February / March 2019 - Vol. 102

walking insunlit forest 
“That Fair Beguiling Thread – Prayer Poems
for Every Occasion”

by Sean O'Neill
The following Introduction and selection of prayer poems are excerpted from the book, “That Fair Beguiling Thread - Prayer Poems for Every Occasion”, by Sean O'Neill. While it was written from a Roman Catholic perspective, the material can be beneficial for Christians from other traditions as well. – ed.


With the fresh and, to a some extent, more esthetic translation of the text of the Mass there seems to be a new hunger among modern Catholics for religious and spiritual literature that is not only truthful and faithful to the mind of the Church, but also beautiful. Each of the pages of this volume uses rich imagery to express prayers and petitions, in a way that is, hopefully, lyrical and finely crafted. The resultant wording therefore aims to provide the person praying with a deeper and more heartfelt time of prayer which, in turn, gives greater glory to God.

This book is intended for anyone who is sincere about their relationship with God and wishes to express that in ways that reflect their experience of life and the cry of their heart. It is for the bereaved, the joyful, the steadfast and the wavering, the trembling and the strong. It is for husbands, wives, parents, and children, for those who are single by choice or by accident and for those who are lonely.

It is for anyone who wants to approach the throne of grace, to feel the love of the Father, the embrace of the Son and the strengthening of the Holy Spirit. It is for anyone who holds out their begging bowl for scraps of love, only to find it brimming over with sweetness and nourishment and healing.

Three samples of prayer poems from the book:

Morning prayer

O God, who turn the planets, rouse the sun,
and spark the dawn-light in the eastern sky,
hear me, I pray: to You who post Your sentinels
along the vast horizon, heralding the sunrise,
be the glory and grandeur that is due a king.
You have made me by the molding of my clay.
Such poor material You sculpt into personhood
and breathe on, to wake the soul within,
fanning into flame the answering instinct
to turn towards the brightness of Your face
and sing Your praise and humbly serve.
I thank You for another day of life,
the trials and satisfactions of each hour,
the woeful sorrows, brimming joys,
the guts and revelations of each minute past;
for all this I render You my thankful heart.
Be with me today in Your guiding Spirit
and let me not turn from the narrow way
to follow, unredeemed, the highways of ruin,
but let me be steadfast in kindness and love,
strong in hope and abounding in faith.
I offer You my very self this day;
take me, Lord, and do with me what You will.

Evening prayer

At the rose-tinted hour when light dies westward
and the pulsing drive of the human body
winds down, stepping from the heights
of sterling work or depths of tedious occupation,
I pause to lift my heart to God’s face.
As though Jesus walked among us bodily,
bodily I bow and calm myself
in that bare brightness that bathes me now,
as he passes with hand upraised to bless.
Dear Lord of all that ails, delights, intrigues me,
in all my commerce and toil, give me light,
at this encroaching hour of dusk,
to catch Your Spirit’s motion in the world.
I thank You, caring master,
for the pendulum of work and rest,
that swings through all fulfillments
and the struggles of the clogging carousel of work,
through the accomplishment of steady hours.
On the homeward journey keep me firm
in mind and heart, in pleasing You
and in my subtle service as ambassador of grace
to other soul-bearers that You place within my life.
And bless my evening with Your peace.
As the sun sinks, my heart will rise to You.

Prayer before a difficult task

On this way through the foothills of life
You, Lord, steer into my onward path
greensward and boulder, valley and peak,
broad metaled road and broken cattle track.
In the conjunction of a million threads of will,
here and now I face the fording of the river,
the task that must be tackled to proceed.
Lord, You know everything, the story and outcome,
keep my wits clear and my mind sharp
to bend lithely to every nuance and gradation;
Give strength of body and steadiness of hand
and confidence that You are with me as I strive.
Give me joyful trust in Your care for me
that I may broach this present task
with courage, whatever the result.
Your hand is at work in my life
to bring to fruition Your light in my heart,
Your longed-for perfection and gentle bliss.
Give me success and may it usher in
the glorious procession of Your kingdom.
And if my enterprise should come to naught
let me accept, joyfully, my cross united to Yours.
May Your precious will be done in my life always.

(c) 2017 Sean O'Neill, from That Fair Beguiling Thread - Prayer Poems for Every Occasion

For many years Sean O'Neill was a leader in a lay Christian community in Glasgow, Scotland. Along with his wife, Liz, he is currently involved in offering healing prayer to all-comers in his parish in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, USA..

                        Poems for Every Occasion book cover
That Fair Beguiling Thread - Prayer Poems for Every Occasion
by Sean O'Neill

Each of the prayers in this volume uses imagery to express ideas and petitions in a lyrical and finely-crafted way. This affords the person praying a more heartfelt time of prayer which, in turn, gives greater glory to God. The book is intended for anyone who is sincere about their relationship with God and wishes to express that in ways that reflect their own experience of life and the cry of their heart.

The book contains 57 prayer poems spanning a wide range of themes, including prayers for family members, for work, for driving, in a difficult task, in sickness, distress,bereavement, for an addict, etc.

The book is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and ebook format.

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