Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

In the course of my pastoral work I did a sermon series on The Lord’s Prayer, which eventually became a book:  The Disciple’s Prayer (Christian Publications, 1998; reprinted by Wipf and Stock, 2005).  But of course, before it became a book, it first had to become a poem.

"Lord, teach us to pray."
“Lord, teach us to pray.”


Oh Thou whose thoughts are far above my own

As are the stars above this whirling stone

We call the earth; who know’st the thoughts I think

Before I think to think them, though I shrink

To let Thee see them all; whose soul doth burn

With purity, and more, whose heart doth yearn

To see that flame of love also in me–

When I bow down before Thee on my knee,

What words have I that would be fit to say?

He said, “Just Father, Abba Father, pray.”


So:  that which I could never have begun,

Thou, sending forth thine own beloved Son,

Hast done, accomplished:  washed my sins away

So that as thine adopted child, I may

Approach thy throne–yet where shall I begin?

My purest thoughts are tainted yet with sin.

And though thy Spirit stirs my heart to pray,

To such a One as Thee, what shall I say?

Show me my deepest need, my highest aim!

He said, “Begin with ‘Hallowed be thy Name.’”

Hallowed by thy name.

Yes!  Reverently to set thy Name apart,

Grant it the highest place in all my heart,

And crown it there because it speaks of Thee,

Thy greatness and thy grace poured out on me;

And so to come into thy courts with praise

And in thy gates my thanksgiving to raise–

Ah, nothing less than this my heart could give:

To crown Thee king of all my life–and live.

And what is next, now that I have begun?

“Just this: ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’”

Oh Thou who rulest in the Heavens above

Where Angels, burning with reflected love,

Flit forth like wings of wind or flames of fire,

Thy will their only thought, their sole desire;

If only I could be thine instrument

On earth as they in Heaven, with pure intent!

Since I believe thy promise to be true,

Do Thou work in me both to will and do

Thy pleasure.  What more can I ask?  He said,

“Fear not to ask me for your daily bread.”

soup and bread

Thou who didst go to Calvary and bleed

To purchase everything that I might need–

What wondrous condescension this, that Thou

Should’st stoop ev’n to concern Thyself with how

I am to be kept, housed, and clothed, and fed!

How sumptuously thine earth produces bread

For sparrows!  And Thou causest it to yield

A wardrobe for the lilies of the field.

And yet, how soon thy goodness we forget!

As we our debtors, please forgive our debt.

He said, “I do forgive you every whit

Your sin, for Jesus paid the price for it,

And you have freely bowed to Him as Lord

As evidenced by this, your very word

In asking for forgiveness; further still,

Your wish to pray according to my will

And for my glory.”  What else should I request?

For Thou alone does know just what is best.

He said, “Into temptation lead us not,

But save us from the Devil’s evil plot.”


Thus do I pray, and thus shall ever pray:

From thy dear side, Lord, let me never stray.

For I am weak and prone to every sin

Unless Thou cleanse me constantly within.

Oh, sanctify me with thy Truth, lest lies

Of Satan tempt.  Teach me to keep my eyes

Fixed ever on thy Word, and thus on Thee.

For Thou alone, and naught that is in me,

Alone thy greatness and thy sovereign Grace

Can save and keep me ‘til I see thy face.

For thine it is to rule o’er everything,

Thine alone the kingdom, Thou the king;

Thou art a shield, a rock, a fort, a tower,

Thou burning strength, thine all alone the power;

And every line of thy salvation’s story

Shouts Mercy!  Grace!  and Glory!  Glory!  Glory!

What Thou hast been, forever Thou wilt be,

And I thy grateful slave on bended knee.

So be it: I, who once loved self and sin,

Delight to have it so; and so, amen.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, due out Sept. 1, 2016, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD


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