.
Give me the self-control to discount my own moods, to rise superior to my own changing humors, and with more and more of constancy to make my habitual dwelling-place in your calm and tranquil reality.
Teach me the unapplauded heroism of self-conquest, that I may not cause others to suffer for the spiritual distemper that lies upon me this day, but that I may still be courteous in all my greetings, patient with the weak, sympathetic unto all distress, helpful to those who need my help, and gentle with little children. And if it be your will, in mercy to me, let my eyes be gladdened, ere this dark day gives place to darker night, by a glimpse of the infinite blue.
Beginning the Day
O GOD of Eternity, within your loving protection I sank to sleep, to your sleepless love I awake again with the returning light. Bless to my uses this day your gift of strength and opportunity. Touch my eyes that I may see more clearly and value more reverently these familiar bounties of yours: nights for rest and days for labor; household comforts, dear ones to love me and to depend upon my love; friends to surround me and to rejoice in my friendship.
Bring to my notice the pleasant places within which my lines have fallen, and help me to live as one who is sensible of the unmerited gifts which you have bestowed. If I have not deserved them in the past, give me at least the privilege of earning them now, and for the times to come, by my thoughtful and reverent enjoyment of them.
Let this day see no wasted moments, no unworthy deed, no unkindness or dishonor at my hands. If my pleasures cannot be harmless let them be denied. If my words cannot be courteous let them remain unspoken. If my jests cannot be clean let them be unuttered. If my efforts cannot be successful let them at least be faithful and generous. So as this day comes to me in its purity, may it leave me unsullied by anything that I have done.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, the Guardian of us all, as your sun returns with light and warmth after storm and darkness, so your loving peace steals back into my heart after labor and stress, and makes my morning joyous with messages of comfort. I bless you that my day begins with tranquility and promise; and, though it contains for me many duties, many cares to endure, and many tasks to perform, I thank you that its opening hours bring me this preparation of hopefulness and simple trust.
My heart would open unto you its treasures of thankfulness for countless little commonplace blessings which you do faithfully continue unto me; for the friendliness by which I am surrounded; for the readiness of people to overlook my frailties and extenuate my shortcomings, and to praise the little good that I can do; for the health and well-being of my dear ones; for the constancy of my friendships, which are able to survive both silence and distance and to surprise me at rare moments with their unexhausted loyalty.
Will you bless my offering by your acceptance; and strengthen within me the ideals of service, the aspirations to usefulness, out of which my gratitude arises. Bring order and efficiency out of the chaos of my plans and ambitions. Help me not alone to want to serve, but teach me how best to serve. Give me insight to discover that which is important among my many opportunities, and strength of mind to put aside the less, that I may use to its utmost profit the brief time of my allotted days.
Let Christ be more than ever my friend. Teach me the constraint of his love for me, the stimulus of his trust in me, the comfort of his friendship for me; and grant that this day I may walk closely with him, and when night calls me to rest, may find my sweetest solace in his word of approval.
Beginning the Day
O FATHER in Heaven, your blessings unto me are so abundant that my complainings are shamed into silence, and my sharpest regret becomes my inability to share with others what you have so lavishly bestowed upon me.
I see about me those who are weakened by illness, troubled by anxieties and fears, handicapped by heavy burdens, oppressed by poverty, embittered by failure and evil fortune. You know how obligated I am, out of my fullness, to minister unto their wants, and how hard it is to find the method and occasion for such helpfulness.
Teach me, at least, the graces of the Christlike spirit; give me more wisdom, more charity of judgment, more patience, above all a bigger and truer sympathy. Let no tale of sorrow come to my ears and find me indifferent. Let no picture of suffering meet my eyes and leave me unmoved. But convince me that by your bounty unto myself, you have put me under bonds to render you the only return possible, by carrying something of my joy and well-being unto those who are as dear to you as I am. Thus let it be unto me a holy duty to be always cheerful, always hopeful, strong to resist the poison of jealousy and prejudice, and to spread about me the seeds of kindness and companionship and trust. Let me do this, not for the added joy I may thereby earn unto myself, but from my sense of gratitude unto you, in whose providences I am supremely blessed.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, with restored powers and mind refreshed I stand at the gate of my little day, ready to enter and meet the occasions that await me. Accept at my hands, as I pass within, these poor memorials which I offer you: the praise which your goodness awakens in me; the reverent homage which my meager understanding of your majesty inspires; and the petition, without which no prayer of mine is complete, for your presence to shield and guide and control me in all I shall attempt or encounter.
