This prayer by Clement of Rome is regarded as “the oldest Christian prayer known outside Scripture” and it “closely follows the Eighteen Blessings, recited daily by Jews, and gives us some idea of what the improvised prayer in the earliest forms of the liturgy must have been like.” The editor of one collection of early prayers notes, “the emotion behind it is controlled, sober and dignified, foreshadowing the Roman liturgy. It is biblical and traditional, respecting and loving the past, yet at the same time aquiver with joys and hopes that are new.” (Early Christian Prayers, ed. Hamman, tr. Mitchell).
We ask, with prayer and supplication,
that the Creator of the universe
may guard intact to the end
the number of his elect throughout the whole world,
through his beloved Son Jesus Christ,
through whom he called us from darkness to light,
from ignorance to the full knowledge of the glory of his name.
Grant to us, Lord,
that we may set our 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 dwells in the highest heavens,
holy in the holy,
who lays low the insolence of the proud,
who sets the lowly on high,
and brings the lofty low,
who makes rich and makes poor,
who kills and makes alive,
who alone is the Benefactor of spirits
and the God of all flesh,
who looks into the abyss,
who scans the works of man,
the provider of those who are in peril,
the Savior of those who are in despair,
the Creator and Overseer of every spirit,
who multiplies the nations on earth,
and has chosen out from all men those that love you
through Jesus Christ, your beloved Son,
through whom you instructed us, sanctified us, and honored us.
We beseech you, Lord and Master,
to be our help and provider.
Save those among us who are in trouble,
have mercy on the lowly,
lift up the fallen,
show yourself to the needy,
heal the ungodly,
convert the wanderers of your people,
feed the hungry,
release our prisoners,
raise up the weak,
comfort the fainthearted.
Let all the Gentiles know that you are the God alone,
and Jesus Christ is your Son,
and we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.
Through your work
you show yourself in the everlasting fabric of the world.
You, Lord, created the earth.
You are faithful throughout all generations,
righteous in your judgments,
marvelous in strength and excellence,
you are wise in creating and prudent
in establishing that which you have made,
you are good in the things which are seen
and faithful with those who trust in you,
merciful and compassionate.
Forgive us our iniquities and our unrighteousness
and our transgressions and shortcomings.
Do not count every sin of your servants and your handmaids,
but cleanse us with your truth,
and guide our steps
to walk in holiness and righteousness and singleness of heart
and to do such things that are good and well pleasing in your sight
and in the sight of our rulers.
Yes, Lord, make your face to shine on us in peace for our good,
that we may be sheltered by your mighty hand
and delivered from every sin by your uplifted arm.
And deliver us from those who hate us wrongfully.
Give concord and peace to us and to all who dwell on the earth,
as you gave to our fathers
when they called on you in faith and truth with holiness,
that we may be saved,
while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name,
and to our rulers and governors on the earth.
You, Lord and Master,
have given them the power of sovereignty
through your excellent and unspeakable might,
that as we know the glory and honor
which you have given them
we may submit ourselves to them,
resisting your will in nothing.
Grant to them therefore, O Lord,
health peace, concord, stability,
that they may administer the government which you have given them without failure.
For you, O heavenly Master, King of the ages,
give to the sons of men glory and honor
and power over all things that are on the earth.
Lord, direct their counsel by what is good and pleasing in your sight,
that administering the power which you have given them
in peace and gentleness with godliness,
they may obtain your favor.
O Lord, you alone are able to do these things
and things far better than these for us.
We praise you through the High priest and Guardian of our souls,
through whom be the glory and the majesty
to you both now and for all generations
and for ever and ever. Amen.
Source: Clement of Rome, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians
Source of this version: Freely modified from The Apostolic Fathers, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/lightfoot/fathers.ii.i.html