Along with opening presents and feasting with family and friends, don’t forget prayer.
For most people, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are filled with activity–attending church services, opening presents, visiting family, cooking and eating, laughing and playing, washing dishes, eating some more, and so on.
But wouldn’t it be great if prayer were also a part of your Christmas Day? And not just any prayer. Christmas is the perfect time to pray three of the most beautiful prayers ever–prayers that were prayed on or around that first Christmas and have since been prayed by Christians around the world.
The most famous is the “Magnificat” of Mary (so called because the first word of the prayer in Latin is magnificat, or “glorifies”):
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has been mindful
of the humble state of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as He promised our ancestors" (Luke 1:46-55, NIV).
Another is the “Benedictus” of Zechariah (so called because the first word of the prayer in Latin is benedictus–“blessed” or “praise”):
Praise to be the Lord, the God of Israel,
because He has come to His people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as He said through His holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us–
to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember His holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve Him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days" (Luke 1:68-75, NIV).
Finally, the “Nunc Dimittis” of Simeon (so called because the first words of the prayer in Latin are nunc dimittis–“now dismiss”). The Nunc Dimittis is often prayed as an evening prayer, for obvious reasons:
Sovereign Lord, as You have promised,
You may now dismiss Your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
which You have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of Your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32, NIV).
All three are fitting prayers for any Christmas celebration, whether you pray them separately or together, alone or with others.