Snowflake Prayer

I was intrigued by a comment that I overheard some time ago to the effect that “prior to the age of Sunday School, the most influential instrument used to instruct Christians was Worship.” It was through the liturgy of worship that people learned theology – as they recited the Apostle’s Creed or Nicene Creed from week to week. It was through the liturgy of worship that people learned to read and make sense of the Scripture as it was read, week to week. And, it was through the liturgy of worship that people learned the language of prayer as together they prayed prayers of confession and shared litany’s of request and thanksgiving.

In recent years, as I’ve sensed a decline in Sunday School for adult education, I suspect that we have returned to the place where the burden of instruction is to be found in worship. And that troubles me, especially when it comes to prayer. Too often the prayers I’ve experienced in evangelical worship have not reflected careful thought, nor have they drawn out the voice of God’s people – which only makes me value the treasury of prayer that I’ve been collecting over the years.

Years ago, I began to collect what I discovered to be significant prayers. A significant prayer being one crafted with care, able to give voice to the depth of heart, and one that stimulates even greater expression of prayer as it is prayed again and again and again.

Some of the prayers are quite simple. One that I’ve included in my cycle of daily devotion I discovered in an old tattered used book simply titled Pray by Charles Francis Whiston. It was called the “snowflake” prayer, a title just odd enough to capture my imagination. As Whiston explained, an isolated snowflake melts quickly. But, when joined by other snowflakes over time, a snowflake becomes a glacier – able to carve channels through the hardest rock. It was a way to describe the discipline of prayer, especially commending the practice of using the outline of one prayer as a template for each day. The outline of this prayer has, over time, gained a glacial weight in my life. And, for that reason, I find my self commending it to anyone who wants it. It’s my adaptation:

Gracious Heavenly Father, in obedience to Your claim on my life, I surrender myself to You this day. All that I am, all that I have, to be wholly and unconditionally to You and for Your using. Take me away from myself, and my sinful preoccupation with self, and use me as You will, when You will, and with whom You will. Take away by loving force all that I will not give to You. And help me to know that having been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but that He lives in me, so that the life I love today, I would live by faith in the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. This I pray in His name, and for His sake. Amen

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3 thoughts on “Snowflake Prayer

  1. Cindy Whiston

    Charles F Whiston was my Grandfather – it was nice to read your comments.

    Thank you,
    Cindy Whiston

  2. Dr. Lyle Schrag Post author

    Dear Chuck,
    What a kind note. I can appreciate the value of your daily practice. Over the last year, in an attempt to renovate my prayer life, I’ve written a personal liturgy for prayer. It’s not quite all of the “daily hours” – actually, only three moments: matins, terce, and vespers – each one with a focus for prayer. To be honest, I miss a few – but, it has helped keep the focus centered on the Lord. Just a brief note re. the snowflake prayer. I took the liberty of adapting a verse to close the prayer – an old practice of having a “life-verse” – I’ve put it in a prayer form. And, again, like a compass – it keeps the needle of life pointed in His direction!
    Bless you,

  3. Chuck Jamison

    I have used the “Snowflake Prayer” as a daily rhythm for years and agree that the carefully crafted nature of it causes me to reflect and gain new insight into God and myself.

    The version I use begins with Jesus’ words of claim upon us when waking in the morning:
    I am your Lord Jesus Christ
    I was the agent of my father in creating you
    I died upon the cross for you
    Therefore you do not belong to yourself, you belong to me
    Will you give yourself to me this day?

    Our response is:
    O Lord Jesus Christ
    In obedience to thy holy claim upon me
    I give myself anew to thee this day;
    All that I am – all that I have
    To be wholly and unconditionally thine for thy using
    Take me away from myself
    And use me up as thou wilt, when thou wilt, where thou wilt
    and with whom thou wilt. Amen.

    I really have found this beneficial.


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