Why I love written prayers…

The world has been blessed with a full palate of numinous poets and liturgists who have served up prayers for private and public worship that, other than the scriptures themselves, are unrivaled in depth and beauty. The literary and spiritual contributions they bring to the act of worship offer a certain spiritual denouement and are ever being repackaged for various liturgical situations. I would like to share a particular favorite of mine by T.S. Eliot.

Read it. Read it again. Read it aloud. Read it to someone else. Pray it. I think you’ll see what I mean.


O Light Invisible

T.S. Eliot


Praise and Thanksgiving

O Light Invisible, we praise Thee!

Too bright for mortal vision.

O Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less;

The eastern light our spires touch at morning,

The light that slants upon our western doors at evening,

The twilight over stagnant pools at batflight,

Moon light and star light, owl and moth light,

Glow-worm glowlight on a grassblade.

O Light Invisible, we worship Thee!


We thank Thee for the lights that we have kindled,

The light of altar and of sanctuary;

Small lights of those who meditate at midnight

And lights directed through the coloured panes of windows

And light reflected from the polished stone,

The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco.

Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward

And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.

We see the light but see not whence it comes.

O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee.


Do you have a favorite poem, prayer or meditation? How have you used it in your own personal or corporate worship life?

9 thoughts on “Why I love written prayers…

  1. One of my “go to” poems is “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry. I find myself returning to it again and again when the weariness of the world takes up residence in my heart and soul. Which, it seems to me, is far too often.

  2. krazykiwi

    Reblogged this on keep Ithaca in your mind and commented:
    O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee! Oh, Light of my life, I worship thee! Oh, what beautiful luminescence dost thou hold, a beauty beyond comprehension.

    I’m reminded of John O’Donahue’s prose here, Rob:
    “The beauty that emerges is a beauty infused with feeling; a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart… Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty, a wonderful transfiguration takes place.”

  3. I don’t quite know how to qualify it, but I return over and over… to “The Journey,” by Mary Oliver. It says so much about the pilgrimage of my spirit, my venturing out to God and meeting him on the way, the velcro of old ways, voices, echoes of my own wrongful thinking, ripped raw and bloody in the process. Yes, it is a prayer.

    1. krazykiwi

      I love Mary Oliver’s poetry! Lesley-Anne, are you also familiar with Michael Leunig’s poetry & prose? His cartoons are brilliant also. I also love her poem, “Wild Geese”

      You do not have to be good.
      You do not have to walk on your knees
      for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
      You only have to let the soft animal of your body
      love what it loves.

      Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
      Meanwhile the world goes on.
      Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
      are moving across the landscapes,
      over the prairies and the deep trees,
      the mountains and the rivers.
      Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
      are heading home again.

      Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
      the world offers itself to your imagination,
      calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
      over and over announcing your place
      in the family of things.

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