Lent 5 (Year B): Litany for Losing

Today's litany comes from the Lectionary text in John 12 for week 5 of Lent (Year B).

God, it’s an upside-down, unexpected world you’ve made.
We can’t assume we understand anything.
Your imagination is unfathomable;
We can spend our whole lives exploring your ways.

To gain status
We must become lowly.
To grow up
We must root down.
To be glorified
We must embrace death. (John 12:24)
To gain life
We must lose it. (John 12:25)
To gain assurance
We must embrace paradox.

We all face loss in this life:
   Loss of loved ones
   Loss of status
   Loss of fortune
   Loss of certainty
In loss we choose: hope or misery.

For in your unfathomable mystery, what was lost
Is found.
What was buried in death
Is planted.
What was useless
Is glorified.
What was old
Is new.
What was hopeless,
Is full of possibility.

Help us to remember the hopelessness of Christ
As he lay in the tomb;
How in his stillness, in his loss,
Lay the seeds of life.


Lent 4 (Year B): Litany for Sickness

This week's Lectionary selections include the account of Moses raising up a bronze serpent in the desert for the healing of the Hebrews, then the later comparison in John 3 of Christ being raised up; so that all who see him can receive healing.

God we are sick in so many ways -
     Some from trauma,
     Some from our own sinful ways,
     Some from hardship,
Not a one of us unaffected
By humanity’s broken choices.

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness (1)
So was Christ lifted up (2);
That, by seeing him and becoming awake to his work
We might be healed (3).
For in him there is no condemnation
But healing for the nations (4).

By grace we have been rescued
It is the gift of God (5) --
From sickness and death
To wholeness and life --
You have raised us up with Christ
And seated us with him in the heavenly places (6).

We thank you, God, for your steadfast love
For your wonderful works to humankind:
You sent out your word to heal us
And delivered us from destruction (7).
We were asleep through our sickness.
You are making us awake with Christ (8).


  1. Numbers 21:8

  2. John 3:14

  3. John 3:15

  4. John 3:16,17

  5. Ephesians 2:8

  6. Ephesians 2:5,6

  7. Psalm 107:20,21

  8. Ephesians 2:1,5

*Spanish Translation* Letanía para la Tierra

Rick Behrens of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church in Kansas City contacted me wanting to translate some litanies for use in their bilingual services. A member of his team translated my "Litany for the Earth" into Spanish. They kindly shared their lovely translation.

Translated by Carmen Flores.

Dios, lamentamos la destrucción que se ha hecho
Que hemos permitido que se haga
Por nuestro silencio e inacción
Y por nuestra acción directa
Para la Tierra - Tu creación.
Perdónanos, oh Dios.

Incluso ahora nos damos cuenta de que nuestro hogar
Esta sufriendo
Sus habitantes están sufriendo
Por falta de agua limpia y aire
Falta de alimento vital
La falta de hábitat seguro.

Ayúdenos a tomar conciencia
De las necesidades de la humanidad,
De las necesidades de las generaciones venideras,
De las necesidades del suelo y las criaturas.

Reconocemos que tenemos una oportunidad:
Para elegir la paz sobre el beneficio
Para elegir la actividad sobre la complacencia
Para elegir un Bien Mayor sobre la conveniencia de hoy.

Despierta en nosotros una nueva compasión
Una nueva voluntad de cambiar,
Una nueva emoción para fomentar la comunidad,
Una nueva fe en la abundancia de tu Reino.
Un nuevo celo por establecer la Paz y la Justicia de Dios,
Un nuevo deseo de establecer la Tierra en derechos
Una nueva comprensión de la conectividad de todas las cosas,
Una nueva apreciación del don de la Tierra.


Lent 3 (Year B): Litany for Anger

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This week in the Lectionary, we read the account of Jesus clearing the temple of corruption in John 2.  We get the idea that the sellers and moneychangers who had set up shop there are perhaps doing some corruption, and Jesus is mad about it. Using religion for economic gain, perhaps? Exploiting the poor in the name of religion? Wielding economic power unjustly? Maybe confusing the economic interests of a wealthy few with the good of all? Or maybe confusing their "rights" with their responsibility to care for the poor and dependent?

Whatever it was, Jesus wasn't having it. He got angry and caused a ruckus. He turned tables and dumped moneyboxes, and had himself a good cathartic outburst. I wonder how long he'd held it in before he finally let it boil over?

And this scripture is timely. I think a lot of us are angry. Some of us, because we feel threatened and defensive in light of the justice movements happening in our culture. Some of us, because we've been victimized and justice still hasn't come. We need the contemplative mind, the self-reflective mind, the non-reactive mind, to help us through angry times

God, we are angry:
Angry at injustice,
Angry at violence,
Angry at empire.

