31 December 2010

Starck's Prayer upon New Year's Eve


For the last time in this year I now bend my knees before You, O my God.  You have had mercy on me, and now I seek nothing but Your grace and peace.  I know that I have many times angered and grieved You in the past twelve months.  I know that I have often transgressed Your commandments, and have not always walked before You as I should.  I know that by my disobedience I have justly deserved Your wrath, displeasure and punishment.  But I also know that You graciously receive penitent sinners for Jesus’ sake and forgive them their iniquities, rebellions, and sins.

And so I now cast myself before Your throne and plead for mercy.  O Lord, remember not the sins of my youth; according to Your mercy remember me for Your goodness’ sake.  Enter not into judgment with me; for I can no more be justified before You than any sinful being.  Cleanse me from all sins, also my secret faults.  If during this year I have failed to listen as devoutly and attentively as I ought to have to Your revealed Word, which makes me wise unto salvation, forgive my inattention, and let me from now on be changed from being a mere hearer into a doer of Your Word.  If I have not loved You and my neighbor as I should have, remove from my heart all coldness and kindle the fire of divine love in my soul so that I can love You with my all and my neighbor as myself.  If in my vocation and in the works of my calling I have not shown proper faithfulness, forgive me in Your great mercy, and grant that in the future I may better apply the talent You’ve entrusted to me.  At all times may I be found a good steward, ready to face You when You shall call me to render an account of my trust.  There is forgiveness with You, O God; and so I seek forgiveness with You.  Now that the year is closing, blot out the record of my guilt, which is great indeed.  Cancel it with the precious blood of my Savior, which I make my own by faith.  Let my sins vanish like mist from before Your eyes.  Remove them far from me and remember them no more ever again, lest in the new year I should have to appear in Your sight as a debtor.

Further, take me under Your gracious protection this night and be a wall of fire around me, that no harm befall me.  Should this night prove the last for me in this dark vale of tears, then lead me, Lord, to heaven to You and to Your saints in glory.  May I thus live to You and die to You, O Lord of hosts!  In life and death You help me from every fear and need.  But if according to Your counsel I am appointed to live on for more years; if on waking, I am to enter a new year, let Your goodness accompany me.  Lead me in Your paths.  Make me godly in word and deed.  Guide me in an even way, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me, that I may live for You, serve You, and obey You.  Yes, my God, this is the only thing I ask of You before I fall asleep:  give me a new mind and spirit in the new year, a spirit which shall unhesitatingly perform what Your commandment bids me do, that my spirit, together with my soul and body, may remain the abode of Your Holy Spirit.

Jesus, guard and guide Thy members, Fill them with Thy boundless grace, Hear their prayers in every place.  Fan to flame faith’s glowing embers; Grant all Christians, far and near, Holy peace, a glad new year!  Joy, O joy, beyond all gladness, Christ has done away with sadness!  Hence all sorrow and repining, For the Sun of Grace is shining!  LSB 897:4


Anonymous said...

"dark vale of tears" recalls the
same phrase in the LCMS Worship
Agenda back in the 1950's. When
there was a death in the parish,
the pastor would announce in the
worship service: "It has pleased
almighty God to summon from this
vale of tears to his eternal home
in heaven the soul of __________"
and then followed a prayer for the
Lord to comfort this family of the
departed/ The phrase "dark vale of
tears" says it all.

William Weedon said...

I still make that announcement! I remember hearing it so often on vicarage and found it a comfort, that it's always been part of my practice. One December we had so many deaths that one of my members said: "Pastor, if you turn to us one more time and say: It has pleased almighty God, I'm just getting up and walking out. So's you know."

Phillip said...

Ah, yes, we sang "O Rejoice, Ye Christians, Loudly" tonight at Bethany. I'm proud to say also that it is one of my daughter's favorite hymns. She just beams when we sing it!

"Holy peace, a glad new year" indeed be with you and yours, Pastor Weedon.

May it please the Lord to bring you much cause for rejoicing over the coming year!

Anonymous said...

Last Sunday, after the pastor had baptized his granddaughter, he took her in front of the altar and asked God to take care of the little one throughout her life, to guide her, to strengthen her in faith, and eventually to bring her into His heavenly Kingdom. It struck me at that time that all of these things our heavenly Father has promised to do as a result of baptism. So why do we pray for things that God already promised us, as if He had not.

“Now that the year is closing, blot out the record of my guilt,…” Does God do that on an annual basis, based on our civil calendar? Should He not at least use the Church Calendar or possibly the Jewish one? When we are told in Jeremiah 31, “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more,” when does this take place? When we pray, “and forgive us our trespasses,” does it take a year to blot them out? If we are indeed “justus et peccator”, then we must be “justus” at all times, otherwise the expression is meaningless. So our Father forgives us even as we commit a sin, and we pray to be forgiven for the sins we will commit on that same day for which we ask Him to give us our daily bread.

What is more, if I pray “If I have done so and so” about things I can be sure I have done, is that true contrition, or a false humility that says, “Lord, I am not sure I have committed these sins, but I am so humble that I am willing to admit the possibility that I have”? Actually, these are really “sinlets”. What about the adultery he committed when he communed that nubile lass in the low cut dress, and lusted after her? Well, I suppose one does not publicly talk about sins like that. But then why write this kind of a prayer at all? Or the time he called a driver who passed him at high speed a jerk (our Lord said “raka”; it’s about the same thing)? Did he not have to confess to murder after that?

Finally, when he prays, “Yes, my God, this is the only thing I ask of You before I fall asleep: give me a new mind and spirit in the new year, a spirit which shall unhesitatingly perform what Your commandment bids me do, that my spirit, together with my soul and body, may remain the abode of Your Holy Spirit.” He is not asking to be “justus”; he is asking not to be “peccator.” Is he asking to wake up as a perfect human being? And unless this happens, he will no longer remain “the abode of the Holy Spirit”? The Lord, the Holy Spirit, dwells in those who are “peccator”; those who are already perfect have no need for Him.

I began to pray this prayer with real devotion and anticipation. I could not finish, because I did not want to commit an abomination before the Lord.

Peace and Joy to you in the new year, in the assurance of God’s love for sinners.

George A. Marquart

William Weedon said...

Peace and joy to you too, George. I confess I had no difficulty at all praying Starck's prayer (the one for today or any of them), and find them comforting and joy-filled, brimming with Scripture's own words as our petitions. Pax!

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

the prayers in The Lutheran Liturgy for these days are really excellent as well. I like how it says, "If this year should be our last..." People don't often consider this.