Palm Sunday (Year C): Litany for Shouting Stones

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This week is Palm Sunday, and the Lectionary offers two options. I'm using Liturgy of the Palms references for this prayer. Enjoy, and if you have a second, please let me know how this Lent series has gone for you and your community. Thanks!

God, we throw down our cloaks
And raise up shouting praise
Because of the beauty of Christ
And his deeds of power

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Lent 5 (Year C): Litany for Wilderness

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This week's litany follows along with the Lectionary texts for week 5 of Lent. A strong theme of wilderness, persistence, and joyful homecoming threads through these texts. I hope you're all leaning in to the Lenten journey in some way this year - letting the wilderness Christ leads you into shape your soul and your practice, offering you a new way of being. 

In Lent, we follow Christ out to wilderness places.
We deny ourselves the comforts that numb us.
We rid ourselves of the distractions that consume us.
We stand aside to let you realign us to your way…

Thanks for following along. If you haven’t grabbed a copy of my book, may I suggest that it makes a great Easter gift :) Also, I’m on instagram @thelitanist ! come join in the contemplative fun going on there! Much love to all you readers and pray-ers out there embodying Divine Love and Light.


Lent 4 (Year C): Litany for Wandering

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I’ve moved much of my work over to Patreon.
This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
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Hey friends!
Before I get into the litany for this week, I want to say thank you thank you thank you for being on this journey with me. March has been the biggest month ever for me in terms of new patrons, and I am so stinking grateful. Welcome to new friends in this space! May it be a blessing to you! May it throw you a life-raft on a sinking day! May it jolt you with encouragement in a distressing moment! May it offer you sustenance when you're empty! Amen, Amen. Also, thanks for your patience while I was on vacation last week. After a rough month, I needed the break to stoke my curiosity and creativity, and hallelujah the LORD provides.

Ok, this week's Lectionary is juicy! The prodigal son. Psalm 32. The beautiful "new creation" language in 2 Corinthians 5. Week 1 we explored Weakness, week 2 Loneliness, week 3 Longing, and now Wandering. (preview: next week we're pondering "Wilderness.) So basically the hard parts of the life of faith. Which is what Lent is for - uncovering our blindness, exposing our need and vulnerability, urging us toward repentance. It's not supposed to be fun, but it is necessary for our growth.

God, like the prodigal son we have wandered far
From Love’s Center (1).
We are prodigal children,
All of us…

Also, if you’re unsure how to properly attribute a litany when you’re using it congregationally, please check out this post. And if you haven’t already snagged a copy for yourself, a minister, or a friend, you can purchase my book here. 

May you find more joy, peace, and love during your Lenten journey.

Lent 3 (Year C): Litany for Longing

Hello all.  I'll be on spring break vacation with my family next week and away from my desk. So here is next week's Lent litany. Leaning into the longing of the Lenten Lectionary :) 

O God, you are our God,
We seek you, our souls thirst for you;
Our flesh faints for you,
As in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (1)

Lent 2 (Year C): Litany for Loneliness

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I’ve moved much of my work over to Patreon.
This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
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In this week's Lectionary, I'm struck by the sense of loneliness in the passages. I keep thinking how exhausting and draining it must have been for Christ to always be on the run, moving from place to place, never pausing at home, always faced with someone wanting to kill him. And I'm struck that Lent is a time for us to face our own loneliness with intention. If ever there were a time to seek out solitude for self-reflection, Lent is it. 

It's true, we are spiritual beings having an embodied human experience here on earth (at least that's my belief), and there is something inherently lonely about that. But also, the community of humanity is bright and diverse and available - and I think part of why we're here is to make connections and realize our connectedness on both a human level and a spiritual level. Those two ideas exist in tension. And I imagine they created tension for Christ as well.

It seems like we have a few ways to combat loneliness: by realizing our oneness with God, deep in our innermost selves, often via solitude; by realizing our spiritual citizenship in heaven, that we are part of something more vast than what we can see; and by realizing community with other spiritual humans on earth. We have these means, but I think we are still going to feel lonely sometimes - it's just part of the human experience. One that has a lot to teach us if we are willing to listen. 

God, we know that we are citizens of heaven first (1)
Sent to earth to learn lessons and build outposts.
But this is sometimes lonely work
That tests our resolve and our stamina.
Citizens of heaven
Aren’t always earth’s favorite people (2). …

Lent 1 (Year C): Litany for Weakness

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This is part of my effort to make 2019 a #yearofwritingsustainably
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I got waylaid by a terrible flu for the last 7 days. And still my brain is not entirely online. I find it so interesting how the Lectionary seems to coincide with my own real-life events. Here I have been in a fog of weakness, reliant on help from others just to get through. And the Lectionary brings me this story.

In Luke’s account of the temptation of Christ, we see Christ refute the devil’s efforts at getting him to “prove” himself. If you make bread from stones, you’ll show us all. If you worship me I’ll make them know your authority. If you jump off the temple room, the angels will be forced to carry you, and everyone will know you’re the real deal.