Put your seal of ownership freshly upon me now; mark me for your child; impress upon my memory again, as my fittest morning preparation, the vows I must observe in order to retain unsullied my soul’s calling: to speak peace unto all people, to protect weakness, to redress wrong, to keep my hand from evil practices, to admire courage and acknowledge virtue wherever found, most of all to think of you, ever with love, as my close personal friend.
Let me not begin the labor of this day without calling first to mind this sacred covenant with you, without giving it again my heart’s fealty. And so, having with gladness paid my allegiance, and received your blessing, let me worthily begin the day.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, before my mind becomes full of other thoughts let me cleanse it and order it by filling it with the thought of you; and let me know that the moments spent in this simple act of prayer are not moments wasted, but that they will be amply repaid in the greater ease and freedom with which I shall approach my day’s labors.
I bless you for many mysterious providences which I faintly perceive and cannot understand: for problems that have of their own accord straightened themselves out under my helpless hands, for difficult tasks which as they came upon me have brought with them the strength and skill necessary to their performance, for terrifying burdens which upon nearer approach have shown themselves to be welcome opportunities, for rest and recuperation that have somehow come to me in the very midst of my labors and have surprised me with unexpected resources of repair.
My heart confesses to the growing mystery of my life, to the reality of its humble chances of service; to the great beauty and brightness of its compensations; and I would lay before you here my morning offering of filial gratitude that you do let me live, and labor, and be thy son/daughter, and in my small way share your purpose, and have my glad part in your hope for the future and in your satisfaction for all the good of the past.
Beginning the Day
ALMIGHTY GOD, as eager plans and projects spring up in my heart for the new day, my thoughts turn away from them to seek first your presence and your blessings; to baptize my energies in the purifying remembrance of you; before giving them over to all the happy doings which this day holds in store for me.
With gratitude, I acknowledge the manifold safeguards of thy presence, and confess how in countless ways this moment of quietness holds its influence over me throughout the succeeding hours, how it cheers me in despondency, and comforts me in loneliness, and gives new strength in weariness.
Grant, I pray, that all others with whom I labor may feel the benefits of my sacrament, so that its hallowing touch may not cease with me, but may make me stronger, gentler, more patient, more charitable in all relationships, more to be depended upon, more lovable, and more courageous.
As I am quick to see faults in others, make me even more quick to discover my own. And as I am slow to forgive unworthiness of act or word in others, make me slower still to forgive these things in myself.
Help me to feel that I am working in the sight of a loving parent, who sees in me excellences that I have not myself discovered, and whose hope and pride in me are satisfied with nothing less than the best I can do. Help me to merit your pride. Let it be my constant stimulus. Let it brighten my darkness, rebuke my failure, and call forth my full strength in joyous and life-giving service. Let me know, in my measure, what Christ meant when he said it was his meat to do your will.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, the morning speaks its invitation to our vigor, and throws down its gage to our spirits and our heroism. You know with what temptation we face the new day; how wearied we get of the tameness of our tasks, of the monotony of our appointed routine; how sorely we are provoked to leave our beaten paths, and attempt the new, the untried, the startling.
You know how we are lured by our longing for fame and for the recognition of the world, to devote the new day to some new enterprise, and to indulge our restlessness by pursuing that which is novel. But let the morning bring to us the timely thought of your unchanging sovereignty, and speak to our souls the tidings which day uttereth unto day, and night proclaimeth unto night, — the tidings of your faithfulness and your constancy, the singleness of your eternal purpose, the unwavering majesty of your law and your will. Let these voices sanctify unto me your new day, and drown out the seductive whisper of every false ambition, and marshal all my powers and hopes again to your single service.
Let me learn from all true servants of yours the romance of steadfastness.
Let me be instructed in the higher courage required by lifelong fealty to your holy leadership, — courage to overcome not alone the open obstacles in my way, but to overcome also the insidious foes that conspire within myself, my own weariness and restlessness, my own spirit’s weaknesses, my own dread of monotony, my own love of earthly applause.
