These simple prayers can transform the way you experience Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Everyone wants to make the annual celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth more meaningful. Some do it by going to church. Some by observing a particular tradition. Others try something else. But anyone can make Christmas more meaningful with prayer.
It doesn’t even take much effort. It requires little preparation (beyond the reading—and perhaps printing—of this short blog post). But just six short, simple prayers can thoroughly change the way you experience Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year.
I like to pray the following six prayers at regular intervals—morning, noon and night—beginning on the morning of the day before Christmas and ending the evening of December 25. You may certainly choose to do something different, but I hope these prayers enrich your celebration:
1) The Day of Your Nativity Approaches
the day of your nativity approaches,
the day on which we commemorate
your humble incarnation.
Please help me and mine
to approach that day on tiptoe,
with reverence and awe,
mindful of your holiness and beauty,
and grateful for the privilege
and kneeling at
your manger, amen.
(by Bob Hostetler)
2) Be Near Me
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
And fit us for heaven, to live with you there.
(from the hymn, “Away in a Manger”; this verse is attributed to John T. McFarland)
3) I Await You
Come, come, Jesus, I await you…
I am a poor shepherd; I have only a wretched stable, a small manger, some wisps of straw. I offer all these to you, be pleased to come into my poor hovel. I offer you my heart; my soul is poor and bare of virtues, the straws of so many imperfections will prick you and make you weep—but oh, my Lord, what can you expect? This little is all I have…I have nothing better to offer you, Jesus, honour my soul with your presence, adorn it with your graces. Burn this straw and change it into a soft couch for your most holy body.
Jesus, I am here waiting for your coming. Wicked men have driven you out, and the wind is like ice. I am poor, but I will warm you as well as I can. At least be pleased that I wish to welcome you warmly, to love you and sacrifice myself for you.
(written by a young Italian seminarian named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in 1902 who would later become Pope John XXIII; slightly revised).
4) Cradle Song
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep;
I, too, must sing with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradle song.
Glory to God in highest Heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth,
A glad new year to all the earth.
(a prayer of Martin Luther)
5) A Little Baby Thing
They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high:
Thou cam'st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.
O Son of Man, to right my lot
Naught but Thy presence can avail;
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea Thy sail!
My how or when Thou wilt not heed,
But come down Thine own secret stair,
That Thou mayst answer all my need--
Yea, every bygone prayer.
(a prayer of George MacDonald, from “That Holy Thing,” The Poetical Works of George MacDonald (London: Chatto & Windus, 1893), 2: 323).
6) Because of This Day
Great God and Father of all humanity,
thank you that because of this day,
this holy feast, in the words of Chrysostom,
the ancient slavery is ended,
the devil confounded,
the demons take to flight,
the power of death is broken,
paradise is unlocked,
the curse is taken away,
sin is removed from us,
error driven out,
truth has been brought back,
the speech of kindliness diffused,
and spreads on every side,
a heavenly way of life has been in-planted on the earth,
angels communicate with men without fear,
and men now hold speech with angels,
(by Bob Hostetler, based on a sermon by St. John Chrysostom)