Some of us are angry and acting out
Some of us are asleep to our anger
Some of us are stuck in anger.
Some of us have buried our anger.
Some of us are angry because we feel threatened.
Some of us are angry because we feel victimized.

We wait for the day when we are at peace
When mercy reigns
When all hearts are filled with love
When we don’t need anger anymore.

Until that day, help us oh God, to handle our anger with care;
To not be consumed by it
To funnel it into justice and mercy,
To temper it with strong love,
To be angry without sin,
To do justly without vengeance.

Let the words of our mouths
And the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable to you, O LORD,
Our rock and our redeemer. (1)

Make of us,
By prayer, fasting, and charity,
By spiritual practice and discipline,
A people filled with love.


1) Psalm 19:4

Lent 2 (Year B): Litany for Memento Mori

A few months ago I purchased an ornamental skull and hung it on a wall. It’s gilt, and made to look like the skull of some kind of bull. I didn’t really know why I did this, except that there was something about the skull that was compelling to me; something edgy but true. In other words I didn’t do this strictly for decorative reasons. I hung it in the bathroom, which freaked the children out a little, but now everyone sees the skull whenever they do the business that living people do.

Weeks later I learned, quite by accident (from Sister Theresa Aletheia on twitter), about the ancient tradition of Memento Mori (1), Latin for “remember death.” It’s the practice of intentionally remembering that death is unpredictable and imminent, to remind us to live well, do what matters, not waste time on vanities. Many people practice Memento Mori by keeping a skull in view, so that they are reminded to live well whenever they see it. I had inadvertently stumbled into my own Memento Mori practice.

So this is what I thought of when I read this week’s Lectionary reading from Mark 8. Jesus informs his followers that he will have to endure suffering, rejection, and death; and then after that he’ll rise again. Some of the apostles, particularly Peter, just can’t deal with this idea. I can just hear him: "What’s this about death? Death has no part of this equation we are working on here! Death is far away, an abstract idea! We don’t have to think about that now! How humiliating that you would even think of letting death take you, Jesus!" And Jesus rebukes Peter, telling him that in his utter denial of death having any part in the narrative, he is “setting [his] mind not on divine things but on human things” (2).

In the season of Lent we are invited to remember our mortality, and our immortality. We are given permission to contemplate what is humanly (but not divinely) considered morbid. We begin by admonishing one another: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” And we end by celebrating the life that comes after the dust, after the death.

God, we know from the narratives and themes within scripture
That the road to life is fraught with death
That the road to safety is fraught with peril
That the road to light is fraught with darkness.

We know from the narratives and themes within nature
That to get to spring we pass through winter.
That to get fertile soil, there must be compost and decay.
That to get to bloom we pass through buried seed.

We know from the narratives and themes within our own lives
That mistakes and failures teach us
That wisdom comes from experience, and often from hardship and loss
That growing up means learning hard lessons.

Death follows us everywhere we go in this life.
Nothing living is immune.

As Christ went down to death for three days
So we must follow:
Down, past death
    Death to self (3)
    Death to assumption
    Death to expectation
    Death to control
We are brought low by this humility.

And in turn, out past death we find a mystery:
What we thought was lost is found (4).
Death has hatched something altogether new:
Glorious life!

So, we accept our mission:
To live well,
To face death,
And learn the lesson of resurrection.


  1. More info about Memento Mori

  2. Mark 8:33

  3. Mark 8:34

  4. Mark 8:35

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Lent 1 (Year B): Litany for Dust

God, we humble ourselves before you.
You are our creator.
We remember that we are dust
And to dust our bodies will someday return. (1)

We have made a mess of things here on earth
Have mercy on us.
Our humility cannot be too great,
Nor can your mercy.

Help us now as we do the inner work
Of repentance.
Help us now as we do the necessary work
Of lament.
Help us now as we do the quiet work
Of belief.

And may the lenten work we do: fasting, prayer, giving (2)
Go toward healing the earth.
May the repentance that starts in our hearts
Grow outward.
May our inner transformation bring with it
Heaven on earth:

Where violence and murder are no more.
Where injustice is no more.
Where poverty and hunger are no more.
Where pain and prison are no more.

Let us, mere dust,
Join with you in transforming the world.


  1. Genesis 3:18

  2. Matthew 6:2,5,16

Ash Wednesday: Litany for Fasting

This litany is based upon references from the Lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday, Year B.