Let this day find me still your servant in every wish of my heart, and leave me still your child, in my unshaken dependence upon your love.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, Sovereign of all times, your truth has inspired every act of nobility in the past. The bright story of human aspiration and achievement is our highest testimony to the power of your spirit and the excellence of your holiness. Help me to discern the quiet promptings of that spirit in my own heart. Help me to listen, with wonder and joyful obedience, to the whispered commands of your voice, bidding me, in each little moment of choice, have care how I choose; urging me, with patient insistence, to turn away from specious promises of success or selfish enjoyment, and to seek instead the substantial peace of heart that only your ways of rectitude can yield. And if this choice leads me into the shadow of present loneliness, misunderstanding, ill-repute, help me to fall back upon your resources of spiritual companionship; to discover with a new delight my kinship unto all true souls, past and present, to dwell comfortably in the thought of their fellowship, — your Christ, your prophets and great ones, your humble servants and lovers of all times and places, who counted you their great reward, and lived with no thought but to love you, and be loved of you. Give your help, that, in my poor way, I may enter this communion, may know its ample safeguards, and may feel creeping through my heart something of the ineffable peace in which they labored and worshipped and rejoiced.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, your mornings do not always dawn in brightness, nor do I always bring messages of inward hope and fresh determination. Storms and clouds involve my morning sky without, and anxious cares and futile regrets which the night has not wholly scattered greet me again as I look about my inward skies. Help me with your strength and peace at this moment, for you know there are moments when I need these gifts more than at other times.
Teach me to judge my mood rightly, to realize that it is but a passing weariness that has not been quite repaired, or that it arises but from a transient circumstance that will speedily shift and change to a brighter form. Let me feel all the more firmly beneath my feet the holy ground whereon I stand, the ground hallowed by your presence and your wisdom, and, without weak surrender or sinful dismay, let me draw my soul’s nourishment from the underlying thought that you are changeless through seeming change, and that your providences of mercy and right are still around me. Turn my attention to undeniable blessings which even this darkness cannot disguise. If I cannot have all as I would, save me from rebelliousness by reminding me of all I have; how rich it is, how little I have done to deserve it. In these ways restore unto me the proper balance and tranquility of my thoughts so that even this dark morning may come to me with its morning message of cheer and vigor undiminished. My heart blesses you from whom all my blessings flow.
Beginning the day
O GOD, brightness and beauty bathe my world and transfigure all things into forms of loveliness. My heart within craves the same purification, and turns to you with supplication for your sunlight upon my inner landscape. You see the anxious cares that thicken about me. The morning brings me its heavy assignment of tasks, and my spirit questions its ability to perform all that must be done. My conscience leaves me no rest, but urges me forth into clamoring drudgeries that brook no neglect. May I find in the thought of your sovereignty a magic that, shall touch these drudgeries and change them into occasions of joy.
Teach me to account myself and my little labor of less importance. Teach me more dependence upon you and less upon my own halting wisdom and industry. Give me your commandment of serenity. Bid me be still and know that you are God. Take part with me against the feverish and frowning aspect of self, with its over-conscientiousness, its blasphemy of self-dependence, its forgetfulness of you. Give me the comfortable assurance that what I do with my hands is not so important as the prayer I harbor in my heart, and the tranquility of trust I know in my soul. Let this be the sunshine that penetrates my spirit at this morning hour — warm and bright and pure. And in its light let me find a truer sense of relative values, and with a wiser choice give myself this day and every day to the quiet, trustful, joyous, Christ like ways of living that are most acceptable unto you, and most profitable unto my neighbors.
Beginning the Day
O GOD in Heaven, though in my heart I be unworthy to take your name and whisper unto you my prayer, will you not let me be with you for a few moments at the beginning of day? Your holiness is above injury at my hands, and my frailty and earthliness cannot resist the influences of purity which come from you, and which are so much stronger than my mood or passion that it is not you who are debased, but myself who am upborne and cleansed by this communion.
