Rev. Art Morgan

A collection of prayers from "Thursday Night Church"
a "never on Sunday" gathering of church drop-outs 



The death of long time friend, Judge Al Dibb, with memorials directed to Moment Ministries, prompted a decision to publish this booklet. At the time of his retirement I was invited to pray the invocation and benediction. 

At the time, I lived in Corvallis, Oregon. He lived in Huntington Park, California. We made the trip and did the prayers.

Al and Betty Ann moved to Medford, Oregon after his retirement and enjoyed happy years until his death in February of 1997. Again, we traveled from our home to his to do the prayers.

Although a person of faith, the judge didn't collect prayers. Rocks and stamps, maybe, but not prayers. 

I have wanted to put together this collection for a long time, so offer my appreciation to the Dibb family for getting me going.


One of the worst parts of the clergy business is having to pray. 

At a Women's Fellowship brunch, for instance.
The new minister—me—was invited to say grace.
All I could think to do, as I looked around at all the well-fed ladies, was to offer the following prayer:

Lord, forgive us here for presuming to ask You
to bless our eating of dessert in a world where
so many lack bread. Help us to see our abundance as opportunity for service and generosity.
It was a few minutes before the conversation rose to its previous level.

I was never again invited to say grace for the Women's Fellowship dessert brunch. 

* * *
I've sometimes envied the Moslems who seem to know how to pray. They have a prayer rug. They know which way to face. They prostrate themselves. They have words to pray. They have set times for praying. I have none of the above.

* * *

If you ever look around during public prayers—I often do—you see most people obediently bowing heads, closing eyes. Some fold hands.

Others look straight ahead or at the prayer maker. Some look upward or around the room. 

I wonder what people are "seeing" with their eyes closed. Are those with eyes open looking for the One to whom the prayer is being addressed? Is the Recipient of prayers up, inside, forward, all around—or anyplace?

* * *

Here's my read on the situation. If God is, then there's no place where God isn't. The psalmist probably has it right who said:
O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me! 
Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up;
thou discernest my thoughts from afar.           (Psalm 139)
It makes one wonder at the point of praying. If our behavior and thoughts are known by the God of this place, the saying of prayers is unnecessary. Why pray at all if the message has been received before we can think to deliver it? Just a thought.

* * *

So, do words matter? Or even ideas? Our feelings, moods, unidentifiable longings pray for us without ceasing.

* * *

Sometimes people ask me to do something about the 
weather. A joke, of course. I think they suspect prayers don't change anything. It's quite a presumption when you think about it. Imagine any of us attempting to alter the actions of the Management of the universe. Yet, turn on Sunday TV and listen to preachers daring that very thing. One of the mysteries of religion is that people are invited—urged—to appeal to God for whatever they want with an expectation that it will be delivered. 

* * *

If praying "works," it could be dangerous. Imagine all the prayers for conflicting results. One wants sun so the paint will dry, while another wants rain so the vegetables will grow. Should praying be allowed without the filing of an impact statement? 

* * *

As a young reader of Huck Finn I remember his thoughts and experiments regarding prayer. His conclusion? "There ain't nothin' to it." His failure to gain fish hooks was discouraging as my attempt at getting a bicycle. I prayed faithfully from about age 5 to 10 for a bike. Then I gave up. At age 12 I finally bought one myself out of paper route earnings. If there was something to prayer, I hadn't figured out what it was.
* * *

According to religious surveys, most of us pray anyway. Probably not in church or in any formal way. Often an appeal. Or an emergency request in a time of crisis. People who don't think they believe in prayer tend to be pleased to have someone pray for them in their difficult moments. One doesn't have to be much of a believer to pray—"If there's anyone out there, please help me." A tough old bird in my first parish used to curse God and told me during my first visit that one good man with a pistol was more use than a preacher. When he got cancer, however, he wanted me to visit regularly. He especially wanted me to pray.
* * *
It's tough duty to be called in as last resort. Can prayer be expected to undo the results of a life-time of smoking? Once, when asked to pray for a diabetic, I prayed that he might be able to resist the temptation to drink chocolate milkshakes and eat fatty hamburgers. I knew that he would sneak out for these treats against his wife's careful diets. I was nearly thrown out of the house. Wrong prayer. They wanted a fix for the symptoms of the disease. Can we expect that of prayer?
* * *
To think that whatever kind of God there might be needs to be reminded of our wants and needs, or that God is somehow implicated in the difficulties we want corrected, seems ludicrous. Any decent sort of God would not wait for our begging. Those who believe their destinies are determined by the will of God are more likely to pray for ability to accept that will. Many of us don't like the choices.