God, it is for the sake of the New Kingdom which Christ began,
For the sake of Heaven,
That we practice the disciplines of faith.
That we fast (1)
That we give charitably (2)
That we pray. (3)

We do these in hopes that our minds will be transformed
Our hearts enlightened (4),
Making us more in sync with your work
And aligned with your mission.

We remember that we are made of dust
And will return to it.
We remember that out of our ashes
You bring beauty.
We remember that out of our mourning,
You begin gladness. (5)

We don’t fast for the sake of human ambition.
We fast for your eyes only, for your goals only (6):
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
to cancel every debt. (7)
For ourselves,
And for all people.

For our hope is in the new paradigm
Which you imagined and set in motion (8):
The beautiful way
The path of peace (9).


1) Matthew 6:16
2) Matthew 6:2
3) Matthew 6:5
4) Ephesians 1:18
5) Isaiah 61:13
6) Matthew 6:1
7) Isaiah 58:6
8) Isaiah 58:11,12
9) Luke 1:79

Transfiguration Sunday (Year B): Litany for the Whirlwind

The Lectionary readings for Transfiguration Sunday, Year B converge upon the ascension of Elijah the Prophet in a whirlwind, and the Transfiguration of Christ on the mountain with Elijah and Moses, the “law and the prophets”, present. This litany is inspired by those readings and a prayer for us to experience transfiguration, change toward heaven, in the here and now.

God, let your kingdom come on earth.
Let the seed of heaven in our hearts
Grow, spread, and bear fruit.
Whether that manifests as miracles
Or as acts of kindness
Let Heaven and Now converge.

Whether or not we get our own whirlwind
Or chariot of fire;
You are still bearing us onward
Into your glorious reality.

Whether or not our own faces radiate sunshine
Or clouds speak from heaven;
You are claiming us,
Naming us beloved.

You are the source of all light,
The source of all love,
The source of all truth,
The source of all life.

In Christ, you shone as the dawn
As the Morningstar
In Christ, your light culminated
And was complete.

We give ourselves readily
To this ascension and transfiguration,
Which you are working in us,
And fills us with radiance.



Epiphany, Year B (Week 5): Litany for Healing

God, we look to you as Healer.
Heal us, oh God.

We look to the message of Christ for our hope:
The Kingdom, the Way of God is near.
You give power to the faint,
And strengthen the powerless. (1)
You heal the brokenhearted
And bind up their wounds. (2).

From our physical infirmities
Heal us, oh God.
From our spiritual blindness,
Heal us, oh God.
From our emotional woundedness,
Heal us, oh God.
From our weakness and corruption,
Heal us, oh God.
From our mental illnesses,
Heal us, oh God.
From our brokenness and trauma,
Heal us, oh God.
From our carelessness and apathy,
Heal us, oh God.
From our generational burdens,
Heal us, oh God.
From our hatred and violence,
Heal us, oh God.

Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (3)

We wait for you,
God, our healer.


  1. Isaiah 40:29

  2. Psalm 147:3

  3. Isaiah 40:31

Litany for Three Mary’s

I wrote this litany to accompany my sermon entitled "Beautiful Heretics: Three Mary's." The texts are from the Gospel of Luke: 1:45-55; 10:38-42: 16:9-11.

God, you’ve shown us that you work in ways we don’t expect
Ways we don’t imagine.
You use the least
To show us your best.
You use the weak
To teach us about strength.

In scripture you used women
Whom the world considered powerless
To redeem the narrative
And re-imagine power.

Help us to be like Mary of Bethany
Listening at your feet.
Help us to be like Mary the mother of Christ
Consenting to your work.
Help us to be like Mary Magdalene,
Present for whatever you’re doing.

These were friends of Christ
Whom he loved and regarded.
Through these relationships, Christ taught the world
What friendship looks like,
What equality looks like,
What respect looks like,
What reciprocity looks like,
What cooperation looks like.

Because they cooperated with Christ,
We see a wider, brighter future for all people.
May we live to see that future alive on earth,
Alive in our community.

Ephiphany, Year B (Week4): Litany for Unclean Spirits

This litany is inspired by the account of Christ casting out unclean spirits in the Gospel lectionary passage for the week: Mark 1:21-28.

God we know that you have given us power
And authority
To deal with unclean spirits decisively.

We know that you have given us freedom
To be our truest selves,
To face our shadow side,
To live in victory.

Help us to deal with unclean spirits, as we encounter them:

Whether the unclean spirits reside in others
Or in our own selves,
We become aware,
We exercise power in love.
We commit ourselves to being people who walk in the footsteps of Christ
Who tell the truth,
Who create peace,
Who rout out injustice.