With great gratitude I bless you for the divine jealousy of your nature that you do not suffer any unworthy thought or impulse to share with you the poor hospitality of my heart, but that your presence there expels every lesser guest and leaves yourself supreme. With great gladness I give my heart to your visitation at this time, in the hope that not for the moment only but for the livelong day the enchantment of thy visit will abide with me touching each duty with brightness and each trial or disappointment with softness, and warning away each intrusive impulse of uncharity or weakness.
Let your mercy surround all your children, richly and lovingly as it surrounds me; anxious spirits facing pain and poverty, friendless and in doubt of life — be their refuge and their sufficing support. Draw their thought and their confidence unto yourself, and make it possible for them to discover in you the great blessedness, both of body and of mind, with which you are ever ready to bless them.
Beginning the Day
O Compassionate and loving God, accept the greetings of your child this new morning, greetings that are freighted with great thanks for your mercies past and present, and with new resolutions of service and of joyous companionship through all the hours and moments that lie before me.
I bless you for the freshened vigor of mind and spirit and body which you have given me, in which my old disappointments seem less disastrous, my old mistakes and failures less irrevocable, my old interests and opportunities of service more inviting and more worth while.
I praise you that under the enchantment of your presence all things become constantly new, each day shines forth in a beauty unprecedented and speaks with an invitation unimpaired, all life glows and gleams with a never-failing newness of joy and surprise.
In your love is my fount of perennial youth. Let that love be generously accepted by me today, as it is generously granted. Let it flow through all channels and touch with its magic all occasions, to brighten every task and lighten every burden, to cleanse every word I speak and ennoble every action, and to make this day’s stage of my pilgrimage more radiant than any before and more eloquent of the ineffable peace that waits to bless my journey’s end.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, strength and healing are with you, and I turn to you with great longing to be touched and made whole again. Your morning calls to me in vain, its brightness finds little response and its challenge little enterprise from me. I think that my weariness is that of work well done, but my heart confesses that it is only the weariness of time wasted and strength misspent. Be mindful of the great sorrow which these thoughts bring me, and if there is anything of comfort for me let it come to me now.
I thank you for the charity and friendliness of those about me, for their readiness to excuse and to forgive, for their desire to appreciate the least I have done and to overlook all that I have misdone. And I thank you also that, though others can so easily forgive, I cannot forgive myself.
I praise you for the ideals of service, the standards of excellence that still persist within me, which it may be I have disappointed, but which still shine and call and rebuke. In them help me to see an echo, faint and far away, of the great thoughts you do think concerning me, of the great confidence you do place in all your children. And let the remembrance of your loving trust be my balm in sorrow, my medicine in sickness, my encouragement in weariness. So in your forgiveness I am constrained to take refuge from my own self-condemnation and in your tireless love I hide from my own self-disgust.
Save me from myself, O God; let me be no longer mine but thine. And work within me in your own merciful ways the ancient miracle of rebirth. Make me over into a child of yours. Repair all my unworthiness; restore all that is lost or weakened; and put upon me the blessed hand of your ownership, proclaiming that you do still love me and trust me and want me among your servants and beloved ones.
Beginning the Day
O GOD, with morning offerings of gratitude and gladness I come before you; and yet how can I come before you when I have never for a moment been absent from you? Your grasp has held me safe and close all through the night, your power has guarded and your presence surrounded me during the silent hours, and with the morning light I awake to find myself still with you. It is only my earth-bound attention that turns to the thought of you now — that attention which, at the mercy of these earthly forces and distractions, has wandered from you and has fixed itself on other concerns, and which, prompted by the glory of the new day speaking abroad your majesty, is reminded of you again.
My blessing it is that your care for me is not determined by my faithfulness unto you, but that at all times and in every place you keep your loving thought upon your careless and inattention child. I praise you for the constancy of your love; and I thank you for its certain victory over my heart; that your very patience wears out my willfulness and overcomes the waywardness of my spirit and brings me in time to surrender myself wholly unto the encompassing love that will not let me go.
Let me live this brief day in the warmth and light of your love. Let me find in the day’s pleasures a rarer beauty because your love has blessed them unto me; and in the day’s failures a sweeter discipline because your love has softened them unto me; and in the day’s temptations a new impotency because your love has robbed them of power; and in the day’s tasks and opportunities a brighter meaning because your love tells me they are your will, and that I can find no surer gratification in life than the doing of your will.
Beginning the Day