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Three old prayers for a new year: New Beginnings

Compiled by Sue Careless

THERE IS a prayer for the New Year that is so wonderful it is a pity to use it on only one day. It is worth adapting for each new season or month, or whenever you need a new start. You may be entering into a new season in your life. Some use it as a birthday prayer. In it we address a God who is immortal, who will never die, and who inhabits eternity. Yet it recognizes that we are children of time, and so speaks of the past, the present and the future. In it we seek God’s forgiveness for our past failings, his blessing in our present hours and his presence down all our days.


For the New Year.

O IMMORTAL Lord God, who inhabitest eternity, and hast brought thy servants to the beginning of another year [season, month]: Pardon, we humbly beseech thee, our transgressions in the past, bless to us this New Year [season, month], and graciously abide with us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

              – The Book of Common Prayer, in The Collects, Epistles and Gospels, p. 115


The Prayer Book also includes a prayer specifically for a birthday. You could also pray it over the week saying, “whose birthday we remember this week.” For a girl or woman simply change the italicized he and his to she and her. We ask that we might “grow in grace” as our years increase:


For a Birthday.

O LORD our heavenly Father, mercifully hear our prayers, and grant a long and happy life to thy servant N., whose birthday we remember this day. May he grow in grace as his years increase, and ever live so as to please thee; in the power of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

–BCP in Forms of Prayer to be Used in Families, p. 734


Whenever we embark upon a new undertaking or need strength in continuing faithfully in it, we certainly need prayer. Human willpower and determination are not enough. Only God’s grace is sufficient. Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540-1596), the first Englishman to sail around the world, knew that and this prayer is based on one he wrote: 


A Prayer for Stedfastness.

O LORD God, when thou givest thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through him that for the finishing of thy work laid down his life, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

–BCP in Forms of Prayer to Be Used at Sea, p. 635


May we discover afresh in 2018 the God whom St Augustine acknowledged as “ever ancient, ever new.”

You can access the Book of Common Prayer online at   TAP

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