Help us to know Christ so well
And reflect your image so clearly
That the world is different and better
When we have passed through it.

An Interfaith Litany for the United States (January 2018)

God* we ask for help and intervention in this moment.
Give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hands to work for good.
Hear now our requests for aid and wisdom.
Lord*, hear our prayer.

For the sick and infirm
We pray to the Lord*.
For the homeless and hungry
We pray to the Lord.
For the poor and destitute
We pray to the Lord.
For the children of low-income families without health insurance
We pray to the Lord.
For the Dreamers, brought to the US as children and now facing possible deportation
We pray to the Lord.
For those affected by the ongoing epidemic of gun violence
We pray to the Lord.
For those unjustly imprisoned
We pray to the Lord.
For all who experience societal injustice
We pray to the Lord.

For Republicans in congress
We pray to the Lord.
For Democrats in congress
We pray to the Lord.
For Donald Trump
We pray to the Lord.
For Mike Pence
We pray to the Lord.
For justices, judges, and members of the judicial system
We pray to the Lord.
For people employed by government agencies
We pray to the Lord.
For those facing danger in the military
We pray to the Lord.
For those working for justice and aid organizations
We pray to the Lord.
For those working for law enforcement and security agencies
We pray to the Lord.
For Robert Mueller and his team
We pray to the Lord.
For journalists working to disseminate truth
We pray to the Lord.
For those who are speaking truth to power
We pray to the Lord.
That all these people, ourselves included, might have the eyes of their hearts enlightened
We pray to the Lord.

Give us compassion, oh God
To see beyond our own safety and comfort,
To work to heal and help the people of our land,
And find unity in our shared humanity.
May truth and justice win the day
And love and mercy win the hearts of all.


*I intend for this prayer to be ecumenical and interfaith. Please feel free to substitute whatever address for God (Spirit, Universe, Allah, etc) is your preference.

Epiphany, Year B (Week 3): Litany for New Creation

This litany contains references to selections from the Lectionary texts for January 21, 2018 (Year B).

God, even now, in ways we can hardly comprehend
The old is passing away.
Your voice, the voice of Christ, speaks to us:
“The time is fulfilled
the kingdom of God has come near;
turn from evil, and believe in the good news." (1)

All around the world there is turmoil
There is suffering, hunger, and war.
Here in our midst there is upheaval:
In our government, society, and streets.
But we see the subtle ways in which you work:
New creation steadily appearing.

Help us, oh God, to pay attention
To the nearness of your Kingdom,
To the rhythms of your working,
To the newness of life around us,
To the opportunities in our midst,
To the mystery of Christ within us.

For the present form of this world is passing away. (2)
New Creation has already taken hold
And is working and growing behind the scenes,
Beyond the screen of what our eyes can see.

Trust in God at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before God;
God is a refuge for us.
Power and steadfast love belong to God. (3)


  1. Mark 1:15

  2. 1Corinthians 7:31

  3. Psalm 62:8,12

Big News from Fran

Hello readers and pray-ers new and old!

I interrupt this litany of litanies to bring you some important updates about my work and the goings on at franpratt.com in 2018.

First: I want to celebrate. This site is 2 years old now, as of Christmas 2017. I've written hundreds of litanies and had the joy of spending hundreds of hours doing the things I like best: writing, thinking, and meditating. This effort has been a gift and a discipline; and this platform has been an outlet and a ministry. Many thanks to all of my readers and subscribers, and especially to those who have sent me notes of encouragement along the way. That support has been so meaningful to me. Your "likes" and "shares" matter, too. Thank you.

Next: I'm working on completing my first book of litanies, entitled _Call and Response: Litanies For Congregational Prayer_. My esteemed husband/designer is working on the artwork for it in the coming weeks, and I am wrapping up the last details. I'm a methodical worker, and I do this in my spare time, so it's not quick work. But it's worth it to me to think deeply about it. I plan to release it as a downloadable e-book, as well as on Kindle Direct Publishing. If there seems to be enough demand, we may do a limited print run (let me know if you'd want one!).

Finally: I'm launching a Patreon page soon. If you or your community has received benefit from my work, please consider becoming a patron. If you have no idea what Patreon is, check it out. As my vision for my work and the constraints of my actual work life have evolved, I'm being called to dig deeper and think more vocationally and long-term about this writing gig. The world is changing, my life is changing, and the litanies are changing me. My absolute least favorite thing to do is self-promote, but there is more work to be done and I will need support to continue it.

More to come, my friends. Many thanks and blessings.

