Sometime in the last few years of the first century or first few years of the second–in other words, within living memory of the Apostles–the leader of the church in Rome wrote a letter to the church in Corinth. It was the same church Paul wrote both of his New Testament letters to. The author’s name was Clement (of Rome), and the document has come down to us as 1 Clement. It’s one of the oldest Christian documents outside of the New Testament, and offers not only devotional depth, but some insight into the way Christians spoke and thought in those days. I recommend finding a copy of it and reading it.
Towards the end of the letter (59:3 – 61:3), Clement offers this prayer. It’s long, but worth slow reading and meditation. Enjoy…
Grant us, Lord, to hope on your name, which is the primal source of all creation, and open the eyes of our hearts that we may know you, who alone are highest among the high; you are holy, abiding among the holy.
You humble the pride of the proud;
you destroy the plans of nations;
you exalt the humble and humble the exalted;
you make right and make poor; you kill and make alive.
You alone are the benefactor of spirits and the God of all flesh,
looking into the depths, scanning the works of humans;
the helper of those who are in peril,
the savior of those in despair;
the creator and guardian of every spirit.
You multiply the nations upon the earth, and from among all of them you have chosen those who love you through Jesus Christ, your beloved servant, through whom you instructed us, sanctified us, honored us.
We ask you, Master, to be our helper and protector.
Save those among us who are in distress;
have mercy on the humble; raise up the fallen;
show yourself to those in need; heal the sick;
turn back those of your people who wander;
feed the hungry;
ransom our prisoners;
raise up the weak;
comfort the discouraged.
Let all the nations know
that you are the only God,
that Jesus Christ is your servant,
and that we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.
For you through your works have revealed the everlasting structure of the world.
You, Lord, created the earth.
You are faithful throughout all generations,
righteous in your judgments,
marvelous in strength and majesty,
wise in creating and prudent in establishing what exists,
good in all that is observed
and faithful to those who trust in you,
merciful and compassionate:
forgive us our sins and our injustices, our transgressions and our shortcomings.
Do not take into account every sin of your servants and slaves
but cleanse us with the cleansing of your truth,
and direct our steps to walk in holiness
and purity of heart,
and to do what is good and pleasing in your sight
and in the sight of our rulers.
Yes, Lord, let your face shine upon us in peace for our good, so that we may be sheltered by your mighty hand and delivered from every sin by your uplifted arm; deliver us as well from those who hate us unjustly.
Give harmony and peace to us and to all who dwell on the earth, just as you did to our ancestors when they reverently called upon you in faith and truth, that we may be saved, while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name, and to our rulers and governors on earth. You, Master, have given them power of sovereignty through your majestic and inexpressible might, so that we, acknowledging the glory and honor that you have given them, may be subject to them, resisting your will in nothing. Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, harmony, and stability, so that they may blamelessly administer the government that you have given them. For you, heavenly Master, King of the ages, give to human beings glory and honor and authority over the creatures upon the earth. Lord, direct their plans according to what is good and pleasing in your sight, so that by devoutly administering in peace and gentleness the authority that you have given them they may experience your mercy.
You, who alone are able to do these and even greater good things for us, we praise through the high priest and benefactor of our souls, Jesus Christ, through whom be the glory and the majesty to you both now and for all generations and for ever and ever.