Celtic Christian Prayers

Despite the fact that people roll their eyes at all things Celtic as a fad, I’ve been blessed in many ways by Celtic Christian spirituality. One of the things I was reminded this morning at the beach was ancient Celtic Christianity’s optimistic view of God’s protection, their awareness of God’s presence in every little aspect of daily life, and their view of life with God being full of wholehearted commitment, rather than a losing battle with sin.  These are some of the prayers I read and prayed this morning from Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community.

I pray the protection of Christ to clothe me.

Christ to enfold me,

To surround me and guard me

This day and every day,

Surrounding me and my companions,

Enfolding me and every friend.


The keeping of Christ about me,

The guarding of God with me

To possess me, to protect me

From drowning and danger and loss,

The gospel of the God of grace

From brow to head

To sole of foot,

The gospel of Christ,

King of salvation,

Be as a mantle to my body.


 Peace between me and my God.

 On your path, O my God,

And not my own,

Be all my journeying.

Rule this heart of mine

that it be only Yours.


All I speak

Be blessed to me, O God.

All I hear

Be blessed to me, O God.

All I see

Be blessed to me, O God.

All I sense

Be blessed to me, O God.

All I taste

Be blessed to me, O God.

Each step I take

Be blessed to me, O God.


In Your mercy, Lord,

Keep us free from sin,

And protect us from all anxiety

As we wait in joyful hope

For the coming of our Savior,

Jesus Christ,

Let Your Kingdom come, Lord, in me.

Prayer as Gardening (not gardening as prayer)

I’m not talking about gardening as prayer. That’s a good subject, and one that many devout people: Christian, Sufi, Buddist, etc etc could agree upon. But I am not talking about that. I am talking about prayer as gardening.

Praying for people affords me all the joys of gardening: watching things develop, grow, change, bear fruit, thrive, rejuvenate, be healed, etc. Often the “things” are people.  All of the wonderful things about gardening, but you can do it from any distance.

If humanity’s vocation, given by God at the beginning, is to till the earth, to steward, manage, tend, and develop the Creation, reflecting the imago dei into the Creator’s world as his appointed regents, then prayer is one of the profoundly incredible ways we are able to do that. Pascal called prayer God granting us the dignity of causation. Aside from the formation, shaping and transformation I myself experience in prayer, I am tending the Creator’s world. This is an act of love of world-shaping significance.

What a joy it brought me this past week at a conference in Missouri, to be able to walk up to people I cherish and say to them “I’ve been praying for you every day. For your health, safety, protection, your children, your marriage, your spouse, your own happiness, and fulfillment in what God has you doing.”

Praying is like Jean Giono’s marvelous parable The Man Who Planted Trees. I am not only communing with God, I am gardening the world.

Michael Ramsey on goodness and prayer

Michael Ramsey (1904-1988) was the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England and held the office from 1961 to 1974. Ramsey was engaging many of the issues we are facing today early on. If you read the Wikipedia entry (!) about him and find him a kindred spirit, I recommend  ‘Through the Year with Michael Ramsey’ edited by Margaret Duggan. Below are two things he has said.

“God’s purpose is like a stream of goodness flowing out into the world and all its needs. But it is our privilege as God’s children to help this stream of goodness to reach other people, becoming ourselves like channels. Our good actions can be channels of God’s goodness, and so too can our prayers.  ….We do not bombard God with our desires; no, we bring our desires into tune with His, so that He, waiting upon our cooperation, and using the channel of our prayers, brings the stream of His good purpose into the parched deserts of human need.”


“Our service in Christ’s name to those who suffer is not something that we do to try to advertise Christianity as a good, useful public show. Our service to people who suffer is just a natural outflowing of our love of God, of our love of others.  ….Every Christian congregation should, as a true part of Christian discipleship, be setting itself deliberately to the task of helping and caring for those who suffer.”

Christian Mysticism? Calvin, Wesley and Spurgeon say ‘Yes’

A couple days ago I stumbled onto YET ANOTHER blog warning of the terrible dangers of mysticism.  Typically these sites warn of the mysticism in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and the new emergent churches. The world is a fascinating place, and I find it ironic in the extreme that Fundamentalism, in order to protect Christianity from the modern scientific worldview, adopted the modern scientific worldview toward the Bible and the faith! Somehow these good folks are convinced that the Christian religion is a head-oriented, logical, rational set of beliefs devoid of mysticism.

No mysticism in Christianity? How about the Holy Spirit being present INSIDE believers? How about prayer? How about  communion and baptism? How about the Spirit testifying to our spirit that we are children of God? How about dreams and visions? How about the Creation itself yearning for the sons of God to be revealed? How about the Inspiration of Scripture? How about “You will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you”? Can you call all that something other than mysticism?

No, no – they say –  mysticism is part of Eastern religions.

Ummm…  Judaism and Christianity were born in the Near EAST. They ARE  Eastern religions! They aren’t French or German. Christianity actually predates Calvin and Luther.

The blog I stumbled onto traced the etymology of mysticism to ‘mystery’ – aha! The mystery cults! Uh, box canyon. Blind alley. Circular go-cart track. Etymologies don’t really prove a point in this context.

Words, you may have noticed, are like bright-eyed toddlers who refuse to sit still where you tell them to. They run all over the house – and the pandemonium gets even livelier when they collide with their Latin cousins.[1] The word ‘mystical’ has been used by Christians to describe the mystical, spiritual experiences  of Christians throughout our history. Even many of the fundamentalists’ favorites!

John Calvin speaks of “the residence of Christ in our hearts, in fine, the mystical union…”; refers to Jesus’ words at The Last Supper as “a mystical benediction” and calls our incorporation into Christ’s church “a mystical marriage” throughout his sermons and Institutes.

Charles Spurgeon uses the word these same ways, and calls both the prophet Daniel’s visions and dreams “mystic,” as well as the Apostle Paul’s experiences.

John Wesley called Psalms which pointed forward to Christ  ‘mystical references to Christ’;  any reference in Scripture to Jerusalem that he took to indicate the church he said mystically refers to the church; throughout his sermons and commentary he refers to the church as Christ’s ‘mystical’ body and believers as “members of Christ’s mystical body”;  he refers to the Mystics of his day and the Middle Ages “those pious men who are usually styled Mystics” and calls the prophetic allusions in the Old Testament “mystical promises of abundant grace poured forth in gospel-days.”

The long and short of it is this. Somehow our fundamentalist brothers and sisters have gotten the idea that mysticism is something foreign to biblical faith and Christian experience. Whatever twists and turns of history resulted in them earnestly believing this, the fact is that mysticism – mystical experiences – have always been a part of both Jewish and Christian faith, starting in the Bible.

[1] Thank you Tom Wright for this delightful illustration.