Epiphany, Year B (Week 2): Litany for Being Seen

The account of the calling of Nathanael in John 1 (Lectionary for Second Sunday in Epiphany) has fascinated me for many years. I’ve never been able to definitively puzzle it out. But the narrative of it draws me in. I can imagine how Nathanael might have felt, waiting, hoping for something; perhaps all his life. Perhaps events in his life made him cynical. Perhaps he chose to watch from the edges, partially hidden. Perhaps he thought he’d never been seen, and had given up hope of being seen. Perhaps he’d lost so much he thought he’d never be found.  It seems like he and Jesus have a secret exchange here, buried in the dialogue. And whatever it is, it seems to be what he needs, because we can feel Nathanael’s heart open and his guard drop, simply from knowing that Jesus has seen him.  It occurs to me that this is part of what Epiphany means: we get in on the secret that God sees us as intimately as Christ saw Nathanael.

God, we are all hoping you’ll come looking for us,
Though our hearts might be hard --
Or maybe we have been running and hiding for a long time...
We want you to see us.

We want the Creator to pay attention to us
We want to be seen.
We want Someone, Something powerful to take an interest in us.
We want to be known.

Our deepest longing,
Our secret hope,
Our shadowy leaning,
Our mundane pain,
Our hidden dream,
Our forgotten spark:
These are things we long for a savior to save
For a flame to kindle.

You saw us all along:
Quietly observing
Keenly attending
Actively loving.

No matter what fig tree we hide beneath (1),
You see us.
No matter what bravado or sentiment we hide behind (2),
You see through.
We can rely on you to know the truth of us.
We can trust your mercy.

And, when we finally become aware of your merciful regard
We have seen the truth of you.
So, with gratitude and awe
We reflect your love.


1) John 1:48
2) John 1:46

Epiphany, Year B: Litany for the Wise

Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, after the twelve days of the Christmas feast. This litany incorporates references from the Matthew 2 and Isaiah 60 passages in the Lectionary for the feast of the Epiphany. I've also included some additional references.

God, we know that one way wisdom begins
Is in curiosity.
We know that the way to finding
Is by seeking.

Many people throughout history have been renowned for their wisdom
And remembered for their insight;
People who sought and studied
People who waited and looked.

And just as the Magi were guided by the heavens to the infant Christ,
So all who search for Christ will find him. (1)
Just as the ancient prophets and saints sought the wisdom of God
So all who search for wisdom will find her. (2)

Just as Christ has taught us about wisdom:
Ask and it will be given,
Seek and we shall find,
Knock and the door will be opened. (3)

Awaken in our hearts, O God
A desire for wisdom.
Awaken in our hearts, O God
A hunger for consciousness.
Awaken in our hearts, O God
A yearning for your kingdom.

Help us to keep our priorities straight:
To seek first your kingdom,
To trust that you have provided. (4)
And we will say to our people:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and rulers to the brightness of your dawn. (5)


1) Matthew 2:1-2
2) Proverbs 1:20-24
3) Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9
4) Matthew 6:33,34
5) Isaiah 60: 1&3

Litany for a New Year

God, in the past year
We have been tested and tried.
We have been given joys and pains in their measure
Laughter and sadness in their measure.
And now we look forward into a new year,
A new leg of our journey,
Knowing that not everything will be easy
Joy and pain, laughter and sadness will meet us in turn.

Help us to live this year with intention
With compassion
With attention
With assertiveness
With kindness toward all (including ourselves)
With purpose
With calm
With gratitude.

And whatever storms we must navigate
Whatever roads we must travel
Be present with us.
Speak to us of your mercy;
Speak to us of your love,
That we may in turn speak mercy and love into being
In this world
And in this year.


Christmas Year B: Litany for Light in Darkness

This litany contains references from the Lectionary selections for the First Sunday after Christmas Day, Year B, plus an additional reference from Christ's words in John 8.

God, we celebrate the season of Christmas
When darkness outweighs light,
When the year is steeped in dimness,
When day is overshadowed by night.

Even so, our eyes have seen your salvation (1)
Which you’ve prepared for us all --
From oldest to youngest,
Biggest to smallest,
Richest to poorest,
Healthiest to sickest,
Smartest to simplest,
Greatest to least --
The light of revelation
Has come for us all. (2)

Our inner thoughts will be no longer secret (3)
What is hidden will be revealed in its beam.
Our vindication shines out like the dawn,
Our salvation like a burning torch. (4)
All the earth
Is turning toward the light.

The light which came down from heaven
Is the Christ.
The light of the world has come
That we may never walk in darkness. (5)


1) Luke 2:30
2) Luke 2:31
3) Luke 2:35
4) Isaiah 62:1
5) John 8:12