In the Reformed Christian tradition, the authors and composers of our original church songbooks often included example prayers to instruct the people. For instance, when the preacher and churchman Petrus Dathenus (1531–1588) put together the first complete church songbook for Dutch Reformed Christians in 1566, behind all the songs he included sample prayers that Christians could pray every morning and every evening:
O merciful Father, we thank Thee that Thou didst keep watch over us this past night, in Thy great faithfulness. We pray that Thou mayest strengthen and guide us henceforth by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may put this day as well as all the days of our life to the service of holiness and righteousness. Grant, we pray Thee, that in all our undertakings we may always have an eye single to Thy glory. May we ever labor in the consciousness of our dependence upon Thy beneficence for the success of our work.
We beseech Thee to forgive all our sins according to Thy promise, for the sake of the passion and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we are truly sorry for all our transgressions. Illumine our hearts, we pray Thee, that we may lay aside all works of darkness and as children of light may lead new lives in all godliness.
May it please Thee to bless us also as we engage in the proclamation of the divine Word. Frustrate all the works of the devil. Endue all the ministers of the Church who are faithful to Thee with strength, and make the magistrates of Thy people strong. Instill comfort in the hearts of all that are distressed, through Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son. For He has assured us that thou wilt surely grant us all that we ask of Thee in His Name, and has enjoined us to pray after this fashion, saying: Our Father who art in heaven, etc. Amen.
May grace also be given us, we pray Thee, to order our lives according to Thy will which thou didst reveal in Thy law as contained in the Ten Commandments: I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me, etc. Amen.
O merciful God, light eternal shining in the darkness, Thou dispellest the night of our sins and the blindness of our hearts. Since Thou didst ordain that man should rest in the night and labor during the day, we pray Thee that our bodies may rest in peace and quiet, in order that they may be enabled to sustain the labors to which we shall again be called. Control our sleep and rule our hearts while we slumber, in order that we may not be defiled in either body or soul, but may glorify Thee even in our nightly rest. Enlighten once more, we beseech Thee, the eyes of our mind, lest we enter upon the sleep of death. Grant that we may ever cherish the expectation of our redemption from the misery of the life that now is. Defend us against all assaults of the devil and take us in Thy holy protection.
We confess that we have not spent this day without grievously sinning against Thee. We pray Thee to cover our sins in Thy mercy, even as Thou dost shroud all the things of earth in the darkness of the night, lest we be cast away from Thy face. Be pleased to bestow comfort and rest upon all that are sick, bowed down with grief, or afflicted with distress of soul, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who would have us pray, saying: Our Father who art in heaven, etc. Amen.[^1]
By means of praying such prayers every morning and evening, we pour out our hearts before our Lord in response to His desire for us. In doing this, we grow in our relationship with Him.