The Public Prayers of John Stott


As a lifelong Anglican, John Stott treasured the Book of Common Prayer. In addition to the prayers found in that great book, he also composed several of his own. These range in subject from doubt to poverty to politics. While he wrote them in response to a variety of circumstances in England, many of them so timeless and boundless that they’re just as powerful today as they were when Stott first wrote them.

The Preacher’s Notebook is a collection of quotations, stories, and prayers that John Stott accumulated in his over sixty years of public ministry. These note cards have been painstakingly transcribed by a team at All Souls Langham Place, the church where Stott ministered for many years.

Here are three prayers from that collection that reach across the boundaries of time and location:

Prayer for Love and Marriage

Themes: Family; Family: Children; Family: Parents; Love; Marriage; Sex; Sexual Immorality

Almighty God, you created man male and female; you have said that a man and a woman should leave their parents, cleave to one another and become one flesh; and you have taught us that what you joined together we are not to separate. Deliver our nation at this time from all corrupting influences. Let your judgment fall on those who degrade and exploit sex for their own profit. May marriage be held in honor among us all, and sex be acknowledged as a sacred trust from you. Grant to both young and old the grace of self-control. Beautify our homes with your presence, that husband and wife, parents and children, may love one another as you have loved us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer for Social Justice

Themes: Conflict; Education; Health and Healing; Justice; Sanctity of Life; Work

Righteous Lord God, you love justice and hate evil, and you care for the weak, vulnerable, needy, and the oppressed. Bless our country and its leaders with the wisdom of righteousness and peace. May they secure the right of protection for the unborn, equality of educational opportunities for the young, work for the unemployed, health care for the sick, and food for the hungry. Help management and labor to cooperate for the common good, giving honest work and receiving a fair wage. Deliver our land from all tribal, social, and religious strife, and make our national life more pleasing in your holy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer for Those Who Doubt

Themes: Doubt; Evangelism; Laziness and Apathy; Mission

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for your sympathetic understanding toward those who have doubts and difficulties. We pray for them today.

Stir into serious concern those who are paralyzed by apathy. Shine into the minds of those who doubt your truth and love. Arrest those who are determined to live their own life in [their] own way, and break into their self-centeredness with your liberating power. Give to all of us the courage to lay aside our pride, prejudice, and fear, and to seek you with our whole heart.

Then Lord Jesus, we humbly pray, fulfill your promises that “he who seeks finds,” and that “to him who knocks the door will be opened.”

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These prayers give us insight into how Stott, as a skilled pastor, could take the perennial concerns that arose in his congregation and parish and bring them before God in prayer. Along with the many quotations and stories that Stott filed away, these make The Preacher’s Notebook especially valuable.