Isn’t this what we are always feeling like we have to do as humans? Prove ourselves? We feel like we have to prove that we’re strong, or invincible, or in control, or knowledgeable, or, at the very least NOT WEAK. I can tell you I have had not one shred of control over anything in the last week. Every plan canceled. Every intention thwarted. Every task put off.

And Jesus refuses the whole game. He goes willingly to the physical weakness of hunger and deprivation. He goes willingly to the vulnerability of harsh desert. He doesn’t retreat to a well-stocked fortress, but an empty wasteland of weakness.

I guess this is a lesson we learn from Lent: that weakness is strength. That proving ourselves is a game the ego plays, not the Christ-consciousness.

Oh God, we come to Lent to face ourselves:
Our desperate need to prove our worth,
Our hunger for reputation, wealth, and influence;
Our ego’s power over us…

Palm Sunday (Year B): Litany for the Passion

This litany follows along with the story of the Passion of Christ in Mark's Gospel. You can also find a litany for the Palms here.

God, you showed us who you are in the incarnation:
Yourself as human,
Coming down to earth, enduring human suffering,
Becoming a servant.

And despite your meekness
You offended the Powers;
You drew the wrath of religious and political establishments
You became their scapegoat.

You endured mocking and scorn,
A crown of thorns,
Brutal violence,
And went to death with forgiveness on your lips.

You, Great Heart, have shamed the Powers that killed you:
Exposed violence,
Eschewed vengeance,
And by acceptance, defeated death.

In refusing to repay violence with violence,
You showed us the Path of Peace.
In forgiving your enemies and abusers,
You demonstrated love the world had never seen.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

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

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

Good Friday: Litany for Scapegoats and Surprises

The texts for Good Friday (Year A) are expansive and rich. In the end, I had to veer away from them specifically to get a better overall picture. I could have written a whole litany on Peter resorting to violence (scolded by Jesus) and then denying Jesus. I could have written a whole litany with imagery from Psalm 22, which Jesus quotes in his last breath. I could have written a whole litany on "approaching the throne... with boldness" from Hebrews 10. It was just too much to pull together into a bite-sized congregational litany. Alas.

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God
Who was sacrificed;
Who was Scapegoat,
Who willingly went to death,
Who gave himself over to principalities and powers
So that they could be undone.

Everything we thought we knew about justice,
Everything we thought we knew about God
All our expectations of power and force
Our preconceived notions of victory
Were overturned in Christ
The old ideas are shadows.

Christ, who went to death
To prove life;
Who went to defeat
To prove victory;
Who went to darkness
To prove light.
Who went to pain
To prove joy.

We wait with you, Son of God, in mourning and quiet,
In the darkness of Good Friday,
Until the day dawns
And the Morning Star surprises our hearts. (1)


(1)2 Pet 1:19

Lent 6 (Year A): Litany for Palm Sunday

On Palm Sunday we celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Riding in on a donkey's colt, Jesus was praised and sung to, offered a cushy path of cloaks and palm branches; then betrayed and condemned shortly after. Every time I read that part of the story I'm reminded of those folks: exalting Jesus one day, calling for his death the next. How moody and un-centered they are, and how like them I am. It's by the mercy of Christ, and by discipline and spiritual formation, that we remain centered in love. (If this Palm Sunday litany isn't to your liking, here's another. )

Here are the Lectionary passages for the Palm Sunday Liturgy.

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
His steadfast love endures forever! (1)
This is the day that the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it! (2)

Jesus Christ, you were the stone we rejected,
Yet you have become our Cornerstone, (3)
The one we look to as the best example of God’s Love;
The one we exalt above all others.

We are spreading our cloaks out on the path
Laying palm branches at your feet
We offer every good thing we have:
Every talent
Every blessing
Every moment
Every word and thought.
Every thing of value that we claim
We lay at the feet of the King who comes
In humility, in peace, and in Divine Love.

Help us to remain in your steadfast love -
Rooted in gratitude and grounded in your presence;
To stay - no matter what the crowds around us do-
Steeped in compassion and centered in mercy.

Hosanna to the Son of David! (4)
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD (5)


1) Psalm 118:1
2) Psalm 118:24
3) Psalm 118:22
4) Matthew 21:9
5) Psalm 118:26

Lent 5 (Year A): Litany for Dry Bones

This week's Lectionary readings contain the accounts of Ezekiel's vision of a valley of dry bones, and of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I've also included elements from Romans 8 and Psalm 130.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in his word I hope;
My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning,
More than those who watch for the morning. (1)

You free us from our graves (2)
And the traps our minds set for us. (3)
You free us from the constant hell of our own egos and deceptions,
And show us the path of peace.

You breath the breath of life into us (4)
And give life to our bodies through your Spirit. (5)
Come from the four winds, O breath,
And breathe upon us, that we may live. (4)

Where there was once a tame breeze
There is a wind.
Where there was once a valley of dry bones
There is a multitude of life.