* * *

Devout pray-ers insist that prayer works. A Catholic lady I know sincerely believes she can pray and get results. She promised good weather for an outdoor memorial service. I irreverently asked if while she was at it, would she put in a word for the end of the slaughter currently going on in Bosnia. She rolled her eyes. The next day we got good weather, but the slaughter in Bosnia went on. I wished it the other way around.
* * * 

It could be that the answers to most of our prayers reside in ourselves. If anything, it would seem that God should be praying to us to do what we already know should be done.
"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

* * *

There are similarities between praying and self-hypnosis. Consider the techniques. Relaxation—go into the closet, or close your eyes. Be quiet. Focus—begin to set your mind on a purpose. Words are formed to express that purpose. Repeat—as in a rosary or chanting of a mantra.
* * *
Chances of achieving an objective greatly improve when you can be clear about what you want. Praying is a form of clarification of desires. Repeated statement of desired objective greatly enhances the possibilities for achieving it. It helps prayer "work." A student once told me she knew prayer worked because she always found a parking place when she prayed. Think about that. And think about a God system designed to help college students find a parking place.

* * *

The likelihood of results in prayer as so great that one must be careful about what is prayed for. We are likely to get it.

* * *

How does one address the great Operating System of the universe? We are learning to be less gender specific. Is an Operating System male or female? As theology changes so do our ways of expressing ourselves in prayer change. Some ancient prayers with their masculine dominance descriptions of God are difficult for some to pray. What does it mean to prayer the so-called "Lord's prayer," ("Lord" itself being a term of dominance theology) that begins "Our Father…" ? We should be aware, but not literalistic. No words of address to the mysterious Operating System can be adequate. Our attempts at communion with the depth that calls to our depth are as feeble as they are profound.
* * *

Can non-believers pray? They do, of course. There's even a special prayer for non-believers to pray. "Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief." Not to believe is not evil. It is more likely honesty. A lady once told me she wouldn't marry her beloved because he didn't believe. If he would join her in church and be baptized she would marry. I asked, "would you rather your husband be a dishonest member, or an honest non-member?" Alas.

* * *

One lady used to say, "I don't really believe in prayer, but I believe in praying." She was in touch with a feeling common to a lot of people who have grown away from traditional religious ideas whose spirits hunger for something more.
* * *
Psalms are prayers originally chanted or sung. Many still do their "praying" through singing of hymns and spirituals. Music and poetic lyrics allow an expression of spirit that transcends intellectual effort. If you can't find it in you to pray, sing! "It's me, it's me, it's me O Lord, standin' in the need of prayer."


"I only pray on Thursday nights." A lady told me that, following one or our Thursday Night ("Never on Sunday") gatherings. 

All of these prayers have been used at "Thursday Night Church." My own prayers are those without other identification. A number of other prayers from a variety of sources are also included.

I am of the opinion that our best and most sincere prayers are those which rise from deepest feelings and yearnings, expressions too deep for words. What we have left are the formal gathering of words, hopefully expressing some of the richness of those deep feelings.



O God who hears our yearnings more than our words, we speak our feelings of gratitude
                      for our lives
                      for supportive friendships
                      for people to sing and talk and think with
                      for time to lift hopes and fears
                      for a few minutes to seek a holy moment.
It's almost ridiculous, God, thinking that half-evolved creatures like us, dare to believe we can communicate with the source and center of life. Thank You for not laughing at us.
And it's presumptive of us to expect that our words and our worries can compete with the worries of those shattered by earthquakes and revolutions and starvation. Thank You, God, for being big enough to understand our humanness.
In spite of it all we'll keep trying to make contact with You, trying to keep our perspective straight, trying to understood how small we are and how great You are.

O God of peace, whose children trust more in the ways of war, grant us a vision of what could be and should be if we could but conquer fear and greed and pride. We pray for faith to raise up our hopes and put down our fears.

