Prayer for Friends
Jesus Christ, my dear and gracious Lord,
you have shown a love greater than that of any man
and which no one can equal,
for you in no way deserved to die,
yet you laid down your dear life
for those who served you and sinned against you.
You prayed for those who were killing you
that you might make them just men and your brothers
and restore them to your merciful Father and to yourself.
Lord, who showed such love to your enemies,
you have also enjoined the same love upon your friends.
My good Lord,
with what affection should I think of your love
which is beyond measure?
What return shall I make for your boundless gifts?
For your loving kindness is beyond all telling,
the greatness of your gift surpasses all return.
Then what return shall I make
to him who created me and re-created me?
To him who has had mercy on me and redeemed me?
O God, you are my God,
my goods are nothing unto you,
for the whole world is yours and all that is in it.
Then what shall I, a beggar and poor,
a creeping thing of dust,
what return can I make to my God,
except to obey his commandment from my heart?
For this is your commandment, that we love one another.
Good man, good God, good Lord, good friend—
you are whatever good there is.
Your humble and contemptible slave
desires to obey your commandment.
You know, Lord, that I prize this love which you command,
I hold this love dear, and long for this charity.
This I ask, this I seek.
For this your poor man, your beggar,
beats and clamors at the gate of your mercy.
And now, insofar as I have already received
the sweet alms you freely give,
I love all men, in you and for your sake,
though not so much as I ought or as I desire.
I pray your mercy upon all men,
yet there are many whom I hold more dear
since your love has impressed them upon my heart
with a closer and more intimate love,
so that I desire their love more eagerly—
I would pray more ardently for these.
My good Lord,
as your servant I long to pray to you for my friends,
but as your debtor I am held back by my sins.
For I am not able to pray for my own pardon,
how then can I dare to ask openly
for your grace for others?
I anxiously seek intercessors on my own behalf,
how then shall I be so bold as to intercede for others?
What shall I do, Lord God, what shall I do?
You command me to pray for them
and my love prompts me to do so,
but my conscience cries out against me,
saying that I should be concerned about my own sins,
so that I tremble to speak for others.
Shall I then leave off from doing what you command
because I have done what you have forbidden?
No, rather since I have presumed so greatly
in what is forbidden,
all the more will I embrace what is commanded.
So perhaps obedience may heal presumption,
and charity may cover the multitude of my sins.
So I pray you, good and gracious God,
for those who love me for your sake
and whom I love in you.
And I pray more earnestly for those
whom you know love me and whom I do most truly love.
I am not doing this, Lord,
as being righteous and free from sin,
but as one urged on by some kind of love for others.
So love them, you source of love,
by whose command and gift I love them;
and if my prayer does not deserve to avail for them
because it is offered you by a sinner,
let it avail for them because it is made at your command.
Love them, Author and Giver of Love,
for your own sake, not for mine,
and make them love you with all their heart,
all their soul, and all their mind,
so that they will and speak and do
only what pleases you and is expedient for them.
My prayer is but a cold affair, Lord,
because my love burns with so small a flame,
but you who are rich in mercy
will not mete out to them your gifts
according to the dullness of my zeal,
but as your kindness is above all human love
so let your eagerness to hear
be greater than the feeling in my prayers.
Do this for them and with them, Lord,
so that they may speed according to your will,
and thus ruled and protected by you,
always and everywhere,
may they come at last to glory and eternal rest,
through you who are living and reigning God,
through all ages.
Prayer for Enemies
Almighty and tender Lord Jesus Christ,
I have asked you to be good to my friends,
and now I bring before you what I desire in my heart for my enemies.
For you see, O God, the reins and the heart,
you penetrate the secrets of my mind.
If you have sown in the soul of your servant
something that can be offered to you,
you see it there;
nor can it lie hid from you
if I and the enemy of mankind have sown there
that which will have to be consumed by fire.
Most gracious God,
do not despise what you have sown,
but cherish and increase it, perfect and preserve it.
I can begin nothing good without you,
neither can I bring anything to fruition
nor maintain it, without you.
Merciful God, do not judge me
according to that which displeases you in me,
but root up that which you have not sown
and save the soul you have created.
For without you I cannot amend,
because whatever is good in us you have made
and not we ourselves.
My soul would not be able to bear it
if you should judge it according to its sins.
You alone, Lord, are mighty;
you alone are merciful;
whatever you make me desire for my enemies,
give it to them and give the same back to me,
and if what I ask for them at any time
is outside the rule of charity,
whether through weakness, ignorance, or malice,
good Lord, do not give it to them
and do not give it back to me.
You who are the true light, lighten their darkness;
you who are the whole truth, correct their errors;
you who are the true life, give life to their souls.
For you have said to your beloved disciple
that he who loves not remains dead.
So I pray, Lord, that you will give them love for you
and love for their neighbor,
as far as you ordain that they should have it,
lest they should sin before you against their brother.
Tender Lord Jesus,
let me not be the cause of the death of my brothers,
let me not be to them
a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence.
For it is more than enough, Lord,
that I should be a scandal to myself,
my sin is sufficient to me.
Your slave begs you for his fellow slaves,
lest because of me they offend
against the kindness of so good and great a lord.
Let them be reconciled to you and in concord with me,
according to your will and for your own sake.
This is the punishment
that in the secret of my heart
I want to exact
for those who serve with me and those who sin with me—
this is the punishment that I ask
for those who serve with me and hate me—
let us love you and each other
as you will and as is expedient for us,
so that we may make amends to the good Lord
for our own and for each other’s offences;
so that we may obey with one heart in love
one Lord and one Master.
This is the revenge your sinner asks
on all who wish him evil and act against him.
Most merciful Lord,
prepare the same punishment for your sinner.
Do this, my good Creator and my merciful Judge,
according to your mercy that cannot be measured.
Forgive me all my debts
as I before you forgive all those indebted to me.
Perhaps this may not be so
because in your sight I have not yet done this perfectly,
but my will is set to do it,
and to that end I am doing all I can.
So I offer this to you here, Lord,
so that you may perfectly forgive my sins
and deal with me as gently as you can.
Hear me, good and great Lord,
for my soul hungers and longs
to feed upon the experience of your love,
but it cannot fill itself with you;
for my heart can find no name to invoke
that will satisfy my heart.
For no words have here any taste to me
when my love receives from you that which you give.
I have prayed, Lord, as I can,
but I wish I could do more.
Hear me, and answer as you are able,
for you can do all that you will.
I have prayed as a weak man and a sinner;
you who are mighty and merciful, hear my prayer.
Fulfill my prayer, Lord, not only for my friends
and the enemies for whom I have prayed,
but distribute the healing of your mercy
wherever you know it may help anyone
and not be contrary to your will,
both to the living and the departed.
Hear me always with your favor,
not according as my heart wills or as my mouth asks,
but as you know and will that I ought to wish and ask,
O Savior of the world,
who with the Father and the Holy Spirit
lives and reigns God
throughout all ages.