Our bones were dried up;
Our hope was lost. (6)
But we hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
And great power to redeem. (7)

1) Psalm 130:5,6
2) Ezekiel 37:12
3) Romans 8:6,7
4) Ezekiel 37:9
5) Romans 8:11
6) Ezekiel 37:11
7) Psalm 130:7

Lent 4 (Year A): Litany for Blindness

This litany incorporates the New Testament readings from this week's Lectionary passages: when Jesus heals a man born blind in John 9, and a section of Ephesians 5. I am particularly captivated by the image of Jesus smearing mud on the man's face as part of the healing. I think there's all kinds of goodness in that image if we look for it.

God, we understand that sometimes, before our eyes can see, they must get muddy.
The mud is a crucial step: Jesus working on us.
We can’t know sight until we’ve tried to see through mud. (1)
We must realize our blindness, and admit it.

The blindness itself isn’t our sin.
It’s pretending we can see when we can’t that is harmful.
It’s judging the mud of others to be worse than our own that sets us back.
It’s being dishonest about our blindness that displeases You. (2)

To all the ways we’ve been blind to our own true selves,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to the suffering of others,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to and complicit in our society’s brokenness,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to the sacredness of human beings,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to your invitation and calling in our lives,
Open our eyes, Oh God.
To all the ways we’ve been blind to the way of your kingdom coming, now and not-yet,
Open our eyes, Oh God.

We want to live as children of light. (3)
We want to learn what pleases You.  (4)
We want light shined on the deepest recesses of our beings,
So that all that is hidden may become visible. (5)



  1. John 9:11

  2. John 9:41

  3. Eph 5:8

  4. Eph 5:10

  5. Eph 5:13

Lent 3 (Year A): Litany for Living Water

Here are the Lectionary passages for the third Sunday of Lent, Year A.

O come, let us sing to the LORD;
Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. (1)

You have proven yourself faithful over and over again.
You give us water for our thirst.
We are the people of your pasture, the sheep of your hand (2)
You give us food for empty bellies.

In every difficulty, you reveal yourself to us and give us good things:
From suffering comes endurance,
From endurance comes character,
From character comes hope,
And hope does not disappoint us,
Because your love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (3)

Your love is living water for our hearts (4),
An unending source of life.
You give to us freely, as family.
You prove your love for us:
Even when we were still caught up in sin and distance from you,
Christ died for us, bringing us near. (5)

O come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker. (6)



(1) Psalm 95:1
(2) Psalm 95:7
(3) Romans 5:3-5
(4) John 4:10
(5) Romans 5:8

(6) Psalm 95:6

Lent 2 (Year A): Litany for Grace and Rebirth

This litany incorporates the Lectionary readings for the Second Week of Lent (Year A). They're not easy ones. They contain concepts whose interpretation theologians have debated for centuries: "Faith vs Works" and the question of what it means to be "born again." These questions and ideas have sparked prolonged and intense debate among various sects of the faith. No wonder it's hard to write a prayer that everyone can pray surrounding these passages, one that is able to hold the tension and explore it.  Tricky business.


We lift our eyes up to the hills. Where does our help come from?
Our help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.
The Lord is our keeper;
The Lord will keep our lives. (1)

We trust in the Lord, who justifies the ungodly. (2)
We are the ungodly, the lowly;
But the Lord is gracious to us,
And our trust is counted as righteousness. (3)
By faith we are reborn in the Spirit (4):
     New vision
     New ways of thinking,
     New power to accomplish good work.

For the Son of God has shined his face on us
With glorious light (5);
And the Lord has given us the gift of favor.
His promise rests on grace.

To accept the gift of grace
Help us, Oh God.
To trust in you
Help us, Oh God.
To turn away from evil and toward the goodness of Christ
Help us, Oh God.
To produce fruit that comes from vibrant faith
Help us, Oh God.


(1) Psalm 121
(2) Romans 4:5
(3) Romans 4:3
(4) John 3:6
(5) Matthew 17:2

Lent 1 (Year A): Litany for Abundance

Be glad in the Lord, O Righteous
Shout for joy, all you upright in heart. (1)

The free gift of God is offered to you:
Abundance of grace and life (2)
Through the obedience of the person
Jesus Christ, our Lord.

As Christ fasted in the desert forty days and forty nights and faced temptation (3),
So we set aside a season of fasting and acknowledging temptation:
A discipline which reminds us of our need for God
And draws us closer to Christ

So many things pull at us:
     Power and wealth
     Vengeance and self-protection
     Comfort and ease
Things which draw us away from doing the work of Christ in the world
But steadfast love surrounds us (4)
We confess our transgressions to you
And you forgive us (5)
In the midst of self-denial
We find this abundance of love.

Be glad in the Lord, O Righteous
Shout for joy, all you upright in heart.


(1) Psalm 32:11
(2) Romans 5:17
(3) Matthew 4:2
(4) Psalm 32:10
(5) Psalm 32:5