We give thanks today for the times of our lives. . .
            For a time in which to live and have a place in history…
            For years of seasons to experience life…
            For hours of waking and sleeping, being and doing…
            For minutes of talking and going and living… 
            For moments when deep emotions surface, joys rise up,
                    tears glisten, and memories are locked into eternity…
            For the times and moments of life, we give thanks.

We praise the Great Creating Force of life which—or who—raises up giants in each generation. We celebrate the Spirit of Truth and Courage which appears in lives such as Jesus and Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King 
We pray for relief from smallness of soul that some spark of that same Spirit of Truth and Courage might fan to flame in us.


"I'm thankful to God
     that some noble souls
     from the ranks of organized religion
     broke loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity
     and joined us as active partners 
     in the struggle for freedom."                        (Martin Luther King)


God, grant me a goal worth reaching for.
            Remind me of the promise:
       Ask and you shall receive 
       Seek and you shall find
       Knock and the door will be opened.
Remind me that to believe in God means to believe in possibilities.


Blessed is the name of the Source and Life Center of the whole universe, the eternal seed of all things…
                        the Father of this universe,
                        the Mother, the Supporter,
                        the Grandsire and Grandmother
                        the Holy One, the Foundation.
Blessed be the name of the Creative one of all life.


When I despair of good in the world
and want a God to rescue us again,
teach and remind my faltering soul
that prayer has its beginning
when I become ready to be part of the answer.

       When our hearts are full of gratitude,
                        we want to say "Thank You" — to someone.
            When a lump nearly shuts off our voice,
                        we want to speak our hurt — to someone.
            When weakness makes us wobble,
                        we want to ask for strength — from someone.
            When helplessness overcomes us
                        we want to find assistance — from someone.
            When we have done wrong,
                        we want to ask forgiveness — from someone. 
            When lost along life's way,
                        we want to get direction — from someone.


Teach us, Great Author of life, how to be grateful:
            For all life's fortunes, great or small;
            For our daily bread;
            For companions along life's journey;
            For the wonder of each moment.


"In gratitude for our own good fortune, we offer in return some
sacrifice of life for other life." (Albert Schweitzer)


The vines of the vineyards are like dead sticks today. But they hide the promise of life. Leaves are in tiny buds, with branches to follow. Then grapes ripening and harvest and juice and wine. We are in wonder at the mystery of sun and rain and earth and seed and time and life, and finally the touch of the human hand which appears as living wine. We praise the miracle that makes wine.


Blessed be He—or anyone—who comes in the name of the Lord.
Blessed be ones who come to establish justice for the oppressed.
Blessed be ones who care for the poor.
Blessed be ones who offer shelter and food and clothing.
Blessed be ones who assist the troubled and confused.
Blessed be ones who minister to the sick.
Blessed be She—or anyone—who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, the hopes and dreams of our hearts.
If our dreams be selfish, enlarge them to include others.
If our dreams be short-term, extend them to farther horizons
If our dreams be unworthy, lift them to lofty heights.
May the words of our mouths, and dreams of our hearts be 
            acceptable in Thy sight.


We affirm the potentiality in every human life.
We affirm the dream that each life shall grow and thrive.
We affirm the ideal of freedom, health and happiness for all.
We realize that we are unusually and undeservedly blessed.
We affirm the faith that teaches us to love God, and love our 
            neighbors as ourselves.


We are in awe of the life mystery of which we are a part.
The infinite mystery is personal and dwells within us.
We were nothing, yet we are part of eternity.
We are made to grow in ability to love and to receive love.
We find more joy in giving and serving than in receiving and
We live in gratitude for a life too valuable to be meaningless.


I am of the earth, but not earth-bound.
As my life ages my center of being is less and less material.
My focus is more and more mental and spiritual.
My desire is changing from possessing the land to enjoying the sky.
My need is to move from needing attention from people, 
            to wanting relationships with people.
My worries are less about my own survival and more about the
            survival of values that will outlive me.
My growth needs are not for knowledge of facts, but for knowledge
            of my own central self.
My goal is to rise above any pettiness, childishness and selfishness.
God help my up-rising!

I praise You, my Maker, for making me strong enough to live.
I praise you for the toughness of my ancestors, 
            whose blood flows in me.
In times of weakness and doubt, may I remember my strength.
I would be strong and not afraid.
For I exist by a strength not my own.


