Morning light by the streamPhoto by Joel Bedford/Flickr, cc by-nd 2.0

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, who is our featured guest this week at On Being, shared this poem by his great-grandfather along with his moving Thanksgiving Day Prayer. Nearly a century old, this prayer, Raushenbush writes, “reads so much like something that could/should be written today.”

Prayer for Nature
by Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918)

O God, we thank you for this universe, our home; and for its vastness and richness, the exuberance of life which fills it and of which we are part. We praise you for the vault of heaven and for the winds, pregnant with blessings, for the clouds which navigate and for the constellations, there so high. We praise you for the oceans and for the fresh streams, for the endless mountains, the trees, the grass under our feet. We praise you for our senses, to be able to see the moving splendour, to hear the songs of lovers, to smell the beautiful fragrance of the spring flowers.

Give us, we pray you, a heart that is open to all this joy and all this beauty, and free our souls of the blindness that comes from preoccupation with the things of life, and of the shadows of passions, to the point that we no longer see nor hear, not even when the bush at the roadside is afire with the glory of God. Give us a broader sense of communion with all living things, our sisters, to whom you gave this world as a home along with us.

We remember with shame that in the past we took advantage of our greater power and used it with unlimited cruelty, so much so that the voice of the earth, which should have arisen to you as a song was turned into a moan of suffering.

May we learn that living things do not live just for us, that they live for themselves and for you, and that they love the sweetness of life as much as we do, and serve you, in their place, better than we do in ours. When our end arrives and we can no longer make use of this world, and when we have to give way to others, may we leave nothing destroyed by our ambition or deformed by our ignorance, but may we pass along our common heritage more beautiful and more sweet, without having removed from it any of its fertility and joy, and so may our bodies return in peace to the womb of the great mother who nourished us and our spirits enjoy perfect life in you.

Share Your Reflection



it does seem very timely considering how much more we exploited the Earth and our follow creatures in the 21st century.

it true

Thank you for this beautiful prayer and expression of gratitude. During this season of gift-giving, it reminds us of how much we have been given, and of how we need to honor these gifts.

How amazing to be so timeless and understand Life so well as it was then and is now.

Wow!   and so may it be...


What a delightful discovery, a must to copy and keep close to use again.

If the fruit of prayer is Love; this Prayer bares the the most delicious Love for Nature. This reads as if written for Today's experiences because God's love for us is timeless and our remembrance of His Love is eternal. A hundred years from today, this expression of God's love will be just as relevant because it is pure Grace. Thanks for sharing.

alsome prayer

Great prayer, uttered back to nature which encompasses us all, as it gives us all the natural resources for mankind to live upon; is the utmost display of gratitude, love and appreciation. Being mindful of living things and knowing about what we need to do to protect its beauty. We all need to protect our environment, Nature sits right at the heart of it. Love your world, show that you care!

the best prayers are timeless!