The following is an edit of John Wesley’s “Sunday” prayer published in 1733. I have modernized the language and added references to the scriptures Wesley cites or to which he alludes in his prayer. You will notice his prayers are Bible-saturated. I would appreciate your comments on this edit of the prayer – is it helpful, still too archaic, etc? I encourage you to actually pray the prayer and not just read it.
Sunday Morning: Almighty God, Father of all mercies, I, your unworthy servant, desire to present myself with all humility before you to offer up my morning sacrifice of love and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15). Glory to you, O most adorable Father, who, after you finished the work of creation, entered into your eternal rest (Hebrews 4:4). Glory to you, O holy Jesus, who having through the eternal Spirit, offered yourself a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world (Hebrews 9:14), rose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4), and had all power given to you both in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Glory to you, O blessed Spirit, who, proceeding from the Father and the Son (John 14:26), came down in fiery tongues on the Apostles on the first day of the week (Acts 2:3,4), and enabled them to preach the good news of salvation to a sinful world, and have ever since been moving on the face of people’s souls (1 Corinthians 2:14) as you once did on the face of the deep (Genesis 1:2), bringing them both out of the dark chaos in which they were involved (Colossians 1:13).
Glory to you, O holy, undivided Trinity (1 Peter 1:2), for jointly concurring in the great work of our redemption, and restoring us again to the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Romans 8:21). Glory to you, who in compassion for human weakness, have appointed a solemn day for the remembrance of your inestimable benefits (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). O let me ever esteem it my privilege and happiness to have a day set apart for the concerns of my soul, a day free from distractions, disengaged from the world (Exodus 20:5-11), wherein I have nothing to do but to praise and love you. O let it ever be to me a day sacred to divine love, a day of heavenly rest and refreshment (Isaiah 58:13-14).
Let your Holy Spirit, who, on the first day of the week descended in miraculous gifts on the Apostles, descend on me, your unworthy servant, that I may always be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (Revelations 1:10). Let the Spirit’s blessed inspiration prepare me and assist me in all the duties of this, your sacred day that my wandering thoughts may all be fixed on you, my tumultuous emotions quieted and my flat and cold desires made alive into fervent longings and thirsting after you. O let me join in the prayers and praises of your
church with ardent and heavenly affections and hear your word with earnest attention and a fixed resolution to obey it. And when I approach your altar, pour into my heart humility, faith, hope, love and all those holy dispositions that become the solemn remembering of a crucified savior. Let me use this whole day to the ends for which you ordained it, in works of necessity and mercy, in prayer, praise, and meditation; and “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be always acceptable in your sight (Psalm 19:14).
I know, O Lord, that you have commanded me, and therefore it is my duty to love you with all my heart, and with all my strength (Luke 10:27). I know you are infinitely holy (Isaiah 6:3) and overflowing in all perfection (Matthew 5:48); and therefore it is my duty to love you. I know you have created me, and I have neither being nor blessing apart from your power and goodness. I know you are the end for which I was created, and that I can expect no happiness but in you. I know that in love to me, being lost in sin, you sent your only Son, and that he, being the Lord of glory, did humble himself to death on the cross that I might be raised to glory. I know you provided me with everything needed to carry me through this life to eternal glory, and that all of this is out of the excess of your pure mercy to me who is unworthy of all your mercies. I know you have promised to be my exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1), though it is you alone who works in me, both to will and to do of your good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
In these ways and many others, I confess it is my duty to love you, my God, with all my heart. Give your strength to me, your servant, that your love may fill my heart, and be the motive of all the use I make of my understanding, my affections, my senses, my health, my time and whatever talents I have received from you. Let this love rule my heart without a rival; let it control all my thoughts, words and works; and only by this can I fulfill my duty and your command to love you with all my heart, and mind, and soul and strength.
O you infinite Goodness, confirm your past mercies to me by enabling me, for what remains in my life, to be more faithful to your great command than I have been thus far. For the time that I have left on earth, let me fulfill this great duty. Permit me not to delude myself; let me not trust in words, or sighs, or tears, but love you even as you have commanded. Let me feel, and then I shall know, what it is to love you with all my heart.
O merciful God, whatever else you may deny me don’t deny me this love. Save me from the idolatry of loving the world or any of the things of the world (1 John 2:15). Let me never love any creature but for your sake and always in subordination to my love for you. Take full possession of my heart; raise there your throne, and command there as you do in heaven. Being created by you, let me live for you; being created for you, let me always act for your glory; being redeemed by you, let me give to you what is yours, and let my spirit always cling to you alone.
Let the prayers and worship of your holy church, offered to you today, be graciously accepted. Clothe your pastor-servants with righteousness and pardon all your people who are not prepared as they ought to be. Prosper all those who are sincerely engaged in propagating and promoting faith and love in you (name our pastors, teachers, missionaries, etc). Give your Son the peoples of the world as his inheritance (Psalm 2:8; 82:8), and the ends of the earth for his possession; that from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, his name might be great in all the earth (Malachi 1:11).
Enable us of this nation, and especially those you have set over the church and the state, to serve you in all holiness, and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). Continue granting to us the means of grace and grant that we may never provoke you to deprive us of them by our non-improvement (Hebrews 6:4-6). Pour down your blessing upon our seminaries, that they may ever promote the gospel of Jesus Christ and sound learning. Show mercy, O Lord, to my father and mother, my siblings, to all my friends, relatives and enemies and those who are suffering (pray specifically, by name, for the above). Let your fatherly hand be on them, and your Holy Spirit ever with them; that by submitting entirely to your will, and directing all their thoughts, words and works to your glory, they may at length enjoy you in the glories of your kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”