We pray for faith to match the songs we sing.
We admit to trembling as we face life's many pressures.
So much we can't control, or do anything about -
            Except to remain steady and calm and grounded within.
This is Your territory, God, so we seek the foundation You promise.
We pray this for ourselves and for those who matter to us—even
            those unknown to us who share this journey called life.


I believe in life as a wondrous, mysterious gift.
I accept my life as an opportunity to experience amazing
I share the joy of life with other people special to me.
I take responsibility for my feelings and actions.
I seek to be part of the harmony of the universe, rather than
            the chaos.
I belong to life and life belongs to me.


We are more hell-bent than heaven-bound.
We beat our plowshares into swords and trade bread for bombs. Today the United Nations convenes yet another disarmament conference. We pray—again—that human sanity will overpower human depravity.


These things I affirm as facts of my life:
            That I am miraculously, marvelously alive!
            That I have the power and will to choose how I think
            and act and feel.
And , though my knowledge has its limits, I also affirm
that I am the one creature most able to know myself,
others and God.

Our faith is that life is far more than we know—
that those whom we love who die, do not die without meaning;
that the ties which bind us in life are not severed by death;
that whatever the future holds is dependent upon forces we don't control;
that whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's;
that our duty is to life, to living as happily and hopefully and 
            lovingly as we possibly can.


"Our Power who art in uranium, profit be Thy name.
Thy kilowatts come, Thy safeguards be done,
            in Pebble Springs as they are at Hanford.
Give us this day our daily plutonium,
            and forgive us our radiation as forgive those who radiate
            against us.
And lead us not into safety, but deliver us from worry about the
For radio-active waste is the kingdom and the power and the worry,
            forever, and ever and ever and……."
(John Conner - Presbyterian Minister) 


Warm wind, soft rain, crocus and fruit trees blossoming…
Blessed be the Life-Giver.
New-born lamb, awakening cricket, love attracting…
Blessed be the Life-Giver.
Missile-removing, nerve-gas destroying, bomb-test ending…
Blessed be the Life-Giver.


"Allow my sadness and anger over the misuse of life
to foster in me an enrichment of compassion and justice
that will guide me on an action path that is appropriate for me." 
(G. Hayden Stewart) 


"Let the life values I honor radiate through my being." 
(G. Hayden Stewart) 


"I accept life as it is, here and now, observing it and experiencing it
            without judgment."                               (G. Hayden Stewart

"Father, may Thy name be hallowed;
            may Thy kingdom come.
Our bread for the morrow give us day by day;
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive
            those who are indebted to us;
And do not lead us into temptation."                   (Early Lord's Prayer) 


"Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from me;
            nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done."
(Jesus, Gethsemane) 
"Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. 
            And when we are right, make us easy to live with."
(Peter Marshall) 
"O God, grant us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed; 
the courage to change what can be changed; and the wisdom to
know the difference."                                         (Reinhold Niebuhr)
"Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be at one."                                                                      (Socrates)
"Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked
            in his moccasins."                                        (Sioux Prayer) 


"O God, make me like Christ!"                        (Kagawa's First Prayer) 


"Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord; and our heart is restless
            until it rests in Thee."                                      (St. Augustine) 

"Teach us Good Lord, 
            to serve Thee as Thou deservest;
            to give and not count the cost;
            to fight and not to heed the wounds;
            to toil and not to seek for rest;
            to labor and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing
                        that we do Thy will."                         (St. Ignatious)


"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
            so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in
            hope."                                                       (Paul, Romans)


"Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, maker of the earth, and keeper
            of this house, for the bread of this table."  (Jewish Table Prayer) 


"Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who formed the light and created the darkness and who makes peace and creates all things, who in mercy gives light to the earth and to those who dwell thereon, and in Thy goodness renews the creation every day continually."                                                (Synagogue Prayer) 


"Take our bread, we ask You, take our hearts we love You, 
            take our lives, oh Father; we are Yours, we are Yours.
Yours as we stand at the table You set; 
Yours as we eat the bread our hearts can't forget. We are the sign of
            Your life with us yet, we are Yours, we are Yours…."
(Joseph Wise, Songs - Used as Table Grace at all Moment Ministries meals) 


"Bless the Lord O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his
            Holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
            who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
            who redeems your life from the Pit, 
            who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
            who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your
            youth is renewed like the eagles."                      (Psalm 103) 

- end -